Acting, Lies & the Narcissist

My youngest son drove me to a Dr’s appointment tonight.    It’s often illuminating spending time with captive children, and tonight did not disappoint.

My son has recently started working as a cashier in the market down the street from our home.  While waiting for my prescription, he launched into a tirade about how much he hated people, and his job made it worse.  I get it.  People can be really rude, especially to kids.  I imagine he’s not treated very well most of the time.  None the less, I was dismayed.  I’ve worked really hard to make sure my children are kind, and tonight he was not kind.

I commented about his lack of empathy.  I also referenced his dad.  I don’t normally do that, but all of my boys have been vocal about how miserable, cranky and unempathetic their dad is, so I felt safe saying “don’t be like your dad”.  As I said it I wondered if I was overstepping, but I never dreamed of the response I actually heard.  He said:

“dad has empathy.  I’ve seen him cry like, 6 times over the past 3 years.  He’s cried more than I’ve cried. He even cried when he proposed to her.”

At times like this I typically revert to my old tapes, the voice that says “see stupid; he’s not a narcissist, he just didn’t love you.”  Fortunately I’ve worked really hard at silencing this voice, and tonight it was a mere whisper, gone almost as soon as it started.  In it’s place was the voice of reality that said “damn, he’s smooth.  He puts on a hell of a show”.  

Honestly, there is part of me that is embarrassed.  Knowing that a large segment of our shared community watched him cry as he professed his undying love for this woman……..I can’t imagine how that computes in the minds of the looky loos.  What do they think of me, if they think of me at all?  Again, fortunately, I no longer define myself by what others think of me, otherwise I’d be really upset right now.

This is what I know to be true:

Narcissists Lie.  Narcissists learn to emulate the feelings they see in others.  Because they have no real feelings, like remorse or embarrassment, they can pull off any emotion.  

If I were to try pulling off fake tears in a room full of people I’d never be able to do it.  I’d be like the actors who need eye drops to start the waterworks.  Why?  Because I’d have feelings of remorse, embarrassment, probably shame.

This has been hard for me to grasp.   Having an excess of feelings and empathy, the mere idea that anyone can “fake tears” had been unthinkable.  I think this is why those of us victimized by narcissists get sucked in.  The things the narcissist can do are so foreign to us we can’t imagine how someone can do them.  The idea of lying, so sincerely, is impossible to us. Therefor, the only position we can take is that we haven’t been lied to.  If we haven’t been lied to, then we have no choice other than accept all we’ve been told by our narcissist. I believe this is what is known as a “clusterf***”.

If you are still in the throes of shame, embarrassment, confusion and doubt, trust me when I tell you – Narcissists lie the way most of us eat, or sleep, or go the bathroom.  Lies are so much a part of their natural repertoire, they roll off of their tongues, and eyes, naturally.  This is what makes it hard for those of us who are susceptible to them.  It is so easy for them to lie, and it appears so natural, of course we fall for it.  In the mind of the normal person, it is simply unfathomable that someone can lie so easily, so convincingly.  So we buy it.

If you are in, or extricating yourself, from a relationship with a narcissist, I suggest you search your memory to the early days of your relationship.  Most likely you will find something like this –

My ex and I went on only a few dates prior to moving in together.  This was because  he was married, and he had custody of his 22 month old son.  One of our few dates was to the wedding of a college friend of mine.  It was one of the 1st times we’d gone out dressed up, and he looked amazing.  (in pictures, not so much so…..)  During the reception there was a band playing jazz and blues.  He asked me to dance.  The people on the dance floor were the older couples; the couples who knew how to waltz, really dance.  My inclination was to say no, but he pulled me up and had me out on the dance floor before I knew what was happening.  What came next was the most amazing dance I’ve ever experienced.   I don’t have the vocabulary to describe it, because I’m not really much of a dancer.  That night though, he put his hand firmly on the small of my back and glided me around as if we were professional dancers, dancing in our own living room.  Needless to say, the experience swept me off my feet.  Not only was he handsome, the father of the year, and sensitive, he was an amazing dancer!  What a catch, right?

Of course, this was the one and only dance we had like this.  Even at our own wedding we did not dance like that.  I was roped and tied with that one dance, so there was no need to put forth such effort.

There are hundreds of other examples of his blatant lies and misrepresentations, but this one stands out in my mind.  I think that all of us roped in by a narcissist have many of these stories.

So, when I hear that he has developed “empathy”, evidenced by the plethora of tears he has shed since he left me, I get it.  And I’m not sad, or hurt, or disappointed.  What I am is happy.  Happy that I no longer have to watch, or be part of, his web of lies.

So I say, Cry Away, Ex Narcissist.  I have no tissues for you.






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