I remember telling one of my friends that in writing about personality disorders and bad behaviors, I tended to turn the spotlight on myself and ask those same questions. Am I like that too? Do I do those same things to other people? Do I carry those traits? Being in social research where you are constantly shining the light into the darker corners of humanity means I am especially adept at doing that to myself. It’s not one of my favorite things to do to myself.
Like most folks, I don’t relish looking inward. When you have to take a good long, hard look at yourself, you might find out things you don’t like. But I have found this to be an essential and valuable tool when gaslighting and lies are afoot. Questioning what I did to deserve this kind of treatment, usually brings about a conclusion that I can not ignore.
When I spend a lot of my time writing about, researching and trying to understand and process what a narcissist was and how they functioned, I found myself sitting back in my chair many times in bewilderment. Was I like that? Did I have those same traits? Many days I was unable to talk myself out of the funk this causes, but in the end and after speaking with experts, I now know that I am definitely not like that. I’m not perfect, but I am not mentally unhealthy. The one big clue is the way I handle situations. The other one would be that I would even ask myself those questions. I’m not asking what’s wrong with the people that don’t like me, I’m asking what kind of problem do I have that would make me unlikable. There’s a huge difference in those lines of questioning and self reflection.
Do you ever find yourself shining the light back in your own face and asking those scary questions? Is that how I sound? Is that how I look to other people?
If I were like them, I’d be a whole lot better at gathering the ranks up and pretending to be a victim, so the person I’m set on excommunicating from the group is left to dangle out on the cliff’s edge alone once everyone dislikes the tart too. I’d be awesome at the ever popular narcissistic silent treatment. This is where you “go dark” in hopes that the person is so overwhelmed by your silence that they come running back to the fold with tremendous remorse and beg to be let back in. I’d be a whole lot more agile at forcing them to jump once I’ve destroyed every connection they ever had to my “group”. Excluding them from parties and not inviting them to participate are great ways to let someone know how displeased you are with the way they act. It’s also a great way to set the bar for other friends to follow. I’d make sure everyone knew some tiny damning morsel about the person so there would be no question about whether anyone wanted to be friends with that person again, or not.
But I suck at every single one of those.
There’s this rap that goes like this:
While some of you might think this is a terrific philosophy, it gets me into more hot water than just dealing with the latest narc in my life. But it’s true. I am not charming enough to gather my very own flock of flying monkeys. I do tend to say what’s on my mind, but I try to be a bit discreet about it. I’m not interested in being mean to other people. I am not a victim and have no reason to give anyone the silent treatment. In fact, implying that it’s a silent treatment means the possibility of reconciliation exists. When I walk away, when I say I’m done, then I’m done. It’s not a silent treatment, it’s the distant echo of me being gone because there’s nothing left there. I’m not waiting for an apology because I have stopped making an emotional investment. A silent treatment implies an emotional investment because you have to nurture those kinds of hurt feelings. I stopped nurturing toxic behaviors a long time ago.
The hot water it gets me into is that this kind of blunt confrontation with someone who is obviously displaying narc tendencies, will get you one really painful narcissistic smear campaign.
The best advice I can give to anyone that has the same impulse that I have, is to at least try to walk away quietly. I always feel better in a situation if I am just completely honest about what I’m feeling and thinking, rather than being prepared to shine someone on so I can escape them quietly. Let me help you out here…shine them on!
This kind of monster doesn’t deserve your honesty, your forthrightness, your loyalty or even your time. They add nothing of value to your life. They have proven to you how easily they can devalue you as a human being. Odds are, you probably haven’t even known them that long! Just walk away! You owe them nothing. And who cares if they know how you feel, or not? They certainly never gave a fig about how much they were hurting you and believe this, they will keep hurting you as long as their rotten little hearts desire. They can carry a grudge for years!
When I describe them as a monster I am not exaggerating.
This morning, as I’m looking in that mirror and I’m wondering what I ever did to deserve some of the crap I’ve had to deal with, I tell myself that even though it might seem to me and to others like I did nothing, I am sure there’s one thing I did do. I showed them what a good friend looks like. I modeled the healthy behavior of lasting friendship and I shined my own special light of love on them because in that moment, I dearly loved them. It didn’t take long for them to begin undermining me. It didn’t take long for them to begin segregating me from their other friends and to start telling me how awful their other friends were, so I wouldn’t want to be around them. And it didn’t take long before they started telling me how much their other friends didn’t like me either.
I have to tell you…that is not what friendship feels like.
To a narcissist that sees the love one person is capable of beaming to their friends, this has to be some of the most frightening moments of their lives. They already know, or perhaps they suspect, that this is not something they will ever be able to do themselves and it’s scary having you around because everyone will want to feel this good. Everyone wants a good friend. If everyone wants a good friend, then this might cost the narcissist, who wants everyone to love only them.
I’m not being conceited or vain by saying this about myself. Being a good friend is not like being naturally beautiful. I work at being a great friend. It’s something I take pride in knowing about myself and it’s because I love my friends. I want my friends to feel good about themselves. I want them to bask in the glory of having loving relationships with their significant others. I remind them of the love and the great things going on in their lives. I celebrate them and their successes in life.
They say you can’t be a good friend to anyone else, unless you are friends with yourself first. I am my own best friend. I don’t mind being in the company of myself and tend to spend time in self reflection rather than desperately seeking out some company. I don’t need to constantly surround myself with big groups of people just so I can feel good about myself by thinking that perhaps a lot of people like me. The only person I am concerned with liking me is myself and the rest will happen organically, or not at all.
Don’t kid yourself. You will still run into toxic people. The difference is that when you navigate these treacherous waters once, the next recovery time will be much shorter.
Until next time this is Madeline Laughs and she’s asking you to ask yourself those tough questions and then to move on with a happier and healthier life surrounded by folks that just love you, because that is what friendship feels like.