I remember sitting in the living room after a shower watching my husband pace back and forth in front of me from the kitchen to the bedroom. Back again. Stopping occasionally to scream one more thing in my face. Then, as if he was running into the other room and tagging in his nicer twin relay style, he’d come in and bury his head in my lap and apologize. Pleading for me to save the family and accept his love.
I sat in silence. Completely amused and totally ambivalent to his “feelings.”
This circular, one-sided conversation would last about a half hour. He went from hot to cold- angry to heartfelt in .6 seconds. Talk about whiplash!
Here are the signs if you’re unsure if what you are experiencing is this classic narcissistic tactic:
1. Blame: A lot of “you’s” and implied “poor me’s.”
2. Reaction to your nonreaction: See what he does when you say nothing. No tears, no words. You’ll be amazed at how they can have an entire fight with themselves. This is an indication of the inner turmoil a narcissist feels every minute of the day. Struggling to be the person everyone sees versus the evil that boils under the surface.
3. Waterworks: Variably, depending on the narcissist, there will be real tears shed on his part. Where have those been hiding? Is it just allergies? Who knows. The narcissist doesn’t even know. They only know people react to tears. Tears look genuine! Tears can’t be fake! See how much I feel!
4. Apologies: Here it is folks! The words you’ve always wanted to hear. He knows what you want. He’s always known. But these words of manipulation were kept set aside for a very special occasion such as this. To pull out in desperation to make you cave. You’ll hear the “sorry” and “I’m wrong” and “I’m so flawed, you make me a better person” that you assumed were not in his vocabulary! Wow!
Still, don’t respond…
5. Aaaand here we go again: Wait. What? I didn’t say anything to your apologies and you’re angry again? Oooookay?
You’ve just had Narcissistic Whiplash! Wow! How do you feel?
I would definitely categorize my ex-husband as a Master Manipulator, but in some instances, this hysteria would get the best of him and his intentions were just extraordinarily transparent. He was obviously losing his manipulative edge toward the end and he could tell the veil of ignorance, youth, or naivete that had clouded my eyes before, was gone forever.
I felt liberated. It was an out of body experience to finally see the intentions of the person I shared my life with. Like he was saying he loved me with real tears in his eyes, while he figuratively stabbed my heart to shreds. How is that possible?
He was a great salesman. Watching him negotiate for our new car in those last months of marriage was a sight to behold. I felt sorry for the car salesman. He didn’t have a chance. I sipped my Diet Coke and watched the back and forth like a tennis match.
Everyone would lose a match against my husband. And not just lose the match but take one last fatal proverbial tennis ball to the face. It was always a nasty show. He wasn’t satisfied until the other person was cut to ribbons. But then, per the narcissistic attitude, he’d be the one to build them up one last time. Make sure his targets were whole again when he left them so he could come back again and do it all over again.
Stay strong against this manipulative whiplash. It is not genuine and it will happen again. Those are the only two truths. My prescription for this abuse? Run! Run away.