Processing The Grief After Narcissistic Abuse

Hello everyone, and thank you for joining me.  After the end of a narcissistic relationship, we often feel like a death has occurred, even in relatively short-lived relationships. The healing and recovery process and time required is unlike anything most of us have been through previously, and is certainly UNLIKE any breakup we have experienced before.  There are several reasons for this, and we will discuss a few of these in this article.  However long it takes you to ‘come out the other side’, you CAN get there of course, but it is prudent to have some knowledge as you enter the healing process.  The path is long, winding, with many ups and downs along the way; expect many layers of emotions and upsets to your life during this time.  This is OKAY, and to be expected. NOT putting pressure on yourself is important; it will take as long as it takes, and with knowledge, education, and dedication to YOURSELF and your recovery, you WILL move through this time.

“We often find at the end of a narcissistic relationship, the grieving process is unlike any other we’ve suffered; certainly much different from any ‘regular’ breakup with a romantic partner. The depth of emotion, the length of time to heal, are tremendous, and it will be supremely important to NOT expect too much, too soon.  Let the process unfold; you’ve suffered mightily, and healing will likely be slow. DO NOT GIVE UP.” L.A. Gilliam

broken heart paper

Here are some key points to keep in mind through the grieving process:

  • You are in mourning, over the loss of the relationship. I’m starting with the obvious here; OBVIOUSLY we are at the end of this toxic relationship. We have entered / started the recovery and healing journey. You are going to mourn the ACTUAL relationship, as the ‘entity’ it was all to itself.  This means being without the comforts of the relationship, even if they were few and far between.  You will miss and mourn the events, the gatherings, the special times. It must be noted that there ARE good times with a narcissist; they just are NOT the staple of the relationship, nor are they (always) authentic.  We can laugh, enjoy our time with the narcissist, and even really REALLY feel true love – on our side.  We can love those good parts of them, those good times, however the abuse ALWAYS (and I mean, always) returns. As the relationship progresses, the good times become less and less with the abusive cycles occurring more frequently.  This is just the nature of an abusive relationship.  Added to that, often the ‘good times’ are used as manipulation to hook us again, after our attempts to break off the relationship. Having said this, there WERE good times, there were parts of the relationship that will now be missed.  We MOURN those things, those losses.  There are just little special things that go along with any relationship; pet names, a touch here and there, a special smile, a laugh, a special token of love, that bond two people – that only THOSE two people share.  Sadly, those special ‘things’ meant way more to us than they would EVER authentically mean to an abuser.  We must mourn those things, too.
  •  We mourn the loss of the person we THOUGHT we had fallen in love with.  This is HUGE everyone, so sit up straight, take a deep breath, and let’s get into this very important point. The ABUSER who shows themselves further along in the relationship is the REAL PERSON – we just don’t know it in the early days/weeks/months of getting to know this new person.  We may have glimpses; little statements that don’t seem kind, little jabs at our looks or events we have in our lives, but nothing too over the top to make us say “whoa – what is THIS?”  If we were shown the TRUE narcissist in the beginning, NONE OF US WOULD HAVE GONE ANY FURTHER! We are NOT shown the genuine abuser in the early days; they are master actors and actresses, performing their ‘hearts’ out for their audience, in this case, US.  In those early days, we are treated with so much positive attention, so much outgoing affection (usually) and overwhelming amounts of time spent together, we may truly feel we have hit the ‘love lottery’.  I know I felt this way, to be sure.  THIS IS DONE ON PURPOSE – TO HOOK US.  So, having said all of this, the person WE fall in love with DOES NOT EXIST. Let me say that again. The person (who is only what the abuser pretends to be in the beginning) WE fall in love with – DOES. NOT. EXIST. Underneath the fraudulent ‘persona’ created to capture our hearts is the real person – the narcissist – the abuser.  This fact is one reason it is SO HARD to end the relationship; we simply CANNOT understand nor accept the initial ‘wonderful’ person doesn’t exist.  This is the CRUELEST facets of a narcissist relationship; we literally fall in love with a NON-EXISTENT person.
  • Loss of who we were prior to the abusive relationship.  Post abuse, we are different.  There is just no other way to state it.  Our lives, our hearts, our souls, our very Universes have been shaken, stirred, jumbled, and thrown about in such harsh ways, we often don’t even FEEL like ourselves. The abuse takes its toll – of course it does – and rightly so, affects nearly every part of who we were before the relationship. We have lost our trust in others. We have lost the notion that people are ‘good’, much of the time. We have lost our easy going natures, we have lost the desire to do good for others, we have just LOST so much of who we WERE.  My personality has changed. My willingness has changed. My outward love for ‘all’ has changed. I accept this, and am determined to come out stronger than ever, however I KNOW I have changed. When giving your all to someone who AT FIRST seemed to be your dream come true, only to then learn your ALL was abused, leads to deep destruction. You will likely never return to who you were, however you CAN rebuild your strength.  Rebuild your confidence.  Reclaim the personal power that has been stripped from you.  Yes, you can and WILL rebuild and reclaim, and it is my heart’s desire that you will come out stronger than before.  You will be changed however, and this is a HUGE part of the grief that must be processed.
  • Loss of innocence / ignorance about WHO walks among us, in our lives.  This is another biggie, folks.  Oh how ignorant I was, thinking that most people, most of the time, throughout most walks of life, were GOOD people.  Of course, in our lives we come across people who we don’t mesh with, people who aren’t enough like us (and vice versa) to become a friend, or more than a friend. We may have worked with people who are brutally cut-throat in the business world, or so competitive that to be around them was a constant headache.  We may have worked with people who just love to spread gossip about every little thing they think is going on with ‘such and such’.  This is NOT what I’m talking about here.  This is to be expected of course – people ARE people after all.  What I AM talking about here takes into account the very disastrous, dangerous, and debilitating experiences and nature of the narcissists (those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD) and the sociopaths/psychopaths (those with Anti-Social Personality Disorder, or ASPD) we become involved with (again, we don’t know WHO they truly are at first). After a relationship with a narcissist (narc), we LOSE our innocence that people are inherently good.  We lose the ignorance that once colored our blind hope and trust of most other people.  We lose our incredible ‘child-like’ hope and assumption that people are JUST GOOD!  We lose our innocence. We lose so so much hope. We have been devastated.  We have fallen in love with an abuser, unbeknownst to us at first, and we pay dearly for the experience.  Innocence is lost.  Here is the GOOD news (yes, there is some!!): That innocence and ignorance played a part in our becoming involved with the narc or the ASPD in the FIRST PLACE.  Yes, I had the thought that my partner was ‘too good to be true’, but I BELIEVED that what I was receiving was the TRUTH!  Gone may be the innocence, but gained is the knowledge and perspective that TIME and PATTERNS of behavior are to be USED to develop trust, to develop authentic reciprocity of care and love.  PLEASE join me in the development of the more careful, more discerning, less quick to act on ‘what seems to be love’ mind-set moving forward. It will save both you and I from repeating this experience.
  • Finding out about multiple partners or a quick replacement after the end of the relationship.  This statement goes to the core of WHO the NPD or ASPD is, in reality.  Remember, narcs cannot be without attention because of their very fragile internal sense of worthlessness (that they overcompensate for to no end).  They MUST have attention, adventure (not the good kind), and busy-ness to feel ALIVE.  They do not process the world normally nor in a healthy manner; as we can barely breathe after our relationship, make no mistake, they are already staking out their next victim(s). THEY MAY PRETEND to be upset, and pretend to also be devastated to those they know, even close family members, but they are NOT MOURNING YOU.  They are mourning the LOSS OF ATTENTION.  The loss of having someone at their beck and call.  They mourn the loss of the ‘servant’ they have cultivated in us, from the very beginning.  The narc is mourning the loss of NOT HAVING TO BE ALONE!  This is why after even a very significant relationship, even a marriage, NARCS MOVE ON SO QUICKLY. Narcissists do very poorly alone; you will often find extended families, multiple careers, multiple partners, and they will even have multiple people lined up for the ‘just in case’ scenario – the expectation that their current relationship will be ending.  There is ALWAYS someone else in the wings, and sometimes (oftentimes) this will be an ex.  In my case, my ex had multiple partners at one time, multiple dating sites and profiles, and prior to me entering the picture – just SIX MONTHS prior – two of the women found out about each other, and it ended in disaster.  Each woman thought SHE was THE ONE, because the narc TOLD them this.  THIS IS A NARCISSIST’S PLAYBOOK, THROUGH AND THROUGH.  Please know in your heart and soul, the speed with which the narc moves on has everything to do with THEM, and nothing to do with you.  They simply CANNOT be alone.
  • The loss of the DREAM of the relationship we thought we were building.  Perhaps with your partner you discussed travel plans, retirement plans or career plans, plans for where you will be living, how you will be living, things you wanted to experience together, adventure plans, or even just regular daily plans about meals, picnics, sunsets, and all the rest.  Somewhere along the line however, especially in the early months of the relationship (when we mostly think everything is wonderful), we may start DREAMING of the life we want to build with our partners.  In a normal relationship, these dreams can indeed come true!  In a toxic / narc relationship however, these dreams will not be coming true.  First, we simply cannot live normally, happily, nor healthily in an abusive relationship, so we MUST get out, and stay out. Secondly, the narc or ASPD will tell you ANYTHING to keep you hooked.  Plans will be DISCUSSED, but oh, when it is time to book the trip, book the airfare, don’t be surprised if after all those plans and discussions, the narc ‘baits and switches’ on you. This happened to me multiple times.  We had discussed plans for a trip, had researched lodging online, picked out the suite we wanted, talked about amenities and services, and then – when it came time to book the airlines – NOPE.  Not happening.  An excuse of “this is not such a great time” or something of that nature was given…. and of course, I did not make a big deal of it.  If my partner tells me this is not a good time, then okay, we’ll find a different time to make our ‘dreams’ come true.  The issue of course – is that those dreams NEVER WILL come true (or at best, very very rarely – just to keep you hooked).  This is what a NARCISSIST does, and this must be accepted.  Dreams and plans that are discussed and even somewhat put into place together, are very unlikely to come true; they are a means to an end to a narcissist – a way to keep you THERE, interested, and hanging on in HOPES those dreams will come true.  It is likely that most of us postponed making a decision to GET OUT of the relationship, just because we didn’t want to lose the idea, or possibility, of all those hopes and dreams coming true.  They never would. 

So, here we are friends.  Please know the grief, the grieving cycle, the start of the recovery and healing process is UNLIKE anything you’ve been through before.  It just IS. Having said that, self-care, support, counseling, and time will be of benefit to you.  It will take work to get through the healing and grief stages, it will.  Don’t rush the process.  Rely on those friends who may truly understand.  Not all will; most won’t understand the depth of the PAIN.  They may mean well, but don’t fault them for the platitudes they may send your way; they are truly trying to help, but just cannot understand.  It is likely no one can TRULY understand unless they too, have been through a relationship with an NPD or ASPD.  Find the support.  Find a counselor.  Stop talking to those that are not able to understand – their inability to understand is not their fault, but frustration will creep in if you continue to seek support from those not able to genuinely give it.  Self-care is paramount here; make SURE you are taking good care of yourself.  Recovery and healing will take as long as it takes, and with knowledge, education, and dedication to YOURSELF and your recovery, you WILL move through this time.  I have, and you will too.  Best, L.A.

Box person in rain

Narcissistic Abuse Survivors: Things to Remember

As we move through the ending of a toxic partnership / relationship we may find ourselves sometimes wondering, “What now?”, and “Why do I feel so badly, when I know I made the right decision?”.  It is important to remember several things as the healing and recovery process begins because often our very ability to think straight, the ability to moderate our emotions seems to have left us.  Even well into healing now, three years post-abusive relationship, it helps me to remember these very important points. The end of the toxic relationship is complicated for us, creates a multitude of feelings and emotions, and can often come with so much self-doubt! Often the emotionally devastating pain we experience after an abusive relationship seems crushing; we may not even believe we will ever feel ‘normal’ again (much less feel ‘good’).  We have spent ‘however long’ entrenched and affected by the abuse, and the healing and recovery journey is a long one.  Along the way, there may be false starts and stops, confusion, depression, and so many deep feelings and thoughts, we may wonder how we are going to get through it all.  But get through it we do, and keeping the below points in mind will certainly give you a foundation of what is normal, what feelings are to be expected, and give you hope that you are on the right track.  Healing and recovery from abuse is a long, twisting, winding path however over time, you WILL feel better and you will recapture the strength (and even MORE strength) you lost during the relationship.  *  Disclaimer: The below list is NOT a substitution for counseling and/or therapy with a qualified, skilled practitioner, nor is it meant to replace or diagnose or treat any significant mental / emotional distress. This list is being provided as a general overview of things to keep in mind while you navigate your own healing and recovery, and I will always support and encourage any abuse survivor to seek support via therapy / counseling.

“It must be accepted that the recovery and healing process after narcissistic abuse is a long, long road; a marathon of sorts, NOT a sprint. It is important for survivors to understand there are no quick fixes, there are no magic pills nor strategies that will cure the pain immediately. Healing deserves the time required; survivors have been deeply affected on many levels and there is just no other way than to WORK THROUGH IT, to MOVE THROUGH IT.” L.A. Gilliam

female remembering

Now, let’s break down things to remember, things to keep in mind, as you work through the beginning and middle of this healing process.  This is a long road as I’ve said already, and this list is not meant to present everything you will experience, nor everything you will encounter.  Having said that, there ARE things to accept in the here and now, that might put your mind and heart at ease, knowing these are to be expected.

  • Expect to feel completely out of sorts.  You may forget what day it is, where you need to be. You may feel lost. You may feel like your brain / mind is not functioning properly. You may feel ‘foggy’; thoughts may spin, concentration may be elusive. This can last for weeks or longer, and this is to be EXPECTED.  Remember, you’ve suffered trauma. Emotional and mental TRAUMA. Our brains, minds, consciousness, and hearts are affected deeply during this abuse, and time is required to regain our equilibrium. Survivor strategy: ALLOW yourself time to feel this way. Do not pressure yourself into feeling any sort of way too quickly. Allow your mind, brain, heart, soul, and spirit to REST. Calm yourself. Create alone time where you can listen to soothing music, or just sit in silence. Practice DAILY quite time.  Sit comfortably, wearing comfortable clothes, and allow the QUIET.  Close your eyes. Your mind NEEDS to be calmed, and quiet alone time without distractions – just to BE – is so beneficial in creating the CALM. 
  • Expect to cry, scream, yell, and be overly emotional, even at small events. Often after abuse, we are WORN OUT. Exhausted. Our emotions are at an all time high; functioning on overdrive, our emotional temperament may seem altered.  This is to be expected. ALLOW it. Do not try to limit yourself and your feelings here; HONOR what you need to feel during this time. Don’t worry or overly stress out about how much you are crying in the very beginning stages of healing and recovery; if in 2 – 3 weeks you are still crying uncontrollably (where it is affecting your daily life), please consult a doctor / therapist.  I am NOT saying here that still crying and feeling emotionally reactive after two weeks is NOT normal – it is.  However, if in 2 – 3 weeks’ time you are still so emotionally reactive that your daily life is affected, please consult a professional.  We all heal at a different pace. We all emote our suffering differently. This is perfectly okay and normal.  If in the span of 2 – 3 weeks you are not noticing an improvement in the DEPTH of your grief however, please do speak to a professional who may be able to help you through this very acute stage of healing.  Survivor strategy:  Give yourself PERMISSION to feel horribly AWFUL! You’ve been through trauma.  You’ve been through devastating events that need to be HONORED, and allowing yourself these emotions, this very down-and-dirty UGLY display of emotions is HEALING.  Can you imagine suffering through abuse and NOT allowing yourself the time, space, and energy to CRY?  To scream if you need to?  Don’t place unrealistic expectations on yourself. Honor your experiences by letting IT ALL OUT.
  • Expect changes in your sleeping patterns, dreams, eating patterns, and daily routines.  These things are normal, and may seem overwhelming, as we so desperately want to feel balanced again. You may sleep more, you may sleep less.  You may eat more, you may eat less.  You may ‘want’ to participate normally, yet find yourself out of energy.  You may think about fixing yourself a meal, but not have the energy to make it to the kitchen. This is ALL OKAY, and to be expected in the short-term aftermath of abuse.  Expect changes in your body, your thoughts, your dreams (which may turn to nightmares), your daily patterns.  Remember, your life has taken a bit hit; everything we’ve known, believed, and hoped for has CHANGED.  This takes yes – time – to work through and process.  Allow yourself this time.  Survivor strategy:  Keep up your structured daily routines as much as possible.  Are you used to showering at a specific time?  Stick with it. Are you used to daily care routines in a particular order? Stick with those. Stick with EVERYTHING in your normal, every day life as much as possible.  This will allow a bit of ‘normalcy’ to stay intact, and even if it is just something small, routine can be comforting.
  • Expect to WANT to withdraw from friends, family, work, and life.  After abuse, you may feel like you do not want to talk to one single person, you do not want to go to work, you do not want to go outside, see anyone, talk to even the cashier at the grocery store, or to talk at all! This is NORMAL! We’ve been hurt!  We’ve been subjected to emotional and mental abuse.  Withdrawing  temporarily is how we build a ‘wall’ around us for SAFETY, and this is okay, as long as it doesn’t last forever. This stage will be different for everyone, to varying degrees, and may last a short or long time.  Personally, even after three years, I just don’t engage in superficial small talk with new people. I ‘can’t be bothered’, as silly as that sounds. I am open to meeting new people, but have no need for them in my life if they do not offer something positive of SUBSTANCE. I still have my tried and true inner core of close friends, and they have been my safe zone.  Withdrawing temporarily allows us the SAFETY we so need during this time. We must create a safe zone around ourselves, and often in order to do this we need to cut back on life a bit, cut out contact with others for a time.  As we build our feelings of safety again, we can get back to our normal interactions in life. This takes time, of course.  Survivor strategy:  ALLOW yourself this time of introversion, introspection, and QUIET. Let people in your life know that you need some time, and that if you seem distant, it is not a reflect of them, but how you need to care for yourself at this time. People who love you will try to understand. Allow yourself the quiet, the removal of daily stress, the creation of a safe-zone for yourself. This is okay. As safety returns, you will naturally and organically ‘re-enter’ your social circles, your outside life hobbies and work-related social events (if there are any). You will know how much, and when, to return to these things. The re-emergence will either uplift you, or deplete you. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY’S RESPONSE, your mind and heart’s response as you re-enter your ‘life’. You will know if it is right on time, or too soon.
  • Expect that nothing really feels the same afterward. This is tricky, because more than anything – at first – we WANT everything to just go back to the way it was prior to the abuse!  We want our LIVES back!  We want our WORLDS back!  Nothing will feel quite the same. We see things differently.  We see people differently.  We question things we’ve never questioned before.  We are cynical, and skeptical.  We don’t trust people – even though they’ve been in our lives for years. We LOSE SO, SO MUCH.  Things look different, they seem different, they FEEL different. This is one of the TOUGHEST parts of the early days/weeks/months of healing; everything is JUST different. Survivor strategy:  Yes, things are different.  WE are different.  Know in your heart, that as you recover and start to heal, you CAN create an even better and stronger life and reality for yourself.  YOU CAN!  This will take hard work in the future post-abuse, but it can be done.  Things will return a bit to the way they were, but not completely.  This is okay; allow yourself the CHANGE, and then, MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU.  Be smarted with your decisions in the future as you get to know new people.  Adjust how you perceive the world, now that you know that all smiling people are not healthy, and may in fact, be dangerous. USE what you have learned to make better decisions, to ensure abusive people never have the chance to enter your life again. These are BIG changes, but over time, they can WORK FOR YOU, not against you.  This will take conscious effort, and going ‘with’ these changes, instead of fighting them.  Go with them, and CREATE a new and BETTER, stronger reality for yourself.
  • YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS.
  • YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS!
  • YOU WILL, YOU WILL, YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS!!!  (Tell yourself this statement over and over and over)

So friends, here we are.  The above points are by no means all-inclusive, but rather a snapshot of some of the very early ‘stages’ and changes you may experience at the end of your toxic relationship.  Recovery and healing from abuse is a MARATHON, not a SPRINT. Allow yourself the time and the space to move through these stages, as your body, mind, soul, and spirit work TO HEAL.  Do not rush this process, but pay attention to how you PROGRESS through these stages.  If in three weeks you have still not been able to get to work, talk with a friend, go outside, and find that your self care (showering, brushing your teeth, etc.) is too much for you, please please, talk to a doctor and/or therapist.  THREE WEEKS is just a nominal guide; be smart and use wise discernment if you feel you are NOT progressing through the initial recovery.  It can take SO MUCH LONGER than three weeks of course, yet – we still have to LIVE – and talking with a counselor or doctor may provide additional resources to help this process along.  I am three YEARS in the process, and still have much work to do.  I ALLOW myself to know I am different, but also allow myself the acceptance (and pride) to know I am STRONGER and will never again allow abuse in my life, in ANY form.  YOU can get here too.  Best, L.A.

Flying of thoughts. Thoughtful young man holding hand on chin and looking away while standing against cloud chalk drawing on blackboard

 

The Narcissist & The Empath; The Perfect Dance of Destruction

Hello there, and thank you for joining me today.  Much has been written about relationships between Empaths (or Highly Sensitive People; for clarity I will be using the word “Empath”) and Narcissists.  There can be no denial that a narcissist (narc) will target an empath, for the very qualities they wished they themselves possessed.  By and large, empathetic people feel deeply, are driven by making the world and the people in it ‘better’.  We want to help.  We want to save.  We want to give.  We DO give, sometimes to our own detriment.  By and large, empaths are some of the most caring people in the world; deeply touched and affected by the suffering of others. It is just this nature that empaths become the perfect target for the narcissist.  Let’s take a deeper look at the relationship dynamic, what I am calling here “The Perfect Dance of Destruction”.

“The Narcissist at the root of their being, are empty with a void of missing internal self-worth. Narcissists WANT desperately to be worthy and often live lives full of overcompensation and ‘acting’ to portray to the world the very opposite of what they truly are.  The Empath on the other hand, often exudes outwardly the very characteristics a narcissist covets; genuine loving care for others, understanding and giving beyond measure. The Empath becomes the target of the Narcissist and willingly may enter the “Dance of Destruction” thinking they will be able to help or save the Narcissist.” L.A. Gilliam

Here are some character traits of an Empath:

  • Highly sensitive to others’ feelings and emotions
  • Highly in touch and in tune with nature and the natural world
  • Can feel others’ feelings – both happy and sad
  • Genuinely caring, giving, supportive, and understanding
  • Is often moved deeply by pieces of music, art, and performances
  • Is often called upon by others in times of need
  • Is willing to offer support, an ‘ear’ or ‘shoulder’ in times of distress
  • Can become emotionally exhausted easily
  • Enjoys time alone, in peace and quiet
  • Needs solitary time after parties, events, and social gatherings
  • May choose to avoid small talk and seemingly benign gatherings
  • May avoid crowds
  • Ironically, are able to often detect someone who is not genuine
  • May be moved to tears (both happy and sad) when another is crying

Now, let’s take a look at some character traits of a Narcissist, as they roughly correspond with the above:

  • Is unable to ‘put themselves in others’ shoes’; cannot understand why another person feels as they do
  • May enjoy time outside, but is not moved emotionally
  • Cannot feel empathy, sympathy, nor joy when others do
  • Does not FEEL deeply with the arts; appreciation may be shown, but will be limited to their own personal experience, not to the ‘world’ as a whole
  • Will use assistance offered to others as a ‘bargaining chip’ in the future; any assistance given will be remembered and will have strings attached
  • May be called upon for financial support, or life-event support, not emotional support
  • Will feel ‘alive’ the more people are around; enjoys crowds, noise, attention, being the ‘center of attention’
  • Cannot stand time alone and doesn’t understand why others need it; time alone bores the narcissist to tears (one reason their lives are always in chaos)
  • Is able to ‘fake’ authenticity in the BEGINNING, like nobody’s business, a narc is one of the best actors on the planet (both male and female)
  • Sheds tears for effect only; for attention, sympathy, or as a show. The narc does not cry for others – ever.  They cannot FEEL to that depth.

Now, when the narc and the empath first meet, it is likely the empath will ‘think’ they are in the company of someone very similar to themselves, and there is GOOD REASON FOR THIS.  The narcissist will ‘mirror’ tone of voice, gestures, word selection, topics discussed right back to the empath, creating a false bond or attachment (it seems very real) WITH the empath. This is the performance of a lifetime after all, the ‘Dance of Destruction’ has begun with the narcissist pretending to be who the empath IS. The empath may pick up on this or that, little things here and there, but the narc is so skilled at manipulation, even very knowledgeable and successful therapists are often fooled.

The next step beyond these first few meetings or dates are important, as this is when the narcissist will begin laying the ‘seeds of sorrow’.  Oh, the stories empaths hear!  Remember, the empath already believes he or she is in the company of someone very similar TO themselves, because the narcissist has made sure their performance has HOOKED the empath. Now, the narcissist will start laying everything on the line; personal problems, health problems, family problems, challenges they are facing, events they’d like you help with, and on and on it goes.  Of course the empath wants to ‘help’!  That is in the empath’s nature after all, and how can one deny supporting someone who has such woeful stories to tell?  Ahhh – be aware here empaths, be VERY aware.  If we are not careful, this is when and how we get STUCK in the Dance.

Over time, as the empath believes he or she is creating a genuine bond with the narc, we start letting our own boundaries loosen.  We have been treated so well up to this point, not knowing the facade of the ‘game’ (this is nearly a literal HUNT by the narcissist) nor the depth of the acting by the narc.  The empath now moves emotionally closer to the narc, offering support, care, understanding, and compassion.  The narcissist is lapping this attention up like an overheated dog to a bowl of cool water. The narc can FEEL THIS; make no mistake.  The narcissist is very skilled at their OWN sense of intuition and will be able to sense and know when the empath has emotionally committed to them.  The empath’s efforts and actions SHOW the narc that they are now ‘hooked’.  The empath WANTS to offer this support to the narc; it is in the empath’s nature to PROVIDE.  The narcissist WANTS this support; it is in narc’s nature to TAKE.  Hence, the ‘Dance of Destruction’.

As the relationship progresses, the narcissist drops the facade, drops the mask of who they have pretended to be (in order to hook the empath). When this happens, the empath does not understand this ‘switch’ in personality, but will work TIRELESSLY to make things right again – likely thinking this is just a temporary ‘rough patch’.  This IS THE DANCE.  The narcissist takes, takes, takes; the empath gives, gives, gives, all in order to make things better again, to get back to those early days when things were ‘so good’ (remember, they were fake for the narc).  The empath works harder than ever to make things right; the narcissist may ‘throw a bone’ to the empath now and again to keep the empath hooked.  The empath MUST have harmony to feel safe, secure, and stable; the narcissist must create chaos, confusion, and drama to feel ‘alive’.  You will not find a narcissist at rest; in perpetual motion, with a million things going on all the time, they must have this level of activity to FEEL (see the previous post where brain structure and processing abnormalities were discussed).  This lifestyle, this chaos, is the OPPOSITE of what the empath needs. Yet, the empath just wants things to go back the way they were in the beginning. This duality is extremely difficult for the empath; where did the harmony go?  Where are all the good days like we had in the beginning of the relationship?  WHY have things gone so haywire?  Because we were with a narcissist the entire time, but didn’t know it – in the beginning.

Have you ever felt like you were the one doing all the work in a one-sided relationship?  Have you ever felt like the person you are with, over time became someone you didn’t even recognize?  The empath will exhaust himself or herself in the effort to get back to the ‘beginning’, when things WERE in harmony.  This is not to be.  This dance will continue as long as the empath allows it.

It must be restated here that the narcissist WANTS what the empath IS, and because this will never happen, the relationship turns to deep emotional and mental abuse.  This is at the hands of the narcissist.  The narcissist and empath, now locked in the ‘Dance of Destruction’, are locked into this push-pull, the needs of the narcissist being catered to by the empath exhaustively.  Most empaths just want to keep the narcissist HAPPY to avoid the abuse that will come our way if we are to stand up for ourselves, our makes OUR needs known. The empath may in fact live like this for years and years; decades and decades.  Driven by the deep need to ‘save and help’ others, the deep drive to do all possible to make others feel good, satisfied, happy, and supported, the empath will literally wear themselves out at the expense of the relationship.  And don’t you know, narcissists are there – lapping it all up.  Ultimately however, the narcissist will engage in this dance to the empath’s destruction.  Eventually, the empath just can’t do it any more, is suffering from very real physical symptoms from having lived under this stress for so long, or just may decide one day that they’ve had enough.  Abuse is abuse, and narcissists are KNOWN for it.  Some empaths will take it, until they just can’t any longer.

Sadly, when the empath tries to move away from the relationship, the narcissist will FEEL this happening, and up the ante of attention, of positive interactions.  This is commonly known as ‘love bombing’, and will trick the empath into thinking and feeling that “Yes!  Things are better!  Look how great things are again!”  But, this is ONLY TEMPORARY and is a calculated effort on the part of the narcissist to once again secure the empath’s love, attention, and support. Once the empath is again firmly entrenched in the relationship, often thinking something like “Okay. I must’ve been mistaken.  Things are getting better!”, the narcissist will drop this facade, this game, like a hot potato.  The narcissist cannot sustain this positive behavior toward the empath because it is not genuine.  This temporary reprieve from the abuse, the negative and demanding nature of the relationship IS MANIPULATION, and empaths will fall for it time and time again.  THIS IS THE DANCE OF DESTRUCTION.

So, here we are friends.  This ‘Dance of Destruction’ is what will happen in a Narcissist-Empath relationship.  There is no discounting the very real struggle any empath feels as the awareness dawns on them exactly who they are dealing with as the mask of the narc slips.  The empath MUST be the one to end this dance; the narcissist is unlikely to do so, and why would they?  They have the perfect servant, the perfect accommodating partner in the empath.  This Dance of Destruction will in fact deplete the empath significantly, if the empath does not end the relationship.  Remember, empaths are some of the most caring people in the universe; deeply touched and affected by the suffering of others. It is just this nature that empaths become the perfect target for the narcissist.  Personally, I now limit my ‘saving’ behavior for animals.  I have no interest in saving another adult human being.  Best, L.A.

dancewiththedevilbackpatch

 

 

Narcissist Relationships: Expectation & Disappointment

Hello, everyone.  Thank you for being here.  We are drawn together here and have a bond, through our relationships with toxic people, people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), and even Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD).  When we have a narcissist (narc) in our life, we are reminded often at how difficult our dealings are with them – it does not matter if they are a friend, family member, wife, husband, etc.  Narcs bring difficulty, chaos, turmoil, upheaval, and unpredictability into our lives.  As mentioned in previous articles, because of their personality disorder, they process and live in the world differently than we do.  They just DO.  Even when they say they may share a common view or perception, when it comes time to act on that ‘view’ (ie. showing respect to you), often the ‘talk’ flies out the window, because the BEHAVIOR does not match the spoken word.  This is how ‘it is’ with narcissists.  This brings us to our topic today:  Expectation and Disappointment.  It bears repeating that a narc is a narc, NPD is a long-standing, pervasive, and consistent behavioral pattern which will not permanently change in positive ways.  There may be temporary reprieves from the abuse, but the abuse will always return.  Here, we need to address what OUR expectations are, and where our disappointment comes from.

“When we expect behavior from people who are truly unable to give it, we come out the loser.  Simply stated: expecting permanent respect, genuine and long-standing loving care from a narcissist is a no-win expectation.  You will not receive these things because a narcissist is UNABLE to give these things. Your expectations will need to be adjusted.  Unrealized and unfulfilled expectations lead to ongoing disappointment at best, significant emotional pain and trauma at worst.”  L.A. Gilliam

In our daily lives, suffused throughout our relationships with others, we have expectations.  We expect to be talked to with respect, we expect no one will try to purposefully hurt us in any way.  We expect that the friends we have are in our lives – and us theirs – are mutually beneficial, supportive, understanding, and loving. The best relationships no matter who the person is, are those that have mutual reciprocity – genuine loving care and respect GIVEN AND RECEIVED. This mutually beneficial ‘back and forth’ allows each person to not only contribute positively in and to another person’s life, but to also be on the receiving end of these things as well .  This is solid.  This is truth of reciprocity.  This is the FOUNDATION of any great friendship/relationship. 

Now, this is not to say that every now and then disappointment does not occur in these overall healthy relationships and friendships.  Of course it does.  There are tiffs here and there, differing views, differing perceptions, and any relationship will have its ups and downs, naturally.  In a healthy relationship with mutually beneficial reciprocity however, disappointment is mitigated by the knowledge and understanding of that very deeply held and felt mutual respect.  Differences are accepted, perhaps discussed for clarification, and the two parties move through the temporary disappointment that resulted from whatever the issue was, with the relationship intact and perhaps at times even strengthened.  This is NOT the case with a narcissist.

Keep in mind that narcissists process the world and those of us in it, DIFFERENTLY.  This must be remembered always!

Unfulfilled Expectations Lead to Disappointment!  Let’s dive in to the reasons we cannot have ‘normal and healthy’ expectations with a narcissist:

  • Lack of genuine mutual respect. Over time in any narc relationship, you will have lost any respect shown to you in the beginning.  This is because the respect shown in the beginning was FAKE.  Narcs do NOT respect others, because they feel above and superior (as a cover-up for their lacking self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness) to everyone.  When we expect to be respected by a narcissist WE LOSE, because a narc is NOT ABLE to give genuine respect to others. Your expectation will need adjustment here; you cannot expect something from someone they have no ability to give.
  • We are not seen as individuals, with rights. If you have a narcissist in your life, you are seen as an ‘extension’ of the narc, not as a separate human being with your own rights.  A narcissist sees others as a means to an end, an entity to be ‘used’ as an extension of themselves, to make themselves BETTER, to be catered to, and to be molded into whatever the narc desires at the moment.  WE ARE NOT INDIVIDUALS, to a narc.  We are there to SERVE them.  We are NOT there to have our own ideas, our own needs, wants, nor desires.  Oh, those things are fine as long as they align with what the narc wants, but let our own needs and wants deviate from the narc’s desires, and you will quickly see how fast things turn abusive.  When we expect to be treated as a whole, worthy, and separate individual by a narcissist WE LOSE, because a narc is NOT ABLE to see us as our separate and rightful entities.  We are only extensions of the narcissist.  You are NOT ALLOWED to have rights. Your expectation will need adjustment here; you cannot expect something from someone they have no ability to give.
  • We will not receive genuine care, understanding, empathy, sympathy nor genuine love. A narcissist is driven by their internal feelings of worthlessness, of emptiness, lacking a real sense of self.  In order to give genuine care and all the rest, someone MUST have an authentic sense of self – in a healthy capacity. Because the narc lacks this important authentic sense of self and is driven by insecurity and feelings of worthlessness (believe me, they work tirelessly to cover up these deep feelings – hence all of the overcompensation and exploitive behavior), they have NOTHING authentic to give, except for abusive behavior.  This is so so important!  It is because of what THEY LACK INTERNALLY they are not able to GIVE genuine care, understanding, empathy, sympathy nor genuine love.  They are EMPTY inside!  They cannot GIVE us what we would expect in a healthy, normal, loving friendship / relationship.  It is JUST not possible.  Yes, they can fake it – for a time.  Yes, they can ‘bring it back round’ at times – temporarily.  These traits within a narcissist MUST BE ACCEPTED, for us to make our own adjustments to limit the negative affects of narc abuse.  When we expect to receive genuine care, understanding, empathy, sympathy and genuine love from a narcissist WE LOSE, because a narc is NOT ABLE to give genuine positive regard to ANYONE.  The narcissist is filled with feelings of internal self-worthlessness, deeply felt insecurity, and driven by the need to OVERCOMPENSATE for these things, and do so through their behavior toward others.  Your expectation will need adjustment here; you cannot expect something from someone they have no ability to give.

Friends, NONE of this is pleasant to discuss and downright awful to have to accept.  Accept we must however, if we are to move beyond continual DISAPPOINTMENT FROM UNFULFILLED EXPECTATIONS. We simply cannot continue to have expectations of people who have NO ability to give us those things.  We would never expect a dog to meow; the dog has NO ABILITY to meow.  We would never expect a cat to bark; the cat has NO ABILITY to do so.  It is the same with a narcissist; because of their mental / emotional disorder, they have NO ABILITY to be, FEEL, nor show the above listed items GENUINELY to others. It must be stated here that narcissists are some of the best actors on the planet; they can and do fake these things all the time with others in their lives – temporarily.  They do NOT have these genuine feelings for others; showing temporary gestures of the above are USED by the narc as MANIPULATION.  Today, ask yourself what expectations do you have of people (with NPD)?  Accept what I have written as truth – it IS the truth.  Knowing what you know, what expectations do you have that need to be adjusted?  There is NO NEED ever to expect differently from a narc; they are INCAPABLE.  So, it is up to us to adjust our own expectations to avoid the consistent, never-ending disappointment that comes from being continually let down by narcissists.  Best, L.A.

disappointment-expectation-reality