“Am I a narcissist?” Wow! That was a tough question to ask myself. And, believe me, I wrestled with not just the question, but the possibility the answer might be, “Yes!” for many days (and more nights than I care to recall). The way I looked at it, if the narcissist could love bomb me with an unbelievable love, something I had only ever dreamed of, and I could actually return that very same “love,” didn’t that mean that I was also a narcissist? That I was love bombing her, too?
Have you ever noticed how, when the narcissist returns, for a short while, things are not only good between you, things are actually fantastic?! In fact, things are just like they used to be when you first started dating. This is called the hoovering phase. This is the phase that generally occurs after the discard phase. Hoovering, named after the famous vacuum cleaner from the early 20th Century, is when the narcissist acts just like s/he did when you first met. There are grandiose expressions of adoration, emotional moments where the narcissist seems to, “…finally get it!” You think there’s been some grand epiphany! “S/He’s hurt me so much, but now they’re so apologetic, sincere, and loving. Finally! This is the turning point for us.” Be forewarned: this is only temporary. Allow me to explain the different phases of a relationship with a narcissist.
It was February 7, 2015. That’s the day I met her. For the sake of anonymity, we’ll call her, “Julia.” Julia was like no one else I’d ever met before – articulate, educated, intelligent, athletic, funny and witty with a beautiful laugh. She was tiny – 5′ 6″, 102 lbs. with sandy blonde hair – she was lovely, to say the least. I’m a cyclist. And on that day, I’d just finished a ride, the second of the 2015 Cycling Season. As I was putting my bike away, there she was, seemingly from out of nowhere. I don’t know what possessed me, as I don’t normally strike up conversations with strangers, but I definitely struck up a conversation with her. As we talked, I noticed she had the most beautiful Russian accent. Our initial encounter was brief, maybe 5 minutes, but from tiny seeds come the tallest of trees. Little did I know it but this was the beginning of the most amazing, beautiful, terrible, toxic relationship of my life.