As we as a nation try again and again to rationalize the latest rhetoric of the president, I’ve realized I received a tremendous gift by being in a relationship with a narcissist for many years.
Of course, it didn’t seem like it at the time, but now, more than ever, I’m seeing the hidden potential.
The lessons I’m about to list are laced with formal education but mostly come from my personal experience of being in a long-lasting relationship with a narcissist. My hope is that it will offer insight and maybe even solace to those who continue to rationalize or fight against something that is illusive, inhuman, and incongruent to the common experience of being in a relationship with someone.
1. The heart of a narcissist is closed off from the inside.
Period. End of story.
Even though black-and-white thinking has never been my deal, I had to learn that in this case, black and white is all there will ever be with this person. His/her heart is closed for business and not open to exchanging any goods or services with anyone. Quite tragic, really, but again, there is nothing anyone can do from the outside, because even the narcissist is unaware he/she holds the key.
2. The heart of a narcissist will ricochet anything that tries to get in.
What took me so long to understand is that a closed heart is closed for a reason. It is closed for protective purposes, and anything and everything is a threat.
Forever, I thought it was me who was getting rejected, but I came to realize it wasn’t me—it was anything that tried to enter the no trespassing zone and the big, huge danger sign that I refused to see. The retaliatory spray of bullets whenever I tried to confront this bankrupt heart washed over me like a wave of despair and left me wondering what I did wrong.
Eventually, I came to realize that I did nothing wrong except expect a mutual exchange with an empty vessel that had nothing to offer me back.
3. Forgiving a narcissist is about acceptance.
Literature, art, movies all portray forgiveness as this loving turnaround of events. As if saying the right thing or bringing the right gift will make the other person love you again, and everything will be as it should.
Not so with a narcissist. No fanfare, no fireworks, or even a kind word. Just me coming to the realization that I was not going to save this person, nor did this person want saving. The lock is from the inside, not my business and, quite frankly, not my job to unlock.
Forgiveness became about accepting how little power I had over this situation and the wisdom to stop trying.
4. I don’t have to accept separation and fear.
From my experience, a narcissist closes off the heart, for whatever reason, which causes disconnection and fear. I believe it was out of the goodness of my heart to attempt to keep the narcissist company—but in reality I was putting myself in danger. I ended up walking around a hollow cave calling out for someone who wasn’t even home. Me seeking the living among the dead was not helping anyone, including the narcissist I was so desperately trying to save.
5. I no longer have to accept scraps simply because they are offered.
My narcissist was well-versed in the art of victimhood. I was told to be happy with the little bit of connection I was given, whether it was money, time, or attention because that is all he/she was cabable of offering me.
Again, it wasn’t until I accepted the predicament I was in that I was able to choose freedom from a place of empowerment rather than the victim I was so meticulously trained to be. No longer a pet, accepting table scraps, but rather a person feasting at the table of humanity like everyone else.
6. I no longer have to give my power away in order to be a good person.
So many of us, especially women, are trained to support and sacrifice for others. This is all good if it comes from a place of power. And when I say power, I mean freedom to choose.
I had a hard time with the Bible for many years because it talks about “sacrifice” and “the Good Samaritan.” It only added to my shame of not being enough because I wasn’t sacrificing enough, when, in fact, I was in a victimhood storm of my own and couldn’t get above it to see how far down the rabbit hole my narcissist had taken me.
7. If I can reflect, therefore I am.
Giving myself over to a narcissist made it impossible to know where I began and where I ended. The lines were so blurred that I no longer knew if I was living for me or for him/her. It made me wonder if I was becoming a narcissist myself.
And then it hit me. If I could ask the question, then I was safe. To reflect is to be, to be is to be alive, and to be alive is the ability to think, feel, and reflect with an open heart.
8. The only way out is to leave. Don’t walk—run!
Now, I can spot a narcissist a mile away. It’s not so much about seeing them but feeling them. Rather than connect, the ricochet heart tends to slime, create chaos, and divide. They leave a a path of destruction, and those caught in their path usually find themselves confused, dazed, or unhinged.
I have witnessed those who exhibited chronic pain or illness in their presence, only to be healed once disconnected. I have also witnessed a narcissist’s profound discomfort and rage upon being seen and discovered. And since there is no way to unsee them, it’s best to not engage. Or, better yet, leave altogether.
Dorothy, in “The Wizard of Oz,” chants “There’s no place like home.” And I agree.
Experiencing the pull of a flailing narcissist who is drowning with no intention of being saved has been the gift of a lifetime. Getting entangled with a bankrupt heart that projects fear and division on all who approach is not something I wish on my worst enemy—but, then again, knowing the enemy is the only way to beat the enemy.
Narcissists simply don’t have the capacity to change, and once that is fully understood, maybe we as a nation can stop giving the benefit of the doubt to this president and the White House, which is caught in his narcissistic web. This will take stamina, strength, and, most importantly, the wisdom to disengage.
I see that wisdom in many of the 2020 candidates who are coming out of the narcissistic fog and beginning to call out what they see. To find their footing and stand in their power again is what needs to happen to free us from the narcissistic hold that has held our nation hostage for far too long.