Did you recently escape a toxic relationship with a narcissist and now no one will give you the time of day? Does it seem your co-workers, friends, and even your bank teller suddenly regard you with thinly-veiled contempt?
It’s not you…it’s the narcissist.
You’ve been smeared!
When it comes to being smeared by a narcissist, it’s important to understand their strategy in order to lessen the confusion and humiliation of being emotionally rejected by people you’ve known for years. Allow me to share an insider’s view of this ordeal from A-Z…
Shade 1 – Your relationship was over before it was over…
The reason everyone now runs in the opposite direction from you is that the narcissist has been smearing your reputation since before the relationship even ended. The two main reasons for this are:
1) All relationships are doomed in the narcissist’s mind and they want to get a running start on assassinating your character.
2) They assume you will vent to people in your shared social circle, and want to ensure they cut you off at the pass so you will look unstable when you muster the courage to start talking about your experiences.
These actions are to preserve the false image they’ve portrayed all along.
Shade 2 – Stealth-mode assassination
Undoubtedly, you’ve been thinking about leaving for a while; or perhaps you did leave a few times only to be lured back into the narcissist’s lair. You fell for the empty promises and crying bouts. Everything seemed peachy and you dared to dream of a renewed relationship with your partner.
You discovered that while they were smiling in your face and pretending to be Tom Cruise in Jerry McGuire, they were assassinating your character to everyone within a 50–mile radius. It’s enough to cause a rash of spontaneous peptic ulcers.
Shade 3 – The In-laws and cold shoulder galore
This phase is pretty much the dead zone. Even their family members with whom you established close bonds now believe you are an alcoholic, drug-addicted prostitute who’s been sleeping in dark alleys and digging through dumpsters for your meals.
The narcissist’s lame comeback? “I didn’t say anything to them while we were still together because I was trying to protect your image”…as if there were a speck of truth to their accusations.
Shade 4 – The dream of being at Target with no pants on
Have you ever dreamt of finding yourself half-naked while performing common tasks? Perhaps dreamt of checking the mailbox and realizing you were nude from the waist down? Even worse, the dream of being in a conference with your colleagues and suddenly realizing you are the only one in the board room with no clothes on?
That’s what the smear campaign feels like…only, this time it’s real. The narcissist has collected all your intimate fears and disappointments over the years and is now using them to fuel your public downfall.
Did you have to get a prescription for anxiety? You’re addicted to drugs and obviously unfit as a parent. (Never mind that THEY are the reason you’re on medication).
Did you share that you felt your family didn’t love you enough? By God, see how even your own family doesn’t want you?
The narcissist will leave no stone unturned…or perhaps “no ear” would be more appropriate.
Shade 5 – Your Are Legend…
Remember the 2007 movie starring Will Smith who finds himself the last man alive in a town of mutants?
Welcome to the Narcissistic Wasteland. As you step out of your house or apartment, the loneliness is so overwhelming you wonder if an asteroid touched down overnight. You cautiously make your way over to Whole Foods in search of sustenance…and the cashier who used to give you high-fives on the way out now looks at you as if wishing you would spontaneously explode. You almost detect a high-pitched, ultrasonic screech as you scurry by with your meager bag of chow.
When it comes to the smear campaign, no one is off limits to the narcissist’s virtual megaphone. They’ll remember people you once met at a restaurant two states over, and will “casually” show up in that locality just to make sure no one still thinks of you in a positive light.
How to Cope
There’s really no telling what the narcissist is saying about you. It’s better to not think about it.
If you reach out to someone and they try to chomp your hand off at the wrist, just write them off. They have shown that the relationship is over. No point in trying to defend yourself because it’s likely to make you look guilty, even though you’ve done nothing wrong.
It’s painful, it’s humiliating…but there really isn’t much more you can do than keep on being yourself. And that’s all that you should focus on. People who really matter will begin to notice that the narcissist’s stories aren’t congruent with the calm, dignified person you show up as.
If someone you’ve been “friends” with sides with the narcissist, just know that they, too, will likely walk in your shoes one day (and will suffer a similar fate). It never fails. Narcissists may have one or two “friends” at arm’s length, but most of their relationships end in a nasty way.
As for you, the comrades you have remaining are your true friends. Nurture those connections, as well as yourself. Live in spite of what the narcissist is doing. People will eventually see their true colors…but don’t waste your life waiting around for the Karma bus to show up.