Though they can be extremely arrogant and self-centered, have huge egos, a massive sense of entitlement, and many other shameless behaviors, there is another side to the narcissist that is rarely seen by their social circle of admiring "fans", and even their partners and those closest to them.
At home, alone, when the mask is off, we know that narcissists can be cruel and condescending to their partners and those closest to them. But below that exposed face that is revealed when the mask is off at home, there is an even deeper layer that even their closest partners seldom get to see. This is the true, deepest self of the narcissist, and it is a secret that the narcissist hides from everyone. This secret is that the narcissist often lives a life of shame, regrets, fear, and insecurity.
The narcissist's moods and emotions are commonly unstable. This is even more pronounced in individuals who are not only narcissists, but who also suffer from bipolar disorder or other personality disorders.
I watched as the narcissist I knew (and once loved) transformed before my very eyes from a loving and adoring partner who initially showed me glimpses of his true emotionally delicate self: he was at times anxious - even panicky - sometimes paranoid, seemed panicked with regrets...but most of all, he was severely insecure.
At times he was extremely emotionally fragile, would cry in my arms about stresses from work or about the aftermath of emotions from his divorce. Now, we all go through stressful times and emotional times, but believe me when I say he was emotionally fragile to the extreme. These revealing emotional times would happen only during the initial "Inflate" part of our relationship.
Later on in the relationship, during the "Devalue" stage, my narcissistic partner would never ever show me the emotionally fragile side of himself again. But I knew it was there because I had seen it, experienced it, and lived it. After seeing that part of him for the initial six months of our relationship, it was like that deeper mask was then put back on and cemented down, never removed again.
In the beginning of the relationship he showed me his true vulnerable self, and allowed me to help him through all of his emotionally difficult times. But once he had me hook line and sinker, then the "Devalue" stage of the relationship began: this is when he would begin to pull away, show less interest in me, spend less time with me, become increasingly irritable and less affectionate towards me - and I never again saw that vulnerable side.
But when I did see it, it was him being overwrought with pain, deep insecurity, extreme fear of what other people thought about him, anxiety, regrets, and and an overwhelming feeling that he "was not good enough." I now know these things to be the true deepest truth of the narcissist that I once loved.
I think that seeing that true vulnerable inner part of him was one of the things that made my breakup with him so heart-wrenchingly difficult. As a narcissist and someone with a mental disorder (unmediated Bipolar disorder), he was able to turn parts of himself on and off like a light switch on a wall, but I was not. I remember that I kept thinking, I know he is in there somewhere, the sweet, good man from the beginning, the vulnerable, emotional man… And it was very hard for me to accept the fact that some of what I experienced about him possibly was not real.
It's actually all still very confusing. But I will say, that in my situation, I do believe that the deepest inner true self of the narcissist that I knew, was weak, cowardly, anxious, and full of regrets and fear and pain.