It had been another long week of awkward interactions. Hearing Lauren talk about me and talking to everyone besides me. I was fine with it, but she didn’t have to do it so pointedly. Turning her back towards me when she was at Angela’s desk, laughing like they were having the best time ever got to be an everyday occurrence that made my heart feel like a block in my chest.
It was Friday finally, and Lauren came into the room where I was working, her voice defeated, but not in a believable way, but nonetheless defeated, she began to say hi, which first was odd but I said hi back in a neutral tone. “I think I need to start seeing my therapist again.” She went on, trying to have some kind of deep conversation with me.
This was weird, she had only been talking shit about me every other day. Now here she was trying to talk to me about therapy again? What is this girl’s game?
A strategic ploy I was sure. Where did she think this was going to go? Me talking about my therapy sessions? Or, me actually listening to what she was working on, lending my ever-listening ear, like nothing had even happened between us?
As my grandma would say I was born at night, but I wasn’t born last night. This wasn’t my first rodeo. But anyways I didn’t care. I replied with an, oh yeah? A way that completely ended the conversation before it even started. Victory I thought. I am NOT going to be a puppet on your strings.
In a way, maybe I had done exactly what she wanted me to do. She now had the power to tell everyone, Monique especially, who was a stickler for “being a decent human being” that I had turned her away so coldly. She could feel like the victim which is what she desperately wanted to believe. Okay Lauren, there you go, there’s something you can play with for a little while.
I started to learn more and more about narcissism. I researched it online. In the empath group, I was a member of online, people would bring up narcissists and how they suck the life out of people. From what I read, I decided I had the same type of situation on my hands. I had finally found my tribe when I found the Facebook group. It was nice to have people to talk to. They recommended to me that I just focus on my work which is what I tried to do.
Angela, without even realizing what was happening, became Lauren’s ultimate puppet in my stead.
Angela was still a partial puppet before of course, while I was playing center stage. Lauren tended all her victims like little plants that needed watering. Bringing them food to share or stories about herself to tell. She always loved to talk about how Cara Cara oranges were her favorite and bring in a bag of them to share with people.I noticed, the people she got the most energy from, like Angela, she tended to more carefully. Meaning, she always made sure to check in on her to make sure she still had her under her grips. I had been that for her. I gave and gave until I had nothing left.
When Lauren started giving Angela admiration, Angela started doing weird things. She started agreeing vehemently with everything Lauren said. Making sure to laugh at the highest decibel she was capable of, to anything that resembled a joke or a crack from Lauren. Lauren couldn’t even walk into the room without Angela saying hi to her. If Angela was in the middle of talking to me, she made a point to stop the conversation immediately when Lauren walked in and divert all of her attention to Lauren. Lauren loved it, but she pretended not to notice or even care. She continually acted like she barely cared about the attention Angela gave her, only making Angela want to give her more and more.
Energy exchanges can get all mixed up with relationships with narcissists. They constantly take in energy and leave you deprived or feeling depleted after exchanges with them. Lauren would check in on Angela in the mornings. A fake way of giving energy. She didn’t care how Angela was actually doing. She needed her on her side as a loyal companion. If Lauren checked in, Angela owed her her loyalty. This was the unspoken agreement, if Lauren had a problem with someone in the future then Angela wouldn’t like them either. I could see what she was doing, even though no one else could. It made me feel very alone.
Another way she kept up her reputation in case anyone tried to make a slight against it was by constantly bringing in food to the lab for everyone. She was always talking to everybody in the lab about her dogs and her water quality runs. If everyone liked her which they did, then anyone that had a perceived problem might be seen as unreliable. But we had been best friends. We had come into the building laughing every single day. Sharing donuts, coloring together, going on walks together, yoga classes, YMCA classes. I’d take care of her dogs. And now I saw her for what she was- a shit stirring evil bitch. How’d I get in so deep?
I read more and more about narcissism. I learned that narcissists can act like they’re the victims even when they’re the villains. Like a cheating boyfriend who then calls his ex “crazy” and complains and whines like the victim when she slashes his tires.
I’d surf Pinterest for quotes about narcissism and even made a Lauren board to get myself through the days. I printed some of them out and put them on magnets and left them on my filing cabinet for about a minute before I got too scared by my bold move and took them down. I left one that felt okay that said “Love has the uncanny ability to both heal and cripple the soul,” by Massiel. This felt safe, but also like I was putting a little bit of myself out there that I felt like I couldn’t otherwise.
I always just felt so weird there because Peter was constantly on “her side” they’d talk trash about everyone and laugh and have a good time. I felt like no one understood me. The whole social world at the lab revolved around Lauren in my eyes. There’d be people I liked talking casually but if Lauren was there I would never want to be around her so I missed out on talking to other people too.
It was futile starting a battle against her. It would be hopeless to try to make everyone realize that I was the victim at play here and not her. She had too many people on her side.
I’d walk out of the lab to soak in some sunshine. I’d usually walk out the side door so that I could avoid the receptionist seeing me go out. I’d walk around the small parking lot and past our little aquarium down some steps to where there were three or four picnic tables set up along a fence in a wide open curved pattern aligning with the curve of the fence. I’d sit at the first one and try to get comfortable in a bunch of different positions. I’d try to reach my feet to the other side but that didn’t work. Id tried sitting normally but my back would start hurting. And then I hug my knees to my chest. I looked out over the ocean water and think. I’d realize where I was hurting try to be there for myself versus ridiculing myself for what I felt.
My break would be over, and I’d walk back up the small hill to get back to my desk. The summer was always busy. Our little aquarium was staffed with maybe 3 or 4 new employees for the summer. I only went in there once with my boss, Harold, because we heard they had free food for some event. They had unique lobsters and other fish that were common to the coast in their tanks. There were even a couple of little sharks. Families were always coming and going during the summer. One time a group of people came very close to the spot I was sitting down by the water. I felt a build-up of angst and anger with every new word they uttered. I desperately just wanted to be alone.
Recovering from a relationship with a narcissists can be difficult. I am still doing it to this day. Confronting your emotions is the most important aspect of recovery and peace and happiness. I find that if you’re not careful you can start taking those emotions out on the people closest to you, and that’s not good for anybody. The most important thing, I found, was to be there for myself and honor my emotions and try to forgive anything I perceived, to have done wrong in order to move on in a positive light.