It’s Narcissist Friday!
I write a lot about identity because I believe that knowing yourself is the key to freedom in relationships. I also know that narcissists rob people of who they are.
Too many times I have heard people say that they used to be thus-and-so until they connected with the narcissist. They used to be fun. They used to be creative. They used to be strong. They used to be funny. They used to be happy. Used to be. What are they now? They don’t know.
Narcissists take from others what they cannot find in themselves. They connect with people who will supply what they want. In other words, if you are creative and the narcissist connects with you, it’s probably so that he/she can feel creative as well. By talking about and pretending to appreciate your creativity, the narcissist will slowly steal the words and ideas you bring out. If you are friendly, he/she will use you to bring people in so the narcissist can connect with and use them. Your skills and gifts will benefit the narcissist or you will have no relationship with him/her.
But, in the process, you will begin to forget whose gifts and skills they are. Since the narcissist will claim what you do as what he does, you will become puzzled. He will claim that you are dependent on him, that he has done it all. You know better, but he is persistent and passionate. In fact, you are fortunate that you met him so that he could carry you through life. That’s what he wants you to think.
Now you have to remember who you are. You are still that creative and fun person you used to be, but you feel drained of yourself. If you are now separate from the narcissist, you might feel empty and confused. The lie of the narcissist, that you need him to define you, may be loud in your heart.
So, I tell people that they are identified in their relationship with Jesus. You are who He says you are: a child of the King, a bearer of great gifts, and a person of strength and goodness. Identity is revealed as we see ourselves reflected in the mirror of others. The only true image of us comes from Him. The narcissist’s image of you is a lie.
How do you redefine yourself? Well, don’t. You don’t have to redefine yourself. You have to allow who you are to come out. There’s a difference.
I have met a lot of people who have come out of narcissistic relationships and legalistic teachings. Both have been robbed of their individuality and identity. The narcissist drained it away. The legalists covered it with conformity. Both lied.
But many people come out and try to be someone they are not. They believe they need to be angry and strong, flippant and sarcastic. They hurt others in their attempts to redefine themselves, but they try not to care. They argue that they have neglected themselves for too long, and now it is time to do it their way. But they don’t do it their way. They do it the way they think they should, rather than the way they want to.
If you were a kind and gracious person, caring for others, and you were used and manipulated as you opened yourself, please don’t change. I know you think that made you vulnerable, but it did not. It was what the narcissist saw in you and wanted. The narcissist was charming and deceptive and used you. The narcissist was the one who did wrong. Believe it or not, this is just the kind of person most narcissists look for. They are the predators.
But, you say, if I am the same as I was I will just be open to another narcissist. No, you won’t. If you didn’t know what you know now, maybe. But now things are different. Now you know narcissism. Now you have met the enemy. You can be yourself again.
Or maybe you say, I don’t want to be the person I was. I wanted to use the narcissist to make myself feel good. I just wasn’t strong enough to overcome the narcissist. So, be who you are now. You learned a lot about yourself. You don’t want to be who you were. Be who you are today.
And maybe you say, I grew up in a narcissistic home. I have never known myself. I don’t know if I am creative or kind or smart. All I know is that I want to be who I am. Then look to Jesus. Ask Him to lead you. Let it grow day by day. He will show you who you are.
I am not saying that you will never fall to a narcissist again. What I am saying is that trying to change who you are will not help. In fact, it may open you even more. Be who you are, who your heart wants to be. Your strength comes from your identity and integrity.
Relax. You are so much smarter now. You see the truth now. Look to Jesus and trust in His love for you. Then be who you are.