· Narcissism ·
What if you developed a fictional character who was narcissistic?
If you decide to “give” one of your fictional characters narcissism, you don’t need to identify the condition by name to your readers. Instead, show them.
“Like I told you in the e-mail,” I said. “I’m a writer, and I’m interested in what it’s like to live with a narcissist. Thanks again for talking with me.”
“You’re welcome,” she replied. “I’m not sure how much I can help, but I’m willing to tell you some of my experiences.”
“What was he like?” I asked.
“He was controlling. He thought he was always right, and he played mind games with me to the point where I didn’t know if I was coming or going.”
“How was he controlling? Because there are lots of people who are great at what they do because they take control.”
“I’m not talking about someone who takes control when it’s required of them to do their job. I’m talking about a person who has a need to control others. My husband was domineering and a pathological manipulator; heck, I’d call him a domestic terrorist. He about drove me crazy.”
“In what way? Can you give me an example?”
“When we met I thought I was in love, but I learned that everything was about him. He didn’t care about me as much as he cared about receiving compliments. After a while I was either ignored or criticized, take your pick.”
“Ignored and criticized?”
“Everything he did centered around him. I was only there to agree or to be blamed. If the dish washer broke down, then I hadn’t used it properly. If he wasn’t feeling well, then it must have been the food I’d prepared.”
“Was he always that way?”
“He was so good at showing his best side when we first met. I actually admired his decisiveness. But his judgmental criticism of others was eventually directed at me. I wasn’t the perfect housewife; I needed to lose weight; if I was smarter, I’d have a better job. His verbal abuse never stopped.
“Finally, I told him that if I was such a loser, why had he married me?”
“Did he answer?”
“Of course. It gave him another opportunity to show his superiority. He said he felt sorry for me! He said he figured he could help me!
“That’s when I knew for sure I was going to leave. I just didn’t know how or when.”
“Sorry for you. I’m so glad you got out.”
“It’s hard to explain what it was like when he would just stop talking. I didn’t know what was wrong, if I’d done something to make him mad or not.
“It was hell on earth! It was like I had invited a stalker into my home and he never left.”
“Was he that way all the time?” I asked.
“No, but I was always aware of what he could be. I was always watching for the signs and trying to avoid his triggers.”
“You’re safe now.”
“I finally had to move. I’m so glad we didn’t have children. It took two years for him to stop harassing me after I filed for divorce. I think he only stopped with me because he found someone else to terrorize full-time.
“I hear he’s engaged to a young girl. Her name’s Maria. A big part of me wants to contact her and warn her, but I don’t want my hell to start over again.”
“You’re safe now,” I repeated.
“I wonder if I attract narcissists,” she said.
“What do you mean?”
“The good news is I divorced one. The bad news is my new boss at work has the same tendencies as my ex. I feel it starting all over again.”
“Yeah. I still don’t consider myself an expert, because I never figured out what made him do the things he did.”
“You may not be an expert, but I do appreciate the insights you’ve shared. What can you do about your job?”
“I can start looking for work somewhere else even though I shouldn’t be the one to have to leave.”
“Everyone’s got a boss,” I said. “If he does things that are improper, then you can tell the big boss.”
“Well, for right now I’m not going to talk to anyone about this. The big boss is the one who hired him. We’ll see how they get along.
“I want to help others, but I have enough work just helping myself. I really should talk to Maria; I just don’t know if I dare to put myself back into his world.”
“Take care of yourself,” I advised. “If this Maria is in love, then you talking to her won’t change her mind. He’s probably already told her lies about you. Do you think she’d even believe you?
“That’s a good point. She’s not ready to believe me over him. I know I wouldn’t have believed someone I didn’t know if they’d said bad things about someone I was loving. Thanks for your advice.”
“Anytime. Call me anytime.”
“Well, I need to end our conversation. If you want to read the best book I’ve ever read about narcissists, I can recommend one.”
“I do. What’s the title?”
“Narcissists Exposed. Drew Keys is the author. He starts his book by telling the reader that narcissists don’t like others to know the controlling tricks they use to manipulate others. He explains that they don’t like it because it reduces their power.”
“Wow! That sounds good.”
“It is. He’s also got a website with a lot of free downloads.”
“I’ll check it out. Thanks again,” I said.
“It was good talking to you,” she concluded.
Until next time, happy writing and reading!