I will try to give you an example here of what Laura means by predatory. The best way I personally know how to do that is to use myself as an example. I am not the best writer in the world yet so bare with me.
In many of your posts here you have stated that you were basically in withdrawal wanting to go back to this man, call him, text him, etc. I fully understand and did that too. However, it is a withdrawal symptom. That "drug" you seek is your narcissistic supply. The "hole in the soul" needs feeding.
One of the biggest horrors I faced was realizing that I was with a psychopath because on some level we had something in common. We did, and it was a feeding supply. In hindsight I can say that what i think happened was that I was a very sensitive empathic being who,due to childhood trauma,developed pathological behaviours. It wasn't who I really was deep down inside but it was the "mask " I wore. The problem was that when I saw how much we had in common personality wise, I projected onto him that he was also the same underneath the exterior as I was. So, I started taking down my walls and he kept on being who he was. I got devastated to say the least. I then realized that if I had been myself the whole time he probably would have never been attracted to me in the first place, and if I had addressed all my issues before I wouldn't have been attracted to him. I also realized that it was a feeding pattern very similar to that I had with my mother, as were many of my prior relationships. All the feeding patterns invalidated me, which in turn put me into covert manipulation patterns to get my needs met. Covert manipulation was my predatory feeding tactic.
I, like you, started out by trying to figure out what was wrong "out there" with him. The more I found out the more I realized that I did some of those things, and a lot of the ways he hurt me I had hurt others in the past. Like Laura said, when and if that really ever hits you it breaks your heart. Over the years I have tried my best to address most of the people I hurt and honestly apologize and give them some understanding. A few of my ex boyfriends were very grateful for that. I think that is a process that is outlined in 12 steps as acknowledging our mistakes and making amends. I have never been in a step program but I have had friends who have so I am not sure which step it is. But, the full weight of it has to really hit you. Once I realized that I became much more concerned about my own issues.
Children of narcissists experience many of the same symptoms as children of alcoholics/drug abusers. So I will give you an example of the dynamic that created my predator. My mom has major Narcissistic Personality Disorder and lives in denial. My biological father killed my half sister when she was 4 1/2 and I was 18 months old. There is a pattern called Scapegoat/Goldenchild that affected me terribly. It was worse in a way because the "golden child" was no longer alive and lived on as a perfect ideal being. Since my father took the golden child away- I was bad too anytime I did not perform as expected or like what I was "supposed to like' . Anytime I disagreed with my mother I was " just like my father". I will give you an example of this dynamic below:
It's very common for Narcissistic Mothers to have a Golden Child / Scapegoat dynamic going on.
In short, one child in the family is the Golden Child, and one or more is the Scapegoat.
The Golden Child, as the name suggests, is the best and most wonderful - at least in the eyes of the Narcissistic Mother. It seems to be that the Narcissistic Mother picks the Golden Child to be an extension of herself, onto whom she projects all her own supposed wonderfulness.
The Golden Child can do no wrong. He or she gets given the best of everything - even apartments or houses bought for them. Their most minor achievements are celebrated and held up for admiration.
The Scapegoat on the other hand is, also as the name suggests, the person on whom all the ills of the family are projected. They can do no right. Their major achievements are dismissed. Any money spent on them is the bare minimum and is spent begrudgingly.
Growing up the Scapegoat can understandably feel very jealous of the Golden Child.
This, of course, leads to friction between the children, which suits the Narcissistic Mother. Divide and conquer and all that, and lots of opportunities for Triangulation. Indeed, the Golden Child can be encouraged, either overtly or tacitly, by the Narcissistic Mother, to bully the Scapegoat which adds to the friction.
I'd go so far as to venture that, if you're reading this, you were more likely to have been the Scapegoat than the Golden Child.
This is because, contrary to the way it felt growing up, the Scapegoat is actually the lucky one!
The Golden Child can end up very engulfed by the Narcissistic Mother, and her life can end up being enmeshed in hers too. She may well grow without proper boundaries and proper self-identity. She is likely to remain, either forever or for a long time, as a puppet of the Narcissistic Mother.
The Scapegoat on the other hand, is the independent one. She's the one who's driven to seek answers and who may well realise about NPD. She's the one who can break free from the unhealthy dynamics of the family and create a healthy life.
She really is the lucky one at the end.
Here is a long, but absolutely excellent, essay, which was written for this site (by forum member Light) about the Scapegoat:
Narcissists are master projectors. No-one is better at looking directly at a person and seeing not who that person is, but who they wish for them to be. When a narcissistic mother looks at her child, she is capable of seeing many things: a source of narcissistic supply, an impediment to her lust for power, the inconvenience of a child's feelings and needs, a string of intolerable annoyances, unwanted limitations, and a myriad of other possibilities. But never the actual child.
In a narcissist's family, dysfunctional roles are the norm, and narcissistic mothers are always the producers, directors, and casting agents for the entire production. Children are assigned roles to play long before they are old enough to resist them, and grow up within the confines of these limitations, knowing nothing different exists anywhere. It is typical of parents with personality disorders to select at least one “Golden Child”, who can do no wrong, and at least one Scapegoat, who can do no right.
When deciding (unconsciously) what child will play each role, the narcissistic mother weighs her options on a deep, intuitive level. Which child is the most sensitive? Which child reminds her of a hated parent, or the ex-spouse who stood up to her, or something within herself she cannot accept? Which one asks more of her, either intentionally, or by way of circumstance? Which child expresses unhappiness more often about the unbearable situations the narcissistic mother creates? Which one is more vulnerable, or more outspoken? In short, which child bothers her the most?
This child will be made her Scapegoat.
This Scapegoat will ultimately be made to carry the lion’s share of the family’s blame, shame, anger, and rejection so the rest can more easily retain their patterns of dysfunction. This child will always and forever be the one who is not good enough, even when she excels at something – indeed, especially when she excels. This child will endure more put-downs, sideways remarks and behind-the-back betrayals than the rest of the family put together. This child will endure the wear and tear of the family’s dysfunction in a way that will enable the others to continue looking good despite the family’s toxicity.
Because the narcissist cannot accept her faults, she spends her days trying to convince herself that everything she does is perfect. When her personality disorder causes distress within her family, and her children’s issues begin to reflect this, the narcissistic mother is forced to make a choice. She must either acknowledge that she is making mistakes that are affecting her children negatively, or she must try to convince herself and others that the problems are coming not from her, but another source. And the latter is the option the narcissist always and unfailingly selects. In her mind, by blaming another, she absolves herself of any wrongdoing, and she can continue to believe - and strive to convince others - that she is in fact, perfect. But she must first have someone to blame.
Enter the Scapegoat…
The Scapegoat is the one who assuages the narcissistic mother’s (and ultimately, the whole family’s) guilt, shame, and feelings of inadequacy. The Scapegoat is the shock absorber, the buffer against the harsh reality that there is something wrong with the family picture altogether – the trash bin into which all unwanted matter is cast. The Scapegoat role facilitates the existence of family denial. The narcissistic mother teaches her non-scapegoat children to accept and support the scapegoating of a given child by affirming and rewarding those children’s perceptions that whenever anything is wrong, it is to be the Scapegoat’s fault. Children adapt quickly to these roles, and learn readily that if they do not want to be responsible for something, they need only turn to the Scapegoat, whose case will never be sufficiently or properly heard, and whose “guilt” is so readily welcomed. Once the other family members have mastered this approach, they are much freer to do otherwise objectionable things without suffering negative consequences.
For a defenceless child made to play scapegoat, the burdens of being labeled “bad” no matter what she does are heavy. She soon learns she cannot win; there is no sense struggling to improve her family’s opinion of her, because that simply cannot be allowed to occur. (This is the point of hopelessness at which some Scapegoats begin playing the role of “bad seed”, because her failures will be rewarded, whether consciously or unconsciously.) In fact, commonly, the more the Scapegoat behaves and performs well, the more severely she is oppressed, because doing well threatens the mother’s labelling of the child as bad. This causes the narcissistic mother psychological distress, because it suggests that her belief is wrong, and for a narcissist, the thought of entertaining this possibility is completely intolerable.
In a desperate attempt to reduce her mother’s active oppression and derision, the Scapegoat succumbs to the roles of underachiever, troubled one, loser, black sheep or troublemaker. This presents the mother with exactly what her mental illness is making her feel she must have – an external object upon which to place blame - so that she can continue the reassuring fantasy that there is nothing wrong with her self or her family on the whole.
For the Scapegoat, there will be disregard and/or punishment for doing well and a “reward” of a little less overt abuse or even occasional expressions of support if she fails to thrive and accepts her role. Many Scapegoats have reported that the only time they felt their mother supported them (if at all) was when the supportive act fostered and reinforced the scapegoats’ inferiority, dysfunction or weakness. In an effort to alleviate to some degree the distress of her narcissistic mother’s wrath, the Scapegoat eventually gives in and agrees with the family’s assessment of her as inferior and worthy of blame. She internalises the belief that she is inherently bad, worthless, and defective, and believes that everyone she contacts can clearly see this and will reject her as completely her family does. She will bring the telltale signs of deep inferiority with her to the playground, to school, to the workplace, and into her community and relationships.
Commonly, because the Scapegoat’s psyche is weighed down with the burden of an overwhelming sense of immutable inferiority, her early behaviour, mannerisms, habits, speech, and even her posture will bear the unmistakable mark of a bedraggled victim, crippled with shame and guilt. She is the one who cannot speak up, and this is immediately obvious to everyone with whom she comes into contact. Having plenty of experience in the role of scapegoat, she is the perfect target for abusive behaviour. She is the one others intuitively know will not fight back. She is the easy target – the pushover - the dupe. She will be become the outcast, the bullied one, the marginalised loner, the routinely punished trouble-maker or the laughingstock.
The Scapegoat is accustomed to accepting blame for interpersonal problems, and she has been diligently conditioned to believe that if only SHE could do better, the challenges facing relationships in which she takes part would dissolve. Despite the fact that this is an unattainable state, she has only her family patterns to use as a template for her adult relationships, and she easily tolerates partners who are emotionally irresponsible and expect her to bear too many obligations or who give her the message that any difficulties are inordinately her fault.
It is not uncommon for a Scapegoat to play a similar role in the workplace as well. Just as children can detect who among them is a vulnerable target for blame and ostracism, adults do the same. The Scapegoat may find herself underpaid and overworked more than her co-workers, left out of the picture during office functions, blamed for departmental failures, and overlooked for deserved promotions and commendations. Though the quality of her work may often be far superior to her co-workers’, she is not likely to be chosen to participate in the big presentation or serve as a team leader, and her employee evaluations will reflect supervisors’ willingness to criticize her more harshly than others. She will be overlooked at best, fired at worst.
While children, some Scapegoats respond to the no-win situations they’ve been handed by developing destructive, defiant or offensive behaviour patterns. This can create serious difficulties at school and work, as well as the community overall. Scapegoats trapped in the “bad seed” role may find themselves experiencing repeated reprimands and firings from places of employment. If a Scapegoat has developed a habit of getting herself into trouble, her difficulties with work and relationships are more likely to take the form of conflicts and offences related to issues such as rebelliousness and unproductive or destructive behaviours.
Despite some variations in the way role manifests, the Scapegoat never fits in comfortably, and is largely looked down upon or rejected, no matter the vehicle or reasons given (real or imagined) for such marginalisation.
Scapegoats typically seek far more psychotherapy than any other family member. A Scapegoat is deeply accustomed to thinking that things would be fine if only she weren’t inherently defective and unworthy, and this often leads her to a therapist’s office. (By contrast, narcissists can be defined almost solely by their unwillingness to seek genuine therapy.)
The Scapegoat typically considers her failings to be the central reasons her partner has been insensitive, her boss has cheated her out of a raise, and her siblings talk down to her. She is uncomfortable at school, at work, and in social situations, because she believes she is inferior. Much of this thinking invites scenarios of self-fulfilling prophecies, making it more difficult for her to see that she can reverse the patterns of mistreatment resulting from her observable insecurities and sense of inferiority. She blames herself, as she has been taught to. This often leads her into therapy, where she may discover the real reason for her mistreatment in adulthood. After all, it is not her supposed inferiority that leads her into situations where she is denigrated, reinforcing her feelings of inadequacy, but the palpable bearing of her family’s shame and rejection. She has not been overlooked and mistreated because she truly is inferior to others. This has happened because she has believed the lie that she is lacking, and she has behaved accordingly, which makes her an all-too easy target.
Until the scapegoat is able to extricate herself from the lie that she is inherently bad, guilty and wrong, she will struggle. She will attract the wrong people, she will fail to reach her potential, and she will be her own worst enemy. The degree to which she is able to realize that she is mistreated not because she is inherently inferior, but because she is sending messages of vulnerability, is the degree to which she will determine the quality of her future.
One of the only ways I could get any of my needs met by mother was by playing sick or by playing the pity card. I took that dynamic with me into future relationships. That doesn't mean that I do not have experiences that truly hurt me and that I want to share my feelings on. But I do have to be careful to pay attention to my true motivations. Having a predator is normal being brought up in this world. The trick is identifying it and neutralising it. This forum is built around these principles. There is a folder here called " The Work" that address it if you want to take a look.
Until you get a good grasp of your "predator" it is hard to know what the real you even likes or wants. I found my "essence" to begin with, which is sensitive and empathic, and loves people and animals, and the truth and life, but my essence was only about 5 years old. I lived with my grandmother from age 18 months until 5 years old. I was myself then and have always been myself with her . After I went to live with my mom I had to develop ways and strategies to "protect the essence/child". Those strategies were not me. They were programs and became the predator.
I hope this make sense to you.