Narcissistic is not a word, it is a sentence!

I worked for nearly 15 years with someone who suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. For the first 10 years I worked with her and for the last five I worked for her and was constantly bullied throughout. This is just a brief summary of my experience of working with a narcissist.

From the moment I commenced working with her, my office manager came over as a terribly charming and plausible person. It was not long before her true colours began to show. She was an excellent and convincing liar and the stories that she made up to get herself off the hook were incredible. Over time her “Jekyll and Hyde” persona took over and I did not know from one moment to the next what to expect as she could fly into an enormous rage over the silliest and pettiest thing. She could be such a vindictive and cruel person when I was the only person in the office, and she took great delight in doing so too, but in front of clients and colleagues she was pleasant and charming. She could not be trusted or relied upon to meet strict deadlines and continuously failed to fulfil commitments at work. She would consistently decide that she was not taking telephone calls from clients and I had to lie to them constantly by saying that she was in either a meeting or off sick or out seeing clients. She would refuse to accept that she had failed and would deceive all around her in order to outmanoeuvre her way out of being blamed when being called to account. She was incredibly impolite and self-opinionated to the point of being rude and gave the sense that she was untouchable and supreme. Whenever she was questioned by anyone, especially clients, she held a deep-seated contempt for them and then would belittled them whenever possible. She could never be wrong.

She was extremely emotionally immature and behaved worse than a child at times and was convinced that every male client, colleague, etc was sexually attracted to her. This behaviour even went to the stage were she was fantasizing about a professional male, who worked for another firm, who was acting for our firm on a consultancy basis. She was obsessed with knowing the names of all the top partners in firms and businesses and insisted that she would only deal with them as anyone below a certain rank would be totally incompetent. She had delusions of grandeur and was so full of her own self-importance and grandiosity. She constantly craved admiration and would grossly overestimate her abilities.

I thought things could not get any worse but they did when I then began to work for her instead of with her. She was a total control freak and removed all my responsibilities. She even insisted that she now opened the mail and dealt with the petty cash. She had to be involved in everything because she was frightened of not having full control. She would literally time how long I spent in the toilet and if she thought I was taking too long, she would come and check up on me.

Throughout my employment I had to tolerate constant nit-picking, fault-finding and criticism and she constantly undermined my status, position, worth, value and potential. Over the years she completely destroyed my self-esteem and confidence. She used to take great enjoyment by belittling, patronising and, worst of all, humiliating me, especially in front of clients and colleagues. The more work I did the more she gave me and never gave me any praise and acknowledgement; in fact she would take the credit for doing it. I was even told once by her that I was not paid to think! I had to practically beg for my annual leave and she made me feel so terrible for asking to take any holidays. I would sometimes have to miss my childrens’ school coffee mornings and other such activities because she would make me feel so awful for asking for time off to let me attend, and she took great delight in this. She showed a total lack of sensitivity and said many hurtful things to me over the years. She showed no interest in any of my concerns when I discussed them with her, in fact a very glazed stare would appear on her face as if she was in a trance.

Things came to a head when I asked her if I could reduce my working hours in order to spend more time with my children. She refused totally and I was devastated. My health was now suffering terribly, so I picked myself up and started to look for a part-time job. I applied for one that was perfect for me and got an interview. I got the job and the rest is history. When I left she had to employ two people full-time because I was doing so much work and she was doing so little!