Living with a Narcissist (or Borderline, Psychopath) is difficult to describe to people who haven’t experienced the horror first hand. Most people think a Narcissist is merely a vain, self-centered person who likes to talk about themselves. While this much is true, it barely scratches the surface of the evil the Narcissist is capable of and willing to inflict upon those closest to her/him.
The reason that outsiders won’t understand is because the person the Narcissist presents to the outside world is a lie, a fabrication, a Mask. It is the same Mask the Narcissist wore during the love bombing phase of your relationship. In addition to being vain and self-centered, the Narcissist is also a Pathological Liar and a fraud who pretends to be sentient and caring, but in reality is a cruel monster who lacks empathy. Because the Narcissist is a Pathological Liar, s/he has a difficult time keeping up with his/her own lies, and lives in constant fear of being exposed. Any threat or paranoia of exposure will result in violent rage.
The “food” the Narcissist craves is Narcissist Supply. This comes in the form of domination and control of subordinates/codependents who see behind the mask, and in the form of flattery and praise from those people who only witness the Narcissist’s masked version of himself. This provides the Narcissist with a variety of emotional food sources.
Because of the Narcissist’s need for both types of supply, the Narcissist is intensely guarded against outsiders seeing behind the Mask, and terrorizes his subordinate supply into hiding the Narcissist’s real (Monster) persona from the rest of the world. In other words, the Narcissist requires victims who will keep his abuse a secret while helping him to perpetuate the Mask persona. Because the subordinate supply has been gradually conditioned to fear the Narcissist’s rage, they become complicit in the perpetuation of the Mask for survival.
Eventually even the “best” Codependent will become worn down from suffering from second hand mental illness, and will either:
- Die (literally from suicide or figuratively from sinking into a permanent state of depression from the continuous emotional abuse);
- Escape like a runaway slave; or
- Become Discarded by the Narcissist for a fresh source of supply from the victims s/he has been harvesting all along from outside sources.
If you are trapped in a relationship with a Narcissist, I urge you to begin planning your escape. Confide in trusted friends and family (NOT mutual friends). Seek counseling, because you’re going to need it.
I hope you come to believe that you deserve to be treated with love and respect.
Pam McCoy is a writer, author and co-host of Crazybusters.