We’re not in Kansas anymore…

Maybe if I just click my heels...

Let’s face it—women are masters of faking it. From Snookie’s fake-and-bake tan to Meg Ryan’s showcase of theatrical sexual appreciation a la ‘When Harry Met Sally,’ counterfeit no longer reserves itself for faux fashion labels. And Victoria’s ‘secret’ has been out of the box for years now—it’s called padding, and lots of it.

But what happens when you’re the exception to this rule? As a child I was never good at playing make believe and the only reason I played with Barbie was to cover her fake plastic bits with glorious pieces of doll-sized fashions. I mean, her wardrobe was killer. Monopoly money was a total joke to me and by the time I became an adult, mimicking Meg Ryan just wasn’t an option. Seriously, where’s the pleasure in that?

It wasn’t until love, or the façade of love, hit me that my realist views were thrown far away. The man I thought was Mr. Right turned out to be Mr. Wrong in fabulous armour. It was at 16 that I began to participate in a dream world of make believe and just didn’t know it. Swept away in picturesque romance, I had no idea that the man I fell for was nature’s best actor, it’s most cunning con-man: the Narcissist.

Upon meeting this smooth talking salesman of perfection, I was stunned. Did I really deserve this special treatment, this over-the-top affectionate display of intrigue and longing?  Often in life, what seems too good to be true usually is, but I was too stubborn to admit it. I was on a high of loving attention and in no way was I ready relinquish it.

In the words of Sharon Stone, “Women know how to fake orgasms. Men know how to fake an entire relationship” and the Narcissist knows how to fake it all. Once pulled into their delusional sense of love and attraction, Narcissists quickly begin projecting the emptiness of their soul on their partners. What once appeared promising and warm quickly turned distant and icy and my ex-N began the incessant and repeating process of devalue and discard. Much like my own personal Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, my ex-N would switch off between loving episodes and devaluing nightmares, allowing the affection to last just long enough to pull me back in.

Little did I know I was a valueless extra in his Oscar-worthy performance of a dark and twisted comedy. One year and four months ago I took my final bow and it was as if I awoke from a dream.  According to relationship guru Tigress Luv, “Whether with a narcissist a week, a month, a year, a decade, or a half of a century, one thing is for sure…one day you will wake up to the revelation that it was all just a figment of your imagination.”  And there is the brilliance of the Narcissist’s faux persona: once you leave, memories of his dueling personalities resurface, begging the question of which person was real—Mr. Perfect, or Mr. Sociopath?

The cognitive dissonance experienced by survivors of Narcissists and other abusers wages a war of dueling cognitions in our minds and the black comedy ensues. The challenge of recovery is in understanding that Mr. Perfect was indeed Mr. Sociopath, and vice versa. The man who showered me with affection, gifts and love also hit me, devalued my existence and aimed to destroy my soul.

But some days in recovery, the dueling thoughts return only to make me miss and mourn the love I never really had.  Faking it in some cases can be harmless, but in others it can destroy a soul.  When speaking with another N-survivor recently, I divulged that I did, in fact, miss the man I met six years ago.  He made a quick, fleeting appearance and disappeared as quickly as he entered my life.  But she challenged me: “Why would you miss him, Jordan, it’s as if you’re missing Prince Charming—it’s all fictional.” It was as if time had stopped and the revelation hit me: Some people can fake a tan, others a pricey label, and some can even fake love. While I had been unknowingly playing a cruel game of make believe for the last seven years, I had never faked my love for the man I met and I am grateful that I do not have such a talent. In the words of Tigress Luv, “Pity the poor narcissist. I mean, seriously, who really wants to always be on the ‘fake’?”

It is difficult in admitting that she’s right—it’s sad to have the inability to love, while simultaneously having the twisted ability to fake such a loving life.  I now understand just how lucky I am to escape the pathological world of a Narcissist. 

But for the first time in my life I find myself missing the fantasy of make believe.  Some days I would give anything to throw on my ruby slippers and drift away, back into the fairy tale I never really had.


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