Melania Trump's Legacy Is That Of A 'Narcissistic Flea' — But It Doesn't Have To Be

Perhaps Melania has grown tired of holding up Donald's mirror, of managing a carefully curated life.

Melania Trump's Legacy Is That Of A 'Narcissistic Flea' — But It Doesn't Have To Be Ron Adar / Shutterstock

As we say goodbye to our First Lady Melania Trump, I wonder if it’s finally her time? She’s not the most sympathetic character in this cast, but perhaps there’s a reason for that. Let’s ponder this age-old storyline:

An older, wealthy and powerful man marries a much younger and many times more beautiful woman. There is a trail of baggage behind them and a confusing mishmash of children.  There is quickness and urgency and talk of “you’re the one.” There is a rollercoaster of breaking up and reuniting and in the rushing of intimacy from first date to the altar, there is a trail of red flags and most likely a prenuptial agreement that holds the illusion of full-disclosure. 


Sometimes these women eagerly accept a wedding proposal without due diligence done.  She believes the story he tells her. She plays family, she defends him, she plans parties and outings, and she changes her name in exchange for a trip to somewhere exotic and a wardrobe allowance.

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She colludes in a deception of her own making.


But, we often find, over time, that agreements made with ourselves to stay are often the worst kind of self-betrayal.

Trophy wives, like trophy animals, are hunted.  They seem rare and elusive, but once caught they are stuffed and hung on the wall to be admired. They are not allowed to breathe or speak or change or grow because they exist to serve the ego of the hunter. They are a showpiece to reflect a false sense of his glory.  Their flesh is consumed while their essence is erased.

They have no roar.

They have no voice.

Trophy wives hand over their power like a parking validation sticker, completely unaware of its value.  And because of the benefits received, they think the trade is fair. But there are always conditions. There is always a steep cost for the comfort of a gilded cage.


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I wonder what Melania has traded of herself to safely stay, and I wish I knew her before. Sometimes, I think I catch a glimpse of a woman striving in desperation — am I projecting? — the age-old storyline repeated. I know it well.


I see her striving to belong in a world that was already well-formed by his rules and a set of double standards she didn’t see until too late. I see her attempts to ignore the obvious: that looks and prescribed behavior have earned her this current status. And I believe she knows deep down that those things will keep her status safe for only so long.

I see that sometimes she’s been allowed to redecorate rooms, but she’s never been allowed to rebuild the castle.  She’s been trained to know that the castle belongs only to him.

There is a phenomenon called “narcissistic fleas," which describes the maladaptive behavior of victims of narcissistic abuse. These “flea-like” behaviors help a victim survive while inside a tunnel of cognitive dissonance. The behaviors are about staying safe while staying "next to him", and in a way confusing to outsiders, they may mimic narcissism. I wonder if what some of us have seen — and collectively disliked — about our First Lady for the past 4 years may not really be “her” at all.   

There’s a weighty toll on an abused woman. I would know after years of living with tantrums and walking on eggshells, after years of being berated and belittled when your opinion doesn’t match his. Surviving trashed hotel rooms, broken doors, cleaning up vomit, and enduring a barrage of criticism eats away at a woman. It’s exhausting to listen to the scoresheet of how your body compares to what he feels entitled to have, while you check his phone for signs of betrayal and endure regular STD tests.


Perhaps Melania has grown tired of holding up his mirror; tired of managing a carefully curated life so that no one will suspect what it really is.

I did, in the end. It’s the lucky women who do.

And while his power seems ultimate, Melania .... it’s truly not. It also has an expiration date.

It expires the day you decide to choose yourself.

Because the greatest power you have is in realizing that there is







There is YOU.

There is your brilliance. Your light. Your brain. Your mind. Your spirit.  here are your ideas and your dreams and your heart.  here is a castle that is built from your own ambition and from your own inner gold. There is a life un-lived waiting just out there, beyond the door that many of us have been afraid to open because HE stands in the way, telling you it isn’t possible.


Melania, you’re worth it. Like so many women in this age-old story, please rise. 

As you leave that White House, a place you resisted living, we are hoping you also leave behind the delusion that he sold to you and choose yourself. Let us see you. I would love to say "hello" to the real Melania, as we say goodbye to the First Lady.


I think she has a great story to tell.

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Tiffany McPherson is a psychotherapist, mother, sister and friend. Curator of courage, miner of clarity and seeker of truth in the feminine journey. Find her at