It’s Narcissist Friday!
You know the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” In general, it means that we should learn from our mistakes. The first time someone deceives us, we have the excuse of trusting and being unaware of their true nature; but, the second time that same person deceives us, we should know better. Then it is our own fault.
Well, that’s what the saying means and it’s what a lot of people think. When you entered into a relationship with the narcissist, you really didn’t know what kind of person he/she was. You overlooked the strange focus on self-image, and the exaggerations, and the boasting, and the quick anger, and the lies, and the unkind words, and the thoughtless disregard for your feelings, and the distance between the narcissist and his family and your friends and your family, and so much more. You overlooked all these things because there was something different about the relationship, something that made you feel like everything would get better very soon. If you could just find the right words to say, the right things to do, or something.
But, of course, you never found those things. Nothing seemed to help except more draining of your energy. So you finally understood that you had been deceived. It wasn’t love and it wasn’t even compassion. It was something else, something strange. You were manipulated, used, and abused—all so the narcissist could get some kind of “supply.” Your heart, your energy, provided the drug the narcissist apparently needed.
And you feel ashamed. You ignored so many warnings. You left so much behind. You think you should have known better.
Listen carefully—stop it! Stop beating yourself. This is what narcissists do so often. What I have described above is almost a normal narcissistic relationship. They use people. And they are very, very good at deception. They know the right words and the right timing. They can appear as saviors or victims or teachers with almost equal ease. They tap into your core desires and needs. You were simply deceived.
So stop putting yourself down. There is no shame in being used by the narcissist.
But now what? Do you leave? After you have left, do you go back? If your emotions are tied in knots or twisting uncontrollably, please understand that this is part of getting out of the relationship (and part of deciding to stay in). And if you fall into the deception again, it will be for the same reasons. Even the second time you are not to blame. Yes, you should learn, but these narcissists are (as I said) very good at what they do. Just when you think you are rid of them, they can come back to twist your heart some more.
The point of all this is that it might seem right to blame yourself and feel ashamed of your vulnerability, but it isn’t right. Nor is it helpful. The best thing you can do is admit the truth about the deceiver and your openness to his/her maneuverings. Then live in that truth. Find the way to health. Get a good counselor. Set up boundaries. All the things we have talked about so often. Be good to yourself.
People who live in shame live in bondage. People who live in truth are free.