There are countless numbers of victims who have experienced some type of narcissistic abuse who come to my Website each day for support and understanding. There is a pain that runs so deep one can hardly conceive of it unless they, themselves, have gone through such a horror.
The Mayo Clinic says Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. They believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
Those who are effected the deepest are those who have formed the closest bonds with the narcissistic personality. The closer one gets, the deeper the risk for the narcissist of being found out. He projects his wounded self onto the ones who love him the most and punishes them for exposing his weaknesses. The punishment can be seen as cold, aloof, distant, lashing out, criticizing, condemning, belittling, undermining and more. Although this charmer may be sugar sweet in public, behind closed doors he can be a monster.
The greatest sign one is in a narcissistic relationship is the confusion. The victim is often very confused as to what is really happening and will even take personal responsibility for the insanity. Narcissism is seldom obvious, but always destructive. It is a destructive force in the universe seducing and destroying everything in its immediate path.
Those recovering from narcissistic abuse envy the seduction stage. They remember how sweet it was and long for those times when they still had faith in the relationship. Now the faith is gone, the narcissism is in its full blown glory and there is no escaping the vengeance of this maddening disorder as the narcissist does everything within his power to make his partner or former partner pay for his pain.
When victims have enough of the payback, they run for cover and seek help to get the narcissism out of their lives once and for all.
As sick as this situation is, I encourage victims of narcissistic abuse to shuck their victim status and begin to see themselves as not just survivors but thrivers. I teach them to find the good in their situation even if the good is learning to say “no more!” When one says “NO” to abuse, it is a big step; one to be celebrated. I approach recovery from a metaphysical perspective teaching my clients to look for the “higher purpose” for their relationship with the narcissist. In a sense the narcissist is a catalyst for change, creating a situation that completely erodes ones self-esteem forcing the “former victim” to find herself in the aftermath of the storm. She must pick up all the pieces and reassemble them, but in a whole new way. She gets to choose how she wants those pieces to come back together.
Seeing oneself as a victim keeps one from ever really becoming empowered. When we can look at our situation and see that we played a part in creating it and we can play a bigger part in creating a much better life, we don’t feel so powerless. We can’t take responsibility for the narcissist or his behavior but we can certainly take responsibility for just how much we allow it to destroy us. In fact we can make the decision today that it will no longer have the power to destroy us, regardless of the circumstances. His power isn’t real! It is illusionary!
It is important for us to take our own inventory to see where are strengths are and also our weaknesses. Knowing who we are on a deeper level serves as ammunition to prevent further abuse. It also helps us to realize that all those things our abuser said about us were not really true. It was simply a projection. As we take note of our strengths we can call upon them to help us build a narcissism free life.
Sometimes it takes a great storm to facilitate our awakening. We can thank the narcissist for playing the role of this storm that activated our deepest insecurities and exposed our greatest vulnerabilites. Now we have the opportunity to strengthen a formerly weak and fragile area. We have an opportunity to enforce our boundaries and re-define ourselves. Life can become better than it ever was as a result of our newly defined self! We can move beyond narcissism and not only survive, but thrive!