If you are in a relationship or are trying to end one with a narcissist, you know narcissists hurt. Narcissists hurt relationships you have with friends, family and even your co-workers. Narcissists hurt your self- confidence, your self-perception and sabotage you at your job. Long-term narcissistic abuse can even cause brain damage.
“All pathological relationships cause relational harm which becomes manifested in personal harm”- Sandra L. Brown (Founder of The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction)
What is Narcissism?
Let me explain what narcissism is and why relationships with a narcissist are sometimes referred to as pathological relationships. Narcissism is a disorder classified as a Cluster B personality disorder. A narcissistic personality disorder is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration and a lack of empathy for others. The term pathological helps differentiate relationships from relationships that are merely dysfunctional. Pathological relationships are in a separate category due to the capabilities and severity of harm to the intimate partner.
Three Precepts of Narcissism
- Narcissists are incapable of possessing of sustaining any emotional or spiritual depth
- Narcissists are unable to maintain positive behavior changes
- Narcissists cannot develop insight into how their negative behavior affects others
I have had a fair share of relationships with narcissists. I know that getting away from these individuals is extremely difficult. The flashbacks alone are enough to leave you weeping in the fetal position. The loneliness and aloneness you may feel can be soul-wrenching. Any experience with a narcissist is intense—the relationship, the breakup, the longing for what you believed you could have together.
The day came when I realized that the person I had become was not who I was. I reclaimed my power and left as I realized the pain I was going through by continuing contact with him was crushing me. I decided to rip the band-aid off quickly. If I stayed living in that situation I would be destroyed. I wondered if I was the crazy one and what happened to the girl I was before I met him. The abuse I experienced touched all areas of my life—emotional physical, verbal, psychological, financial, sexual, spiritual. I had stopped meditating. I isolated from my friends and family; I lost my job.
You feel anxious, you wonder if you’re the problem; you apologize often; you question your behavior, you make excuses for your partner’s behavior. You’re trapped.
If you feel trapped in a relationship with a narcissist, you need to find your power again.
- Constantly remind yourself that you deserve better.
- Strengthen your friendships.
- Reach out to a therapist trained in pathological relationships. Therapists who are not trained in that area do not understand the dynamics of relationships with abnormal pathology. You have been traumatized, intensely and it’s okay to admit that.
- Meditate or just sit quietly.
- Take walks or short hikes; breathe in the sunshine and fresh air.
Embrace your wounded self; cry, laugh, cry some more. You will find ways through the pain; don’t go around it. Treat yourself kindly through the break-up and know that you deserve joy and happiness.
Written by Jill Carlisle