In order to form healthy relationships, certain elements or building blocks are necessary for healthy attachment: Intimacy or knowing the other person, trusting that person, relying on that person, committing to that person and then depending on the type of relationship, adding the element of sexual intimacy.
It’s very common in the aftermath of this abuse that targets have a great fear and mistrust of ourselves in the area of “love” that we shun the idea all together. We fear that we will not be able to discern healthy love from toxic love whether that comes from another narcissist or someone equally unhealthy.
In order for us to build the type of healthy relationships we desire after having endured narcissistic abuse, we must come to understand how the 4 elements mentioned above build upon eachother and form the foundation of a healthy relationship.
Narcissistic Abuse – What Went Wrong?
In narcissistic relationships, the narcissist’s disorder skews the formula and discombobulates and confuses us; it ensures that we put the Cart BEFORE the horse.
Intimacy is defined as
Targets who grew up in narcissistic households weren’t shown the example of authenticity and honest knowledge by our primary narcissistic caregivers. We learn to accept “verbal declarations” of love as a replacement for action oriented love & intimacy because narcissists insist that you don’t question their actions. In adult life, when a well groomed target encounters another narcissist, who hides behind their words and excuses, we are quick to deny our intuition and gloss over the knowledge their actions are giving us.
Narcissists hide their true selves behind a mask. Their shame core runs so deep that to be known for who they really are is too terrifying to risk. They present this “acceptable” masked image to the world in an effort to ward off the inevitable rejection and abandonment from being known intimately. However, Narcissists desperately need your connection, intimacy and your love.
The narcissist employs manipulative tactics to circumvent the normal “intimacy” process. Believing themselves entitled to receive the one-sided benefits of love from you, they do two very strategic tactics:
They love bomb their potential targets, mirroring targets characteristics and pretending to offer all the promises of unconditional love and intimacy. They do this in a rapid, whirlwind fashion so that we don’t have time to stop and discern the real knowledge of who the narcissist truly is. They fake us, they con us and they push us quickly into trusting, relying and committing to them before those next phases have been truly earned.
We don’t ever “fall in love” with the real narcissist. We fall in love with an image that they purposefully created for us to extract what they needed from us.
Only when we KNOW someone can we healthily move along to the next phase of relationship: TRUST.
Trust is defined as the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
Narcissists never earn the second stage of trust in a relationship, because they never give us the ability to really know them. However, in hindsight, targets learn a very important lesson about “knowing” the narcissist. It’s one of the reasons we focus so much on describing the narcissist and defining their actions, because with our new found knowledge, we now know to trust our intuition and look for the tell tale signs of a narcissist’s character (or lack of character) by their ACTIONS without being deceived by their words.
Other aspects of the narcissists disorder also prevent trust:
They can’t be mutual and reciprocal. They are one sided and self serving.
They are pathological liars. Their words are meaningless and empty.
They treat everyone with callous disregard and lack of empathy.
They have a history of harming others.
They are unreliable.
Their identity is undefined and chameleon like.
They are not loyal.
Narcissists DEMAND BLIND trust, they don’t command it. They strong arm their targets into trusting them, when there is NO LOGICAL basis for doing so. They expect the whirlwind of love bombing to be so effective that when it comes time for us to assert ourselves regarding our trust issues with the narcissist, we will continually back down from doing so. We can’t trust someone we don’t know and further, we can’t trust someone with narcissistic personality disorder because of their character. This is the stage where, based on our knowledge of who they are, we should be escaping the relationship not relying on it or committing to it.
Relying on a Narcissist
Here’s where we as targets begin to feel the cognitive dissonance between being demanded to trust the narcissist with love bombing as the “rationale” for doing so (because they love us) and having to fight our intuition that says, “do NOT trust this person”.
We deeply know we can’t rely on the narcissist to be there for us in any real way: they don’t listen to us, they don’t respect us, they don’t respect our boundaries, we are not validated, we aren’t shown genuine unconditional love, we are shown abuse. But we are expected to remember the love bombing, forget about the reality and proceed to commit to the narcissist without the expectation of any mutual reliance or commitment.
We are in great pain in this stage because we want the narcissist to be there for us in real ways. We’re under the “impression” that we’re in a “loving” relationship and that means to us, that we will be valued, heard, cared for, and can rely upon the people who say they love us to have our best interests at heart. NONE OF THIS could be further from the truth with a narcissist. It is during this awful managing down phase that the narcissist plays on our strengths of forgiveness, benefit of doubt, second chances and understanding that they use our strengths to keep us locked in the pain cycle and committed to our abusers with no relief whatsoever. This dissonance between what we believe “should” happen and what is actually happening (abuse) can go on for many many years.
Commitment is the next conscious stage of intimacy building that is entirely out of context with a narcissist. As we just described, we remain locked in a cycle of abuse that solely benefits the narcissist with our love and “commitment” to a relationship that serves the narcissist only but is full of pain and abuse for ourselves.
Healthy commitment is the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, or person. At it’s worst, in a narcissistically abusive relationship it’s an engagement or obligation that restricts our freedom of action.
The narcissist is keen to know that they aren’t “earning” our intimacy or commitment they are FORCING IT, they are manipulating it and they are stealing it. Our rational brains would NOT allow us to commit to an unreliable, untrustworthy and unknown stranger. But our emotions and heart can certainly be manipulated by a skilled predator and sociopath and that is exactly what’s happening when a target appears to be “committed” to a narcissist.
Finally, no one who hasn’t earned our trust and reliance upon them by being a person of character who is fully committed and loyal to us, should receive benefit of our sexual intimacy. It is foolhardy to give our physical beings to someone we don’t know. Yet, with a narcissist’s careful manipulation of us, we do just that. We open ourselves up in our most vulnerable sense when we share physical / sexual intimacy with another person. We trust that they are loyal to us, won’t give us a disease, misuse or mistreat us and will honor and value the level of intimacy we are sharing with them.
This trust and reliance of and on a narcissist to respect us sexually is entirely misplaced, especially after all the evidence we have to the contrary regarding how they treated us emotionally and mentally in the initial stages. Again, narcissists rush and push for sexual intimacy. They are addicted to the feelings they get from having our sexual attention and affection; our supply is their drug. They will do and say ANYTHING to get their fix.
If putting the “horse before the cart” is the proper analogy to building healthy love based on predicated stages of intimacy, trust, reliance, commitment and sexuality, it becomes clear to see how the narcissist’s distortion of these elements becomes a toxic, confusing mess.
Further, a narcissists’s demands that the cart be put before the horse, that we give them our love, sex, and commitment prior to their earning it, is a disastrous set up for dependence upon and addiction to a toxic, abusive relationship.
This word conjures up many intense feelings for former targets of narcissists. It’s no surprise that when we first free ourselves, we are apprehensize to embrace the concept of recovery. To do so is a reminder that we must again expend our energy “changing” and “fixing ourselves” to deal with yet another transgression by the narcissistic people around us.
In assessing the receptiveness of targets to authors and healers in the narcissistic abuse community, we find feedback shows that targets respond less favorably to those healers who shame or focus on labeling targets as “victims”, “codependent” or whose program blames targets for enabling or bringing on their own abuse. We’ve also found historically that our blog posts which focus on ourselves and recovery are not our most popular posts.
Our approach has always been “target trusted and target led”. By that we mean, that we focus on the individual and trust that we all intuitively know what’s best for ourselves and that where each of us are in terms of our own journey of recovery, is EXACTLY where we are meant to be based on our own circumstances and personalities. Recovery is definitely NOT a one size fits all event. Timing is everything!
When we are in the early phases of “light” or educating ourselves about narcissistic personality disorder and malignant narcissism, we are not going to be focusing much on ourselves or our own “issues”.
Let’s define “recovery”. First, we are discussing recovery from narcissistic abuse. Narcissistic abuse is the abuse we suffer from being in a close relationship with a person who has been formally diagnosed with the mental disorder of “NPD” or someone whose malignant level of narcissism and lack of empathy causes severe disturbances and abuse within their close relationships by which we were traumatically affected.
Recovery then becomes the process that ensues in the aftermath of accepting that the narcissism of another person became so toxic to us that we had no other choice than to sever the relationship and go no or minimal contact in order to save what’s left of our soul, sanity and identity.
Recovery is not an option; we either embrace the process and let it teach, transform and free us or we let recovery drag us through unending pain with no resolve and the inevitable repetition of the patterns of our past with one narcissist after another.
The Ana Stages of Recovery:
No Contact – The First 90 Days
The most difficult in terms of an intense and baffling rollercoaster of emotions, battling the addictive and obsessive pull of the toxic relationship, the dying of very bad habits, the smear campaign, the realization of the horrible things you were denying for so long, all make the first 90 days a true hell on earth.
The needs during this period are frequent crisis intervention, intense communication regarding the problems and the relationship, assistance in remaining no contact, emotional triage for extreme feelings and withdrawl. etc.
Light – Education about Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Knowledge is power! There’s a strong need and desire to read information that helps targets understand the narcissistic personality and abuse tactics, Reading everything you can get your hands on about the disorder and talking about it and Participating heavily in support groups.
What happens over time, as we educate ourselves about the disorder, we begin defining our own identity, separate from narcissism. We’ve been blamed ad nauseum by narcissistic people for being: “selfish, self centered, jealous, cheating, mean” (projection) so as we begin to learn that narcissist’s project, they have agendas, they are serial cheaters, etc. we begin to KNOW that we weren’t really those things, we are who WE are and no one outside can define us. We begin to form boundaries around our identities and protecting ourselves because we recognize that our hard work to get ourselves back should be relished and valued.
Life – Focusing on our own lives now that we’ve learned about the disorder, and have separated ourselves and our identities (boundaries) from the disorder.
This is the phase where, we no longer focus so much on the narcissism in the world and people around us, but we are willing to consider our own state of affairs. Our goals, boundaries, our family histories, our work lives, our friendships, and even our own levels of narcissism; our passions in life and how egoless our pursuits are. We strive to live our best lives, through our own authenticity and assume responsibility for the health and well being of our own lives.
Narcissism is nearly a distant memory, until something out of the blue triggers those old abuses. We can easily become frozen and drift right back into reacting as if the abuse is occuring all over again. It’s a day terror of sorts, realizing that we are PERMANENTLY SCARRED by something so traumatic that we can’t let go of the trauma, no matter how desperately we want to. PTSD. Today’s reminder that narcissist abuse occurred in our lives.
Love – God’s love, Self Love, Other Love, all things love
Love is a concurrent state to our everyday lives, but it deserves a special call out in our recovery program. Because the lack of genuine self love whether the narcissist’s or ourselves, gravely harmed us. Love doesn’t hurt. It’s the golden rule. It’s the only way we create peace in our lives.
Communion is important. After narcissistic abuse, we need to push through an ENORMOUS MOUNTAIN of mistrust towards every other human being on the planet and at times, even God. We no longer blindly trust others the way we once did. If you’ve never had the type of conscious altering experience as loving a soulless human, you won’t understand this desire to isolate from all humans, out of fear of ever encountering this again. Targets forever feel braced to prevent this abuse from recurring.
At this phase, accepting responsibility freely and humbly increases our self love. By living authentically without attack, so far from our narcissistic pasts, our self worth and love flourishes because it can! The more we love ourselves, the more we protect our goodness. Always striking a balance between being exposed, being known and trusting to not be devoured.
Our relationship with a higher power, in my own life, “God”, also develops love in our lives. Knowing that we can rely blindly on someone to always have our best interest at heart and who desires to know us and be close to us, despite our flawed state, is the kind of love that makes us joyful to be alive and deeply trusting.
Laughter – Without laughter, this whole process would be too overwhelming, dark and weighty.
The resurgence of laughter in our lives is the universe saying, “Everything’s going to be fine”. We know instinctively that when we can laugh about things, we just aren’t taking ourselves and the whole experience so seriously. We can’t always be focused on the struggle. Sometimes, we need to just laugh.
There were times in my own recovery that I’d read something or see a picture that would just make me laugh so hard out loud at the absurdity of big egos, selfishness, grandiosity and personally, what I’d been through. It wasn’t always the narc I’d laugh about, it could be my own, faux pas as I awkwardly stumbled through my own recovery. The ridiculous things I’d done or said, out of response of just being so hurt and broken.
This recovery has definitely showed me that the God I believe in, has a SENSE OF HUMOR! and Im so thankful that he does!
What we focus on, what we grapple with, what we choose to read about or gravitate to in our daily lives will depend upon where we are in our phase of recovery.
Once we are conscious of the inescapable reality that post narc abuse, we’re in “recovery” whether we like to admit that or not. Embracing the journey and being aware of where we are in the journey helps us be more patient and understanding with ourselves.
Where are you in your phase of recovery?
What are you learning?
What do you need at this stage?
Are you growing?
Do you ever desire having “not to recover” anymore, that you just want to live life without having to think about “narcissism?
What do you need from us and others around you at this phase?
Yesterday, we talked about a few areas where the children of narcissistic parent(s) boundaries are crossed and the long lasting effects it has on them as adults. While it is not easy to re-train ourselves to develop strong boundaries that will protect us from violators, it is NOT impossible.
Alot of members responded that they understand how a narcissistic parent crosses over your boundaries, but many asked how they could go about creating boundaries in the first place.
Let’s do this exercise together. Let’s write down as many limits, needs, values, bottom lines, and boundaries we can think of in each area that are unique to our own identities. Give yourself about a half an hour to an hour and ask yourself for you as a person, what TRULY matters and what boundaries do you have and need in life to keep you deeply peaceful and happy.
CLEARLY DEFINE YOUR LIMITS
Consider several areas where boundaries apply:
Material boundaries (possessions)
Rules about people borrowing your stuff, using your things, and how they generally treat your property and belongings.
Examples of Clearly defined limits:
There’s a place for everything and everything in its place, I respect my belongings and expect others to show respect for them also. I do not want anyone yelling in my home. I expect people to clean up after themselves when they visit my home. I do not want you looking over my shoulder while I’m reading my email or texts.
Assertive Boundary Statement: “If you’re going to borrow my car, I do not want you to smoke in it. If you smoke in it, I will not allow you to borrow my car again.” (consequences)
Physical boundaries (personal space, privacy, sexuality, and physical body)
Hugs and kisses, how far away you want to stand when talking to someone, how soon you’ll become physical and or sexual in a romantic relationship. All matters pertaining to how you like to or don’t like to be touched or be intimate physically or sexually.
Examples of Clearly defined limits
I do not kiss on the first date, I don’t have sex with someone until I am in a monogamous committed relationship with them, I prefer someone to stand at least 18 inches away from me when we’re talking, I like hugs even from people I don’t know very well, I show alot of physical affection I prefer to be in a relationship with someone who has the same level of physical intimacy as I have.
Assertive Boundary Statement: “I like you. However, I’d like you to get to know me as a person. When you focus on only my appearance or the sexual aspects of me, I get the impression that’s all you want from me. I choose not to engage in that kind of discussion until we are dating.”
Mental and behavioral boundaries (thoughts, values, opinions, and actions)
Your opinions, your perspective, your thinking, your beliefs, your motives, your internal processes pertaining to thinking.
Example of Clearly defined limits: I am responsible for choosing what my true motives are. No one outside myself can tell me what I’m thinking or what I’m “really” doing.
Assertive Boundary Statement:
Narcissist: “You did that just to make me mad”.
Us: Avoid reacting and calmly tell the person that “while you can see they are mad, there is no one is inside your head but yourself and you will not allow someone else to tell you what you are think.”
Emotional boundaries (feelings, needs and wants)
How you feel, what you desire, how you define love, what you need to feel good, safe, happy, or content.
Examples of Clearly defined limits
I am responsible for my feelings. Others are responsible for their feelings. I define love as ______ , I feel happy when _____, I am relaxed after I _______, I want _____ , I need _____, etc. What causes you to get upset? Angry? Frustrated?
Assertive Boundary Statement: “I feel hurt when you ignore me.” “I feel frustrated when you cut me off and interrupt me.”
Spiritual boundaries (beliefs in and connection to a higher power)
Your beliefs about God, your higher power, what spirituality means to you.
Examples of Clearly defined limits
I attend Church every _____ , my faith is based on ______ , I am a Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Muslim, Jewish, etc., Worship is defined as ______, I will not tolerate ______ in others and will not tolerate them ______ to me as it pertains to my spiritual beliefs.
Assertive Boundary Statement: “I would appreciate it greatly if you didn’t use God’s name in vain in my presence, I’m really sensitive to that.”
Knowing your limits also reminds you of your own identity. What you like and don’t like says alot about who you are. Once you can clearly define your limits, you’ll be more prepared to practice asserting your boundaries and become more in touch with your feelings.
Ask any child of a narcissistic parent if they felt loved by their parent and you will get a resounding, “NO!” Narcissistic parents are focused on getting their own needs met and are heavily invested in their image of themselves as a parent and the positive feedback that mirroring a “golden” child gives them, but they are NOT invested in that child as a person in our own right.
Boundaries don’t exist to a narcissist. The narcissistic parent feels entitled to transgress the boundaries of their children because they feel that they “own” us. They do not recognize that their children (or anyone else) are separate from themselves.
Here are some of the common ways narcissistic parents cross our boundaries as children:
a) Physical boundaries: The childs physical space and person.
How we’re violated: Our right to be protected from unwanted touch or unwelcome hugs are ignored, negative comments about our physical appearance are given without being asked, our personal space is violated, or they exert power over our physical movements, bodily functions, sexuality, sexual preference or how a child dresses and presents themselves. Narcissistic parents idolize children who are physically talented or gifted in sports. Narcissistic parents focus on appearances. If you were a cute kid, your narcissistic parent likely gave you a lot of praise and attention for your looks – giving you the feeling that you are only lovable based on how cute or good looking you are.
One example from my childhood, where my narcissistic mother repeatedly crossed my physical boundaries was when I would be using the bathroom. She often would barge in without knocking or if the door was locked would stand outside and threaten to leave me if I didn’t stop what I was doing in the bathroom and leave immediately. I recall many times, we’d take trips to the library, a time I looked forward to spending with my mother. She’d often interrupt me while I was in the bathroom, so I’d spend the first 15 minutes in the library in the restroom finishing my bathroom time, due to my mother’s interruption. To this day, I cannot walk into a library or book store, without first stopping to use the bathroom.
How we’re affected:
We put up with uncomfortable touching, unwanted sexual attention or focus, people getting too close, too fast or pushing us to begin a physical relationship before we’re ready or comfortable. We put up with people judging our exterior. We place too much emphasis on getting attention through superficial means; the type of appearance attention our parents gave us. We are left with the feeling that we’re not allowed to say, “No!” Or that we are not suppose to feel uncomfortable when someone encroaches on our physical territory. It sets us up to be used and exploited both sexually and physically without telling those around us we’ve been violated because we internally believe we either deserve it or didn’t have the right to say NO!
b) Mental Boundaries:
Our ability to be in control of our own thinking, opinions and beliefs.
How we’re violated: Narcissists cannot tolerate disagreement. For the child who expresses their own thoughts freely, we will be met with much friction from a narcissistic parent. “You don’t think that!” “That is NOT what we think in this family!” Defectors from the narcissists delusional reality of perfection and being the perfect parent or family, will cause the narcissist to act out, typically with rage, to squash the independent thoughts of their children. The child will be called names, ostracized, shut down, shut out, and/or ignored. The resulting feelings will be that the child is not safe to freely share their opinions or thoughts about any topic that goes against the narcissist’s reality. The child is not allowed to experience or express their own reality. To take it a step further, it is typically the child who won’t stop thinking for themselves and expressing the truth they witness, that will become the “scapegoat” in the family; the person on whom all the problems and dysfunction of the family will be blamed for or deemed the cause of.
Scapegoating within the narcissistic family is in effect an innerfamilial smear campaign. The child who’s got the courage to face down the narcissist’s attempts to squash the truth of the child, is bullied by the group to bring the child under compliance with the group’s (the narcissist’s) mentality lest the child face the ostracism of their family unit.
How we’re affected:
We doubt our own thoughts. We need validation of our thoughts from others we perceive as “stronger”. We fear our independent thinking. This can set us up for abusive relationships or to acquiesce to narcissistic and domineering individuals because they seem “more sure” of themselves and seem to “know better” for us than we do for ourselves. We learn to be meek and take the passenger seat in our own lives which leads us to feeling powerless. We become people pleasers. It sets us up to choose people who want power over us, because we’re accustomed to that and we doubt ourselves. We give our power away and this sets us up for disastrous results because allowing a narcissist to control us, will run our lives right into the ground.
c) Emotional Boundaries
Our ability to have and be in control of our own feelings, opinions and beliefs.
How we’re violated: Narcissists are out of touch with their own emotional state. They’re only driven by their wants and desires. The people around them are there with the sole purpose of meeting the narcissists wants and desires; NOT to be a separate person with their own feelings. Feelings of others conflict with the narcissists desire to be the focus and be in control. Children who express feelings of sadness or other feelings of “needing” the narcissistic parent causes great frustration; because the narcissist views the child as serving the parent’s feelings not the other way around. The child’s needs are competing with the narcissist getting their own needs met. The narcissist tries to downplay the feelings of the child if they are in direct conflict with their own needs. The child will be told they “don’t really feel that” or to “Get over it” or to “stop being such a baby!” – Any means which gets the child to stop being so “needy” and requiring the narcissist to put the child first will be the narcissists goal.
The child learns that their feelings are:
1) Not important and dont matter (insignificant)
2) Can’t be trusted or relied on by the child (untrustworthy)
3) Are not cared about by their parent (dishonored)
4) Of secondary importance to the narcissist’s feelings (come last)
How we’re affected:
This sets us up to feel comfortable in the presence of another narcissist who minimizes, denies, belittles and ignores our feelings. We put ourselves, our feelings and needs last, because of the constant messages that our feelings don’t matter. It’s why we don’t listen to and trust our intuition (our feelings) about narcissists in our adult lives who are taking advantage of us. It’s why we extend benefit of doubt to a predator who is attacking us rather than respond to our feelings and escape them. We learn to put selfish people, like the narcissist, who demands their needs be met, first to ourselves. We spend most of our time in adulthood catering to the needs and feelings of others while ignoring our own. We don’t learn to trust ourselves and we don’t learn how to protect ourselves because we were punished for doing so by our caregivers. We become out of touch with our own feelings and thus remain stuck, depressed and hopeless. We’re at a loss for how to get out and think and feel for ourselves because we’ve been so accustomed to a narcissist doing it for us. Getting back in touch with our own feelings becomes a scary endeavor that we feel overwhelmed by. We feel desperate for validation.
Here’s the good news:
With hard work and honestly exploring each area of your personal boundaries and how your internal beliefs were shaped by a person who was heavily invested in serving themselves, you can begin to take your power back for rewriting the messages from your narcissistic parents.
Ask yourself how your boundaries were violated by your narcissistic parents. You will likely find that the way your narcissistic parent violated your boundaries are areas in your life now, where you are a target for exploitation by another narcissist. Learning about your own vulnerabilities will teach you where you need to shore up the holes to prevent further abuse.
Re learning the proper boundaries for ourselves is liberating to our identities. The more we identify and assert our limits in each of the areas mentioned above, we will begin to feel that the new boundaries are protecting someone of WORTH: OURSELVES!
Machinations, manipulations, and all lies. Breaking and dispelling the myth behind that love that has trapped you emotionally to a very destructive and sadistic Narcissist.
You have been working your way up to this day for a very long time and just when you think you are finally ready and determined to leave because you know that you HAVE to get out of this relationship, the Narcissist in your life starts manipulating your emotions and turning them upside down and every which way with guilt, intimidation and even fear tactics! OR on the other end of the spectrum looks you in the eyes and tells you the exact words you have been waiting to hear – “I love you so much, I will do anything to change, and save us or I love you more than life itself!” There it is again that dizzying ride on that Narcissist’s roller coaster and you just can’t get off! You thought you were at the point of ‘enough is enough’ but before you know it the Narcissist has found a way to push your buttons in a manner to hook you back in again. Whether they say they love you or imply that they don’t like you (hate you) because you are everything wrong in this relationship, you are still right there with them and just trying to get it right with them SOMEHOW!
The real truth here is the simple fact that this Narcissist has kept you in this conditioned ‘limbo’ for a long time because you serve a function or a need along with many ‘other’ sources (people) that you were not always aware about. They have purposely managed you down to be like this and it is purely control, sadistic and a horrendous betrayal of your love and reality. This Narcissist used that big love bomb or charm to ‘get’ you hooked into their scheme until they no longer could keep the façade up and got what they came for! Bonding or real love is not something they are familiar with or understand within the same realm that we do but they know how to use it as a tool to pull you into their schemes. That charm or love was a decoy so they could tap into your resources or of course use you as supply. Because they don’t know love or bonding that old saying of ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ is written in stone with them – or again they can’t keep up the charade because the monster inside of them lives so close to the surface and always makes its way out. BUT again it serves the purpose until they get you hooked into their agenda!
Real caring and love will naturally grow between two normal people that are on the same page, but there never was any sort of growth in this relationship because it was all a terrible hoax, con job, farce or whatever words describes a dysfunctional predator looking for prey to feed it’s many needs! Those words are not very pleasing to see in writing but getting to the real truth will set you into a direction of healing and recovery. Sure it seemed like love but ask yourself right now if you believe that it was the real thing! It was the real thing to YOU, but that is what this Narcissist was counting on and using to keep you connected to them. This is why it is so readily described as a big CON job.
The Narcissist will find every way to keep you connected until THEY ARE DONE WITH YOU and not because they care, love you, or anything real that equates to any type of a cohesive relationship. It is a one sided take and take more relationship with them. The Narcissist knows all of your soft or blind spots intimately because he/she has been intensely studying and monitoring and projecting it back onto you so you SEEM to have so much in common. Then they disable your self-esteem and basically control you to stay until they are done with you because you offer a viable source of supply to them. How did they unlock all of that stuff – through that amazing love and through your emotions that made you feel like you could TRUST them. After all a Narcissist is ALWAYS a predator and you are the prey, or the source of Narcissistic supply. The Narcissist loves to know that you are enmeshed in his/her web and will remain there accepting their copious amounts of abuse, and knows exactly how to ensure this just like he/she knew how to trap you into loving them. Once you break free the Narcissist will show you the real monster that resides within and step up their game to try to annihilate your integrity and make you out to be the hideous and sick monster that they really are. After all they are completely entitled to abuse people because in their delusional way of thinking they are always the victim and entitled to whatever they want no matter what they do to get it.
Because of the negative conditioning you are basically addicted to trying to fix the wrongs and by doing so you have been conditioned to accept the blame with the very unfortunate consequence of being hooked into the abuse too! No matter how much you logically know you need to get away, every single cell in your body is addicted to the Narcissist in frightening and destructive ways. Their love was ABUSIVE from the very first day you met them and because it was built on a sadistic agenda of lies to pull you into their harem of supply. This is not love and you realistically know this underneath all of the confusion, this is desperate love or a trauma bond that attaches you to this frightening creature that keeps you captivated with their sadistic tricks and games so they can keep you as a source of supply until THEY are done with you. This is a horrendous situation that you NEED to escape from in order to heal from the damage that was inflicted on you. This is not your fault, this is somebody that is an emotional and psychological vampire that needs your attention, admiration, and more than likely some of your material worth as well! Today I can see this so clearly and only wish I had this information available to me at the time, but I didn’t and I fell prey to the psychological manipulation, lies, and isolation that locked me up in this bizarre world with a Narcissist!
After the many years of being conditioned and walking on eggshells trying not to upset your Narcissist you have completely lost yourself in all of this manipulation, control, confusion and emotional distress or the basic brain-washing to believe in this person. Each and every day was/is about surviving another day and not upsetting them and trying to get back to what you BELIEVED was a real or a cohesive relationship because of the seductive love bombing and charm that trapped you into this hideous cycle of abuse AND avoiding the pain they inflicted onto and into you. Take a quick look back and ask yourself how many years you have lost being in this cycle of back and forth arguments, blame, lies, and the conditioning that managed you down into a place of desperation? Now ask yourself if any of it has ever been resolved (the crazy arguments from nowhere) or is it the same exact cycle where you end up ALWAYS being blamed, punished, feeling helpless, vulnerable and WORTHLESS?
If your Narcissist is gone have they jumped right into another relationship and left you right there with all of the destruction without any sort of closure. Did they try to resolve any aspect of ‘what was wrong’ besides blaming you and possibly bragging about their new and amazing love? How could they move right on after being in such a terrible relationship with us? Here is the REAL truth – you could never please them and it would never get any better with them, nor could you heal them or make them see what they are doing, and they already had their next source of supply lined up – this is what they do in every relationship! If they left you it is because you were too smart for them and saw through their lies and they knew it as well as the fact that you were no longer a viable source of supply! We are just one of many objects to them and NO BIG DEAL because they ALWAYS find a new source of supply – that is their pattern and you will hear this many times over from other targets/victims! What does that say and what does that make us? NOTHING but another person that was objectified by this personality disordered person! YES this is a personality disordered person that does NOT share the same reality as we do. You were manipulated and conditioned into this subservient role!
What is their reality —– THIS! They are fundamentally compelled from deep within to deny and conceal all of their deficits or weaknesses through their self-made image. They consistently and habitually redirect any negative thoughts or appraisal of themselves outward, unconsciously believing that in doing so they will forever keep their deepest suspicions about themselves at bay and guarded. Getting anywhere close to confronting their darkness OR their innermost core scares them to death and they will defend their façade with a ferocious attack on anybody that threatens it or questions it. They can NOT face the truth about themselves so they defer to this amazing but FALSE self – but yet they act out in destructive ways that harm good people because the false self can’t even come close to reality so they have to extort (con people) through faked emotions and love until they are satiated. Their emotional resources are nonexistent and their time is completely used up maintaining this façade and supplementing the happiness they lack through fleeting encounters of securing all kinds of supply that includes a 24/7 source. Everyone is objectified to support this amazing Narcissistic façade that is non-existent and lacks real emotions. We are dealing with a facsimile of a person and a gross imitation of life that is meant to fool us in order for them to achieve their self-serving needs. It reminds me of a movie about aliens that landed on our planet and took over the bodies of other human beings so that the aliens could take what they needed from our planet by disguising themselves as one of us.
What is basically recognized by the behavioral sciences is that Narcissists totally and fundamentally lack self-insight, and that is putting it lightly! The truth is that they defer to this ‘false self’ by disassociating from their defective real self so that they never come to terms with the grotesque self that they loathe. Consequently they only have access to knowledge that they create (or basically imitate) that supports and becomes their false self and it works for them, but there is no such thing as empathy or emotions in that made up reality of theirs. Somehow they know exactly what they need to make up for the deficit to fit in. That to me is amazing enough proof to say that they DO KNOW RIGHT FROM WRONG because they use what they need to get what they need – as well as the fact that they protect their façade fiercely because they know they are one huge lie. So with all of that in mind, they have to keep the mechanics of it constantly oiled, in motion, and well maintained to avoid stalling out and seeing the defective parts! They accomplish this with blaming, shaming and projecting those ugly parts onto us. Wow that is a whole lot of work to maintain an image – but that is the point here – they have to maintain this image to survive so it is an all-encompassing job for them. They also have the keen ability to compartmentalize each and every source of supply to keep their lies where they belong – never shall any supply source meet another!
Now as far as us, we are only supplemental players and the suppliers in their world and they need us to make it all work BUT there is never a real attachment to us or anything but fulfilling their needs. Their rigid and unyielding defense mechanisms can be seen as more or less defining their whole personality and everything else that seems like real emotions is purely manipulation to support that facade and draw supply into their delusional world. This is the only way for them to feel good about themselves and feel safe in a world that they have alienated and disassociated themselves from. They accomplish this by invalidating, devaluing, denigrating, and discarding others – sort of like a ritual to them just like they discarded their own self in favor of something better or the saintly façade in their case that they created. They have to feed the monster constantly to stay afloat so they can only focus on others flaws whether or not they really exist, rather than acknowledge, and come to terms with, their own deep flaws. They don’t have interpersonal boundaries whatsoever! I have heard this many times over and it rings true with Narcissists – ‘they can’t tell where they end and the other person begins.’ They view others as “extensions” of themselves, they regard them as existing primarily to serve their own needs, and they routinely put their needs before everyone else – even their own children and family.
All people are regarded as Narcissistic supply or suppliers to keep the Narcissistic machine running. We only exist to cater to all of their personal desires. We are not regarded as an individual with needs, instead we each have an independent role that is designed around how they might use us to their own advantage. Whatever a Narcissist seeks out to give themselves, they generally expect to get it from others instead of earning it – this is just part of the self-entitlement dimension that defines them as the perpetual victim. They are basic extortionists!
Just in their normal day to day conversations their flimsy or non-existent boundaries are so very apparent. Their undeveloped interpersonal skills and LACK of these boundaries compel them to dominate conversations, but somehow with charm and savvy that draw people to them. They seem powerful with their convictions and even very sure of themselves sharing intimate details about their life and even disclosing facts others would be more apt to withhold or be too embarrassed or humiliated to admit to. But they have no sense of shame, much less a filter or any restrictions to other people’s boundaries. But again there is no mechanism that registers right from wrong in their minds – that was deactivated when they gave up their real self – they truly are one huge void that is filled with LEARNED behaviors from observing us.
There is an insensitivity to how others might react to their words, and they are likely to blurt out things, or even boast about something that others can’t help but view as tasteless, demeaning, insulting, or otherwise offensive. I can remember during breakfast at my house my Narcissist blurting out that they were at a sex party the night before. Who says that to the person they are in a relationship with, or why would you say that? Of course this Narcissist said it was a joke (very inappropriate joke) – but between you and me, it wasn’t! Is it the truth coming out in their delusional way of dealing with things?
They might even brag about how they demeaned or bullied somebody, and expect whomever they are telling their compelling story to be impressed by their courage or cleverness, when in fact the person listening is more than likely appalled by their lack of kindness, insensitivity, tact, or restraint. Additionally, they may ask others questions that are far too personal or intimate, again irritating or upsetting them. They have a knack for throwing people out of their comfort zone, and such a situation can be particularly difficult for the other person if the Narcissist is in a position of authority over them so that not responding could, practically, put them in some jeopardy. Hopefully these examples can be helpful in enabling you to identify them before you fall into their trap.
In emotional/psychological or Narcissistic abuse the target/victim experiences constant and extreme fear, isolation and even terror over and over again, for many years. Then this behavior follows a sequence of events or the same pattern resulting in more confusion AND more managing down. It always starts out with that tension building up no matter how many eggshells you walk on. Then the target/ victim gets pulled into or caught in an explosive exchange with the Narcissist or that rage where you are silenced or punished and pushed into a corner feeling that immense pain over and over again and hopeless. You don’t even know what caused this latest attack. Have they left you for good or will they be back again, so you sit and wait for that call or text message. Finally it does come and maybe after three days of them being gone. This is then followed by a calmness or what you believe is a renewal and feelings of being loved again. Yes it is a renewal for you to subscribe to more of the abuse because they are back after betraying you once again and needing their 24/7 source of supply or ‘old faithful.’ Each time the process follows the same path of submission and reconciliation to alleviate the intense fear and loss that you felt from the isolation which further consolidates the attachment between the victim and being victimized. Who is feeling the pain here? Was there resolution to anything or have you just settled to alleviate the horrendous pain. Have you justified their behaviors in favor of them returning because you tell yourself that it will get better if you do this, that, and whatnot? What more could you do? What have you done wrong in the first place? How many times have you repeated this same exact cycle and WHY? Where is this love? Answer these questions realistically because by doing so you will save your own life from a total and devastating tragedy.
Because you are CONSTANTLY faced with this consistent form of manipulative devaluation or basic madness you become stuck or frozen like a frightened deer caught in a car’s headlights. You have been basically conditioned to accept the blame for fear of more rage and the abandonment a Narcissist issues as their punishment. You are unable or basically disabled from using your natural and inert ability of flight or fight and rendered helpless like that deer and eventually you may be completely struck down by that speeding car of the Narcissist. This is what trauma bonding is all about, or where you completely dissociate emotionally – this is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Ask yourself what happens as you are experiencing this extreme pain from the constant attacks and devaluation. You feel NUMB and block out the pain and basically freeze in the moment AND the many moments following. Then you buy into the fantasy that this will work itself out once more as you wait for that Narcissist to come back! Unfortunately it doesn’t work itself out because the rage episodes only continue and get more frequent. To quote Albert Einstein, “The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result.” Basically a Narcissist pushes you to the point of insanity! The relationship is built on fantasy, fake promises and a symbiotic relationship where the Narcissist is attached to you like a tick feeding off of you and poisoning you at the same time! The rage episodes became a regular and weekly thing in my relationship. The Narcissist was so careless with their out-of-control need for more and more supply that eventually the truth stood right there in front of me and I left! I saw a monster that got worse each and every day and I wasn’t sure what this person was capable of!
When a target/victim has been subjected to Narcissistic abuse, they display many of the same characteristics or symptoms of prisoners of war or what is called the Stockholm syndrome. Similarly Narcissists subject their targets/victims to psychological, emotional, and at times even physical terror. The target/victim that is being psychologically and emotionally terrorized by the Narcissist must somehow reconcile the situation to survive the unrelenting onslaught of the constant/consistent abuse, BUT it is done through submission, denial, and keeping the bond with them to feel safe. Trying to survive under these conditions, the target/victim is reduced to feeling this helplessness, vulnerability, and dependent on the Narcissist to resolve this. Is it the empathy and the emotions that keep us hanging on or perhaps our belief that there is goodness in all people and if we hang on it will change, or it is fear of more rage, punishment or abandonment? Yes and no but the truth we have to defer to is that the person administrating this type of behavior is abusive and has a personality disorder and they will not change their behavior, so it is up to us to move on and away from this behavior to survive. This is not just a cruel person this is a person that is a psychological terrorist that doesn’t care what we are feeling or what they do to us as long as they are surviving and flourishing with their agenda!
When we are faced with situations that involve fear or even extreme danger we turn to the nearest available source of comfort in order to regain a state of both psychological and physiologic rebalance. Unfortunately with this type of abuse the Narcissist has isolated us as part of the abuse. There are no loving arms to hug us or listening ears to console us only the manipulative Narcissist that has put us into this confused state of mind. That same abusive Narcissist who threatened and beat you into the ground, as well as backstabbed you, triangulated your friends and family away from you and put you in isolation – so who do you reach out to for comfort and to end the madness? The answer again, the very person that has manipulated you into this hideous situation – the Narcissist. What happens then is that the target/victim turns to their inherent and unconscious survival defense mechanisms, to basically survive their own demise from all of the negativity or becoming submissive to the abusers demands. When there is no other source of comfort available except for that cruel Narcissist we have to go to them because where else could we go. It is our natural survival that is ingrained in us to survive by finding the best resolution. We call this fight or flight – but we can’t fight because we are always at a loss by going that route because we only end up with more threats, pain and damage. As far as the flight – where do we fly off too when we have been isolated, disabled and controlled so much so that we are just frozen in time? Nature kicks in, that’s what happens, and the victim turns to their inbuilt unconscious survival defense mechanisms, because if they did not, they would be annihilated by their own vulnerability, fear and their own levels of negative arousal so we basically work on resolving the situation by bargaining with our abuser.
The target/victim of this abuse unconsciously surrenders themselves by repeating this behavior of submitting to the devaluation. Their reality changes in a manner that they organize their behaviors, actions, words, thoughts, and many other things around pleasing their abuser! This is how they survive living through the psychological manipulation to avoid the debilitating turmoil, fear, isolation and mind games. They are very vulnerable and caught in the cycle of the Narcissist’s abuse.
Your situation in reality was like a horrendous or hideous nightmare that you were trying your hardest to wake up from. Your pain was/is overwhelming and all-consuming right now as the truth reveals itself and you feel the sting of the immense betrayal. You must first internalize and suspend the belief that there was love or something you could have done to make this relationship work! In time and after you have moved forward with your recovery and gotten past the grief and trauma, made all the necessary improvements to re-build your self-esteem, THEN and only then will you come out of this. You absolutely can do this if you trust your inner strength to get you there. You MUST forget about this Narcissist and ruminating about the abuse or you will stay locked up in the confusion forever because there is no answer as to why they did this beside the fact that they are disordered and sadistic. No/minimal contact to start on this journey! Greg <3
This is a topic that comes up frequently.The target’s lack of ability to recognize that the narcissist’s treatment of us is abusive. October is domestic violence/abuse awareness month. Many lay people believe that domestic violence is only those actions that involve the physical abuse of an intimate partner.
For those of us who have been physically abused by anyone, we can tell you that if you remove the physical abuse from the relationship, what remains, are a number of other abusive behaviors: psychological, verbal, spiritual, financial, legal and sexual that continue to occur long after the physical abuse has ceased. The general lack of physical lashing out by a narcissist (probably only to protect their own court records or reputation criminally/socially, etc.) does NOT mean that abuse is not happening.
Let’s define abuse to remove any doubt. Domestic abuse is a pattern of behavior which involves the perpetration of power & control, isolation, intimidation, threat, violence or other abuse by one person against another in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence can take place in heterosexual or same sex relationships, and sometimes also involves violence against the children in the family. Domestic violence can take a number of forms including physical, verbal emotional, economic, sexual, spiritual, and legal. The severity of behaviors exists on a continuum and can range from mild, subtle, coercive forms to marital rape and violent physical abuse that results in disfigurement or death.
Not only do the types of behaviors exhibited by the perpetrator of the abuse define it, it is just as necessary to look at the feelings expressed by the target; our reaction to the treatment by the narcissistic person.
The reason that we choose to further define the abuse as “Narcissistic Abuse” is because this type of abuse is somewhat different in terms of its insidious nature than overt domestic abuse and is a very specific manifestation of domestic abuse because of the facets of the personality of the disordered perpetrator which dictates the particular abuses used and why. It’s been said that all physical abusers are narcissistic, however not all narcissists are physical abusers.
In order to help others who are suffering this form of domestic abuse recognize and act on their awareness and find their way to freedom, healing and recovery, we’re going to give you some things to look for specific to the narcissist’s special brand of abuse.
Let me begin by saying that at this point in my recovery, I purposefully avoid dredging up the painful details of what it felt like to be back in the throws of narcissistic abuse. The sheer inescapability of it and the enormity of the pain urges me to want to lock it away permanently. In regaining my sense of happiness, peace and self esteem, it’s very painful to feel the opposite of that stability to recall details of my abuse. Id rather lock it away in an impermeable space and wrap it with a big bow marked “Recovered” or “Healed” than I would, pull items out of that vault and re-experience them emotionally. I’m willing to do that however, in order to help others just as stuck as I was, realize that they too can wake up, get out and move on; a narcissists abuse is NOT the end of YOUR journey.
Here are three unique ways that narcissists abuse their partners and the resulting feelings that targets experience:
THE TWO IDENTITIES OF THE NARCISSIST WILL PUT US ON A ROLLER COASTER OF HOPE AND DESPAIR
1. There are 2 sides to your abuser and this confuses you, causes cognitive dissonance, sadness, and leads us to blame ourselves as the narcissist blames us.
Ask any person who knows a narcissist intimately and they will tell you that they are two faced. Narcissistic people possess TWO identities: Their public, “masked” image and their private hidden devil. In the past, this facet of abusive personalities was called “Jekyll and Hyde”.
The cause: Narcissistic personality disordered individuals have a chameleon like identity. Meaning, their identity will change to be whatever earns them the most positive feedback and reward. (supply) Their identity in the initial meeting stage will be geared towards winning you over. This part of the narcissistic abuse cycle is called the “love bombing” or valuation stage. The narcissist will build you up in an effort to stroke their own egos by association, manipulate you and to get you indebted to them so that you prove yourself that you’re worthy of their time once they start devaluing you. The narcissist will be putting in overtime trying to woo you. However, don’t be mistaken: the wooing is NOT to make YOU feel good, it is about mirroring. They will prance, dance, flatter, cajole, impress, charm, and seduce you into liking them; because when you like them, they get to feel like they’re looking in the mirror and seeing themselves smiling back. They feel good about you digging them. Also important to note that in this initial impressing stage, they will pay keen attention to who you are as a person, your strengths, your vulnerabilities, your deepest desires and they will use and gear their efforts to woo you specifically to who you are as a person.
How you will feel: At this stage, you’ll feel honored, doted on, placed on a pedestal, attended to, wanted, loved, admired and probably slightly embarrassed by all the fuss. This type of seduction and pursuit is abnormal but instead of associating it negatively, we sense how rare it is and feel singled out in a “too good to be true” romance where we are seen, known, wanted and adored. The reason it’s called love bombing, is that all our hopes, dreams and desires, are being used against us as a weapon, in the guise of “love” to get us to turn our brains off and ignore the fact that we’re being drawn into an obsessive, toxic relationship with a self serving, self gratifying and insatiably empty & cruel narcissist. We throw caution to the wind, associate this rare love condition as soul mate love. This will be encouraged by the narcissist as well – they individualize their form of manipulation to our greatest hopes and desires and as a result we fall hard and fast.
Once the narcissist feels that they’ve got you where they want you; entrenched and invested in the relationship, they will begin to let the mask slip. This results when they come face to face with your humanity. You may inadvertantly criticize them by asking that your needs be met (remember: your feeling sad or mad is personalized by the narcissist and they will take it as a direct reflection of how great they are so if you feel bad, they see themselves as bad – and will lash out) or some other indication that you are not a perfect reflection back to them that they are magnificent and without flaw. Perfect for perfect is what they want to have in the mirror looking back. This leads to the narcissist devaluing you. Where you once were the awesome, most loving person on the planet, you in your “disobedient” imperfect let down phase will become the most loathesome person on the planet who drives them to despair. Before you know it, youll be an undeserving nothing and the narcissist will be the superior rock star who puts up with your lowly self.
Much like a child, in their narcissistic stage as a toddler, “devalues” its toys when they find them to be either taken away or having to be shared with another toddler, they’ll shout in a tantrum, “Fine! I don’t care! I didn’t like that teddy bear anyway”, an adult narcissist will use devaluation of their once adored partners to lessen the painful emotions associated with rejection through their partners independent thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
How the narcissist lets their mask slip is that when faced with any form of rejection or blows to their ego in or out of the relationship, they will lash out and behave both aggressively and abusively towards their partners. They’ll be both covert and direct, flippant, demanding, ordering, pushy, insulting, snide, sarcastic, cutting, they’ll throw up past transgressions or insecurities you’ve revealed, they’ll threaten telling bosses to get you fired, loved ones that you’re crazy or will speak so loudly so that neighbors can hear the narcissist’s insults and put downs in such a way as to humiliate you, they’ll deny things they’ve said, or tell you you’re going crazy, they’ll disappear and refuse to talk to you, using silence to hurt and punish you, they’ll question friends, read your emails / text messages, they’ll cheat on you, begin grooming new supply, they’ll smear you to your friends and family, get others to fight against you or attack you, they’ll accuse you of atrocious lies, they’ll hide things and tell you you misplaced them (gaslight), and on and on. This list is both extensive and exhaustive.
Here’s the thing about a narcissist’s emotional and verbal abuse: it is so insidious, so humiliating and cutting (without empathy) and covert that you’re entirely confused and are so worn down that you actually believe the horrible things they’re saying about you. You’ve already admitted to them how shameful you felt. They use your greatest insecurities and shames against you. You can’t fight back. You’re crippled. You’re so in agreement with their abusive words towards you that you can’t see straight to stand up for yourself. You don’t think of things to say back or to disagree or to not let the words hurt you, you simply take it all in and absorb the truth and hostility and hate of a person who said that they adored you more than anything.
You can’t see the forest through the trees to call it abuse because you’re so confused you don’t even recognize that the narcissist did something extremely cruel to hurt you or to put you in “your place”.
How you feel: At this stage, You’ll feel demoralized. You so badly want that doting and loving prince charming narcissist back that you’ll do anything to get him to come back. You become destablized. It hurts terribly. You’re falling from a pedestal you didn’t asked to be placed on, all the while you’re blaming yourself for it happening, you feel like you can’t do anything right, you feel worthless, your self esteem slips, you want the love you “had” and you want the kind person who was nice to you to come back and you just can’t seem to fix whatever this very serious problem is that you’re causing. Which results in your confusion and one way ticket to hopelessness and despair.
Which leads to the next facet of this abuse: We Blame Ourselves
THEIR IRRESPONSIBILITY WILL BECOME OUR OVER RESPONSIBILITY AND KEEP US STUCK
The cause: It’s twofold.
- The narcissist by their very deflective nature is a projectionist and blamer. They don’t accept accountability and responsibility; it’s always someone else’s fault because the narcissist’s image of themselves is perfection. Their defense mechanism of projection is in overdrive and they see every flaw they can’t detect in themselves all over you and they go about shaming you for having traits that you don’t even have.
- Targets are raised to be overly responsible. Especially if the target was raised by a narcissist, we grow up with poor boundaries that are not assertive against someone blaming us for things we didn’t do. Narcissistic parents blame their kids for getting in trouble and causing all the families problems (scapegoated) and learn very early on by their primary caregivers that the way to be loved is to be responsible for all the failures, successes, and feelings of the people (irresponsible narcissists) around us.
When the unmasked narcissist responds to an ego insult (narc injury), their verbal abuse crosses our boundaries, sinks deep within our hearts & souls and becomes part of our absorbed identity from the blaming narcissist. We erroneously believe that if we caused it, we can fix it and maybe if we just do whatever the narcissist told us to do or not do that we will be able to stop (regain control of) our future abuse. It’s a response to helplessness that only sinks us further into the abusive cycle.
Narcissists want people to blame and project upon who aren’t going to tell them to take a hike. They know that blaming us & watching us flail as we take responsibility for our own abuse disables us. They don’t want us to escape the cycle until they’re ready to discard us, so shortly after their burst of abuse in whatever form, they’ll bring us back full circle to the love bombing and building us up, behaving in their initial charm & wooing manner to draw us back in. The negative cycle repeats itself and breaks us down over time until we’re desperately hopeless and as empty as they are.
How you feel: Weighted down. Hopeless. Responsible yet inept. Angry. Sad. Inert. Stuck. Unloved. Desiring. At this point, you are so busy trying to figure out what is wrong with yourself that you have no time to focus on or hold the narcissist accountable. We just want them back. They tell us multiple times a day that everything would be PERFECT, harmonious, just as we want it, if ONLY……… we could fix _______________________. And the wild goose chase is on. They are relieved of responsibility while we are too distracted to call them on their crap. As a result of the confusion and amalgamation of pent up emotions, we begin to feel anger. Anger that we have been taught is NOT allowed to be directed at the narcissist. They are the pure person in the relationship and your anger is entirely unwarranted and as they tell us “Makes us appear ______ (crazy, unbalanced, vindictive, etc – projected trait or insecurity used against us) so that our anger turns inward, towards ourselves which defines our depression. We spiral further and further into confusion, depression, self critical (narcissist induced) hopelessness and self hatred eventually.
For me, this was the most difficult part of the abusive relationship and one I cannot stand to recall due to the feelings it brings back. By nature, I am non confrontational. I just don’t like wasting precious life and time, arguing. Especially when the crux of the argument is petty and pointless. Every argument centered around the same exhausting theme: somehow I wasn’t proving / showing / loving him enough to get the goal we both desired: a peaceful, loving relationship (or so he pretended). I wanted that. He said he did too. But so it goes with identity disorders. They’re so chaotic.
Secondly, Im action oriented. It felt like trying to swim through quicksand attempting to solve something I couldn’t solve. He was an insatiable, perfectionistic, impossible to please, narcissist who was invested in winning, not coming to a mutually satisfying compromise. He had a hidden agenda, he had no intention of meeting me halfway or having the relationship I wanted although he told me frequently that he did want that, but I was preventing it. I felt stuck; like a hamster in a wheel. He worked my tenacity against me.
THEIR PROJECTIONS MAKE US FEEL CRAZY AND WE BEGIN TO DOUBT OURSELVES
Here’s the all time crazymaking facet of the narcissistic brand of abuse. They are the ones with a personality disorder. Yet, they get us to think we are crazy.
The cause: Projection. Projection is a defense mechanism whereby the person discharges their unwanted pieces of themselves and their feelings, typically shame are cast off onto an outer object / person who absorbs and takes on the narcissist’s unwanted (rejected) parts of themselves. For instance, if a narcissist is having affairs, they’ll often accuse their partner of cheating and being a ‘horrible person’ when in fact it is something that they cannot admit to and take responsibility for.
When the narcissist projects their flaws and shame onto their partners, at this point the partner is vulnerable, with lowered boundaries and already self blaming because of the narcissists negativity and verbal abuse, the projections are absorbed and the target takes responsibility for the cast off traits.
How you feel: The result is that the extensive and pervasive boundary crossing, blame, acceptance, shaming, etc. begins to make the receptacle target feel inundated, flooded and probably just as chaotic inside as the narcissist feels. We feel like an isolated island, sinking, alone, desperate and pathetic, while the narcissist looks completely fine on the outside, to others, in the community or to your friends and family who they’ve been playing up to for longer periods, because they don’t have sustained contact with these people and they can keep up their mr. / ms. perfect face to the outside world.
Part of the narcissist agenda at this time is to prepare us for the discard. Not in that they warn us or give us any indication we’re going to one day “be dead to them”. But they’re preparing the outside world to get ready to see a “mad woman”. They begin telling everyone we’re crazy. Such a far cry from the adored and loved person we were in the beginning and even are at times during this phase of the abuse. They smear campaign us. The “best defense is a good offense” approach. How cruel. This really shows the depths of a narcissists cruelty to us as human beings, people they’ve feigned loving. To begin to discredit us for being nothing but loving to them. It’s so senseless and so disheartening. We often don’t know this is going on at the time. But we honestly feel crazy. Under the exhaustion of all the intense emotion, the narcissist constantly drumming up drama and turning every conversation into a heated debate, constantly accusing us of things we aren’t doing, or that we don’t really love them, dangling the carrot of their peace and loving kindness yet never delivering. It’s maddening.
We begin to act out, we show our overwhelm, we’re exhausted and we’re confused. We don’t know how to articulate or express what’s happening, we try to, but it comes out in an odd manner, we’re very self blaming, yet we’re starting to blurt out about the narcissist’s behavior and people are starting to look at us, especially if they’ve already heard from the narcissist that we are losing it, and they judge how we come off. We sound bitter, unappreciative, unforgiving, or in the end, “the bad guy”. The narcissist needs to be the good guy / winner at all costs and our craziness ensures that we look like the loser. We personally, don’t care one bit how we look to others (our image) but we become very worried about ourselves, our sanity, our mental state etc. (doubt ourselves) and how we’re coming off, because we can see on people’s faces that they don’t understand, don’t believe us or simply…DONT CARE.
It’s a very scary time to think you’re losing your mind. It’s frightening to think that you’ve always been a very strong, together person with no history of mental issues and now you’re feeling like maybe you should be committed; just like the narcissist said. This is a very dangerous time for target suicide. The narcissist is so abusive and cruel at this point that many narcissists have taunted and actually pushed their partner to suicide. They simply can’t take all the blame and crazy making and in an attempt to gain peace, simply put themselves out of misery. Please if you’re feeling this way (and many many of us did) just give this number a call 1 (800) 273-8255 FREE and talk it through with someone who cares. Many phone counselors are becoming aware of narcissistic abuse and even if they aren’t, they are there to listen, empathize and help you plan your successful recovery from domestic abuse.
Not once, did my narcissist hit me with his fist to hurt me. He didn’t have to. His words, lies, manipulations, threats, put downs, games, and abuse did it for him. Narcissists see themselves as too lofty, crafty, slick and insidious to be brute force abuser. They’d rather destroy you slowly, methodically, insidiously and covertly. They’re the cadillacs of abusers.
Theyll say what they did wasn’t abuse at all and theyll probably then describe how you deserved and are responsible for whatever you’re feeling and that you’re crazy for thinking it was abusive. Well, that’s good that the narcissist put it that way, because that shows their disorder. That’s not an honest, responsible or sane response to a person exposing them for being domestic abusers.
Thank goodness, we don’t let the narcissist define our reality or our identities any longer. We don’t let them push around and tell us what we can think, feel or can say. We are not letting them control and abuse us any longer. We found our freedom. We tell our truth. We feel our feelings. We developed our boundaries. We no longer let a narcissist’s abuse of us define us or twist reality around on us. We don’t accept blame or responsibility for behavior that isn’t ours. We own our own behaviors. Abusing the narcissist or being crazy, isn’t one of those. Their stories are not our stories. Their lies no longer affect us; and if they do we pursue the path of justice and legal action if necessary. We are not abusive. We were targeted. We did not deserve to be treated the way we were by our abusers. We are survivors of domestic abuse; more specifically, narcissistic abuse.
These are just a few of the abusive things narcissists, in particular, do in relationship with others which is defined as abusive. With each symptom of their disorder, they exhibit specific behaviors relative to how they act out and perpetrate on others the shamefulness at the core of each defensive trait they possess. If you recognize any of these dynamics in relationships you’ve experienced, please look a little further into the definition of narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse which is a current epidemic in our culture. There are many survivors who are now thriving and recovering successfully after learning about this form of abuse by a person with narcissistic personality disorder as defined in the DSM – The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders.
You deserve better than this.
Break Your Silence, talk to someone you trust. Do not try to reason with the narcissist; they are invested in being blameless and playing the victim. You are the aggressor in their minds.Go no contact, once you’re ready, (the sooner the better). It’s best to just jump, go cold turkey and break the addiction to this cycle of abuse and this destructive person as difficult as it is. You’ll begin to feel clear headed and sure of yourself in short order, and you’re SO WORTH IT!
“Kool Aid! Kool Aid! Get Your Kool Aid Here!”
Narcissists are ALWAYS HYPING AND SELLING the narc kool aid. Not a breath is ‘wasted’ on other things, like OTHER PEOPLE or events in life…no the narcissist is a living breathing walking PR campaign and self advertisement about just how, well…..”GREAT THEY ARE”.
We thinks thou doth protest just a bit TOO MUCH, narcissist.
Think about this from a normal person’s standpoint for a moment. Do you sell yourself everyday? Do you try to get people to like you? Agree with you? Go to bat for you? Fight your battles? Do you try to convince people that you’re nice? A christian? Loving? A good friend? Or best wife/husband around?
It’s actually exhausting just thinking about living this way. Imagine feeling that you have to be ON 24/7 just to feel “ok”. As a (low maintenance) female, Im lucky if I actually wear makeup once a month.
When our time is spent LIVING life, focusing on happiness and joy, and experiencing connection and contribution, we really don’t have time to SELL OURSELVES.
So let’s think about this. What are they SELLING ANYWAY?
They’re selling us on their IMAGE.
That image is their FALSE SELF. The unreal, imaginary, wishful mask that they dream they could be. If it were genuine, they’d just relax, live, be and let be. But because it’s hype, well they have a pressing need to HYPE it and boy do they. Go to any narcissists social media roll and there in plain sight you’ll see the diatribe of narcissism.
“Here’s me looking really gorgeous in this tight outfit”
“Here’s me in my expensive car, driving to my gala event, the biggest event of the year, who asked ME to be it’s host! Im so thrilled! I love my life!”
“Here are my gorgeous friends and me, just sipping on $500 bottles of champagne”
“Here’s me just laying around naturally (in full makeup) and false eyelashes”
It’s actually very sad to witness, because you get to see how truly empty these people are. How the things they worship are all superficial, worldly, image based symbols of “worth”. Even when they’re posting pictures of themselves at supposed “charity events” or pictures of their kids excelling at something, the message is clear, “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!”
While those of us who are skilled at detecting the attention getting needs and schemes of a personality disordered narcissist, there are many sheep just milling the earth looking for something false to worship and a narcissist looks like a shiny gamble.
Former targets just want to yell to these sheep, “Wake up! It’s a rouse! This isn’t real! This person is NOT who they’re pretending to be. They’re a wolf in sheep’s clothing. They’re a danger.” But these lost souls have been found when a narcissist sweeps them up into their minion fold and gives them a “purpose”: Kool Aid Consumer & Narcissist defender.
The kool aid drinkers don’t listen to wise men. They keep drinking their kool aid, fighting the narcs battles when called upon, and unbeknownst to them, looking foolish and obtuse to the rest of us. It angers targets to see people behave so foolishly.
The narcissist is in desperate need of the kool aid drinkers, for without them, they literally DONT EXIST. A narc needs an audience, fan club, minions, flying monkeys and kool aid drinkers to survive. Without someone telling them how good they are, how giving and loving they are, they would implode in on themselves with shame and self loathing.
That’s the REAL narcissist. Take away the kool aid, and all you have is a person with a mental disorder, who hates themselves, pretends to be somebody good, someone they’re not, who uses and abuses people, including their own families and children and who is so full of themselves and worldly matters that they are hopelessly void of anything good or Godly. The narcissist sells kool aid and is so overly insistent about something about themselves to the point where we realize the opposite is most likely true.
So lets do a comparison. The Narc KOOL AID version of the narcissist and the REAL person:
KOOL AID NARC
CHARMING the tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick and verbally facile
REAL NARC The charm is contrived. The slick and verbal facile ability is actually the ability to flatter others to get what they want. The charm is in this case a means to an end. An agenda. Charm like this, is NOT alluring or attractive, in fact it’s a snare to your future abuse. If you want to avoid this real narc’s scheme, don’t fall for the charm. In fact, let Charm equate to a red flag that this person is TOO SLICK for your good sense.
KOOL AID NARC
Good, Altruistic, Giving, Charitable, Public persona, Christian, etc.
REAL NARC As a study of good people (those they exploit and will identity thieve) real narcs learn who to mimic and why. They know that good people are trusted, respected and get the rewards of society. Real narcs want to appear as if they’re these people so they spend a great deal of time broadcasting and showcasing (selling) their “good guy” or “saintly girl” image.
Of course, the narc is nothing like the people they pretend to be. They are hypocrites. Painting themselves in a charitable light, while stealing others identities, reputations, ideas, and peace through abuse, scheming, manipulation, power and control is NOTHING charitable good or christian. In fact, those behaviors are on the list of 7 things God Hates. Yes, God hates narcissism. But the narcissist gets a lot of kool aid miles out of pretending to be a good person. They wouldn’t even begin to be able to start the process of being a good person because good people have humble hearts. Those who are truly charitable don’t take pictures of themselves and design a big PR campaign around being charitable. God calls that behavior out too in the bible: Give in secret. Don’t make a big show of it.
KOOL AID NARC
The victim. Oh boy do these people LOVE to wear the victim label. All of us who have been truly victimized, can relate to how much we honestly DETEST using the victim label to describe ourselves. Its a reason we use the term TARGET in our community. Not narcissists however, they want to look like the Poor, sorry, victim who nobody understands, everyone picks on even though they’re doing such good work (just look at their timelines), the guy who’s just trying to get along, or the girl who has so many haters (pooooor narcissist). Who in their right minds thinks that other people complaining about how cruel they are would switch it around to being a “hater”? Narcissists that’s who. They are always the center of some triangle or drama (that they created) but can’t take any responsibility for getting themselves there but they’re the first one to take to social media and enlist their flying monkeys on a campaign to slay the messenger (whoever confronted the narcissist honestly about a negative characteristic). They have endless stories about fights in the community, with bosses, with some imaginary enemy that’s persecuting them. Oye.
The truth is, the REAL narcissist is NO VICTIM AT ALL. They’re the perpetrator dressed in victim clothing. They seek targets. They have agendas. They have impure motives. They use people. They abuse people and when they’re done, they unceremoniously discard people like trash. They slander people. They sic their flying monkeys on detractors and complainers and they sow discord wherever they go. They have a REAL reputation following them, with a target list a mile long, and all those kool aid drinkers don’t have any clue it exists. The real narc lives in an imaginary fantasy world of “perfect” and have a clueless sheeple fan club to maintain their delusions. People that weren’t hiding anything wouldn’t need to go get their bully gang when anyone insults them. They’d stay strong in who they really are (a firm identity) and behave with character to have an honest conversation about the complaint. The real narc cannot do this! They run! The last time I saw my abuser…that’s what he was doing….RUNNING…in the court hall….away from the group of 30 people who just told the truth about him to a judge. Ill NEVER get that image of cowardliness of the running narcissist out of my mind. That’s what REAL NARCS do…they RUN from those who aren’t drinking the kool aid.
KOOL AID NARC
Loving. A person who appears to be sensitive, soft, vulnerable, insecure, kind, and loving.
Evil. Im serious about this. Dead serious. The many many things I’ve learned about narcissists unfortunately keep pointing me back to the word that describes them best: EVIL. Why I would call another human being this horrible word is sometimes shocking to me, as I’ve never done that. With a narcissist however, I feel that the bible (my own personal opinion) has given me clear clear guidance as to who a narcissist REALLY is.
First, the narcissist has a hardened heart. They are entirely incapable of feeling connected to another person. 1) they don’t love themselves 2) they don’t possess empathy 3) they use & exploit people as a modus operandi 4) they’re not humble and can’t submit themselves to a higher power 5) they have the characteristics of satan himself
When God kicked satan out of heaven, it was because he wanted to exalt himself (play God) and be equal to God. Whether or not you believe the bible is irrelevant, what remains true is this: a narcissist is grandiose. They believe themselves the ultimate power. If you can’t humble yourself and understand that you aren’t the best thing going in this world, you CAN’T love other people, period.
The narcissist does not possess boundaries. Others have purposes to the narcissist that in their eyes, cause them to exist FOR the narcissist. They are extensions of him. A new “friend” is not a “friend” in the conventional sense of the word to a narcissist, they are a person who is of good USE. The friend may have contacts, look good, or know high status people. The friend may be talented or be a truly good person, but to a narcissist they have a purpose for use. A person who approaches someone with an agenda cannot love them, not even for the use they serve.
The narcissist doesn’t love themselves. In fact, just the opposite, the narc despises themselves. Yes, get past the image, get past the kool aid, a narcissist DOES NOT love themselves. Why? Because they feel ashamed. They know what they do, they know their dark thoughts and deeds and just because they hide them and fool people, their TRUE nature is NOT lost on them, it’s just HIDDEN. When I look at some narcs Ive known, here’s what I see in terms of them loving another:
You think, but they love their kids right? They say it all the time. NO!
1) Their kids are extensions. Mirrors. If the kid is doing great things, the narcissist is pleased at how this makes them look being their parent. Their kids future allows the narcissist to imagine their own immortality. For the narcissist will “live on” through their kids, and their kids and so on.
2) The things that narcissists can do behind their kids backs and to their spouse is evidence that the love doesn’t exist, because how could you purposefully do damage to your children without feeling empathy due to the love you have for them? Many loving parents STOP BAD BEHAVIOR because of their kids. They’ll stop cussing, smoking, having drinks in the house, carousing, etc. Because they don’t want their kids to witness this bad behavior. NOt a narcissist. They’ll keep on sinning, believing delusionally that “it doesn’t affect the kids”. Oh yes, it does, and we’re ALL witness to it narcissist.
When you love yourself, accountability and responsibility are HUGE components. We accept our imperfections, we admit them, we apologize when we hurt others.
They lack a conscience and they lack empathy. Its more important to a narcissist to remain blameless than to admit how deeply wrong they were and how much they hurt others. Not true with a narcissist this, humility is not in their “house of cards” – and thus, they can’t be humble enough to care for others. They remain isolated in their big perfect mess of an identity while blaming and shaming others for this gap.
If you take anything away from this message, PLEASE, when being offered a glass of narcissistic kool aid, JUST SAY NO!
Ask any target, even in the aftermath of leaving their narcissistic abuser, what the worst time with the narcissist was and you’ll hear the harrowing and depressing effects of the mind games and devaluation; the shredding of the targets sanity and identity piece by piece while the narcissist smiles with delight.
The time spent with a narcissist is without question the worst times in targets’ lives. Many of us found ways to cope with the blaming, shaming, isolation, threats, withholding, power and control over us, to end up unceremoniously discarded without explanation or remorse.
But what happens afterwards? After we leave, do we instantly become better?
Narcissists isolate their victims and often commandeer the relationships we have in our support system to garner the sympathy of our friends and family before we even have the chance to crawl for help, mustering the words, “They abused me”.
We never realized how MUCH assistance we were going to need when it was over. We need the validation and empathy from others who objectively see the actions by a narcissist for what it is: ABUSE for most targets to even understand that what we went through was in fact abusive. Many of us are still willing to call the relationship “loving” and give the narcissist the benefit of the doubt (for being a caring human – perhaps misguided or lost) long after this generosity is due.
By the time we’re ready to tell others of our abusive experience, we realize that the narcissist has preempted us and gotten THEIR WORD OUT FIRST. While we’ve been dealing with what we thought were real emotions and a real relationship, the narcissist has already strategized their exit plan. They get their words out: The words that we know intimately are nothing short of pathological lying and twisting revisionist history. The narcissist will tell others we’re crazy, a stalker, vengeful, a poor loser, losers, or emotionally unstable. They’ll site our reactions to their abuse as evidence, never mentioning the abuse that caused our reactions.
Those who have been manipulated by the narcissist’s façade, who have been purposefully themselves manipulated by the image the narcissist wishes to portray, these “onlookers”, by believing or even lending their ears to the narcissists tall tales and outright lies, become unknowing participants in our further abuse.
We need VALIDATION not further doubting, questioning, or blaming. We need accountability, not others who make excuses for or enable the narcissist to continue abusing. We need justice, not a system who can be manipulated by the narcissistic criminal sociopath / psychopath. We need support, understanding and empathy, not aloof statements such as “I don’t want to get in the middle” or “But he seems so nice”.
What happens to a victim of abuse when they’re met with such doubt and invalidation?
WE BECOME ANGRY. WE FEEL HOPELESS. THE ABUSIVE MANIPULATION AND BRAINWASHING CONTINUES TO MAKE US FEEL STUCK, LONG AFTER WE’RE “SET FREE”. IN SHORT, IT SETS BACK OUR HEALING AND RECOVERY BECAUSE WE ARE BLAMED FOR OUR ABUSE, WHILE OUR ABUSERS SKATE AWAY SCOTT FREE.
It takes great courage and self belief to press on towards healing when we’ve seemingly got NO ONE on our side to hear our stories and acknowledge our mistreatment. That targets continue searching for kindness, answers, justice and support for our experiences, is a testimony to our natures. We BELIEVE in the goodness and justice that “should” exist in this world even when we’re hard pressed to find it.
Find it we do. In other survivors. We know not to question or doubt a fellow target. As surreal stories are shared, we don’t doubt the veracity of the survivors statements, instead we nod our heads in validating assurance that we know all too well the monsters actions they describe. The bending mind games. The twisting blame game. The shame dump. The smear campaign. The projections, the lies, the cheating, the legal abuse, the stealing, the hacking, the stalking and the parading of new victims under our noses. We too suffered the sheering mental cliffs and valleys that narcissists drive us to, hoping we’ll jump off and fall to a disastrous end.
Onlookers find it easy to throw out the judgmental words, “You should just let go, move on, forget about it. Forgive”. Would they say these same thing to a Ted Bundy survivor when he was still on the loose? Would the police tell them they’re exaggerating or too sensitive or outright crazy? What does it take for these conspirators to understand the gravity of the situation and the harm that was done to us, is a harm that will be done to them if they continue to bury their head in the narcissists pile of delusionary sand.
We want to shout it from the rooftops! Be careful! Run! Save yourself! Look what they did to me! Don’t trust this person! Please, for the Love of God, this person’s dangerous!
Yet, when we do, we’re met with judgment, disbelief, shaming, name calling, and invalidation. This is Not the empathetic treatment that should be given to victims of narcissistic abuse; in fact this treatment is just as inhumane and unempathetic as the narcissist themselves. All invalidation is a form of psychological attack. In response to this attack targets withdraw further into depression, helplessness and low self esteem.
If you find yourself having left a narcissist and facing the disbelief and invalidation from those around you who you’ve assumed would be there to help you, Please don’t internalize any further these negative messages. Don’t let another person’s inability to be humane, piggy back the abuse of the narcissist and drive your further into despair. REACH OUT TO THOSE WHO CAN AND DO CARE TO HELP!
There are many great survivor resources all over the web to meet a target on the journey with kindness and empathy. It takes a community to overcome this abuse and until we educate the general public about the atrocity and insidiousness of this abuse, we must band together to heal and become stronger. Stay the course, keep the faith and remember that we are in this good fight together and we will be victorious about making narcissistic abuse an abuse that is detectable to the lay person, acknowledged as inappropriate, recognized for the dangerous situation it is and that all narcissists will be held accountable for their crimes against humanity.
WE BELIEVE YOU!
Human conscience, separateness, accountability and reciprocity are normal expectations in a healthy relationship. Empathy is tantamount to humanity. Human beings don’t by nature prey on each other. We arrive in adulthood expecting that most people are fully developed and “Safe” human beings. Not so, as we’ve learned there are a group of people who have not developed normally, who in fact ARENT SAFE and their character disorder renders them abnormal and caustic to us.
WE LOSE OUR INDEPENDENCE, IDENTITY AND ABILITY TO FEEL
Narcissists did not successfully resolve their independence from their primary caregivers as they passed through the early stages of development. As such, they arrived into adulthood needy beings with fusion fantasies and a complete lack of boundaries. Because their needs for identity are based on external approval & applause, they don’t see others as separate from themselves. When they say “clothing makes the man” it’s referring to the same principle at work in a narcissist. “Others validation makes the man / or woman. “ If the validation of external sources is so critical to their identity and survival needs, we can easily understand the view they have of others as existing solely for the purpose of shoring up the narcissist’s identity. You hear this in the narcissist’s speech, “MY WIFE” “MY KIDS” with emphasis on MY. Narcissists own and possess others as objects, they don’t exist in their own right and thus can’t possibly have feelings and needs that are separate from the narcissist’s control.
For example, if the child or spouse of a narcissist is hurt by the narcissist’s actions, we experience betrayal, sadness, loss or rejection. We attempt to communicate these feelings to the narcissist because we are led to believe that we are in a caring relationship. In caring relationships, we trust that our feelings will be heard and responded to so that our friends, family or partners can come to know who we are, what we feel, what we need and want and what our boundaries are and how to respect them.
The narcissist however doesn’t care. They didn’t feel the sting of the hurt, betrayal, loss or rejection they did to us, and since we’re part of them (identity fused) they delude themselves into acting as if the hurt doesn’t exist at all; afterall, How could it, if the narcissist doesn’t feel it? Additionally, the feelings of others when verbalized are viewed as character criticisms (narcissistic injuries) and the narcissist’s defense against shame kicks in, and the criticisms along with the messenger that delivered them are to be anhialated, attacked or altogether ignored. Narcissists cannot afford to allow the objects of their possession to have independence because that is a threat to the narcissist’s identity. Feelings, thoughts and individual decisions must be entirely punished and controlled by the narcissist. Only THEY decide what we can and can’t do; whatever is NOT a threat to their existence is allowed – and that is NOT MUCH.
INTIMACY IS DESTROYED
It won’t be long before these constant refusals to acknowledge the feelings of others begin to break down the normal give and take and sharing of genuine feelings that makes relationships healthy. The only people that will be feeling the pain of this relationship are targets; the once healthy people that are no longer capable of sharing their thoughts and feelings openly. The healthy urge to share will be muted and replaced by fear of reprisal, punishment, denial, twisting blame and responsibility, gas lighting, word salad, excuses, justifications and ultimately in a state of learned helplessness, we will shut down our emotions and cease to exist as an authentic human being; just as the narcissist lives their very empty existence.
TARGETS BECOME THE SCAPEGOAT AND BEARER OF THE NARCISSIST’S SHAME AND BLAME
Those who haven’t seen this trait in action, need to understand that this trait makes the narcissist a danger to all of society not just the victims they can easily blame for having brought on their own abuse.
When a healthy individual behaves badly towards another person, we experience a sense of guilt. If the person we harmed approaches us, we typically don’t deny it, but rather, listen and try to understand the nature of their feelings in order to accept some responsibility. Once we accept responsibility we feel remorsefully and go about behaving differently to avoid doing something to another person that we care about, knowing that to do so, will cause them pain, and we are committed to not causing others pain.
Narcissists do not experience the same responses. First, there is no guilt felt because the lack of separateness prevents the narcissist from acknowledging the reality that separate feelings could possibly exist. However, they aren’t deaf – and can hear the complaints. The complaints are deflected. The feelings are twisted and put back on the person speaking. The narcissist is absolved of responsibility and thus feels NO REMORSE. They look at any consequences incurred by the target as a result of THEIR OWN choices or behavior (blame / justification) and then go about behaving as if there is NOTHING to apologize for. This invalidation and acknowledgement of reality, is a mind screw to the target. The blame and shame for having or causing the feeling is often internalized and the target begins to be the scapegoat of the narcissist’s inability to feel empathy.
The narcissist will go on offending – with the expectation that there will be NO CONSEQUENCES. Our prisons are full of dangerous offenders with the same anti social refusal to take responsibility for their actions and feel remorse.
WE WERE TRICKED INTO RELATIONSHIP AND STAY FAR TOO LONG ONCE THE ABUSE SHOWS ITSELF
None of us would have knowingly involved ourselves with a Ted Bundy, a Hitler or Saddam Hussein, because their lack of empathy and the consequences of their bad deeds were widely publicized and accepted as dangerous.
We were knowingly manipulated by a person who actively masked their empathy deficit. Did they tell us they’ve had a long history of people accusing them of being abusive? Did they tell us they can’t feel for us? Did they outright tell us, I don’t care how you feel, just do as I tell you to do? No. None of it. They didn’t overtly show us their lack of empathy in the beginning because they knew that doing so, would NOT get them what they wanted. Instead, they carefully chose words to flatter , blind and distract us from their actions or lack thereof.
They aped & mirrored our empathetic actions and words to appear as if they themselves were sensitive, thoughtful, and caring. They talked up their sensitive behaviors and altruistic campaigns to lull us into a false sense of security that we were sharing our innermost thoughts and feelings with a person who could respond to them empathetically. It’s why the cognitive dissonance was so confusing and flooded our minds when the abusive behavior began – we just couldn’t merge the two faces of the narcissist together; the talked up, false version of the empathetic narcissist with the reality of the sociopathic, conscienceless person we had before us.
It isn’t until the narcissist feels comfortable in their control over us and the fact that we won’t abandon them for abusing us, that they allow their mask of empathy to slip. They know that we’re stuck and hooked because we hadn’t stood up to them in any real way for each and every boundary violation they committed against us throughout the course of the relationship.
Due to the punishment, blame and learned helplessness as a result of the control, power and abuse of the narcissist, we stay in the toxic relationship far longer than is healthy to the soul and ultimately pay the price of narcissistic abuse. Our emotional, mental and physical health declines and our safety and sanity are hovering on the brink of no return if we don’t escape.
IT SHATTERS OUR TRUST
Most of us have never been accosted by a predator. We may watch television crime shows where people are victimized by frauds who hid the evil sides of themselves from their victims and feel naively protected that we haven’t encountered one of “those people”. However, once we’ve had a close personal relationship with a malignant narcissist, our feeling of safety is forever shattered and altered.
Once you live with someone who you watch dupe people, fool the masses, and completely defraud a community, a mate, a child, friends, a congregation, you begin to look at others suspiciously. When we realize that people who invest their entire lifetimes creating and perfecting masks, we will NEVER look at anyone the same again. We recognize that even with taking things cautiously and slowly that sometimes the mask wearing narcissist can wait us out longer.
Our skepticism doesn’t go away. We approach good, trusting people with suspicion because we’ve seen people fake entire relationships. We’ve seen people PRETEND to be good and we’ve been burnt when we found out they were lying. We worry that we won’t be discerning or careful enough. It can stunt our future relationships and intimacy if we let it. The work that has to be done to have us feeling safe to “get back in the saddle again” knowing and trusting ourselves to protect ourselves is the hardest recovery work I’ve ever had to do as a human being. Like food, we need fellowship; healthy relationships sustain us and provide community.
There’s no way to ever return to that safe, innocent, Pollyannaish, feeling that we wont encounter a predator in our lifetimes. We are forever aware of the fact that we may; that predators exist and they are looking for good people just like us and hoping that we aren’t savvy or loving ourselves enough to say NO and stop their exploitation of us.
Our only saving grace is that we promise ourselves, if and when we discover that the person we’re trusting turns out to be a fraud that no matter how long or how deep the investment, we are firmly committed to ending it immediately and walking away.
We must do our part and recognize that a lack of empathy is a sign that a human being has the capability of hurting and damaging us greatly. Such people are unsafe and dangerous. We must escape. If there’s a valid reason that the relationship is impossible to escape, we must learn to protect ourselves from them at all costs. Your sanity and health will thank you!
Some of us were fortunate and/or resilient enough that we had or developed relationships with a few safe people that we could count on in childhood. Role models that had character and modeled respectful, loving, functional behavior towards us. However, for many targets, the majority of our messages came from unsafe (narcissistic parents).
We were not protected from unsafe people nor were we taught how to identify and protect ourselves from unsafe people because we were being raised by the very unsafe people that we needed to be protected from.
UNSAFE PARENTS DONT PROTECT US OR GIVE US POSITIVE MESSAGES ABOUT OUR WORTH
During our formative years we rely on the messages from our parents to determine our identity and worth. Our parents mirror our worth via their interactions with us. If most of that interplay lacks boundaries and involves: shallow emotional connection, selfishness and self absorption, dismissive (I’m too busy for you- staring at their phone or watch) behavior, blaming, shaming, and criticizing comments about our needs and feelings, or their narcissistic competitions for “attention”, then the messages we receive about our identity and value are that ultimately we are not valuable and furthermore that we don’t DESERVE to be protected from unsafe people. We internalize our parents messages and come to believe that we are inherently unworthy.
God says in the Bible, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also“
Materially speaking, If we have a rare diamond ring, we wouldn’t pull it off our finger and toss it on the counter as we wash our hands at a restaurant before dinner. This instinctive desire to protect things or people we value is not lost on the child of a narcissist.
When we grow up accustomed to not having been protected nor valued, we doubt we have anything worth value that needs protecting. We don’t establish good boundaries and discernment to protect ourselves. When a narcissistic partner comes along, they sniff out these vulnerabilities, play them to their benefit and exploit us terribly.
INABILITY TO IDENTIFY UNSAFE PEOPLE MAKES US INCAPABLE OF PROTECTING OURSELVES FROM THEM
Without boundaries protecting our worth, we believe that “everyone” deserves the benefit of our doubt, unconditional love and kindness. We forgive again and again, excuse away and keep close to us, those who should be far far away from us. We never learned to discern. We were taught to give ourselves away to anyone who needed us. We feel guilty, judgmental or selfish for saying no or for thinking badly of others by naming their lack of safety.
Prior to the narcissist, many of us to varying degrees may have been taken advantage of, bulldozed over or were the recipient of other disrespectful behaviors of unsafe people in relationships; due in part, to our lack of boundaries and low self worth. We were hurt by them for sure and learned valuable lessons; it’s even likely these experiences felt ‘normal’ to us at the time so we didn’t question them, but none of those broke us, so to speak.
The malignant narcissist is the consummate unsafe person in any relationship. Although our childhood prepared us to become accustomed to the 2nd class treatment that only a narcissist gives out, we didn’t firsthand experience being the target of someone who actively wanted to drain us of our lifeforce. (Survivors know Im not exaggerating) We are entirely unprepared and lack the coping skills that would protect us. Who’d have thought we as an evolved human being, needed to sit in wait of a pending attack from a predator who looked just like us. The narcissistic abusive relationship is so outside the range of normal that we entirely lose our bearings.
There are some scary things in life: a vicious animal attack, a horrific car accident, a tragic fire, but NOTHING and I DO MEAN NOTHING prepares you for the terror induced from meeting another human being who has NO CONSCIENCE. I’m scared of ANYTHING that can chew up a human being and unceremoniously spit them out.
INSTINCTIVELY WE DON’T EXPECT A MEMBER OF OUR OWN SPECIES TO ALSO BE OUR PREDATOR
THE GOOD NEWS: In recovery, we spend a great deal of time identifying what makes a person a malignant narcissist and validating our own self worth.
We should know our friends AND our enemies.
A NARCISSIST IS OUR ENEMY
Why are they our enemies? Because their lack of humane character and empathy allows them to devour us in a predatory fashion and we don’t want to be eaten. By acquiring such a fine tuned knowledge about the narcissist, we begin to sift through, organize and decide for ourselves who WE really are. In essence, it’s untangling ourselves from enmeshment. Besides, It’s triply beneficial! We get to extinguish any narcissistic traits that we have, we get to reinforce our own identity, and undo the brainwashing, blaming and shaming a narcissist did by telling us who we are. In effect, we develop very sound boundaries.
WE ARE OUR OWN BEST FRIEND
Defining our boundaries; what we will or will not tolerate from others, is an act of self knowledge, self actualization and self respect. We listen to who we respect. Following through, by administering consequences to those who violate our boundaries teaches us to trust ourselves to act in our own best interest. By treating ourselves well, we are investing in ourselves through all our healthy, empowering choices and we begin to feel our own self love. We affirm our self worth.
The act of ceasing communication with a narcissist is a very strong boundary. It’s an act of self love and standing up and declaring that we refuse to have relationships with unsafe people. That’s a pretty strong statement. The declaration itself propels us light years ahead towards loving ourselves. Putting our money where our mouth is, is an investment in our worth that exponentially multiplies.
The more we love ourselves, the more we will feel our own value. The more in touch we are with our own worth, the greater our instinct is to protect ourselves through boundaries from unsafe people.
STAY TUNED: WHAT MAKES NARCISSISTS SUCH UNSAFE PEOPLE?