The Mystery

It’s Narcissist Friday!  

Some of us are old enough to remember when telephone answering machines had two cassettes. One was for the incoming message and one for the outgoing. The one for the outgoing message was an endless loop. It lasted only a few seconds or a minute and you had that amount of time to record your message. (I was going to mention the early talking dolls with similar tapes, but then I remembered the ones with the little records in them and I started feeling old so I stopped.)

I learned something about how the memory works a while ago. For years, every time I fried some eggs I would remember a restaurant in Kansas City where I had a good breakfast. I kept trying to figure out why I thought of that every time. It wasn’t a bad memory, but not a great one either. It just became connected to frying eggs.

I puzzled about this, until I listened to a recording that mentioned the phenomenon. The explanation was surprisingly simple. The memory can be triggered almost at random. We simply find ourselves thinking about something. But when we puzzle about the connection between that memory and what we are doing, the puzzle becomes a memory on its own, a much more recent one. So, after the first time this came up while I was frying eggs, I remembered it as a puzzle the next time. I couldn’t figure out the connection before and it felt unresolved. Wanting resolution, my mind connected the two almost every time from then on.

So the idea is that unresolved conflicts, puzzling events, mysteries—these things stay in the front part of our minds because we want them settled. The problem is that our mind doesn’t really know when and how things get settled.

Narcissism is puzzling. Narcissists do things that don’t make sense. You know the questions. Why did he do that? Did I do something to cause this? Is she really that cruel? Didn’t she hear what she said? Did she mean to cut so deep? What kind of person does that? The more questions surround the narcissistic relationship, the more we long for resolution.

So strong is this desire for closure and understanding that we will often make assumptions about the narcissist or the situation just to try to settle our minds. We hear that many narcissists suffered as children. Oh, that explains it, we tell ourselves. We hear that narcissism is a mental illness and suddenly we think we have an answer. Or someone tells us that we just aren’t loving enough and we grab the statement as truth. But explaining narcissism isn’t usually that easy. His childhood wasn’t that bad. Narcissism is not a mental illness. You are a loving person. So now how do you explain what happened?

This seems to come up a lot in narcissistic friendships or short intimate relationships. They are often like drive-by shootings, dangerous but random. But those in long-term narcissistic relationships ask many of the same questions. Why? How does this make sense?

Ever wake up in the morning with an unexplained bruise? It hurts and it is dark on your skin, but you don’t remember hitting anything. So you puzzle about it; and, when you think about it, you rub it. When you rub it, it hurts. When it hurts, you think about it more. And on and on. The pain reinforces the question, aggravates the puzzle, in your mind. Narcissists cause pain and sometimes, in situations that continue, that pain keeps going. The best way to handle the unexplained bruise is to ignore it. If you stop rubbing it, it will probably go away. (Now, I know that some unexplained bruises are indications of more serious internal problems, but we will let the analogy stand as it is.)

Sometimes you have to let the mystery go. Force yourself to move on. Sometimes there are no answers for you to find. As we move through our days we sometimes bump into things. It happens so often we don’t usually remember it. And sometimes, as we move through our days, we meet people whose brokenness moves them to use and hurt others. The mystery of their brokenness belongs to them, not us. We may never understand why they do what they do.

So let me give a practical suggestion: Do what you need to do to protect yourself and to find health. Establish boundaries, create distance, find support. Then give the mystery to God.

As I get older I learn more that mysteries belong to God. We even have a simple saying, “God only knows.” Sometimes that’s true. Only God knows the answer you are looking for. And He knows that you don’t really need it. You just need to move on. Wipe the dust off your feet and don’t look back (you know those are both Biblical references?). Leave the puzzle, the anomaly, the question, with God.

Once I understood why I thought about that restaurant as I was frying eggs, that there was no real answer for the puzzle, I could let it go. It still happens once in a while, but I mostly shrug it off. The mystery is gone.

Once you believe that you will never really understand the narcissist in your life, that his or her actions have little to do with you, you can let it go. Every time the puzzle comes up, give it to God. Thank Him for taking the mystery and trust Him with it. Then shrug your shoulders and go on with your day. Don’t let narcissism be an endless loop of focus in your life.

44 Comments

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44 responses to “The Mystery

  1. Another spot-on post. Narcissism doesn’t make sense, yet I go on and on trying to understand and make sense of my husband’s behavior. Every day I try anew to convince myself that it isn’t really my fault. And the more I puzzle over it, the more attention and energy I am giving over to him, which is just what he wants! And there is less energy left over to put into the rest of my life, leaving me feeling like a failure, which is just what makes him feel good too.

    I have “regular” problems. I overeat, or I’m lazy, or impatient. I feel like I can work on these problems, try different tactics and try again when I fail. But nothing I try ever works with him. Nothing. Ever. Hence the endless loop of wondering, questioning, pondering, trying, trying, trying, with no energy left for anything else.

    I do need to let the mystery go. Protect myself. Move on with my day. Give it to God and thank him for taking it.

  2. Diana

    Thank you for this post. It’s true…I was just thinking this very subject yesterday. Why can’t I get my N out of my head. Some days he consumes my thoughts trying to understand his behavior, or figure out what I said or did that triggered his negativity. The “mystery” is God’s! I will try to remember to remind myself of that the next time my mind starts that disturbing loop again trying to fit the N pieces together. God bless you.

  3. I feel as if my narcissist mother has destroyed my life and I am left exhausted and defeated with no family of my own and no home as I approach 50. If God existed, why would he let that happen? I’ll hand over that mystery too.

    • Gabrielle

      I know how you feel. It’s taken me 50 years to figure out how toxic and sadistic my sister and mother are. I know my sister will try to take over my mother’s finances as my mother gets more senile. I won’t have a way to stop her if my mother believes her lies. My sister can convince people I’m paranoid but after seeing the truth you can’t un-see it.

    • Ella – so sorry this has happened – I can relate to this myself – just to send hugz – I have no real answers

      • so sorry to hear this Ella – i can relate to this myself – just to send hugz – I don’t have any answers myself to this mystery – although certain levels of acceptance helps – I know it doesn’t product a family. x

  4. “Sometimes you have to let the mystery go. Force yourself to move on. Sometimes there are no answers for you to find. ”

    And herein is where I add to my own turmoil. I try to understand. I try to figure it out and every answer I have mustered up myself as to why he does the things he does has ultimately fallen through. Accepting that there are no answers is a hard place to be. It leaves an open ended question. Yet I believe you are right ” God only knows”. I am going to work at forcing myself to move on and use the energy I have wasted trying to figure him out for the better and more fruitful process of rebuilding my own life. “Wiping the dust off my feet and looking ahead.” Thank you for a timely and encouraging post.

  5. Sue Abolins

    What a brilliant blog! Thank you for your humour and wisdom.

  6. Grace

    I so agree with Sue, above. Thank you.

  7. Reblogged this on Love—Life—OM and commented:
    The mystery is not for us to solve. 🙂

  8. Thank you! I really needed to have that insight today! I am struggling with my 23 yr marriage to my N husband..now separated…always trying to figure out why he does and says cruel things, then turn around and place me on a pedistal telling me how much he loves me, never loved anyone like he does me…then,…3-4 weeks later…wham! (I call it the “crazy bus”)..he hops on the crazy bus and away we go on the ride.

    He blames me, I am the crazy one, he doesn’t feel appreciated he doesn’t feel respected, and on…and on…who could stay sane in this chaos? And how do you stop loving this man who makes your life so..unstable. During the “down time”..he is generous, attentive, loving, creative, spontaneous, a joy to be around…but then…crazy bus…and his rage and voratious anger.

    We have been separated 7 months, I filed for divorce, now Im having second thoughts..was it really that bad? or have I just been away long enough that the memories are fading? How do you process all of this overwhelming emotion???Is he really an N? or just a very angry man? I am the crazy one?

    He says, I need to change – respect him and make him feel appreciated and he will be fine…no mention that he needs anger management. He can keep me so offbalance, I begin to feel I have no confidence in myself again…when I had begun to regain it these months.

    I guess I am seeing that there really is NO explanation/no closure that i so desperately wanted…and God is the only one to turn to. I am leaning on Him each day.

    Thank you for your insights, I eggerly read each Friday’s post. God Bless you! Keep it up…I am sure many others who are voiceless need this insight as much as I do.

    • Cecilia K

      A very familiar cycle, Pamela, and quite maddening, for sure. In regard to his insistence that you need to respect him, I’m curious what he “needs” from you to feel respected. While still with my ex-boyfriend, he told me one day that he needed me to take all of his suggestions, regardless of whether I liked them or not, in order for him to feel respected. I said I couldn’t do that – I thought it was an unreasonable demand. Of course, after that, he said there was no point in me telling him what I needed from him to feel loved/respected. (Don’t worry, I thought.)

      He said on another occasion that he thought it was disrespectful for me to disagree with him. And if I recall right, I hadn’t done so in a disrespectful way. I think I had just simply and calmly said, “Well, I disagree” (I think we had been going back and forth about something for a while, and it was obvious the conversation was going nowhere, so I thought that would be a good way to put an end to it, which it did). The next day, I started to confront him about that, because that REALLY concerned me that I would not be allowed to disagree with him, and he essentially told me to disregard what he had said.

      Anyway, just saying that his concern about needing to feel respected may be rooted in unreasonable expectations, and may be something you could never fulfill for him anyway, no matter how hard you try. There were probably times when, like me and I’m sure many others, you might have genuinely been disrespectful to him (because we’re all sinners), but I bet most of the time, you DID treat him with respect (at least, as far as any reasonable person could tell) – maybe even in times when he didn’t deserve it.

      • Ceilia K -Thank you for your insight. I know that I was respectful most times, but last few years – I just could not muster the energy to be respectful to someone who was so disrespectful to me…even physically abusive when I refused to apology for something minor..that he blew way out of proportion ..ending up with him shoving me around, and then spitting in my face, followed by cursing me out for ruining his life. Wow. And he has the gall to tell me I am disrespectful to him! Classic.

      • Cecilia K

        Pamela, how I know what you mean! So completely inconsistent, hypocritical and insane! First of all, the blowing things out of proportion, and second, demanding respect when they don’t treat US with respect. Now granted, I understand that biblically speaking, we are called to still be respectful, no matter how they treat us (love your enemies), but as you said, it takes a lot of GALL to complain when they themselves have treated us like dirt – when we didn’t deserve it.

        I remember one time when my ex and I had had an argument, and he had been belligerent. The next day, he emailed or IM’d me or something, and I gave very short responses, indicating my anger (yes, it was passive aggressive, I realize). I was hoping he’d either ask what was wrong, or apologize for having been so rude. Instead, he scolds me – “That is no way to answer.” And because he had previously promised to do something for me that would save me a lot of money, I didn’t bite back like I wanted to. I also wanted to point out how rude he had been to me the previous day, but I didn’t do that either, because I knew that would probably start ANOTHER argument, and knowing how vindictive he could be, I was afraid he would be offended and then refuse to follow through on his promise. So I swallowed my pride and changed my responses to a more normal “appropriate” length. But he only changed my behavior – not my heart. I was still seething on the inside.

      • Wow…sounds so familiar! Are u still w your N? I had dinner w mine tonite…i was talking reconciloation..he is treating me like a delinquent bill payer…rather than admit his screaming anger are the reasons I left. He blames me for abandoning him….talked on and on about all I did wrong …but did not hear anything about how his actions affect me. He told me in the six months we have been separated..he hasn’t gotten angry with anyone…yup..of course..he is the boss..and he is living alone!!!!

      • Cecilia K

        Pamela – Wow, it really is amazing how their behavior is all the same. Like a few on here have said, it seems like they all go/went to the same narc school. I remember another occasion where he got offended by something very minor (not even something that was actually WRONG) and I decided to wait for him to cool off and call me. After four days went by, I assumed he was through with me, and I decided I couldn’t take the roller coaster anymore and had better make it as difficult as possible to contact him, so I deleted his contact information – including FB. After a week of silence, I get an email from him sounding innocent and contrite, but then he switched to blaming and belligerence – how could I, a fellow Christian and his girlfriend, just delete him out of my life like that? How dare I! I tried explaining that I thought he was through with me, but that was not good enough. I was the terrible person.

        No, I am not with him anymore, but due to a recent, semi-necessary contact with him, I have started to wonder if the Lord is trying to lead me toward reconciliation, too. It is so hard to know. I know logic would say NO, but I know as unlikely as it is, that it IS theoretically possible that the Lord could have changed his heart after all this time. But I am waiting. I just don’t know. Definitely don’t want to be a fool and fall for the same charade again.

    • Eleanor

      Hi Pamela
      I can really relate to your description of your marriage as it’s so like mine- I got off my crazy bus 3 months ago after 33 years! I find even the over the top adoration and ‘love’ feels weird and so not normal..
      this year I have been actively ( tho I hope not too obviously!) watching how other married couples relate…. it is VERY different, not perfect which is great! but oh so normal… I think we need to value the ‘normal ‘ we’ve allowed ourselves by separating..
      I’ve found 2 things which help when I am doubting the validity of my actions… one is to keep a journal and write the craziness down.. somehow seeing it in black and white makes the abuse more obvious.. and the emotions that come back as I read reminds me of how crazy it was and how much I can’t survive with that..it’s a great antidote to ‘going back’!
      the second thing is No Contact.. ( actually I have ltd texts re visits with our daughter) it really helps, I struggle with it because I am a naturally relational person- warm and friendly- so it is very counter intuitive not to talk to someone ( esp your husband ) and in other circumstances I would think it ‘childish’ however in this case for me it is a game changer and really helps me keep a clear head space and have a sane perspective.
      If you go No Contact it limits his ability to ‘keep you off balance’…
      Interesting that you and Ceclia both talk about their demand to “be respected” mine was on about that too! sigh… like Dave says we’ve got to let it go..
      stay strong! and may you know God’s comfort as you rebuild your life x

      • Eleanor – Thank you too for your comments. I have been avoiding doing the journal thing (my counselor suggested it)…maybe too fearful to be overwhelmed to point of sufficating if I actually stop and think about it and write it down. But…you make a valid point. When I do recall some of the incidents, its just so crazy…no one would believe his behaviour..or my overreaction as well. I feel guilty because I have responded in some pretty unhealthy ways..fighting back – verbally and physically. We all know the Narc will always WIN, no matter the cost…they have to win…even if he screamed til 4 am. My gosh, I feel just as dysfunctional as him! So – I bought a journal last nite…tonight, I have some alone time…I am going to write out as much of the crazy times as I can remember. I think it will be helpful. I’ve held it in for soooo long. I start crying and feel like it will never end. But do know God is there, and i give it to Him daily.

        I moved out in March with my 18 yr old daughter, filed for divorce April 4, wrote a No Contact email May 28. That worked well for about 2-3 months, then….slowly..not sure how, but we started in with texts and then calls, and thats when I slipped back into the crazies. I started missing my home and my marriage, started talking reconciliation, put the divorce on hold..now we are back to square one..kind of like ripping the scab off a partially healed wound. I have to proceed with the divorce, even tho my heart wants to hold the hope for better. In all the things I’ve read and learned, not one has said N’s are capable of changing nor have i heard of any that have changed.

        Praying daily. All of the comments are so true and help me to see…this is sooo hard. I pray for strength each and every day to not go back. God is there and I feel His love and strength.

    • Pamela “He hops on the crazy bus and away we go”. I identified with your crazy bus as soon as I read those words. I too divorced and got safe. It was my second marriage (2 years, 10months). He was on the end of the Narc continuum flipping him into being a Psychopath, including physical and spiritual violence. I had counselling but later needed specialist counselling for PTSD. During that time the therapist gave me a very useful metaphor which is used with many of the clients of that Rehab centre. It is ‘the bus’. We can use the bus however we like. This is my script…. you write your own (in your mind) and practice it. Visualise the bus AND locking the ‘thought’ or ‘person’ OUT when the awful thoughts happen. “I am the driver of MY bus. I can choose who gets ON my bus and who I will NOT ALLOW on my bus. Sometimes it is real people who try to get on my bus and come for the ride. Other times it is ‘thoughts’ which hop on my bus. I can choose to let those people ride with me AND I can choose which thoughts ride around with me on my bus OR I can tell them to GET OFF my bus also.” It took some practice. I am a visual person so am able to actually visualise the Narc or the Words trying to get on my bus. Over time my bus (visual) actually has added big locks on it… I control the opening system. It has very heavy steel walls and windows which cannot be broken. I can speed my bus to supersonic speed and get away…. LAUGHING with joy and confidence each time. Or (particularly for new people in our life or those whom I’m not sure of) I can test the person who is trying to get on my bus….. I can let them on OR I can let them ride on the outside for awhile til I get to know them better BEFORE I open the door. If I choose to open the door…. they can sit at the back of the bus for a time (an acquaintance to start) and not allow them to come forward until all is OK. I can control this situation in my mind long before it becomes real. As for the nasty person whom I have decided to go NO CONTACT. He has his own “Crazy Bus” (I just borrowed your metaphor for myself, thank you Pamela). He can roar around madly on his own Crazy Bus as much as he likes….. HE WILL NEVER GET BACK ON MY BUS. Because my bus has super speed… it can never be ‘crashed’ by his Crazy Bus. I can tell myself ‘they are just thoughts….. and tell them to get back on the Crazy Bus…. you don’t belong on my bus… Rev up my bus (laughing all the way) and get on with my journey. The trick is to remember to visualise the bus and get rid of the interlopers.

    • Carol

      Any chance it could be Bipolar Disorder?
      (It used to be called Manic Depressive Disorder.)

      • Bipolar Disorder (or MDP) is a diagnosable Mental Illness. It has highs and lows of varying degrees. Some have more major depressive episodes than the highs which are manic episodes. Some with manic episodes can be quite psychotic. From what I have read both professionally and from secular blogs. If a person has BiPolar they need to be under the care of an MD and or Psychiatrist and first of all diagnosed properly. When people with BiPolar are successfully treated and are considered ‘stable’…. they are not usually nasty, but revert to their normal healthy selves. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is in DSMIV but from what I have read very unlikely to be successfully treated and managed. I believe Narcs are bad people. There is an old saying “Is this person BAD or MAD”. In other words is it a diagnosable/treatable/manageable mental illness OR are they just a BAD person…. a criminal, nasty type. None of us on this Blog can diagnose another person just by reading some ‘snapshots’ about them. However Narcissists are nasty. They take an antidepressant and hello? they are still nasty, getting a great deal of sympathy from the Dr and ‘friends’ because of it…. even bringing on the crocodile tears. Looks good in court too. DSMV is still out on whether it should be included in DSMV I believe Soicopaths and Psychopaths are BAD they are included in DSMIV. They all certainly share various Pathologies with the Narcissist….. but a prescription tablet WON’T FIX or CHANGE their behaviour. It may treat some of the anxiety or depression they ‘may’ have. But I don’t believe a tablet and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy etc will STOP their abusive behaviour. My ex was a Narc but also a Sociopath/Pscychopath as he was physically abusive and he was a serial offender. Counselling? Yes. GP? Yes. Inpatient? Yes. He knew how to manipulate and use every single avenue. Changed? Not in your life.

      • StillReforming

        Annie, preach it! I have had various well-meaning people suggest to me whenever I’d describe something my abuser said or did, “Sounds like Alzheimer’s Disease” (when I’d describe his “forgetfulness,” even though he wasn’t yet 50 years old) or “Could he be bipolar?” (because how easily he can switch persona). But I knew he is neither of those. I have realized that if someone has not lived with or had direct experience with a narcissist or a person with borderline personality disorder, that person won’t understand because the experience is unlike any other. I have read on these blogs (here and cryingoutforjustice) many other people who, like me, took years to finally figure out what was going on, and if it’s taken those of us who have that direct experience years to catch on, how can those who don’t have that experience understand or relate? I think this is in part one of the reasons Pastor Jeff Crippen’s book is invaluable at a time such as this – because people in Christian leadership NEED to understand. They NEED to “get it,” because they have a direct charge from Jesus Christ Himself to shepherd His flock, and if those leaders choose to remain blissfully ignorant, woe to them indeed. These little sheep are left stranded on a cliffside with a wolf poised to push them off. Thank GOD indeed for the Good Shepherd who never lets a single of His sheep go.

  9. It’s painful for me to watch others struggle with this “why” question, this mystery that is not up to us to solve. Besides, if we were to solve the puzzle, I have a funny feeling the time and effort to solve it would not be to our benefit nor would the solution bring us any closer to peace. 🙂

  10. Rox

    Wow! This post could not have come at a better time. We are coming up on the year anniversary of the last time (aside from ignoring him) I was in contact with my N best friend. Those old questions began to surface. How could he do this to me? Didn’t he ever love me? Am I really that unlovable? Could I do something to fix this? I have to let it go. It is a puzzle I can’t assemble, because so many of the pieces are missing or broken. I give this multi-layer puzzle to God and hope He will protect me from the memories of my N. I will always miss the person he was . . . and then I remember that he really wasn’t.

  11. UnForsaken

    Wow, that “endless loop” is very familiar! People tell us it’s because we haven’t forgiven, then we would forget. ( HA!) But we have a Need to know , and only God can fill it. We can’t know everything on this earth, but we can be closer to the One Who does!

    • Unforsaken… I don’t find it very helpful when people accuse us of not forgiving just because we haven’t forgotten. I am always perplexed that people actually think our wonderful brains, which God designed with the most fantastic capabilities to ‘remember’ ( its called ‘long term memory … duh)…… can SUDDENLY forget just because we said. “Lord I forgive him for what he did.” I even had a guy quote the bible to me that God forgets our sins so we should too….. taking it out of context…. God certainly doesn’t hold our forgiven sins agains us but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t remember what we did. He will not hold them against us is what the Bible says. As Pastor Dave has explained above….. our memory and the emotions can be triggered at any time by all sorts of things. The trigger can be a a symptom of Trauma….. Triggers can be nice….. the smell of a rose taking us back to a lovely bouquet, the cheering of a crowd taking us back to the first time we won a prize etc. Lovely memories, long term memories. The triggers can also take us back to trauma. Awful memories, long term memories. Trauma to be dealt with has to be talked out, looked at, faced, and healed from. We can hand over so much to God…. but we do need to face and deal with the cause of the trauma…. we don’t do this by ‘forgetting’ and moving on. The triggers WILL come. Even though we have forgiven…. we still have to ‘remember’ to deal with it. I guess the trick is to not try to forever go down the path of ‘why did he do that to me?’ I believe we do need to visit that question though … read these blogs, learn as much as we can…… THEN we can come to the realisation that….. it is NOTHING I did, could do, could say, could change….. NOTHING will stop these people. Its stops because we walk away. The Narc/Sociopath/Psycopath moves onto their next victim and the process continues. With the help of Counselling, friends, family, faith and good Blogs like this…. we can move forward….. to a new life. One that doesn’t have SO MANY triggers. I am enjoying making NEW MEMORIES which DO NOT include him…. Good ones to go over the top of the old…. so that I will have new triggers, happier triggers. It takes time….. my journey continues.

    • Marni

      Thank you for your Unforsaken thoughts
      Sometimes in my lonely world-no one to talk to- I start rewinding the “endless loop” And have too forcefully remind myself that I will not see myself as a ‘victim’ …And reaffirm myself in the Grace of GOD, the ONE who knows

      • UnForsaken

        Thanks Marni! 🙂 We are survivors.

        Annie, Totally agree and love the way you put my HA! into better words! Those accusers have no idea what our real relationship with God is, and want to fix us. Being told to move on never helped my healing, but as you say, making new memories has!

  12. Eleanor

    Thanks Dave! I too look forward to this email every week.. God has really given you a wonderful ministry.. you have amazing insight into all of this..
    “Do what you need to do to protect yourself and to find health. Establish boundaries, create distance, find support. Then give the mystery to God.”
    this says it all- simple yet profound, each part has it’s challenges but it is a clear plan…I found today’s post very cleansing and freeing as I have spent 33 years looking for explanations and going from one to the next , each one bringing the hope that with the explanation may come solutions and a new way forward, and then the disappointment when the explanation does not deliver..
    this year I think I finally got to the point of acceptance of what is- I have truly not wanted to believe it about my husband and also did not want to lose the things I value most ( married love; keeping of vows; parenting & grandparenting together) but when I start accepting I realise I have built such a fantasy up about my marriage etc in order to cope and have a semblance of normal and as a way of somehow assembling the puzzle pieces so that they go together… but it has proved an elusive task… and so I choose to give the mystery to God.

  13. Mark

    I heard a different explanation for the fried eggs mystery. Supposedly, memories from very young ages can be triggered by smells. The memory of the smell is still there, but the memory that went along with the smell is gone. There are a few smells that have mysterious, deep, but unknown meaning to me. I have memories attached to them, but I suspect those memories are the replacement memories, not the originals.

  14. newlyanonymous

    Wise, wise, wise counsel indeed. That is exactly what I am doing, having moved past 5+ years of reading up on what I thought I was seeing in my abuser’s behaviors and words and trying to understand/help/work with, etc. Now I am in the separating/divorcing/healing phase and reading about us – my child and me – how we can move on to regain a healthy safe God-honoring and -loving present and future. The abuser’s issues are his alone. My child still prays for him. Perhaps some day I will again, but I spent so many years praying for him I feel all prayed out about him. I pray more for our child, me, and my church family in Christ. I struggle with that sometimes (not praying for him anymore), but I am still shaking the dust off my feet.

  15. Margaret

    Thank you…this weeks post is especially helpful I have been asked so many times over the years–why do you stay together and there is no short answer, at first it was a strong sense of ‘I made vows’  and also the belief that What I was being told was true…”you could never make it on your own.  Everyone will see you as the bad one”–horrors— etc   I have for the last 25 years proven that not only can I ‘make it’ on my own but, have also taken care of him.  He has had a good life.   At some point I came to believe that if I don’t trigger  him and if I always keep in mind that ‘this is the “Narsi” talking I can exist with a minimum amount of pain. Works fairly well.    Your columns have helped enormously as, even though we are in a great church –that is his place and I cannot confide in anyone  there, and that can feel extremely lonely at times—lucky that I am a bit of an introvert—   I do realize that my life has become a bit unbalanced in that I spend 6 days a week running my business (alterations and custom clothing) and at age 73 it is wearing a bit thin?  so am actively asking God’s guidance as I spent all those years mopping up his -great financial ideas – and did not pay attention to creating an adequate retirement fund… and he ,of course cannot ‘work’ for pay because he is busy doing the Lord’s work… Regarding this I quite often remind myself that the Lord has always used flawed people to do his bidding–from  old through new testament times.  I would like to spend a bit more quality time pursuing my life long ‘hobby’ of writing but wear myself out working and keeping -the peace.  At least I am no longer needing to fund his ideas to keep him from begging ‘investors to fund them and then when they did not produce -explain it all away. and I had to hear that …. ooh I sense here, once again, a bit of residual bitterness which I do continually try to give to the Lord.    and only in HIS strength dose it  even  come close to working.      Margaret

  16. Such an easy solution to a complicated situation.

    I am about to start in year 4 in a very hostile divorce with my X Narc husband of 20 years. I have allowed way too much time to the mental go-arounds about the whys of his deceit and his abandonment of our son.

    The blogging helps me get out what I internalize, but yes I was still hoping for some answers. You are absolutely right about letting it go and just move on. There really are no answers are there?

    I have to let God let me know on a “need to know” basis and leave it at that. Just like he will on my questions about life on other planets. I should spend about the same amount of time pondering both of those questions. Which should be not very much time at all.

    I appreciate the insight. It helps a lot.

    I will still keep the fight up in the courts though. I need to fight for what is rightfully mine.

  17. joy

    This is sooo true. I’ve been divorced for almost 3 years, and yet I still sometimes find myself wondering why it all happened, why he treated me that way, why he does the things he does, why she manipulates our children and friends still. It’s not as often as at first…after all we were married almost 30 years and most of that time I was pondering over all these things that didn’t make sense. Trying to figure out what was wrong…was it me or him? It’s not easy to change thought patterns that have worn such a rut in your mind, but I’m making progress.

    My best friend and I were talking of “shaking the dust from your feet” and moving on. That is what I am trying to do. Shake the dust, and accept that I will never know the “whys.” Accept that not everything makes sense. I have a life to live, and even though my marriage was traumatic to my mind, I have to move on, and quit trying to understand everything. It’s egotistical for me to think I can figure EVERYTHING out anyway. Let it go.

  18. Ttc

    Wow, how powerful. I get stuck in the endless loop of why me, why not them pity party. This really sums it up in the comments, so many just left scratching their heads. How could this happen? Every day I think today I will not be the discarded one. Everyday I am wrong. Yes I am seriously delusional. I can’t confront the N. You can’t hash it out with another, who would believe you, you are just left isolated, hurt, confused and wondering what on earth just happened. And the torture goes on and on in an endless cat and mouse game. Yes I want off this crazy bus but my subconscious hangs on.

    Thank you for the gentle nudge in the right direction to sanity.

  19. Laura

    Thank you for this timely post. I just had to tell my dad he can’t come over anymore because his help is not help and I am not his identity. Now we’re working through reinforcing boundaries, explaining to the rest of the family why this is necessary, and trying to live our lives. The most freeing thing is when my husband said, “He is not your problem to solve. That belongs to God.” Relief! This post said the same. I’m sorry we’re all in this, but I’m glad to not be alone.

  20. I just need to confess. I tried to payback my narcissistic friend because I felt used. So when she needed my help for her 4th move, I only went to help one day for 7 hours. Then 2 days before her final move she texted me for help, but I told her I promised my two older sisters that I would come to help them that day; and that is what I did. Now she won’t call or text or communicate with me.

    Just to let you know, I was always there for her. Staying on the phone for hours as she complained about her x-husband, parents, family, boss, co-workers. Helping her to move from house to house. Always trying to encourage. I began to feel used. She is single with no children. I have a disabled husband, a child and grandchildren. She has little empathy for anyone unless it benefits her. We would meet for lunch and I always had to drive to where it was convenient for her. Sometimes she would say she would meet me some place, then call at the last minute to make changes. I would turn my schedule all around to accommodate her.

    The day of her final move, I was also experiencing pain in my abdomen. Actually, I couldn’t lift anything heavy. I did let her know, but she just made snide remarks and dismissed my problems. She knows I have been dealing with my elderly sister who is terminally ill. My sister is a widow and has no children. She is 18 years older then me. So she is like a mom. I know my friend has problems with her mom as well.

    I feel hurt. After all we were friends for many years. We would say we were sisters. A sister would not disgard you because of something like this. She has done this before when she felt that she had more exciting people are things in her life.

    Obviously, she wasn’t all bad and neither was I. I read that co-dependent and narcissistic peole are caught up together in a cycle. She and my husband have many of the same characteristics. I’m just worn out.

    I will shake off the dust and move on in Jesus Christ. I will pray for her. I am no one’s saviour. Only Jesus can save and heal. I nearly died trying between the two of them. I want to live in Christ. I want a new life and a new start in Jesus.

    If you are in Christ, let us pray for one another and those who despitefully use us.
    Whom the Son sets free, is free indeed!

  21. MeganC

    Thank you so much! I think I did this but didn’t know exactly why. When I set up the boundaries and decided I would never have the “why”, I was able to move on. Whenever one of my past abusers does something hurtful, I literally say to myself, “I don’t know why they do it. I don’t know why they hate me. But, I won’t be like them. Nope, won’t ever look over my shoulder.” I am posting this on our Give Her Wings page.

    http://www.giveherwings.com

  22. I just don’t want to take it anymore. My husband is so demanding. I’m scheduled for surgery on election day. It’s pretty serious and he knows that. He says to me that voting is more important than some surgery.

    I don’t feel like writing a lot at this time. I just keep getting hurt over and over. This is just another dig. He only cares about what I can do for him. He has blatantly told me that people only want others for what they can do for them. I don’t feel or act that way. Yet, I know he isn’t going to change.

    I have to leave. He is intolerable. He wants to be waited on hand and foot. Screams and curses at the top of his voice for any little infraction. We have to report to him everything or there will be consequences. Please pray for me to leave.

    Our grown daughter is moving out this month. She moved back home after a terrible breakup, along with our grandson .

    My husband’s behavior has caused emotional problems for our grandson. He is 10 years old. He emulates his grandfather and gets in trouble at school. He has told other children that he is better than them. Talk back to the principal and refused to do as she asked, etc. My daughter took him to see a therapist. The therapist told her she needed to move because the environment with his grandfather is unhealthy. My pastor said that its affecting my health.

    Thanks for your message. It is so helpful. God led me to your site. I must trust Him to lead me out of this wilderness.

  23. Alice

    Thank you for this EXCELLENT post!
    Unfortunately, letting go is the hardest part of it really, as we all know. Proof of it: you are (still) writing about narcissism and I am (still) reading everything I can find about narcissism…

    Don’t get me wrong- I am very very thankful that you do your “Processing” online, this helps me so much to understand and “process” what happened between me and by narc! But I guess as long as I am reading about narcissism, I am still trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. I wish I could just clear him out of my system, but it is so hard. Kaleah LaRoche proposes healing tools such as psychic chord cutting, walking through the pain, inner child healing etc. and this helps me to let go and “release him”. I also follow a twelve-step-approach (using CoDA-Group techniques): I treat my former toxic liaison with my narc and my daily “obsessing” about the puzzle that is I managed to get out and leave him as in addiction. In fact, he was the toxic drug and I was addicted. It takes a lot of strength, courage, self-love, time, patience, persistence and support to withdrawl from a toxic drug (the narc, in our case). One needs faith and trust in a higher power. One must surrender what you call “the mystery” to that higher power or God of one’s understanding.

    Thanks again for sharing your experiences and knowledge on this blog. Your posts are clear-sighted, thought-provoking and inspiring! It’s so helpful for me to read them. I also love the way you write:-)

    Greetings from Germany,
    Alice

  24. Rupert Whitebear

    I recently had a couple friends over, and, as usual, we spent the entire night discussing, analyzing, and puzzling over the narsissistic couple we confronted and broke relationship with 18 months ago. This couple found us in a period in our lives in which we were questioning the ministry we were involved in, and they were unbelievably good at convincing us to leave that ministry and serve their mission. I have read and studied much about narcissists but I found that even though I eventually came to understand “what” they were trying to accomplish in their ministry (namely, their own exaltation), I was tortured over the “why”. I simply couldn’t understand why people would voluntarily and repeatedly hurt the people they gathered to themselves while simultaneously repeatedly cause their own lives to be ones of constant chaos and instability. I am thinking about your post and seriously considering purposefully moving on from these types of questions. It is like torture trying to put myself in their shoes and figure out “why”.

    • Still Reforming

      Rupert,
      Why does the devil continue with his work when he knows the end will come to no good for him? Why do his minions do the same? In the case of the narcissist, I don’t think there’s a satisfactory answer to the “why,” and it may differ from individual to individual, however, self-exaltation is common ground for them all. Perhaps that’s why reason and logic never work with the narcissist. It’s not about truth. It’s about them.
      I sincerely hope you find peace in this matter. It’s a long, hard road when shared at any length with a narcissist.
      Also, for those of us who have been gifted God’s Holy Spirit, our minds that share the mind of Christ cannot relate to that evil. Thankfully so.

  25. Agnes

    “Don’t let narcissism be an endless loop of focus in your life.” Thank you for these closing remark. After seven years with a narcissist I am finally able to walk away, but most sites suggests you start analyzing yourself as a victim and how you have been affected, why did you attract them etc. It is really difficult already to keep the boundaries intact and I do not think it is helpful to get stuck in analyzing the dynamics of the narcissist and the victim. I agree that it is uttermost important to be alert and have a list of red flags for next time, but I have suffered enough. So thank you for this remark, God bless you!

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