Why those Who haven’t Visited Narcissism Hell should Remain Silent.

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Sometimes, those who don’t understand what it’s like to encounter narcissism close up think talking about it is judgmental and unnecessary.

They try to say things like, “People are all just trying their best from whatever capacity they have or level of consciousness they’re working with.”

I understand this, and it is quite true.

There are also humans out there who are trying their goddamn best to destroy other people’s lives, to cause everlasting and ingrained pain in the hearts of others, and to tear down the strong and brilliant hearts that shine brightly and highlight a narcissist’s perceived imperfections.

There are also people who are doing their best to manipulate others for their own egotistical, materialistic, and financial gain.

Hurt people hurt people. Angry, self-centered, twisted people also hurt people.

This is why it is absolutely imperative that those who have been through the storm keep marching, so that they can let those who are still in it know that the light at the end of the tunnel is nearby—if they can just keep moving through. And also to let them know that they are not alone and to never, ever give up—because, believe me, I, and thousands or possibly even millions of others, have wanted to. Some, tragically, do.

Please, if you are one of those people who haven’t experienced what it’s like to look into the treacherous eyes of narcissism day after agonizing day, do not try to tell those who have what it’s like or what they should be feeling, thinking, saying, or doing.

Good, genuine people, strong and incredibly beautiful-on-the-inside people who are compassionate, caring, loving, and trusting of others are currently in the midst of relationships of all kinds with people who are narcissistic.

Those who have no idea what it’s like to be lied to, manipulated, deceived, and emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically abused, often try to tell those who are either entangled in these dynamics or those who have escaped it, “If it’s that bad why don’t/didn’t you just leave?”

If it was so simple to “just leave,” there would be no abuse of this kind happening anywhere in the world.

Stockholm Syndrome explains this well, though there is an infinite amount of reasons that people remain in these dynamics. Each situation is unique, but what I can say with great certainty is that no one who is involved with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder consciously chooses to experience persistent, malignant, overt, or covert abuse.

No one would willingly choose these relationships if they knew the suffering that lies ahead.

Some people have been subjected to the onslaught of narcissism since childhood, therefore, narcissistic behavior feels familiar and is not easily recognized. Sometimes the torment is so insidiously drip fed by the narcissist that the harsh reality does not become apparent until the toxicity has seeped in and temporarily poisoned and intravenously overwhelmed the other person’s mind.

Narcissists notoriously hide their narcissism well. They are incredibly skilled at masking their intentions, and they play such convincing characters that even the most highly intuitive, aware, alert, and attentive person can be fooled.

Part of the narcissist’s masterful plan is to convey such a convincing angelic-like image that no one would outright suspect that their inner motivations are in huge contrast to what they choose to outwardly display.

Those who have never been entwined with a narcissist may say that they know without a doubt that someone with this disorder would never manage to lure them in. However, believe me, at one time, I thought this too, and the hundreds of men and women I have spoken to thought this exact same thing too.

No one knows, so those who haven’t been there really cannot credibly tell anyone else what it’s like to be intimately involved with a narcissist, or tell those who are that narcissism is imagined, or that they are willing victims if they choose to enter a relationship or stay.

It takes knowledge, experience, and a whole heap of courage and conviction to figure out a narcissist’s game and tear it to pieces.

It is not weakness that keeps people in these situations—it takes immense strength and willpower just to survive each day.

In my opinion, the only people who get to tell others what it’s like to experience life at the hands of someone with narcissism are those who have lived, breathed, and walked through the fire and felt every painful moment of each turbulent day.

So, when those who have been to this hell try to warn, guide, support, or prevent others from going or staying there, it would be beneficial if those who haven’t ever been there don’t trivialize and underestimate their experiences by trying to tell them they are blowing it out of proportion, or that it’s probably just a bad relationship, or worse still, that everyone is narcissistic to some degree.

There is a great difference between having a few traits and triggers that are similar to those categorized as narcissists and someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

I believe it is harmful for people to pretend to know about this mental disorder and to offer, what they believe, is expert advice without actually having a balanced and rational clue about what’s actually happening.

Those who don’t fully understand can still be an imperative part of other people’s healing journey by compassionately listening without believing they know, or would do, better—or by belittling the whole situation by saying things like, “There’s no such thing as narcissism,” or sarcastically, “Nowadays everyone seems to be a narcissist,” or, “If I was in that situation, I would/wouldn’t do x/y/z.”

Some people even suggest that narcissism talk should be swept under the rug and kept behind closed doors, because talking about it is “negative,” and not everyone wants to accept what is actually going on and would rather believe that the world is all love, light, and unicorns.

When people talk about narcissism to share their experience or to raise awareness, it is not because they hate all narcissists, or that they think they are above or better than those with Narcissistic Personality Disorder; it is because they hate the disorder and how destructive it is to those who become involved with it.

Sweeping the reality of narcissism away serves to protect those who are narcissistic and thus allows them to continue their perpetual cycles of abuse. It also causes the person affected by narcissism to believe that what they are experiencing must all be in their head, which may lead them to feel alone, or as though it is all their fault, which results in feeling isolated and too ashamed to talk openly about it.

Regardless of how much anyone thinks they know, the only ones who actually know what it is like are the people currently walking through narcissism hell and those who have already walked through it. No one else can possibly accurately judge what it’s like.
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“I love when people who have walked through hell walk out of the flames with buckets of water for those still consumed by the fire.” ~ Stephanie Sparkles

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Author: Alex Myles
Image: Ben White/Unsplash
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
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Alex Myles

Alex Myles is a qualified yoga and Tibetan meditation teacher, Reiki Master, spiritual coach and also the author of An Empath, a newly published book that explains various aspects of existing as a highly sensitive person. The book focuses on managing emotions, energy and relationships, particularly the toxic ones that many empaths are drawn into. Her greatest loves are books, poetry, writing and philosophy. She is a curious, inquisitive, deep thinking, intensely feeling, otherworldly intuitive being who lives for signs, synchronicities and serendipities. Inspired and influenced by Carl Jung, Nikola Tesla, Anaïs Nin and Paulo Coelho, she has a deep yearning to discover many of the answers that seem to have been hidden or forgotten in today’s world. Alex’s bestselling book, An Empath, is on sale now for only $1.99! Connect with her on Facebook and join Alex’s Facebook group for empaths and highly sensitive people.

Tracey Maule Jul 25, 2018 9:46am

I am so immensely grateful for you putting all these thoughts I have had into concise and easy to read words. The sense of overwhelming frustration listening to someone dismiss my 20 years with someone who has NPD as just another bad marriage, sends me into a level of anger and frustration compared to no other. Thank you for writing this.

Richard J Hanna May 23, 2018 1:14pm

I’m currently going through all this now and she plays the victim so well even I stop for a second and look twice

Richard J Hanna May 23, 2018 1:11pm

Wow well said especially about the 90% being A students ,

Sam Miller Jan 4, 2018 10:33pm

I can tell you this they hate happy secure peaceful people and will do everything to try and disrupt and ruin them. Even after you leave them, it is relentless and never ending even if you do get away. It does not matter if they are with some one else or not.

Barb Reinhold Aug 6, 2017 12:40am

Thank you for writing this article. I had a long marriage to a narcissist who kept me entangled by threatening to commit suicide if I tried to leave him. He had been diagnosed with NPD by a psychiatrist and he literally had every symptom. I heard all of the usual things from people: "it can't be that bad because he's so charming and nice;" "you're exaggerating;" and of course "if you're so miserable, why don't you just leave?" No one I knew had ever been involved with a narcissst. I was lucky to have had two friends who, although they acknowledged that they had never been in a situation like mine and could not, therefore, completely understand what it was like for me, they never judged me. They also gave me their unconditional support, which meant the world to me. There are a lot of ignorant people out there who scoff at the idea that NPD even exists or that victims of abuse by partner with NPD are making mountains out of molehills. I would like to see all of them spend just one week in a relationship with a person who has NPD to experience such a relationship firsthand. It's so easy to judge what you haven't actually experienced. And until people have experienced it firsthand they have no right to judge.

Richard Decater Jul 22, 2017 1:45am

Helen Rose you're very welcome Helen. If I'm following you correctly. We're in agreement. I'm wondering if readers are reading more for projecting judgments then self reflection. Have you witnessed the use of Enlightenment phrases such as "let it go" and "it is what it is"? I'm seeing excuses justifications and coping mechanisms. More like denial. You bring it to the attention of your dance partner. They're stepping on your toes and they're telling you to deal with it. You fine another dance partner.

Helen Rose Jul 21, 2017 10:36pm

Well written Richard! Must admit, when I was reading Alex's article, I was shocked/touched by her writting, so many articles at EJ are about discovery and feeling better/wellness etc. This article was different and it really made me realise how emotional that we all become, and how we want to fix/change other people and make things right. Thank you Richard and Alex for the ïnsightfull" words. It was really "Fair dinkum stuff". Thank you

Lara Althea Jul 17, 2017 1:18am

I find Richard Grannon's work very healing regarding CPTSD from narcissistic abuse. Check him out on YouTube. He truly understands as a survivor himself.

Lara Althea Jul 17, 2017 1:17am

John, check out Sam Vaknin on YouTube. He is a self-proclaimed narcissist and has done extensive research on this disorder and describes what it's like from the inside.

Rafi Metz Jul 15, 2017 4:54pm

Thank you. This can't be emphasized enough. Part of what makes the NARC game work is that they hide their behavior from the public - so people on the outside don't see it. They also set things up so they have a captive, someone they can trap one way or another, and then use as their subject of torture. I was raised by a couple of sadistic, alcoholic NARCs and I really related to your comment that people raised in it often take a long time recognize it - it's like a fish noticing the water. So to people who say, "just get over it," or "let it go" or "you're imagining things," be aware that you are rubbing salt in the wounds. CPSTD ruins lives, and many of the people who are so messed up at this moment were abused by NARCs, some of them as toddlers, before they had self-help platitudes to apply to the problem.

Billy Murphy Jul 13, 2017 7:21am

Well, as a person who didn't even know what the hell a narci...was. I learned...I moved a long ways from my hometown and lived with a friend of mine and his wife..lol, this guy, was supposedly my best friend...I should have known it was a mistake..but it was a good opportunity as I saw it, and moved. I am 52...3 weeks after moving there. I went out to a bar...I called and told my friend where I was so he wasn't worried about me or whatever..He texted me back the following message...The doors will be locked at midnight ( I got no key) if you are not home by then you will have to sleep outside.. a month or less later, we are both out to a bar....a woman is hitting on me and really really agressive...my friend sees this and comes over to me and says....You cannot bring her home...If I ain't getting laid there, nobody is....lmao....oh I could go on and on about all the ideas for great jobs I had, which were all shot down everytime, as bad ideas by him, once he had a fight with his wife who threw us both out of the house...we had a garage about 10 miles frome his house but no heat and no food nearby, he stayed there for two days. then, went home....I had to stay in that garage for 3 weeks without food and heat...I had no car....lol....then he finally says to me...are you starving up here?? why the fuck aren't you eating anything....I said because you left me here with no way to get any food you moron...lol....there is so much more I could go on writing about this stuff for days on end...he ended up robbing me of over a thousand dollars, and I left with 140 dollars in my pocket...he told me he would pay me the money he owed me before I left...I told him give me 750 and we will call it good....the day I left he hands me 140 dollars and said you actually owe me money...lolololol...hardly...but that's the way they work it...make it sound like you are wrong, like they are right....His wife looked me dead in the eye and said, everytime I see you, I see everyone of my husbands affairs....lololol I said to her, he wasn't fucking me...so I guess she is one too...whatever. i read some stuff on how to combat this stuff, but it is all bullcrap...the ONLY thing you can do is....RUN.....

SherrilAnn Spruance Stephens Jul 13, 2017 6:23am

This was brilliant. Thank you for writing it. Survivors are so often discounted and dismissed as you mentioned and need all the support they can get. Articles like this are a lifeline.

Debbie Worster Edge Jul 13, 2017 6:10am

Tim, have you ever been in a relationship with a narcissist? It's a whole lot different than just giving or getting a participation award. It's not just a generation of people who think they are entitled. It is an unbelievable and sometimes undescribable thing to go through to be in a relationship with somebody like this. I don't really care if it was mentioned two or three generations ago because right now we are in an era where things can come to the surface and are talked about so please don't try to diminish or belittle this experience.

Amanda Geldenhuys Jul 12, 2017 7:54pm

Love your article. These people are very real. The scars, sadness and financial and emotional abuse they cause is horrific especially to people pleasers. Just keep praying for strenght.

Tim Dibble Jul 11, 2017 2:19pm

John Backman since narcissism traces its roots to antiquity, comparing it to Lyme disease is a complete non-sequitur

John Backman Jul 11, 2017 2:05pm

Tim, I think you're talking about something different. This article (and the other comments) are much more about specific individuals with an established, diagnosed personality disorder than a broad generational narrative. As for not having heard mention of narcissism three generations ago, we hadn't heard about Lyme disease three generations ago either. The health fields are continually using more refined testing and more advanced research to uncover and diagnose things we didn't think about in, say, the 1970s.

Lyndall Mazalek Jul 10, 2017 10:51pm

All so so true! I am in the midsts of trying to free myself and my children from my narcissistic husband. I have to remind myself everyday to take another step and be brave , because it is all I can do to feel empowered.

Sharon Poole Jul 10, 2017 9:10pm

Helen Saenz Maksutovic . Narcissists know what they are. They simply don't care. Narc's are unable to feel empathy for the pain and suffering they cause to others. As my ex used to say 'it's all just a game' . They play cruel games with other peoples lives for their own entertainment.

Tim Dibble Jul 10, 2017 8:47pm

I think it funny that after two, almost three generations of raising self indulgent narcissistic children, we want to complain and whine now that they are in the dating/relationship world. Back when kids scraped together $500 for a car they barely kept running and were typically thrown out of the house on the 18+6 plan (Six months after your 18th Birthday) we never heard of narcissism. Maybe alcoholism of the parents, but those were the days of three martini lunches and smoking in the office, but not narcissism. Now several generations of attendance trophies, participation awards, grade inflation so 90% of a graduating class are all A students, and we have a horde of narcissists on both side of the sexual equation. Of course they try to control and manipulate each other-they are gods gift. The loser on the manipulation scale goes running off to write articles about " you dare not say anything unless you have expereinced it" (narcissistic bull).

Helen Saenz Maksutovic Jul 10, 2017 5:00pm

Do they know what they are?

Michael Mitchell Jul 10, 2017 3:09pm

Right on - I thought I was really aware but was seduced by a Narc. Took years to recover but it was worth it. The cure is in the pain. I attracted this an am a way better person for it. A lesson I will never forget. It changed me and empowered me. Thank you

Hilary Easton Jul 10, 2017 2:09pm

Mmm, I thought that too when I saw the title. I think it must be hell to be so taken up with yourself that you can't really motivate yourself outside of self-enhancement.

Hilary Easton Jul 10, 2017 2:06pm

There is a lot of truth in what you say here, Sharon. I think there is a definite problem with sharing the experiences you have had with a narcissist/sociopath/psychopath for fear of attracting another one! These are spectrum conditions and there are quite a few low-level ones among us. They are always on the lookout for new victims, that is why you become a narcissist magnet by talking about it. They realise you are vulnerable and they are happy to pose as rescuer for as long as it suits them, while they work out how they can use you. You may guess that I too am a survivor of a 30 year on/off relationship with a psychopath/sociopath and it has taken that long for me to really understand that what they give you is a facsimile of love, a beautiful facsimile perhaps, but they simply cannot experience love at all. It's not a choice for them. I actually feel really sorry for this man now as I realise that what he has is a brain disorder and he will never experience the best things in life. I may be damaged but at least I have a heart.

John Backman Jul 10, 2017 1:51pm

This is such a useful article. Among other things, it inspires me to use the word "narcissist" much more carefully in the future. It also makes me wonder about something else: when I read "narcissist hell" in the title, I thought the article would cover the hell that narcissists experience within themselves. I'm still curious about that. Can anyone speak to the experience (horrible or otherwise) of actually being a narcissist? Or is that too far off the track for this article?

Sharon Poole Jul 9, 2017 5:21am

One thing I have learned after a 15 year marriage to a Narcissistic Sociopath; people who haven't walked a mile in your shoes don't and never will understand what you have been through. I used to talk to anyone and everyone who would listen. I had CPTSD and by getting my story out, I guess I was trying to heal. When I told people what happened to me, they didn't want anything to do with me anymore. They were very judgemental and I guess they thought I was crazy. With others, they at first seemed extremely empathetic. They later turned out to be abusers. I learned that I am a Narcissist magnet. I have found it best to only talk to other survivors and learn as much about narcissism and anti social personality disorder as I could. I needed to learn the ' Red Flags" so I could identify unhealthy behaviors in others. Then you have to stop focussing on narcissm otherwise I think you attract what you think about.