If you are in or have ever been in a relationship with a Narcissist, you likely heard well-intended friends and relatives say, “Why don’t you just leave?”
It seems so simple from an outsider perspective. Just leave. But from the victim’s perspective, it seems as though moving a mountain would be easier.
There are a whole host of factors that contribute to this dynamic. Here are a few:
Codependents have an ingrained need to feel needed, and there is none as needy to fill this void than the gaping Grand Canyon sized hole of need that is the Narcissist. It’s likely that if you’re a codependent personality, you’ve become so accustomed to picking up after the messes the Narcissist creates, that you can’t imagine not doing it. Moreover, since you’ve observed the Narcissist’s lack of coping skills and INABILITY to function as an independent adult should, you worry about what will happen to the Narcissist if you leave him/her.
Rest assured, the Narcissist isn’t going to be worrying about how you’re getting on once you leave. He won’t be spending his time ruminating about whether or not you can pay your bills, or how you are hurting emotionally. Nor is he feeling remorse for his actions that caused you to leave him. He’s only going to be thinking about himself. And he will begin to frantically think of ways he can either manipulate you into returning (so that you can resume cleaning up his messes, while he punishes you for leaving him), or actively seeking his next victim (likely doing both at the same time).
When you first met the Narcissist, you likely believed this was the person of your dreams. You were put up on a pedestal and made to feel as if you were a Queen/King. But as soon as the Narcissist realized you were hooked, the gradual devaluing began occurring. This person who seemed to adore you in the beginning, critiques your flaws non-stop, maligns your character, gaslights you to the point where you no longer trust your own perception of reality, and isolates you from anyone who could have been a positive influence to your self-esteem. The Narcissist needs his/her victim to be weakened and vulnerable. Then he will mock you for being weak and vulnerable. And you will come to believe that the Narcissist is too good for you, so you stay and take the abuse.
If you have found yourself stuck in a relationship with a Narcissist, hope is not lost. The fact that you clicked the link to this article means that you are seeking help and that’s a good sign. If you want to free yourself from the Narcissist’s abuse, begin doing things to boost your self esteem.
Reconnect with old friends and relatives. Let them know what is happening. Abusers need victims who will keep their abuse a secret. Stop keeping it a secret.
Focus on your health. It’s common when you’ve been living with an abusive person, to ignore your health. Eat healthy foods. Drink lots of water. If you’ve been self-medicating, try to stop. Get some exercise. Exercise will help you to feel better about your appearance. But more important, it can help to stimulate endorphins. Be kind to your body.
Find a good therapist and get some counseling. Preferably find a therapist who doesn’t sympathize with disordered personalities, because there is no cure for a personality disorder. You cannot love a disordered person into loving you back. You can only learn to love yourself enough that you refuse to tolerate the Narcissist’s abuse.
Finally, stop cleaning up the Narcissist’s messes. This will undoubtedly result in wrath from the Narcissist. But the truth is, you are continuing to enable your own abuse by depriving the Narcissist of a natural consequence. If you’re lucky, the Narcissist will cease to view you as a good source of Supply and will Discard you and move onto his or her next victim.
The only people we are capable of changing is ourselves.
Pam McCoy is a writer and author and co-host of Crazybusters.