What I Learned As The Confidante Of A Self-Proclaimed Narcissist

He lived a life of debauchery. All he wanted was someone to talk to.

Woman snickering at the arrogance of her confidante stockfour | Canva, Vitalii Mikhailiuk | Shutterstock

Many years ago, I worked as a legal assistant in a law firm. One client is etched in my memory: He was an older man. He wore expensive suits and crocodile shoes. His hair was dyed an unnatural brown and his skin was tanned yet leathery. He drove a Ferrari, which he lovingly referred to as his “red stallion.”

I still cringe recalling his need for vengeance. His divorce was an opportunity for him to exact revenge, inflict pain, and assert his power. There were no limits to how far he would go: He checked himself into a hospital under the guise of being unable to walk, transferred ownership of his properties and assets to his mother, and used a straw man for business purposes. With an evil gleam in his eye, he told me, “No one [messes] with me. I will make my wife regret the day she was born.” Every one of her setbacks filled him with great joy.


Somehow, while handling administrative matters, I became his confidante. He notified me of his outrageous plans and feelings and reassured me of my obligations to maintain confidentiality. In handling his divorce file, I learned about narcissism.

Richard hovered in the office, far exceeding the end of his appointment and meeting with lawyers. Proving dominance, he stated a twisted smirk: “I hid all her makeup when she announced the separation. It’s mine anyway — who do you think paid for it? See how good my ex-wife looks now without any makeup.”


“Richard? Can you please leave?” I said patiently but firmly, unwilling to engage.

“You know, sweetheart, if you want to get ahead in business, you have to listen to your clients whenever they’re ready. I find you to be an amateur.” Grinning a small toothy smile and scratching his chin with a partially cut-off index finger, he said, “I am not impressed,” as he patted his velvet suit jacket.

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I turned to look at him. “I am saying this for your good,” he said. “Most clients wouldn’t care enough to give you feedback; I'm saying this because I care.” Maybe he was attempting to help me bolster my career, and maybe, just maybe, he was just a misunderstood man with good intentions.


“How would listening to you criticize your ex-wife and talk about stealing her makeup help my career?” I asked, incredulously.

“If you make someone feel heard and you listen to them, they will do whatever you want,” he said. “You charge whatever you want and they will pay. That’s all people want — to be heard."

I took his advice: I nodded, widening my eyes and looking interested. It was at that moment that I became Richard’s confidante.

He continued: “Look outside, you see my Rolls Royce parked outside? I didn’t get that by going to school and taking notes. I used people to get to where I am today.” He was proud. “If you help me with my case, I will always help you make money. I will help you become very successful.” Just like that, I was reeled into a world where money reigned as king and emotions were set aside in favor of payouts, ditzy girls, and expensive cars.


Under the guise of providing me with business and life advice, he began by giving me some pointers about investing money. “Do you have $100,000.00 lying around to invest? If you don’t, don’t even think about making money, but if you do, you can make 30% on each dollar overnight.” His advice was contrived at best, laced with unrealistic expectations, dangling a carrot before my face, knowing full well I could not attain it.

“If you had a higher caliber clientele, I could make you hundreds of thousands of dollars overnight. Overnight!” he said excitedly and then paused. “But you don’t have this clientele.” It was a game Richard very much enjoyed. He positioned himself as a financial and business authority, without ever having to give me any concrete advice.

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After a short time, Richard grew tired of providing advice and quickly returned to his original love: his deep-seated love for vengeance. As a new divorcee, Richard was singularly focused on revenge against his ex-wife. In his own words, his ex-wife Julie was nothing more than a ruthless gold digger, a woman of no worth. “She is evil and conniving”, he said.


Worst of all, he confided, she tried to sue his mother for money. Could I imagine the sheer horror of dragging his elderly frail mother into their divorce? “I can forgive her for cheating, I can forgive her for the divorce but I cannot forgive her for suing my mother. I never cry but I had tears as my ex-wife’s lawyer was abusing my mother on the stand,” Richard said, eliciting my sympathy.

I later learned that Richard had connivingly transferred his assets, his Ferrari, and his cottages to his mother. His 82-year-old mother was the proud owner of a Ferrari and Bentley, on paper. Richard demanded his mother lie to protect his assets, from his former wife who had a thirst for money. He asked his commercial tenants to lie on the stand; they were told to say their rent checks were paid to his mother. “Do as I say,” he threatened a tenant, “otherwise, you will receive problems.”

Richard even changed his mailing address to his mother’s home — he didn’t want to disclose where he was living in his divorce proceedings. Richard’s instructions to lie and providing a monetary incentive for tenants to do so brought him great joy. “I am so smart. I am smarter than the lawyers. My ex-wife will get nothing. She will be drained financially.” He smiled happily and giggled. “You are like me, Emerald. You have a taste for money.” I was surprised Richard came to this conclusion — I had barely said a word during our exchange.

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On top of his hunger for vengeance, Richard craved unlimited power and money. He walked around wearing a tuxedo on most days, and expensive pointy shoes. He looked ridiculous, but he wanted everyone to know he was rich.

One day, he came into my office, and bragged “I have more money than God.” The source of his wealth was still a mystery. Whenever I asked, Richard changed the topic.

“I am a businessman.”


“What type of business?” I asked.

“Sweetheart, if I am making money, why does it matter?”

“What is your business?”

“You shouldn’t pry into other people’s business. I do what works for me,” he answered getting aggressive.

“Did you go to school?” I asked.

“I went to university to become an accountant but I quickly realized I could make more money than the teachers so I dropped out.”

“Did you make more money than them?”

“Yes, much more,” Richard smiled proudly.

If he could drive his Rolls Royce with the price tag affixed, he would.

Everyone had a price tag according to Richard. “You can buy loyalty. You can buy sex. The only thing you can’t buy is a connection.”


His children were pawns to his insatiable thirst for control. Richard paid a science teacher to report every one of his children’s moves to him in real time. “I did it for my children,” Richard said fondly. His son was once surprised to learn Richard knew of a failed math test. “I know everything. Sweetheart, when you go to the bathroom, I know about it,” Richard smirked.

Between his insatiate love for money, his quest for power, and his need for control, the most surprising of all was that Richard was incredible at reading people. He could accurately predict how people would react to situations, whether they would be logical or emotional, and how to manipulate them.

But, if the slightest criticism was thrown his way, Richard retaliated angrily. “How can I get a younger woman?” he wanted to know so desperately. “You’re no Michael Douglas,” I said. Richard started to fume, slamming his wrist on a desk: “If Michael Douglas can do it, why can’t Richard?”

Richard wanted to be seen and envied, displaying his success with younger women, expensive clothes, and luxury cars. He needed to be flashy because, at his core, Richard was a broken man who needed a narcissistic supply to survive. Between his never-ending quest for wealth and his need for vengeance was a misunderstood man with fragile self-esteem and no genuine friendships. His relationships with his children were based on control, and not on genuine love.


Richard was a slave to his narcissism, and his devotion to materialism, greed, and inflicting pain were testaments of this. His anger and desire for retaliation led him to seek legal representation repeatedly — not in the interest of justice but rather, to exact revenge and hurt those who he felt disrespected him, including his commercial tenants and service providers. 

Richard was painful to work with. He demanded all our law firm's attention, calling at all hours with questions. He demanded in-person meetings at times of his convenience, growing increasingly angry if his demands could not be met. Richard had no regard for lawyers' and assistants' schedules, and could not fathom not being our top client, despite his poor treatment of employees. In addition, he was highly critical of the work provided, calling it amateurish and unprofessional as he grinned, demanding it be redone. When came time to pay invoices, Richard questioned each one, and every hour spent, refusing to pay more than he believed he owed. Each collaboration was harder than the next. 

There was no reasoning with Richard. We were all exhausted; he constituted 1% of the office's business, but single-handedly caused 80% of the problems, sucking our time with demands, and unrealistic expectations. 

My boss instructed me to cease working with Richard as he was simply too difficult, utilizing too many resources without paying the required duties. I notified Richard that the firm could no longer represent him. Richard didn't take the news well — he called us all incompetent and stormed out. Fueled by his narcissistic injury caused by our refusal to continue to represent him, Richard filed a frivolous lawsuit against the firm claiming malpractice. Luckily, the suit was quickly dismissed, and we collectively breathed a sigh of relief, never to hear from Richard again.


If you think you may be experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of ongoing emotional abuse at the hands of a narcissist, you are not alone. 

Domestic abuse can happen to anyone and is not a reflection of who you are or anything you've done wrong. 

If you feel as though you may be in danger, there is support available 24/7/365 through the National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1-800-799-7233. If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474, or log onto thehotline.org.

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Emerald Myara (she/her) is a writer who covers topics such as narcissistic abuse, trauma, mental health, relationships, and healing.