*trigger warning* Reclaiming my power from a narcissist
Sometimes I wish I had known what would be coming my way when starting out with leadership in spring 2020, when trusting the wrong person. Someone who turns out to be a serious case of narcissism. It’s been the hardest experience of my life.
A word of caution
I’m not using this word lightly, I’m against labelling people. Yet, when compassion, curiosity and boundaries fail and communication is denied, it sometimes does help to dig further and see if certain labels are appropriate. As labels allow for appropriate measures to prevent further victimization. I’m also against going behind people’s back or create an atmosphere of gossiping. Yet I have found, after having had one on one conversations, being honest about behaviour (that is usually obvious to many) is beneficial. It actually takes away the need for going behind each other’s back and I know of situations where it has helped to turn someone around. Although there is always a handful of people that can’t be changed.
So, I’m sharing my story with a charismatic, influential (800k+ followers on social media) and angelic innovator, trusting your ability to handle it in an equally mature way. Because I don’t want more victims…
He is someone I met in my hometown a couple of years ago. We connected through a shared history of losing our parents to cancer. He made me dare trust myself enough to put my vision on paper and follow it, as you can see and read on my website. We stayed in touch through social media. Sharing a similar vision on the importance of health, equality and (patient/nurse) inclusion, he seemed to be inspired by me. Confirming mutual friendship and affection, and hinting for more. Yet something felt off, really off…
Throughout his sphere of influence on social media, I got to read about my work on leadership, on community building, on personal development work. While the numbers on my website and social media accounts, even the ones not published, rapidly rose without doing any marketing. Definetely making an impact there… which goes on untill this day…
After our initial acquintance, we never met face to face, so this is where I can only hypothesize: When you do a lot of personal work, you grow your capacity to feel the impalpable. You get ‘to feel people’, or as Brene Brown has put it: “connection is the energy between people when they feel seen heard and valued, when they can give and receive without judgement, and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
Experiencing connection, a sense of belonging, is turning out to be an important determinant for health. It lies at the heart of my view on social innovation and health care communities. Technological innovations and social media has allowed for more connection than ever before,… opening up a world of possibilities for the healthcare industry. As it turns out it’s a blue ocean. A very, very big blue ocean full of potential knowledge and wealth on health, community building, leadership and diversity.
The narcissist and feeling you
But, the thing with true narcissism (not just having a big ego) is that people suffering from it are incapable of being altruistic. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t experienced it, it’s like they don’t really ‘feel’ you. They use their ability to feel, to get something out of you. There are no real feelings, it’s harsh. And it can get even worse. In serious cases of narcissism, they actually become addicted to seeing someone in pain. Pain caused by them, when trying to break the chains… For example, when I was crying at the beginning of the year after watching a TV show, he would be offering sympathy, through social media. Even though he was the last person I wanted around.
So, while I am ploughing the world of healthcare and the public domain, openly sharing because that’s what I stand for, this is happening behind the scenes. It’s been disheartening, breaking down trust and creating barriers between me and others, as many people follow him. When confronting him (again, on social media, because why would you talk things through), I got met with aversion, and later on lies and intimidation. Nothing what has been shared was mine or has been inspired by me. Figuring out what really happened and breaking the chains have proven near impossible. Narcissists are masters of manipulation, leaving you utterly confused about what’s real and what’s a lie.
Luckily, I’m equipped through years and years of investing in disciplined practice and training in trauma, tantra and energywork to be able to deal with such betrayal. I have not one, but actually two communities who humble me with what happens if you give trust. Trust, when being nurtured, is returned and amplified. And, weirdly enough it’s also been the most empowering experience. Because for the first time, I really had to fight. Not for others, but for myself. To get seen and survive… I got to get rid of ‘being the good girl’, I got to take a stance against power abuse and embody healthy power.