The Narcissist’s Revolving Door

revolving doorA revolving door is designed for a specific purpose, to increase and ease the flow of people.  The term “revolving door” also refers to a type of situation in which the same events or problems recur in a continuous cycle.  Additionally, a “revolving door” can also mean a place or organization that people tend to enter and leave very quickly.  Lastly, Wikipedia states that this type of door allows people to pass both in and out at the same time with no possibility of bumping into one another.  I think that a revolving door is an excellent depiction of a narcissistically disordered person’s life.  Even more elaborate than one revolving door, is the reality that narcissists have many revolving doors in which people come and go, at the same time, without ever knowing about or seeing the others. I did have my own revolving door with a narcissist, so I have at least an idea how it might work.

The Narcissist’s revolving door is slightly different than the type described above because the narcissist’s revolving doors are only reserved for him/her to use.  The Narc is the only one that comes and goes quickly without being seen by the others.  Her family, intimate partners, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances, all have their own door.  What goes on behind each revolving door is only known by the Narcissist.  She needs to slither in and out with ease and leaves no finger prints on the glass.  She just keeps walking in and out of all the doors to get narcissistic supply.  In one door she gets a compliment for what she is wearing.   The second door are a bunch of girlfriends waiting to go to dinner to a fancy restaurant so she can parade her designer clothes and expensive purse.  The third door is her occasional birthday lunch partner who also happens to be the PTO President and an ex-beauty queen.  The fourth door is her husband, he provides her with a large home, nice car and a lavish lifestyle.  The fifth door is the current target who is still in the love-bombing stage.  Behind this door is where the Narcissist gives a compliment to the future side-kick.  The sixth door are her children.  They sit in a room filled with FOG (fear, obligation and guilt).  The seventh door are her dogs who give her unconditional love. The eighth door is her exercise partner.  The ninth door is her current victim.  When the Narc comes through this door, she tells the victim that her hair is not combed properly and that her shoes don’t go with her outfit.  In the tenth door are a group of the current victim’s and the Narc’s mutual friends.  Behind this door a smear campaign is taking place.   All of these doors are spinning constantly, as she feeds herself with narcissistic treats.

All of the people behind the various doors get a different version of the Narcissist though.  The ones that compliment her on her clothing, see a fashionista.  Someone hip on the latest designer trends.   The people in the fancy restaurant see a confident, possibly striking individual who must be somebody well-known in the community.   The PTO mom, ex-beauty queen sees her as wonderful mother and sacrificial volunteer.   Her husband sees a woman who is talented in some areas, appears to care for her children, and has no idea what is said behind his back.  The current target in door number five can’t wait to see the narcissist. They hug hello, go over the days events, make plans for future vacations, outings, and talk about how the previous friend is crazy and jealous.  They even Face-time later because they just have so much to talk about. They tag each other on Facebook, like each others posts and have a non-stop, uninterrupted Snap Chat streak.  In the sixth door , her children are waiting to be taken somewhere, but are sitting there feeling guilty that their mom has to take time out of her busy day to tend to their needs.  Her dogs greet her at door #7, barking and wagging their tails.  The narc hugs, kisses and feeds her dogs.  Her exercise partner sees her as someone who watches what she eats, loves to workout and sweat, and has specific fitness goals.  Door #9 is where the current victim sits still in the devaluation stage of the relationship.  The target loves the narcissist and has loved her for many years.  The target is curled up on the chair feeling anxious about the Narcissist’s return.  The target makes sure that her hair is combed and sprayed.  The target is unsure about the outfit she is wearing after ruminating for an hour on what to wear, so that the narc will not be displeased or embarrassed. The target must reflect back to the Narc and image of perfection.  Keep in mind, that once the target gets discarded or leaves the narcissist, someone else will quickly get assigned to that door.  The Narcissist will be manipulating and tending to these people every single day, his or her entire life.

Now we all know that revolving doors are transparent and that is so people can see each other, right?  Well, none of the Narcissist’s revolving doors are transparent.  Any transparency has been obstructed by both smoke and mirrors constructed by the Narc.   For example, the exercise partner hears nothing of her lunch or dinners at fancy restaurants or that she smokes when with the quarterly dinner crowd.  Her current victim, who she has been “best friends” with for years, has never even heard the name of the current target, and later finds out that they have been hanging out on a regular basis, for over a year, which totally explains her devaluation and eventual discard as soon as new supply was in place.  The people going to the fancy restaurant have no idea that the “friend for years” (victim) is all curled up in a chair from emotional abuse by the Narc.  Behind each of these doors, the Narc wears a different mask and facilitates a new persona.  The people behind the doors can never be all together because the Narc can only wear one mask at a time.  The people behind the doors must not compare notes.

From personal experience, I have witnessed the phenomenon of a new mask and persona.  The Narc I knew for almost nine years became un-recognizable.  I had to do a double take when I saw her and did think I was going crazy.  “Was I this messed up that I am now imagining things?” Absolutely not!  The Narc I knew changed her hair and style of clothing.  I did a double take when I saw her walking just like her new “best friend” (at one point, I saw them together frequently).  I kept shaking my head in disbelief.  My assessment was validated when shockingly, my daughter noticed it too.  The Narc’s daughter herself later confirmed it in a casual conversation (our daughters are best friends).   What happened to my friend?  The person I knew no longer existed.

So, in order to prevent being behind a revolving door, demand transparency in all intimate relationships.  If there is no transparency between friends, partners, and/or co-workers, then someone is hiding something.  Synonyms for transparent are obvious, evident, undisguised, clear, unambiguous, and apparent.  Transparency leads to trust, which is the foundation of any relationship.

Image Credits: Valerie Everett via Foter.com.

Feels Like the First Time: Narcissistic Abuse

Once victims of abuse start searching the world wide web for answers as to why their partner, spouse, friend or lover never apologize, continually lie, talk behind their back, casually reject them, and expose them to days, sometimes weeks of the silent treatment, they stumble upon the personality disorder of “narcissism.” Victims learn that they have been exposed to the stages of “idealization,” “devalue” and “discard” when involved with a disordered person and instantly see a vignette of their current, or even past, relationship.

The idealization stage or “love-bombing” stage is when you are bombarded with a narcissist’s version of love. You get their undivided attention and endless conversation. If they have something to say and news/gossip to share, they will hunt you down, calling every phone number you have and they don’t stop until they connect with you. A noteworthy subject would be about how they were slighted by someone or how somebody didn’t acknowledge them the minute they entered a room. When not on the phone, the two of you are side-by-side at every party, family affair and social gathering.  Everybody around you admires your friendship/relationship, refers to it as “special” and tells you how lucky you are to have found the relationship of a lifetime. You “check in” on Facebook, tag each other every chance you get, comment on each other’s photos and inside jokes. You take vacations together, spend holidays together; discuss your illnesses and marital problems; become almost like extended family. Life cannot be any better.

Further down the line, you notice that you don’t feel right. You have this little ping of anxiety but don’t know why. The feeling is a familiar one; it feels like the first time, like it did with your parent, when you were young. But as usual, you shove this feeling down and ignore it. As time goes on, the feeling keeps returning, only more frequently. “Surely, it must be me. There must be something wrong with me. It has always been me. I must be insecure. But, I don’t feel or act insecure. I have hobbies, lots of friends, a life-long career and an intact, healthy family. Maybe I’m jealous. But I am not jealous. In fact, I pity the narcissist’s lifestyle. How could anyone be jealous of someone whose tells me her life is so horrible? Her abusive husband and in-laws? Jobless?   I have heard countless hours of the “woe is me” stories. I feel so sorry for my partner/friend. Surely, I cannot be jealous. Nobody could.”  But, what is it then?  Why do I have this weird feeling?

Like clockwork, you always get the morning phone call.  How lucky you are to be able to receive the morning unloading of their emotional baggage. After the phone call, you hang up feeling weighted down from their verbal diary and they go about their day, smiling, shopping, lunching, and checking in with all of their minions.  This can be assimilated to being “compartmentalized.” Narcissists do this within their social circle and they do it well. Everyone has a little room or compartment and the compartments never merge. More is not always merrier with a narcissist when it comes to social gatherings!  Everyone is kept separate, that way the target/scapegoat/emotional punching bag cannot see how the others are treated.  You now find yourself asking to spend time with the narc,  “can we at least do lunch or shop once in a while?” Eventually you are “uninvited” everywhere. What do they have to hide. you ask? The abuse, that’s what! They don’t know what mask to wear when in a crowd where the target/victim is. The target notices that the narc is never abusive to it in front of everyone else.  In fact, the narc is extraordinarily nice and the narc’s personal problems are rarely discussed or not even known by any of the others.  The target wonders how the narc can have so many friends when the narc is so negative, belittling, abusive and with so many problems!  The target wants to privately discuss her feelings of rejection with the narc and wants to ask the narc why she can do things with other people but not the target.   The truth is, the narc is always cultivating and securing new supply.  Eventually, new names are dropped in conversation, but you really have no idea that another intimate relationship is simultaneously paralleling yours.  Your need to meet the narc is granted, but not for open and honest communication, no sir! The narc shows up haughty and defensive.  Somehow, you end up apologizing for accusing the narc of anything other than perfection.  The narc feels smothered by having to respect the feelings of others.  You leave the conversation feeling worse than when you arrived.  Your self esteem reduced to worthlessness.  Your feelings suppressed, again….

Once the narcissist latches on to a new target (fresh supply), you are unceremoniously dumped. Its been a year since narc and I have done anything together but talk on the phone.  The target is afraid to even ask to get together, she is always too busy.  Again, you question the narc one last time about her elimination of wanting to get together. The narc then accuses the target of changing (spoke my mind, started to self-preserve) and informs the target that the target is no longer privy to the sharing of information by the narc.  That is projection at its finest because the target didn’t change at all, the narc did!  Without the sharing of information, there is no friendship or any type of a relationship for that matter!  The narc just wants you to serve her, shoulder her pain and to be her emotional punching bag.  At this point, you realize that you can no longer be a puppet and you decide to finally distance yourself emotionally.  You leave communication open (low contact), but you feel you are in a “no win” situation and start to walk away. Now, when you do get together, which isn’t often anymore, you are asked to “untag” them in any photos. Nothing is shared and being with you is now a secret. This is because they have undoubtedly smeared you to your social circle and close, mutual friends and family, so now they can’t let anyone know they are still in contact with you. But, they haven’t fully dumped you because the next supply isn’t totally lined up and considered reliable. The new target is still being groomed. You are now a secret until you get so hurt that you walk away (no contact) in order to protect yourself, and you never look back. You never, ever find out just how long the smearing had been going on though.  But, you can assume it was for as long as it took the new target to become primary or secondary supply.

All of this feels like the first time, the time when you were being raised by your narcissistic parent/parents.  Any love you gave, not enough and any love you thought you experienced (manipulation), ripped away. Your needs rarely considered or barely met. Your “YOU” never even acknowledged. The treatment you have endured is covert abuse at its finest. How dare anyone make the narc accountable!  How dare you make them see that they aren’t as perfect as they portray themselves to be!  You are unable to stand up for yourself by questioning the narc on her behavior because you will be punished, just like the first time, with your disordered parent.