Yesterday I reblogged a post from Elise Stewarts site. It was a comment/question left by one of the visitors to her blog asking how does a person know without a doubt that a person they meet is a narcissist before they get in too deep to get out unscathed. I went back today and commented on the post and have copied and pasted that response below:
Carrie ReimerYour comment is awaiting moderation.
I can relate so well to the commenter on all aspects of her journey, including the heightened empathy. She/he doesn’t say how long they have been split from the N (or if they did I have forgotten) but its been 3 yrs for me and I have found that at the 2 yr mark I felt a lot more vulnerable than I do now, 3 yrs out. I haven’t hidden away but I have been very cautious and have dealt with a few N types since leaving my ex. It seemed as if I was an N magnet at first, not romantically but because I was so vulnerable emotionally and so destitute financially I seemed to attractive men wanting to take advantage of that, I became quite cynical and shut off because of it. I don’t feel I am cynical any more but I am cautious and very aware of every little indication a person may be an N, whether it is a social situation or work, family even and I take my time getting to know them. Personally I find I am quite perceptive and usually pick up on the signs rather quickly. I think the secret is listening to your gut. There are no guarantees, the professionals get sucked in by these people all the time, and they are experts at hiding their true selves but there are little “give aways” that we previously ignored and we always feel it in our gut. I think the only way we can assure ourselves safety from these soul suckers is to take all relationships slow, that is not to say a person has to hide away or be shut off to people, in fact the best way to disarm an N is to be open to them and see how they react to your openness. But you can’t do it from a vulnerable position and that takes time, you have to be healed enough that if you discover the person is an N you can walk away unscathed. Maybe disappointed that the person wasn’t what they projected but not devastated because they abused your deepest fears and vulnerabilities.
The truth is, there are always going to be N’s waiting to bounce on a person and if we are to move on with our life we have to be aware and listen to our guts instinct and not doubt ourselves. Every single person I have talked to who has been involved with an N had early signs and ignored them and didn’t listen to their gut. I know she asked for a sure fire way of knowing without a doubt that a person is an N, and the only answer to that is listen to your gut, it does not lie. Sure you can doubt it, what it you are wrong, what if the person isn’t an N, maybe I am just being too cautious, maybe my N radar is malfunctioning because I was so hurt and now am damaged from that hurt, maybe I suspect everyone is an N. that is the empathy in us speaking, we don’t want to falsely accuse someone of being something they aren’t, we don’t want to be unfair but we can control that self doubt and have to.
When a deer in the forest senses danger they act on that gut feeling, it is a God given gift to sense danger; the deer doesn’t stand around and wait to make sure they are picking up the signal properly. They don’t worry about looking silly for running, they don’t worry about being fair think to themselves, “I have come so far and now I have to run back the same way I came and waste all that time, maybe I am wrong, maybe I should just go a bit further so I can be sure there is danger and then I will feel better about wasting my time or maybe there won’t be danger and I will get where I am going faster”. NO they run!! as fast as they can in the opposite direction and they don’t look back and I am sure they thank their lucky stars they got away.
As for needing human closeness and interaction; she is right that we all (or most of us) have a need for closeness with people, we need other people in our lives to care about. Especially an empath needs to love someone. I found one of the things that I had the hardest time dealing with was, I loved loving my ex. He didn’t love me, he didn’t treat me lovingly so it made no sense to stay; but I stayed because I loved loving him. The N forces us to love like we have never loved before, he challenges us to love unconditionally, love despite how he treats us, and we give from our soul because it is the only way we can love at that point. When you give that much it is very hard to stop loving and giving but eventually you give until you have nothing left to give and he discards you. once your reserves start to replenish he comes back and you do it again and again until finally he walks away for good or by some miracle you break away. But eventually your reserves replenish and you feel the need to love again. I don’t know how to explain it but I found in my life I was able to focus my love on other things besides him. I started to perform random acts of kindness, it is a safe way to show love to someone, you never see them again but you make a difference in someone’s life. I started my blog reaching out to other victims in hopes of saving them from some of the heart ache I suffered and at times that is almost too much to bare because I can relate so well but for me it takes a bad experience and makes it worth while. On occasion an N has come into my blog but it didn’t take long for myself and the members of my page to pick up on them. I was able to observe from a safe distance and when enough signs presented themselves I dealt with them. I focused on mending some family relationships (I think almost everyone who has been involved with an N has some family fences to mend) by being open and honest with my feelings and was prepared to lose the relationship if necessary but in each case the relationship became stronger and better for it.
Sorry Elise, this got much longer than I intended. Just my thoughts on it. Excellent question, it really got me thinking.
Have a great new year and thank you for all you do to help other victims of narcissists. I came to your blog years ago now and I forget what I said exactly, something about “when does the pain stop” and I didn’t even come back to see if there was a response but you emailed me personally. It meant a lot to me.
An after thought on my reply to this commenter. Victim, or survivors of a narcissistic love relationship have to be very aware of their neediness. The N tears the person down to nothing and stomps on their self esteem and then tosses their love back at them with a smirk and disgust saying they got much better love elsewhere. To go looking for another love relationship seems like a logical way to heal, find a man who will show you that your love is good and you are good and enough but it won’t heal the hurt only put a bandage on it and the likelihood of getting involved with another narcissist is so high it isn’t worth taking the chance.
There is absolutely no way a person fresh out of a relationship with an N is healthy enough to recognize an N. They are thinking about the discard, the belittling, all the abuse that came after the love bombing of the beginning. As soon as they meet someone who thinks they are the best, everything they have been looking for, can’t get enough of you, you are perfect, you start soaking it up like a dry sponge and you are doomed.
It is imperative that a person get to the point where they don’t need the approval of a man and love themselves fully before they leave themselves open to loving again.
Back to work, more later