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.