My mother is a legit narcissist. She lies, gaslights, generates smear campaigns, imagines slights, enlists friends and strangers to be her flying monkeys, pit all of her kids against one another, against relatives, likes to withhold or stonewall when she doesn’t get her way, etc. My ex-husband, in comparison, is narc-light. He didn’t quite have decades of her honed skill to ruin a life, but was pretty selfish and manipulative when he stumbled back and forth between love-bombing and petulantly pouting.
It took me decades to even realize what she was. Once I did, it helped in that at least I knew I was not the cause of the misery. I was finally able to accept I was worthy of love and respect, in lieu of the garbage I had been given. I spent years trying to “make things better” or struggling to figure out what “I had done wrong” to get people who claimed to love me to financially, emotionally, and physically abuse me? Then, one day, a light-bulb moment. Perhaps it isn’t me at all. And that was the watershed moment when I started systematically purging the toxic people from my life. Knowing they were morally ill doesn't change the fact I was abused for years and the lingering negative effects. But it does help with the healing process and making me more hyperaware of the toxic behaviors.