It’s Narcissist Friday!
Is there a future for those who have been abused by a narcissist? What does that future look like when you are afraid of relationships, drained of initiative and joy, and left feeling so broken and betrayed? How could the future be bright when the pain won’t go away?
I am convinced that there is not only a hope for victims of narcissism, but there is life and victory and joy even for those still in narcissistic relationships. The answer lies in accepting yourself.
Narcissism feeds on the energy of others. When the narcissist has had access to a person over time, the victim begins to feel confused, drained, hopeless, worthless, and weak. We have talked about the reasons for this, but it has to do with the narcissist’s systematic destruction of anything that might stand in his or her way. The narcissist tears down defenses much like the cat plays with its food before killing it.
But when you begin to accept the emotions you feel and begin to understand that the confusion is not your fault; then you begin to heal. Anger may motivate you to action. Resolve moves each foot forward, no matter how much your weakness argues. Believing that you are acceptable and that you have purpose and promise will begin to cultivate a sense of wellness, no matter how small it begins. Seeing and speaking the truth brings strength.
You are not what the narcissist has taught you that you are. You are not stupid. You are not hopeless. You are not needy. You are not dependent on him or her. The narcissist is not what he told you he was. He is not your savior. He is not your brain. He is not the only one who will “put up” with you. He is not your answer. Your friends are not what the narcissist has said about them. Authorities in your life are not what the narcissist says they are. Life is not the way the narcissist says it is. The narcissist lies.
You see, you can reject the lie that has been planted in your heart. Even if you are still in the relationship. Even if your narcissist is your spouse or your parent. You don’t have to agree with the lie. You can begin to live by the truth.
So here are some practical ideas:
Tell yourself: I am I and he is only he. She is not me. I am not her and I am not a reflection of her. He does not think for me and I do not agree with him. We are different people and that’s good.
Think: I may not like my emotions, but I can use them. I don’t want to be an angry person, but I will let my anger move me to do what I need to do. I will not be a sad person, but my sense of loss will remind me that I was able to love. My feelings of betrayal and confusion and even fear will help me to build boundaries in my life that I can use to protect myself. When I feel humiliated, embarrassed, or foolish, I will remember that others have felt the same way because of the same kinds of things and I will be kind and helpful and accepting. My emotions will not control me, but I can use them to move forward and/or to stand strong.
Build a new life. You may or may not be able to leave the narcissistic relationship, but you never again have to be trapped by it. Because you accept yourself, more and more, you will find others who accept you and you will grow stronger. Your narcissist won’t like it, but that’s his problem. There are things and people you like, ideas you hold, and these are just as valid as his. He is not allowed to define you.
Accept love. There is love for you. Jesus loves you. I believe that with all my heart and more. I believe it as historical, experiential, and internal truth. Find the love He offers you and accept it. (Please feel free to write to me directly. I would be happy to explain this further.)
These are, perhaps, more words of encouragement than of real help. I have met many people who have successfully moved on with their lives after their relationship with a narcissist. Some of them are still in the relationship (Mom is still Mom) but they are no longer controlled by it. All of them went through the same basic process.
And they found themselves again.