It’s Narcissist Friday!
Stress causes weakness, infirmity, and disease. Does anyone really doubt that? I have long been convinced that, for many, cancer is the result of distress in relationships and daily living. Not for all, of course, but for too many.
Those who live with narcissists know what I am talking about. Maybe you grew up with one and still have to deal with him/her. Maybe you work with one or more. You find it hard to sleep. You eat too much. You do unhealthy things. And you are stressed.
Narcissists use stress like a carpenter uses a hammer. It is a tool they bring into the relationship to create the person they need their victim to be. Constant change (or no change), criticisms, false hopes, lies, expectations, pressures and more pressures. And did I say lies? Not knowing the truth is stressful by itself. Most narcissists use several of these strategies to bring enough stress into the lives of their victims so they can be manipulated.
Computer people will recognize the TSR (terminate and stay resident) program. The idea was that certain programs would stand ready to be used. That readiness was appreciated because it allowed the computer to move more quickly. Eventually, there were many of these TSR programs, and some of them interfered with each other and used up resources. We learned to look for and disable these programs.
Some have had the unfortunate experience of leaving a car sitting unused for a long period. When you get out to use it, the battery is dead. Why? Often it’s because of some small light or function that has stayed ready all that time. Resources were drained by staying ready.
In times of stress, we learn to stay ready to move or adjust or respond. We can’t relax, at least not completely. A person or a group that brings stress into our lives, especially unpredictable stress, forces us to stay ready. We draw on our resources without replenishing those resources. Patience, rest, nutrition, and other specialized resources are used up by this constant drain.
Narcissists provide stress. They do it on purpose, and they do it by nature. Because they suffer from internal stress, they force their stress on others. To control, they manipulate others by stress.
And listen: stress affects your health. Staying ready to react pulls resources from your soul and body. Worry, fear, anger, jealousy, guilt, shame—these things take from us without giving back. The narcissist knows how to manipulate all of these and many more.
Sadly, it is common for people to come out of a narcissistic relationship with health problems. After the smoke of the narcissistic exit clears, you look around and you don’t feel good. Some of these problems may last a long time. Others might go away when the stress subsides. Do yourself a favor and talk with a doctor about stress-related illnesses. Have your thyroid checked. Take care of yourself.
Some continue to stress after the relationship. There is a strange addiction to a certain level of stress. Guilt, fear, shame, anger—these emotions and others can continue to give you stress and drain your health. Find a way to relax. Give yourself permission to rest. Exercise, read, join a support group, get more sleep. If you can’t do it on your own, ask the doctor for help. Small doses of anti-depressants, sleep-aids, and pain relievers can work wonders. Just don’t do it on your own. Make sure someone knows how much you are taking and when—and has serious interest in getting you off the medications.
The point here is to understand where the health problems have come from and to give yourself permission to do something about them. If the narcissistic relationship is over, or if you have come to the place where you want to live in spite of it, then find the way to health again.
And pray. Ask the Lord for help. Ask the Lord for supportive people. Ask the Lord for wisdom. Then rest in His love.
Two New Books!
Believe it or not, I have two new books on Amazon! I find myself to be a better writer than marketer, but I want you to know about these two new books.
The first is a book that has been in the works for a long time. I call it “Practical Grace.” The idea is that such an important topic should be relevant to our daily lives. Not everything in life seems limited to the spiritual realm. We struggle in relationships, with our mortality, with getting through the day. Does grace matter day by day? Yes! God cares about your real-life struggle. His grace is for you.
The second book is meant for those who have understood the message of grace in the past, maybe you took a class or read something about God’s grace, but have found it hard to stay on track. It is so easy to slip back into a performance system. It is also easy to become discouraged. This book will give you five “touchpoints” to which you can return often as you walk your journey through life.