Read “Pink Spoons” & “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire” for continuity.
Read “Word Salad” &” Karma’s a *#^*@!” just because.
When I first ‘Googled’ the phrase Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I thought it was going to refer to someone who was fond of checking themselves in the mirror…”Don’t I look great today!” What I discovered, left me feeling as though I had been punched in the gut and gasping for breath. It took months for me to just wrap my mind around what a truly warped individual my friend really was. What had made him that way? I may never know, but I think this was/is one trigger:
On the Internet, I found more information on NPD than I ever knew existed. (Okay, I never even knew that NPD existed.) One concept, I was familiar with, but I never dreamed The N had a twisted version of it. I knew about Healthy Mirroring, but not its narcissistic relative.
An example of Healthy mirroring is the mother/infant relationship. The precious little bundle in your arms locks his gaze on your face and coos & smiles. The mother’s response is to answer her baby back with enthusiasm and a even bigger smile. New research shows that when a baby smiles at his mother, it produces a sense of well being in the mother. I can certainly attest to that.
When my youngest was 3 months old, we were visiting a friend who was recovering from major surgery. While she laid on her couch, Sammy was laying on her floor, flirting shamelessly with his mommy. I was matching him coo for coo, smile for smile. My girlfriend said, “Did you know what you are doing is called “mirroring?” (She’s a psychologist.) I had not heard that terminology before. I was just doing what came naturally with all my babies. “When you mirror your baby, you are giving him a sense of self worth, letting his primitive little brain know that he is significant to you and valued. You are raising a priceless human being, an individual, and mirroring him is teaching him that.” Knowing that I was doing the right thing as his mother, was a boost to my self worth too.
As I began to understand (as best as one can) The Narcissist, through my research. I realized that this Healthy Mirroring was probably something he had never experienced from his own mother, or his parents for that matter. I am privy to stories of his childhood, and while I know that possibly those are simply that, just stories… they do help some of the puzzle pieces fall into place. I learned that some experts believe that this personality disorder can begin in early childhood. If the N wasn’t lying, then maybe this Healthy Mirroring was one of the many things he lacked as a child.
Mirroring: NPD Style
Narcissistic Mirroring is the evil relative. The Narcissist has no human qualities, he is a vacuous being, devoid of empathy. He is human only because of his DNA. The Narcissist mirrors the emotions, behaviors & actions of their sources of supply (NS). They must mirror the humans around them, so that they can appear as one of them. It makes a Narcissist sound like an alien life form, doesn’t it? (Wonder if Stephen King has ever written about NPD? Maybe he has. It sure would be my idea of scary.)
It is not that Narcissists are socially stilted or in need of etiquette lessons. It is not that they are clueless, they simply don’t care about any of us. Remember, we’re just things to them, ‘pink plastic spoons.’ The N used to enjoying taking the opportunity when he was being callous (which was nearly all the time) to use one of his many cliche…”I’m just a boy!” It was his excuse for his “rudeness du jour.” The eye roll is not nearly sufficient enough here.
The N was and is a master of disguise. Watching other people and ‘mirroring’ their emotions, reactions…is something that The N excelled at. When I first met The N, I noticed how he was very aware of me. I should say that I noticed this subconsciously, because my actual awareness of this behavior was minimal at best. It was only when the relationship was over, that I could begin to vaguely remember events, conversations, & uneasy feelings. The longer I was away from the N, the more the fog lifted, the more abuse and deception I remembered. The past events became even clearer.
The N was aware of every move I made when he was with me, watching me like a predator…..it may sound strange, but looking back now, it seemed like he was studying me. When I read about this behavior as being considered psychotic….it makes me chilled to the bone.
A Chilling Example…
You may have the same reaction as I did when you read the following…
A mutual friend of ours had a baby girl. I’ll call the friend Jill, the baby, Annie. Jill would bring the baby with her when she visited me and often the N was there. Jill was a first time mom so she sought advice from anyone willing to share their wisdom with her. I would talk with Jill, and hold Annie, mirroring her the way I did with all my children. Annie’s response, followed the ‘baby handbook’ to the letter. I could have used her as an example in a parenting magazine article.
The N’s face would take on the most loving expressions I had ever seen on his face during these visits. He would move in close to me and watch as I talked to Annie. I knew N was dying to hold the baby. After a few minutes I would put her into his arms. (Yeah, I know, it creeps me out too.) He would talk to her and make faces…all sorts of endearing expressions. She would ‘talk’ to him for while, but then she would just stare at him and begin to fuss and squirm. He would reluctantly hand her back to me. Sometimes, as soon as I sensed her distress, I would reach over and take her back into my arms. She would calm immediately. Didn’t someone once say that infants can sense much more than we give them credit for?
It was many months later that Jill said something significant to me. We were at a nice restaurant, talking over dinner. She was actually getting to have a meal while it was still warm. (All mothers can relate to that.) She brought up the subject of The N. “Ugh,” I said, “Do we have to talk about him? This week he started ‘hoovering’ me again.” (“Hoovering” – is when, after having discarded their NS, the N suddenly does yet another about face and begins trying to get back into the rejected supply’s good graces.) Not gonna happen in a million years, buddy.
Jill said, “I was remembering when Annie was tiny, and N would be holding her… when he was talking to her…well, this will sound strange…but he looked & sounded just like you!” I put my fork down….
Jill continued, “when I saw N at the mall after a visit, we hung out for awhile and talked…. do you know that his facial expressions and demeanor reminded me SO much of you. Don’t you think that’s strange?” I put my bread down and pushed my dinner away…so much for me having a warm meal.
Yes, I think it’s freaking strange. Can a Narcissist really mimic his supply so well, that he can take on their characteristics…appearances…even resembling the ‘supply’ during the N’s interactions with others? I don’t have answers.
The Reflection fades…
The N kept up the ‘Idolization’ phase of the relationship much longer than most, so I am told. He enjoyed tossing in ‘devaulations’ whenever I was feeling self assured, confident and in control. He seemed to take sadistic delight in dragging out the torment as long as he could. The verbal abuse was often -Always when there were no witnesses. Whoever said “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me…” never met The N.
By the end of the ‘relationship’, his ‘mask’ had disappeared altogether, all on it’s own, I didn’t pull it away…perhaps it was because all he had to ‘mirror’ from me now was the rejection, the overwhelming depression & the pain from his verbal and emotional abuse. He was mirroring the emotions of his ‘disposable spoon.’ The N stole so much from me that by the end, that there was nothing left.
The Narcissist’s life is a House of Mirrors. He is constantly looking for someone to mirror, NS who will make him look good…make him look better…but in the House of Mirrors…his reflection is distorted, twisted, his image is malformed. He tries to keep past supply in a holding pattern…in case there is anything salvageable from the human being for him to mimic. But in the end, the source of supply has been drained dry, there is nothing left.
As much as he may try to manipulate his world, The Narcissist will never be like me. I am a caring human being; he is not. No amount of reflection will ever change that.