When Andrew and I began dating, we were upfront about the fact that we had both been previously married. He shared 50% custody of the three boys he had with his ex-wife, and also cautioned me that she was often difficult to work with and likely had an undiagnosed mental disorder. I blew it off because EVERYONE thinks their ex is crazy, right? He and his kids were incredible, and his ex was just an inevitable part of the equation if I wanted this amazing, total package of a man and his boys. Three months (to the day) after our first date, we got married and officially became a family. When our relationship hit the six month mark, the “crazy” my husband had previously described began manifesting at an increased rate of frequency, and usually for the strangest of reasons. It shouldn’t have been surprising. After all, narcissists are insanely jealous, and suddenly the boys had a new mother figure in their lives. I became, in her mind, competition. Of course, I pose no real threat to her relationship with them, which is a fact she would notice if she wasn’t so overcome with insecurity. Andrew reminded me of the warning he issued about her mental state months prior, but since we talked about her very little and focused on our own relationship and family, my exact reply was “yeah, but you really undersold it.” He still laughs about that and has often shared the story with his co-workers and friends.
As a long-time student of psychology and social science, it didn’t take me long to realize that we were actually dealing with a personality disorder in the most acute form. If ever I wanted to pursue a PHD, I had a perfect thesis and case study. Many who knew this woman before me said she was always a little “off” but couldn’t determine what was actually wrong with her, although she often made them feel uncomfortable. They knew she was self-indulgent and embellished stories to the point of fallaciousness, but that was harmless aside from being weird, right? What they didn’t know was that she was living in a world of completely fabricated truths, alternating between victim and hero, and devoid of any scrap of empathy for those she exploited for personal gain. Someone with a PHD who knew her said he believed she suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder. While he was definitely on the right track, her particular set of traits much more closely resemble a similar personality disorder that is often misunderstood and over-used by people not in the field of psychology. Narcissistic Personality Disorder, specifically of the covert variety, describes this woman to a T, to the point where she was called a “textbook” case by an expert in the field of psychology. It should be noted that even this expert stated that the two personality disorders (BPD and NPD) share similar characteristics, it is possible to suffer from both, and she might actually have a combination of the two.
Why blog about this? Anyone who knows a narcissist knows that if they realized they were the subject of a blog, they would act indignant, while simultaneously believing themselves to be supremely important and worthy of being the center of attention. If your narcissist is anything like ours, you know this is not true. Our narcissist, like yours, is actually nobody. Not relevant, not talented, not attractive, not intelligent, and not interesting. It is estimated that a bit over 6% of the population has NPD, a little over 5% of the population has BPD, and 10% of the population has a combination of the two. These percentages are even lower if your narcissist is a woman, since this disorder is more prevalent in men. This means that approximately 20% of the population (and predominantly male) has these personality disorders, and anyone who knows someone with BPD/NPD knows one truth: they do the damage, but everyone around them are the ones in therapy. So, if you have someone in your life with a disordered personality, this blog is not about them. It is about you. Not all narcissists behave like Kanye West or Donald Trump. They can be insidious. They can take the form of martyrs, pillars of the community, good church-going Christians and victimized sufferers, all while sucking the life out of those closest to them. They are the victimizers, not the victims, and if you have been one of the empaths who fell for the charade, tried to be the knight in shining armor, and ended up isolated and abused, this is for you. You need and deserve a network of people who understand. You deserve to know you are not alone. Most importantly, you deserve to know that what happened to you is not your fault and that the blame does not rest on your shoulders. This blog is about sharing experiences with intent to make victims feel understood and less isolated, and to offer help and hope for those in need.