Everything a narcissist or sociopath says or does is a trick of smoke and mirrors – a narcissistic ploy – intended to distract from the reality of what he’s really up to. Many of us already know that the old joke – How can you tell a narcissist is lying? Because his mouth is moving – is nothing short of the absolute truth. Everything a narcissist does and everything he/she says is a fabrication in some way….a sleight of hand, a devious magic trick…used by the narcissist to distract us from what’s really going on.
Ultimately and painfully, I came to accept that most of Ben’s words were lies, exaggerations at a bare minimum, or more often than not, the total opposite of the truth. I was forced to assume Ben’s boy-scout behavior was also a lie, one giant act to distract me from catching on to the truth. Ben was diverting my attention away from his real intentions, insistent on keeping the reason he returned into my life a total secret. I’d accepted Ben’s words and actions at face value during round 2, and I shouldn’t have. Everything he’d done was merely a smoke screen, a way or blinding me from seeing the reality he controlled. I’d trusted Ben with my life, hell, I’d given him a key to my house – knowing he was doing all this evil behind my back was so worrisome – this could potentially spell complete and total disaster, this couldn’t potentially lead to my demise.
Ben said he’d come back into my life because he wanted to be part of my ressurection, of my rebirth, of my new success. He said he wanted to help me do well at my new job and set-up an easy-to-use home network. Every bit of his reasoning was bullshit, I ended up failing, my ability to work from home was taken away from me due directly to one event with Ben, hell, my job was taken away from me because of that turd. Every reason he gave for returning to my life turned out to be the complete opposite.
I discovered there were several ways of knowing what’s what with Ben. Pondering his use of “vague queues” would often shed light on what was real. Ben would frequently say something basic, a few words that seemed nonsensical, only when I took them literally and verbatim, it was Ben being honest. Like with the below… I thought he was talking out his ass… only he was telling me the harsh reality of our situation:
At first I thought it was a joke. Later it dawned on me: this was Ben’s way of actually being honest for a change; he was warning me that if he stayed in my life, it would harm me. Looking back, it might be the most truthful statement Ben ever made (although that doesn’t apply to the second half of the text, “I’m sorry I hurt you,” because I think Ben was a bit sadistic).
On many occasions, I got mad at Ben for withholding important information from me. He’d deny it, always claiming:
I tried telling you in my own way.
The problem was: “his way” wasn’t easily comprehensible, and it often flew over my head.
Another way to know the truth was interpreting Ben’s use of projection: by turning his words around on him, I’d find out what was real and what was not. Understanding the use of projection was key in decoding Ben; according to the literature, projection is a hallmark feature of NPD.
Ah, projection. The fine art of making me guilty of your vices. No one projects better or more frequently than a narcissist. They’ve practiced, honed and refined projection to a fine art. Whatever they’re up to, by some mental “abracadabra,” suddenly they’re innocent and you’re actually the one up to no-good.
At the start of round 2, Ben admitted he was different, he spoke of seeing the world in a different way. He alluded to being a narcissist without ever using the word. Ben acknowledged how he experienced life and emotions differently than me, how he saw others as extensions of himself, and how lying / cheating / stealing were intrinsic to his nature.
While he was more open initially, that all changed once the word narcissist was taken out of the closet by me and used a bunch of times; little did I realize how much that enraged Ben, who hid his true feelings perfectly. Jesus – I wish I’d never used the n word, but our situation forced us into an unnatural setting in which I thought narcissism was nothing to sweat over. Later on Ben would vehemently deny being a narcissist, he loathed me for saying it. He chose his every word carefully to avoid saying anything remotely associated with narcissism. When the topic came up, he’d project his narcissism onto me, calling me the n word instead; this a classic move taken right out of the textbook apparently.
Ben loved to project…
The other way to determine truth from lies was to note his reaction to what I said. If he instantly lashed out in anger, straight up refused to address a topic, or threatened to defriend me over something, it was a sign of his guilt.
Phony, phony, phony…
If Ben reacted with sugar-coated, rose-pedal words like Betty White on The Golden Girls – I also knew instantly – he was telling me bullshit, he was simply saying the opposite of the truth.
Getting Ben to actually admit to wrongdoing was like pulling teeth from a child. In time I learned how to read him far better, I learned how to figure him out, only I learned how to do so a bit too late. Until the end, I’d believed what he said as the Bible, I didn’t doubt him at all.
Accepting what he said as the truth only ended up biting me in the ass. Ben also loved to flip things around on me, trying to make me believe it any undesired outcome was all my fault.
Having educated myself more on narcissistic personality disorder, I thought about how kind and selfless Ben appeared at the start of round 2; now I knew that was all smoke and mirrors. I couldn’t help but wonder what his true motivation was; I kept pondering why he’d worked so hard to win me over. I came up with many theories, but there was no way to prove any of them as fact. The only face I knew was whatever Ben led me to believe had been an illusion, and Ben would never admit what was hiding behind it.
If Ben was a narcissist – and I think his reaction to the word narcissist established that he was from the start – then all his kind gestures were manipulations; what I saw as altruistic was him fooling me and keeping me in the dark. After discovering Ben hacked my phone, I started to question many events. The more I questioned, the more concerned I became that everything was a smokescreen, that what appeared to be selfless acts were actually ways of exploiting me.
Ben made me the happiest I’d ever felt in my life – but was is authentic? Was that his end goal? Or was it deception, was it his way of feeding me lies so I’d fail to see the truth?
Ben said he always put others first – which might appear to be true at first glance. He put others first to earn their trust, that way exploiting them was a lot easier.
Ben explicitly told me he always thought through everything he did before acting to ensure he’d come out the winner. He rarely, if ever, did things that benefited me in the long-run; yes, maybe he did things that made me feel good in the moment, but feeling good was eventually followed by feeling humiliated and betrayed; Ben used fake kindness to hide his dark side quite successfully.
He openly admitted that he used “mirroring” to win me over, showing me what I needed to see in order to fall in love with him, as opposed to showing me the truth. Ben wasn’t honest nor real in winning over my heart, he’d put on an act meanwhile he was getting away with whatever he wanted behind my back.
Why would someone want you to fall in love with them if they didn’t feel the same? For the sake of power and control. Like with much of what he said, Ben described his need for control with the opposite of the truth:
If I dare called Ben out on anything, even when it was completely obvious, he became enraged and held a grudge indefinitely it seemed. He’d err on the side of getting pissed off even when he didn’t understand what I was saying, even when he didn’t know what a particular word meant, anything he thought was a sleight set him off:
When Ben professed his love to me that summer during round 2, I felt like he was hypnotizing me. I know that’s completely subjective, but I’ve always said that’s how it felt, it was surreal, it didn’t seem authentic; only it still felt so good that I chose to believe him.
These all were dead give always of fact versus fiction, although he’d deny I was correct until hell froze over. If I mentioned the “cloned” phone months down the road, for example, Ben would immediately threaten to discard me – it was his way or the highway. Ben refusing to address a topic meant he was hiding the truth from me.
There was a reason Ben returned to my life and it wasn’t genuine love, plus according to all the literature, narcissists are incapable of love anyway. The reasons he gave for coming back for round 2 were all horse shit:
I didn’t want to give up the opportunity to date you for a second time.
In round 1, he treated me like total crap, he didn’t want to date me then; he never officially dated me in round 2, either. He also denied having discarded me altogether, instead claiming:
I knew it wasn’t the right time for you to be in a relationship with me; I knew you were dealing with a lot and had just gotten out of that nightmare with your ex. I knew I couldn’t be what you needed, plus I didn’t want you to get too attached. I wanted you to experience other guys, also.
Ben’s statements always made him look like an angel looking out for me- yet his actions eventually showed the opposite. Ben would also deny his use of love-bombing, using the same, damn line each time I mentioned it:
All I did was give you lots of compliments and tell a few white lies – what guy doesn’t do that to win over the person he likes?
And Ben discarding me – it couldn’t have been more obvious with his harsh words.
But he’d always deny it:
So basically once someone comes into your life, they’re never allowed to leave, because that’s “discarding”? That’s bogus!
We’d fight forever over him discarding me, Ben claiming it was normal to suddenly end a friendship; I argued the opposite. But Ben argued I was misusing the word discard or “forcing” him to stay by indirectly saying his actions showed him to be a narcissist:
So basically “discarding” is your all-inclusive term to make me stay in your life no matter what… anything I do you say is “discarding.” Fucking annoying!
Why he cared so much about whether I viewed it as discarding or not confused me at the time. I’ve comet to believe now it was because he was so adamant about having nothing to do with narcissism, and therefore wanted to ensure at all costs that I couldn’t link him with something like “discarding” or “gaslighting.” Palease… like I needed to “prove” he was a narcissist at this point in the game. I kinda knew this for certain years back…
He’d claim he wasn’t “discarding” me because he wasn’t blocking me on his phone or he was seeing me face to face to say goodbye forever in a cruel, nasty fashion.
Ben seemed to think the definition of “discarding” had to include him blocking me in his phone or ghosting me; while those are often common in discarding others, by definition it just means to end a relationship with someone in a cruel manner that fails to give them closure and aims at causing as much emotional pain as possible. It has nothing to do with blocking. Ben’s failure to block me also resulted in 2 things that narcissists love to have revealed:
1. Me acting out like a crazy person via text and phone, which he knew would happen like clockwork when he discarded me. It helped “flip the script” as it was guaranteed to make me appear unstable and “crazy” meanwhile Ben was calm and collect.
2. He didn’t want to block my phone because he needed access to it for whatever he was doing with it; blocking me would prevent that from taking place… this is another guess.
When Ben agreed to apologize to me, and that he wanted to say it to my face, it was an end to a means – it meant he was free from my life forever in exchange for his lousy apologies…
…but not only that, it was a way for him to hack into my home network. He came over and asked for my Wi-Fi password that final night, which I gave him without thinking twice, saying he was out of minutes and needed to my Wi-Fi to make a text.
Days later I experienced the wrath of hell when computer, my phone, and everything electronic in my home had been hacked and, in time, it appeared that Wi-Fi was key in maintaining his omnipresence.
So not only did Ben not apologize for his actions, he did it in order to cause me pain (as it signified him leaving me behind forever) AND it was his excuse to come and hack into my privacy in a manner that’s been impossible to retrieve, in a way that would go on to nearly cost me everything.
Apology my ass; it was smoke and mirrors x 1000.
Ben used the prospect of us dating to drag me along after I decided to leave; he kept speaking about how soon the break-up was to happen, he kept mentioning the date he was moving out, only that date kept being pushed back, and eventually never happened. Ben never saw us together, he always saw our ending, only he knew how much that bothered me, how I associated it with narcissism, and so he’d always lie to make me happy.
Ben said all this crap to make me feel special when ultimately all he wanted to do, and all he repeatedly did, was throw me away. He’d dragged me on for months with this lie about dating, and his final admission as to why he lied made me want to puke:
I remember how adamant Ben was about me not celebrating my birthday alone; yet I still spent my birthday alone in the end. He came over and spent the entire night doing something rather intense in my closet while I slept; he was so tired in the morning that he went home before I even got to see him and hear “Happy Birthday.” His excuse for doing whatever in my closet for hours: he didn’t like his shirt, and was searching for a better one.
Ben tore apart my closet despite having no one to impress except me, only to leave before I could even see him. Ben also spent a lot of time alone in my condo doing many favors for me… but what was he really doing?
Before he tried discarding me in June, Ben fed me all this BS about how he wanted to spend more time with me during the week. I made the time for him, only after a few weeks, he up and discarded me in (like always) a super cruel manner.
And for the 100,000,000th time, Ben needed to focus all his attention on himself, he’d say it like he wasn’t always focusing all his attention on himself.
For some odd reason, he’d always “link” me and his boyfriend together – he’d say he was leaving us both, but he only left me.
Ben needed his two men and if one was absent, it meant hell for the one that remained.
Plus Ben felt he deserved whatever it took to make him happy, completely ignoring the needs of others.
Could all this time he wanted to spend with me have been a lie? Because then he left me – and it was the next time we communicated that I discovered his phone contact was linked to mine. Many times Ben would taunt me, he’d throw around these nasty statements about needing me out of his life, but the 4 times I uttered the words “No Contact” he was at my door knocking within minutes. It’s like he wanted to give the impression that he wanted me gone for good – only he’d then return making it apparent that it was … just a smoke-screen.
The thought that Ben’s kind gestures were actually a way of hiding the evil he was conducting behind my back never once crossed my mind. Why would it? That’s not something that any normal person does. Only I saw the snafu with his contact appearing as mine on my smart phone and I knew that something fishy was brewing at that very moment.
I eventually became convinced that Ben never loved me, he likely never even liked me, instead the entire time he was doing nothing but exploiting me while he laid the foundation for his smear campaign. Ben saw me as an object he could use for various things: to give him attention, to make him feel sexually attractive, and to be used in this sick plan he had for spreading narcissism throughout America. You read that correctly – but I won’t jump ahead just yet. All that I’d fallen for in Ben was nothing more than smoke and mirrors – it was nothing more a front intended to win me over – all so I was distracted from realizing that the entire time, he was setting me up to be destroyed.
They say narcissists don’t do anything for others unless it benefit them. So Ben’s return to my life – especially after I’d committed the worst offense possible to a narcissist – was about as unlikely as me having good luck for once, like me winning the lottery as opposed to me inheriting debt. It would be the first time ever in history – and it wasn’t something that was gonna happen to either of us. Ben wanting to help me set up that lap top for work – doing it without even announcing he was doing it, only to later find my home laptop had someone remotely accessing it ever since. I once turned off a process that was using a lot of memory when I noticed it in my task manager – after doing so, my admin rights to download anything disappeared, in fact I couldn’t even use the task manager after that incident. Someone took that away from me altogether.
Whomever said narcissists are evil made an understatement…
I’d gone on to hire a private investigator to look into what Ben had done specifically to my phone. I was shocked when he came back to say Ben had many aliases, numerous phone numbers, his car wasn’t registered to him, and he had no history of ever working at the place he’d said. He had no income tax history, no UCC filings, no nothing linking him to the job he claimed to work, the guy whose uniform was often worn when coming to my house had been lying about that, as well. This was all smoke and mirrors…
It was my second private investigator, a former under-cover cop in Florida, who found out the following information:
Ben appeared to be someone’s long-term confidential informant and was receiving a “full ride.” Ben even admitted this below – only he later said I’d pushed him to the point of lying about this, which was his excuse for everything. After admitting 3 times that he worked for “those people,” he came at me with a different version: he said that I’d angered him to the point where he didn’t know what he was saying. At one point, he claimed he’d been sent to be an informant on me, although I didn’t know why; and I didn’t know what type of informant engages their suspect in a 2 year long-term relationship and has sex with him over 500 times. This seemed beyond unethical, beyond exploitative, it seemed to be outrageous conduct on the part of law enforcement – especially when I wasn’t committing any crimes. This was completely perplexing…
What the hell was going on here? And for how long had this been going on? And why, of all people in the world, was I chosen to be the scapegoat? My abuser seemed to have the backing of law enforcement to get away with what he’d done, and keep on going… how the fuck was this happening?
My life had become a chronic state of fight or flight My fear, my need to find out the truth, completely consumed me. I couldn’t concentrate at all, I couldn’t think straight, these intrusive thoughts filled my mind constantly. I felt like I’d been played for 2 whole years – and since Ben had screwed me over for 2 full years I had no idea the extent of the damage he’d caused… I became paralyzed with fear.
This was my life – I deserved to know more about it than anyone else. Only it didn’t appear that was the case… Ben seemed to know a whole lot more, and he wasn’t telling…
Everything surrounding Ben – every single thing I encountered with him, his personality, the sex, his words, his actions, they were all nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
Like always: the worst was yet to arrive. Soon days of complete and total confusion would take over my life even more than they had before…
…or scroll down and read more on smoke and mirrors.
To the Narcissist, People are a Hall of Mirrors
One way to understand the seemingly irrational behaviors and reactions of the Narcissist is to understand that, to the Narcissist, the world’s billions of other living, breathing human beings are but a hall of mirrors whose existence reflects back at the Narcissist an image of himself. The Narcissist’s mood, emotional health and well-being, energy, verve, and sense of purpose are entirely based on what that hall of mirrors is reflecting back at him at any given moment in time. The Narcissist is a slave to this hall of mirrors.
This becomes confusing to those who are not Narcissists, because the logical solution seems to be to treat the Narcissist well, or to treat the Narcissist as you would want to be treated, and the Narcissist will be happy. But that misses the point a bit, I think. A healthy, symbiotic interpersonal relationship is not the same as a reflection. The two are distinct and different, and play out in different ways.
Here are some examples. When you act like you’re happy to see the Narcissist, you are reflecting back at the Narcissist that he is important, special, and someone whose very being makes you happy, thus, he has objectively positive qualities. When you laugh at the Narcissist’s jokes, you reflect back that he has a good sense of humor. When you attend a social event with the Narcissist, you reflect back to him that he is someone socially desirable. When you hire the Narcissist, you reflect back to him that he was the best candidate for the position.
Okay, those probably work similarly with Nons. Now here are some examples of where things get tricky, I think. When you offer constructive criticism to the Narcissist, you reflect back at him that he is bad at what he does. When you offer advice to the Narcissist, you reflect back at him that he is someone in need of advice, i.e., that he is too stupid to figure things out for himself. When you offer the Narcissist sympathy, you reflect back to the Narcissist that he is someone to be pitied, i.e., someone weak and pathetic.
These are examples of where Nons and Narcissists would differ I think. And these are areas where the Narcissist will suffer a Narcissistic Injury despite the often well-meaning intention of the external source (mirror). It also works the other way about. You threaten to commit suicide because the Narcissist leaves you, and you reflect back at the Narcissist that he is so awesome that you can’t live without him. You fight with the Narcissist, and you reflect back at the Narcissist that he means something to you, because otherwise you would be indifferent. You fear the Narcissist, and you reflect back his own power. The Narcissist is at the mercy of the need to have what he wants to see reflected back at him, and not what he doesn’t want to see. This is a lifelong state, unyielding, and existing in perpetuity.
Narcissists will seek out your goals, your insecurities, your dreams, your values. They will say things akin to “Oh wow, me too!” or “I feel exactly the same way.” And based on their reconnaissance, they will morph into your perfect mate. They will even go so far as to say, “I’ve never felt this way about anyone before” and call you their soulmate. They will even suggest that you move in together as quickly as possible because they just can’t be without you.
Mirroring is actually a widely used sales technique. The salesperson will reflect back what the customer says or the body language that is used. I used to work in retail for many years and have seen this technique used before. If the customer is inquisitive and the body language suggests friendliness, then the salesperson would act in the same manner. This same technique is also used in drama and acting classes.
But with the Narc, it’s different. Narcissists use you as a means to an end. They will reflect back to you all the behaviors that you are exhibiting, not to know more about you and have a genuine relationship with you, but to learn all they can about you so that they can pretend to be someone they are not.
You will be amazed that you both have the same taste in music, movies, and food. They will say, “Oh you like chocolate covered strawberries? Oh my gosh, so do I!” In fact, my ex-Narc said that very thing to me. He drew information from me in the beginning and discovered that my all-time favorite dessert treat is chocolate covered strawberries. And guess what he did? He made them for me for our first Valentine’s Day together in 2005.
The Narc will go all out in mirroring your persona. They will mimic your style of dress (dressy to casual). They will copy your language usage (casual talk like with friends, or cursing). They will tell you that he also has the same favorite pastimes, like reading or listening to music. If you say you dislike a particular musical artist or a type of food, well….guess what? So do they!
They will become whatever you are. Their end game is to get you hooked. You will be so swept up in the emotions of finding your “soulmate” that you won’t even notice the small beginnings of the abuse.
That’s exactly why it’s called mirroring. They reflect back to you what they observe. You are essentially falling for yourself!