Dealing with a narcissist is never easy. It’s impossible to have a simple conversation with one, because there is always some ulterior motive. Usually, that motive is to hurt or embarrass you, especially while they appear innocent. They love to say indirect things so if you confront them on their nastiness, they can honestly say, “I never said that!” And it’s true- they didn’t say that. Instead they implied it. The difference is you end up hurt & wondering if they’re right, you are too sensitive, you read into things, you’re crazy, etc. At least if someone out right criticizes you, there is no doubt they are out to hurt you.
If you’re wondering if you’re being oversensitive or if the narcissist in your life really is trying to hurt you, there are some giveaways.
If someone complements you in front of your narcissist, you will have to pay. You can’t get any positive attention, because she deserves it all! At least she thinks so. Either she will say something to negate the complement, or treat you even worse than usual until her anger is done. Many years ago, I recently started dating a man who thought we should meet each other’s parents in spite of my protests & wanted to invite my parents to dinner one night. Just after dinner when my parents went to leave the room, my boyfriend said, “Mrs. Bailey, I just want to say, you raised a really wonderful daughter.” My mother looked Mike in the eye, snorted & said, “Well, at least I tried to” & left the room. Does this type of comment sound familiar to you? If so, no, you aren’t being oversensitive- this type of snarky comment hurts!
If you seem too happy for the narcissist’s liking, you can count on the narcissist saying something designed to destroy that. They are happy squishers, doing anything they can to squish your happiness! Once, I had lost a few pounds. I didn’t need to lose much, but was glad that I lost probably ten pounds or so. I told my mother, who said, “You probably lost weight because you have cancer & are going to die.” No way was that said to benefit me or said out of concern. Comments like that are said to squish any joy you may be feeling, period.
Have you ever heard the comment, “I would NEVER” come from your narcissist? That one is designed to make you feel not good enough because you would stoop so low as to doing whatever she would never do. My mother once told me she would NEVER even ride in a car, let alone own one, with over 100,000 miles on it. It was obviously said because my husband & I both love & own old cars while hers is much newer than anything we own. (At least I had the pleasure of telling her that when we took my parents to Annapolis the previous weekend in hubby’s car, his car had almost 250,000 miles on it at that point. She was speechless. It was a fun moment for me! lol)
Whatever thing you have accomplished or purchased or done that thrills you is fodder for a narcissist making sure you know it isn’t impressing her. So you just got a promotion at work & will be making twice your old salary? She isn’t impressed- you still don’t own the company, do you? Anyone could do that job- it’s nothing special. You just bought your first brand new car? So what? It’s not a “good” car like hers. My mother no longer blatantly criticizes things of mine she finds not good enough. Instead, she gives a blank look like she is bored to tears. The look hurts just as badly as the criticisms because the message is the same- she thinks I’m not good enough. (Thankfully, the more I’ve healed, I’ve learned not to care about what she thinks of me).
So Dear Reader, when you experience these things, please remember- the narcissist is gaslighting you! You aren’t oversensitive or reading into things or crazy! Instead, you are on the receiving end of narcissistic abuse. You are fine! It’s the narcissist who has issues.
I’ve found to deal with these abusive behaviors, you need to learn as much as possible about narcissism & gaslighting. You also need to learn what tactics your narcissist uses so when they happen, you can remind yourself this is simply her weapon of choice- there is nothing wrong with you for feeling the way you do. Also, focus on your own emotional healing. The healthier you get, the harder you are for narcissists to manipulate or control. Their criticisms no longer traumatize you, but simply annoy you that they are so anxious to hurt you. Their games no longer work, which frustrates them to no end. It actually can get funny sometimes when you reach a point in your healing where you understand what is happening & refuse to be abused, but the narcissist is convinced all the old tactics still work on you. Their outrageous behavior can be downright funny sometimes when you understand it, as can the lengths they go to in an attempt to get their way.