It’s Narcissist Friday!
Every once in a while I get an email or a comment that ends with something like this: “I am sorry to share all of that, but thank you for letting me rant.” Believe me, we all understand!
Maybe it’s the craziness of all of it. Maybe it’s the isolation that we feel in narcissistic relationships. Maybe it’s the look on people’s faces when we try to tell them what has been happening. Whatever the cause, it just makes you want to scream sometimes.
Remember the old Sylvester and Tweety cartoons, where the cat needs to scream? He runs to the garbage can, lets it all out, and closes the can before the noise can escape. Then the garbage man comes along, opens the can, and is knocked over by the scream. Wouldn’t it be great to have a place like that?
We need to be able to let it out. Holding anger in (or frustration or whatever you want to call it) isn’t healthy. At the same time, it may not be healthy to let it out in the relationship. So what do you do? Maybe you have a good friend or family member who will let you say what you really think. Maybe you have a place to write your words (like here). Or maybe you just go for a walk away from everybody else and tell God what you think.
I encourage you to find some safe place or person to let some of your frustration out. Be careful. Probably not someone at church or in your family, unless you are very confident. Almost certainly not your kids. Maybe a counselor who doesn’t try to fix you by shutting you up. Maybe not your pastor.
Some people can’t handle the honesty you need. Some really don’t want to share your burden. Some will have all kinds of answers for your problems, whether they have really listened or not. Some will judge you for your honesty. So be careful.
It takes a thick skin and a lack of caring just to dump your stuff on someone else. In fact, you could become part of their problem. So what do you do if you can’t find that certain safe person or place? How can you get your rant out and stay safe without hurting others?
Well, here are a few ideas.
1. I already mentioned taking a walk and telling God how you feel. You don’t have to hold back with Him. He already knows, right? And He can handle your anger or confusion or grief. It doesn’t have to be a walk. Maybe a drive or just sitting in the car. I would suggest that you speak out loud, so be aware of who can hear you. Go ahead and scream, cry, explain, whatever. Just let it out. God can handle it. And you may well find that He gives you more encouragement and guidance than you expect.
2. Write it down. For many of us, writing is therapeutic. Writing makes us choose our words, but anonymous or hidden writing lets us say things we might not say otherwise. Writing connects your creativity with your frustration and gives you a release beyond just yelling. Again, be careful. If you write in a diary, you don’t want your narcissist finding it and using it against you. He/she will. You could burn what you wrote or seal it in an envelope and give it to a trusted support person. (Here’s an idea: you could write with ink that turns invisible so no one can read it later except you (because you know how to make it visible again). Wink…)
I think writing things down can be very important. Logging events might help a great deal if you are being gaslighted (made to think you are crazy). You may be able to share these events with a counselor later to help explain what you have gone through. But these logs are probably not the place to write your rants. Your rants may actually make you sound crazy! That’s no reason not to write them, however. Just don’t share them.
3. You are welcome to write your rants as anonymous comments here. I would ask that you keep the swearing to a minimum, of course, and don’t overload the internet (I know you could!) But telling your story, even with some strong emotion, is fine here. Sometimes you might get a response or two, but even if you don’t you have had the opportunity to let it out somewhere. You can look it up later and know that you wrote that.
4. You may be able to find a face-to-face group where you can let things out, maybe even anonymously. Some support groups only use first names and allow people to tell their stories without judgment for emotions. As always, be careful. Groups can feed these emotions so they don’t actually get out, but loop back over and over every time you share or hear someone else share. You probably know people who are so caught up in their anger and confusion that they tell the same story repeatedly. You want to get rid of some of it.
Sadly, these are also groups frequented by predators. Beware the support person who comes out of one of these groups, especially someone of the opposite gender. Narcissists on the prowl will seek someone already victimized by another narcissist.
Letting out the rant is simply being honest. Using the rant to attack or dump on others is obviously not what you want to do. But holding it is not going to help. Let the emotions out somehow without hurting others. Embrace the feelings you have in the situation. If you deny them, they will hurt you. Instead, acknowledge those feelings and, by so doing, control them. You can do it. In fact, it might feel good.