It’s Narcissist Friday!
A parasite is an organism that lives on or in a host and gets its food from or at the expense of its host.
– CDC definition
You work and struggle to gain ground in your life, only to find it slipping away time after time. You put away money, and it disappears. You eat well and exercise, but never feel healthy. You produce good stuff at work, but never get promoted. You smile and try to be positive, but you can’t seem to lift even your own spirit. Something is draining you. Something/someone is taking what you are working hard to produce. But the drain is subtle, hidden, a little at a time. It’s hard to pinpoint at first, but the effect you feel is very real.
After reading the amazing comments after the last post, I came to realize that there is a general theme in almost all of our dealings with narcissism. Obviously, the suggestions you shared reveal both pain and anger. (I gathered them and listed them below.) Frankly, as I look at the list, I am saddened. The emotions you see in that list are strong. They are natural responses to a PARASITE.
Imagine the disgust you would feel if you found you had a tapeworm. Or how dirty you would feel to find fleas. We loathe parasites. They make us feel unclean, used, diminished, and angry. We swat a mosquito that threatens to suck our blood. We avoid viruses and bacteria as much as we can. The thought of those little monsters eating away at us and reproducing inside us is revolting. Their very existence offends us.
Well, that was disturbing, wasn’t it? Just thinking about those things bothers us. We understand the angst someone has toward parasites. We understand the anger and nausea. And when we think of the narcissist unable to love, but sharing a bed, we are just as sickened. When we think of a person who cultivates relationships simply to use the gifts and kindness of others, we get angry.
The narcissistic relationship is parasitic. The narcissist uses you to build his/her life. All the praise and support and kindness in the beginning of the relationship had the simple purpose of getting the narcissist into your heart. You relaxed your normal barriers, even for a moment, and you were bitten, infected, and poisoned. It took some time for you to understand what happened, but eventually you could see the damage the parasite was doing. Getting out of the relationship required purging: harsh medicines, strict boundaries, and consistent support.
The process for getting rid of a tapeworm is disgusting. The process for getting rid of fleas is time-consuming and repetitive. The process for getting rid of an infectious virus like Ebola can be life-changing. So, we should expect to go through a challenge when we decide to separate from the narcissist. It isn’t easy, and it takes time. The little eggs of head lice are called “nits.” To get rid of the lice, you have to get rid of the nits—hence, the term “nit-picking.” You feel like you find evidence of the damage from the narcissist/parasite in every little thing. You want to tell everyone you meet so you can gather support, but you don’t want anyone to know because you are so disgusted.
And you blame yourself. But even that is the product of the narcissistic relationship. It is in the nature of parasites to seek hosts. Listen: they find you! Think about that for a minute—a full minute. They watched and waited and planned and manipulated and worked to get to you. The whole focus of the parasite’s life is to find a host. Yes, you might have played into their hands. You drank contaminated water. You touched an infected person. You went outside without spraying. Whatever. But don’t blame yourself! The narcissist/parasite would have found someone else if it wasn’t you. They have to have someone.
And there are those who seem quite willing to pass the parasites on to you. They sell contaminated food, give away infested clothing or bedding, produce diet pills with tapeworms. You feel betrayed, tricked…and angry. You had no idea what you were getting. They just didn’t care. You trusted, but you shouldn’t have. It isn’t your fault.
No, don’t let anyone tell you this was a “symbiotic” relationship. That’s not true. The only time a narcissistic relationship is symbiotic (where both use and both benefit) is when two narcissists attach to each other, which does happen. Even though you thought you were receiving something of benefit, at least early in the relationship, you learned that was a lie. The benefit didn’t turn out to benefit you at all. The parasite uses and gives nothing except more pain.
Many parasites continue with their hosts until the hosts die. Some know enough not to take so much from the host. A dead host offers little. But, of course, there’s always another. The point is that the parasite doesn’t care. There is no feeling for the host, no investment in the host’s well-being. Listen: the parasite doesn’t really see the host as another being. The host is simply a food source. The narcissist depersonalizes others, doesn’t see others as real people in the sense that he/she is real. Using others is easy for them, because others are objects for using.
That brings to mind another term we have used for narcissists, and you will see it on the list. Predator. A predator is just a more vicious and destructive parasite. He/she destroys the life of another to feed his/her own. The things we call parasites are generally slower, but often just as deadly as a predator. Most narcissists move slowly and carefully, at least those willing to connect by long-term relationships. Some may hit and run, but most act like parasites.
I like the idea of a parasitic relationship in explanation of narcissism. You will probably see it in my writing in the future. Narcissists use people, in any relationship. They might be smart enough to use without damaging the other, but most just use without regard to the loss the other suffers. When the relationship no longer provides the “supply” the narcissist desires, he/she simply moves to someone else. Just like other parasites.
You may find this to be helpful in explaining your narcissistic relationship to counselors, friends, or family. If you can show them how you are being used without receiving benefit, they may be as offended as you are. Of course, that’s hopeful thinking. At least the concept might help you understand what has been happening.
So here’s the list I gleaned from your comments. I think I got them all. I did not judge or clean up the list. All I did was give consistent punctuation, remove duplicates, and alphabetize. Read through the list and empathize with the feelings behind the words. You may even use this when you try to explain your situation to others. This is how people who have suffered from narcissistic relationships describe what they have known as narcissists and narcissism.
Acute Self-Absorption Syndrome
Acute Selfish Syndrome
Addict of Self
Devoid of Truth
Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde
Emotional Hostage Takers
Emotionally Deprived Individuals
Empty Vessel of Insolent Pride
Energy Vampires´ Or `Energy Suckers´
Murderer of The Soul
Narcissistic BSMM (But So Much More)
Opportunistic Social Predator
Queen of The World
Ruthless Personality Disorder
Sheep in Wolves Clothing
Targeting Emotional Vampires
The Monster in My Bed