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


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9 responses to “Joy

  1. KayJay

    Nailed it once again, Brother Dave! “Competitive, insecure, anxious, fearful…”
    It was hard to get my head around the fact that my N parent was in competition with me. And my N spouse of 30+ years is a master at one-up-manship. Ridiculous!! Thanks for your encouraging, healing posts.

  2. Maya

    Amen to this!
    I was so beaten down, I couldn’t see clearly. Didn’t even realize I was joyless. As the fog lifted (it eventually does; sooner than we think 🌞).
    X actually said a few times, “why are you so happy?” Because my joy comes from the Lord, that’s why, stupid!

  3. Kay

    My parents were competitive, critical and joyless. They seemed to hate it when I was happy. They would always create a crisis or a scene if things were too calm or peaceful. They moved in beside my husband and I, and pretty well destroyed 6 years of happiness. Narcissists hate seeing truly happy people. Even their own children. We finally moved away. I can’t say we’re there yet……but slowly a sense of optimism is coming back. How do these people manage to drain every bit of hope and joy out of others? I’ll never understand parents who want their children to be as miserable as them. It just makes no sense. Thanks for another good article! Knowing others have suffered and it’s not “all in our heads” is so important.

  4. AnneG

    My favorite time of year is the fall. I went to college in upstate New York and ever since I’ve been hoping to see that beautiful foliage display again.
    My ex-husband was well aware of this and paid lip service to it, saying someday we would take a trip in the fall. Well, 40+ years later I finally pinned him down to plan a trip. He had plenty of vacation time saved and seniority at work, so he was out of excuses. But guess what he said? He told me that if I wanted it so badly I could go myself; that he had no desire to go anywhere with me.
    That was five years ago, the divorce was four years ago. Next week I am taking a tour to New England by myself. I can’t wait. But I always wanted to share my joy at the glorious trees with the man I loved. Now I know he never loved me at all.

    • Maya

      I heard that, AnneG! Enjoy your trip, do not be sad. We learn to enjoy our own company, it’s harder to gain our trust after being discarded like you described. Happened that way for me, too.
      Now that I’m free to travel without him…I need to work all the time, but I’m somewhat fearful of traveling alone. I don’t know why, I’m safe in the arms of God.

  5. Excellent post! I love this. Especially where you said, “That old lie will pop up from time to time because it’s so familiar.” It’s so familiar it feels normal, so of course we default to it. It’s in intentionally embracing joy, even if it’s only for a moment at a time, and consistently tell ourselves the truth that we retrain our bodies into the new normal!

  6. Denise

    This is simple beautiful so enlightening. I married a narcissist, who was a SDA pastor. He was emotionally & physically abusive to me & sexually abusive to our only son. Of course the Church leaders took his side. I saw no way out but to leave with our son. He took me to court to take our then 7 month old son from me. Praise God for a fair court system who gave me physical custody of our son, and I got a divorce from him. I raised our son alone, I never remarried because I didn’t want my son to get hurt by another man. That child is now 25 y/o and will be graduating from medical school next year. God has been good and faithful. Yes joy comes in the morning. Blessings to you.

  7. Amy

    I lived in an emotionally, verbally, mentally, spiritually and sexually abusive marriage for 20 years and when that sorry excuse for a man walked out on me and our two sons 10 years ago, I was a shell of a person. He hated seeing me happy, he would crush any happiness I had like a bug and it’s like no one was allowed to be happy unless he was, which was very rare.

    I remember one day my younger son saying to me, “Mom, you never smile anymore.” That was like a punch to the gut, but it was true. I’d allowed that abusive so-called man to steal my joy, but when he walked out, I realized that I had been looking in the wrong place for joy in my life and I turned back to Jesus.
    With my ex out of my life, I began seeing joy in the little things all around me and I learned to smile again.
    Abuse is toxic and it drains the victim of their own humanity, bit by bit, like a dripping faucet, until one day the victim is a ghost of a person.

    But God is a Redeemer and can restore all those lost years — and He has in my life.

  8. Batya Ahul

    I hear that quiet voice saying “don’t let them steal your joy”. I know this comes from Him😎

    I’ve also learned that if you experience ‘hoovering’ by a narcissist, only ever tell them the good things in your life, keep it short and show your strength whether that’s in a telephone conversation or email.
    They want you to be weak and broken not strong and joyful. You’re not a toy that can be played with when you’re strong.

    My narcissist boss is causing absolute chaos in my place of work – it’s a long story- but she’s playing divide and conquer.
    When it’s your income that’s potentially affected it’s extremely stressful. Please pray that His will will be done. God is good all the time.

    Pastor Dave thank you for all you do and I really hope you don’t mind me placing prayer request here😊

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