Surviving The Narcissist
How I made it out the other side while questioning my own sanity
It was a situation I truthfully never saw coming. This new friend I had gotten to know virtually during the Covid-19 pandemic had become an IRL friend. Because I am the type of person who wants to believe the best in everyone until they give me an obvious reason not to, this isn’t the first time I’ve been bitten in the ass with friends and relationships. This is, however, the first time I ever had to endure a narcissist that made me question my life, my personality, integrity, other personal relationships, and most of all, my own sanity.
This new friend was someone who held herself in high regard, though she wasn’t over-the-top about it. It seemed deserved at the time. She had a decent, stable job. She claimed to be involved with the community and volunteered at animal shelters. She also seemed to have a lot of friends in high places. She was also polyamorous and had not one, but two seemingly wonderful relationships with two completely different men that both lived under the same roof. I know from past experience that in itself is something that takes a great deal of communication and problem-solving ability. I was encouraged.
I will be honest with you, dear reader, when I say that I saw nothing that immediately aroused suspicion on my end. There was nothing that I saw. It doesn’t mean the signs weren’t there, just that I was completely oblivious to them.
She and I had been friends for about a year and a half online before spending any time together in person. I felt like I knew her very well at that point, but it wasn’t very long into our IRL friendship that things started to unravel. She told stories about a co-worker who was also a mutual friend, and painted her out to be some kind of super villain. She was sure to inform me every time she did something behind this co-worker’s back to bring her one step closer to losing her job. She actively tried to involve me in her petty behaviors, probably with the intent to make me just as guilty for not speaking up. I didn’t speak up, because she convinced me that the co-worker was a narcissist that just wasn’t showing their true colors yet.
Every story she told about someone she didn’t like was threaded with this person’s wrongdoings and how they had personally wronged her. This included local public figures, people we knew mutually both online and in person, and people I had never even heard of. We had enough actual friends in common that, again, this didn’t immediately raise any red flags like it should have. We ran in the same circles for the most part, or so I thought. I listened to her villainize people she didn’t like and people I had no personal opinion on, time and time again. People including her own 17-year-old daughter.
I never questioned anything she told me until I was given a solid reason to. Until I became the target of her lies and manipulation. She and I briefly entered into a casual polyamorous relationship, it really didn’t have the opportunity to become anything serious. She came to me one day and told me she didn’t think it was going to work out, I agreed and said I was glad she said something because I felt the same way. By this point, I felt like a conquest instead of a partner. Like having an AFAB (assigned female at birth) partner was something she wanted for show, but when it came time for affection or anything that you’d find in a romantic relationship, she wasn’t putting forth any kind of effort. We had agreed it was in our best interest to just be friends.
What I didn’t realize, was that she really just wanted me to break down and beg her to be with me. She wanted me to pad her own self-inflated ego. I know this because I didn’t do that and things quickly devolved into ME becoming the villain. I was suddenly the one being torn down and spoken badly of. I was the crazy one, the one who needed therapy, the one who can’t handle a relationship. She posted plenty of digs at me on multiple social media websites, in an attempt to make it seem to her friends and followers like things didn’t work out because I was nuts. Things got pretty ridiculous, pretty fast.
Suddenly, my head started to spin. I started to wonder how many of these stories she told me about others were false. I also started to wonder how many people actually knew her and chose to remain friends with her. She never introduced me to many, anyway. I quickly found out that most of the stories she told me about people were false, because I went to them directly and asked them. Many of these people had never even heard of her, and if they did they had no idea what I was even talking about. I also found out that many people only remained friends with her because they were afraid of her volatility and wanted to remain on her good side, so as to not become a target. Then, it hit me. She was a narcissist.
I quickly cut off all contact at this point, blocked all of her social media accounts and her phone number, and told my own story to close friends in an attempt to get ahead of the situation. I spent many days in therapy trying to sort out what was real and what was pure fiction, and I soon realized that most of it was purely fiction. I realized that my sanity wasn’t to blame here, and that I was a victim of her manipulation. It took that realization for me to stop questioning reality and my own sanity, and to stop wondering what I had done so wrong.
The truth is, I really hadn’t done much wrong. You don’t know a narcissist is one right off the bat without first having experienced one in such a deeply personal way. Now that I do know, alarm bells go off in my head every single time I encounter someone with even the slightest narcissistic tendencies. I don’t love how guarded I have become in light of this experience, but I can certainly appreciate that I now know how to not have this experience again.