The term narcissism is thrown around rather loosely, which is why I hesitated to use the word at first. We use it to describe people who may be a little self-obsessed or have an inflated ego. True, these are traits of a narcissist. However, there’s more to narcissism than these traits alone, just like there’s more to NPD than someone being slightly narcissistic alone.
Narcissism isn’t solely self-obsessed. Narcissism seeks to destroy, because narcissism itself can’t handle existing. Imagine hating yourself so much that you need to annihilate others’ sense of self just to feel good about you for even a fraction of a second, before needing to go off and find the next person. That’s narcissism. It’s self-loathing so deeply rooted that it needs to completely shatter others just to feel good about itself.
In part one, The Effects of Narcissistic Abuse, I briefly detailed what was going on in my brain as a result of the abuse I’d been unknowingly suffering at the hands of someone I’d loved with all my heart. There was much more involved that wasn’t talked about in that writing.
Examples: self-blame. Feeling like everyone is out to manipulate you. Denial. Fear. Brain fog and feeling as though you can’t keep your thoughts straight. “What if?” becoming a constant question in your mind. “If I hadn’t. . .” “If I had. . .” and “Maybe if I. . .” becoming unwelcome statements in your phrase book.
In the months after being discarded by my abuser, I hardly left the house. I went out to therapy, I went to work. That was about it. Thinking about meeting new people and putting the energy into new relationships was terrifying; after all, everyone was going to try to keep me around until I wasn’t useful anymore (or so I believed). I cried more than I’d like to admit, at even the smallest reminder.
I was gaslit so badly I ended up going to friends asking them questions I would never in a million years have bothered with two years ago. “Do you remember me telling you about when. . . ?”
I needed the reassurance, because some niggling voice in the back of my brain was telling me, “But what if it didn’t happen like that? What if he was right?” There had to be something wrong with me, he couldn’t have done all of this. I scoured my journals, and wrote down incidents as they occurred to me, just to know that I wasn’t crazy. Even with example after example of gaslighting, selfish behavior and rudeness on his part, my brain still wanted to believe that this failure was my fault.
This is what narcissism does.
It was like walking around in a permanent fog of tears, sleeplessness, and near self-loathing, wondering what else I could have done. The thing about narcissism is that there is nothing else you can do, because no matter what you do, it’ll never be enough.
I’m not sure what kept me from the edge of complete destruction, but something did.
These again are effects of narcissistic abuse.