My Narcissist used to describe a skill he had learned when he studied something called Polarity Therapy. He said it was necessary to empty himself emotionally in order to empathize with another and remove their pain. He claimed to have super awareness of everything that was being emoted in his presence, so much so that he lost himself at times when he was in a room full of people absorbing all their emotions. While we dated, he made several references to the ways in which he changed while he was with me. Was he an emotional shape shifter who, like a chameleon, adapted to obtain his Narcissistic supply?

The paradox of his opinion about himself is, of course, lost on him. I juxtapose this reflection about the empathetic being he describes himself as with the demon who stood on my driveway and raged at me on the day of my mother’s funeral when I was alone and completely defenseless against him. Even if we set aside the fact that he and I had been in a romantically intimate relationship for years, can a highly empathic person be capable of inflicting such extreme emotional abuse at such an emotionally critical time? I doubt he has any empathy whatsoever. His purpose was clear … he timed it perfectly.

Could it be that, on some level, he understood his disorder and he was trying to warn me when he told me of his special skills? It is impossible for me to view this man as having no emotions, even though I have seen him being utterly emotionless and cruel.

It is our similarities that attract us but it is our differences keep us interesting to each other. If we step away from assuming malevolent intent, people do adapt while in relationships. Goodness knows I adapted and changed for him. Vocabulary was a bone of contention for the definitions we had for many words were not in alignment. For instance, the simple word: truth. For him, truth was only true in the moment it was spoken. In hindsight, I see this was his method for saying anything at all and leaving an out for himself so he wouldn’t have to view himself as a liar. But, to me, a lie by omission or obfuscation is more harmful than an outright lie.

It boils down to integrity … another word he and I debated. He defined integrity as personal wholeness. I define integrity as being true to one’s word and being honorable. He chose to communicate with partial truths that could only be discovered as a being an obfuscation or omission of information I needed to make informed choices after the fact of our conversations. He always left enough room for me to fill in the blanks and, naturally, I filled them with material that caused me to believe we were in full agreement. I was in love.

If confusion arose and I dared to complain, he used emotional blackmail or sullen anger to redirect blame to me for not understanding acknowledgement didn’t imply agreement. He frequently caused me to feel wrong for being upset or left me wondering if I had imagined entire conversations. I really didn’t understand who I was dealing with at the time. I now see this as classic Narcissist behavior. Shifting blame is their stock and trade.

I am a sane woman who communicates clearly and listens carefully. If there is opportunity for confusion, I will rephrase what I’ve heard in my words to see if that is what the speaker intended. This seemed to irritate him at times and he complained I was correcting him when I did this. This confused me because I was practicing active listening skills I had learned in my work which had been successful for me for decades. Frequently, I was left to wonder if he had so little self confidence he couldn’t tolerate any opposition whatsoever but learned to adapt my style of communicating to avoid conflict.

But, in a realm of ambiguity where truth is only true in the moment it is spoken, my definition of integrity could never be realized with a man like him. Why did it take me so long to figure this out?

I don’t know about you but, for me, my choice to stay in the relationship when things took a turn for the worse and devolved to nasty is something that will always baffle me. In the thick of disputes as things worsened, I would lose control completely and seem so pitiful and weak, even to myself. But, if anyone is pathetic, it is the Narcissist. They have no capacity to feel remorse or shame about anything they’ve done to anyone they have affected. They have a very adept skill of leading their victims to the brink of sanity and, for them, this is fun.

There are several terms on the internet such as emotional vampire or sociopath. It was very hard for me to apply the content I found on these topics to my Narcissist while I was still connected to him but, the longer we are apart, the urge to make excuses for him lessens and it is easier to see him for who he is. I recall thinking I would have been safer with an axe murderer for, in that instance, I would have known I was in danger. Many people have laughed at my musing but, when I shared it with him, he was not amused.

What physics are involved in a singularity? As I understand it, it is the lingering energy from a dead star pulling in the life matter around it. In the end, what was once vibrant ceases to exist. A Narcissist gathers the brightest stars into the darkness of their souls. It is difficult to recognize the destructive force of the attraction that has brought you near until you are firmly in its grasp and there is no reasonable escape.