“I lie because you keep digging!” Those were my narcissist’s, Julia’s, words to me during an argument close to the end of the 4-½ year trek through the fresh hell she called, “love.” I’d caught her in yet another of a seemingly endless procession of lies or, as I came to call them, “fabricated truths.” Julia was quite adept at deception, possessing a knack for telling two polar opposite types of truths: the factual truth and what she wanted me to believe was the truth. She had mastered the art of deception so well that her truth and the truth elicited the exact same tonal inflections and facial expressions, so reading whether or not she was lying was bloody impossible. And that’s the thing about narcissists: they are master manipulators and deceivers.
I vividly recall two separate occasions toward the end of my time with Julia where we were in the heated throes of yet another instance I’d caught her lying. I’d decided that I’d had enough of her manipulation and deceit and I wasn’t going to accept either any longer. It was here where she once again told me, “I wouldn’t feel the need to lie if you didn’t keep digging!” I responded with, “I wouldn’t have to dig if you didn’t keep burying the truth.” However, true to narcissistic form, she was able to twist the situation and procure an apology from me for, in essence, my catching her lying again. The thing you have to realize about a narcissist, all narcissists, is that they will absolutely, unequivocally, unapologetically, without fail, lie. And if confronted, they will always, always, always displace blame onto whoever is the unfortunate recipient of that deception – albeit a stranger, friend, family member, child, spouse – the narcissist accepts no accountability for their actions or words.
“I didn’t say/do that!” is a common mantra amongst their kind. The thing about narcissists, when caught in a falsehood, they will tirelessly attempt to present themselves as the victim, especially if you are grasping and gasping for the truth as you find yourself drowning in their sea of lies. They will deny any and all accusations of wrongdoing, attempting to cover lies with more lies. And if you continue to press for the truth, the narcissist will shift blame back onto you for, as Julia repeatedly did with me, pushing them to deceive when you should have just left well-enough alone. In other words, let them get away with lying or, in my case, stopped “digging.”
On those two occasions where I confronted Julia about her latest deception and I refused to back down, she played her trump card. She had many times told me that her ex-husband, Mr. B., was a narcissist and, “…the perfect lawyer. He could always twist the situation around and make me apologize for what he had done,” she would tearfully recount. So, when I confronted her, intent on not taking any more of her lies, excuses, or deception, as her Get Out of Jail Free card, she would simply look at me and say, “The perfect lawyer…,” knowing that I would instantly be struck with guilt over cornering her and pushing for an answer (what you and I know as the truth), and that I would immediately back down and apologize. Which I did.
Again, it’s all about manipulating the other person and obfuscating the truth by proclaiming their truth, at least when it comes to dodging accountability. However, if you had actually done wrong, or at least it was perceived that you had done wrong, there was no limit to just how deep, long, and hard your narcissist would dig to discover that truth, was there? And if there was even the slightest possibility that you were somehow culpable, they made absolutely certain you knew about it and that you knew they knew, as well. But, lucky you! They love/d you so much that, even though you were in the wrong, they could look past your transgression and forgive you. How very magnanimous of them! Right? Never forget; even the compassion of the wicked is cruel.
“Thank you for seeing how flawed and imperfect I am but still loving and accepting me. I am so fortunate to have you and your love in my life.” I remember thinking something along those lines more times than I can recollect whilst with Julia. And I can vividly recall sharing those thoughts with a friend of mine. Something along the lines of I’ve never had anyone see past my flaws and still “love” me the way Julia did. I didn’t realize it at the time but right there, in that moment of sharing that thought with my friend, I was so insanely close to seeing the truth. The truth that I was being manipulated through gaslighting and trauma bonding. But my rose-colored glasses kept the true nature of her nature shaded from the light…at least for the time being.
Let me ask you a question, has your narcissist ever said something along the lines of, “You’re so lucky to have me. Most people wouldn’t put up with your stupidity/ineptitude/short-sightedness/passive-aggressiveness/[insert condescending term here].”? That, my beautiful, is manipulation. Not only is it manipulation, it is abuse being masqueraded as love and paraded around. They are reminding you of how someone as “unworthy” as you is so blessed, so fortunate to be the recipient of their affection. And that is your narcissist using the duplicitous talents they have crafted to a razor-sharp edge, slicing away at your self-esteem, self-respect, and integrity for no other purpose than to trauma-bond you to them so they can perpetuate their control over you, your life, and most importantly, your devoted and undying commitment to them and to the “relationship.”
Is that your idea of love? Is that your idea of ideal love? To be with someone who “loves” you despite your perceived many flaws and fallacies that they seem all too eager to point out to you, “lovingly,” ad nauseum? That’s not love, beautiful. That’s manipulation through trauma bonding; that’s abuse. It might not seem like abuse because it’s not physical, but it is most assuredly and undeniably abuse. To tear a partner down for their few perceived shortcomings, instead of building them up for all of their wonderful qualities, is abuse. And that is all a narcissist knows – coerced love and commitment through manipulation and abuse. You are better than that. More importantly, you deserve better than that.
Yes, we are all flawed, broken, admittedly some of us more heavily and deeply than others. But that doesn’t mean we’re irredeemable, unloveable, or undeserving of being loved. If anything, we should be with someone who can see our perfect imperfections in all of their fractured glory and still genuinely love us as though those cracks in our souls were something into which to pour their love. The thing is, someone who sincerely loves you, even if they see a multitude of imperfections and brokenness, will not throw that brokenness back in your face, building themselves up whilst simultaneously tearing you down.
Don’t confuse manipulation with love. It’s easy to do when you’re with a narcissist. Love is the best part of us that rises above the worst parts of us. Love is patient, love is kind. It doesn’t envy. Neither is it boastful nor proud. Love doesn’t speak words of dishonor, disrespect, or pain, nor is it self-seeking. And while we can be angered, even in anger, love still leads us to forgive. And though we might remember a transgression, love doesn’t resurrect the past to persecute the living or torture the loved. Love doesn’t delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. Love endures, love cherishes, it always protects, always gives hope and always perseveres. And, above all, love never fails because it wholeheartedly accepts without question or condition. Does that sound like your narcissist’s love? Yeah, mine neither.
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