Unfortunately, in my life, I came across a couple of narcissists, and I had even been in a relationship with two of them. It was only in hindsight that I realized they were narcissists.
Here’s the nine official criteria for a narcissistic personality disorder:
- grandiose sense of self-importance
- preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
- belief they’re special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions
- need for excessive admiration
- sense of entitlement
- interpersonally exploitative behavior
- lack of empathy
- envy of others or a belief that others are envious of them
- demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes
The narcissists in my life
Every person on this earth exhibits traits that can be linked to something like narcissism or autism, or several other personality disorders. However, that doesn’t mean they have a personality disorder. It doesn’t make them narcissists. Or people with autism.
For instance: my daughter — her oldest is on the autism spectrum — sometimes joke with me when I do things a certain way, and tells me I’m autistic. I — my son is on the autism spectrum — did the same with my mom. When she made a salad, she always, and I mean always cut the tomatoes in exactly the same way. If I did it, she always told me I did it wrong, and then I joked and called her autistic. No, she wasn’t a person with autism, and neither am I, but we both had some things in our character that ‘looked like’ autism. The same goes for narcissism, we all might occasionally act in a way that might be seen as a narcissistic trait.
But this is about narcissists, and believe me, those I had in my life were definitely certifiable. The three narcissists in my life were my first husband, a married man I had a relationship with, and my brother.
My first husband
The one thing those three men had in common, was their ability to constantly talk about their own achievements and talents, and each time they told a story, it was exaggerated even more. They added tiny lies to their stories to make themselves look better, to the point where I always wondered how much of what they first told me was actually true.
The worst lie I ever heard came from my first husband. He told me he and his best friend used to do motorcycle racing, but that he had stopped with it when there was a huge crash, and his best friend died in his arms, on the track. When he talked about it, he always cried, and elaborated extensively about the moment his friend passed, and how he could never get on a motorcycle after that. He also asked me not to talk about it, because it hurt too much, not only him, but also his parents, because his best friend was like a child to them too.
On our wedding day, we stood next to each other as people walked by to congratulate us, and that day I was introduced to his best friend, who was alive and well and laughed so loud when he told me he and my first husband had never ever been on a motorcycle!
His need for excessive admiration was enormous, as was his sense of entitlement. He just about forced his employer (he worked for the same company as his mom) to send him to university, and once there, surrounded him with younger students, some of whom he had affairs with. He needed their admiration, needed them to tell him how good he was, and spoke hatefully of those who saw through his game.
The married man
This man wasn’t only a narcissist, but also an abuser. He was always looking for the ideal love, which showed in his constant search for yet another woman to fall in love with, and submit to his views and his ways. His wife was the love of his life, but he told her he could only be happy when she was happy, and the only way was to feed her bisexuality. But, she wasn’t allowed to look for a female lover. He did it. He decided who was good enough.
That’s how he lured me in. He courted me, made me fall in love with him, made me need him, then told me we could only continue our relationship if I had sex with his wife too. The next step was to demand me and her to fall in love with each other.
He constantly told us how happy we should be for the three of us to be in such a unique relationship. That others will be so envious, and actually wanted it too, but weren’t as brave as he was to take action and make it happen. He was extremely jealous. If we were somewhere in a bar or restaurant, and another man would only glance at either me or his wife, she and I were the ones that got the full blow of his anger, because we allowed someone to look at us with interest. Most of the time we didn’t even know who looked at us, but that fact never calmed him.
He wanted us to admire him, wanted us to constantly tell him how good he is, how much we love him, and that we couldn’t live without him. I look back on those nine months of my life, and am grateful I got out.
When my brother moved to the Netherlands, I thought we could finally tighten our bond as brother and sister. There wasn’t much of a bond since a couple of years before I left South Africa at the end of 1994.
I was so excited to introduce him to my husband. When that first night of family time ended — Christmas 2015 — I was disillusioned. The entire evening, he talked — my brother. From the moment he sat down on the couch, during dinner, and until they left. He talked… about himself. His life. His achievements.
Not once did he ask how I am, what I do for work. Okay, I guess he could’ve known this, as my mom might have told him, but a bit of interest would’ve been good. What hurt me more, and actually angered me, is that by the time he left, he knew nothing — and I mean, nothing about my husband. Master T was sick that Christmas. The flu. He cooked Christmas dinner. He looked as sick as he was, and still he wanted to cook dinner. The least my brother could’ve done was to show some attention for his host, even if not meant. Not one question. Not showing one bit of interest.
That was the night I realized my brother is a narcissist. I never saw this before, maybe because of all those years we were apart. The last time I had close contact with him was when I was about eighteen, and then our lives ran their separate ways.
My brother loved talking about his own success. About how good he was in his work. Which important people he knew, and how they all want to help him. He constantly talked about how talented his son was, and how he would be a big name in the cycling world.
When my mom fell ill, it took him six weeks before he finally came to see him. I called them on the day we found out. Two weeks later she ended up in ICU, and was in hospital for five weeks. He came for a fifteen-minute visit a week before she was discharged, and as I watch him standing at her bed, I realized her being ill didn’t even touch him. In the hospice, when he came to say goodbye on the morning of the day she passed, he cried. His tears didn’t touch me, because I didn’t think they were real.
Done with narcissists
I am done with narcissists and narcissistic behavior. I hope I have enough knowledge of them to recognize the next one coming into my life, and steer clear from them. Life experience, and all that…
Please read this too: Narcissism: A disorder or just Ambition? by May More.
© Rebel’s Notes
Image from Pixabay