I could talk at length about every slide here because I have borne witness to each of these facets and have fallen for almost all of them. However, I have written at length about my relational experience. So if you are interested in seeing that more fleshed out, you can read pretty much anything I have on my website.
However, concerning this post, I want to talk about ME! C ‘MON it’s narcissism!
For a massive amount of time, I felt “ashamed” regarding how long it took me to realize the role I played in my narcissistic relationships. I was so chronically focused on “rescuing and repairing” them that I did not see:
A) how unrealistic and magical thinking I was
B) the damage it was doing to me
C) that I was a contributor
I didn’t EVER think about what I was contributing to the narcissistic relationships I participated in. Not for anything, other than simply being unconscious. Some examples of what I contributed: The enabling (drug and alcohol abuse), the assertion of control (I could see what was best for them and wanted to fix/rescue/save them), the unending forgiveness (I forgave and expected change, when change inevitably didn’t happen I stayed and forgave again and again – multiple infidelities), my fear of “failure” (I couldn’t “give up” on them – everyone else seemingly had – I couldn’t fail), lack of boundaries (tons of degrading disrespect and all of the above).
These relationships were so high maintenance, and I was so focused on keeping them “alive” that I didn’t/couldn’t focus much on anything else, even my own unhappiness. When you get so caught up in someone else, like this, you forgo paying attention to recognizing your own needs, wants & desires. I began dating Jerry December of 2003. According to my journals, by April 2004, I was “looking for a therapist,” wondering “why I was with him because he lies all the time,” and felt “I cared way too much about every detail of “our life” more than my life.” Yet, I stayed. I should’ve gone to college right out of high school. I had been accepted and claimed my spot, but when it came down to school or Jerry. I chose Jerry. We spent eight years together, which didn’t spawn from full honest love from Jerry. It came out of how great of a supply I was to Jerry, my giving and trying, my blind and futile tenacity, and Jerry’s refusal to give up a great supplier.
Luckily, by the time the next one came around (right after Jerry), Cameron, the climax came quicker and had the punch ending I needed.
Every page of these journals depicts the epic highs and lows of these relationships – the cycle of abuse, the love-bombing, the gaslighting, the devaluation & of course, rejection.
Even, after all we went through and all the time that has passed, NINE YEARS, in my “Sweet Creatures” series, I still try to redeem him – to the reader and myself. I want to find that one speck of redemption, for myself, I guess, because he sure as fuck doesn’t care what I think of him. And that redemption that I am seeking, honestly, is probably just my need for validation. Validation that the relationship wasn’t a waste. But as it goes, what you desire from others, you must find within.
In no way does my participation in these relationships justify the treatment that I received. And the same goes for anyone with which this resonates. We are meant to learn and evolve, not be abused.
Here’s the rub; this whole narcissism bit was born out of my personal research, which I was doing to identify patterns I had been exposed to and cultivated in the past. I went through codependency and empathy because that shoe fit. I had nailed down my “deficiencies.” However, I wanted to understand all the confusion I felt about my past relationships. Why it has been so difficult for me to unplug myself from it because I get it, “it’s crazy.” I stumbled upon gaslighting, and that broke me into the chewy center of the tootsie pop.
In my past relationships, I literally have felt as though I was going crazy. I was continually stating my boundaries, needs, pains, and the lack and hurt I was feeling caused by their behavior, caused by a person who claimed to love me. (I often speak of Jerry because he is a massive component (8 years). My most significant and most prolonged cluster fuck to date, but believe it or not, he wasn’t the only one; hence “their.”) So gaslighting. I started researching gaslighting. Which led me to Dr. Ramani, a licensed psychologist with a Ph. D. She specializes in personality disorders. She has an insane amount of FREE content on Youtube about, you guessed it, narcissism. I went faaaaaar down that rabbit hole, and it shed so much light and provided me, for the first time ever in my life, clarity about these relationships and my participation in them. She also has a book (foreshadow???) titled, “Should I Stay or Should I Go? Surviving A Relationship With A Narcissist” and it magnified my clarity – it focused it.
I have said, and maybe it’s shitty of me because fill in the blank I want this information to be accessible so that it can help someone. Maybe in a fucked up way, I am trying to save my old self, (like you can do that?), but I wish I could’ve saved myself time, anguish. Learning that unplugging yourself from a narcissistic relationship is not the same as just breaking up with someone was validating. The entanglement. The giant knot. Unpacking all the “abuse” and downright fuckedness of the whole situation was not as simple and as pragmatic as you may judge it. Anyone thinking, beyond myself, “enough time has gone by” “you’ve moved on and your married” or “why” clearly has the benefit of never experiencing a narcissistic relationship.
I fully accept responsibility for my participation in all of it. Still, I had no awareness of what was happening. I was trying to love someone incapable of showing up the same way for me. I was dumb. Blind. Living in a fantasy, that I created. I wanted what I wanted because I had invested. Because every time I had enough and was going to leave (in some cases, I did leave), I was PROMISED time and again that “things would be different” and “I will change, please don’t go – I love you so much.” And that’s all I wanted. Change in behavior and to be loved by the person I loved so very much. I didn’t want the cheating, the lying the chronic “sorry’s” that only served to manipulate and bide time. I whole heartily misunderstood and I didn’t learn after repeated failures to deliver on their behalf. I was comforted by the devil I knew, the predictability of chaos, and the hopes that he would change. I was wrong. I had unreasonable expectations given the nature of the person I was involved with.
So, heavy, right? We also have an election coming up. In my opinion, it is fundamentally important to educate yourself on the issues that are in front of us, and part of that is behavior. Being able to spot and identify grandiosity, lack of empathy, gaslighting, carelessness, manipulation, etc. may provide more clarity (as if the state of affairs isn’t clear enough), but hey, The Social Dilemma, right?
And perhaps you don’t have an intimate relationship with a narcissist, or you never have. However, maybe you have someone in your family, or a boss, a friend, who leaves you feeling a bit like shit? Perhaps through research and identification, you’ll possess clarity, and thus the ability to move through it; however, best suits you.
Make no mistake, narcissism is prevalent; “Narcissism is an epidemic, and no one is free from its effects. Much like any epidemic, whether or not you get the illness, you are affected. If you aren’t a narcissist, then you may be under the spell of someone who is a pathological narcissist, and it is taking a toll on your life. Increasingly, we are emptying the connection, respect, and empathy out of one of the most important and healthy of human experiences and turning it into branding, showmanship, and posturing.” Of course, this is a quote from Dr. Ramani (duh!).
As usual, please share and feel free to reach out!
Low key flexing my killer PowerPoint skills.
This week and next, I’ll be diving into narcissism! Ironic, eh?
I feel pulled to discuss this right now for multiple reasons, both personal and otherwise.
I won’t be sharing a book on Thursday; instead, I’ll be doing another post continuing the examination of narcissism. In this particular post, I have pulled information directly from the DSM-5. I intentionally did this because I am not a psychologist and because science overrides my general knowledge on the topic. It’s essential to believe and pull from science. Am I right?
Y’all know I am a big fan of trying to understand human behavior. I believe that understanding and being able to identify these characteristics is massively important. It helps us navigate our social relationships and has the potential to decrease our suffering.
I have suffered because I did not understand this personality disorder. I had STRONG beliefs that I could influence this personality type to, in my personal experience, be more empathetic and loving. Of course, that belief stems from my own issues, which I will dive into – shit, that’s all I ever dive into.
For those who can identify these traits within their intimate relationship partner, I will be posting resources on October 1st (you can also DM me, and I can get them for you). The most significant misunderstanding about being in a narcissistic relationship is, if the abuse of narcissism were physically visible, it would be one of the most devastating depictions of a physical assault.
So here we go, narcissism.