Narcissists are Never Going to Apologize: Escaping Purgatory

freedom1Narcissists are often angry and intimidating as well as charming, sexy, and exciting.  They can be cruel, critical, and insulting on a moment’s notice.  They have a sinister power to make partners (people) feel small, inadequate, and off-balance.  They insist on being in control of everything.  Many partners hang on for years waiting to hear remorse for the merciless behavior.  Hoping a heartless narcissist will change and admit they have been terrible to you and will never hurt you again is not going to happen.  The truth is there is nothing that is going to happen to make it all better. The narcissist refuses to take any responsibility for how their attacks make you feel.  If you have children witnessing the mistreatment they will probably learn to abuse or that they are of little value.  The soul is traumatized and lives are destroyed by narcissistic sadism.

Overtime a partner’s individual autonomy gradually erodes as self-esteem and the capacity to make independent decisions are affected.  Fear of making it on your own is reinforced by the narcissist’s brutally coercive message in words and/or actions that you are worthless.  The psychological abuse degrades and humiliates facilitating helplessness as a survival response.  The narcissist treats you as the guilty partner believing you deserve the punishment and that you secretly must enjoy the mistreatment.  They despise your inability to leave purgatory and relish in the sadistic power they have over you.  Leaving an abusive relationship requires admitting what you know about your partners character, that you are being manipulated, not living your dreams, and are capable of thinking for yourself.  Accepting things as they are and doing nothing may seem easier and feel less threatening.  Doing nothing means you are subject to control and putting up with whatever your partner wants to dish out.   It can also be a dangerous game to play because it is impossible not to disturb an abusive person and their behaviors are more likely to get worse than better.

The relationships breaking point usually occurs over a series of unresolved fights many times before the real separation.  The decision to end a narcissistic attachment is significant and painful, leaving deep scars that can also become the source of wisdom and change.  Relationships are tied to places, events, and histories making it difficult to let go.   Often there is sadness and fear with the decision to escape and for most it is not made quickly or easily.  Financial insecurity and having children keep many trapped.  People pleasers (codependents) have an especially difficult time separating.  They are reluctant to give up denial, to explore their emotions and scared of the anger that drives their caretaking behavior.  People pleasers in the extreme have an undeveloped identity based on a false self and built on rules defined by others.  They are the perfect hostage for evil control.

Escaping an abusive relationship requires acceptance of reality and changing how you relate to your inner and outer world.  It involves creating a new identity and new interests.  When you enter the final stage of anger, rage, and sadness you stop explaining away behavior that is unacceptable.   You admit that your partner’s sickness is destroying any chance for joy and find the courage to leave.  The repetitive endless arguments in your mind against abandoning the nightmare will end followed by immense release and relief.   You then begin owning your power.  Experiencing fear and resistance as you do this is normal.   You may feel empty and lost for a time.  Keep telling yourself that you want to stop denying reality.  One day you will wake up and know it was the best thing ever to walk away.  Most important of all is developing a compassionate relationship with yourself; you must take care of “you” now and always.  Staying out of a new relationship is imperative until you recover and create an independent manageable life.   You cannot be victimized and happy at the same time.  The demoralization from psychological battering is devastating.  Eventually you learn to stop fighting evil, simply because you cannot win.  The more you focus on changing the narcissist, the more unmanageable life becomes.  So stop the insanity and focus on loving yourself.

 

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Codependents, Dating, Mating, Growing, and Assessing for Partner Abuse

heart-jg8nCodependents with a history of relationship abuse need to enter romantic relationships with awareness and respect for their neediness and unmet childhood dependency needs.   Codependents are some of the most loving people and find it difficult to leave abusive relationships.  They have a tough time accepting that abusive partners will not change over time no matter how much they want them to.  Learning to recognize personality disordered character traits is imperative in protecting your vulnerabilities as you complete your own emotional work.

Character traits are patterns of behaving, feeling, perceiving, and thinking, which are evident in our personal and social relationships.  Although our character can be changed, it typically remains the same and affects us all of our lives.  Personality traits turn into personality disorders when they become inflexible, do not adjust to relationship needs, and significantly damage social and job functioning or cause considerable misery.   Often, the people who live and work with the personality disordered are more distressed.  People with personality disorders often fail at work and love.

People who are acting neurotic see their behavior as uncharacteristic and different from their usual self.  In contrast, the pathological behavior in people with personality disorders is in character and routine for them.  Neuroses may develop at any time; personality disorders are life-long. Personality disorders first become evident during adolescence or earlier and are highly incurable.

Codependents need to spend more time building a new relationship and going slowly. Take the time to learn how conflicts were managed in a person’s family.  Find out how a new partner shows his or her love to others.   Be aware of what you want for yourself and what you want in a relationship.  Know how you need to be treated and listen closely for emotional issues.  We all have emotional challenges and need to assess if a person’s immaturity is likely to sabotage a healthy relationship.  Respect your vulnerabilities and don’t hook into a being a relationship martyr.  Remember your relationship history of choosing partners that end up resembling a caretaker.  You might have felt in the beginning of a past relationship that you knew your partner even though you had just met.  Chances are on an unconscious level they reminded you of a caretaker that this time was going to cherish you.  You felt your needs were going to be satisfied and you would no longer feel alone.  Denial is strongest at the beginning of romantic relationships.

Some questions to answer when assessing for problem behavior:

  1. Does he or she blame their mistakes or failures on others or the world at large?  Listen closely to their relationship, family and work history.
  2. Do they acknowledge their part in the ending of past relationships or problems with their partners, children, siblings, or parents?
  3. Have they had police contact/arrests for domestic violence, fighting, or criminal behavior?
  4. Do they look for reasons to be insulted?  Do they rant excessively? Are they easily insulted by people when you are out in public?
  5. Do they express negative or aggressive statements about friends, poor people, and the mentally challenged, needy or loving person?
  6. Are they verbally violent in their communication with put-downs, brutal honesty, threats, or hostility?
  7. Do they push for intimacy, start making future plans, and immediately place you in the role of the love of their life? Run….
  8. Does he or she call or text you constantly?
  9. Is the person overly dramatic, and always calling attention to themselves?
  10. Do they quickly become bored with normal routines?
  11. Do they use their physical appearance to draw attention to self?
  12. Are they arrogant or superior in behaviors and attitudes?

Evaluating character traits without illusion avoids the horrifying moment where you are shocked that your partner is not the person you thought they were.  You deceived yourself all along about his or her character.  The loneliness and sadness of childhood wounds ends up coming to the surface unhealed.  A codependent can become trapped, sticking it out beyond the anger stage and begin bargaining with despair.  Finding a way to resolve this problem and creating a satisfying relationship is not possible with the personality disordered person.  Owning your relationship history and denial will help you see emotional issues in others more clearly. You must invest in your self-acceptance, protection, and emotional growth.  Your investment in repairing the emotional damage of childhood is what allows you to become complete and attract a loving partner capable of nurturing you.

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Thank you for reading this post. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create healthy relationships.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

 Roberta

Trusting Ourselves to Leave an Abusive Relationship

Broken Heart Courtesy Wikipedia

Broken Heart – Wikipedia

Trusting yourself is the key to living well and being capable of trusting others.  You learn to trust yourself to leave any abusive relationship by listening and following through on your inner wisdom.  This is the start of practicing self-care and self-respect by doing what is true and right and what is best for you.   Falling for partners who deceived, abused, manipulated, and otherwise exploited you is not trusting your instincts.  Chances are there was a small voice that said, “Something doesn’t feel right” or maybe you didn’t feel uncomfortable and are shocked about your choice.   How could someone who felt so right be a total mistake?  Belief in yourself may be shaken.  There are times when we are challenged with change in relationships and fear we can’t take care of ourselves.  Listening to self-talk that says I don’t deserve to love or be loved keeps you stuck.   Believing you deserve a manageable relationship and acting on your intuition ends the abuse.

We may have a partner that tells us we cannot believe in ourselves; we are off base and nuts.  They benefit from mistrust because it keeps the cycle of abuse going.  Fear, panic, and doubt are an enemy to leaving an abusive situation and feelings you do not want to entertain.  You can stand in your truth and trust your own gut.  Accepting your mistakes when you thought you were making a good decision and trusting yourself anyway is important.  The rigid rules and demands for perfect decision-making are self-punishing.  You have the power to make healthy choices.  Are you wondering how you can count on your relationship choices when things went so wrong?   Each person that comes into your life has unique lessons to teach you.  You have no control over anyone’s actions or emotions.  Protect yourself by listening to your heart and no longer placing faith in partners that are destructive.  As you attract healthy partners with your intimate self, you will trust your thoughts and your own emotions. Letting your past interfere with self-trust keeps you trapped in fear and abuse.  You can learn, grow, and improve from your mistakes.  You can make better choices and leave situations with abusive partners.  By accepting your mistakes and being grateful for the lessons, you don’t have to repeat them.   You can make decisions based on what you know now.  Trust your decision to leave and do the best you can.  From your past unwise relationship decisions you experience growth.  Feel good about your decision to change and about your mistakes. Acknowledge your newly acquired awareness and treat yourself kindly when you wonder how you could have been so naïve or blind.  Realize that you were not as aware then as you are now.  Accept your inner knowing and listen attentively.  Know you will survive the abuse, learn from the experience and have deeper self-knowledge.  Begin once more; it is never too late to begin again.  The way to heal a broken heart is to keep on loving.

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Thank you for reading this post. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create healthy relationships.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

 Roberta

Energy Vampires: Emotional Sadism and the Narcissistic Relationship

master of mirrorsThe narcissist is clearly sadistic in his or her rejection of others and in feelings of superiority.  What is a narcissist? Narcissism is a condition in which a person feels pathological self-hatred and is preoccupied with projecting a lovable image.  They are obsessed with this false image and direct tremendous energy to other people’s impressions of them.  Because the projected image is so loveable they are effective in eliciting real love from others.  People’s impression of the false image feels like self-love to the narcissist.  They are incapable of loving themselves or others, but want to be loved.  The narcissist craves admiration and will manipulate the needs and wishes of everyone to obtain it.  When a partner falls for the “lovable” image the narcissist acquires a sense of self through the look of love reflected back in the eyes and actions of the person.  The narcissist needs for constant attention and caretaking takes center stage as desires of others are ignored and denied.  As a relationship progresses the narcissist will not celebrate a partner’s accomplishments, compliment them on anything, and will ignore you in social settings.  They genuinely don’t care about your needs and are experts at pretending they do until they have control. Than the self-involved energy vampire punishes you for having desires because they demand that all of your attention and energy be focused on them.  They suck the life force and joy out of everyone they can take hostage. They prefer your admiration and awe, but eventually their behavior destroys any feelings of love and they will then settle for negative attention. This makes the emotional sadist feel all-powerful and capable of any cruelty.

The narcissist slowly progresses from minimal emotional assaults to intentionally deliberate attacks.  Distancing and cold rejecting aloofness is a favorite weapon.  It doesn’t matter to him if you cry because he is not affected and doesn’t care.  He feels nothing and is not concerned about what you are feeling.  The energy vampire is not interested in your character.  The emotionally sadistic narcissist gets enjoyment from hurting someone.  They are experts at manipulating people’s emotions until they are hurt more than physical abuse.  He intimidates his partners to avoid expressing criticism and disapproval of his actions and decisions.  His partner or children learn that this triggers fits of temper and rage attacks and turns him into an argumentative and irritable person.  His extreme reactions are a punishment for perceived inconsiderateness and insensitivity of his true inner state.  The narcissist blames his partner for his behavior, accuses them of provoking his outbursts and believes that they should be punished for their misbehavior.  Apologies, unless accompanied by requests for forgiveness are not enough.  The fuel of the narcissist’s rage is expended mainly on bizarre verbal accusations directed at made-up and imaginary intentions of the victim.  If you question the appropriateness of the behavior, no longer mirroring admiration and submissiveness, this causes him or her to doubt their illusory self-esteem.  You are then subjected to a period of terror where they try to hurt you for not recognizing their entitlement to your unquestioned obedience.  You will be belittled and humiliated with displays of aggression and emotional violence in countless forms.  His or her behavior changes from putting you on a pedestal to a severe devaluing of you as a worthy person.  The narcissist is repulsed by people judged by him to be useless.  These extreme alterations between seeing you as flawless to complete unworthiness make long-term relationships with the narcissist all but impossible.  He will exploit you cruelly and severely.  He uses you to get confirmation of the accuracy of his superior false image.

The emotional sadist’s abuse is kept secret by conditioning his partners, children, and sometimes colleagues or employees to not tell.  People often find themselves involved emotionally in an intimate or employment relationship before they discover the narcissist true nature.  His victims typically come from family environments where there is abuse and a “don’t talk” rule.  This especially is the case in families with sexual abuse and alcoholism to hide.  So secrecy is a major weapon in keeping the mistreatment confidential.  They keep up a public façade appearing nonthreatening and even altruistic and in private are evil and aggressive.  The victims keep the secrets safe by constructing an explanation to make sense of the cruelty, “He just can’t deal with intimacy” or “She had a bad childhood.”  Some victims are raised to not “air dirty laundry” and keep silent about the abuse to family and friends. The victim is held in traumatic bondage by being convinced they are the problem and to be blamed for the misconduct.  By the time the victim discovers the truth they find it difficult to leave the relationship.  The emotional battering renders the wounded with feelings of helplessness and shame for not seeing through the angelic façade.

Dealing with a narcissists sadistic behavior is pretty dismal.  Their numbers in society are great and it is imperative that this personality disorder becomes readily recognizable.  I have worked with countless numbers of violent narcissistic men and women, many more I am sure that missed my clinical recognition.  If you have found yourself living in quiet desperation or working with an emotional and/or physically abusive narcissist, please educate yourself and others about the abuse.  I have written a post on “How Codependents Leave Abusive Narcissistic Relationships” and “How Codependents Leave Employment with Narcissistic Boss” that you might find helpful to read.

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Thank you for reading this post.  I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to create healthy relationships.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

Roberta

Individuals Stuck in Abusive Relationships: Comments from Survivors of Post Traumatic Narcissism Syndrome

narcissism???

narcissism??? (Photo credit: kk+)

Individuals stuck in abusive narcissistic relationships typically have a long history of tolerating partner abuse.  No matter what abuse is inflicted, they stay in the relationship.  They feel sorry for their partners and believe they can fix them.  Excuses are made for the abusive behavior while blaming themselves.  Survivors must learn how to set boundaries for what they will accept and what they won’t accept or they will never get the love they need and deserve.  Symptoms of PostTraumatic Narcissism Syndrome (PTNS) are common reactions to the intense fear and the emotional battering experienced by survivors of narcissistic personality disordered partners.  PTNS IS AN EXPERIENCE, NOT A DIAGNOSIS.  Symptom indicators are listed below.   Further down are blog comments and my responses to survivors learning to heal from people who won’t or can’t love them.

Symptoms of Post Traumatic Narcissism Syndrome

● Flashbacks of the cruel behavior and trauma

Hyperarousal (i.e., extreme fear for personal safety)

Hypervigilance (i.e., scanning environs for constant threats, stalking, violence)

● Irritability

● Depression & Guilt

● Multiple physical complaints

● Numbing

● Impaired concentration and memory

● Disturbed sleep & distressing dreams

Comments, Questions, and Answers from Survivors of Posttraumatic Narcissism Syndrome

Roberta,

I am a man who has been sucked dry by a woman narcissist. It is just as torturous for men as for woman, if not more so, since you are raised in a society where you are expected to be a caregiver and supporter to the “weaker sex”.

Finally, when you accept the horrible truth that you gave all your heart, mind, body, spirit  and soul to a mere confabulation of a cruel deranged mind; one unable to and that never had any intention of giving in return, and all you were led to believing in doesn’t even exist, you stop. You have escaped, barley, with nothing but your life. No less than a prisoner liberated from the Nazi concentration camps. Frail, exhausted, and traumatized but finally free you stop. Stop living in fear. Stop allowing yourself to be screamed at, spit on, lied to , stolen from, smacked, ignored, degraded… flat-out abused in all ways. You thank God for spots like this on the internet so the truth of your experience hits home that it was real and you do survive and you STOP.

It was a point long ago when I stopped being a victim and became a volunteer. Now, since I have the testimonies of others and the truth is self-evident, I stop. I am no longer a volunteer; I breathe that sigh of relief and STOP.

Thanks for your support

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Thank you for sharing the wreckage of living in purgatory with a narcissist.  My hope is that you use your intellect and the emotional pain to banish the trauma memories from your mind.  As I’ve said in other posts, “Renting space” in your head to the narcissist allows them to punish you conceivably for forever.  Recovering from the psychic damage is a process and it sounds like you are showing up for yourself.  More power to you!  Sending positive vibes for the immense relief that comes from taking your soul back.

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Roberta,

As a child I was an older sibling to a younger child with a disability.  The family focus was on helping this other child.  As a young adult I dated guys who were unreliable, emotionally unavailable or needy. I was married to a narcissist for over 30 years.  I did not know that he was having affairs from the time our children were preschoolers.  I found out after our children were about grown up and decided to divorce him. I had the papers served without discussion.    We are divorced now for about a year or two.  We still have a house to sell and recently he left town without telling me or our realtor.  This leaves me with the homeowner chores of selling the house: mowing grass, paying utilities, freshening interior, sweeping porches etc.  When he is in town I am miserable.  When he leaves town I am miserable.  I don’t know what to do with myself.  I spent my life waiting to see what he wanted and doing that.   I don’t know what I want or what to do with the rest of my life.  I feel anxiety and for a long time low level depression.  My young adult sons do not respect me.  I feel very alone and in a lot of pain.  The adult sons will be with their Dad over the holidays & I will be alone at the holidays for the first time in my life.

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My heart goes out to you.  The emotional and psychic repair from a narcissistic relationship is a process.  Learning about what happen to you and the dynamics of the narcissistic personality will give you a language that will help you heal.  Emotional self-care needs to be your priority and planning ahead of time for the upcoming holiday season is important. Please think about participating in activities or being with people that nurture you.   I believe there are times in our lives when we are challenged with change and fear we can’t take care of ourselves.  Listening to the voices in our head that tell us we don’t deserve to love or be loved keeps us stuck in familiar pain.   So does renting space in our heads to abusive people by replaying thoughts of their cruelty.  The narcissistic personality feeds on this emotional vulnerability to keep his victim trapped (forever).  You have the strength to change and love yourself or you wouldn’t have written to me.   I am wishing you the best.

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Roberta,

I am struggling with a mother who is a passive aggressive narcissist in denial. My father is an alcoholic and a puppet that she controls (which most likely stimulates his drinking).   I am the age of 33 and have had unhealthy relationships my whole life, unknowingly attracted to narcissists. I have been through years of therapy and realized my role as a codependent in both my dysfunctional family and love relationships.  My awareness and perspective broadened and I found a man who compliments me, we married last year.

However, I still struggle with my mother as now that I am married feels neglected, as my time and attention to catering, pleasing and validating her self-worth has diminished. She plays the guilt trip with me, “I never want to bother you because you are always with your husband”, “I haven’t heard from you, and I would like to see my daughter once in a while.”

Also, she is always helping others, care taking and yet isn’t available to immediate family members that are in need. She enjoys feeling needed and being admired in the eyes of others. Everyone praising her how wonderful she is.

What do I do? How can I have a healthy daughter-mother relationship? How do I communicate myself so that she realizes the strain she has put on the relationship?

Any guidance is greatly appreciated!

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Thank you for writing to me. I feel for you in your life situation.  Giving ourselves permission to say “no” to what feels bad when it’s a parent is a sad situation to face.  Profound sadness begins early in children of alcoholics and narcissistic mothers.  Unresolved sadness from childhood can keep us stuck emotionally as adults.  Children of alcoholics/narcissist’s learn quickly to deny this sadness in order to survive.  This is how a high tolerance for emotional pain and inappropriate behavior begins to develop.  In adulthood the unresolved sadness can get expressed as clinical depression, compulsivity, or even physical violence. 

The rules in the alcoholic-narcissistic family systems typically are:  “Don’t talk,” “Don’t trust” and “Don’t feel” (John Bradshaw, 1988).   Don’t talk about the fact that you are scared, lonely, sad, angry, hurt and emotionally impoverished.  Don’t talk about dad’s alcoholism or mom’s cruelty.  Quite often these children grow up alone with the family secret while carrying the family pain.   Children learn early not to trust because the parent’s behavior is unpredictable and often combined with many broken promises.  To feel the profound sadness of abandonment is too much for a child to process.  The challenge as an adult is giving us permission to have our feelings, express them, and set boundaries.  The often unconscious buried fear of abandonment runs deep.  This is not a life sentence, you can learn new behaviors.  The healing from childhood wounds is a process and sometimes we need to take a break from our family of origin while we re-parent ourselves and learn entitlement to our feelings. 

It sounds like to be with your mom and dad you have to accept victimization.  You are probably the only one who can change and you deserve to be loved in a healthy way.  It starts with a commitment to be disciplined in your self-care.  Invest in yourself.  Learn a new language (read about alcoholic families and parents who try to get their unmet childhood dependency needs healed through their children) for what has happen to you, so you are clear on who is responsible for what and clear on what you are letting go.   This will allow you to release your resentments and be done with them.  Give yourself permission to learn what is right for you and develop endurance for sitting with the bad feelings that come up when you are breaking the family rules.   You might want to consider finding a mantra (i.e., “It’s not okay to hurt myself”) to repeat when the feelings of shame appear from setting a boundary.  Feelings of shame (Who I am is bad) for taking care of yourself are likely when you say “no more” to your mother or say, “Dad I will not be around you when you drink.”  I really believe that coming out of the family system you described requires mentors and people to support your courage to experience the love and life you deserve.  You will probably have to accept that your parents are incapable of loving you in a healthy way.  We are really not made to solve our life’s challenges alone.  As the saying goes, “It takes a village.”  Please leave yourself open to finding positive parent role models.  I am wishing you an abundance of love.

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Thank you for reading this article. I’ve dedicated my personal and professional life to the importance of non-violence and self-compassion by teaching from my experience.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to put an end to relationship abuse.  And, as I learn and grow, I teach self-compassion and give advice I use myself, in the hopes that it helps you to improve your own life.

Roberta