I Feel What I Feel!

It’s Narcissist Friday!   

 

You open the door of your house and walk outside into the dark.  It’s one of those nights when clouds cover the moon and stars and even the street lights are subdued.  You don’t have far to walk, but the bushes and trees and parked cars present an ominous gathering of places for someone to hide.  What do you feel?

You are supposed to meet a friend at the corner.  As you approach the corner, you hear laughter and you see your friend talking with another person.  When they see you, they stop talking and the other person walks quickly away.  Your friend stands and waits for you to get there.  What do you feel?

Feelings come from deep places within us.  Memories, shadows of memories, suspicions, doubts, weaknesses—all contribute to our feelings in certain situations.  There are classic triggers to our feelings: darkness, unexplained silence, sudden anger, secrecy, lies.  These bring out negative feelings in us.  And all of this is normal.

The fact that we have feelings is simple.  At least it should be.  To deny our feelings is to attempt to lie to ourselves.  For others to deny our feelings is just plain mean.

Narcissistic relationships abound with feelings.  I wish I could say that stronger.  Narcissistic relationships bombard us with feelings.  Conflicting, confusing, intense, weird, unwelcome, inexpressible feelings.  Feelings others find hard to understand or accept.  Feelings you find hard to understand or accept.  But they are there.

Something about a narcissist causes people to experience unfamiliar and often unwelcome feelings.  Those feelings are real.  Narcissists can be secretive, manipulative, angry, deceitful, and insensitive.  It is natural for us to have certain negative feelings when we encounter such a person.  Yes, there are times when the narcissist makes us feel good, but those feelings are often accompanied by a confusing fear or suspicion.

It may be that the narcissist has a desire to produce these feelings in us, perhaps to manipulate or just to experience our emotions.  It may be that the narcissist is so out of touch with the feelings of others that he/she doesn’t understand how words or actions produce those feelings.  Or it may be that the narcissist simply doesn’t care.

But it doesn’t help to say, “Don’t feel that way.”  Listen: no one has the right to tell you not to feel a certain way!  You feel what you feel.

I know that feelings can be unfounded.  The dark street may hold no danger.  The secretive conversation may be completely innocent.  Your suspicions may be off base.  But denying the feeling is not the way to make it disappear.  Shine the light in the dark place.  Look behind the bushes.  Let the truth be revealed.  Then the feeling can go away.

And sometimes there’s a reason for your feelings.  Maybe something is wrong.  You may not know what it is, but you feel something isn’t right.  If you can, shine some light on the situation.  See if you can find out what’s happening.  Or just keep your eyes open to see what is revealed when the light does shine.

A good counselor will help you find ways to shine light on your feelings.  Maybe they are unfounded and triggered by memories or pains from the past.  Maybe they are right on and you need to see the truth.  But a counselor shouldn’t try to talk you out of your feelings.  If a counselor tells you not to feel a certain way, find another counselor.

A good friend will walk with you through the feelings.  He/she might walk into the darkness with you, stand with you in the place of your fear, give words of courage and love in times of pain, and offer affirmation and assurance in the midst of worry.  A friend doesn’t deny your feelings.

And, in your own heart, embrace your feelings.  Fear is in you for a reason.  It doesn’t have to control you, but you can use it to stay alert.  Suspicion doesn’t have to destroy a relationship, but it might help to prepare you for something.  And it might move you to seek the truth you need to know.  Your feelings are important, a part of you that has been developed to guide you through life.  No, they are not always trustworthy, but they shouldn’t be denied.

When I struggle with my feelings, it helps to pray.  There is One who knows the truth.  He may be warning me.  Or He may help me to see that my feelings come from another place and my current situation is okay.  In the darkness, I look to Him and tell Him of my feelings.  Then I can let Him shine His light into my life.

David said, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You.”  So don’t deny my feelings.  They might be moving me closer to my Lord.

I feel what I feel.

6 Comments

Filed under Narcissism

6 responses to “I Feel What I Feel!

  1. L D

    David,   I found this hard to read because the narcissist is always throwing his feelings at you and doing damage based on them. Are we to accept their feelings and validate them? I’ve tried that but it goes nowhere other than to feed his self-righteousness. I foolishly thought that if I showed him correct communication and validation he would reciprocate. He actually thanks me every time I validate him but it never gets returned.   Also, shouldn’t our feelings (if they are healthy) be based somewhat on facts? For example, my ex said he’d never want to get back with me because he “can’t trust me”. He never did from day one even though there are NO FACTS to give him any reason not to trust me. It is ALL just feelings. Yet he worked backwards from the feelings trying to find validation for them. If you recall, this is a man who told me to leave our marital home after only 3 months of being married and living together and I was also three months pregnant. He told me to leave because I nicely requested him to “stop namecalling and mocking me so that we have an emotionally safe environment.” He told me I was “playing games” by requesting this and that if I didn’t like it I should leave. This quickly went to, “Actually, just go, I’m sick of this.” Sick of me requesting respect in a kind manner? So, do you see the dilemma I face? He said the only way he would have gotten back with me is if I “took responsibility for leaving” (loves to tell everyone else to take responsibility but I’ve NEVER seen him take any unless it was fake to lure me back or buy time.) So, as I think most people would have done, I considered this being kicked out and went to my Mom’s. He never let me back and claimed I abandoned him. HE TRULY FEELS THIS…so does that make it right, normal, healthy, worthy of validation?   So, I could use your help in making your post make sense to me. I know you are a busy man so I truly appreciate your time. I cannot seem to heal because of this very question…the he said/she said who is right and who is wrong if we both have feelings but they are opposite does that make him wrong or me wrong, etc?….and I so badly want to heal and move on. BTW, he has moved on…he found someone who “adores him” and he “didn’t have to tell her how to do it” and now she has cancer and he wants to stay with her because it’s “morally right”. He is not a Christian and I could list pages of the immoral stuff he’s done but just throwing me out and then blaming me and breaking up our marriage…isn’t this immoral? Wouldn’t morally right be repairing his last family instead of starting a new one? I wish I could stop hurting, David!!   😦  Lynn

    • I have a hunch that one of the reasons a narcissist has to come up with “reasons” for dropping you that don’t always make a lot of sense is that they feel emotionally triggered by their own guilt in having violated their own moral standards by the way they treated you. Their lack of emotional literacy about what is going in inside of themselves combined with the fact they feel pain when they think about you somehow coalesces into the thought “She is making me feel bad”.

      The reason they behave so heroically (at least in the beginning) with the new woman is that they are desperately trying to regain the sense that they are a good person. A partner is a mirror to the narcissist. When the mirror reflects ugly things back about the narcissist (his own impetuous and hurtful actions) he can not tolerate the pain of feeling “bad”. Instead of considering that the reason he doesn’t like the reflection in your mirror is his own actions – he strikes out at you because your very existence is a reminder that he has failed to live up to his idealized image of himself.

      With this new woman he thinks “I am a hero who stays with a woman dying of cancer”. That is potent narcissistic supply. But if she stopped affirming what a good man he was and started asking too many questions about his prior relationship with you (rather than accepting his “version” without questions) I suspect he suddenly would find a “moral” justification to abandon her.

      • UnForsaken

        Prodigalkatherine, you are right on…..I experience the ” I am a hero” all the time, but am waiting for the day he decides to dump the person who ” is making” him feel bad. THEY make Themselves feel bad, and we don’t need to validate a lie. WE DO NEED TO VALIDATE US. As people of value, we must actually begin to be honest with ourselves about how we feel….it no longer matters what Anyone else thinks . It’s God and You.

    • LD, my desire here was to affirm your feelings, not pressure you to validate or believe his. However, I can see how you could read this. What’s good for one should be good for the other. But I think it is quite different when someone uses his/her feelings to manipulate you or excuse cruel actions. I don’t have to question the validity of his feelings to reject his actions.

      On the other hand, many narcissists are expert at deception and have no hesitation to lie or say whatever might work. If he says he doesn’t trust you, you don’t know what he is feeling. If he says he loves you or hates you or fears you, you still don’t know. I doubt that most narcissists feel anything, at least in the way the rest of us do. They might experience fear and desire and anger, but the focus of those emotions will probably be something unrelated to the victim they blame. For example, he probably doesn’t trust anyone. He just knows that your close relationship represents a bigger risk than a more distant one or that he is less able to control you than someone else.

      Rather than focus on his feelings and the warped mess they represent, validate your own. You are hurt and angry and confused. Of course you are. What you have experienced has all of that and more. Let yourself be angry. Acknowledge your hurt. Accept the confusion. If I tell you that these are normal, even healthy emotions, believe me. Then begin to deal with life through them. Your pain will make you wiser and stronger and you will see things more clearly as it fades. Your confusion calls you to be careful with the decisions you make and the people you trust. Even your anger can move you to act on the decisions that are clear.

      Let your N have his feelings. His actions are still immoral and cruel. His lies are still lies. His feelings are not a moral defense.

      But your healing will have to be through your feelings, not around them. I don’t read here that you are trying to deny your feelings, but I still want to affirm that they are real.

  2. Cecilia K

    I also struggle with this one. I realize validating each other’s feelings is important, and of course, I would want my partner (or whoever) to validate my feelings, but I never felt like I could validate my ex-boyfriend’s feelings when he would get upset over something that’s not even a legitimate offense? How could I validate the man’s feelings when he got mad because I picked at my lip, or because I slept on the sofa in my own apartment, or because I respectfully disagreed with him, or because I postponed our phone call to have dinner with my roommate? The last one is the only one I can remotely acknowledge was maybe a bit inconsiderate on my part, but I still didn’t think it deserved the reaction it got. How do you validate feelings like that?

    And yet, if I don’t validate his feelings, how could I expect him to validate mine? But I imagine that even if I could have validated his unmerited anger and/or jealousy, there is a high probability that he still would not have validated MY feelings.

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