On this website we regularly refer to our parents or partners as Trouble People or a Toxic Person, Emotionally Unavailable People, Emotional Bullies or Emotional Abusers. So what are we really talking about?
We are talking about people that for various reasons cannot empathize with others, cannot give them the love and support they need. Although the reasons for this lack of care may be many varied, there seems to be a common thread: the person prioritizes their own emotional needs over those of others. When we say that, we don’t mean a mother that comes up with a clever way to occupy her kids so she can have a little sleep in on Saturdays. We are talking about people that actively cause harm to others in order to meet their own emotional needs.
There can be many causes for this behavior, and we are not here to judge the Trouble People for their issues. We will look at the behavior they show and how this affected the people around them. A lot of times we take the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as a starting point. Not all Trouble People are Narcissists, some have other issues or even have several. Besides, NPD manifests on a scale, so a Toxic Person in your life may show narcissistic traits, without having an NPD.
We are not here to diagnose Toxic People, but we have noticed that for many of us the problems we experience in the present stem from narcissistic behavior displayed by Trouble People in our pasts. The Trouble People can have many roles in our lives. So where we write parent, mother or father, partner, manager or spouse, or refer to the son or daughter, the wife or husband, you can substitute to whatever fits your circumstances.
What is Narcissism?
For those of us who are not in the “know” about personality disorders, the likelihood of understanding narcissism is remote. We have probably heard about Narcissus in Greek mythology who so loved staring at his own reflection in the water he just couldn’t tear himself away from it and thus died. It is due to Narcissus that the word narcissism was born and its meaning is a fixation with oneself.
In our society where we have become blinded by the importance of celebrity and hedonistic pursuits, it has given narcissists an opportunity to flourish. They were always there and hiding their true selves from the outside world but now the curtain has been lifted and they are masquerading as important people in all the major sectors of the business world. From CEO’s to local management, from health services to pharmaceutical companies, education etc., to the bitchiest person you work with; they are all radiating out their own importance and determined to get what they want.
By Fair Means or Foul
Narcissists will rabidly promote their own power, and if you don’t always applaud them for their efforts, which in reality are probably stolen from other people’s ideas (if not your own), then you will come under attack. Your own efforts will be annihilated as childish, ill-conceived and unworkable. Buzz words like transparency, outside the box and survival strategy are used to make you think how incredible they are to outsmart everyone and pull off a great scheme.
In reality this is a smoke screen, because narcissists don’t always do very much; but they make sure others do. They will show their charming side to you, until you pull off the mask that lays them bare.
Above all a narcissist has a grandiose ego, which makes them feel entitled to all they want. They show no empathy, believe they are special, demand attention, they are arrogant and have feelings of superiority. They envy what they don’t have, but are convinced it is you who envies them. They have no boundaries when it comes to invading yours. Although it seems unbelievable, they are driven by their own low self-esteem.
The methods they tend to use to get their own way and show their self-importance are:
This form of abuse is aimed to confuse you by their denial of reality. This gives you a false account of what actually happened, and will make the abused doubt their own memory. Read more >>>
This is where the Narcissist will refuse to admit to their own imperfections (albeit unconsciously), and thus blame them on their victim. So if you are accused of being a liar, they are lying.
This is what narcissists need for their staple diet. To be denied it will make them depressed so they engineer situations where they can let rip with their anger, and at the same time make you feel incompetent and unsafe. They perceive a personal attack made upon them which they will not tolerate. Read more >>>
This is a method whereby the narcissist expects the other person to act as the parent to them. Narcissists will for example instill this in their children at a very young age, and the child will hear about money issues, sexual/marital issues and also be expected to do household chores and raising siblings. All issues that children would not normally be entrusted with. Read more >>>
This is where the Trouble Person treats the other person as a young child. Not allowing them to use or develop the life skills they need, like teaching them to cook, or have insight in their finances, so that they will remain close and feel unable to survive on their own. They also tell their victims how dangerous it is in the real world.
Both parentification and infantilasation are used at the same time, giving a very distorted version of life and thus creating an insecurity and odd maturity at the same time. This also creates isolation of a victim from its peers, as their lives are so different and they will feel like an outcast. Read more >>>
This is where the narcissist will create a distance between people (siblings other relatives, as well as friends) so they will communicate through the trouble person, rather than directly with the other one. Of course the details can be altered before they are filtered through, thus rewarding them with narcissistic supply as they get to hear everything which can later be used against you.
This is a powerful and abusive form of punishment. It is passive/aggressive, because the abuser is not engaging with you, but aggressive in how it is showing their contempt of you (albeit non-verbally). This can last for just a few hours, months or years and leaves you feeling bereft. Read more >>>
Identifying Behavior in a Toxic Person
So now you can recognize some of the behaviors, you can be prepared to change how you deal with the Trouble Person in your own life. Go back and re-evaluate some of the things that happened to you. Talk to other Swans, and get their feedback. This will all help you to gain more insight in the relationship you have with the Emotional Bully, and the effects you still suffer today.
Like we said at the start of the article, we are not here to diagnose or judge Trouble People for their issues. We would like to focus on you, rather than your abuser. We talk about healing, about finding a way to take control of your life and leaving the abuse behind you.