*Trigger warning: this post discusses narcissists and narcissistic abuse. What is narcissistic abuse? Read How to Spot Narcissistic Abuse
Anyone who has dealt with a narcissist knows they are not harmless people who openly express their admiration for themselves, which is often the perception. There are actually different kinds of narcissists but being emotional vampires is what they all have in common – they feed off the emotions and reactions of their prey. Being in a relationship with a narcissist is like being a caged bird. It’s psychological captivity. For the narcissist, you cease to be a person in your own right with your own thoughts and feelings and instead become a puppet in their games. You are theirs to play with and discard as they wish. Narcissists will destroy someone’s life, claim to be the victim, and then portray their victim as the villain and discredit them should their target have the audacity to stand up for themselves and tell their story. I know because it happened to me. However, you can set yourself free from their cage, as I have been able to.
In the UK we’re now heading into our sixth week of lockdown due to the coronavirus, also known as the pandemic COVID-19. I am lucky to be in a safe place, isolating with a lovely man who is kind, funny and mature. We are having a lot of fun together, keeping each other entertained, but we also give each other space when we need it. However, as I have written about in other blog posts, I am still being cyberstalked by my abuser, my ex/boss, two years after leaving him. He persists in finding ways to try to contact me (cleverly finding ways that I cannot block) even though I have for the last year, privately and publicly, repeatedly asked him to stop. I last asked him to stop contacting me at the end of March. I have now given up asking. He has never respected my boundaries and like a true narcissist – he is a covert narcissist – he continues to just do what he wants (scroll down to read 12 Things You Should Know About Covert Narcissists). The most recent contact was yesterday (this post was written in April but there has been contact throughout May 2020). Fortunately, this has been going on for so long I’ve become desensitised and indifferent. I’ve finally developed narcissist immunity. Better late than never. The best strategy when dealing with a narcissist is to not engage – oh, if only I had known this five years ago when he first began messing with my head and emotions – and after discussions with my hugely supportive solicitor, our plan is to keep ignoring him rather than pursuing legal action, which I think would be beneficial to no one and seems to me to be the kindest response to an ongoing undesirable situation. Many victims spend years trying to get narcissists to take responsibility, to take accountability, for their actions, for the damage they do, but you will be wasting your time. The narcissist never genuinely feels that they have done anything wrong and they will blame their behaviour on you. The best response when dealing with a narcissist is no response. Starving the emotional vampire and walking away is the only way to reclaim yourself.
Being in lockdown with someone 24/7 means that someone else has been able to see first-hand my ex/boss’s attempts to contact me as they’ve happened, what he does and how he does it. For the last six weeks there has been a noticeable increase in the frequency of unwanted contact; he has been contacting me almost daily. I’m not really sure why when he’s been getting no response but I suspect he is hoovering due to low narcissistic supply, exacerbated by lockdown. I continue to keep a record of all contact and screenshot evidence as mentioned in my post Gaslighting Survival Guide.
My own situation has made me think about those who have been forced into lockdown with their abusers. My ex/boss does not know where I am, I no longer reveal my current location publicly either on my blog or Instagram on the advice of the police and my solicitor to protect myself and others in my life. This means that I am safe. Only people I trust have my phone number, email address, and can interact with me on Instagram. Others are much less fortunate and I worry about victims of abuse being trapped in unsafe situations, without access to their usual support networks. There are some amazing support accounts on Instagram that could perhaps offer guidance and a source of strength during this difficult time. I have certainly found narcissistic abuse Instagram accounts personally useful. Here are some suggested accounts for anyone who needs them:
For example, I can relate to this recent post from @melanietoniaevans:
I recently read that a narcissist’s worst nightmare is an educated empath. That’s absolutely true. Once you educate yourself and know what you are dealing with, it becomes easier to see through the manipulative behaviours. When you see who the person really is – not the public image they like to portray – and understand the insecurities that drive them, it makes it easy to walk away. Educating yourself is the key to setting yourself free. If you recognise that you are dealing with a narcissist, get away from them and sever contact with them if possible – this is unfortunately difficult to do when you have children with them and leaving them can become a painfully complicated situation with children being used as pawns within manipulative games. You have to completely disengage as any attempt by you to reason with them, or any reaction from you, either positive or negative, just feeds their need for narcissistic supply and sustains the emotional vampire. Accept that nothing you do will fix them or change them and cut your losses. Understand that you are not to blame for their abusive behaviour. Move on, heal and going forward, only invest your time in people capable of treating you with the love and respect you deserve.
My wish for everyone at this uncertain and challenging time is that you are in a place where you feel safe and loved. If that is not the case, my heart goes out to you and I encourage you to follow support accounts on Instagram and other social media sites, if you can, until you are able to access your support network (friends, family etc) and face-to-face counselling if you need it. There is help out there. Please know that you are not alone. Sending love.
Take care, Lisa.
This post links with Inconvenient Truths; If You Know, You Know; Dear Dubai Ex: Closure; In Control: Warning Signs of a Controlling Partner; How To Date An Arsehole; Get Lit (Not Gaslighted…); Invisible Scars and Gaslighting Survival Guide.
CONNECT with me: Instagram @uncaged_artbird