It’s Narcissist Friday!
As you walk the new path, you begin to feel free and strong. You start to think you can do this. The new life is filled with opportunities.
But, suddenly, your throat begins to tighten and your heart starts beating fast. You look around, but there isn’t any threat. You can’t see the dragon or any other danger, but you want to sit down. Your head is spinning. Your hands are trembling. Your stomach cramps. The fear is so strong that you think you are about to die.
When some people talk or teach on narcissism, they do so from a distance. They think of the narcissistic relationship as a mismatch, an unfortunate connection between a person who needs to use others and a person who needs to be used. They minimize the trauma victims suffer.
But many victims of narcissists know this overwhelming sense of weakness and oppression. Overwhelming fear for many. Overwhelming sadness for others. Overwhelming confusion for still others. And some have all of these and more.
Narcissists play mind games. They manipulate our emotions in order to control our actions. People who are constantly criticized easily begin to believe that they are inferior. People who are gaslighted (they are accused of being crazy when the abuser twists facts) cannot trust the world they see and feel. Narcissists use many techniques to attack emotional stability.
And some people find this instability coming back at almost random times on their new journey. In other words, even after the narcissist, the sense of being overwhelmed continues. It doesn’t matter that the world has changed. It doesn’t matter that you have moved out or found a new job or even new relationships. What matters is that the old sense of oppression is still around.
Panic attacks. That’s what we call these times, especially when they are debilitating. When you can’t go to work, can’t get out of bed, can’t form the next sentence – you might be experiencing a panic attack. When sudden terror threatens to crush you, it might be a panic attack.
Now, I want to be clear that I am not “that kind of doctor.” I have neither a medical nor a psychological degree. So, I will not try to make any kind of prescriptive statement except to say that there is nothing wrong with seeking help. Whenever you struggle against something, whether physical or emotional, and it causes you to become inactive or vulnerable, you should find help. Always be careful, but find good help.
Panic attacks may not be suffered by everyone coming out of a narcissistic relationship, but I think they should be considered normal. Narcissists are abusers who try to control others. They will use fear, loss, condemnation, and whatever else they find available to break through defenses and create weakness in their victims. They plan and work to get under your skin and in your mind. And many narcissists are very good at what they do.
There can be medical reasons for panic attacks, so please take them seriously. Abrupt changes in blood pressure, odd blood sugar events, heart arrhythmia, and other things can cause this sense of fear and insecurity that stops you from moving forward. Find a good medical doctor.
But there can also be emotional reasons for these attacks. Unrecognized triggers that seem to bring old anxieties back. For example, children who are constantly criticized and told they aren’t good enough may build into their own minds a self-condemnation that continues long after the parent or sibling accuser is gone. A time of feeling good about yourself may almost automatically be challenged by this learned self-condemnation. Find someone to talk with. Let them help you sort this out.
The Bible says that each heart knows its own pain (Prov 14:10). I take that to mean that trauma affects each of us differently. It also says, just a few verses later, that the heart can be sorrowful in the midst of laughter and, after a good time a bad time can come (vs 13). Those who have suffered narcissistic abuse understand this.
So, give yourself a break. No matter what others say, your feelings matter. If they are overwhelming, if they knock you down or out, find some help. If your feelings create something in you that others don’t understand or accept, just realize that they have not walked your path. And, again, don’t give up. There are people who can help.
You are greatly loved. When the world seems to be falling apart, seek the Lord who cares more than you know. Find your strength and acceptance in Him.
9 responses to “Dragon Terror”
I’ve just booked a session with my wonderful Christian counsellor who I have not seen for a number of years. I need to process 2020 on so many levels. God is good all the time and even when you go through the most painful mind altering experiences, He is still there even when you can’t see or hear Him. I thank God that my identity is in Christ, I simply don’t know validation from anyone else.
I thank you again Pastor Dave for all you do for us in the name of Jesus.
‘Need’ validation not know…..
YES! YES! YES!
Read somewhere that dragons are so diabolically good at what they do, it’s not unusual for them to stump seasoned FBI agents. Where does that leave the rest of us? Depending upon the Lord.
I appreciate this comment. I think part of my frustration and sadness is despite years of reading about narcissism, counselling for my wounds from being the scapegoat in a narcissistic family and reading this wonderful blog, I somehow still managed to fall into the narcissist web. I know I have survived and that God will put me through what I can bear, but I still missed the red flags until it was nearly too late. I know this was a lesson from God to appreciate my wonderful family and husband.
I feel this emptiness- I know that this is my childhood wounding rearing it’s ugly head, I just want this feeling of emptiness to end.
“Bare” not bear- I am Mrs Typo today😩
Beautiful! Thank you!
As one who is still suffering ALL the overwhelms possible after going No Contact with my abusive family of origin, I appreciate your constant focus on depending on JESUS. He never fails us. He never forsakes us. He will be by our sides as we put the pieces of our lives back together. Besides my husband (and my precious dog!) I’m still having to do that reconstruction of my life alone-on a human level. I’ve prayed for godly, supportive new friends but God must want me to fully depend on just Jesus for now. He’ll know when it’s time for new friends and He’ll protect me from more false friends. So I trust in Him and His timing. He loves me BEST! He sent me the greatest husband after I’d prayed for HIM TO CHOOSE-after many bad choices I’d made in relationships. Abnormal was normal to me all my life. And God did NOT disappoint! He gave me a BETTER husband than I’d asked for! That’s how GREAT our God is! And I have Jesus as my friend by my side always. I’m finally OK with that being enough. The unfairness of ME being the friendless one and the abusers and their allies having loads of “friends/followers/enablers” doesn’t hurt like it used to. My faith has grown.
I always appreciate how well you understand the plight of the victims of Narcissistic Abusers. That is a great comfort. To be understood and have your horror story validated. Thank you, Pastor Dave!
Great blog post today, thank you Pastor Dave! After surviving maternal narcissism for 61 years I am finding that different things in our culture/interactions with others will trigger a narcissistic victim fear response for me. The most recent event series that hit me was the whole election mess of 2020. The oppressive tactics of gas-lighting/cancellation/projection/‘othering’ (dehumanizing) by the narcissistic entities: news media – politicians – social media – corporations – even some John Q. Pubic to those people who do not otherwise follow today’s ‘woke narrative ideology’ is just like the family I grew up in and wanted to escape. Only now to find that the same tyranny of my family is rampant in our culture and there is no escape….but GOD!! Being a new Christian, this time as I endure the narcissistic evils I am leaning on God as my Savior, Protector, Guide and Father. Knowing this about God’s faithful character gives me the calm assurance I need to live through the challenges that America is going to face in the future.