It’s Narcissist Friday!
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
How long have we known that little rhyme? If you haven’t heard the rhyme, you certainly understand the message. The people that trick us use our trust against us. That’s their shame. But when we let them trick us again, when we know their character, that’s our shame.
No wonder victims of narcissists feel so much shame. Narcissists trick us over and over and over. They promise and don’t deliver, they entice and then abuse, they weasel into our hearts and hurt us. That’s just what they do, again and again. After a while, we should know better.
Well, after a while, we begin to learn. But it is hard to trust some people and not others. Instead, we begin not to trust anyone. We begin to doubt the motives and the kindness of all the people around us.
This loss of trust is a mark of the abused. Some just wait for the evil to happen. People are kind, at first, then they bite. Better to prepare yourself for the pain than to open yourself to disappointment again.
After the narcissistic relationship, it is normal to distrust others. Especially if you have been part of a narcissistic organization or family. You know how kindness is used to get inside your life. The generosity and love people share always come with ulterior motives, you think. Believe me, distrust is normal.
And how in the world do you rebuild trust? Well, first, you don’t want to rebuild your naivete. The narcissist taught you to be careful. Some people go from one narcissistic relationship to another and to another, as though they learned nothing. Innocence is precious, and naive trust seems innocent, but you don’t want to be hurt over and over. You might as well learn from life’s hard lessons.
While we are called to be kind and loving toward people, I don’t see where we are called to trust them. Instead, we extend our friendship and open our hearts with a certain caution. Proverbs 4:23 tells us to protect our hearts (keep, guard). We shouldn’t open ourselves to others easily. Teach that to your children. Trust is a gift to give, but not something to spend foolishly.
Is that harsh? I don’t think so. There are predators of all kinds in this world. We used to trust people on the television. We used to trust the people who called us on the telephone. We used to trust all kinds of people. Now the abusers are taking advantage of that trust. It is time to be wise.
At the same time, you and I can love others. We can be kind and compassionate, understanding and patient, without opening ourselves quickly to abuse. We can enter relationships without pushing people away or making them jump through hoops. We can extend a hand of trust without yielding a heart of trust.
So, will you ever be able to trust again? Yes. Some people will convince you of their right motives. That will feel good. You will find good people in your circles, people who respect you as a person and don’t want to use you. People who need who you are as much as you need who they are.
And, yes, you will probably get hurt again. Relationships are tough. Even the best people let us down sometimes, just as we let them down sometimes.
But listen: the next person who weasels into your life to use you should at least have to work a lot harder! Maybe they will see your strength and feel your boundaries and give up before they get what they want.