What It Is Like To Live Under A Narcissist

Queers have been here before as a subculture. We have felt backlashes before. We have faced discrimination before. We have woken before on the day after an election to find that all of our intersectional identities have been invalidated by our states, country, and many who proclaim to love us. We know the personal threats and study how they are compounded by race, class, age, ability, and so many other factors. We know what it is to have our lives unvalued, our culture spat upon, genders regulated, and our relationships denigrated. We have watched civil rights movements before ours and we have learned. We know how to protest and survive, and we can show everyone how to do it again.

I have also been here as a human being, this place of suddenly recognizing a vile, dangerous narcissist to whom I am trapped in close proximity. I have been here before. I will never fully escape, and I feel that our nation has just walked into the same trap. We poo-poo-ed important warning signs that can only be seen by those who already know abuse. We allowed the charisma and our own desires to land us not with a jolly, thoughtful rebel, but with a childish, mean, determined narcissist. Blind hatred by others has mired us beneath a horrifying narcissist whom I can now see straight through.

I can tell you a little bit about how it will go:

There will be times where he seems magnanimous. He will sometimes use his charm and sparkle for good instead of evil. But they will be sporadic and hard to predict in duration. They will be dependent on positive attention from those he most desires.

There will be gestures that he makes that will seem for the benefit of others, but it is really about the praise and adoration he seeks to receive.

There will be topics that he does not affect negatively, because they will simply escape his attention. Some things will be spared only by his lack of diligent focus on anything other than himself.

There will be concepts and topics about which he speak positively while crushing them with his actions.

He will blame the victims of anything that goes wrong.

The only things for which he will not take credit will be mistakes.

He will not be thoughtful or generous in any sustained ways.

Hell hath no fury like a narcissist scorned. When insulted, angered, aroused, or ignored, he will be vicious, selfish, dedicated, and tireless in pursuit of some mark to put back into the “Win” column to save face.

He will sometimes pander to maintain appearances, attention, and accolades, but will never really think of anyone but himself and how he looks in any given situation, hoping that it will finally match his own esteemed self-concept of himself.

He will have outbursts.

He will enact revenges, large and small.

There will be relentless ego.

He will be shocked and will rage when he loses.

He is not stable and will thusly oscillate between using bravado to save face and exploding when he can’t control himself.

He will meant it all. He will be his own best friend and will internally confirm everything that he believes. He will feel things deeply and we will be shocked at his sometimes complete lack of connection with the reality that the rest of us perceive together.

He will take advantage of the skewed perspectives and outlooks of others. He will be surprisingly flexible about catering his internal beliefs for those who bathe him with attention, glory, or money.

He will not change — not from our love, not from our disdain, not from our thoughtful critique. He will smile and accept suggestions when we please him, but will never maintain empathetic connections or concerns for others.

He loves to argue, command, dictate, and shut things down.

He will feel hurt and confused when we accuse him of villainy. He will angrily defend himself instead of reflecting. He will never seek or use treatment.

He will believe that he has defeated us even as we thrive and compassionately rebel.

He will not be impressed by our thoughtful, kind, supportive, essential contributions or protests.

Our community building and maintenance will not make him smile unless we kiss his ass and include him graciously as our hero despite his bile.

I am so sorry. I am so sorry that we find ourselves here, that we couldn’t reach those who can’t see abusive warning signs before they are experienced. That we don’t listen to the lived experiences of brown, queer, differently-abled, young, old, poor, battered, expert people.

This is what it will be like. We’ll survive. We’re survivors. This is what we’ll have to live through. Again.

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