Recuperating?

It’s Narcissist Friday!    

 

The holidays are winding down and people in relationship with narcissists are settling back to whatever passes for normal life.  The spouse/parent/friend/co-worker/sibling narcissist has been himself/herself.

I hope you had a great holiday!  I hope that your narcissist was reasonable and got along well with others and you.  But if that didn’t happen, if you are still stressed, here are some thoughts.

  1. Survival is Victory – You thought the situation would be terrible.  Maybe it was, but you survived.  You thought your heart would break, but it didn’t.  You thought you wouldn’t be able to stand it again, but you did.  You survived.  Good for you!  I call that a victory.
  2. That which does not kill you makes you stronger – Okay, I don’t believe that in every case, but you will find yourself stronger in the days to come.  You learned some things and you will understand them as you sort them out over time.  And you are seeing yourself in a new light.  You are not the defeated victim that you used to be.
  3. Be kind to yourself – You are probably exhausted.  The holidays do that themselves, but narcissists can be especially trying during holidays.  Stress comes with a price.  Give yourself a break.  Understand why you are drained.
  4. Forgive yourself – You may replay the situation in your mind now and think of things you could have said or done.  That’s normal and it is normal to feel a little frustrated that you didn’t do those things.  But let it go.  You can’t hold yourself accountable for errors or omissions while you are under that kind of stress.  And, you know, it might have just made things worse.
  5. Forgive the narcissist – I might get hate email on this one, but remember that forgiveness is for you.  You cannot spend hours and days reliving the offenses.  You probably won’t forget, but you have to let yourself move on.  Nor do you have to open yourself to the narcissist again.  Forgiveness is not about making yourself more vulnerable or trying to forget what was done.  Forgiveness is about your decision not to hold onto the offense and give it continuing power in your life.
  6. Move into the future – Things are changing.  You are more aware than you were.  You are learning how to handle some of the things he/she does.  You are getting stronger.  You are beginning to see yourself as a separate person, a person of value.  All of that is good.  This year will not be like last year.
  7. There is hope – There is always hope.  Pray and seek the Lord.  Let Him love you.  Let Him be your strength and your joy.  Find life apart from the pain.  Our hope is in the Lord.  He can do anything.

19 Comments

Filed under Narcissism

19 responses to “Recuperating?

  1. Rox

    This message could not have come at a better time. Now that the busyness of the holidays is over and I can no longer anesthetize myself with the preparations, I must face once again the pain left in the wake of my discarding narcissistic friend. The agony was paralyzing at 3 a.m., but it’s better in the light of day. May we all realize that, despite what our Ns have done, we still have the gifts of loving and caring that he/she will never know. It’s sad what my N has revealed himself to be, but that’s his problem, not mine. He can keep his gifts of anger, pettiness, and mean-spiritedness, because in a back-handed way, they have helped me to hone my gifts for detachment, self-care, and discernment, things he can never take away from me.

  2. HDG

    Thank you for the reminder-good way to start 2014. My N always managed to create enough drama so we would not be dating during any time(holidays,birthday) he might feel obliged to do anything special for me. I don ‘t have much but often paid for meals,bought him things,since he had such limited funds .I cared. He could barely afford to heat his home,buy groceries etc. but always had enough $$ to buy his attention getting”big boy” toys. I am so glad I wised up before I got in too deep and ended up paying for them too. I have forgiven him and have empathy for him feeling like he has to use possessions to be admired. Despite his narcissism he has other fine qualities. I pray for his enlightenment and healing so he may understand true love.

  3. Kate

    Happy New Year, everyone. Question: We all have to deal with our own anger in our relationships with our personal narcissists. How does one deal with the exposure fantasies, hoping someday the truth about this person will be revealed to others? I am finding it hard to accept that the behavior is going unaccounted for, and yet it is not enough for me to hope that they mend their ways. I still find myself hoping they get their just desserts. It’s a crummy un-Christian feeling to harbor, one I am having a hard time “letting go.” It’s a slippery slope toward indulging my own narcissistic wishes. Any advice?

  4. prodigalkatherine

    You and I are dealing with something similar. After receiving anonymous notes that came well after a breakup that broke not just my heart, but my family’s as well, I shared those notes with a therapist, my current partner and no one else. 2 came last summer- one of them implying I had been exposed to HIV because of this individuals treachery. (fortunately a panicked STD test on my end came back clean). The notes bothered me because of the shady way in which he left- I knew he was hiding something- but what? He threatened to quit church because he never wanted to see me again. Because he had a daughter, I chose to move my family with the hope that his daughter would not be cut off from church. He had an expensive Oriental rug and two nice lamps of mine decorating his living room but ignored all requests for their return. I chose not to press the issue other than to think “wow, he must be in a lot of pain” until those letters came. After learning that the HIV thing was likely a lie, it occurred to me someone was trying to smear his name, so I let him know about the letters. (Clearly that act of intended goodwill was not perceived as such).

    I also got 2 more shortly before Christmas. I messaged my ex to let him know I had gotten these letters- and after complete radio silence for a little more than a year he sent me a curt note telling me he was about to be married and never to contact him again out of respect for his future wife. He also said that he’d showed his fiance’ every one of my messages. The implication was- we unilaterally want to hear no more from you. No “thanks for the heads up- more like- “We think you’re nuts”. Talk about shooting the messenger.
    Wow. I didn’t know that he was even dating someone so the response kind of took my breath away. But then I realized that the curt return message was a gift. I finally had an answer to why he had been hiding. What’s so ironic is that in not participating in a smear campaign but also giving a man who deceived and hurt me badly a warning about what was out there, I set myself free from ever having to worry about how to respond to a knock on the door from him down the road. Whatever secrets he had or enemies he had made were no longer my problem.

    The gift in not returning evil for evil- and in doing your best to act honorably towards someone who hurt you is that you have no unfinished business with that person. You can “shake the dust off your feet” without worrying that maybe you should give them one more chance. When God says “Vengeance is mine” He is not trying to deny you satisfaction. Rather, God is setting you free from continued involvement with someone who likely feels very bad about their deceptions and will mercilessly strike back by “shooting the messenger”. It’s His problem now, and your job is to rebuild your life without looking back. God has set you free.

  5. prodigalkatherine

    While it was tempting in the moment to tell him off and also defend myself, I thought about God’s command- “In your anger do not sin”.
    So I sent him a reply:

    I wish you well.
    God bless you and (his daughter’s name)
    You can consider the Oriental rug and lamps a wedding present.

    It was hard to do, but I am really glad I didn’t say anything else. It’s God’s problem to deal with, and I am fully confident that in His perfect way he will tie up whatever loose ends exist. Acting without vengeance is how you escape someone’s cruelty. To “give them what they deserve” just gives them reason to hurt you again.

    It’s taken me all of my 39 years to truly understand “turn the other cheek”. See- when someone hits you once, it’s easy to think that it was a moment of passion, a mistake, and make yourself crazy with the question “did I deserve it?” When you refuse to retaliate you know that if you are struck after demonstrated goodwill that you are dealing with a person who means you harm. “Turn the other cheek” is a wonderful litmus test to use when your heart is confused by the hurtful actions of someone you love. Clarity brings closure and healing. Vengeance, on the other hand, simply muddies the waters.

    • UnForsaken

      prodigalkatherine, you are So right. It takes time to recognize these truths…and for me, a need to actually see when I’ve been “hit”. Turning the cheek is a great test the first time or two, but the boundaries need to be built soon after to curb abusive behaviors. For me, I am so used to growing up with the idea he will get his way, and not fighting for what I need, being blindsided over and over again with my eyes wide open. So I think anger is understandable, although mine isn’t for revenge, but directed at not seeing it coming again . But your words are all truth and I need that reminder too!

      Just a thought: perhaps it’s my suspicious mind, but that smear against your N may actually be From him? YOu know, to make you look more ridiculous/make you panic? He may not be the type, but it wouldn’t be the first time an N tried something like that. If they even slightly resembled “poisen pen” letters, I believe the police would be interested. However, even if it is him, you know best how to handle it….because sometimes shrugging things off, like with your wedding gift, is the best way for them to leave you alone.

      Thanks for your words of wisdom, prodigalkatherine ! I needed that uplift today, and appreciate your heart!

  6. prodigalkatherine

    Thanks- your kind words mean a lot too. While I’ve moved forward and healing has been accomplished, events like these are unsettling.
    As for turning the other cheek- we have 2 cheeks. If you’ve sustained an unprovoked hit on both cheeks I think you can walk away without guilt. That was my hardest hurdle because we began a relationship in Christ and somewhere in the middle things changed, causing me to end a relationship we both hoped would end in marriage. Where he had admired my faith, I became a “bible banger”. At the end I knew that even though I was in love, if I married him he’d want me to worship him, not God- so it would be idolatrous. But then I doubted myself and wondered if it was all my fault. Getting the other cheek slapped after a disappearing act helps me understand that I am finally free- no need to worry any more about a tearful plea to make things work again (that happened once with us before).

    Some people simply have to be given to God and left in your past.

      • Carolyn

        I love this post. This was the hardest thing for me to learn. As a Christian, I know that we have to “turn the other cheek”. What I didn’t have in place though, was a barometer to tell me when enough was enough. My Christian family and friends all saw it way ahead of me. Years ahead of me. It took me a very long time to say enough was enough. True remorse shows change. My N would say the words but the change never came. It was all talk – no action. I have found that it has taken me almost a year to come to grips with the fact that I failed to protect myself as I should have. If my children had been younger and living at home, there is no way that I would have put up with this. No way at all. I feel that N’s prey on people who are ethical, moral, and ones who value their marriage and their relationships. I think they know that they will likely have partners that will tolerate much more than they should. As a Christian, I struggled deeply with my decision to take a stand and protect myself. I know that it would mean the end of my marriage. It took me almost two years before I gained the strength to realize that I was being used and abused.
        God is faithful and full of grace. I know that He loves me unconditionally, and that He understands. He also knows my heart. This past Christmas was very hard – the first time I have ever been all alone. I cried out to Jesus many, many nights. Days before Christmas….a peace that I cannot even explain washed over me, and I am now in a place where I can start to move forward with my life, and see what God has in store for me.
        This website is such a blessing and thank you to everyone who posts – your encouragement and willingness to share your life with others is of great comfort to me.

      • UnForsaken

        Carolyn, a Hug from me to you. Although I’m hemmed in by the N now, there was a time I was terribly alone too. It was the best time for growth and seeking God’s face, and with a chunk of time behind me, I can now see that to be alone is not always to be lonely. He is always there, even when I don’t feel it!!! OK, we know that but I So need to hear it again .
        I’m sorry about your hard Christmas, but so glad God showed you His beautiful companionship . It’s hard to believe at the time, but His presence is far more satisfying than any human’s . He always completely understands .
        I found this site just last year and feel very much the way you do about it. It was kind of an answer to prayer, maybe more of a wish – such a comfort that He knows our thoughts and every need!

  7. Fellow Survivor

    Katherine, I can honestly say your words of encouragement and wisdom based on experience had such a huge effect on my recovery. I am not there yet but getting closer every single day. You know I could write 10 paragraphs because 3, 4, 5 months ago I did almost daily.

    For now, all I can say is Thank you for being there for me when I needed you most. I am sorry you had to learn the hard way but for what it is worth, you kept me going when I thought all was lost.

    Thank You!!!

  8. HDG

    Katherine your last post (1/5/14 10.06pm)was really on “the mark.” I’ve had the “it must be my fault” feelings too.His friends,church members and casual aquaintances all think he’s a great guy. He did tell me I “frustrate” him-didn’t want to make a decision( we always did what he wanted anyway)or whenever my opinion(always wrong) was not the same as his.At first I was the best woman he’d ever known then day by day he tore any self confidence(which is fragile/my “issue”)down to almost nothing. More cruelty after I said I wasn’t ready to marry anyone anytime soon.I knew we couldn’t be happy together even though I loved him and left crying.Much pain,soul searching and prayer later I have come to see the truth. NONE of his important close daily relationships “work” not ours,his past marriages,children(who keep in touch only when necessary)even co-workers. These are what a happy,loving,fulfilling life are based on. It truly saddens me to see his good qualities overshadowed by narcissism but I am able to deal with it through prayer for Both of us. I pray I remember that my confidence and security comes from Jesus and that the N may recognize the brokenness and take it to Jesus for healing.There is hope in Jesus for all of us.This blog is such a blessing!!

  9. prodigalkatherine

    Thanks Fellow Survivor and HDG- I feel the same way about all of you here. Knowing we are not alone in our efforts to make sense of cruelty and deception perpetrated by narcissists is very helpful – while there are many recovery blogs out there the focus on Christ and grace is so encouraging to me because I believe it to be the foundation of healing without bitterness.

    I see this blog as a great place to learn wisdom.

    • Fellow Survivor

      Katherine, I think I may have shared my conversation I had with my daughter as we drove home from camp this past summer. We were talking about the book of Ruth and other stories from the bible and just had a wonderful conversation. She is 17 but as mature as any 35 year old I know. I looked at her and said, “daddy needs a woman in his life and whoever she is is going to have to be able to converse about the bible as easily as you and I” She responded ” Oh, daddy, I’m not ready for that” So when she is with me, its just us and her friends when they come over.

      But at the mom’s house, i quote ” he is over there all the time” meaning her new boyfriend that she obviously had when we were still married. Anyway a friend that stalks her on facebook told me this morning that it is one of her yoga friends. Go figure.

      If you recall, 7 years ago she asked if it would be Ok to go try a yoga class. I said sure, why not. Then it became an every day thing. I didn’t care but my daughter did. So when I asked her to “please reconsider how much time you spend on the yoga” she hit me with the volcanic rage. A very scary moment by the way.

      Anyway, so you go work out in some pretty tight skimpy outfits 7 days a week. Meet a bunch of your other yogis and become friends. Then you get in a fight with your husband. But wait, there is a person that is there to comfort you after your fight that you see everyday. Story book kind of fairy tale. I should have seen it coming.

      I have always known she had a boyfriend but now I know what kind of person he is. It hurts. But at least it is the beginning of the end.

  10. thanks so much for this message- couldn’t have come at a better time. i am struggling to forgive my N for some of his very selfish behavior over the holidays. he has not really asked for forgivenss and i honestly think he sees nothing wrong with his behavior and attempts to explain it to him have beenfutile. i have already identified a new boundary to set to prevent this behavior again but i am still soo mad and hurt. I am working on forgivness because i don’t want to keep feeling this way

  11. Leigh

    Please Forgive me, but for just a brief moment let me use a little bit of dry….maybe even a little twisted…..bit of comparative humor to such a serious & emotionally taxing situation: For those of us who are married & living with our N, have you ever thought about how much our daily life is similar & symbolic of a Landmind? Read this definition & think about it: A land mine is an explosive device, concealed under or on the ground and designed to destroy or disable enemy targets as they pass over or near the device. Such devices are typically detonated automatically by way of pressure from the target stepping or driving on it, though other detonation mechanisms may be possible.[1] The device may cause damage either by a direct blast or by fragments that are thrown by the blast.
    As we cope daily to handle either the “direct blasts” or “fragmented blasts” of verbal abuse, curtness, anger & manipulation from our Ns – May we remind ourselves to always turn to The Lord for divine wisdom & discernment!!!! May prayer & laughter brighten and strengthen our days! Hang in There Ladies!

    • UnForsaken

      Thanks Leigh! I have a wry sense of humor myself and never find it translates well to “paper”…..but, I really got yours! I have to be very careful not to chuckle at my N( when I’m not tired), because I see word pictures in my mind. The best one yet: him as a baby penguin, sharp beak, all fluffed out, beady eyes, and a tummy ache! That really does look like his demeanor !

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