Part One of Four
I truly believe that we experience things not just for personal growth but for the greater good of others. At my very core, I am a student. Of everything. Of topics, of relationships, of people, of myself. I have recently become aware of “covert passive-aggressive narcissism,” and as a health coach, I don’t think it is a coincidence. I think it is training.
After a painful breakup, a friend handed me a book and said, “You need to read this. This is the type of man you keep choosing.” So, I read it and through most of it my mouth was dragging the floor in astonishment. However, some of it seemed like me too. So, I asked my friend, “Am I dating narcissists or am I a narcissist?” She laughed and said “You are dating narcissists. The reason you see yourself in some of it is because you have developed inadequate coping skills.” I wasn’t convinced so I did what any good student does. I researched the heck out of the topic.
What is a covert narcissist? According to Meredith Miller from Inner Integration, a covert narcissist is a very intelligent person who is overly concerned about other people’s opinions of them so they will not yell at you or hit you but will demean and devalue you in very subtle (covert) ways. Because they are so intelligent, they are able to create a much more sophisticated form of abuse that can be hidden from other people. Wolf in sheep’s clothing comes to mind. Now, I am fully aware of OVERT narcissism as I lived with one for many years. But a COVERT narcissist is altogether a different animal, and in my opinion, can be more harmful. At least when dealing with an overt narcissist, the abuse is more obvious, so you don’t feel “crazy.” When dealing with a covert narcissist, you may find yourself asking questions like, “Am I living in the twilight zone?” “Did that really happen or was it my imagination?” “Did he/she just totally flip that whole thing around on me?” “How did he/she spin that so easily?” “Am I being selfish by wanting him/her to actually hear what I’m trying to say?” “Whoa! No one has ever said that to me before. Am I the person he/she is claiming?” “Am I losing my mind?”
DARVO is an acronym used to describe a common strategy of abusers. The abuser will: Deny the abuse ever took place, then Attack the victim for attempting to hold the abuser accountable; then they will lie and claim that they, the abuser, are the real victim in the situation, thus Reversing the Victim and Offender. (Wikipedia)
If you start noticing a slow decline of yourself, your light, or your self-esteem, (like the frog in water that is slowly being boiled to death) ask yourself why. How do you feel around this person? Strong? Anxious? Beautiful? Scared? CONFUSED??? That was a big one for me. I was always so confused because he would say one thing and then behave in totally different ways.
The main goal of a narcissist is to get you to question your own reality. If they can accomplish that one thing, they can control everything else.
If any of this resonates with you, read more in Part Two of this series for an explanation of some of the most common tactics narcissists use to make you question your reality so they can control your thoughts and behaviors.