My close friends and I were discussing the role that narcissists have played in our lives.
None of us have a Psych degree but we have all had issues with narcissists whether it was someone in our social circle, someone we dated, someone in our family or if they were in-laws.
Maybe you know a narcissists. Narcissists do not know empathy to others, they think the world revolves around them and they will tell lies to people to turn them against each other. If anyone makes them insecure, they try to change everyone’s opinion of the person that makes them insecure so people see them in a negative manner.
Research states that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is rare but it seems that our group of friends have encountered more than our fair share of narcissists.
I have a few theories.
The first theory consists on our influence of others. I believe that we all vibrate at a certain level of energy. It could be good energy or bad. That energy ripples out and effects those around us. People are affected whether we are spreading love, light and positivity or if we are spreading selfishness, lies and negativity.
Our behavior affects others. And other’s behavior effects us.
Narcissists are confusing beings because they disguise their true selves and most people are fooled. They pass as perfectly nice people. They are good at fooling people because that is their natural state.
When you are the victim of a narcissist, you feel alone because everyone else thinks that they narcissist is great.
Narcissists can cause a lot of damage in families and social circles.
One theory I have to the inflated perceived narcissistic population is that some people may grow up with a narcissist parent or grandparent and that a child may grow learning that manipulation is simply the natural way you treat people. These people are probably not narcissists in their core but are merely using the “skills” that they learned from their narcissist parent grandparent.
This theory has a positive spin as a person may grow up with a narcissist parent or grandparent and learn that that is not how you treat people.
My second theory is that some social circles, including the one that I am belong to, are very inclusive and since narcissists are good at hiding their true colors which are not beautiful like a rainbow. But my social circle does not want to be closed off so we will take the risk.
Widowhood has made me wiser.
When I became a widow, I began to examine every area of my life. Heck, I am still examining and learning.
I want to make sure I am living my life to it’s fullest potential and that I surround myself with love and not negativity.
I began to truly appreciate those who love me and my daughter.
But I also became really good at noticing people who are toxic, people who are phony and people who had an ulterior motive to our friendship.
Before widowhood, I would have brushed off those feelings and given the offenders the benefit of the doubt.
And on top of that, I would have gone out of my way to make sure they liked me because I was a people pleaser.
I ignored my intuition on so many accounts, despite the fact that my intuition is almost always right.
But now that I am a widow, I can spot a phony person right away. I can tell when a person is trying to manipulate me. I can see all the ulterior motives.
I have learned to listen to and trust my intuition.
I think it is a widow superpower.
So in the beginning of widowhood, I removed toxic people from my life. Part of it was necessity. But mostly because I didn’t have enough bandwidth to handle the drama.
But then it became clear to me that I just didn’t want to deal with the drama. I only have so many hours of the day and our lives only consist of so many days and I do not want to spend them with toxic people.
And while narcissists are toxic, there are other types of toxic people. I just opened with narcissists because they were a clear example and my life had been affected by a narcissist for many years and I hold the greatest empathy for anyone dealing with a narcissist.
Some toxic people manipulate. Some tear others down in order to make others look good. Some argue constantly. Some do whatever it takes to make you feel sh*tty about yourself.
So I took a stand. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Because I was never good at saying no to people.
I decided that I was going to say no to toxicity.
I had to cut some people out of my life. I needed to keep positive people around me and my daughter and I needed to use what energy I had to focus on the important things.
And toxic people don’t like being cut out.
They are persistent.
They will try to manipulate you and when they can’t manipulate you, they will try to manipulate those around you. They will try to change other’s view of you to gain sympathy for themselves.
Simply cutting toxic people out of your life isn’t enough.
I learned that you need to set firm boundaries.
I used to feel that boundaries were purely a physical matter like having people stay out of the master bedroom or deciding who has a spare key to your house. Or when you are a kid and your sibling is annoying you and you say that there is an invisible wall that they can not cross.
But boundaries are also emotional, mental, and social.
How you let people treat you is a boundary. Do you allow people to walk all over you? Do you let people treat you poorly? Do you let people boss you around? Do you let people make you feel small?
I used to have a friend in my younger days who would cancel plans with me on a moments notice because a guy asked her out. I would be upset but I let her do it. And she would do it again…and again…and again. I did not have the self-esteem to realize that this behavior was not acceptable and I did not set any boundaries.
In case you are wondering, I have not spoken to that person since my wedding. It all makes sense to me now. Before I was with Bryon, I was a people pleaser and not only did I let people treat me poorly, I would try to get those people to like me more. But Bryon set the boundary for me. He would tell me when my friendships were one sided and he would advise me not to put any effort into those friendships. And this friend did not like that she could not push me around if Bryon was in the picture.
But Bryon isn’t here to help me set boundaries. It is a skill that I have been learning to implement.
This is my life.
It is okay to stand up for myself. You don’t deserve to be treated like a doormat.
It’s okay to choose not to hang out with someone because they make you feel poorly. Your friendship is a privilege, not a right.
It’s okay to delete someone from social media.
Not everyone deserves an explanation about your life choices.
I write in this blog and will continue to do so. But just because I am open about my grief does not mean that everyone is privy to my personal life. I have had to exercise my boundaries and make it clear that I determine what I share.
Setting boundaries is about taking care of yourself and protecting yourself (and those you love) from negativity.