If you take a closer look at the front cover of my book Narcotic Love, you will find the line “Written by a Survivor for Survivors” on it. On the back cover, I mention that the book serves survivors or those who are currently in a toxic situation (who will hopefully become survivors soon). Aside from that, the book may also serve any other reader as a pure source of information on narcissistic abuse, while, truth be told, it may be absolutely useless for them at the same time, because unless your heart has ever been ripped out of your chest, your brain been put through the wringer, and your identity been erased, you won’t know what narcissistic abuse feels like by only reading about it. While there are some types of abuse that are relatable without the experience, e.g., physical abuse, verbal abuse, or financial abuse, the very personalized psychological and emotional impacts of narcissistic abuse are not, which is why it is known to be the only type of abuse you must have experienced yourself in order to know what it is like; a horrific reality that often leads to the invalidation and disbelief in victims’ and survivors’ testimonies.
Narcissistic abuse is a magnetic attraction between a victim and an abuser based on psychological and emotional conditioning — a pre-programming of your heart, mind, and soul. During our upbringing and as we continued to walk through life on our own, we were conditioned to think, behave, talk, react, and survive in our environment in certain ways. If for most part of your life you were exposed to toxic situations, you will most likely repeat these types of situations as long as this programming is running on survival mode: You will sign up for jobs with toxic employers, date or even marry toxic partners, surround yourself with toxic friends etc. Now, the same can still happen for other people who have resolved and re-programmed their conditioning and belief system, however, they will notice and honor the red flags early enough to put the right boundaries in place or remove themselves from the situation entirely.
“Knowledge is not wisdom” is a popular quote that I can attest from my own experience. Before I entered a relationship with a narcissist, I was fortunate in a way that I had already been educated in covert narcissistic abuse and predatory behavior due to its occurrence at my previous workplace, but I was lacking the personal experience of how narcissistic abuse would present itself in an intimate relationship in which we open up to our deepest vulnerabilities the most.
As many other survivors reported before, I recognized several red flags from the first moment we met that would later degenerate into his blame-shifting and controlling behavior toward me. Torn between the red flags and the nice person I wanted to see in him, I wrote to a friend of mine, “I think he is a covert narcissist, but I am not sure.” Although, I had already labeled him correctly, my knowledge was in conflict with my programming (conditioning) and the familiarity that he represented to me, also known as cognitive dissonance — a psychological phenomenon in which two different beliefs stand in conflict with each other. Like most of us, I wanted to see the good in the person, the potential, the similarities… a manipulative process which I later came to know as mirroring; a process in which a narcissist mirrors all your good qualities back to you, and thus, you basically fall in love with yourself. Consequently, my conditioning overwrote the red flags and the potential dangers involved.
In order to break this cycle, we cannot live in denial that we need to look at ourselves and stop focusing on the narcissist(s) for it is only ourselves whom we can ever change and control and not others. By examining ourselves, our past habits, and our behavior and thought patterns, we have a chance to re-program our system and use our wisdom in accordance with the knowledge we find in the many books available to us like no other.