When you know yourself enough to understand all your states, embrace them, and act with awareness- there is not much anyone can hold against you.
You might have noticed I haven’t been writing. A lot has happened, but I will give you some main highlights.
I am at uni studying journalism. I actually have a regular advice column coming out with Liberty Belle magazine- and have been granted a radio show with a couple of co-hosts on Forge Radio.
Throwing myself into journalism and creating a portfolio has meant that I’ve been re-evaluating the angles I take with this blog.
As a journalist I must be impartial, fact based and completely unpersonal. This blog has always been a transparent outlet for me. But that might be changing as I re-evaluate my boundaries.
I never want to give up the freedom this blog grants me though, which leads me to my second highlight and inspiration for this comeback blog.
I’m going to tell you a story, and there is a lesson in it.
Last year, I had barely recovered from a long series of setbacks when I came back to uni and found myself in a really heart wrenching situation.
I shared a flat with this person who had a pattern of getting really close to someone, deciding they were too close, picking out their flaws and silently excluding them from their circle.
With time, separation, observation and conversation I have come to realise that this person is a narcissist.
They would call flat meetings with the intention to gang up on a particular person. They would manipulate conversation to suit their agendas, carefully choosing their audience and using the term ‘we’ in replacement of ‘I’. They would use a person’s weakness against them to exercise power, doing things like urging people who were public about their ED recoveries to take part in fad diets. They got us to do loads of personality tests when we first met them, which in retrospect, was a red flag. They got their control by arranging and hosting a bunch of social events to gain status.
And if anyone challenged their behaviour or expressed some individuality, that person would be ostracised. In a very well thought out and tactful way, that made it seem like that person’s choice.
Now in that long list of (not very favourable) facts I just reeled off about this individual, you may think I am trying to tarnish their name.
Not at all. I’m stating facts.
What I learned from observing this person’s behaviour, is that your response to things gives you power and preserves your energy.
Your firmness and calmness gives you your power.
People have a natural reaction to shy away from people or circumstances that hurt them, and a desire to villainise a person when they have bruised you.
In not being able to run from this person, I leaned in and watched their patterns. I watched them ostracise a bunch of people for being ‘too’ something and listened to how they did it. I watched how they took control, and how each ‘victims’ reaction handed over control. I watched everyone else’s compliance and observed their reasoning why.
I am an empathetic person, a highly sensitive person, and a very emotional person. You might be asking yourself “why is this writer starting to sound like Joe from You?”
Well, reader, I’ve had my arse handed to me a number of times by getting involved with narcissists. I’ve cried hysterically, acted out emotionally, turned my life into a car crash and been to war with myself as a result of my previous relationships with narcissists.
The underlying question has always been “why is this so unfair?”.
And to answer that, we need to figure out a few things.
1) What is unfair to me? What insecurities are being weaponised against me to make me feel hard done by?
2) How has this person gained their power? What is it about their actions that make me feel like my mental wellbeing and the state of my life is in their hands?
3) How do I respond in a way that shocks people, is unpredictable, and doesn’t play into this prewritten script?
When dealing with a narcissist, you get the opportunity to stand grounded in who you really are. How strong your relationship with yourself is. How you react in times of crisis.
You re-evaluate what power means to you, what your desires are, what your coping mechanisms are. You have to opportunity to self soothe and calculate your reaction like a game of chess.
And you have the opportunity to act like a cold-hearted meanie without actually being a malicious person.
Now that, is rare.
The nature of a narcissist is to not have empathy. This plays a large part in how they gain power. Without the distraction of emotions, a narcissist can act with a clear mind and get a lot of things done below the radar.
This person has mastered the art of lying to everyone in a room in order to get their way, using one chosen target as a scapegoat.
When the target is obviously hurt by this, and is losing their shit at a person who is stone faced and calm, the calm person looks to an outsider as though they are more intelligent and in the right. Like they are to be trusted. It’s cruel and twisted, because humans and their emotions are far more complex than that, but that is how psychology works.
So you need to recognise that by emotionally responding to a narcissist, you are their puppet. This will not gain you respect, or get your voice heard by those you want to understand you.
As soon as you begin to feel gaslit, spoken for, spoken over, triggered or vaguely emotional- withdraw. Withdraw from the conversation. Leave. And don’t speak to any members of the audience who witnessed that little performance unless they approach you.
This is more to save yourself from any more emotional hurt, but it will also expose the narcissist in front of the audience they have chosen.
By withdrawing, you are leaving unanswered questions. Your silence creates space for those who just saw what happened to question what they saw, and recognise that the narcissist was looking for a rise.
From this point on, the effect this has on the group and their dynamic is none of your business, but you can bet that these other people have got a journey of self-discovery of their own on the way.
Call on an outsider for support and focus on yourself. Remind yourself who you are.
Anyone else who was involved/ bared witness to a narcissist using you as a scapegoat is going to be under the influence of the narcissist. This whole thing will have been justified to them. So, by talking to these people while upset and recovering, you run the risk of feeling even more gaslit and hurt.
Write down the story exactly as it happened and go over it any time you begin to question yourself.
You are able to acknowledge any part you played in the lead up to this event without having to blame yourself for being victimised.
Your story is not wrong.
This is power play.
Next, ask yourself what you want/ need out of this.
If your automatic reaction is to want revenge, ask what the emotion is behind that.
Do you want to learn how to be more sure of yourself? How to rebuild your life after your stability is shattered? How to reclaim your voice?
Well, that’s what this is all about then.
Assume you’ve lost anyone under the narcissist’s influence. Mourn it if necessary, and allow all grief/ feelings of loss to rise up.
What do you feel you have lost?
Where does this sadness come from?
What insecurities does this bring up in you?
You have the opportunity to soothe yourself, discover a new support system/ network, deepen relationships with those who are perhaps more on your wavelength, and fill the emptiness these losses have created in your life.
Recovery takes time.
Next- utilise these lessons.
Know that there is a time and place where you can be an arsehole.
Don’t hold the ‘I could never do someone like that’ cry as a badge of honour.
It is a wonderful thing to be empathetic and loving of people. You create the best connections and most amazing opportunities.
But we live in a world of duality.
People will be out to hurt you. They will want to see you lose, and take away your voice.
We need to learn how to play the game and be as much an arsehole as we are kind.
And when you take the time to understand the inner workings of a narcissist, or just an unkind person, you tend to harbour less hatred for them.
Narcissists are born when a child goes through deep emotional trauma, or isn’t taught about connection. Their games are survival to them.
The world is bigger than the shells they live in. Life is more exciting than living by a rulebook that someone else made for you to be accepted.
You don’t have to like it, but you don’t have to hate it either. You can be checkmate.