It’s Narcissist Friday!
Years ago a friend told me that he had kept his mother’s china set for years after her death. He didn’t use it, but kept it carefully boxed in the garage. Then, one day, his garage door was open when the garbage collectors came. You got it: they gathered up the boxes of his mother’s china and took them with the trash. After all those years, gone in a few minutes.
But it’s just stuff. Right? Yeah… right… but…
The china set had little practical value if it wasn’t being used. But it had sentimental value. This man thought of his mother when he saw it, even in the boxes. He remembered the family gatherings and the special events. Through those memories came memories of loved ones long gone and more. And the set had a certain monetary value. A set of quality china can bring several thousand dollars when sold. There was real loss for this man.
And there was real loss for you when the narcissist took, stole, sold, broke, used up, your special things. To strip you of identity and strength, the narcissist will take those things which are precious in your life. If you value something, it has to go. It isn’t so much that the narcissist sees your things as competition for value in your life, but that he/she needs to break you. Sometimes, the things you bring into the marriage remind you of the family or the independence you had before the narcissist. That connection is what must be broken.
Oh, the stories I have heard. Somehow the little dog she had before she met him died early in the marriage. Grandma’s bureau was donated to the thrift store to make way for his desk. She said she hated your dad’s guns in the house so she pressured until you had to get rid of them. The car you had, the one you had saved for and restored, had to go. On and on.
Add to this the inheritance you received from your grandfather, the letters from your dad, the books that you used in college, the football jersey with the letters you earned. The list is long and personal. I have even heard of narcissists who gained ownership of their spouse’s family farms or homes either through manipulation or as part of the divorce. The goal is to take your heart away. These things, whether they should or not, connect with our hearts.
We must be careful as we seek to comfort others. When we say that possessions are just things and don’t matter, that the loss isn’t real or important, we sound just like the narcissist. Instead, we should acknowledge the heart connection people have with precious things and help them release those things to the love of Jesus. Releasing our connections to special possessions is a process. When the narcissist rips or steals away that possession, the anger and loss become mixed, making release much more difficult. We want to be understanding.
At the same time, the goal for each of us is to lay our possessions at the feet of Jesus. It will be a step toward health if you can find the way to do this. Part of that process is to acknowledge the sin of the narcissist. I know people will say that you have to forgive, but in order to forgive you first have to acknowledge that what was done was wrong. Even if others don’t see it, you know it is true. The narcissist’s act was an offense against your heart. It was wrong, perhaps even legally criminal. There should be a price to pay. Justice is in the hands of the Lord.
The goal is to move on. The act has happened. The special possession is gone. The memories are still yours, even if the bureau or the dishes are gone. Hold precious the relationship you had. The possession was only a reminder, only a symbol. These are more than words, they are statements of health.
You are more than a possession. The people in your life are/were more than a possession. Grandma and her love for you will never be lost to you. Your father is/was far more valuable than the things he left you. The narcissist can never take away what really matters.
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