It’s Narcissist Friday!
Over the years that I have been talking with people about narcissism, I have heard many different accounts of the same story. Yes, the details are different, but there are so many similarities. This is why we are able to discern common practices among narcissists and other controllers. There are certain techniques, certain behaviors, that almost come naturally to these users.
One such common theme is the idea of sacrifice. Nearly everyone who has been in a relationship with a narcissist has been expected to sacrifice for the relationship. Sacrifice a job. Sacrifice college goals. Sacrifice a savings account. Sacrifice close relationships with family and friends. Sacrifice the place you live. Sacrifice your belongings. Sacrifice your time.
This says nothing about the more destructive sacrifices. Sacrifice your privacy. Sacrifice your security. Sacrifice your worth as a person. Sacrifice your opinions. Sacrifice your virginity. Sacrifice your dreams. Sacrifice your support structure. Sacrifice your love for others. Sacrifice your self-respect.
And what do you get for these sacrifices? You get to be with the narcissist! In other words, you get nothing except more expectations. Although your hopes grew with each sacrifice, your reality didn’t change much. You thought the narcissist would be more loving, pay more attention, or be more kind. Instead, you got more ridicule, more lies, and more pain. The more you sacrificed, the more you were used.
Your sacrifice is a measure of the narcissist’s worth. In other words, the more you are willing to sacrifice, the more important the narcissist feels. Since one of the goals of the narcissist is to feel important, pushing you to make more sacrifices may be a regular thing. When you value the narcissist over your treasure, he/she is affirmed.
But that’s not the only reason you are pushed to make sacrifices. Sometimes this is necessary for the narcissist to be in control. Tearing away the support structure of a victim is an important part of narcissistic abuse. Without the relationships or the belongings that make you feel secure or valued, you are much easier to manipulate. So the narcissist sets you up to choose between that support and him. In fact, the more you indicate that something or someone is important to you, the more pressure you may feel to offer that as a sacrifice to the narcissistic relationship.
And sometimes it is simply that what is important to you doesn’t matter. Since the narcissist does not see the real value of others, except to serve himself, he also does not see the value of the things that are important to others. Living near an invalid parent, for example, may be very important to you but not even on the radar of what is important to the narcissist. Giving up your job is not a big deal because your job was never a big deal to the narcissist. Unless it is important to the narcissist at the moment, it isn’t important at all. A sacrifice to a narcissist will not be received with the emotion in which it was given.
So how are you supposed to deal with this? If you are new to a narcissistic relationship and have begun to see this need for sacrifice, maybe it’s time to get out. But most of those who read this realize that too many sacrifices have already been made and there is little to show for them. I want to simply say that it is time to stop. At the same time, I realize that’s a lot easier to say than to do and especially easy for someone not living your life.
Yet, sometimes health begins at the point you first say, “No!” When you are able to look at yourself and understand that it is right for you to keep something that’s important to you, you might be at the beginning of the process of rebuilding your life. Don’t sacrifice that friendship or that relationship with family. Don’t leave your job. Don’t give in.
You will pay a price for not making the sacrifice. Your love will be attacked. You will be called selfish and uncaring and uncooperative. You will be blamed for the relationship problems. The narcissist will become the martyr and will remember none of your former sacrifices. But hold your ground. None of the other sacrifices have satisfied this false god. This one will do no better.
And that leads me to something else. I am posting this on Good Friday. I am very aware that not all who read here share my faith in Jesus, but I want to point out the reason we acknowledge this day. On this day, according to Christian history, Jesus suffered on the cross and died as a sacrifice for us. He died because He loved us. He gave the sacrifice, instead of asking for one from us. The contrast between the love of Jesus—real love—and the abuse of the narcissist could not be stronger than what we see on this day.