It’s Narcissist Friday!
For the last several weeks I have been writing about what narcissistic relationships take from us. When the smoke and dust clears, what is missing? Many people who have suffered from these relationships find themselves almost wandering in confusion after the relationship ends. Like those who suffer a home burglary, the victims of abusive relationships find that a lot has changed. Sometimes it is hard to know just what is missing.
So, we have talked about that, and many have added their own stories as illustrations. Some of them break our hearts. We grieve with those who have suffered. But there is always hope, always health, in Jesus. Many who read here have also given testimony to that truth. Life might not be the same, but it can be good again.
In my book, Narcissism in the Church, I tried to show how these relationships can be found even in the context of the Christian faith. I may have tried to cover too much, but wanted to shine the light on abusive “Christian” parents, spouses, and leaders. Yes, sadly, these all exist. Most of those who read this blog have experienced narcissism in the context of Christianity. I don’t see that as a judgment against the faith, but as a reality check that the faith can be mimicked and used to hurt others. Just because someone knows the right words and presents themselves as “good” people doesn’t mean they are believers, nor that Jesus is leading them in the things they do.
There are many kinds of relationships. Over the years, as I have studied and listened and prayed, I have boiled narcissistic relationships down to eight forms. There may be more, and someone else might bring a couple of these together to make fewer, but this is how it works out for me. In the weeks ahead, I want to look at each of these from a Christian perspective (if possible) to expose the abuse and challenges they present.
Here are the eight relationships:
In each of these, narcissists abuse, use, and manipulate. In the book, I define the narcissistic perspective with three aspects:
The superior image
Depersonalization of others
Use and abuse of others to serve the image
If these are present, narcissistic abuse is happening. We will see that this can happen in any and all of these types of relationships.
Why? Because not all narcissistic abuse is alike. Someone suffers at work trying to deal with a narcissist, but doesn’t understand what is happening. Someone else wonders how one of their kids could grow up to be a narcissist. Not all narcissism happens in marriage or intimate relationships. This is a widespread multi-faceted problem.
It is important for us to care about each other. We pray here, and I am so grateful. But not everyone has suffered in the same way. When you tell your stories, we might relate, or we might be shocked, but we are always touched. When someone shares how their parent did something so cruel, I grieve. But my own parents didn’t do those things. I learn from you. We learn from each other. And each time we listen, our hearts become more sensitive, more grace-filled, for those whose hearts were hurt.
That’s what this is all about. My message to you is about the love Jesus has for you, how you are valuable and precious to Him. Your message to each other is that there are those who listen to and believe your story. You are not alone. We may not have experienced what you have, but we care about you.
Pray for the Lord’s wisdom as I write these next few posts. And, please, share your stories, if you are led, and pray for those do.
You all mean so much to me.