In my current novel draft of women’s fiction, one of my characters is a narcissist. One of the things I worry about when/if this book gets published is that readers will have a hard time understanding why my main character continues to have any relationship with this guy. They don’t work together. They don’t share a child. They aren’t related. And yet, she just can’t seem to stop being around him. That’s why I post about narcissists on here sometimes. I do it for two reasons–one, so people who are in relationships with narcissists or who’ve been raised by one, etc. know they are not alone. Two, so readers, who have not had this experience in their lives, can have some understanding of the issues.
Last time, I posted about the silent treatment. I feel drawn today to write a little bit more about “getting along” with a narcissist and how he or she can draw you in and then make you feel crazy in less than a day. Crazy for doubting them one day. Crazy for trusting them the next. Master Manipulator who’s always changing the rules.
The problem for me has always been that when I hear someone whom I care about say, “You deserve to be happy,” or “I’m always here for you,” or “You were not nice to me,” I think about what those words mean if I say them. When I say to someone “you deserve to be happy,” it means that in spite of how I feel about a situation, if the person is happy, then I will try to put my feelings aside (even if it’s hard) and be happy for them. If I say, “you were not nice to me,” I’m able to pick out the moments when I thought the person was not being nice and explain why these hurt my feelings.
When a narcissist says these statements, they don’t mean the same thing. He doesn’t have the same meaning behind the words. And that’s a problem for me, for most people involved with self-centered people, because we’re sucked in. We want to believe. We hope this time it’s different. And a narcissist is counting on this from us–she’s counting on you feeling this mutual respect and love with these words while it serves her purpose–whatever purpose that is. Sometimes, I’m not sure if narcissists even know what the purpose is. They’re hurting inside. They have deep childhood wounds. The purpose can be to put a band-aid on a gunshot wound, as the saying goes–and you’re the band-aid for a while.
So what do you do? First, don’t beat yourself up. I’m writing this post today after reading about narcissists, going to therapy, being involved with them, writing about them, and I can still get sucked in. It’s very easy. Second, all you have to do is change ONE thing, one behavior that you normally do and don’t do it. Your life will start to go in a different direction. Here’s a quote from the YOU ARE A BADASS! calendar:
Because a habit is any behavior you do automatically and repeatedly without really thinking about it, most things we do fall into the habit category because most of us ain’t thinking so much. As we’ve seen, we’re usually in a state of reacting to our subconscious beliefs. Once we become aware and decide to consciously respond instead, we can change habits, which will change our realities. ~Jen Sincero
I’m here to tell you THIS WORKS. The minute you decide to not get mad at the narcissist because he was not there for you, and you decided to call someone else, you started to break a habit. The minute you didn’t spend worrying about why you were getting the silent treatment after she told you that she was happy for you, you’re on your way to a new reality. The minute you try to love this person for whom he is, as a fellow human being, and not as the person you want him to be, you have broken the cycle.
This is not to say that things will be rosy from here on out–especially if you’re married to the narcissist or she is your mother. But most of your life is about your reaction to problems and situations, not what is happening to you. You have more power than you think. You can still choose to love and have good will toward a narcissist from afar–staying true to who you are as a person–and having the life you deserve surrounded by people who won’t drive you crazy.