[Exploring Narcissism – 1]
From experience, narcissists abound the earth we walk on. Their superpower is, according to me, being able to read our needs accurately. Let’s admit it, we are all needy in various degrees. We crave true love, meaningful relationships, sexual contentment, money, social standing, respect, emotional security, financial gains etc. etc. The list goes on and on. Narcissists know and exploit that very need…. that specific one which nestles deep down withing the labyrinth of someone’s soul. It is so deep-seated and secretly treasured that sometimes the person harboring the desire is reluctant to admit its existence.
What lurks beneath?
It is common knowledge that narcissists wear a mask; often. Once in a while, when they are in the grip of rage or desperation, we might see the mask come off, but they would consciously never take it off voluntarily. The true face of the narc behind that humane veil is frightening, and most of all, it frightens the narc.
Annie* and Javen* were a match made in heaven. Or so their friends thought. Deep down, Annie knew that Javen displayed a tendency to be secretive, often about the most mundane things. For instance, even after months of dating one another, Annie had no idea what Javen’s favorite seafood was. It is not that she had not asked but Javen had somehow evaded the topic whenever it arose. After some time, Annie had decided to drop it since Javen showed discomfort and mild irritation when she pestered him to answer, but he was back to being his delightful self as soon as she changed the topic. Years later and after a heartbreak that left her numb with grief, Annie realized that the signs were always there. The ‘red flags’ as they say. She had told herself that it did not matter. But it did. Not the choice of seafood, but the unwillingness to let a romantic partner get closer to him, sharing information, likes and dislikes. As she brooded about these, Annie understood how Javen was always reluctant to share…. be it the simplest piece of personal information or the fact that he had a second phone number he had never bothered to disclose. That is another story altogether.
Trust me, because I say so..
How likely are you to put your faith in a person just because you find him/her charming? Could you possibly trust someone for they say they are trustworthy without really proving it? You’d be surprised by the answer. See the prickly cactus in the picture above? The thorns were always there, in plain sight. As the potential target, fuel source and victim of a narcissist, Annie chose to look at the few red, luscious fruits and ignored the spikes that were staring her in the face… until it was too late.
It was the first Thanksgiving after Annie had moved in with Javen and told her family of her relationship. Thanksgiving and Christmas were ‘big’ in her household and she could not wait to introduce him to her parents and her extended family. Secretly, she had hoped Javen would take the initiative and introduce her to his family but that had not happened. She had thought of broaching the topic once but knowing Javen, (she believed she knew him well) she decided he just needed more time. ‘Not everyone commits at the same level,’ she had told herself and cast her doubts aside. Annie had begun overlooking all the thorns that would pierce her later, making excuses for Javen’s behavior towards her. As long as Javen did not feel pressured in the relationship, Annie knew that he could be the perfect boyfriend, taking her to fancy dinners, joining tango classes just because she needed a partner, giving her a foot massage after a long day at work…. so what if she had not met his family yet! ‘All in good time,’ she had told herself.
The evening before their flight to her parents’ place, Javen told her he could not go and how very sorry he was. It was right after she had parked her car and danced up the stairs to their lounge. She began pleading and Javen held her in a tight embrace. One of his best buddies had had an accident and since he was a single dad, how could Javen abandon them during the holiday, especially as there would be no one to look after the eight-year-old?
As he was kissing her tears away, Annie implored, “Can no one else look after them for the weekend? It’s just 2 days…..” Javen had sighed. “I know, but I wouldn’t have cancelled had there been others at hand.” He was still cradling her face in his hands but Annie felt a sudden change, his eyes… they were not sad like they had been when he had first told her. His light brown eyes were cold. Instinctively, Annie knew that the curtains had fallen. His decision could not be challenged. Yet, a sudden flicker of hope which made her blurt excitedly.
“What if we bring Joshua’s child with us? He is such a good kid and am sure my family would love to…” He cut her off. “Are you listening to me at all? Joshua can’t be left alone… he has injured himself bad and the doctors might need me at a short notice! You surely trust me Annie, I wouldn’t ever let you go alone had it not been Joshua,” Javen’s voice was calm but his facial muscles were taut, his eyes shone with that cold, unfathomable something that threatened to push her away. Annie walked away but he did not see what his eyes reflected. Cold fury at being argued with.
After a sleepless and passionate night with Javen, Annie woke up in smiles the next morning and found him entering the room with 2 cups of coffee and breakfast. “I thought I’d make the most of the time we have before your flight,” he winked at her and set the tray down. Kissing her on the mouth, he said in that sexy voice of his, “I’ll miss you baby!” Her heart fluttered at that and the little nagging doubts were washed away.
Months later and after he had already moved out, Annie stumbled upon the truth. Joshua was away fishing with his son that Thanksgiving holiday. He had not been injured in any kind of accident whatsoever.
[**Names have been changed to protect privacy**]