Taking it back

It’s Narcissist Friday!

I just saw a television show where a man had given his girlfriend his precious teddy bear. When they broke up because she wanted someone else, she kept the bear. It had been his for a long time, and he wanted it back. She refused. He acknowledged that he had given it freely, but he had expected the relationship to last. He had not expected to be thrown over for someone else. And he missed his bear.

For the most part, narcissists choose people who give freely. We have been taught that love gives. That extra time, that money, that hard work: they all come from the idea that love gives. Even the praise and admiration, the special attention and care, all come from love. And they all cost us something. Giving to others always costs something. We may consider the cost small, especially when we love, but we give something of ourselves.

We expect a relationship to be reciprocal. Love given and love received. Not every relationship, of course. And not always in kind. Often what we receive is satisfaction or the joy of seeing a smile. But in most relationships, we give and we get. It’s an imperfect, but necessary balance.

Narcissistic relationships are not like that. Oh, in the beginning , we appreciated the fact that the narcissist even noticed us. A pat on the head or a word of welcome was enough. But narcissistic relationships prove to be surprisingly one-sided. We give and the narcissist takes. It isn’t long before the narcissist demands.

If you have been in such a relationship, let me assure you that the feeling of being drained is normal. The victims of narcissists often report feeling used up, empty, and confused. The sense that something is missing is common. The nature of the narcissistic relationship consumes anything the spouse, employee, friend, church member, or family member has to offer.

So, how do you get it back?

Well, you don’t, right? What you gave has been consumed. Used up. Maybe wasted. It’s gone. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but what you gave was not like a teddy bear that can be returned. Nor would the narcissist even consider paying you back. You might get some money or property in court, but most victims find they can’t even get that.

Instead, you have to replace what you gave. The love, the time, the commitment, the loyalty, the forgiveness. Those things can be hard to rebuild, especially when you have given away your trust. Another relationship might seem impossible, at least undesirable. How can you replace these things if you are afraid to open yourself to another relationship?

Other things, like money or property or support systems, can be rebuilt as you become healthy. Through determination and purpose, you can value yourself enough to build again. But your value was something the narcissist tried to take from you to add to his/her own. How do you get that back?

There is a Source of love that never changes, never goes away. That Love the narcissist could not touch. The love you need today, love that you can feel, love that pours warm comfort for your heart—that Love is yours from the Lord who loves you. It’s real, and it’s free. The narcissist might have succeeded in making you forget, but he/she could never take it away. You have a supply that can never be exhausted, and it is deeper and stronger than anything the narcissist has ever known.

From that Love, you draw your health. Through it you find your way back to what God made you to be. In that Love, you can rest and rebuild. Trust in the Lord, the Scripture says, and He will renew your strength. All that the narcissist has taken will come to you again.

The narcissist betrayed your love. He/she took from you with no intention of giving or even truly appreciating your sacrifice. But you are not forgotten. The Lord knows your pain. He is patient, forgiving, gracious, because He loves you.

There is a wonderful word in the Old Testament book of Joel about the Lord rebuilding His people after a time of discipline. The whole chapter is a blessing to read, but these words stand out for me:

“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust. Joel 2:25

Perhaps we have a new word for the narcissists in our lives (wink), but whatever they have consumed the Lord can and will restore. The Lord did not discipline you, don’t get that from my use of this passage. Evil used you. You were hurt by uncaring and unkind people. But the Lord loves you. If He rebuilds those He disciplines, how much more will He rebuild you when you were the victim of cruelty?

The way to health is through love. Love is found in Jesus. Seek His love and find restoration.

Narcissism in the Church

Many of our best friends are in the churches we attend. Yet, church friendships often end abruptly when one leaves the church. The flavor of the friendship can seriously change when one person disagrees with how a church situation is handled. We get the impression that church friendships exist only as long as we are acceptable to the church. What kind of friendship is that?

This new book explains how a church can create a narcissistic culture where relationships exist to serve the image of the superior organization. It explores how a church can become a narcissistic organization, using people to serve an image of superior spirituality.





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


Filed under Narcissism, Uncategorized

14 responses to “Taking it back

  1. God bless you a thousand times over. Your words are like healing to my heart and soul. You clearly have a mission and are fulfilling it and guiding people to the source of wholeness. Many who read your posts comment but I’m sure there are just as many if not more that read them, receive it in gratitude, and for now, don’t post. Thank you for your faithfulness, your fortitude, and for being a light and bringing peace to my soul.

  2. Janet

    Oh my gosh!!! I actually said this to my false covert narc friend and church sister, how I felt drained, used, and that the relationship was completely one sided. (Of course, this was all projected back on me) I told her I kept on giving to her, and gave and gave and gave to her, but she just simply took and took and took, and was never satisfied, and never gave anything in return. Not once. This article, Dave is comforting, validating and re affirming. The Lord gave me that very Joel scripture during the most painful years as I tried to recover from being destroyed. I have healed alot. I have learned to receive from Jesus the love, value and sense of worth that had been robbed of me. This is so spot on!

    • Janet

      As much as Jesus is giving me, there is still a hole in my soul that hasn’t healed. I feel like I am definitely not the same person I was before we became “besties”. But I believe that hole will be filled with Him, and I cling to Him for my life, breath and soul.

  3. rox

    This whole process takes on an additionally sinister level of betrayal when the narcissist is a member of the clergy. My initial thought when the “religious” narc left was not that I would miss him but that I would miss God, whom I felt the narc minister had stolen from me. I was so relieved to find that God had never left me . . . But it still troubles me that this toxic clergyman is out there, infecting congregations, “stealing” God from vulnerable people who may just be beginning to find their way. God, help those who encounter demons in angel’s clothing.

    • Janet

      Rox On, that is exactly what I felt too, that my N stole GOD from me, His love, His care, His attention, His loyalty and faithfulness to me, in that God only wanted to minister to her, and I was to serve her. He was not ministering to me, and what ever I had from God, comfort, anointing, blessing, she made me feel totally obligated to give it all to her because she was so very ill, abused and “needy”. I felt like even God took all that He gave me daily, and gave it all to her. I lost my trust in Him, that He loved me at all. It has taken years to repair my walk and relationship with Him. I wanted in my heart to leave Him for ever, to “divorce” Him. He had to show me it was all a deception and lie from the enemy through this thief. He had allowed this relationship to utterly crush me so He could give me more of Himself.

  4. Learning and growing

    I just wanted you to know how much your writing has blessed me over the past several years! I am a homeschool mom, so on Fridays I make myself an extra cup of coffee and read your blog before starting our day.

    Growing up under narcissistic abuse from at least one parent, a narcissistic pastor, and a large narcissistic cult-like organization, I was just a shell of a person by the time I married against my parents wishes. My husband turned out to be amazing and has supported me as I ended my relationship with my one living parent. In hind sight, I was the perfect candidate for an abusive, narcissistic marriage. Shockingly to me, my husband refused to control my clothes, make up, hair, and housework. At first, even though I was in my late 20s and had “rebelliously” left home years before, I felt like my husband’s respectful behavior was uncaring. I was so programmed to accept control as “love”. It was hard to learn to be my own adult! Slowly but surely I am relearning about Jesus and how truly loving He is! My heart breaks for those who grew up as I did only to jump into abusive marriages. Thank you for helping so many people!

    • Z

      Hi Learning and Growing (and Dave Orrison),
      I also grew up with a similar background to yours.. Both my parents were my constant physical, sexual, verbal, mental & spiritual abusers. Also I witnessed DV almost daily between parents and the abuse of my siblings. My childhood was daily terror., fear of being killed. Also it was filled with their sick sexual perversions inflicted on me. And their lives of so many crimes, criminal frauds and money-making exploitative schemes, the addiction of father to and his selling of child and other porn, both parents’ serial cheating..The list is never-ending.

      There was a also a cult-like extended “christian” family-many of whom lived in the same large apartment building that we did. They all knew of the abuses and DV. They heard us children screaming & heard the sounds of the beatings all the time. Not one of these “christians” (even as they passed our door so many times hearing the screams as they carried their Bibles to church or Bible studies-part of their “christian costume”) said or did a thing to help us helpless voiceless children who were being so regularly harmed physically and mentally. They walked in lock-step with “cult-leader”/fake christian father .They feared my very violent father’s wrath if they ever crossed him. (But they had NO fear of God! The “beginning of wisdom”! The One who can kill the body AND SOUL FOR ETERNITY!) Because they all weren’t really christians. They idolized my parents more than God. They and my abused, now adult siblings, are so codependent, such abuse enablers and coverup experts, liars about the abuses, targeters of the exposers/Truth-Tellers. Smears, lies, threats,. against me-truth-teller-to this day. Not one of them would do what is right in God’s eyes.

      So I ran from God for many years, since these people were all I knew as representatives of “christianity”. I sensed they were evil, counterfeits, hypocrites..not at all really “christians”, but it was all I knew and saw and I knew I wanted no part of it’s hypocrisy.

      I was very much imprisoned and isolated in that house because parents didn’t want their many secrets to possibly get out. We all were afraid to tell the family secrets. Parents put on, to this day still, a very good “normal act” to outsiders and church people. They were and still are very generous with their bribes, “polishing” gifts, flattery and perks, and their grooming of allies. Always “buying” friends and allies for if and when they are ever exposed for what they really are. Then they’d need their “indebted allies” in exchange for all the bribes. To be repaid with their allies’ support. Worked well for them. Still does.

      I desperately and constantly dreamed of the day I could get away from all of them. God’s hand HAD to be on my life because I had all the symptoms of childhood PTSD. To the point of being put on anxiety med at age 13. So so many other victims who see no way out commit suicide (which I considersed) or run away and end up on the streets, self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, abuse their already abused bodies with promiscuity, prostitution, become vulnerable to sex traffickers..Thank God I used reading endlessly to dream of another life once I was out of that house of horrors. It kept me hoping. And safe from the many possible desperation avenues I could have taken.

      I was not allowed to go away to college as I’d dreamed of as my chance to escape. My father’s edict was that I had to be married to ever leave that house. So I had to wait until after 4 years of still living in that hell of a house through my years at in-state college. Then I married at 21 to my first boyfriend a week after graduation! He turned out to be an abuser too. Pretty common, I was later told by my counselor when I got out of that abusive marriage after 10 years. “People often choose the ‘devil they know’ rather than the ‘devil they don’t know’” he said. Also, I knew nothing of “red flags” that WERE there but in my abnormal experience, I didn’t fully grasp what “normal” vs “abnormal” was. Or what a married life was supposed to be like. I was conditioned to think abuse and suffering was just what I was born for. Love, security, protection and compassion..I thought that was for OTHER lucky people-not me. I was just unlucky, born to be unloved, to be hurt and abused.

      I always knew it was abuse though. I wasn’t codependent like me abused siblings who put their abusers on a pedestal. I just thought God (not anyone else) didn’t care about me or see me. It took lots of work, bravery and counseling to get untangled from this kind of thinking. I got divorced from my abuser and had almost no contact with my family of origin-who actually advocated for and supported my abusive husband’s behaviors. They always meant malice and harm towards me because they are EVIL counterfeit wolves-not “christians” at all! And because they knew I rejected their way of life and wanted better for myself. I realized was NOT born to be abused and unloved! It was always something that was wrong with THEM not me.

      Then I remarried years ago and we found the REAL Jesus together. My “family” STILL did harm to us both-they’ve verbally, mentally abused & threatened violence on my husband ever since they’ve known him and the happiness he brings to my life. They’d insult us, plot against us with my siblings to target us, smear us, lie to everyone about us, assainate our good, kind, godly character..all out of retaliation for our strict boundaries on them for their abusive behaviors. And their jealousy of our bond. And most of all, because of the REAL JESUS LIVING IN US! Their master-satan-loves their darkness and HATES the LIGHT OF JESUS in us. And he uses them to willingly join him to try to destroy us.

      They even in recent years got very criminally violent towards us causing serious injuries and we called police on them. Held them accountable. All the “cult-member” family members who knew all about the lifelong abuses on me turned against me and sided with the known evil lifelong abusers. Because I exposed the abuses. Because those complicit in known evil are also evil. Those who love the darkness hate those who shine the light on their darkness.

      So now we decided to go full “No Contact” with all my family and all the relatives/cult members who support their evil. Freedom!! Best decision ever.

      But there’s lots of healing I still have to let Jesus do. I’ve had severe PTSD since I was a child and it continues. Because the wickedness continues from afar and it triggers the PTSD. I have chronic illnesses from the lifelong stresses of the abuses.

      But God is redeeming my lifelong pain. He’s blessed me with a loving, kind, supportive, godly husband. Even though it seems everyone has turned their backs on us to side with evil, we KNOW what our eternal home is-HEAVEN!! We got to know Jesus and become children of the Most High God (for REAL-not wearing a fake, counterfeit “wolf in a sheep costume” and fake performances to hide evil hearts like the abusers and all the others I saw all my life do) as a result of the suffering these evil people caused. There’s great blessing in that outcome of evil meant to harm that God turned around for our GOOD. There’s no greater treasure! We turned to Jesus in our pain and He bent down to hear us and bring us to His bosom. We know where our help comes from every minute of every painful day and we are thankful even for the very traumas that led us to our precious Jesus. I have a long way to go, but I know I’m on the right road.

      And years ago, God gave me that same Scripture promise, with multiple confirmations. Joel 2:25, “I WILL RESTORE TO YOU THE YEARS THE LOCUSTS HAVE EATEN.”

      Hallelujah! Against all odds, as I once saw my life as hopeless and somehow cursed and my future as grim and dreadful, He is doing just that!! Restoring me and us. We are believing for at least a DOUBLE PORTION BLESSING!!

      P.S. These blogs and articles by people like you, Dave, and Pastor Jeff Crippen, Pastor Sam Powell, Rebecca Davis, Jimmy Hinton..all REAL CAPITAL “C”>Christian<advocates for abuse victims have been such a blessing from God above to me. And the community of my fellow abuse survivors who comment on these blogs continually uplift me and show such strength and endurance and help me feel less isolated. Evil people may have turned the “willfully blind to evil” people, who knowingly do satan’s bidding, against us and out of our lives (I believe God orchestrated their removal for our good and protection), I now have a REAL FAMILY! God Almighty is my FATHER!! I am a Co-Heir with Chris Jesus!!I have the Holy Spirit with me 24/7!! I have “new DNA”-the Blood of Jesus!! And I have the Family of Christ around the world! The Family of Christ-Seeking Abuse Advocates and Survivors on these blogs and sites! I’m feeling BLESSED!! I’m not falsely feeling cursed anymore!! Praise God for all these things He made possible.

  5. Fern

    What a beautiful & touching post, thank you so much!

  6. I love this whole post, but especially this: “From that Love, you draw your health. Through it you find your way back to what God made you to be. In that Love, you can rest and rebuild. Trust in the Lord, the Scripture says, and He will renew your strength. All that the narcissist has taken will come to you again.”
    After being raised by a controlling, abusive, narcissistic father, I married someone who seemed quite different. But he turned out to be a sex addict and a very dependent, passive person in the relationship who demonstrates the traits of a “covert” narcissist with such subtle control and such subtle stealing of my value that it took me years to see it. Something was immediately wrong, but I didn’t have a clue what it was and of course I thought it was me because that is what I was being told. By the time I began to learn of the sex addiction, we had children and I wanted to keep their home stable. So I stayed. Round after round of “repenting” and I stayed. I wanted so much to believe him, to keep our home stable, that I gave him chance after chance. It was quite a roller coaster ride. Fifty years later there was a last straw event and I finally divorced him. It took awhile to separate out all of our things after I moved out, but I finally went no contact with him for nearly a year. But the sorry truth is that, by now, neither of us can afford to live alone in retirement. So it didn’t take much of what seemed to finally be some hard evidence of self-reflection and the realization and acceptance of the state of his arrested development (about 4 years old) for me to give him another chance. In the meantime, I’ve done even more healing in myself and am better able to see him in a whole different way now. He is now disabled, and I am caregiver to a special needs adult is what it amounts to. It will never be a real marriage in any sense of the word.
    Anyway, I share all this background so you know I know what I’m talking about when I say that when Jesus is all you have, Jesus is enough. The paragraph that I quoted from the post today sums it all up so well! Praise God! He gives us the strength to survive and heal from narcissistic abuse!

  7. Patty

    Listen to the song by Chris Tomlinson, “Nobody Loves Me Like You Do Jesus”. Every time I listen to it I feel the healing and love. Thank you Dave for this column.

  8. Thank you, again for a very truth-telling post.
    I pray for commenters who are still feeling ‘the hole’, like I am … and yet we know that the Lord will indeed sustain us. I didn’t realize how much the lack of love could starve me. Indeed, only the grace of God has sustained and nourished me all these years … and He will remain faithful to the end. ❤

  9. sue

    Dear Dave, once again, thank You for posting this blog, because so many people (both abused, and not abused) have been around mean-spirited Bible-totting pew-warmers, and it’s no wonder they want no parts of preaching, the Scriptures, or even Jesus Christ. Your articles are a blessing.

  10. On the topic of narcissistic bullies, I’m old enough, and the things that I have learned about narcissist bullies is this, to decipher and detect before you get involved with them — watch how and what they give. In other words, beware someone who gives gifts when you hardly know them, especially expensive gifts. And, observe how they interact or act with others. If you know someone who treats lots of people in bad ways, you can expect to be their next victim if you befriend them. If you know someone who gives excessively or exceedingly expensive gifts before you know them, beware , as that might be a set up. The point being, gift giving comes from the heart of a person and the heart of a person doesn’t really know someone until they really get to know the person. And a good rule of thumb to remember is that most narcs and most scammers can patiently “groom” someone to be their next victim for almost up to two full years. So knowing a person 2 years is really not a good reason to begin to putting yourself on the line for the person. Above all, “to thine own self, be true” , and put God first in everything you do. We can’t avoid or discern narcs or scams when we are kids, yet after time, and as we mature, with enough reading and research, we can limit our exposure to narcs, narc bullies and scammers.

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