The Ones Who Always Wear the Mask
The person with a narcissistic personality disorder never leaves home without it
There are many tools in the narcopath’s toolbox. Weapons of mass seduction, pity plays and victimhood, smearing and blame-shifting, the list goes on and on. But one thing is for certain. The narcissist sociopath always wears a mask and never leaves home without it.
I sometimes think about Darth Vader.
About the ugly, shriveled, pathetic mass of trembling, quivering goo that lived behind the all-powerful, intimidating mask. He created an omnipotent super-persona to compensate for the injured, damaged, destroyed person who once existed inside the empty cavern. He costumed it and groomed it to be a menacing power that could swallow up an entire galaxy with only the power of his mind and his insatiable need for fuel.
The difference between Darth Vader and most narcissists and sociopaths is that he had a redemption arc that enabled him to be saved in the end and grasp his humanity once again before shedding his mortal coils. A typical narcopath cannot do that. They are incapable of regaining what humanity they once possessed as young vulnerable children before they were damaged beyond repair. It was eradicated early on, leaving them with a hollow core. It’s like they live still in the womb with their dead twin that they murdered. It’s like they cannibalized the better part of themselves and replaced it with something twisted and perverse. It’s like they were cursed with the inability to feel either pain or joy and certainly not love. Not the kind of love that is real and healing and transformative and forever.
Never receiving unconditional love, they don’t know what it is.
COVID has challenged us to wear masks to protect one another, especially the vulnerable in our communities, from sickness, disability, and possibly death. But the push back has been fierce as many declare their right to go maskless with the chant, “You can’t tell us what to do. We’re not wearing that mask.” The narcissist-sociopath has a similar attitude but in reverse. They say, “You can’t tell us what to do. We aren’t taking this mask off for anybody.”
So what exactly are they trying to hide?
First, let me point out how the same horrible thing can happen to two children, but one reacts by becoming even more empathetic to other people’s suffering and swear they will never ever inflict such pain on another human being. The other has the opposite response. They murder their true self to put it out of its misery then resurrect a new false self that is stronger, fearless, powerful, charming, and self-serving to replace the weak vulnerable self that just couldn’t manage it all. They have no emotional empathy or intimate feelings toward others. Their relationship partners are only objects to serve their needs and retained as at-will employees with no contract or binding agreements.
What is the difference between these two very different responses that are the antithesis of one another?
That is the million-dollar question. What explains how two people react so differently to the same early trauma? Genetics? Abuse? Mental illness? Fragility? Demonic influence?
Who knows? It really doesn’t matter why they become what they are. It only matters that you come to understand it so you can accept it and move on.
The narcopath is easily adaptable.
It’s easy to be a chameleon and assimilate the characteristics of the flavor of the month or intimate primary source of fuel when you have no core identity and look to others to both define you and validate you. They often convince themselves that they are the good guys, the victim, and the one who was abused when in fact they are the perpetrators and predators who are capable of horrific destruction.
They will look right at you and only see their illusions and delusions kept alive by blame-shifting, projection, and magical thinking. Of course they have to demonize you. If they saw the truth of what they are and what they did, it would be impossible to wear the white hat and walk away without accountability for their crimes. Their hands are bloody as they rip you to shreds and pull out your entrails and snack on them, all the while seducing and grooming your replacement. They are incapable of wrapping their minds around what they did and will always do.
I agreed to meet my ex-narcopath recently to exchange a few things after almost 17 tortuous months have passed since the infamous discard. His revisionist history, lack of compassion or mercy, projection, and convoluted thinking were absolutely unbelievable to witness. It’s hard to imagine how someone can lie beside you every single night, year after year, assume the same snuggle-spooning position, promise forever and say I love you a million times, and then just flip a switch, suddenly exit your life, and annihilate you while their side of the bed is still warm.
For 7,776,000 minutes, 129,600 hours, 5,400 days, 450 weeks — we maintained what seemed to be a solid marriage with all the husband and wife roles in place. Sure, there were bumpy spots and red flags, but we were a team and leaned in to solve any challenge. We celebrated each other, shared a common vision, built a life, a home, careers. . . side by side, day by day. The way it ended told me everything that had always been too hard to acknowledge and too easy to deny.
It was a castle built on sociopathic sand.
I sat there and felt almost afraid to look at him for fear I would crumble into pieces or burst into flames. To begin, I stammered and giggled and felt like a gobsmacked middle school girl who just sat down with her first crush. For almost three hours, we talked while he basked in the copious fuel I was providing to him. He seemed almost hostile and contemptuous as he placed the blame of our failed marriage solely upon my shoulders by saying that he was too young when we met and my decision to begin a relationship with someone so much younger was inappropriate and destined to fail. It took him 15 years of holy wedded matrimony to decide he did not want what I wanted —
I’m sure his victim narrative has played well with people who did not know us, newcomers who did not witness the success of our marriage. It’s a convenient excuse for abandoning me that others easily support when they are presented with the older, jealous, controlling, possessive wife. Those things were not the reason for his departure. He does not tell them about the porn addiction, the infidelities, the betrayals, the lying. There is no causal relationship between his actions and my reactions that is shared with his new groupies who only see a charismatic, sweet, innocent and gentle victim.
He came into my life, came into my house, came into my bed and robbed me blind. . . taking everything that ever mattered to me. He seduced me, preyed upon me, used weapons of mass seduction, energy vibration, magic, and more to embed himself in my life. I had a life he wanted, so he took it. He saw an opportunity, so he took it. I was his ticket from the barrio to the boardroom.
I somehow caused a narcissistic wounding that led to the cold fury.
His memory of Portugal and the events of June 2019 that caused narcissistic fury to be unleashed and punishment as a result of this narcissistic injury to commence was completely distorted. The mask came off and the verdict was death. He murdered me abruptly and without warning less than 48 hours later. How dare I challenge his desire to play, have the unmitigated brashness to set boundaries or demand loyalty, or try to elicit culpability for his nefarious deeds?
When I first saw him walking towards me after nearly a year, I was overcome with pure unadulterated, high-octane, unconditional love. It was like being struck by lightning or seeing God.
All of the pain and horrific suffering of the past year and a half just vanished in an instant, and I was overwhelmed with love and emotion. There had been hundreds of days and nights spent plotting either my death or his, copious hours in therapy and trauma intervention, desperate attempts to get the toxins out as I woke from sleep each night with acute panic attacks driven by C-PTSD that felt like death. I was suffocating on my grief, yet he had absolutely no idea what that must have been like all these months. I stared at him and reminded myself that he is incapable of emotional empathy to the extent that he has no clue what he put me through. And he also had no clue what it feels like to see someone you love, regardless of what they have done to you, and be filled with a love and a light that would melt the mountains into the sea. I asked if he had ever felt that kind of love for anyone.
He replied, “I love myself like that. I only need to love me and no one else.”
At some point, you know you are describing color to a blind man.
Not once did he ask about me, express regret that I have suffered because of his actions, or show any compassion or concern whatsoever.
He went on to ask me how many times I saw the mask slip or come off. It was as if he knew exactly what he was doing the whole time. I recently found a journal where he described his sociopathic and sado-masochistic tendencies. He acknowledged that he lacks emotional empathy, compassion, or love. He confesses that it is all “a game” and people are just interchangeable parts to swap out and use as needed.
Some narcissists and sociopaths are unaware of what they are. But my ex knows. The last two times I saw him, he was without a mask and floating around without identity. He appeared completely unhinged and mentally ill in a heartbreakingly profound way. But now, now that he has embedded a new fuel source, is mirroring and reflecting and absorbing her, is firmly attached and syphoning off her very life force for fuel, he seems more grounded and has more clarity. He says he is happy with zero awareness of how that must feel to me as I continue to struggle to get through each day. I am completely alone. He managed to wreck every relationship I had so that nobody is near, no one within 2,000 miles. But he is not alone. For nine months, he has enjoyed the companionship of my replacement without remorse or regret. He even commented that one relationship is not better or worse than another, just different.
The vulnerable covert narcissist plays the victim. . .
proclaims their innocence, and constructs their mask from their fuel supply. The mask covers a dysregulated individual that cannot live without feeding off of another person. It’s nothing personal. He is sweet and helpful and kind and courteous and charming. But he’s empty and cannot identify with what he has caused others to feel. That in itself is the most frightening thing of all. They just don’t get it. They just can’t feel it. So they are beautiful chameleons with no soul or heart, only acting the part, going through the motions, pretending to be a real human. They are aliens, body snatchers, serial killers, cult leaders, demented politicians, and soulless serpents with glitter and glam.
Beneath that mask is something sick and twisted and empty and lost.
I still love that broken ugly part of him. But it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t understand and is incapable of ever feeling the emotions that make us human.
He was my dream come true and my worst nightmare.
Every day I must reset my mind and heart to reflect grace and compassion for both of us so I can begin to piece my life back together. It is my last great challenge. . . to recover my soul following the trauma of abuse from my disordered former husband.
I forgive him.
I am sorry.
I love him.
I am grateful.