I just read a post entitled No Longer Dead and I knew immediately what this woman was dealing with based on the first half of her post. My assumption is that the second half is her, telling herself that she will not accept this individual any longer until or unless he acquiesces to her completely legitimate and emotionally healthy demands.
If this woman has been dealing with an NPD, she was dead to him from the beginning. She never truly existed as a human being worthy of love, respect, dignity and empathy. She was simply this person’s mirror. It appears she spent years being devalued and discarded and then finally got sick of it, found her strength and decided to move on.
This is a good post to read. Many times, when we are the focus of devaluation by a narcissist, we don’t know what the heck is going on. All we know is that nothing we do seems to be good enough; everything is our fault; we are crazy. Nothing is wrong with the narcissist and he or she makes it very clear to us that we are the problem. Still, when we’re in the middle of it, it’s difficult to step outside the fishbowl and peer in. Objectivity seems to be the lowest on our list of priorities, with survival of a relationship that never was being our top priority.
Even if you’ve been married to an individual for most of your adult life, if you are being treated the way the woman in No Longer Dead was being treated, you haven’t had a relationship. A relationship takes two people. A Narcissist absolves themselves from relationship responsibilities before they engage with another individual. A narcissist doesn’t have relationships; he or she merely has mirrors. Even if you’ve been married for 30 years to a narcissist, it sadly means that you’ve been a mirror (and nothing more) for 30 years.
Narcissists can’t love another human being. They don’t love themselves, even though their surface would indicate that they do love themselves – too much. Scratch that surface and you find nothing. Narcissists are fragile shells and to keep their shells intact they abuse before they can be abused. This is why they are hyper-vigilant for the slightest criticism. They twist and spin words that they believe might be critical (even if they aren’t) and deliberately make them critical so they can set about stomping the purveyor of those words into submission.
Narcissists are emotional vampires and they have memories like elephants. Those who share emotions, who show they have emotions, who are compassionate and empathetic, are considered weak to a narcissist, ergo; they are FOOD. A narcissist will suck you dry, and when you finally realize what’s been going on and stand up to the narcissist in your life, they will pull out every emotion you ever shared with them, twist and spin it and fling it back at you with deadly accuracy. When they see their mirror has gained strength, thus providing the mirror the means of seeing the narcissist for what it truly is, they will move in for the emotional kill.
There is a point at which you, as a mirror can avoid this emotional kill, if you truly see what’s going on. It’s a nanosecond in the scope of a 30-year marriage, or a many-years-long “relationship” with a narcissist, but if you see it, and flee when you see it, you will have a slightly diminished time frame during which you have to heal and rebuild your emotional health and strength. If you don’t see it (and many of us don’t, and no one but you can say when that point is) you will be so emotionally crushed that it may be years before you have the strength to bootstrap yourself out of your situation.
If you are experiencing any of the issues described in the first half of No Longer Dead you MUST take a step back, grab your journal if necessary, and start assessing things. Just start writing, and don’t worry about how things come out. This will allow you to re-read and identify what’s truly going on. If you don’t write, see a counselor. Talk to a trusted friend. Get an objective view of your situation. While you’re doing this ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND THAT A NARCISSIST NEVER CHANGES. THIS IS NOT A RELATIONSHIP; YOU ARE ATTEMPTING TO SAVE YOURSELF, NOT A RELATIONSHIP THAT NEVER WAS.
I don’t recommend seeing your family pastor or priest. Why? A pastor (and especially priests) are trained to keep the marital unit together regardless the circumstances. If you see a priest you may be told it’s your responsibility (if you’re female) to act in submission with your husband’s will, regardless his will. Depending upon your denomination, a pastor may tell you the same thing. Fundamental Christian pastors may tell you (if you’re female) that you’re the one with issues since you’re not acting in accordance with “God’s” will or your husband’s will. Trust me on this one, I’ve been there.
Most religions don’t recognize personality disorders as an acceptable reason for divorce. My experience has taught me that when religion enters the picture, it is the woman who pays a huge price when her mate is a narcissist. If there are children involved, you must get them away from the daily influence of the narcissist or you will have children who grow into damaged adults.
I believe that faith in a higher power is essential. Many don’t believe that, and I respect their choice. For me, though, if I didn’t have faith in a higher power, I’d never have made it this far in life. If you don’t have faith in a power greater than yourself, all that’s left to see you through your turmoil is whatever reserve of inner strength you may have.
My best advice for getting free of a narcissist (and you are with a narcissist if all or most of the first half of No Longer Dead applies to you) is to seek secular help. Prayer works, regardless your form of worship or faith. Positive thinking works, but getting there is difficult. Narcissists have many crossover traits to alcoholism, as well as to Borderline Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder.
Even if the narcissist in your life doesn’t drink, that doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t have alcoholic traits. It’s very easy for someone to believe they are not an alcoholic simply because they don’t drink. Alcoholism is defined not only by the consumption and need for alcohol, but by a very clear set of behavior patterns and those behavior patterns align with the way I’ve seen narcissists act.
If you are with a narcissist who does not drink, the odds are good you have a dry drunk on your hands. Al-Anon is a great place to get the help and support you need in dealing with a dry drunk and/or a narcissist. Please open the link for dry drunk to read the characteristics. You will see that they align clearly with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
If the narcissist in your life drinks, it’s very important to get help through Al-Anon. There are meetings everywhere and while some view it as a betrayal to the person with whom they are involved, that is simply misplaced loyalty. Most of us who wind up with a narcissist in our lives have had prior experience with some form of emotional dysfunction in our lives, probably during childhood, when we are most malleable and taught to accept behaviors that are truly self-damaging. Regardless your faith, if you believe in a higher power you must ask yourself if your higher power would find your situation acceptable, and would that higher power believe it to be something that is good, healthy and uplifting for you?
Remember this: Martyrdom is not the glorification of God or any other higher power. It is the glorification of EGO. Many times, we have our egos too invested in who we are; that which we allow to provide us our criteria for life is our ego, not our SELF, which involves listening to the still, small voice and acting from within a higher level of knowledge with regard to self. If we act from within the self, and not the ego, martyrdom to the cause of a narcissist becomes anathema to us. In martyring ourselves to another’s abuse of us, we deny that which has been universally given to us: love, in all its forms. Martyrdom is not love. It is the glorification of our own egos, and that is not a good thing.
If you are with a narcissist, and you have sublimated yourself to that individual’s monstrously sick manipulation, you are martyring yourself. STOP NOW!
If you don’t stop the madness now, you may find yourself dealing with a massive case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Trust me on that one, too. PTSD can result from recurring, consistent emotional abuse. Couple that with the physical abuse that some experience when with a narcissist and you’ll wind up with a full-blown case of PTSD.