It’s Narcissist Friday!
Okay, you have left the narcissist. Now life is boring. You are thinking about going back. Or you have met someone new and the same characteristics are obvious. What are the chances that you are stepping into another narcissistic relationship?
Or you find that your life just goes from one drama to the next. You were raised by a narcissist and you long for some sense of peace. But that peace never seems to come. The stress might come from friends, from the kids, from the extended family, or whatever, but it never seems to stop. One crisis after another.
You say that you would love to have a dull moment, that maybe you would take an hour or two away from the craziness to let your head clear. But you never do it. The truth is that you get bored very easily these days. You find it hard to concentrate. At work, you fuss about home. At home, you fuss about work. Even if you had a vacation, you would probably spend it fussing about something.
When the body encounters times of stress, it produces adrenaline, a chemical that intensifies your ability to run or fight or deal with what it considers a threat. Your heart rate increases. You have more energy and stamina. Your attention is more focused. You feel stronger.
Some people report that they work best under pressure. What that usually means is that they use the stress of the pressure to access the adrenaline needed to focus and think quickly. Most of the time we don’t do our best work under pressure, but we can get things done.
Few people understand the stress of living in a narcissistic relationship. If the source of stress isn’t active, the anticipation provides the adrenaline. Maybe the narcissist isn’t even home from work yet, but you can feel the tension rising. All day you sat in a funk, but now you fly around getting things done to try to prevent the stress. Where does that energy come from?
Adrenaline addiction is a recognized struggle for many in our culture. All you have to do to see the reality of it is to watch a 1970’s drama or action television show. Ever notice how slowly they move? Young people often comment on how slow things are on those shows. They are boring, they say. But those shows made the 1950’s shows seem slow. Today, many people can’t watch fiction television at all. They want “reality.” They want to feel the relationship and competition stresses. Those of us who are older are often amazed at the stresses young people make for themselves.
The primary problem with adrenaline is that you don’t have to buy it, and you can’t just shut off your supply. Your body produces it naturally. Yet, some professionals believe it is as addicting as morphine. If you add to the situation by using a lot of sugar or foods with additives or other addictive substances, you may intensify the feelings of stress.
And one of the primary problems with any addiction is that the substance eventually creates the very thing it helped at the beginning. In other words, adrenaline helped you to cope at the beginning of the relationship. But now, when the relationship is over, the adrenaline makes you feel depressed and lonely and bored. Instead of longing for peace and rest, you really find yourself anticipating and even desiring the next crisis.
I am convinced that we are a culture addicted to adrenaline. I have believed this ever since I first read Dr. Archibald Hart’s book, Adrenaline and Stress, back in the 80’s. I am almost as convinced that the reason some people fail to overcome narcissistic relationships is because they have been hooked by the adrenaline.
So what do you do? Well, the answer is not easy. You must find a way to health. Exercise is a common prescription for adrenaline addiction. Focusing the energy in other ways: hobbies, volunteering, writing, etc. If you can find a good counselor, he or she might have some ways to cope with the let-down of separation from the narcissist.
But one important thing is to recognize the lie. The lie says that you are in danger, that you should be ready to run or hide or fight. In the relationship that seemed to be true, but ask yourself if it is still true. Give yourself permission to rest. Choose to trust people who support you. Let yourself laugh and do regular things. Remember, when you feel like others are boring, that it may be the adrenaline telling you that you are moving too slowly. Walk just a little slower. Smell the flowers.
You see, the drama can be addicting, but it isn’t good for you. You don’t really work best under pressure. Life doesn’t always have to be crazy. You can pamper yourself with a walk or a good book or a bath or a nap or a precious time of just watching the birds and squirrels play. These are the things rich and contented people can do—and they are things you can do. The more you trust the Lord and the more you trust yourself, the more you will relax. Let it happen. Push through the excuses and worry and nerves. Tell yourself that you are worth a time of peace and rest.