Tag Archives: covert narcissists

First among Losers

It’s Narcissist Friday!  

 
Narcissism is a competitive condition. Let’s face it: narcissists are always competing. They are stronger and smarter and more deserving than you. They work harder or work less or work better than you do. Whatever they perceive as a positive attribute for you, they have to top.

The narcissist deserves to be in charge, to have more money, to have a lighter work load, to gather more sympathy, to be more popular, to get more attention—than anyone else. They will tell you stories about how bad they had it and they can always top your story. They hurt more from their pain, are rejected more by fools, and are less appreciated than you or me. It doesn’t matter if it is positive or negative, if it gets attention they have it more than you.

We are seeing more sports figures these days who reject second-place medals or trophies. Nothing matters except being at the top. Anything less than the best and most loved means nothing. It doesn’t matter what anyone says, they live by the motto that “Second place is just first among losers.”

One consistent characteristic I have noticed among narcissists is this idea that losing—in any way—is fundamentally unacceptable. I have heard narcissists push arguments way past any sense of reason just to get their opponent to concede. They will lie, cheat, steal, abuse, or attack to win a simple disagreement. Sports figures take drugs, businessmen cheat, entertainers starve and carve just to stay on top. Coming in second is just plain old losing.

Those in relationships with narcissists must understand this. There is no sympathy, no cooperation, no understanding when the competition begins. (Unless, of course, the competition is to be sympathetic or cooperative. Then you will lose.) His story begins with, “Oh, that’s nothing! One time I…” Your story is forgotten, in spite of the fact that yours is true. Her words begin with, “That’s nice, but…” or “That’s too bad, but I…” You are dismissed. Go sit in the corner while she tells her story.

The addiction to attention and admiration is so strong in the narcissist that anyone else who gets it is an immediate competitor. The narcissist will say nasty things about the person being recognized, insinuate whatever will bring the person down. I have seen parents take over the recognition that is given to their children and leaders take the spotlight away from honorees. Sometimes the actions of the narcissist are embarrassing to the rest of us. But not to the narcissist. It simply has to be done.

Of course, much of this refers to the behavior presented by the overt narcissist. Because they have learned to be more open about their desire for attention, the overt narcissist has little hesitation as he or she pulls the focus away from others. The covert narcissist must do this more carefully. Typically, the covert narcissist is a victim or a servant. They often stand there, looking sad or dutiful, waiting for others to notice them. Eventually someone will say something positive about the service or supportive about the struggle, and the covert narcissist will milk the attention by denying anything special until the other is almost gushing with praise or sympathy. Covert narcissists teach us that attention can be gathered by self-deprecation and understatement, and that those who appear not to be competing can still win.

I suspect that the narcissist sees attention as a limited commodity. There is only a certain amount of praise available in the world and he deserves all of it. There is a certain amount of sympathy in the world and she deserves all of it. Others should expect to take the second place.

Nothing and no one is worth more to the narcissist than attention. Lovers can never give enough praise or service or worship. Servants can never be trusted to give their all. With ruthless strength, the narcissist tears down anyone or anything that stands in his way to the top. Too many have found this to be true as the marriage or relationship ends. I have heard horror stories of how narcissists have lied and cheated to get their way in divorce and custody battles. They not only must win, but often must destroy.

Unfortunately for the narcissist, he isn’t usually good enough to deserve the attention he desires. He fails too often because his focus is not on the game but on how well others think of him. The quarterback may be amazingly gifted but if he can’t top all the rest, he pouts and curses. And something, probably the incompetence of those around him, is to blame for any lack on his part. The salesman may simply not be as good in his job as another, even though he is very good. But second place, losing, is someone else’s fault.

Perhaps one test of whether a person is a narcissist is how he or she tolerates attention given to another. Most of us can rejoice when someone else is praised. We might feel a little jealous or we might wonder why that person deserves the praise, but we don’t have to have it for ourselves or even take it away from them. The narcissist, on the other hand, can reveal much by the attitudes and words that are exhibited when others receive praise.

Those in narcissistic relationships should not be surprised to find themselves competing with their narcissists, even when they have no intention of doing so. It is just part of the deal.

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Not Nice

It’s Narcissist Friday!  

 

I wonder when America chose being nice as its highest value. Was it just since movies and television? We have several old photos of ancestors, and one common thread, no matter what branch of the family, is that they are not smiling. You get the impression that they were not nice people. Today, everybody puts on phony smiles so they can pretend to be nice, but maybe being nice wasn’t such a high value back then.

Sometime someone decided that we should all be nice. We were told to be nice to our siblings and praised for being nice children. No matter what someone was doing, we could get them in trouble by accusing them of not being nice. We wore nice clothes, drew nice pictures, acted nice on the playground, and said our prayers like nice little boys and girls. And, somehow, that was supposed to be more spiritual.

But being nice also meant not telling the whole truth much of the time. Just keep your opinions to yourself. It meant not dealing with abuses done by those who weren’t so nice. It meant not bringing up those abuses, even to those who could do something about them. Our goal was not to be honest or forthright or strong, just to be nice.

Nice people became prey for the predators, food for the hungry users and abusers. Churches still do nothing about abuses because the leaders are bound to portraying themselves as nice. Church discipline isn’t nice. Confronting people with their sins isn’t nice. And, since we are all so willing to suffer to be seen as nice, leaders are willing to let people suffer. We just want a nice church.

Years ago I found a coffee cup with a grumpy character on it and the words, “No More Mr. Nice Guy!” I had it on my desk one day when someone who disagreed with me saw it and said, “What do you mean, ‘no more’?” In other words, she thought I had stopped being nice when I disagreed with her on something. And maybe I was never all that nice.

You see, I believe the church should confront the abuser and cannot let the abused feel alone and abandoned. I have had to do it several times and I hated it every time. It wasn’t nice and some of the people thought I wasn’t nice. People left our church because we stood up for those who were being hurt and confronted the ones who were judgmental and unkind. My only regret was in not doing it earlier in several cases.

The word, “nice,” has an interesting history. It comes to us from Latin, through Old French and Middle English, and means—are you ready?—stupid! It suggested a simpleton who didn’t know when someone was being cruel or antagonistic. We can imagine someone with a silly grin on his face as people taunt him. To be nice was to misunderstand what was going on.

Well, isn’t that about right? In our desire to be nice, we allow the narcissists and abusers to control churches and governments and families. We stand there with stupid grins on our faces while they say whatever they want no matter how much it hurts us. (I’m sorry, I know that hits close to home.) We let them get by with their nastiness time after time. And, all the while, they think of us as stupid.

Someone might say, “Well, doesn’t the Bible tell us to be nice?” Nope! Not once. It tells us to be patient and compassionate and kind and loving and generous and even willing to suffer, but not to be nice. I don’t think Jesus was nice. I think He was gracious and giving and happy, but few people would refer to Him as nice. And no one would refer to the Father as nice. Loving, yes. Nice, no.

There are times when we ought to call others on their behavior. There are times when we should speak up and challenge unkind statements or actions. Church and organization leaders and government officials should stop worrying about what others will think and just do the right thing. If to be nice means that we stand by while others are hurt, then being nice is not being good. If being nice means allowing yourself to be used, then being nice is not smart.

Now, I believe there are times to turn the other cheek and go the extra mile. Jesus knew what He was saying. There are also times to call the Pharisees around us “whitewashed tombs” or to point out their hypocrisy. You can choose to let others use you and you can choose when it should stop. You don’t have to be nice.

Narcissists and others depend on a culture of nice to stop any opposition against their abuses. Maybe, in your situation, it’s time to take some of that nice out of your culture. Pray and trust the Lord. Don’t do this lightly. There are risks. Keep yourself safe. Prepare for consequences. Just know that being a doormat is not more spiritual. If you choose to let it continue, that’s fine. But you don’t have to.

So, for the sake of irony, maybe it’s time to stand up to the narcissist and say, “You are not nice!”

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Narcissistic Emotions

It’s Narcissist Friday!  

I have watched narcissists joke and laugh and even praise people, then turn away with curses in their mouths and disgust on their faces. I have seen them act caring and supportive, even pray with people, and then make jokes about them later. The ability of the narcissist to morph into whatever they think they should be at the moment is impressive.

In our discussion of mourning, the unexpected and inconsistent emotions of the narcissist were mentioned several times. Just like some have noted that their narcissist did mourn, I have been told that a certain narcissist was very empathic. Often narcissists become counselors or helpers to those who are hurting. Professions in medicine and the church are choice bastions of narcissism. But how does a person become a pastor when he sees people as tools to use for his personal gain? And how does one become a doctor or an elected official when he really doesn’t care what happens to others? The emotions needed to connect with the hearts of others seem so inconsistent with narcissism.

Almost by definition, narcissists don’t care. We wonder if they have the ability to care about others. Yet, they cannot move forward in the relationships they need without convincing people that they do care. So narcissists learn to do what it takes.

I believe that narcissists are some of the most practical people we will ever meet. Because they are actually quite free of emotional ties, they are able to look at situations without the same complications we experience. That ability gives them freedom to make quick and strong decisions and to make difficult decisions.

Who can look on the employees of a small business and choose which has to be let go because of the budget cuts? The narcissist can, and without consideration of the employee’s needs or tenure. The decision will be practical and ruthless. But it can’t look that way or the other employees might cause problems. The thinking narcissist will feign a struggle, let everyone know how difficult the choice was, and even shed a tear or two. Of course, if you watch carefully, the narcissist will look bigger and better because of the phony struggle. None of it will be about the employee.

Spouses of narcissists often comment at how the narcissist, who cared little about the children before the divorce, becomes the perfect parent after or during the proceedings. Suddenly he/she is attentive, patient, giving, and empathic. But these same emotions go away when a new lover comes into the picture.

Emotions are useful to the narcissist. He knows that the way into the heart of another person is through connected emotions. He will be upset about some injustice with those who are feeling abused. She will be attentive and loving with those who need a friend. I have found narcissists to be some of the best listeners in my life, accepting and instantly grasping my own feelings. But all of this is an act. The same narcissists who have been so gracious in times of need will produce much greater struggles for their victims in the future.

Understand that emotions are risky for the narcissist. If he cannot control his feelings, he may reveal the weakness he knows himself to have. He will betray the image if he is not careful. So the narcissist learns early not to cry, not to express too much enthusiasm, not to hope. He cannot look weak. He must be in control. Even the covert narcissist, who seems much more willing to express vulnerability, will share only those emotions that will be useful in relationships. She might cry, a lot, and she might show fear or anxiety or disappointment; but all of that will be for the purpose of manipulating those around her.

I really can’t close this post without mentioning the most difficult emotion for the narcissist to control—anger. Anger betrays the narcissist often. Whereas sadness or grief are handled by the depersonalization in every narcissistic relationship, anger is about the narcissist himself. When he is frustrated or afraid or disappointed, it will often come out as anger. Part of the reason for this is that the narcissist will see anger as power. Others cower and back away when he is angry. They give him his way. So anger is useful, of course. But part of it is also due to the intense cost of maintaining the image. There is no option to show real fear or weakness, yet the narcissist hides in the cave hoping others will be distracted by the superior image. When that falters, the stress and inconsistency rises to the surface, sometimes with dangerous results.

Whole books could be written on the way narcissists use emotions. Just remember that those emotions are tools in the narcissists’ hands. Don’t be distracted or deceived by them.

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Confrontation!

It’s Narcissist Friday!  

 

“People who confront the narcissist always lose.”

 

What do you think? Is that a true statement?  It certainly seems true, doesn’t it?  Only enter the fight if you are prepared to get beat up.  To confront the narcissist on behavior or attitude is to walk dangerously.

If you are reading this, you probably understand. It might be at work where you confront the narcissist about the lies he has told about you.  It might be a parent who has always put you down.  It might be a friend who takes advantage of your time and energy.  Or it might be a spouse or lover who is often cruel and uncaring.  But when you point out how they hurt you, you end up hurt again.

Somehow it is all your fault. You started it.  You deserve it.  You are the real culprit.  If you hadn’t done what you did, this never would have happened.  You should be thankful the narcissist puts up with you at all.  On and on and on.  By the time it’s over you wish you had never dared.

Then you feel like crap. Sorry for the vernacular, but that’s the way it is.  You built up your courage, gathered your nerve, prepared your words—and got creamed.  And this isn’t the first time.

So what do you do? Simple justice seems to demand that the narcissist be confronted.  She has to be told that she is hurting you.  He has to have the boundaries made clear.  They ought to be stopped.

But here’s the problem: the narcissists either already know they are doing something that hurts you or they simply don’t care. All your energy seems out of line to them.  They don’t understand why you are attacking them, since they have done nothing wrong.  Again, you deserved it.  To the narcissist, it is almost hypocritical of you to challenge them for their cruelty when it was your own fault.

 

And     so     you     go     slowly     crazy.

 

But understand that this is not your problem. You are not the crazy one.  This is how narcissists generally deal with confrontation.  Whether it is the boss, the mother, the neighbor, the police officer or anyone.  Even the counselor.

To the Officer: “Yes, Officer, I see your point. Thank you.  I appreciate your diligence.”

To you: “That jerk!  If he didn’t have that badge I would have pushed his words down his throat.  Who does he think he is giving me a ticket?”

Even when it seems that the confrontation works, it still doesn’t. There may be limited success.  He might shut up for a while.  She might walk away.  But they really don’t understand your anger and don’t care about your point.  They can’t see you as a real person whose emotions are valid.  Your anger, your sadness, your joy—they don’t understand them the way you might understand the emotions of others.

 

Back to the question: What do you do? Here are some ideas:

  1. Do what you must. If you must say something, do it. It will feel good to get it out, no matter how it is accepted.
  2. Plan for failure. There are times when it is right to do something even if you know ahead of time that it won’t work. Maybe someone else will hear and understand your point, even if the narcissist doesn’t get it. If you plan for the narcissist to avoid or miss your point, you might not be as hurt when he/she does.
  3. Accept small victories and benefits. Sometimes a confrontation can set up a boundary. Sometimes the narcissist will be set back and have to take a different tack. That can be good.
  4. Or you don’t have to confront at all. Why put yourself through that if you don’t have to? Set your boundaries and maintain them without confrontation. The narcissist will probably try to use confrontation if you seem to want to avoid it, but walking away or staying silent can be a very effective strategy.

 

Confrontation is hard and narcissists usually choose victims who hate it in almost any circumstance. It is hard because you see the other as a real person and you don’t want to hurt them, nor do you want to fail to get your point across.  Just know that your desire to confront and your struggle with confrontation are okay.  They’re normal.

So I have attached a little video that seemed to illustrate what happens when we try to confront the narcissist. I apologize in advance for the “dumb criminals” part.  You are neither dumb nor criminals, but the narcissist is usually as hard as bulletproof glass!

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Insidious

It’s Narcissist Friday!  

 

A friend is dying of cancer. I hate cancer. Cancer is sneaky. It lies in wait and pops up to ambush a person. It doesn’t care whether you are young or old, married, have children, have unfulfilled dreams, or anything. It just hides until it surprises you.

 

Oh, there are signs. A cough. A lump. An itch. A pain. A weariness. Little things that make you wonder. But it is so easy to shrug those signs off and just keep going. Sometimes people even go to the doctor, but the cancer is so small that it isn’t detected . . . yet. But it’s there, waiting. It’s insidious.

 

Insidious.   Seems to me that’s a good word for narcissism also. It means to wait, as in ambush. It comes almost directly from the Latin term. The idea, in Latin, is to sit waiting. The enemy in hiding. The enemy in our midst, not quite identifiable. You can almost feel that something is wrong, but you can’t see it or touch it. It might be right around the corner, or the next. Then, suddenly, it’s there.

 

That lady in church who welcomed you with such kindness. You notice how others seem to let her have her way. You notice that she is much better at getting others to work than she is at doing work herself. The more you get to know her, the more you realize that she speaks a little too freely about others. You begin to wonder if she speaks that freely about you. You have trusted her with private information, but now you begin to worry. Insidious.

 

The young man was so full of love and attention. He was polite and patient and thoughtful. At times it seemed like he was courting you instead of your daughter. She seemed so lucky and so happy. Just because she started wearing her hair differently and she sometimes wouldn’t tell you where they were going, you weren’t worried . . . at first. After a while, when he left his good job because “they didn’t know how to use his talents,” you began to see a different side of him. Soon he and your daughter were living in another state and she never called or emailed. That’s when you saw that you were ambushed.

 

Insidious. I could tell story after story. Husbands and wives; in-laws; co-workers; leaders; friends. People who seem great at first. Even when you begin to see the little things, they seem benign. But the cancer waits and grows.

 

Some people grow up with narcissism. It surrounds them from their earliest memories of parents, grand-parents, or siblings. What seems so obvious to outsiders just seems like regular life to these folks. Nothing is wrong, but everything is wrong.

 

Others have narcissism creep up on them. They enter into relationships with kindness and hope, never suspecting that an abuser sits waiting for an opportunity. It might be at work, where a co-worker tries to take your position or clients. It might be at church where the narcissist decides you are the one that needs their control. It might be an intimate relationship where you thought there was only love. Insidious.

 

So what do we do? Well, we do the same thing we do with cancer. We watch for the little things and pay attention. We tell others about the reality of narcissism and teach them to watch for the signs. Not every unkind act or selfish focus is an indication of narcissism, but we can watch. Patterns begin to emerge, evidence accumulates, and maybe we can act before the damage is done.

 

Sometimes aggressive treatment does work against cancer. Sometimes a change of diet or the right medicines or simple surgery can reduce or eliminate the effect of cancer. In the same way, catching certain behaviors or attitudes early in a relationship can allow us to build defenses, watch even more closely, or escape before things get bad.

 

And I have noticed an unexpected relief for some people who are diagnosed with cancer. Finally they have an explanation for being tired or for that pain that won’t go away. Finally the whole thing makes sense. Again, in the same way, those who have grown up knowing the pain of narcissism sometimes find a relief in naming the insidious enemy. They always knew something was wrong—their family was not like others—but now they know what it is. It doesn’t make it go away, but naming it brings both explanation and options.

 

Parents can talk with sons and daughters about the warning signs of a narcissist. Bosses can learn, as can pastors. Marriage counselors and therapists are beginning to see the truth. Narcissism no longer hides as easily in our society. More of us are sounding the alarm.

 

Yes, narcissists are adaptable, just like cancer. They adjust their tactics and hide differently so we have to be alert. Certain regimens will help. Clear and strong boundaries. Acceptance of ourselves and our uniqueness. Trust in the leading and love of the Lord.

 

We may never eradicate narcissism and it might still surprise us from time to time, but the battle is not the same. Narcissism may continue to be insidious, lying in wait to abuse, but we are watching for it.

 

We are no longer unaware.

 

 

 

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Why?

It’s Narcissist Friday!  

 

Why do the narcissists abuse people?  Why do they do such things?  They hurt.  They use.  They manipulate.  They destroy.

Why?

Some have attributed their cruelty to hatred.  Some to anger.  Others to envy.  Perhaps they look at the rest of us and create ways to demolish what we or others have built into our lives.   Perhaps they do it for fun, excitement, maybe challenge.

Narcissists can cause a lot of pain.  I read the stories people send to me privately and those shared in the comments and I grieve for those who have had to endure so much.  Some of the stories are hard to believe, but I know narcissists and I do believe them.  And, again, why do they do these things?

I have written about this before, but it seems important to say it again: it isn’t your fault.  You are not an inferior person destined to be the kick-toy for others.  You are not suffering because of some sin in your life.  Narcissists don’t need our sin in order to accomplish their nastiness.  God is not angry with you.  He did not send the narcissist to punish you.  Basically, it isn’t about you.

I’m not sure the truth will make you feel better about the reality in which we live, but I hope it allows you to feel better about yourself.  It’s the narcissist who is broken.  There is something lacking in them that allows them to hurt others without concern.  There is something in them that is very different from the rest of us.  No, they are not normal.

You see, the narcissist simply doesn’t care.  He will do whatever he wants.  She will say whatever she thinks.  Words and actions are part of the narcissists’ tools to get what they want.  They do the things they do because they are means to an end.  If it hurts you, so what?

But, you say, how can a spouse or a friend or a parent think like that?  I don’t know.  I just know that some of them do.  They manipulate in whatever way works.  If it takes being nice to you and making you feel very good, they will do that.  If it takes being mean and cruel, they will do that.  Either one is simply useful, not good or bad.

So is it envy or hatred or sadism or some other perverted motivation?  Maybe.  But I will guarantee you that the narcissist does not feel these things in the same way you do.  If they envy, they don’t think of it as envy.  It is probably much more like base desire.  If it is hatred, it may still have nothing to do with you as a person.  If it is sadism, it does not bring the pleasure you might think.  The narcissist is motivated simply by the desire to feel better about themselves.  Whatever it takes…

Don’t try to figure it out.  There is probably no cause and effect that will make sense to you.  Just don’t believe the lie that it is about you.  A few years ago I ran across this little selection from T. S. Eliot.  I have shared it here before, but it seems good to share it again.  It might help.

 

Half the harm that is done in this world

Is due to people who want to feel important

They don’t mean to do harm ­

But the harm does not interest them.

Or they do not see it, or they justify it

Because they are absorbed in the endless struggle

To think well of themselves.

T. S. Eliot

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Feeling Trapped?

It’s Narcissist Friday!  

 

Being dumped by the narcissist is hard. One day you are wonderful and special; the next you are nothing. One day you feel loved and the next you feel hated. That’s tough.

But I think it is even harder when they won’t let you go. Day after day, week after week, on and on they just keep nagging or begging or criticizing or using or trying to make you crazy. And they are so good at keeping you involved in their lives. They lie and cry and plead and threaten, whatever it takes to keep you on that string.

Why are some narcissists so hard to get rid of? Here are some ideas:

 

  1. They think they own you. Remember that you are not a person to a narcissist. The narcissist sees others as tools, toys or obstacles. If you have been useful in the past, you may be useful in the future. Most narcissists have as little regard for the feelings of others as you or I would have for belongings. So you can’t make the decision to separate from them. They own you.
  2. They may be afraid of what you know. Did you learn any compromising information about the narcissist during your relationship? Could that information be used to challenge the image of the narcissist? Perhaps you are not important or useful, but dangerous and you must be controlled.
  3. You continue to provide supply. Sometimes we think that narcissistic supply, the “drug” many professionals refer to as the source of addiction for narcissists, is only admiration and attention. I think it is also found in conquest, control, and superiority. Every time the narcissist thinks he has won an argument, he gets a hit of supply. Every time she makes you feel worse about yourself, she gets that supply. Whatever it takes to make the narcissist feel better about himself—that’s supply. Even the battle that seems so worthless and so negative to you may provide supply to the narcissist. And, of course, your friend or lover might still want what you gave in the past and continues to look to you to provide it.

 

All of this is to say that it might be very difficult to end a narcissistic relationship. Not impossible, but difficult and not quick.

So how do you do it? Well, every situation is different. Family, marriage, work, church, friendships—all require some special methods, I suppose. Yet, there are a few things you should know for any kind of narcissistic relationship.

You have the right to be yourself. You should have some space and time and energy of your own. That will take some resources. Don’t be afraid to hold onto a little money or to take a little time for yourself. Even the most controlling relationship can be tolerated if you find a way to feel good about yourself. That happens in private times with the Lord or conversations with supportive people or just a special time by yourself.

Here are a few things I believe will help:

 

  1. You are not wrong to say no. You have to maintain some personal control in order to be healthy. Saying no or keeping your distance may be a very good thing.
  2. You don’t have to answer the phone, read the email or the text or the letter, or even be home when the narcissist expects. This is harder in a marriage, of course, but adapt these things to your own situation. If the marriage has ended, almost all of the conversation can as well.
  3. You are not accountable to the narcissist and must not tell more about yourself, especially your secrets. Secrets are powerful. When you hold one, you have control. When you share one, you give control away. This is why narcissists love to learn the secrets.
  4. There is no responsibility to continue a friendship when you have been abused. A user will use you again. Count on it. You do not have to stay tied to the abuser. You have a right to life without that person. That’s true even for an abusive parent.
  5. Plan for the battle. Remember that they will use your empathy or your guilt or your sadness against you. They want you to feel bad about letting them go. They can be ruthless. They will tell your secrets. They will lie about you. They will try to destroy whatever support you have. You will have to be strong.

 

Can you ever win? Will you ever be able to move on? Oh yes! Most of them will give up eventually. Those who won’t give up or those who have you tied into situations where you think you can’t escape only think they are in control. Create a life within your heart and mind that is yours. Even if they can make you do certain things, they can’t make you do everything. Win little battles and feel good about yourself. Spend a little time just for you. Spend a little money just for you. Find a place that is yours, even if it is a spot in the yard or a stop along the drive home. Don’t go there when the narcissist is with you. It’s yours.

Know that you are more than the victim or the supply of the narcissist. You are you and you are valued and loved. If you can get away from the narcissist, do it. If you can’t or feel that you should continue longer, find the way to be healthy even in the relationship. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself.

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