The Anti-thesis of an Empath
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Below.
Something AngelSu pointed out to me a while back…. Not all people who are engaged in Devil’s Play do it be- cause they’re intentionally manipulative or intentionally malevolent.
Sometimes it’s just who they are. You can forgive that or you can keep your distance. In most cases, it’s just not going to change and it’s easier when you realize that it’ll always be that way.
I’ve been thinking for the past few days about narcissists I’ve known. Real, honest-to-Gods, clinically diagnosed narcissists. Not merely people we think are conceited and we want to call them names. No, I mean people who exhibit all or most of the symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
That’s not the same as having good self-esteem or dealing with your own issues. Most of the people I meet have huge self-worth problems that are buried in depression, isolation, inability to get themselves unstuck and claim their lives. That seems to be pretty normal in to- day’s world where no one ever “measures up.” Or if not overtly dealing with low self-worth, they mask it behind a cold or confident facade, convincing but they themselves don’t really believe it. I saw this today with a big-name writer who spends her life in the muck of unworthiness and yet, to her fans, she’s smugly the queen of the world. But her self-loathing is deadly. She’s one of the most negative people I know.
Yeah, these people with self-esteem issues are “normal.” Or at least, I think, they’re the “average per-son.”
Narcissists are anything but average. I’ve been around a few in the past and they are some of the most fun people I’ve ever met…at least early on. Every narcissist I’ve met has been extremely charismatic (though most charismatic people I know are not narcissists). When you’re with them, you feel like you’re the only person in the room. But that doesn’t last. They tend to flit from relationship to relationship, looking to maintain the thrill of “new relationship energy” or “first love” and always looking for something—someone—better than the last. One actually told me that every new woman he dated was better than the last…and since I went out with him many, many years ago and he’s just described his newest psychotic girlfriend, I can’t begin to know how to take that statement and he doesn’t realize he might have offended me.
There are several traits that the American Psychiatric Association describes, including their grandiose sense of self-importance; preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, beauty, etc; believing they are special and can only be understood by other high-status people; the need for excessive admiration; a sense of entitlement and unreasonable expectations of compliance; takes ad- vantage of others; lacks empathy; jealous of others or thinks they’re all jealous of him/her; arrogant/haughty behaviors and attitudes.
A healthy person will have some of those to some degree. They’ll expect to be treated fairly. They’ll envision future success. They’ll recognize their own worth. This goes far beyond a normal person with a healthy sense of self-worth.
Given that I’m an empath and a Highly Sensitive Per- son (HSP), the trait that bothers me the most is the lack of empathy. Narcissists have no heart. They cannot walk a mile in your shoes because they absolutely don’t under- stand your shoes…unless they’re very classy, costly, de- signer shoes that only people as special as they are would wear. Whereas empaths are too connected with every- thing around them, there’s a sort of disconnection that narcissists have with the rest of the Universe. They can- not understand what you’re going through or how badly their cruelty hurts or how their demands that you look/ act/dress like them and be their perfect little reflection of them can make you absolutely insane. And if you try to reason with them, they won’t understand. If you try to show them the effects of their actions, they won’t under- stand. Their behavior, their lack of boundaries will only get worse and they’ll overstep those boundaries in as much of a blazing flourish as they can.
A diagnosed narcissist who was once a colleague of mine told me that he was at least 7 years old before he understood that there were other people in the world with feelings, too. Until then, he’d honestly thought he was the center of the world. In true narcissistic fashion, he would deny now that he ever said that, but it startled me at the time and I couldn’t understand it, though I didn’t know why then. I know him better now, and he still thinks he’s the center of the world and still puts people on a shelf until he needs them, and is angry if they’re not thrilled to be back in his glorious presence. We get along quite well at a distance but we cannot work together. He says too many things that are utterly cruel that he doesn’t even realize are cruel because he just has no concept of how other people feel or of how to empathize with other human beings.
From an empath’s viewpoint, feeling the emotions of a narcissist is…un-grounding in a big way. Their disconnectedness seems to be the polar opposite of everything an empath knows.