It’s Narcissist Friday!
“I used to enjoy life.”
“I used to look forward to travel, church, friends, work, and family.”
“I used to be a happy person!”
Those who are unhappy find the joy of others to be unwelcome, uncomfortable, and unworthy. The narcissist is an unhappy person. Competitive, insecure, anxious, fearful—the narcissist can’t handle your joy. So, it has to go.
I have always loved Gary Larson’s Far Side cartoons. This is one of my favorites. The demons hate a happy person. Their job is to make him miserable. Sound familiar?
Through criticism, constant crisis, rejection, manipulation, suspicion, and more, narcissists keep the lives of their victims so stirred up that joy fades away. If the narcissist sees you happy, he/she will work even harder to stir things up. Your only joy is supposed to be in serving the narcissist. Even then you are suspect if you are happy. The narcissist knows he wouldn’t be happy in your shoes, so he thinks you must be up to something.
After the narcissist relationship, when you look at your life to see what is missing, you may discover that your joy has been lost. Even in difficult circumstances, you used to be able to find something positive, something to be happy about. Joy was part of you. It lifted you up and helped you stand. But it slipped away, little by little, until you forgot it was even possible. Now, the best you can do is get through the day. The good day is the one where nothing really bad happens.
Can you find joy again? Yes! Your joy has just been overwhelmed by your anxiety and pain. You didn’t have the time and energy to be joyful because you could barely keep going. I have a little dumb saying that I use in counseling: “When your arm hurts, you never stop to think about how good your leg feels.” We are made to focus on pain. Pain is an indication that something is wrong, something needs to change. It’s hard to remember joy during pain.
Some have said that when they begin to feel happy again, they immediately doubt themselves. They feel guilty for something, worried about that other shoe dropping, whatever—and the joy slips away again.
Listen: that’s okay. That’s normal. You have probably been told that you aren’t worth joy, that you deserve only to be unhappy. That old lie will pop up from time to time because it’s so familiar. But it is still a lie. Pick yourself up and remind yourself that you are loved.
Joy can begin again when you believe you are loved. When you look to Jesus, you can believe in His love. He looks past the mistakes, past the compromises, to love you.
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5