Understanding What a Narcissist Is

Updated on January 9, 2017
Sabrina Cameron profile image

Sabrina was in a relationship with a narcissist for 3 years. During that time she was physically, verbally, and sexually abused.

You've landed here because you believe you have a narcissist in your life. I know how overwhelming, exhausting, and draining that is to our mind and spirit. The first thing I'd like you to do is take a few deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth, allow your body to relax and know that you're in a safe place and you're taking the first step in healing your spirit by arming yourself with knowledge. Now that you're feeling a little more at ease, let's see exactly what a narcissist is.

What is a narcissist?

I had heard the word narcissist but I had never paid any attention to what it was because I had no reason to. I wish I still didn't need to know what that dreaded word meant or what these horrible people are capable of but after my Prince Charming turned satan spawn, I was forced to learn first hand what narcissism is. The terminology describing a narc can get a little confusing so I'm going to explain some of their traits in a more simple and direct manner.

  • They have an exaggerated sense of self-importance (nothing can function or succeed without them because they are the greatest thing ever created)
  • They expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it (they opened the jar of pickles for you so you must compliment their strength and let them know that they are the strongest person you ever met)
  • They exaggerate achievements and talents (in reality they went to the grocery store and bought dinner but in their mind they went into the wild and battled the cow with their bare hands just so you could eat tonight, give them the praise they deserve)
  • They are preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate (there is nothing in the world that can compete with them on any level)
  • They require constant admiration (you must constantly build them up and feed their ego but do not expect anything in return)
  • They have an enormous sense of entitlement (everybody owes them whatever they want, on demand, with no questions asked)
  • They take advantage of others to get what they want (they are masters of manipulation and go to any length necessary to get what they want)
  • They have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others (everything is about them so your feelings and needs aren't worthy of being discussed or met)
  • They are envious of others and believe others envy them (they want what everyone has and they believe that everyone tries to be just like them because they are the greatest thing alive)
  • They often act in an arrogant or haughty manner (they make sure that everyone is aware of their greatness)

Do any of the above mentioned traits sound familiar to you? Are you getting a vision of someone in your mind? I know when I started exploring narcissism and trying to determine if I truly was involved with a narcissist, I wanted more than just clinical definitions and explanations. I needed to hear someone's story to see if it resembled what was happening in my life. So, I'm going to share the condensed version of my living hell with you in the hopes that it can guide you and direct you on your next steps to a healthier and better life for yourself.

Fairy tales aren't supposed to feel this wrong

It began as a fairy tale romance. It was perfect, he was perfect. From the first moment I met him, I was completely mesmerized by his innate ability to understand me and connect with me. He was so in tune with what I felt and what I needed. He wanted to know everything about me and seemed genuinely empathetic with things I had been through and things I had dealt with in life. The romantic gestures; picking me wildflowers, buying me gifts for no reason, wanting to be with me all of the time, sharing secrets, dreams, goals. He was my safe place and I knew that I had found the one that I was going to be with forever

During this time he also shared such heart wrenching stories of betrayal and hurt that he had suffered before meeting me. He showed me what a wonderful man he was and I couldn't believe that some wretched woman had taken him for granted and hurt him in such a deep way. After all, he was every woman's dream man. I must have been the luckiest woman on earth to be able to have him in my life saving me from my past. It didn't take long for red flags to pop up all around me but I was so caught up in the storybook romance that I ignored every one of them and even made excuses for him and certain behaviors that should have told me to run for the hills as fast as I possibly could.

He was always willing to show me what an extraordinary man he was and how gifted he was at everything he did. I mean this man literally perfected everything and he made sure that I knew how lucky I was and how great he was. But that's normal right? He had been hurt so much in the past that he needed a woman to admire him and let him know he was great. And I wanted to save him from that hurt deep inside of him so desperately that I ignored the fact that things were no longer about any of my needs. I was happy to "save him." I was blessed to be the woman that got to mend his heart.

He was always charming and could come across as flirtatious but that's just because he is a sweetheart. He doesn't mean anything by it. He is committed to me, he's been cheated on and his heart has been shattered so I never have to worry about him doing that to me. I need to quit worrying so much and I have to trust him. So what if that stare into her eyes was a little longer and friendlier than I thought was necessary. I really thought I seen him pass her his number though. Quit trying to ruin what we have, you're my soulmate, that's what he told me as he kissed my forehead and embraced me in those loving arms. And I knew he was right and I had to stop before I ruined everything.

I eventually noticed that I had became silent in our relationship. My feelings, my moments to share stories, anything that was solely about me ceased to exist. All of our conversations were about his triumphs, his greatness, his feelings, his needs, everything had became about him. If I dared to try to discuss anything related to myself I was making everything about me and I wasn't respecting him. How could I do that to him after all he had done for me and after knowing what other women had put him through? How could I be so selfish? Why was I trying to lose the greatest thing that had happened to me?

I found myself apologizing when I knew in my heart that I hadn't done anything wrong. I apologized for wanting to be acknowledged, I apologized for upsetting him and trying to include myself in a discussion that was only meant for him to talk about himself. I apologized for not showing him enough appreciation, even though all I did was build him up, or so I thought. I apologized for being me. I even apologized for pushing him away with my "neediness" which was the reason he gave that girl his number. It wasn't his fault because he's great, it was my fault because I was insecure and wanted things to be all about me.

I found myself in a never ending cycle of trying to please him. I began to feel like nothing I said or did was worthy of any positive attention because I was failing at my job as his woman. I was failing as a person. It was my fault that he didn't get enough sleep the night before because as his woman I should've told him it was time to go to bed, even though he would've told me that he was a grown man and would go to bed when he wanted. It was my fault that he called me so many names and ran me into the ground during our argument because I know he has a temper and I should've calmed him down and comforted him before he said those things. It was my fault that he became so enraged that he choked me until I lost consciousness because I wouldn't love him and comfort him the way he needed. He wasn't the horrible person, I was and I needed to fix me so that we could be happy again.

Revelation is a great motivational tool

Sitting in the hospital waiting for the referral to the surgeon that would have to remove the glass from my hand because he had lost his temper again after I failed to provide his needs was the moment that I realized I had to figure out if it was me being crazy or if there was something wrong with him. I was at a point in my life that I questioned my own sanity. I questioned my worthiness as a human being. I questioned everything about myself. But there was still this voice inside of me that told me it wasn't me, it was him and I had to find a way to escape before he completely destroyed my mental health or worse, killed me.

I began my journey the next day to find out exactly what was going on because I had never experienced anything like this in my life. My journey led me to a mound of information on narcissism and how they prey on people like me. I learned a lot about what he was but more importantly, I learned who I was and why he had chosen me to be his latest victim. I found that there was hope in taking my life back from him and I could wake up from the nightmare I had been living. I armed myself with knowledge and I armed myself with support from people that had escaped a narcissist and I began to reclaim my life one day at a time.

It has been 7 months since I left him and I still struggle to make sense of everything I endured. I still have to remind myself that I wasn't the problem. I still have to battle the negative things he embedded in my mind about myself. I am in recovery every second of every day. It has been one of the most difficult things I have ever endured and breaking away from him was the most difficult part of it all. It will not be easy but it is your only hope for a peaceful life. The emotions I have experienced are off the charts. But I don't walk on eggshells anymore, I don't have to fix him anymore, I don't have to be abused anymore, I am free and I am on my way to being a better me.

You can begin your journey to recovery right now. You can take back your life and create something more beautiful than you ever imagined. Yes, it will be difficult and you'll want to give in to the narc in your life. Yes, you will ride that emotional roller coaster over and over again. But the ride will slow down in time and eventually you will be able to get off and walk away.

I discovered a strength I never knew I had and you will find yours if you give yourself a chance. I made my own motto during my recovery from his abuse and I find it to be powerful and motivating. Therefore, I'll close this article by sharing my motto with you in the hopes that it gives you the strength and empowerment needed to begin your recovery now. "You had no choice in becoming a victim but you do choose how long you remain one."

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


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    • profile image

      Chris Wilson 

      3 years ago

      thank you that reading has made my own experience become clearer i've been at my wits end trying to understand when the giving eg money gifts help was never enough ?


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