“I Love You” – The Three Most Abusive Words Spoken By a Narcissist
The effects of emotional or psychological abuse falls under the category of ‘traumatic shock’ a well-known and accepted theory. The definition defines it as this; any event that destroys our internalized set of assumptions patterns and understandings that we all use to operate in the world every day. It is saying that we become traumatized by one extreme action or a set of actions that come into our lives. These actions are usually associated with something we have never experienced before personally and very negative that has impacted and jolted our reality.
This could be the trauma that combat veterans experience, hostages being held at gunpoint, earthquake victims, prisoners of war, AND YES ABUSE VICTIMS. What this is saying is that a horrendous event has entered into our conscious world and we are not equipped with the proper experience or tools to work through the situation. Being traumatized is the outcome of this abuse and we are frozen in the situation with seemingly no way out. We were so seamlessly tricked and betrayed into a belief for such a long period of time that many levels of our life grew right alongside of this huge lie. It keeps replaying in our head and we TRY over and over again to search for the answer as well as some sort of relief to stop the pain associated with this HUGE loss and horrendous betrayal, but it is inconceivable. Without the correct help or answers we are stuck in that scenario especially as it concerns abuse targets/victims.
I love you! As simple as those words are they are three of the most complex and most emotional words that a person can say to another. They are meant to convey a real message, one that entails a bond that is so special that two people will grow together, trust one another with their lives, build dreams on, and perhaps even produce a family based on this connection AND MANY DO. These are words that we grew up with and understood so clearly. These are the very words that a Narcissist hangs their hat on and opens the door up to manipulate, objectify, betray, weaken, damage, disable and extort everything they can from a target/victim. These are the very words that are pathological in nature as it concerns the empty soul of a Narcissist and their real agenda to harvest us for supply. They are uttered with such a complete and seamless reality that they unlock the very souls and mind of the person that gets trapped in the Narcissist’s big lie and con job! These words are heard every day throughout the world, and are such an amazing part of the human connection – what better choice of words could a thief of hearts, minds and life use to break into our world? A psychological rapist and terrorist! Did anybody here grow up with an understanding that a creature could convey a complete and loving relationship to con you out of your life? I never realized the magnitude of this abuse or just how completely disordered and hateful a Narcissist is. I still can’t wrap my head around it completely enough to make any sense out of this and instead I defer to this as purely evil. I don’t even want to define it because the truth of the matter is all the definition I need.
This is what so many of victims of Narcissistic abuse experience. They look for answers to insurmountable and complex questions AND trying to get help from the people in their immediate surrounding and unfortunately they don’t have the answers or even a concept of how deep this abuse has entangled so many levels of the victim’s life. The target/victim only ends up feeling more isolated with all of these thoughts and unanswered questions still replaying in their heads. They may not even know that what they are experiencing is trauma and many don’t even realize that they were a target/victim of psychological abuse as well. Trauma requires a great deal of time, energy and therapy to allow the victim/target to reacquaint themselves and feel comfortable in their own skin as well as what they believed about life before their abuse. Basically it is deprograming the psychological terrorism that the Narcissist has administered.
Even when the target/victim associates their situation with abuse from a Narcissist there are still so many other components to deal with that it becomes too conflicting – so everything stays in one huge multileveled blur. A target/victim can’t look at any one aspect without the rest of the abuse tugging at them and pulling them into to many negative directions – and thus the TRAUMA.
So I am going to add a clinical definition to this process that confounds the target/victim even more, and that is ‘cognitive dissonance.” In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values. Plug this definition into the ‘love bombing’ aspect where the victim is manipulated into the horrendous belief that the Narcissist is/was in love with them. Then add that the victim DOES fall into what they believe is/was real love AND the length of time they spent in this ‘condition’ as well as being managed down, devalued and then discarded.
Basically the theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (or the dissonance) is experienced, individuals tend to become psychologically disabled or destabilized and they are more motivated or forced to attempt to fix or correct this dissonance, through many different thought processes be it justification, denial, avoidance or ANY information which will only compound the confounding situation. It is refiguring the reality to create or make SENSE of it where there is none! The mind tries to create it through some sort of imaging. It is like looking at a cloud in the sky and we see a bunny. That is our mind trying put a perspective to something that is what it is, a cloud. But that bunny cloud floats away and doesn’t drop down on us from above in an effort to destroy us for believing it was a bunny cloud.
AGAIN think about this as far as a target/victim having to justify their entire reality with this abuse surrounding them! Remember that cognitive dissonance is so much a part of recovery where a target/victim is traveling through their perceived reality thinking that what they had WAS real (love) and then having to accept that what they had WASN’T love or EVEN real! I tried to write that as simply as the two opposite colors of black and white – but there is nothing simple when your mind tries to rationalize this. Seriously there is no gray or in between (or interpretation or validation) between that black and white, so the target/victim is left to figure this out and that is an insurmountable feat to say the least.
Normal people rationalize situations and there just is no rationalization to this UNLESS the target/victim can immediately actualize that this is abuse and erase every thought, action, memories, all the time spent together, the love, the hate, the hurt, their marriage, biological children, dreams, goals, etc., etc. That is a great deal to process especially when you are vulnerable, and left with the destruction from this abuse and at so many levels. Also add to the equation that this managing down or conditioning has been a part of the target/victim’s everyday life for a very long time. SO it is has become a normal aspect of this abuse for the target/victim to travel down so many avenues or side streets to adjust and bend their emotions in an effort to ALWAYS try to rationalize it and FIX it EXPECIALLY during the devaluation phase. With discard the target/victim is hyper vigilant in their search for rationalization and answers. But there was NEVER any basis of reality so whatever rationalization the target/victim formed was just built on all of the lies and manipulation from the Narcissist. The mind just can’t untangle this quickly so it creates overwhelming confusion and trauma!
There are people out there that will offer simple support or a pat on the back, but in reality without tried and true validation the target/victim simply assumes they are to blame somehow because nobody truly understands the reality of the psychological rape the target/victim has experienced. This is not a person wanting to BE or remain a victim forever, it is a plea for help because they are lost in the abuse and feeling as if something is terribly wrong with them and reaching out. Nobody would want to feel the effects of this abuse just so they can say they are a victim. It is so mentally debilitating that the normal reality of everyday life is so distorted that it basically halts for the target/victim. That is very scary or better yet a horrifying place to be in.
Targets/victims of psychological abuse have to tear down their entire understanding of the world, people and love, and rebuild the whole system from the ground up to feel comfortable in THEIR OWN SKIN again. Information and support from the people closest to the victim is crucial – BUT unfortunately with this type of abuse the variable that prohibits this is that most people truly have no viable understanding of just what a Narcissist is or that this abuse is so damaging. So the lack of support from those closest to the victim (for whatever reason it may be) can actually be the most damaging and dangerous. Again the target/victim will internalize a bad message one in which they will blame themselves for allowing this to happen and feel very isolated and invalidated.
When a person tells a target/victim to just move for instance, what message does that send? It says that this isn’t that important for you to be here and going on and on with all of your words and describing the details, etc. It is a total invalidation of the abuse and It makes the target/victim believe that they are over-reacting and in turn makes them feel as if they are inferior or damaged and ‘BAM’ the target/victim puts the blame back onto themselves and may even believe they are crazy. This is a traumatized victim not a person that had an argument with someone they were in a relationship with. Add to this just where the target/victim will go for help and WHEN they can’t get immediate support for the abuse. Most will go BACK TO THE SOURCE OF THEIR PROBLEM – their abuser. Traumatization requires viable solutions and answers that validates the reality that their situation was really out of the normal circumstances of day to day life and NOT something that the person experiencing this trauma can reason away (cognitive dissonance.) Unfortunately some target/victims go on for years without validation and develop coping skills that are not even viable as far as moving forward and back into a welcoming world.
The problem with anyone telling a target/victim to move forward and leave everything behind is that it works directly against the best interests of anyone suffering from trauma or better yet Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that occurs after being abused. Unfortunately this can even occur when the victim of this abuse is in therapy. There comes a time AFTER everything has been sorted out that we have to go through some deep introspection as it concerns ourselves being COMPLETELY healthy and releasing from the abuse and creating new boundaries by looking inward to find anything that connects us to reoccurring abuse. BUT when you are traumatized you are not feeling healthy to find healthy solutions. So AGAIN recovery is a process that requires specific steps.
There are many amazing and wonderful self-help programs, etc. out there and in time they are very helpful in repurposing yourself. BUT again when a target/victim is past the trauma stage and able to see the REAL light of day again. Just what the word self (as in self-help) DEPICTS or directs as the main message is that the source of the problem is in the victim’s perception of their own self, and not anything from the external world. It also suggests that it can be fixed or addressed by applying personal change. For a person to become a survivor that has had their world view profoundly manipulated and altered by psychological abuse, this only forces them to assess themselves AS IN BEING THE WHOLE SOURCE OF THE PROBLEM. Self-help has its place with a mentally healthy individual that may want to quit smoking because they are able to reason clearly, but it is only a temporary fix for someone that has had their whole world psychologically altered over a long period of time. Targets/victims of this abuse have become disabled by this abuse and the destruction of everything that was their real life. If we could fix this ourselves we would be right there with that theory, but unfortunately that is not how it works. Would you tell a physically or sexually abused target/victim to initiate self-help directly after the realization of the truth of their situation? No that would be inhumane to offer them a quick fix like a pat on the back and telling them to work on it.
To go a little further with this point. Self-help urges several things that make sense individually but WHEN THE TARGET/VICTIM is mentally healthy again and able to return to the reality they once had. Suggestions to ‘move on at once’ and not to ‘repeat patterns’ OR to ‘learn from the experience’ but not to ‘blame others’ OR to ’empower yourself’ so as to avoid further abuse and at the same time to ‘accept responsibility’ for your part in it, and to ‘examine what happened’ but not to ‘dwell’ because you seem obsessed or scorned is just senseless to the target/victim when they are right there in the trauma – it is even dizzying to read in that one big run on sentence. Directives like these make no sense to a person that can’t make sense of what has happened to them, AGAIN it only makes them feel the blame is right there with them! In time with a healthy perspective there are viable ‘help’ programs to set up new boundaries, etc. – but that comes later and not right now.
Trauma and shock is an outcome of this abuse and the reality or need to rebuild ourselves is reasonable, but where is the reality basis for a traumatized person to build off of these suggestions when they are traumatized and can’t seem to function normally enough to take care of themselves. There is no personal experience to build off of until they understand the complete picture. What seems reasonable by just moving on, will only add up to greater confusion when the target/victim is still left confounded, angry, depressed, anxious and wanting closure where there is none. Why would a target/victim confront themselves with what was missing from their life or reality BEFORE the abuse when they are working through the here and now or the trauma to just be able to function WITH clarity and understand this whole mess. Then there are the messages that the abuse target/victim is not allowed to be ‘overly negative’ or ‘play the victim’ by blaming anyone else, SO the only person the target/victim can end up blaming or assigning responsibility to, or getting angry with is themselves.
Empowering ourselves has its place, but that is to empower ourselves FIRST with the truth and education to back it up and guide us CORRECTLY to recovery or basically one of many steps. We have to understand that our reality did come from the outside world in the form of abuse from a Narcissist – then and only then can we put together the other components that GOT us there and KEPT us there dancing with this destructive Narcissist. It will be different for every person. But WE CAN NOT force the issue and bury the abuse and trauma by just moving on. Do we want to ALWAYS blame ourselves and forever feel we were responsible because we were not powerful enough and if it happens again we are definitely the problem here? Probably we would end up believing so and that is just defeating the purpose of healing by saying we are just that weak that we always allow ourselves to be abused. No again this is debilitating psychological rape. No abuse is ever our fault so proper perspective has to be a part of the process so that it triggers the correct response when red flags are waving at us and if we should happen to fail, we will work through it with better perspective. This perspective must give us a clear understanding of the abuse we experienced so we can assimilate that into our future thoughts.
Empowerment is PART of the process of reassigning your belief system to include that abuse and even evil does exist out in the real world. A healthy mind will put this into perspective – BUT once that mind is at a place to do so AND with proper steps and education to back it up. We must purge the abuse out in a logical process that includes embracing our grief through anger and every other thought process that appears. We have to DEAL with our thoughts and not just repress them. It may seem viable but anything that is unresolved and buried within us will resurface eventually and that is why so many targets/victims get stuck in this abuse and keep returning to it day after day to find some sort of logic. If we do not get healthy through the many steps of grieving, anger, talking about it to viable listeners, seeking reality through education, finding support through other survivors, taking a mental health break, then we will fail miserably.
It seems to me that many solutions lack one major component and that is the Narcissist that abuses us and their role in this. The Narcissist deserves the grand accolade of the person that gets the blame here because they are a predator that is pre-disposed to abuse and they are adept at doing it pure and simple. We can’t stay STUCK in blaming the Narcissist, but let’s put it where it belongs to start the process of recovery. Educating ourselves gives us the ‘ah ha’ moment to move one step further into our recovery. Let’s also NEVER forget children of Narcissistic parents that have lived their total life being devalued and groomed to accept abuse from every relationship. They have been traumatized their whole life and need to have these messages purged out of their head and reprogramed to see the reality of the goodness that does exist.
Finally, it is more realistic and makes more sense to allow the target/victim to speak clearly about the abuse and the abuser – this is essential to seeking answers and purging out all of the negative messages that were internalized. There are many questions that need to be answered like what we believed was love that was just a con job, or what the abusive Narcissist appeared to be, OR the reality of what this Narcissist is now. Questions involving what actions, issues and behaviors from the abusive Narcissist that account for what the target/victim is feeling traumatized about, rather than only turning our eyes back inward and towards our own self.
Furthermore,it makes more sense to allow a traumatized target/victim of this abuse to make REAL associations that caused the difference to what they previously believed (belief system before abuse) to be true, and then to expand that knowledge to incorporate and include the pathological actions of psychological abuse and the emotional battering that is their reality now from the Narcissist. This seems to be more reasonable than just insisting that the target/victim just change the view of themselves. It would make more sense to allow a target/victim to develop and dispel the anger in a viable manner instead of repressing it in favor of ‘just moving on.’ Clarity is first and foremost to integrate reality POST abuse, lessons will be learned instead of forcing a new reality without the necessary homework to get there. We can’t blame the target/victim of WANTING to be a victim if they seem stuck, and urging self-imposed rules and regulations because without the proper perspective about this abuse the target/victim WILL stay stuck in the negative pattern!
The reality is that if we don’t put it into a context that includes a viable understanding (education) first, we will miss the mark or our ‘ah ha’ moment, and we won’t be successful because we will continue searching for the answers. We don’t want to be eternal victims but can end up that way. Instead we are human beings that are inquisitive by nature and need to learn with every situation good or bad. The real component and the reality is that responsibility does also belong elsewhere rather than making the victim solely accountable. Even though that Narcissist isn’t there to accept the responsibility or provide closure the experience from survivors through sharing and education will validate the abused target/victim and that is so necessary. Reliable and real education from the abuse experience does inevitably involve anger and increased negativity BUT it also raises it into a higher plane by re-directing these negative emotions out of us or they WILL resurface. These are the realistic tools that will allow targets/victims to rise again with increased strength, and not actually hamper them.
Many targets/victims are afraid to speak out about what they are going through because they are afraid they will be looked down upon and considered obsessed, angry or just plain CRAZY. Again this is just a result of feeling they must be faulty to be in the position they are in, so they try to appear as if they are doing good when it is the furthest thing from their reality. NO speak out about it and tell the truth of the days you are unable to function, or if you cried for an hour, or you are so mad, feeling isolated and depressed or whatever. You have to validate your experience and not repress it. If it goes on too long than it requires more steps with some professional help from a therapist that has experience with this type of abuse. Self-reflection and introspection are very important when we are feeling clear and healthy enough to look inward again and create boundaries. AGAIN – this is all the outcome of the abuse and being managed down and manipulated. Embracing the reality is a hard pill to swallow, but it will allow you to live again and that is essential. PLEASE – no/minimal contact to start you on your journey to recovery.