Confessions of a narcissist
WHEN a reader saw an article by Amanda Platell last week entitled ‘Why some men enjoy humiliating women’ he was “struck by an all too familiar recognition of my own controlling behaviours”.
This is his remarkable story, in his own words. He has chosen to remain anonymous for the sake of his career and all who loved him, only to be hurt by him:
IN public, I am a successful, charismatic, well-liked person who is gregarious, always the life of the party and almost certainly is always the centre of attention.
However, “behind closed doors”, I am a manipulative, deceitful, scheming, calculating person who is constantly seeking to “manage” events and the people around me.
As a control freak, I will only keep friends close if I feel they will afford me the respect I think I deserve. When the adoration and respect stops, invariably, so too does the friendship.
Those close to me however, in a so-called loving relationship, don’t have the good fortune of me walking away. Not only am I not going anywhere, I am going to make it almost impossible for my partner to leave. If my controlling actions have been successful (as they invariably are), any partner of mine will have been convinced that they are next to useless, and that they cannot possibly survive without me.
My most recent ex-spouse was a lively, self-confident, vibrant, gentle and carefree loving person when we met, who was successful and working towards an acting career. Over fifteen long years, I managed to turn this wonderful person into a fearful, paranoid, drug-taking, diagnosed depressed person with absolutely no zest for life and robbed of all ambition and self-respect.
Fortunately, my ex-spouse eventually worked up the courage and found enough self-belief to walk away, and while it has been difficult for my ex-partner, there is now a renewed sense of self-worth, success and ambition coming to the fore once again.
Over the last few years through my journey of self-discovery, I have finally come to the view that I am dangerous for any loving partner and have vowed to never subject myself on a partner again. I have finally found some empathy for others and am proud of my ex-spouse for leaving and for climbing out of the black hole created through my constant emotional and psychological abuse.
The burning question of course is why am I a control freak? Why do I need to manipulate and dominate events and people around me? Why do I belittle my partners and make them feel worthless?
Believe it or not, it’s because I have a very poor opinion of myself. In an absolutely pathetic piece of irony, my controlling behaviour is designed to provide me with some feeling of positive self-belief, because the reality is, I have extremely poor self-esteem.
Partners, friends, colleagues, even the guy at the local shop, are all seen as sources of self-esteem. I am constantly going to seek validation and praise from those around me. Because I have such a low opinion of myself, I am constantly going to challenge a partner to “prove” their love for me. Unfortunately, this will often be done by reducing my partner’s opinion of themselves, to the point where they become dependent on me both financially and emotionally, thereby reinforcing my own self-worth.
The medical community has now defined this “affliction” as a Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Maybe it’s a cop-out to look for some label for what I’ve done over the years and thereby somehow shift the responsibility for my wrong behaviours on some “dis-ease”. In my case, I endured a very abusive childhood and clearly, I decided the only way to hide my inadequacies and self-doubt was to present a strong character and convince everyone around me that I was worthy of praise and respect.
Don’t get me wrong. My controlling behaviours are not right. They are the sign of a weak person – someone who needs validation from those around me to provide me with a sense of self-worth. But I have discovered that very few Control Freaks or NPDs are aware, nor are prepared to admit, that they have misgivings … for to do so, would be an acceptance of their own inadequacies and a reinforcement of their own poor self-esteem.
Even when they are aware of their abject flaws, as I am, the behaviour of a Control Freak or NPD is so ingrained and part of our DNA that it is difficult to change.
So much so, that even psychologists are reluctant to “take us on”, because ultimately, we don’t believe that “anyone knows better than us” and we will not provide the “expert” with any kudos and will believe that we know better than they do. This is why marriage counselling or couple therapy will not work for the Control Freak or NPD in denial – nobody knows anything better than we do!
In summary, a Control Freak or NPD who is not evolved enough to understand who they or are or why they behave the way they do, is best to be avoided … no only to be avoided, but to run away from. They will not give up, regardless of what they say, what they do or what they are prepared to promise – they cannot be trusted and they will continue to find ways to make you adore them … and watch out if you don’t!
Ultimately, if you are in a relationship with one of these people (male or female), you will not survive with your dignity, self-respect or self-esteem intact. As Rudyard Kipling once said, “there are many reasons, but not many excuses”. Unless and until a control freak or NPD is willing to accept who they are and why they do what they do, there will be no change in their behaviour. Don’t get me wrong, we are not victims, we are people who are not evolved enough to understand that we need to find our self-esteem through ourselves and not through others.
As someone who has perpetrated controlling behaviours against a series of partners over 30 years, my strong advice to anyone involved in relationship with a Control Freak or NPD is … GET OUT, as fast as you can. There are plenty of freethinking, self-assured potential partners out there who are willing to accept you for who you are and encourage you to be the best person you can be. Unlike the Control Freak or NPD, who will only continue to use you as a tool for their own self-gratification and self-worth.