when you see the Narcissist’s Mask slip *gasp!*


The first time I saw the narcissist’s mask slip I second guessed myself that it was probably an optical illusion. I ended up cheating myself out of that AHA-Moment of knowing that I have finally mastered the art of seeing a narc’s mask slip right when it’s happening.

When it happens and that mask slips, you can see the dark hole just beyond the surface of someone that has totally forgotten the story they spun just for you, by letting you hear the exact same story they had spun for someone else, as if you never existed. Then everything they ever said to you that had any impact at all comes into that questioning light. Was any of it real? Did you mean anything of substance that you’ve ever said to me?  

All of it had nothing to do with you, but it was everything to the masquerader, the person wearing the mask. That story was their ticket to the undivided attention and glory worship that made you feel like you were their super special friend, even though you weren’t. At that one moment when they had you completely sucked into their vortex, you were simply food for a narcissist. You were there just to mirror back to them how awesome you think they are because that’s how awesome they need to believe they are.

The best way to get that is to find those folks that have plenty of it to share; Those People Pleasers, and those Givers.

I know all of this sounds so confusing and I think an example of what it might feel like is in order.

I was leaving work one afternoon and on the walk to the car I dug into my purse to see if I had any new messages. When I worked I kept my phone on vibrate, so anything that was happening until quitting time, was received in silence. I had a few messages from one of my friends so I clicked over to listen. She was crying and asked if I could stop by to see her before I went home. Other text messages from her were telling me she was in the parking lot and if I got the message in the next five minutes, could I please come out there. Those were received almost an hour ago. What in the world was wrong with my friend?! I hurried along the hallway to her office.

The crisis was a really bad haircut. Her regular stylist had evidently taken a few too many liberties with the scissors and my friend stood before me with a super short buzz haircut. I reassured her that it was just hair and hers seemed to grow quickly. In the meantime, if she hated it this much she could wear hats or headbands or scarves. A bad haircut is devastating, but it’s not the end of the world or life threatening.

She put her arms around me for a big hug and through tears she told me that I was a great friend and I took great care of her. That felt so good to hear. Everyone wants to be a good friend. Everyone wants to be appreciated for the friendship they share. It was a beautiful friend-moment.

A week or two later this same friend and I were casually sitting around during our off hours with another mutual girlfriend when the subject of the haircut came up once again. Assuming I was one of the few that knew about that afternoon she spent in tears in the parking lot, I didn’t mention it. The last thing I would ever do would be to humiliate or embarrass my friend in front of someone else.

The mutual friend piped up and chortled about the numerous texts and phone messages she received that day and gushed about talking to her on the phone while she cried. She apologized to our friend for not being able to come to her rescue and the woman sat there pretending that I wasn’t also someone that got those same texts and calls and that I wasn’t the person that actually did seek her out to make sure she was okay. In fact, she started talking to me about that day as if I had no idea what had happened, like I was never there.

She was looking right at me and I could tell that she remembered me being there. She remembered that I had come to find out what was wrong. She knew that, but she was going to pretend that never happened, because she didn’t want her other friend to know that the list of people she called that day had probably been a long one.

She sat there in her car that afternoon, upset over her bad haircut, and she called anyone she could think of that would answer her phone call, that would take the time and care to make her feel better. Or perhaps she just wanted to rage at someone because she lacked the courage to rage at the hairdresser. Who knows? Who wants to be the friend that gets the kudos only because she was the first one to call back? Who wants to stand in line for attention or to feel special, especially when the moment isn’t even genuine? I’m just not that clingy.

My shock and then amusement was watching her try to cover her tracks.

The mask slipped and I saw it.

I wonder what my face looked like as I sat there looking right into her face while she played her part in this bizarre situation. It had to be an expression of incredulity, a little shock, a knowing smirk after I figured out what was happening. Here I was witnessing something few folks got to see.

I dunno.

Maybe it was the wine talking? Lol!!

Here’s what it all meant to me; I wasn’t special to this person. I now doubted I even knew who she was. My friendship wasn’t something she treasured unless she needed a fix, some attention, someone to make her feel better, superior, not as wrong and screwed up as she probably thought she was. I was a plaything. Easily discarded and forgotten after she was done. She was a narcissist and I played the role of food.

A few years ago I never would have understood what was happening. I would have spoken up, said something, and been upset that my own friend was making me feel invisible. Something like this would have bothered me for days, but not today. Today I just move on. I don’t get upset anymore. This is not someone I need to invest my time in, so I don’t.

Walk away and be grateful that your healthy mental attitude is all you need to save you from a bad haircut.

You can find this and many other entries about living with and recovering from narcissistic abuse in my book, Life After the Narcissist written by Katy Shultz. Available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com and all fine retailers.

About Madeline Scribes

A writer with a sense of humor. If anyone can laugh at life, it's me.
This entry was posted in All kinds of Advice, Personal Boundaries Primer and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to when you see the Narcissist’s Mask slip *gasp!*

  1. Oooh yes, I know that feeling! And good for you for being the better person and rising above it.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you! It’s one of the weirdest feelings I’ve had and knowing i didn’t feel the need to defend myself or explain it, was even stranger, but it felt good to know that when the evening was over, I didn’t ever have to go back.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. susieshy45 says:

    I read your post. I was left wondering what the age of that ” friend” with the “bad” haircut is. I mean it sounds like one of these teen things. She needs to grow up.
    But you managed it beautifully.
    Thanks for all these insights into various personalities. I don’t interact too much with people and if someone sends me a message, I look at it the next day as I am not very phone savvy- so friends find me useless, I guess.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are not useless and a real friend would never make that kind of a judgment on you. The ones that respect your schedule and your silence are the ones you nurture as friends. All else, discard or move on.

      I believe she was almost 40, so definitely not a teen, or even a tween. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Honesty seems so trivial, to people these days. Yet, my mother believed in it, like it was a life line. I can still hear her telling me, “Don’t you dare story to me (that’s what she called lying when I was little) . If you story to me, I can never really help you.” She instilled in me that if I wasn’t completely honest with her, for example, when I was in trouble (and boy I managed my share) she couldn’t defend, protect and save me, if she wasn’t aware of what had truly happened. It might anger her but it was imperative that she know so that she could give me her best. God, I miss her.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It really was a good decision. Your life over the last few years has just soared with joy and I am lucky in that I have gotten to share so many more high points than low ones. You are simply the absolute best there is. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My Dear, you are just a cornucopia of wisdom & words…I’m so glad WE reconnected!
    Big Love all around!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. It always goes back to if we just listen people will tell us who they are. I well imagine many of us have had a ‘haircut hysteric’ in our lives, and from the perspective of old I can say there will probably be more than one during a lifetime and the sooner we figure that behavior pattern out the sooner we can simply not participate. Hopefully you great essay here will help others recognize their ‘aha moment’ when it is presented. Thank you.
    All my best to you.

    Liked by 1 person

I think it's so nice to see your thoughts! Please share!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.