Some of you who read this blog are probably aware that from August – December, I self-identified as a covert narcissist. I won’t get into the reason why here (that’s been explained elsewhere and I don’t wish to go there again), but I was wrong (thank God!). But during that period of time, I posted on a self-help forum for people with NPD. Most of the posters believed they were covert narcissists (few of them had an official diagnosis). I’m not sure most of them were even narcissists at all, but just thought they were (same as me). If you’ve been “infected” by narcissists all your life, you can develop a bad case of “fleas” and display narcissistic traits, without actually developing the disorder. It can be very confusing and it’s fairly common for people with complex PTSD or Borderline Personality Disorder to believe they have NPD. (According to most experts though, if you believe you have NPD, you do not).
That out of the way, one of the “covert narcissists” on the forum in question, who may or may not have been one (I don’t think he was) told the story of how a bigger, badder narc turned him into a source of continual supply and constantly took advantage of and abused him, using every trick in the narcissist’s playbook. The victimized man, who tells the story, seemed like a codependent type to me. If he really is a covert narcissist, the story makes sense because when covert and grandiose narcissists appear together, the covert one will nearly always be in the codependent, victim role.
Since the tale he tells is so entertaining and hilarious as written, and because he has an enormous amount of insight and knowledge about NPD (impressive if he actually has the disorder!), I’m just going to quote his ongoing posts about his wealthy neighbor who was feeding off him like a bloodsucking leech, turning him into his “pool guy” and making his life a living hell last summer.
Since the story was told in quite a few posts on the forum and is going to be quite long (and the man is long-winded), I’m going to put this up in at least two posts.
The Pool Guy
My neighbor is here preparing his home for sale. He was here almost two years ago and we went to dinner then. He’s narcissistic. Very successful in life. Owned many businesses, bought/sold many properties. Lives on a beach. Very high standards, complains about others. He’s not disordered.
So, this is my first post-awareness experience. I’ve noticed myself catching why it’s comfortable to be with an overt/grandiose narcissist.
1. I notice I get supply from him describing his successes. There’s a definite “trickle down” feeling, like “he’s who I wanted to be, and he recognizes me as a worthy helper. I’m special because he likes me.”
2. We’ve gone to dinner a couple times. With others I would struggle to find things to talk about. It’s work to do it, and I don’t enjoy it. With him, when the awkward silence begins, all I have to do is ask him about one of his restored classic cars and he’ll start talking for 10 minutes.
And then I’m back to #1.
3. He took me to dinner last night. We stopped at a parrot store. (I love parrots. I go to this store occasionally and sit with a bird for an hour. They seem to have the same emotional maturity I do.). I found a friendly macaw and put it on his arm. I took a picture of him with the macaw. He said he would put it on his Facebook, send them to relatives, etc.
Last night I emailed the photos to him and felt kind of manic’y like I the attention he would receive belonged to me.
Summary. It’s very different now. I see what I’m doing as I do it. That halts my mental process which would typically grow to large proportions — and then butt-hurt (narcissistic injury) when reality didn’t keep up with my inner narrative.
[…]Last night I could recognize why I react the way I do (use this synergy for my benefit). I could equate it to the “inner narrative” and choose to consider more realistic thoughts about myself. Which in turn leads me to treat him more like a person than a source of supply. I end up feeling better about myself for dealing with someone realistically.
After spending a fortune and countless hours making his pool a paler shade of green, he informs me today he will leave on Saturday. Furthermore, he instructs, we are going to dinner tonight and Friday night. He’s buying. Anywhere I want.
I thought that was exceptionally nice.
So, we go tonight and, after the waitress places our order, my neighbor begins “asking” if I can keep an eye on his house, nothing big, and he’ll give me a key (which gave me that giddy feeling). All I have to do is walk through every couple days.
Sure! I can do that.
Then I ask, “you’ve got a pool guy, right?” He replies, “No, I thought you could do that. It’s amazingly simple. Of course, I would pay you for your time.” I began looking over my shoulder to see if it was too late to cancel my order. I realized I’d been setup.
Buying me a meal would have worked before I was self-aware. Weeks later I would have raged against myself — while absorbing the cost so I would still be seen as the narcissist’s favorite.
This time I told him I wasn’t comfortable with it. I’m not good with pools. (He knows that’s why I had mine dynamited 20 years ago. The largest ball and chain of my life!). He was disappointed. I was really tempted to give in, thinking I was being needlessly inflexible. But, then I remembered how much blood and treasure he spilled proving he was better than the pool guy — and he expectsme to be better than the pool guy too. So, I stuck to it, repeating I’m not good with pools. I never claimed to be. I’m retarded that way. (There’s a concrete carcass buried in my backyard to prove it.).
He dropped it suddenly and it was no problem. I thought he might brood, letting me know I’m on the “outs.” But, he was fine after that. I felt really good about how I’m able to navigate my old traits. I almost got caught off guard.
Later I realized I could have actually handled it even better. His whole thing is a bitter (and failed) rivalry with the pool guy. I should have cheerfully accepted what he as going to let me do for him. I could then hire a pool guy — charging my neighbor whatever the pool guy charges me. I could have saved him the humiliation!
Today I stepped into something a little by accident. He’s on a quixotic mission to fix a pool problem (in response to the pool guy screwing him). We’re also fixing a block wall and I have a masonry saw, so I cut some blocks for him. I noticed him in his back yard, so I thought I’d take the blocks back their for him.
I saw the pool was getting a greenish tint and just blurted out “oh wow, you’re getting some algae. You didn’t have that a couple days ago when you showed me what was wrong. Is it getting worse?”
Oh no. That was a narcissistic injury to him. I didn’t recognize it immediately. But, I could tell he was strewing about something, throwing more barbs than normal. He finally said something criticizing. I started feeling a narcissistic injury (Omg! He’s borrowing all my stuff! Using my internet! It would be so easy to hold his head underwater right now.). But, only 15 seconds into that feeling I dismissed it, knowing he’s narcissistic. It’s about him, not me. But, a little later I realized I caused it by voicing my thoughts carelessly.
So, it’s been interesting being in what would normally be an inverted relationship, keeping closer tabs on myself. I feel good about it.
I had dinner with him last night (Monday night) after not seeing him since early Friday morning helping him fix his fence.
1. He wanted to drive to Mexico for the weekend because the realtor was having “Open House” both days. I gave him a lot of info as if he’d go himself.
I normally would jump on something like that to be the “tour guide.” I would live in his memory, associated with what could only be described as a documentary-quality tour of [whatever]. Why be modest? Epic.
However, more than not being eager to visit the birthplace of diarrhea, I just really needed some space from the narcissism. So, I didn’t volunteer to do anything with him either Sat. or Sun. I gave him the self-directed tour info and played it like he was going. I didn’t ask any questions.
I was reminded of _____’s thread about feeling awkward saying no. I felt bad because I knew he didn’t go. I knew he had to be out of the house for 8 hours both days. I felt like I wasn’t being a good citizen. I assume he suffered narcissistic injury because he didn’t invite me to go with him wherever he went. I would have probably done one day with him.
But, I decided I’m not responsible for him. I’ve helped him as a neighbor, I’ll continue to go to dinner or show him around town. But, not every day. I shouldn’t have to explain that nor be embarrassed. I treated it like I’m doing the normal thing.
2. We went to dinner last night.
OMG. It was like the “inner dialog” was bottled up. It was non-stop and sounded rehearsed like he’s had the conversation with himself for 3.5 days. I literally could not get a word in edgewise. Every time I tried to say something, he’d interrupt like he knew what I was going to say (so I didn’t need to say it) and proceeded to the rehearsed conversation.
It’s really interesting to see this now with my awareness. Compared to how I would normally get drawn in, reacting to “my kind of language,” I feel detached like watching a tv show. It’s totally different. Not so much analyzing him, but knowing my own reflexive behavior and controlling it (except for last Thursday when I thought I was proving my intelligence by pointing out his pool was getting worse. Ooops.).
In my previous update I described how he dropped the subject abruptly, but wasn’t injured. That threw me off. I thought something wasn’t right.
Last night we went to dinner. He asked me if I could watch the water level “since I’m going to be walking through the house every other day or so. Just top it off with my hose (which remains there).” I said “Sure. But, how often will your pool guy come around. He’ll do that too, right?” He had a puzzled look on his face, like we’d talked about this before, and proceeded to say there won’t be a pool guy. He’s only going to be gone two months and he “just added chemicals today, so it should be ok for that long.”
I’m being put in a position to “just do it.” There’s no way it’s going to be “ok” longer than 3-4 days. When he “flipped” two nights ago, he just didn’t care. I knew I knew that look. He already had Plan-B in his mind and that’s what happened.
So, I guess I’ll be informing him in 3-4 days that the chemicals are exhausted. I’ll probably hire a pool guy and charge him like it’s my time. He’ll never know he was affiliated with one of those guys whose entire profession he painted black.
He said he asked the realtor to throw a couple scoops of the magic powder in the pool whenever the realtor shows the house. “So, it should be ok.” I’ll talk to the realtor and see if he has any qualms about this arrangement. Maybe we can conspire together. He probably knows a pool guy. I can pass it along to my neighbor like it’s my time (which he said he’d pay me).