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.
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.