You’ve discovered that your relationship/engagement/marriage with the Narcissist was a reality warp.
No matter how many times you replay history in your mind, you can’t make sense of it or come to grips with what you now know was an illusion…hyperreality.
Hyperreality: the inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality; a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins. Individuals may find themselves for different reasons, more in tune or involved with the hyperreal world and less with the physical real world.
This hyperreal world is the one we live in with the Narcissist. Nothing can be taken at face value. We take on the Narcissist’s version of reality and apply it as our truth. Like Tom Cruise’s character in Vanilla Sky, we exist in a continuous lucid dream state, hoping against hope that the false reality is true, in spite of the frequent implications otherwise.
Carrie Reimer, author of the blog Lady With a Truck, writes about this reality warp with keen insight in her article, Sick Narcissistic S.O.B.’s. Although she’d begun to pick up on reality towards the end of her abusive relationship, her article demonstrates how easy it is to assume the Narcissist’s attempts at being nice are sincere; although his “being a gentleman” can point dangerously to the opposite.
Reality Warp: Imagine yourself in the setting she describes, entering the home of the Narcissist where he has your favorite drink ready for you. He’s dressed nicely and has cleaned his home. He invites you to take a shower and you accept. As you cross his bedroom towards the shower, you notice a robe on the bed. You believe he laid it out for you. You take your shower, exit and put on the robe, go back to the kitchen and take a sip from your drink. The Narcissist is playing the guitar and you think you’re being romanced.
Reality: All of the provisions you’ve just taken part in were actually meant for another lover. She may have left moments before you arrived, or be expected to arrive soon.
To the Narcissist, all women are one in the same person, in spite of how unique they claimed we were in the beginning of the relationship. (It’s important to remember that you ARE unique, only that the Narc doesn’t see you that way).
The irony of hyperreality with the Narcissist is that our version of reality seems so real to us because we love and we want to believe. However, the Narcissist produces symbols which represent things that do not actually exist. These symbols often manifest in the form of:
Hoovering – Creating the false illusion that he/she is sorry for their cruelty. Reality – They don’t love you; they only need you for supply and domination.
Dangling of Carrots – Taking you to look at cars, shopping for homes or engagement rings. Reality – They have no intention of following through on these things. They’re simply to keep you hopeful and hooked.
Torn Between Two Lovers – During one of his Silent Treatments, you implemented No Contact, and he put on a show of having been forced into the arms of another lover. Reality – He’s been grooming new supply for some time now and your attempt at No Contact was the perfect opportunity to begin triangulating.
Escape From Plato’s Cave
One of the earliest indications of the awareness of hyperreality can be found in Plato’s Republic, specifically, in the Allegory of the Cave. Socrates describes a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall, and begin to ascribe meanings to these shadows. According to Socrates, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality.
And thus is life with the Narcissist. The whole relationship is based on shadows of reality. He is the lie, from hello to goodbye…
Just as Plato’s prisoner is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not constitutive of reality at all, Tom Cruise’s character decides to wake up and conquer his fears by leaping from a rooftop.
Your awakening needn’t be so dramatic. All you need to do is go No Contact in order to stop living in shadows and illusions.
“I wanna wake up! Tech support! It’s a nightmare! Tech support! Tech support!” ~ David, Cruise’s character in Vanilla Sky
Open your eyes.