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Survive Narcissism: Introduction (My Personal Story & A Few Red Flags)
It is not a secret that we are living in a nasty world. It might be compared with a physically attractive, but at the same time, mentally demoralized and spiritually destructive people. On the outside, it looks all beautiful, but once you dig under the surface, you discover a whole lotta mess. It all stems from a virus, that is living perhaps since the first day of our existence. Imperfections are a part of life. All we can do is tend to eradicate them, but no sane person thinks perfection can be reached, even though it is not wrong to run towards them. As Churchill said, if you're going through hell, keep going. Lately, I've been inactive for many reasons. Had to take care of a baby pigeon that demanded my full attention. In the end, it caught a virus and is currently fighting for its very life in the ambulance. Surely, Hugo will survive, for he is an example of a fighter. I wondered why would God create such a magnificent creature and set hell before him. The answer never came, but clarification of one thing did. The first two decades of my life have been invested into being in between my parents, who are prone to arguing, and verbal fights. They create drama and problems when there is serenity. And continuously, they've been bombarding my young mind with their hypocritical, narcissistic nonsense. I gave my very best to keep my youthful, cheerful, and joyous spirit alive, unsuccessfully. They changed me, for the energy humans radiate is like water. You can't keep hot and cold water divided in the same cup. For years, I've been feeling like a walking dead person. But the little pigeon taught me and proved to me that I still can love. In fact, he is the only creature for whom I can surely say that he loved me back. It felt like the old me was awakened. That contradicts the statements of my parents, who still live in the past, and describe me as a person that is overly reactive. I was, 10 years ago. Things have changed since then, but they got stuck in time. I wonder, what did they expect me to become...
It is not possible for a human being to become the very opposite it's told for the majority of the time. If you tell your children they're "trash", they will become trash, so don't make a surprised face when your son or daughter begins looking like a trash can.
Anyway, my childhood was an expensive narcissistic university. It taught me of every tactic a narcissist has in their arsenal. Sadly, the narcissistic teachers were my parents. Before I publish lectures on how to deal with them, how to respond to them, etc., I'd like to tell you how to recognize narcissism in the first place. Unfortunately, there are millions of signs, so it would require a book to expose them all, however, there are some "universal" traits that all narcissists have.
Here are a few red flags:
#1 They are overly critical of others! For example, my mother CANNOT spend a day without judging others, without commenting on all of our choices, ideas, doings, successes, and failures. They are always the brightest, the most capable, and "right" (correct) in their eyes.
#2 They don't delve into nor care about other people's emotions and perspectives. As my parents are divorced, I was able to experience this red flag quite often. BOTH, my father and mother paid attention and took into observation their own positions (only) and perspectives. Seemingly they didn't care what the other side thinks, feels, or wishes. Narcissists don't really care about our emotions. The only thing they're trying to do is to make themselves feel good. They lack empathy, so other people's misery doesn't play a role (at all) in their lives.
#3 They NEVER admit they've been wrong. Even if they do know their concepts of reality are crooked, they will continue supporting their side in arguments, until the last breath. Here is an example: my mother's dog bitten my rabbit (when I was 12 years old). I confronted my mother and told her to keep an eye on her dog that frequently and suddenly losses control, and begins acting wildly. She said, "Your rabbit wasn't bitten". I saw it with my own eyes, on two different occasions. In fact, I punched the dog to leave my rabbit alone. Later on, she told me "My dog was defending your rabbit, it was attacked by demons.". I hope you understand what I'm trying to tell you. NEVER expect the narcissist to tell you the truth.
#4 NEVER expect the narcissist to apologize! They will keep bragging about what others have done to them, yet, they will not even memorize what they've done to others. For example, my mother keeps bragging about how other children treated her during childhood, but she never mentioned how she treated others. Narcissists are always either heroes or victims, never villains. After my father has moved away, I've been forced to keep living under the same roof as my mother. She was having nervous breakdowns on a daily basis and was demolishing our stuff and our house. When she'd be angry, she would begin yelling at me for no reason, at all. Then, one day when she was yelling at me while I was having my lunch, I decided to confront her. I came right in front of her and asked "what do you want from me?". Her answer? She tried to punch me in the face, 3 times! After the third time, I decided to push her away. She fell to the ground and called the police. They arrested me for "violence", even though It was self-defense. On the court, my mother was being seen as a victim. I've been described as a villain, a nasty and evil person without sympathy and empathy for others. My mother was praised by everyone. She shared the story of an incident with other family members, and they began looking at me like I'm a criminal. People love to share their advice with others, so they told me I should understand my mother, and support her. The silence was my answer. I'd rather dance ballet on a minefield, than supporting someone in wrongdoings. Of course, my mother didn't say "sorry" to this day. She never experienced being arrested, and spending nights behind jail bars.
#5 YOU are never good enough, according to them. They see themselves as righteous, capable, morally vertical, intelligent, calculated. Well, they surely are calculated, I'll give them that! However, they ALWAYS underestimate other people, other people's intelligence, other people's successes, and sufferings. Nobody has suffered as much as they have to, nobody knows as much as they do, nobody is as successful as they are! If only they had more luck, they'd be millionaires, and their lives would be fairy tales (sarcasm).
#6 For all SUCCESSES they are to be praised, for all mistakes YOU are to be blamed! They are irresponsible beyond beliefs. My parents divorced over a decade ago, yet, my mother is still blaming my father for everything. It is his fault that she has debts! It is his fault that her dog is sick! It is his fault that her car is messy! It is his fault that she is not earning more, etc., Whatever good was accomplished by our family, it was all her effort. Whatever bad happened, it was all my father's fault and even my fault. Narcissists will never take responsibility. According to them, tango requires only one person.
#7 They expect you to listen to them & obey their "bossy" attitude. No matter how unsuccessful they are, they keep demanding your obedience! Who are you to think on your own (sarcasm)? If you don't ask them for an opinion, they will approach you and start telling you how to do what... if you tell them politely, "I will do this my own way, and If I fail, I will learn a new lesson.", they will respond as you've said something impolite. Very often, they'll turn this upside down, and tell you something like "thank you for considering me a fool!", just because you decided to follow your guts. My father is a good example of this. He always plays the victim card. He even blames people for things they've never said! For example, I witnessed when one of his employees went into an argument with my father. My father told him "don't ever mention my mother again", even though the man never spoke of my grandmother. It is absolutely sickening how far narcissists are willing to go, and what they're willing to do, to get others under the control.
The control is what they're aiming for. Their cruelty has no limits, know no boundaries. If healthy people were as tenacious in chasing dreams as narcissists are tenacious at getting other people under the control, our world would be a much happier place.
Even though it is not a red flag, rather an example, I want to end this article with one more story. My family was growing fruits. We've had over 200 000 plants of strawberries. There were so many strawberries, it was impossible to sell them all. So I got an idea to cook jam and sell it. It was during my middle school years when every penny meant a lot to me, 'cause often I didn't have enough money to buy lunch, yet, my school was 40 kilometers away from my house, and I've been spending the majority of my time on the road going to or from the school, or in the school. Anyway, I've invested my heart into the jam, and it really was delicious. When people started ordering tens of kilograms, my mother got jealous, and she threw away all unsold strawberries, rather than allow me to earn a few Euros. She said, "I am the boss, and if I have no profit, you'll have no profit.". My friend witnessed that. Later he told me "I didn't trust you when you said your parents are from hell, but now I do. That's not what a good mother would do.". She ruined my income but didn't hesitate to describe me as a "lazy student who earns no money" to my cousins from Germany and Austria.
Nevertheless, don't blame them for what they're doing, 'cause narcissism is an illness. We know little about it, but we sure do know it is there, and it is very real. Wish them all the best, and distance yourself, as far away as possible.