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‘Am I the narcissist??’ is the feverish question that haunts many when working through the wounds of narcissistic abuse. In ‘How you know you’re not the narcissist: Your proof’, this question was addressed.
Recently a great question was asked ‘I get all that stuff in the article, but what if it all resonates because I’m completely in denial about who I really am and I’m the narcissist?’
This follow up article gives you more tools to answer this maddening question. It is so important that you do resolve it. Releasing yourself from the looping thought pattern where you question yourself, over and over again, is necessary to move forward in your recovery.
Without acceptance of the reality that you are NOT the abuser, you are the abused, you remain stuck.
Here, we check out the Narc Spin & its effects, offering a self-check for you to put to bed any doubts that may still linger as to who is the narcissist.
Rumination: The curse of the Narc Spin
Rumination is a symptom of many mental health challenges including depression, anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. All of these are prevalent in victims of narcissistic abuse.
Rumination is a form of repetitive thinking, that seeks to resolve a given trauma. This could be caused from loss, injustices, threats and/or any direct or indirect harm.
I dub rumination within the context of narcissistic abuse as the ‘Narc Spin’. This is how it goes. It feels like never-ending cycling through repeating thoughts. You conclude a point, then find yourself unpicking it immediately afterwards, only to work your way back to the original conclusion and so it continues. Ad infinitum through the same loop, over & over again.
The continuous looping focuses on causes and effects, and is a process centred on sensemaking. This latter concept being the integral human need to find meaning in our existence and experiences, especially so when we have been upended by a trauma.
The thing with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), causality and logic as they exist in the non-disordered world, are absent from the abuse you have sustained.
Finding meaning behind the harm you have suffered will never happen.
And so, until you begin accepting the reality of the situation, the Narc Spin continues. Hence why resolving the point of who is the narcissist is so critical.
Genesis of the Narc Spin
Throughout your time with the narcissist, they have been steadily programming you to doubt your sense of reality, the veracity and accuracy of your experiences, and ability to trust your thoughts & emotions.
They do this through narcissistic invalidation and gaslighting to secure your disempowerment (for more on this read Invalidation and narcissism: Why they slowly erase you ).
The more your self-belief, self-worth and power reduces, the greater their control over you becomes. And with this brainwashing, you forfeit your own truths and buy in to their make-believe world, feeding their beliefs about who they are and who they are not. In other words, you hand over supply.
Through your disempowerment, second-guessing yourself and reliance on the narc for ‘reality checking’ becomes the norm.
Once vulnerable to their ‘tweaking’ of reality, the Narc Spin is set in motion through projection.
With this, the narcissist attributes their flaws onto you as their defence mechanism in hiding from their true selves. Throughout the abuse, a steady commentary about your narcissistic traits will have come your way.
These are the ones that sound like this: ’you’re so selfish, all you think about is yourself’, ‘you’re so manipulative’, ‘you’re so abusive, ‘you just take, take, take’…blah, blah, blah. You get the picture.
Through this repetition of messaging about your narcissistic traits, doubts set in and you begin internalising their voice. You start to take on what they want you to believe. You begin self-invalidating (for more on this read Narcissistic Invalidation: How to stop them erasing you).
Is it any wonder that against this backdrop, the Narc’s Spin is one more ordeal you are facing as a legacy of their abuse?
How the Narc Spin rolls
Let’s see if this resonates for you.
You’re in the process of awakening, and the questions you’ve managed to push down for so long are starting to gather in volume. Why is there so much pain? How can the way you are being treated be OK? Is it normal? Are they normal? What the hell is normal???
So you begin researching and you stumble across NPD. Hmmmm. Something strikes a chord within you. You reflect, and so much of it mirrors what you’ve endured. It explains their behaviour and the abuse.
And if this were a ‘normal’ situation, this would be your conclusion.
Done and dusted.
But it’s not. This is what happens next.
Suddenly, you flashback to all those projective statements drilled into you. Except, you don’t consider them as projections.
You entertain that just quite possibly they are objective, factual evidence of who you really are. And just maybe, the narcissist is right. And just maybe, everything you’ve read about NPD is really a portrait of your own disordered mind.
Don’t they say that the true narcissist is so very much in denial that they would never recognise that there is anything disordered about them? Ergo, this could very well be you?
And then another emotional flashback hits you of something they did, that simply cannot be interpreted as anything other than abuse. And once more you are firm. You are not the narcissist, they are. There is no way on God’s green earth you would ever do this same thing to another human being.
And then guess what?
Yep, that’s right, the spin continues….
If they’ve told you, you are all these same terrible things you attribute to them, what makes them wrong and you right? Are you the one projecting?
Are you the one in complete denial about who you really are??
‘Am I the narcissist’?
OK stop. Breathe gorgeous one.
The following assumes you have read ‘How you know you’re not the narcissist: Your proof’. If you haven’t yet, I urge you read it before reading on. Here we extend this work, focusing specifically on the issue of denial.
Denial does not look within
The first thing to note is that what you’re doing right now are not the actions of a pathological narcissist.
Victims of abuse when awakening from the fog, pursue information and seek to raise their understanding of what has happened to them in order to heal.
It is a proactive step taken to address the very real harm they have experienced, to heal and to rebuild their lives.
And it is no lackadaisical, half-hearted thing, is it gorgeous one?
It can in fact become all-consuming for a time.
Why do you think that might be?
It is such a deep-seated need because of the magnitude of the suffering you have borne. Because of the trauma. It is sense-making in action.
You will not find a NPD’d individual on this same journey.
Why? Because that same denial you are fearful of blinding you, blinds them.
This is how it plays out for the pathological narcissist. They are incapable of tolerating anything that challenges their sense of control, power, entitlement, flawlessness, and superiority.
The openness to self-reflection, accountability, empathy and growth you are demonstrating in seeking an answer to whether you are the narcissist, are antithetical to the makeup of a pathological narcissist.
So, rather than hunger for meaning behind what has turned their world upside down, you will find them blaming you for the harm they are in fact responsible for creating. Their denial is in no way accompanied with genuine soul-searching.
The two concepts are diametrically opposed. They are mutually exclusive.
Denial is not the only test
Let’s be real. We are all at some point in denial about elements of ourselves that are less than flattering.
In fact, it is 100% certain that there will be many things you are in denial about from the narcissistic abuse you’ve lived through. This has been necessary for your survival (for more on this Why narcissistic abuse is so hard to admit to yourself, and When Hope is Killing you: Narcissistic abuse).
But this right now, is about whether you are in denial and you are the narcissist.
You are correct. Denial is absolutely integral to the functioning of the disorder that is NPD.
But here’s the thing, there are many other markers as well.
So, I ask you gorgeous one to shine that light of soul-searching on these bad babies:
- Do you believe you are better, more special than all those who surround you?
- Do you believe that you are entitled to anything you desire?
- Do you believe that everyone’s undivided attention & focus should be relentlessly on you?
- Do you need to be in control at all times, in addition to confirming constantly that you hold the upper hand in terms of power in all circumstances?
- Do you need to be right in all circumstances?
- Do you get a kick out of making sure others know they are wrong in all circumstances that disagree with your own view?
- Do you feel enraged at any hint of suggestion that you may be less than perfect?
- When confronted with people who need help & kindness, do you walk away without any emotion refusing to offer them help, unless there is something in it for you?
- Do you get a hit of pleasure when you know you ‘put someone in their place’, or caused them pain?
- If you were diagnosed with NPD, would you consider it an impossibility because you are beyond reproach and dismiss it altogether?
Only you know the answers to these questions. Only you.
Equally, the only person who actually cares about the answers, is you. By this I mean, that a narcissist would not.
This is your answer.
I promise you the spin will slow and eventually stop.
Continue on your journey gorgeous one. You’ve got this.
For more on disentangling from the narc read:
- Emotionally unhook yourself & starve the narcissist of supply
- Proof the narcissist abuses you intentionally and will never change
- Stop feeling sorry for the narcissist now
- 5 ways to counteract the narcissist’s gaslighting
- How No Contact supports narcissistic abuse recovery
- The narcissist’s word salad: Stop biting now
- Blueprint for recovery from narcissistic abuse
As always, please share your thoughts, experiences, and insights on the issues in this article in the comments below. The more we share, the more we teach & help one another in reclaiming our freedom.
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- Kamijo, N., & Yukawa, S. (2014). Meaning making and rumination: The roles of threat evaluation and personality. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 113, 118-123.
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- Smart, L.M., Peters, J.R., & Baer, R.A. (2015). Development and validation of a measure of self-critical rumination. Assessment, 23(3), 321-332.
- Wallerstein, R.S. (1973). Psychoanalytic perspectives on the problem of reality. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 21(1), 5-33.