What they take

It’s Narcissist Friday!

We have talked about narcissists as predators or users. The literature refers to “narcissistic supply” as what the narcissists consume from their victims. Sometimes, that just means attention, praise, obedience, etc. Whatever makes the narcissist feel good about himself. But there must be something more they take.

Most victims of narcissistic relationships experience the drained weariness, the empty feeling that suggests something has been taken away. Some find themselves confused, lost, almost hollow when the narcissist leaves. The idea of being used up and thrown away is often expressed at the end of a narcissistic relationship.

Of course, there is a practical side to this. Most victim spouses are left with little money or opportunity. Victim friends are often left with few positive relationships. The narcissist may have taken money, time, energy, and more. The feeling of loss might be the result of an accurate post-relationship assessment.

But there’s something more, isn’t there? Narcissists take something that makes it hard to rebuild, to find health again. Some core asset has been taken away. Something from deep inside.

This will be the first of three posts about what narcissists take from the rest of us. I will ask three questions: What do they take? Why do they take it? How do we get it back?

Have you noticed that the narcissist is not satisfied, no matter how much attention or obedience they get? Life with the narcissist seems like a continual battle; it is never good enough. If the narcissist stands in front of everyone receiving awards and accolades, he will still complain about the people who didn’t clap enthusiastically enough. He will think of them as phony or insincere.

Have you noticed that the narcissist is never satisfied with service or compassion or even love, no matter how much you give? You could set aside all your other responsibilities, ignore all other relationships, but the narcissist would still want more. You could focus your day on making the narcissist feel good—all day, every day. But it wouldn’t be enough.

That constant pull for more drains the victim. Too often the purpose is disguised, the goal reset ever farther away. Like Sisyphus, pushing the great boulder up the hill only to have it roll back just when it reaches the top, day after day through eternity; the narcissist’s victims feel hopeless and worthless.

What do narcissists want?!? What will be enough? What do you have to do to satisfy them? Not only do you have to be ready to fulfill unreasonable demands, you are supposed to enjoy doing those things. The narcissist wants you to be sincere, to desire to please him or her. Not only are you to praise him, you are to think of him as better than others. Not only are you to obey, you are to be happy to serve. Not only are you to give her attention, you are not to desire anything else.

Then, if you seem to be happy and sincere, the narcissist will test you with cruel expectations and judgments. You will be criticized, doubted, even condemned—until you prove that you have joyfully given the narcissist everything. He/she will only believe you when you completely yield.

And, when you have given all, when the narcissist thinks he has drained you completely, it will be time for him to move on. You have nothing left to give.

What does the narcissist take? Your heart. Your life. Your personhood. Perhaps no word is big enough. That which make you separate and special and alive. The energy and identity that is you.

In my book, I make the distinction between the overt and covert narcissist. I write:

The overt narcissist may make you think of murder, but the covert narcissist makes you think of suicide.

The overt narcissist is in more of a hurry. He/she will take as much as possible as quickly as possible, then move on. You know you are losing something, and you know the narcissist is taking it, but you still have enough to be angry when he leaves. The covert narcissist moves more slowly, willing to drain completely. Those who have been used by the covert often feel as though nothing is left. They have no energy, no motivation, no ability to move forward with life.

Your heart. That’s what the narcissist wants to take. Loyalty, joy, initiative, personality, energy, and so much more.

Why? Well, that’s next week’s post. But I want to assure you that the narcissist can never win. Tucked away, there is a spark in you that has not been taken. You are still alive and still you. Talk to the Lord about it. Let Him restore you. Begin to walk back to health. Many have found that life after the narcissist can be good again. It might take time, but don’t lose hope. There is a way back to you.


Book News!

I understand that some people don’t do business with Amazon.  With that in mind, I can purchase and sell the books on my own.  If anyone is interested in purchasing the Narcissism book with free shipping, send me an email.  The price will be $16, and you can pay through the Paypal link.  (If you round up as a donation, be sure to let me know you want the book.)  Yes, that is a penny more than Amazon, but rounding it will help with the math.  Those who use Amazon Prime will get the book for the same (minus one cent) and will get it faster, but those who don’t use Prime or Amazon can get it here.  Obviously, I can’t give free postage outside the US, but I would work with you to find the best deal on shipping.  I also will not be able to handle returns. 

I can offer the same kind of deal with the Walk with Me book, but the price would be an even $20.  Free shipping. 

Processing and shipping will take longer.  I will ship Book Rate and pack it myself.  If I have books on hand, I can send them fairly quickly.  If I have to order more, it will take a couple weeks.  Factor that in. 


Narcissism in the Church

Of all groups, the church should be the place without narcissism.  We embrace Christian relationships, join Christian organizations, and submit to Christian leadership expecting to be valued and loved.  Instead, too many find the church to be a place where their voice is stifled and their needs are ignored. 

Why?  Sadly, the narcissistic message has infected the church.  Too many churches categorize people according to their usefulness.  Individuals are not valued except as they serve the organization or the leadership.  That message has tainted both personal and organizational relationships.

The book, Narcissism in the Church: A Heart of Stone in Christian Relationships, explains that message and exposes its effect.  It is available as a Kindle e-book or in paperback using the links below. 




Narcissism in the Church: A Heart of Stone in Christian Relationships by [Orrison, David]


Filed under Narcissism

14 responses to “What they take

  1. lisaadams211

    This is excellent. They take and take and take, and then take some more. It’s because of this that I’ve nicknamed our ex-son-in-law “The Tapeworm” — Find victim, attach yourself, then proceed to leech from them all the things that YOU don’t have, but can drain or harvest from them: their joy, their compassion, their generosity, their longsuffering, their creativity, their strength, their resolve…. Suck, suck, suck…. Leaving their victim anemic, weak, weary, and sick.

  2. Janet

    Oh my gosh!!!! This post is absolutely spot freaking on and a perfect point by point description of my experience with my covert narcissistic bff. I cannot tell you how many times I told her “I am sorry Sarah! I have nothing left to give you!!!” And yes, people would ask me what the relationship gave me, and why I stayed in it when all I got from it was abuse, and a deep feeling that I was worthless, useless, inadequate, incompetent, and that I could never ever do anything right, or ever do enough. And I said that so many times!! “Nothing I do for you is ever enough!! I have poured myself out for you!! I have nothing left to give you!!!” So why did I take the abuse 7 years? It had to come to the point to where that horrid trauma bond was broken. I found finally, that I just did not give a rat’s pitooti anymore. When that day came, I was able so say “I’m done” and actually be able to leave. She tried half a year after to re-contact, but I saw that I was finally and completely not the slightest bit interested in what was going on in her life. I genuinely did not want to know. Of course, because I gave no answer, I got a final abusive email with a hundred accusations for this. And the amazing thing was, it didnt bother me because I genuinely no longer cared.

  3. Ann

    Thank you Pastor Dave for a well-written and inspirational article. It sums up our experiences with narcissists very well and leaves us with a positive message.

  4. Fern

    This post was so needed, it was brilliant & also very heart-felt.

    I remember having the exact thought: “What do they want?!?” At the time, I honestly couldn’t figure it out. I tried to offer friendship, it was rejected. I stayed quiet, I was ridiculed. I minded my own business, I was harassed endlessly.
    Some time later, I was discussing it with a close friend, pondering & posing the same ? = What do these people want?
    My friend came up with the answer, “Everything…literally absolutely everything.” That answer has stuck with me.
    Everything tangible & intangible, things you never knew that other people could want or demand from you. Your soul, your bank account, your status, your friends, your characteristics, just everything. I think we could make a list of everything they want to take from us, and it would never end. We could just keep coming up with more & more…

  5. Savedbygrace

    I needed this reminder today Dave..thankyou so much! I now live in peace and safety and have much joy in rebuilding my life..but sometimes when I see the xnh ‘moving on’ with the new woman I second guess myself..but mainly just have sympathy for her.. it so hard to comprehend that someone can seek to ‘consume’ another person like that..that at times I think to myself..did I get it wrong/over react? but no..and your article brought it all flooding back..which was not pleasant but was validating and a helpful reminder of where I have come from..my nh would oscillate between being overt and covert and you are right,,he drove me to feel my only way out was murder or suicide..so divorce by comparison is a better price to pay for freedom!

  6. Susan Roberts

    Well said!!! And the thing is you don’t you’re being robbed of those things until you have also been robbed of the energy to fight back (covert). I am thankful that people, like you, talk about it and help shed light on a confusing situation.

  7. Annie

    I think the “suck the life out of you” is something that family and friends often don’t understand when it comes to the healing process. It’s a long way back from what we were before meeting that person to someone even better. They are parasites which take an awful long time to get rid of and regain health. People tell me to ‘get over it… its in the past now’ or ‘it’s such a long time ago, you’ve got to move on with your life’ and an awful one “you’ve got to learn to forgive and forget’ etc. It’s hard to move on when we have no point of reference …. to move on? From where? To where? The old good healthy memories also get shattered along the way. My counsellor and then another trauma therapist helped see clearly… blogs like Pastor Dave’s and others also help… but in the end it’s in us to find the path. Those who don’t understand can often add to the abuse, thereby lengthening the recovery process. I’ve learned to keep away from Toxic people, whether related or not. My trauma therapist gave me a visual technique which I use when necessary. It goes something like this. “Think of yourself as a bus driver. How big is your bus? How many seats? Who is on your bus? Who is not? It’s up to you, as the bus driver who you allow on your bus. Those who you do not want on the bus, shut them out OR kick them off the bus. When you drive off with the doors firmly closed, only those who are on the bus are the ones you choose to go on the journey with you…. those who do no harm to you” I have had a great deal of fun visualising how and who I kick off my bus, slam the door firmly shut and drive off on my journey of healing and hope… and those who are allowed to stay. Sometimes I’m alone on the bus… and that’s ok too. Oh and red is my favourite colour. So my ‘visual bus’ is a BIG RED London bus… roaring off into the future. (I’m an Aussie and we have these red buses in the city for tourism too, but my bus doesn’t have an open roof, for sneaky people to get on). Be kind to yourself as I learn to be kind to me too.

  8. Cecilia K

    I do remember that sense of nothing I did ever being enough. When you finally realize that, I think it becomes easier to let go and break free, at least from an emotional standpoint. For those who are married or related to the N, I realize that, practically speaking, breaking free is not so easy, but we know that we can do all things through Christ…

  9. Oh, Dr. Orrison, I never noticed you there watching my 43 year long marriage to a lying, cheating, “Christian” covert narcissist, but you must have been there all along, because you have exactly described what went on! You really know those people! He left because he wasn’t happy and wanted to go find out “who God has for him out there”. I am now realizing the destruction he left.
    Thank you, thank you for your weekly articles. They have been very helpful for me to begin to understand what he is and what he has done.

  10. Jacjacaroo@yahoo.com

    Hi David, I purchased the kindle edition of “Narcissism In the Church” but the font that has downloaded is illegible and I cannot read it. I had previously purchased the devotion book and had no issues and this is the first time I have had any issues with an ebook. Please advise what to do in this case. Regards, Jacqui

    Sent from my iPad


    • Jacqui,

      I am so sorry this is happening. You are the second person to mention this, but I can’t seem to find any info on the problem online or in the Kindle authors discussion group. Nor do I have any problem seeing the text on my end.

      If you go to the Amazon.com page for the e-book and try the preview (at the top of the book image) does it work for you? There was some mention of a problem if the book is downloaded through USB, rather than WiFi, but even that was rare.

      The best advice I can give is for you to return the book to Amazon and then download again. They are good about returns like this. If even that doesn’t work, contact me privately through email.

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