Last night I found myself asking the question: Is there any situation that’s more eye opening and reality revealing than being in a relationship or close interaction with a Narcissist? I’m not talking about someone who’s narcissistic, but rather someone who’s been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In my opinion, the answer just might be a big no. The only thing that I could think of that even comes remotely close is that of being in a drug addiction. Both scenarios force you to take a long hard look at yourself and ultimately address any core issues and dysfunctions that are unhealed that are at the heart of the toxic chaos you allow into your life. One uses a tangible tool that has the capacity to destroy your body physically and mentally. The other requires a living being to be the tool or messenger if you will, that most always deeply affects your mental, emotional and potentially physical condition. Regardless of which scenerio you find yourself in or if unlucky, you find yourself in both, one happening as a byproduct of the other, but the starting point always being the same: those parts of you that have always told you that you’re not good enough or you’re not worthy or that you have to compare and compete in order to stay in the game and HOPE to be noticed. Those parts that yell so loudly over and over and over “pick me! choose me! let who I am be enough to not be swayed to leave me! love me – flaws and all!”.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines self-pity as: a feeling of pity for yourself because you believe you have suffered more than is fair or reasonable. Well, I present to you that it’s more than that. Not only is it more than that, but it’s also not that black and white. I personally have a problem when someone tells another person to stop feeling sorry for themselves. It’s been in my experience that when a person feels sorry for themselves, aka self pity, that usually means that they are expressing how they are feeling about an unfair situation that has happened to them BUT with the intention of illiciting a particular reaction from their listening audience: sympathy, sorrow, etc. To me, that’s what self-pity is. I say this because for me, the fact of the matter is that while I take responsibility for my choices and behaviors in my life, I can also trace back to a point of why I do the things that I do and where my faulty mindset all began. Unfortunately there are those that will mistake this as placing blame and wallowing in self-pity. No. These are just facts about myself and when I talk about them, I’m not expecting others to feel sorry for me or to cut me any slack. There is a difference between expecting a reaction that will support the wallowing vs a person truly believing that as their reality due to issues, dysfunctions, etc.
I’m a logical, rational, connect the dots type of thinker. A lot of people have dysfunctional mindsets and for some you can’t just tell them to stop feeling sorry for themselves or simply tell them that they have a choice and that they have to take responsibility for their own behavior. That may be ultimately true to some extent but not only is it not that simple, but there’s a process in getting to that point. For some, this mindset, this way of thinking, is all that they know. To tell somebody to stop feeling sorry for themselves and in the same sentence also tell them what they need to start doing as a solution to stopping this “self pity” is a little passive aggressive in my opinion and can definitely bring on a defense mechanism, which is counterproductive and not a good motivator at all! People shut down when they think you’re attacking them. Everyone is unique. Those who meet the criteria I just talked about and who really do feel sorry for themselves because they blame others, constantly paint themselves as a victim and rarely look at the part they play in their misfortune are the ones who really do need to hear “stop it! take responsibility and change what’s within your power!” but those who come from a place of truly internalizing and/or personalizing every negative thing that happens to them because of faulty belief systems from a young age, well I believe they need to hear something different other than “stop feeling sorry for yourself”.
So I present to you, that self-pity is not just black and white. It’s your mindset, it’s your beliefs, it’s your expectations, and it’s your come from in addition to the words that you speak.
Self reflection is awesome. Awareness is even better. Once you get it. Most of us know, at least those of us with half a brain or who have experienced it first hand, that being in an unhealthy relationship is emotionally,
psychologically, physiologically and even physically draining. So when chaos breaks out and we go thru it with our significant other, the one we care about, that person that knows how to push the right button or buttons and then walks out, why do we instantly wish that they would come back? Well, there’s obviously many answers to that question depending on a lot of factors, but what I’ve come to realize was that it wasn’t the actual person I was wanting back – after all, why would I want someone whom I just argued and fought with, who just shifted blame in my direction and took no responsibility for their behavior, deflected, lied and attempted to manipulate me and the entire situation to his advantage, to come back into my presence? Shouldn’t I feel relieved that he just left? Shouldn’t I see that as an opportunity to gather my thoughts and regroup? Yes. Well, let me add a disclaimer right after that answer: if you’re even remotely emotionally stable you SHOULD see it from that perspective, but obviously, when dealing with a malignant Narcissist or any other person with some element of a or actual severe personality disorder, it doesn’t work that way. If indeed you ARE dealing with someone like this, then chances are you yourself have some unhealed emotional wounds that need to be addressed. So with that said, seeing it from that perspective will probably be the furthest from your reality in that moment, for hours or even days to come and a lot of times until that other person comes back. Back to ultimately end up going thru it again and again with you. So what is it really that we feel if we’re at least smart enough to know in the moment of that conflict we wish this person gone, the fight to be over and things to calm down and then when they leave, want them to come back?
In my own personal experience, it took me a while to realize that it really wasn’t the person that I wished would stay and not walk out the door, but rather it was me trying to avoid the feelings and mental scenarios that I knew would automatically come as a result of them not being there. Feelings I didn’t want to deal with because they were too overwhelming and draining. Scenarios that I would create, whether real or speculated, that were too painful, such as WHERE he was going, WHO he was going TO and WHAT he was doing. All of those things were the driving force behind why I thought I wanted him to come back – or not leave in the first place. Once I connected the dots about this, I was able to stop beating myself up about having such a stupid desire and finally address the real issue. I was able to take another step forward on my journey to heal my issues and dysfunctions.
We hear a lot about the negative aspects of Narcissists and the devastating effects their actions have on the people that get involved with them. I myself am no stranger to it all. I was involved with a Narcissist for 27 years and a few years ago is when I went through the peak of his narcisstic abuse and saw what he was really made of for a concentrated 10 months. Of course, for the couple years following the 10 months, it was the after shocks of the abuse that lead me to start on a journey of healing childhood trauma and old wounds. Given all that, although I didn’t like all the pain and hurt I suffered those months, nor did I like having to acknowledge the reality of what was going on with me, with him and with us as a unit, I must say that I AM grateful that it happened because of what it forced me to face about my own self.
Narcissists do a lot of damage. Narcissists are very damaged people themselves. Their seems to be a common theme among the information that’s out on these type of people: they’re rotten to the core, there’s no hope for change and we need to just flee at first red flag. The majority of things that you read about these people are how they operate, signs to look for and the life altering negative impact they have on someone who is involved with them. I get all that and yes, we need to know these things but I also would like to propose that another aspect of narcissism be taken into consideration and placed wherever it may be the most helpful in your life. I propose that we somewhere remember that no matter how devious, calculating, manipulative, uncaring, selfish and devaluing they are or can be, among other things, a Narcissist didn’t just wake up one day and decide to become just that!
A Narcissist becomes a Narcissist because of trauma or negative influences in their own life at an early stage. True, their may be some biological factors involved but even on that level, can we not say that the individual with this personality disorder is just like the other people who suffer different kinds of personality disorders who have it come full circle given the right stressors and environment, possibly because of predisposure? I guess in summmary, all I’m saying is that we focus mainly on how bad these people are, and rightly so in order to help victims of narcisstic abuse heal but I also have come to believe that understanding that most of these people have suffered their own kind of abuse at an early stage that has caused them to feel the need to create this false persona and uphold it at any cost. I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this that you, like myself, know that the core being of a Narcissist is filled with shame, low self esteem and a few other negative feelings and the fact that they can’t bring themselves to accept responsibility for their actions let alone see the cause and effect of them, just makes them look even worse in society’s eyes.
We focus on the damage they do, the lives they ruin, how void of genuiness and true self they are but as I eluded to earlier, if we remember that something bad happened to THEM at some early point in time that had a profound impact on molding he or she into the sociopath they are today, maybe that can open up some kind of compassion in us that can make healing just slightly more bearable.
Compassion. Not for the Narcissist, but for you.