The Confusion that Comes

It’s Narcissist Friday!

A constant in narcissistic relationships is the strange confusion that comes over the victims. Narcissists love chaos and disruption. In almost all narcissistic relationships, the confusion begins early.

When I started writing about narcissism, I just wanted to explore and expose the connection between it and legalism. Then, as I realized how many people had been hurt by narcissism in “Christian” relationships, I wanted to help and encourage. I wanted to help people understand what happened and help them work through to find health.

Narcissism is fundamentally a mind game. Narcissists almost always rule by intimidation and awe. They convince their victims of their superiority and take what they want from them. When you meet a narcissist and the narcissist thinks you might be useful, you will be impressed. If you are not impressed with the narcissist, it will be because you are not useful to him/her. The narcissist controls what you think about him.

Unbelievable? I have been making the case that this is the narcissist’s super power for the last several years. The narcissist enters every relationship, from his own children to the people at work, with the idea that he can manipulate certain ones for his benefit. This sounds devious and evil, but it is just how this personality disorder works. And the narcissist is very good at it.

We use mind words when we describe narcissistic abuse. Manipulation, gaslighting, projection. An amazing willingness to lie is an almost universal part of narcissism. Even depersonalization, in the context of relationship, is a mental destruction. Victims of narcissists find themselves defending their abusers, rationalizing the abuse, and blaming themselves for the situation. Even those who finally find a way out struggle with the confusion for many years.

Add to all of this the context of the church, particularly the performance-based church. Even the place of hope and promise, the one place where narcissistic abuse should have no part, becomes a place of this manipulation. The meaning of words are changed. The basic concepts of the faith that should set us free are redefined to bring more bondage. Love is exchanged for duty. Freedom is exchanged for standards. We are told that we must perform to certain standards that are impossible. We are doomed to failure even while we are encouraged to try harder. That’s the church most people are connected with as they struggle with narcissistic relationships.

The reason I am writing all of this is to allow those who have suffered through narcissistic relationships to see why they have had such difficulty in rebuilding their lives and finding health. This confusion is a tool of the narcissist. It was cultivated, and it is purposeful. Don’t blame yourself!

I’d like to take the next few months to walk through definitions that have been twisted and broken in the legalistic and narcissistic struggle. Part of the process of finding health and freedom after the narcissistic relationship is the renewing of the mind. That means sorting out wrong definitions and wrong perspectives.

Please understand that I don’t consider myself to be the one dependable source of truth. I would love to have your input and even some discussion on these things. Primarily, I want to look to the Scriptures to see what has been revealed there about these things. We will find that many of the definitions and perspectives we have carried out of these relationships are contrary to the simple teachings of the Word of God.

Just know that a good deal of the struggle you are experiencing with the church and the people in your lives might come from this continuing confusion. There is a way through the fog. My prayer is that the light of God’s love will shine into your heart as we walk together.


Apparently the audio file is not included in the email of this post. It may be too large or email filters might not let it through. If you would like to listen to the audio version of the post, you will find it on the blog site.



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11 responses to “The Confusion that Comes

  1. Thank you for continuing to write on this subject. I am excited to walk with you through this next phase of exploring the effects of narcissistic relationships. I am six years out of one that lasted three decades, and I am continuing to be transformed by the renewing of my mind. It’s been a long journey, but God continues to work in me and redeem what was lost in that horrible experience. Your articles have been so helpful. I look forward to reading them every single Friday. I’m so happy I found your blog a few years ago. Keep up the good work and I look forward to next week’s post!

  2. Trish

    Thank you Pastor Dave, I look forward to the upcoming posts on this subject. The cumulative effect of lifetime trauma, dysfunction, toxicity and loss have resulted in my CPTSD.

    The last go around with sibling toxicity (one of which is a four decade Christian) necessitated me stepping away. My therapist was helpful in clarifying that I was being, and am, the family scapegoat. The grief over letting go of the last thread of hope for a family was a time of deep depression. I feel my faith was gutted while simultaneously intuiting the need to step away and to “stand”. From what I have read, this loss of faith is not uncommon with CPTSD.

    I have stopped attending church as I found it too confusing. Your Grace messages have been a thread of hope for me. I still pray. And I do pray for my siblings. But I simply rest in Grace now and try to accept that I am accepted, without conditions, performance, standards.

    Thank you for you beautiful heart, wisdom and ministry.


    • Your words: “The cumulative effect of lifetime trauma, dysfunction, toxicity and loss have resulted in my CPTSD” rang so true for me. EMDR therapy, awareness, and dealing with denial have been helping my true reality.

  3. I’m looking forward to this!

  4. KayJay

    Looking forward to this upcoming series!

  5. Z

    I am a victim of horrific family violence, abuse & trauma for most of my life. I am now in No Contact with all the family abusers, the extended family enablers & church leaders & friends & anyone else who enables, supports, lies for or allies themselves with the abusers (essentially turning their backs on a KNOWN abuse victim therefore complicit in the evil of abuse). ALL of whom profess to be “Christians”. “Christian Abuser”? “Christian Abuse Enabler”? I don’t think there can be such a thing.
    There is much info out there & on this blog for us victims to learn about these character disordered people who took so much from our lives. I have severe CPTSD and chronic daily illness STILL-3 years after I went to No Contact after a criminally violent attack by family members.
    What there is a shortage of is thankfully what you plan to address in the next months. What do we victims do AFTER we get out of the fog, learn about character disorders, prohibit our abusers access to us? CPTSD is incredibly hard for even good counselors to treat. Many of us are already on medications for our mental health symptoms. The physical illnesses from decades of severe stress can’t really be undone. Some of us are nearly bedridden. Our very “lives” were targeted & then pretty much taken from us. That was the aim of the malignant narcissists in our lives. That’s what they live for. That & enlisting as many others to join in the targeting, smearing & shunning.
    But, what do we victims do now? I believe in the POWER of Jesus Christ to keep me from going under. I cling to His hand every moment of every day. I need to! But how to we manage to put back together some semblance of our lives among humanity after what we’ve been through? An “abundant” life? Even the professionals are stumped when the ongoing, long-term abuse has been violent, constant, multifaceted. Add to that the betrayals & abandonments of people we thought were “family & friends” all our lives. Because they falsely called themselves “Christians” we gave them pass after pass when they enabled our abuse. Kept silent. Tried to silence us when we spoke the truth.They changed the subject every time. From my childhood through adulthood they swept it under the rug and even lied to cover for the abusers. They still do all these things. They are answerable to the Lord for their actions and inactions regarding complicity in habitual sin, enabling harm to a child & their indifference to the “bleeding neighbor on the side of the road” by walking right on by & ignoring the suffering of a “fellow Christian”. No “Good Samaritans” in my life! I don’t believe they are followers of Christ. God judges the heart, not me. But the “fruit” of their hearts is visibly & consistently rotten.
    I look forward to your future posts, Pastor Dave. I am hoping to learn about dealing with the “aftermath”. I am hoping I can find some wisdom & guidance on how to put the wreckage of my life back together to some degree where I can enjoy life again. Starting over to create a whole new life, later in life & in a now mentally and physically disabled condition is really, really hard! Jesus is definitely enough! I believe this with all my heart. But everything I am learning in counseling and have read about recovery from this evil abuse says “community” is necessary. A “support group”. Finding our “tribe”. How on earth do we find these people? Church people & leaders have so let us down. Many of us do not dare even step into another church because there are so many wolves hiding in plain sight there! Are we doomed, after being already so doomed to have been born into a sick, violent, character disordered family, to live our our lives on earth alone, with no humans to walk alongside us?

    • Z

      I wanted to acknowledge that THIS COMMUNITY of fellow victims and you, Pastor Dave, are right now the only “human connections” I have (beside my true Christian husband-also violently abused by my abusive family & dealing with his own aftermath of having a weapon used to bludgeon him in an ambush by them. He saved my life but was brutally injured for life and traumatized in the process too.)
      Confusion? Even after coming out of the fog and learning about evil in the church and malignant narcissism, sociopathy & psychopathy, the confusion about PEOPLE, about people who profess to be “Christians”, about humanity, about the apparent disappearance of Good Samaritans…lingers. Chaos? I still ask the “Why?” questions that my counselor says serve no purpose. I’ll never get an answer because I can’t fathom thinking like a disordered malignant wolf thinks. My mind and heart don’t work that way.
      I still would like a kind of roadmap back to some state of “normalcy” and out of the confusion and chaos evil was successful at instilling in me. I‘d be so grateful if could ever attain a just a fraction of that.
      Thank you Pastor and all others on this blog for your “fellowship”. Praying for you all.

      • Dear Z,
        My heart breaks for you. I join a chorus of many who have been betrayed. I was very confused when I realized that professing Christians were actually sinning.
        My long story doesn’t involve all that you have encountered. I will be praying for you and others. I discovered that many of my safe true Christian contacts came from ministries like Pastor Dave’s. I have very few I can trust not even a husband.
        Continue to trust only in the Lord. My experience and the stories of others has proven the Scriptures to be true; that the remnant of true followers of Jesus Christ is indeed very small. Small but mighty in prayer! ❤

      • Z

        Dear healinginhim,
        Thank you for your kindness and support. And for the wisdom of trusting only in the Lord. I’m blessed with a husband who is a true, godly man. The rest of my contacts have been with fellow victim/survivors such as you. No support system of human beings in the flesh. No “hands and feet of Jesus” in my life. The betrayals and abandonments of “Christians” I thought would be there for me in my time of need, as I was always there for them, was possibly worse than the physical abuse and final weapon attack by my family. I find it very cowardly and without excuse for a true Christian to turn his/her back on such suffering. I could certainly never do it! I cry if I see a commercial of an abused animal. Never mind in real life with fellow “Christian” human beings made in the image of God. But that’s what everyone did. And I know I’m not alone. This happens when people decide to go No Contact with their lifelong abusers like I did. The abusers have been grooming everyone I ever knew years before I went No Contact! Without my knowing it. They PLANNED that one day I’d take that action of No Contact and they did their homework by smearing me and turning everyone against me with their native language of lies. And these “Christians” never even bothered to ask me about what happened to cause me to go No Contact. I wasn’t worth a call or text or e-mail. It’s the “worthless“ and “throwaway” feeling that hurts deepest. That people who KNOW the abusers ARE lifelong abusers CHOSE to ally themselves with this evil and leave me (and my poor bloodied husband) in a ditch on the side of the road and walk right past us as if we are invisible.
        Thank you so much for your sweet heart of God! And for your prayers! I won’t let go of Jesus-my very life depends on Him every moment. He won’t ever fail me. And I thank God for Pastor Dave and for the people like you in the community of love he has created here. It means so much to me. ♥️

  6. rodney hickman

    thank you David, your posts have been my lifeline for coming out of these narcisstic traps. That and Jesus ,,thanks once again from a fellow traveller in New Zealand.

  7. freedomfighter007

    Thank you Pastor Dave. The upcoming series is something I have searched for but not found in a Christian context. And thank you for bringing to light the continual confusion with a narcissist and how the victim rationalizes it. I have been so hard on myself as a Christian for not seeing the lies, deceptions, and manipulations until I was in my mid-50’s, and always struggling with guilt or anger. I look forward to your email every week, it is a lifeline. Thank you so much.

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