Have you ever dealt with a full-blown narcissist in your life?
They flatter you, court you, are nice and accommodating while it serves their purpose. Once you realise that this isn’t a mutual relationship, you are stuck.
The narcissists invest just enough time, energy and money to keep you amused. They tangle carrots on sticks in front of your nose and persuade you to stay another day.
But all the while you know that they are taking advantage of you, betraying you behind your back and abusing your good will, loyalty and dedication.
Dealing with a narcissistic friend, partner, parent, sibling or work colleague is frustrating, exasperating and painful. It undermines your self-worth and confidence. You feel inferior, never good enough for them.
Yet, it is extremely difficult to escape their clutch and free yourself. Because they know exactly how to lure you back in.
And once you sever your relationship for good, once you choose your physical and mental health over them, their wrath can be brutal, disproportionate (sometimes with psychopathic tendencies) and unforgiving.
But why do narcissists act and react the way they do? What is driving them?
Why do we fall in their traps and feel we cannot escape?
But, most importantly: how can you protect yourself?
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From the narcissist’s perspective: An insightful glimpse into a narcissist’s motivation
My husband and I struggled with 2 top-of-the-class narcissists for many years. First, we fought for their acceptance, respect and love. Then we battled to escape their abuse. And 7 years later we still warded off their attacks.
I know everybody’s situation is different. And the narcissistic spectrum is wide. But through my own experiences, I learned how an extreme narcissistic bully thinks, why we get caught in their trap. And how to handle a narcissist.
I also had to find ways to overcome the trauma of their bullying and find peace (and even happiness) while the narcissistic storm raged around us.
Today, I want to share these important lessons in the hope that they may help you in a similar situation.
Let’s start with the sad reasons why narcissists behave the way they do.
1. A narcissist’s tragic addiction
Narcissists are addicted to wealth, power and status and the resulting recognition and admiration. They don’t seek love, human connection or mutual relationships. Severe narcissists are incapable of these feelings (poor sods if you think of it!).
They seek other people’s admiration, adoration and devotion. That’s their #1 goal in life.
Because narcissists have no self-worth. Despite their overinflated egos, subconsciously, they feel entirely worthless.
They compensate for this feeling of complete worthlessness by focussing on the accumulation of possessions and status symbols. And by surrounding themselves with people who admire, adore and approve of them. Who agree with them, overlook their shortcomings and never challenge anything they propose.
Because any opposition, rejection or mistake plummets them into an all-consuming chasm of unworthiness.
So, narcissists surround themselves with people who want to please. They feel important and worthy when others agree, serve and provide for them.
But they only care for themselves.
2. Can a narcissist love?
A narcissist's definition of love is distorted. They don’t strive for love. They don't seek a happily ever after, a mutual feeling of closeness, affection and connectedness. All they require is a regular ego boost and self-worth injection.
This can be devastating and hard to accept if it's your spouse, friend or parent. You love them. And you hope that your love is reciprocated.
Now, don’t get me wrong!
In their own miscontrued way, they do care for you. Enjoy your company. Flatter you. Maybe even do love you.
But only as long as you give them what they crave:
Undivided attention, unwavering admiration and submission without ever questioning them.
As long as you can provide narcissists with this fix, they will humour you. Psychologists call this “Narcissistic supply”.
But what happens once you decide to leave the one-sided relationship and emotional abuse? How do they react when you end the relationship, file for divorce or remove yourself from their company?
3. A narcissist needs constant supply
Narcissists siphon their fleeting sense of worth off other people. Either by being admired or by making others feel inferior to them.
The latter makes them top-notch bullies.
But let’s face it!
Even if you love somebody blindly, you can only endure this treatment for a limited period of time. Sooner or later, your dedication will crumble, your enthusiasm will fade and the relationship will drain you. You can't give the narcissists everything they need any longer.
If you don't abandon the relationship at that point, the narcissists will look for alternative supply. Their behaviour towards you will change. Interactions will grow colder, you may be ignored or punished and affairs may start.
Bullying, humiliation and abuse will increase. Because, as much as it hurts, you are no longer of use.
The narcissists might tolerate you for as long as you aren’t a threat. But this is what you become once you start to challenge them, hold them responsible for their actions, point out their mistakes or end the relationship.
At that point, you are likely to experience what is called “narcissistic rage”.
4. A narcissist cannot forgive or forget
Narcissistic rage happens when you cut off narcissistic supply. When you dare to withdraw the admiration and approval narcissists require to feel good about themselves.
Because you are robbing them of their self-worth.
Furthermore, the loss of control over you is what makes a narcissist panic more than anything. After all, when a narcissist loses power over you, you could defame them, ruin their reputation and dispute their importance. You could publicly expose their worthless and ugly self.
A true narcissist won't tolerate this threat, insult and insubordination.
The result is anger. Depending on the degree of narcissism, this anger can be extremely aggressive and totally over the top.
They will do everything to protect their reputation, material possessions and way of life. They will make your life difficult.
And as long as you remain in their reach, you are reminding them of the fact that they are worthless. Despite all the lengths they went through to gain admiration and build a reputation, there is this one person who knows about their worthlessness and true motives.
This person becomes a scape goat that the narcissists blame for all their misfortune.
But where does this leave you?
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From your perspective: The narcissists’ behaviour has nothing to do with you
The effects of dealing with a narcissist every day, be it your spouse, partner or a family member, are detrimental on your own self-worth. Especially when you start to withdraw narcissistic supply to save your own sanity and self-respect. And the narcissist's interest in you fades.
Yes, you might think that their love returns if you could just be slimmer, look younger, work harder, serve better.
Yes, they might see the error of their ways if you become the person they want you to be. It is easy to believe that it is you who is wrong, unacceptable and unworthy.
But it is imperative to remember that the way they treat you doesn't mean that you aren't good enough as a person!
It is the narcissistic personality that takes advantage, doesn’t care much for others and uses them for their purposes. It is not a reflection of you or your worth!! It doesn’t mean you are a failure or unlovable!
Narcissists will treat everybody the same. They don’t know any other way to boost their self-worth than leaching it off others.
It is not your fault!
The narcissists’ behaviour has everything to do with you
You can’t choose your parents or siblings. And you certainly don't actively seek a love relationship with a narcissist.
But you are stuck in the co-dependent relationship with a narcissist because your own self-worth is low.
Deep down you feel unlovable. And you compensate by pleasing others. You only feel worthy of other people's love if you do what they want, provide what they need and look after them.
Let’s face it, it’s the much nicer way to compensate for low self-worth! But it is still compensation.
It is fundamental that you boost your self-worth by realising that you ARE worth. You deserve love and respect! Infinite, unconditional worth is your essence and nobody can take it away from you.
You are good enough! No matter what!
Even if the narcissists make you feel interior. This is just their (much less nice) way to compensate for lack of self-worth.
What to do if you feel trapped in a relationship with a narcissist
If you find yourself involved with a narcissist, it is crucial to realise that you are not a victim!
You have a choice:
- 1You can do whatever they demand and hope that it is enough. But you will live in constant fear that they will abandon you if your efforts aren’t up to scratch. Sooner or later it will destroy you, leave you anxious, depressed, unfulfilled and jealous. You will never have their unconditional love. No matter how much you do for them, how much you change and distort to please them. Not because you aren’t worth it. Just because they are unable to give it. Not only to you, but to anybody.
- 2You can stick with them in the hope that you might be able to change them, fix them, make them see the error of their ways. It works in Disney movies, right? But the sad truth is that you are likely wasting your time. I know it hurts. I know you want to save them. Want them to see the world the way you see it. But you are not responsible for teaching them, convincing them or even forcing them to change. You are responsible only for your own happiness in this one lifetime. The question now is: can you really be happy with them in your life?
- 3You can leave. I know this is the most terrifying option. Your life will be turned upside down. You might have to fight your way out. Suffer the narcissistic rage. Start all over. But your freedom will be worth it. I realise it is an overwhelming, frightening thought now but you deserve better. You ARE worth!
What happens when you decide to leave?
I don’t want to scare you. But your life may be difficult for a while after you leave.
On top of getting over a narcissist and the relationship you had with them, you may have to overcome narcissistic abuse.
This is because, when a narcissist loses power over you, they need to ensure that you do not damage their reputation, finances and way of life.
And they do this through attack.
But you can (and will) get through this! It will pass.
And below are the 5 life-changing realisations that helped me survive the trauma, move forward and live a happy life despite narcissistic rage directed towards me and my family.
1. What to do if a narcissist is destroying your reputation and credibility
The typical narcissist strategy of dealing with a person they lost control over is by discrediting them. To ensure that nobody will believe them if they expose the narcissist.
My husband and I were called thieves, liars, embezzlers and even terrorists. Yes, it hurts. But it is important to remember that people who really know you won’t believe it and people who don’t know you won’t care.
We found that the best way to deal with it was to ignore it. Not reciprocate, not respond, not bother. Sometimes, faced with a barrage of false allegations, upsetting lies and slander, this was painful. We wanted to defend ourselves against the narcissistic liar, put the record right. But this would just have fuelled the narcissist attack.
And, after all, what other people think of us is none of our business!
Keep boosting your self-worth! Keep reminding yourself that you are a lovable, worthy person who deserves happiness.
And what other people say or think about you doesn't change a thing about that!
2. How to deal with fear and anxiety
When the narcissistic storm started to rage, my worst problem was the fear. I spent whole days hiding under my desk.
And fear is an understandable reaction! Your life is under attack. The narcissist threatens you and your livelihood. It’s a horror scene from a soap opera you never wanted to star in.
But there are ways to cope with the fear, to make this upsetting time easier for you.
And here are my 3 favourite exercises:
The most effective and powerful affirmations I use are: “I AM worth” and “I am safe. All is well in my world.”
Repeat them as often as you need them. You might not believe it straight away but repetition is the key.
Existential worries (about finances, housing and livelihood) cause energy blockages in your body. These blockages create fear, anxiety and panic attacks.
You can counteract this by daily grounding exercises:
"Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Visualise strong roots like those of a tree growing from the soles of your feet into the ground, deeper and deeper.
They are anchoring you, stabilising you, giving you a solid foundation to build your new life on. They also absorb the Earth’s energy which is positive, healing and revitalising.
Allow the uplifting energy to fill your body. Washing away anxiety, uncertainty and suffering. Sense the security, safety and balance the roots provide."
Stay in the position as long as it is comfortable but a few minutes once a day are usually enough.
BURST THE BUBBLE technique
This is a very powerful exercise.
Emotions are energy in motion. They are supposed to arise, flow through us and leave again. When we hold on to them, the emotional energy coils up into a spherical shape. These energy bubbles block your energy system causing fear, panic attacks and emotional pain.
However, you can actively delete them.
"So, when fear, anxiety or anger take over, focus on the emotion. Feel it. Describe it.
Is it warm or cold? Is it prickly or fluffy? What colour is it?
Where is it in your body? Locate it. Is it in your heart, your stomach, your head?
Once you know where it is, visualise it as a bubble or balloon and pop it with your finger or an imaginary needle."
This will release the circular energy that causes the blockage and bring relief. Do this as often as you need to. With a bit of practice, this is the most powerful exercise to deal with fear, hopelessness, anger or emotional pain.
3. How to accept that justice isn't your concern
I remember in the early days of the narcissistic storm, we received daily threatening letters. We experienced distress, anxiety and heartache.
And I wanted justice! How could they mistreat us and get away with it?
We went to the police but they said they couldn’t help. Where was the justice? We were good people with good intentions.
Why did this happen to us while the perpetrators remained unpunished and untouched?
The feeling of helplessness and injustice almost killed me. But then I realised that I had the choice to be happy. Not once they stopped attacking us, not once justice was served, not once I had my revenge.
The truth is that narcissists are highly unhappy people. Deep down, they hate themselves, feel worthless. They are driven by unconscious compulsions and consumed by anger, hatred and fear.
Whether they see it or not, they suffer. Every minute of every day.
And the best revenge on a narcissist that you can serve is to be happy, to live a fulfilled life. Love, laugh and know your worth. Invest your time and energy in happiness, not resentment and revenge.
Your life will never be perfect. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be happy! Don't wait for things to settle down and all the stars to align.
4. How to practice compassion (even if they might not deserve it)
I know what you’re thinking. How could these people that attack, bully and threaten you even deserve your compassion?
The answer is not for their sake. But for your own.
Wishing them misery, doom, suffering and gout will not change anything about their life or behaviour towards you. But the resentment, anger and hatred will erode your soul, destroy your happiness and damage your health.
You can hold on to all these toxic feelings or you can let them go. You have a choice.
They are miserable people living miserable lives. They need your compassion. But more importantly, you need it too.
You deserve happiness. You ARE worth!
5. Why it's crucial that you choose your fights
It's imperative to fight for your rights. You ARE worth and you deserve respect.
The thing is though that narcissists fight as a matter of principle. Losing, being in the wrong and defeat is a testimony of their worthlessness. Their feeling of worth and relevance is a fragile construct of illusion, self-deception and lies.
And they will defend it.
If you only still fight to be right, then ask yourself whether your happiness and quality of life are worth more than having the last word.
Maybe it’s time to move on.
Not winning an argument doesn't mean that you weren’t good enough to succeed. It means that you love and respect yourself enough to leave a miserable situation behind without shame and feelings of inferiority.
Let go of the need to prove that you are right. Focus on self-love instead. So you can finally be happy again.
How to avoid falling prey to a narcissist again
I don’t know your situation and I cannot tell you what to do. My experiences might not reflect what you are going through. But I hope that they can help you understand your struggles and make the next steps to free yourself and regain your life.
I know it is terrifying.
But you will get through it. One step at a time. Escaping a narcissist can be difficult, painful and scary at times.
But the end result is worth it. YOU are worth it!
You deserve to be free, live without abuse, humiliation, exploitation and neglect. You can start to re-build your self-worth.
And your life.
You deserve to be happy. You are worthy of other people's respect, love and genuine affection. Always remember!
You don’t need to serve, please and bow to be acceptable. You ARE worth! You are lovable. You are good enough. Now and forever, just the way you are.
Once you realise this, you won’t fall prey to a narcissist ever again.
They are attracted to low self-worth. If you boost your self-worth, if you know that you deserve better, they will go and ruin someone else’s life.
Sad but true.
So speak after me: I AM WORTH!
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I really appreciate your take on things. I signed up for one of your free offers, and it should help me keep a bookmark on your blog.
Reading your insight that one’s self worth is unconditional and inherent, and how not knowing and especially not believing in this is the driving force of often unconscious unhappy behaviour and experiences -from anxiety issues to being bullied by narcissistic people.
I relate so much to all of these issues!!! …And I also relate to having had a similar epiphany to the one you had -which is why it speaks to me so well.
Unfortunately for me, it either only went so deep or I got stuck at some other step, when I tried to make such an awareness a bigger part of my self …I am not exactly sure what happened for me, just that I got lost at some point and reverted into an auto pilot/damage control state, that was pure misery towards the end.
In any case, I really greatly appreciate any good guidance I can get, and yours seems to be this. Not only in how relevant the ordeals you describe are to my own experience, but also in the tips and clues you give as to how to navigate around these problems.
Again, really appreciate what you are doing and intend on having a look around.
Thank you so much for your comment and the lovely words, Elisa! I am so happy that my ideas resonate with you and might be able to help. I find for myself that I focus on my own healing while I feel unhappy, anxious or unbalanced but once I feel better a busy life takes over and I neglect myself again…until I feel bad again and remember. I think regular work and persistence is the key. And even if you got stuck before, there is always another chance to make it work! Maybe another puzzle piece emerged that you were unaware of before. You deserve happiness, peace and balance. And with determination and some nudges in the right direction, I am sure you will get there!
I struggle with this at work so much that I let them have a power over me that bullies crave. Like most things once you realize your not along on the issue, things can become easier to solve.
I absolutely agree, Ben! I think because we want others to approve of us and see our worth we tend to keep things we perceive as weakness or unworthiness to ourselves. All of us do. And so we all struggle with the same issues and each one believes they are the only one. The only one bullied, the only one struggling, the only one who’s scared. If we all knew that our worth is unconditional and does not depend on the way others see us, we could all be more honest and open with one another. And there would be a lot less suffering. We are all in this together after all!
At one point not so long ago the man made me feel utter dispair from the threats and manipulations. The threats towards me I could just about handle but feeling helpless when he contacted my family, abused them verbally, threatened to do more and more I felt like it was all my fault and the only way to stop it was to kill myself.
I now see thats what he wanted. I had to pacify him to stop him doing it. I had to behave and agree.
He wanted me to lose everyone so that he was all I had and I couldn’t think of anything worse than only having him for the rest of my life.
I’ve now blocked him. As he did so many times to me as punishment.
I am worth more!
Thank you for this blog. It has made me feel empowered!
Thank you so much for sharing your story, Sarah! I am so sorry that you had to go through all of this! And you are so right. You deserve to be treated with respect and love. You are worth! x
Thank you for this!
I am dealing with an ex-husband and we share custody of our 5 year old son. He has been making my life hell and using my son to get to me. He is trying to control my life still, daily threats, verbal abuse, emails, texts and so on. I really needed to read this today! So, thank you for your insight and I will keep this close to me to read again and again if I have to make this change and live life the way I am supposed to…with my son and HAPPY!
Thank you so much, Tiana for sharing your story. I am so sorry you have to go through all of this. Keep reminding yourself of your worth. Your son will see the truth as he gets older. You will get through this. And there will be a happy life on the other side. Because you deserve it!
Thank you so much for this article. It has been a god-send to me as I try to break away from my narcissistic mother. I read your article several times a day. My mother has caused so much pain and suffering, I don’t know where to begin. My husband and I finally decided to protect our small kids from her abusive nature and have cut her off. Of course, telling her that she can’t see her grandkids has caused immeasurable wrath, harassment and bullying through threats and humiliation. It’s been challenging, to say the least. Thank you again for this extremely helpful article. It is the only thing helping me get through this.
Hello Amy, I am so sorry to hear that you are finding yourself in such a difficult situation. I found that the Bubble Technique (as described in the article above) has helped me most to overcome the fear, anger and guilt that can result from divorcing yourself from a parent and suffering the narcissistic rage. If you need any help with it, just let me know! It will get better, things will calm down. And your life will be better than it has always been. Keep reminding yourself of the goal of a happy life, free from abuse. And focus on your worth. I hope that this stage of your life will pass quickly. All the best, Berni
This article is one of the best I’ve read on the subject, and I have read many. Your tips for dealing with anxiety and feelings are working! Thank you!
Thank you so much, Lynn! I am so happy that my experiences can help you in your current situation! x
Thought provoking article I shared with a friend who lives with a narcissist, and she found it helpful as well as comforting.
Thank you so much, Dennis! I am happy to hear that my article could help your friend!
Wonderful article. Thank you for this.
You are most welcome, Rosemary!
This is for Sarah. I read your experience with the Narcissist. I have had everyone taken from me including my 4 children. He made me appear crazy to anyone and everyone. My husband had affairs from the start of our relationship and even ongoing with our 4 children. With my 3rd child I was very sick. I was in ICU in hospital after giving birth. My husband was having affairs while I was in hospital with all my children. I wasn’t coping or functioning with my husband, children and household duties. Yet everything was my fault. I got told my husband was plotting this all along to be with his so many affairs. I got told that this is how the narcissist operates. They have patterns and they find ways to create SITUATIONS in order to get what they want to happen when they feel it suits them. Example: They may cause a fight and become distant or do something that causes you to want to get out, run away. This is because they have plans elsewhere in secret. And then when you leave the Narcissist hoovers you back to them and you have a relationship again and then the abuse cycle continues and it gets worse every time. It’s Attention seeking to the extreme to feed their ego that is their FALSE SELF IMAGE. Nothing is Real. Everything is FAKE. My life with my husband is something no human being should have to go through. And he was cheating even while I was in a mental hospital after a break down because of his affairs. He wanted people to believe I was the problem. When people caught him with other women, he said that I left and we are having problems and whatever excuses and lies he could think of. I was a SMEAR CAMPAIGN to protect him from being found out for what he really was. So, as you can imagine I have things happening no normal person would even believe. These individuals behave weird and different. Anyway, I hope this might help other people to have more information on how these narcissists function. Mary S.
Hello Mary, I am so sorry to hear about your ordeal. I know the feeling when things happen to you that seem out of your control and sprung directly from a soap opera. When I told people about our experiences with the narcissists (7 threatening letters a day, slander, break-ins etc.), they would say: “I thought that only happened on TV.” Well, I did once too.
I hope you will find the strength to move on. Leave the past behind, forgive yourself and let go of all resentment, anger and pain. For your sake, not for his. You deserve to be happy. And I hope, in time, you can be. All the best, Berni
Wow, i love this article.
I love how your article introduces the subject of having compassion for the Narc. Let’s face it, nothing else works, and i have to admit it brings me comfort to know that in exchange for having my professional reputation destroyed (I’m still in great fear of this person) that she is living in a sort of hell of her own to cause her to do these things in the first place.
I’m particularly desperate right now because i live directly above her a bit ago (stupid me moved in before i really knew her because at the time she seemed like a wonderful person), and now (the last time being 10 minutes ago) everytime she hears me doing something, she replicates whatever i’m doing 10x louder and I literally feel her rage inside my body through the physical vibration of her banging on the walls during sex with my boyfriend or her forcefully slamming pots and pans into the sink while i’m doing dishes. I can’t explain to others or to myself why this terrifies me so. Its like, I’m not legally being physically abused but i literally feel it physically! More crazy making. I’m really trying to rise above the fear till i can find another place to move to. I already felt broken moving in here because of my recent divorce.
I appreciate your advice because most i’ve run across are entirely devoted to romantic relations. This person was a trusted BFF before i started a new job and couldn’t hang out as much. When i began pulling away, she became nastier and nastier. We’ve been through 3 mediations and i filed for a restraining order which was treated like a joke by everyone including her. I was aghast when i saw she had assembled 7 “witnesses” from the mental facility she works at to rebuke me in court! I don’t understand how she convinced them all to perjure themselves on her behalf. The manipulation skills of the Narc can be truly mind bending. She broke the restraining order the day after it was served, police were called and she gave them her act and they didn’t arrest her, even though it was made clear to her she would be arrested if she broke the no contact order! OMG I feel like i’m in the twighlight zone. I wish i would have known what i was dealing with from the beginning. I would have simply ignored her and not taken any steps to legally protect myself…even this sounds crazy to me now…we are taught that it’s good to protect ourselves if we are threatened, but it dosen’t work like that with a narc.
My main question to you is…what can i do to prevent the fear that overtakes me when she tries to punish me for being alive by loudly mocking the noise i make in my apartment??? My noise cancelling headphones work wonders, but i can’t wear them toolong becuase my ears start hurting after a couple hours. Is there some sort of mental insulation you know of? I’m scared because i’ve started drinking more because that puts me in an “I don’t care” zone. Sorry sorry sorry this is so long, but i’m a wreck.
Thank you for your caring!
Hello Kaycee, I am so sorry you are finding yourself in such a terrible situation. I know how you feel. The thing is though that you actually in the last stretch of the narcissistic rage. You almost made it through. You fought your battles, you showed her she can’t mess with you without consequences. Now all she can do is play mind games. So, if you think about it, she is completely powerless. The only thing that gives her power at the moment is your fear and your traumatic memories. If you heard her bang around upstairs, smiled at her ridiculous act, shrugged your shoulders and went on with whatever you were doing, where would her power be then? It wouldn’t exist. because she has none. Focus on overcoming the fear. I have several blog posts with exercises for overcoming anxiety, fear and emotional pain that can help. Have a look through. Also, work on your self-worth. You don’t need to prove to her that you deserve better. But you need to prove it to yourself. You can try my free Healthy Self-Worth Starter Kit. And breathe. She can’t harm you. She is powerless. All the very best, Berni
Wow! What a great article. I’m still a teen and I’ve been trapped in a narcissistic friendship for the past 4 years and dealt with a HUGE narcissistic rage as it was gone. This family even threatened my family and spread lies to a bunch of random people who I talk to almost every day…and they believe them. I just discovered that these type of people exist and am still dealing with the one I got out of. Thanks for such an eye opening article!
Thank you so much for your comment, Rithika! I also found it astounding how narcissists are so good at spreading horrible lies about others. And that others believe them even if they know you and should know better. I found that most people who initially believed the lies (and were actually scared of us because they were told we were aggressive), changed their minds about us as soon as they got to know us better. Other people’s lies, opinions and misguided beliefs about us changes nothing about our worth or who we are as people. I am glad to hear you could get out of the narcissistic friendship. Keep working on your self-worth and you will never find yourself in the same situation again. All the best, Berni
Hey, I am a worthwhile human being that wants to be happy and free. I’ve spent a lot of my time attempting to please other people, do what they want and allow them to treat me badly. I’ve had enough of that. I deserve better. James
You absolutely do, James! You ARE worth. You deserve to be treated with respect. And it’s time to prioritise yourself. It isn’t selfish, it’s essential. All the best, Berni
I have lived with narcissists all my life and see how that has affected me. In my last relationship I finally began to understand myself and the mistakes I was making in accepting this kind of toxicity into my life. I currently am dating someone who’s father is a complete narcissist down to delusions of grandeur and con artistry. It pains me to see how this has affected his son. All I can say is I’m sorry for anyone who has had to live through the abuse. It seems almost prevalent now – exaggerated entitlement – and it’s a real shame. I didn’t grow up in that kind of world and it’s a bad way to continue honestly.
Thank you for the article with tips on how to handle the stress. I hope I can get my friend out of this situation soon…
Thank you so much for this comment! I too hope your friend will find the strength to remove himself from his father’s narcissistic influence. It’s a painful process, but a necessary one. All the best, Berni
I really don’t know where to start in order to be as succinct as possible. As a child bullied by my mother and made to take the blame for everything my siblings did as I am the oldest, even having escaped the house for hours. They saw this. Moving forward, blamed by my sister for things I did not do, in order to protect her relationship with my spineless brother who perpetuated the situation. She bought a house in Italy. Constantly asked me and my ex to go out there, with them or without. I politely declined with various excuses. Joined FB 2 1/2 years ago and she blocked me, which I didn’t realise until I wondered why I hadn’t seen anything from her and someone educated me. I’m still working through the fact that I’ve been isolated for no reason but she’s made sure I can’t ever put forward my side of what happened (she was trying to gain access to my mum’s money). My brother who caused her anger with an email has never stood up to say it was his doing. Completely isolated…
Hello Jane, I am sorry to hear that you feel isolated and pushed out of your family. Ask yourself whether you can see the relationships improve in the future if everybody is willing to give in a little. Can everybody forgive, forget and move forward positively? If not, would you be happier if you stopped all contact and focused your energy on other relationships, and indeed the relationship you have with yourself. Which is the most important relationship you will ever have. A lot of the times, letting go is the toughest decision. But if you do decide to let go, you need to let go not only of the people but also of all grief, anger and resentment. Because it will only harm you.
I have read everything I could find about Narcissism. I have been going through a divorce for almost 4 years with a narc. So, you know I have been in hell and losing everything. It’s hard to find friends and any support for this. I am totally alone, not well, and about to be homeless. When you feel so down, it’s hard to get back up. I used to be such an overcomer, an achiever in all I did. But, it’s hard to remember who I was anymore. This is one of the most helpful articles I have ever read on this subject. I will take your advice.
I’m with you Tammy. Living through lockdown having split up from a narc in Feb and we are still under the same roof. Now I’ve discovered the narcissist word, I don’ feel like I’m going insane anymore.
I am so sorry to hear about your situation. Lockdown is difficult enough without having to deal with a narcissist close-up at the same time. I am glad you now know that you are not going insane. Try to look after yourself. Make self-care a priority. And keep breathing. You will get through this. You ARE worth!
I had a similar experience. The thing that hurts the most, is that you realize so many people just don’t give a damn, and pitch in to hurt you and to help feed off of you. And once you go no contact, others step in to help narcissist attack you, on behalf of the no contact person(s). As if they need to use some imaginary revenge excuse to do it for the narcissist. The baton gets passed to others who want to use you as their main supply instead, as if you are not being properly attacked and used anymore, and are an available food source. Seems to apply to divorce coercion rings, occult online stalkers, fake debt collectors, and fraud rings. Not to mention any close friends or family members of the narcissist who are also narcissists.
I absolutely agree, Tom. One of the worst things we dealt with was that people we had considered good friends turned on us out of the blue, told lies about us and tried to hurt us. But the people in your life reflect what you believe about you. And once you start to discover your true worth, the people who treat you as if you were worthless will disappear. Sometimes with a bang, sometimes with a whimper. But slowly but surely, they will vanish. And even if it hurts at the time, you will be better for it.
I am sorry to hear you are going through such a horrible experience, Tammy. I am glad that you found the post helpful. The only thing you can really do right now is to look after yourself, rediscover who you are, without anybody else defining it for you, and truly know your worth.
Hi Tammy. I just divorced a narcissist too. I just really hope you see this and are ok and doing better. I totally understand and the fact that you do too made me feel better today. Thank you.
15 years. 2 children. It wasn’t just a divorce. He had an affair with a married woman, spent all of our money and blew everything up (figuratively) on his way out, to be with her. It has been two years. They are married now… dragged my young children to the show of marital hypocrisy. I am still hurting. Physiologically, emotionally and financially. I am still vilified and blamed everyday. He didn’t leave, get re-married and ride off into the sunset and out of my life. No. He bullies me and smears me and tries to change of custody and child support agreements. He brings his prize to everything to do with the children (school, doctor’s office, extra curriculars, exchanges). The only control I have, is me. And I have been too hurt and busy and broke to heal me. Hoping I can begin soon.
There are some good days.
Some of us feel we will never be free.
I am so sorry that you are going through this, BB. You don’t deserve this trauma, the abuse and power games. And I know how draining and terrifying it all is. I wish I could say that everything is going to be ok soon. And I truly hope it will be. But, in the meantime, as you said the only thing you can control is how you treat yourself and what kind of Mum you are to your children. Maybe try this meditation to get you started: https://increasingselfworth.com/calm-your-anxiety-guided-meditation/. I know you have been hurt. But please don’t give up on yourself. It will get better.
One of the best articles I have read on this topic so far! Even when you try to ignore, they put extra effort into getting you to notice the attack. So annoying.
Thanks, Tom! I am glad you found the post helpful. And yes, it’s true. They will make an extra effort if you ignore them. After all, their strategy (and I am not sure whether there is a course somewhere that teaches it because it is so consistent) relies on making you the bad guy and having everybody see how awful you are. And the moment they can get you to reciprocate, they can point their finger at you and shout: “Ha! I told you all. He is a terrible person and deserves all that I do to him.” I know it is hard to ignore, especially if they try so hard. But eventually, they will get bored and move on.
Hard lessons learned. I thought my sons father was a narc and we were together for 10 years. I now know what a true narc looks like. I can barely breathe in this house. I have a special needs son and then a daughter with the narc I am divorcing. I have been a stay at home mom that has done MORE than just care for the kids. Right before the world got shut down my narc “accidentally ” left his phone at home when he went to work. I had sneaking suspicion about how he was bad mouthing me to my family. He had already sabotaged the relationship between my son and his father. I went straight to his text chain with my dad and saw them both bad mouthing me. I instantly shut down. I stopped talking, eating, drinking alcohol and just prayed and cried after the kids went to bed. I had already been pushed out of the bedroom and had been sleeping on the couch or in my sons twin bed with him. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, think, questioned my sanity. Now he is trying to get custody of our daughter. I thank GOD and my lucky stars that right when all this started to unfold, an attorney fell into my lap disguised as a special needs care taker! But now I am dealing with him recording everything all day every day. He has painted a false picture of me to my father, whom I haven’t spoke with since February, his mother, his friends, his brother… I was served his divorce papers last Monday and since he has been recording on his phone he has literally done everything in the house all day every day. All the chores I have exhausted myself doing for 4 years are all the sudden being recorded by him on his phone with him doing them. All the things I would ask for help with, he is doing. It is absolutely exhausting. I am trying to remain positive and feel worthy but I have been completely isolated from my friends as I cannot leave my son and daughter alone with him because I do not trust him. I have a home health aid to come take care of my son about 18 hours a week and I use that time to go to the gym and study for my school exams while I exercise. I was seeing an energy healer that was helping alot but now he dictates what the money is spent on. For instance I am not allowed to pay my medical debt at all, I am not allowed to drive his car, but I was allowed to purchase winter boots for myself. Those dangling carrots. Tonight he ate the chicken I had heated up for myself before I had a chance to get to it. He has called me F-n crazy. Told me he has “so much sh*t on me” told me I’m being “ridiculous”, withheld sex and forced rough sex. I am almost 40! I do not deserve this and I am losing it living like this. I know he is trying to bully me out of the house so he can claim abandonment and I lose my marital rights to the equity. He has told me and my son to get out. He has stood over me screaming non stop till I pushed him and told him to stop yelling at me then called the police and played the victim. I feel like I am going to throw up all day every day. My heart hurts for my kids and especially my daughter. I really just need a hug, a good cry and a good friend. I remind myself every day that in the end, we all have to sit at the feet of God and be judged. I am just trying to stay human and love on my kids at this point. Thanks to anyone who took the time to read my emotional vomit. And thank you for posting the reminders of how to help me deal with this! I needed to be reminded of the grounding technique! It really does work!!!
I am so sorry you are finding yourself in this situation. It truly is an awful place to be in and I wish I could wave a wand and get you out of there. But, unfortunately, the only way out is through. I will send you lots of love, hugs and positive energy so you can have the strength to look after yourself and get out the other end (which you will be!) with your sanity intact. As often as you can, send the narcissist love, flood the entire situation with as much love as you can. It does make a difference. And it will keep your heart open, which is good for your energetic health. If the grounding helps you, also look up Donna Eden’s daily energy routine. It will keep you balanced while the storm is raging around you. Storms will pass eventually. Just make sure you look after yourself in the meantime.
Get an order of protection immediately. My ex was this way when we divorced. One day he snapped further and i had to leave my dogs and take the kids to a safe house. WAVE helped me. The OP was the best thing i did for my family. He changed the locks when we were gone and threatened to tear the legs off of my dogs. I asked the police to do welfare checks on them. They served him with the OP and then I crawled through the dog door to get back in. We survived. We healed. And then we thrived because we were indeed worthy. You can do this! I know you can. You are in my prayers.
I am so glad to have come across this article, I can relate to this so much and it has given me understanding of what is happening. I have been dealing with a narcissist attack for the last 3 years and until now haven’t really understood it. It isn’t from a close relationship, but with neighbours in the units I live in. I live with my 83 year old mother and the bullying, abuse, aggressive behaviour and intimidation has just gotten so out of hand. They’ve tried to ruin my reputation and anyone in the unit that befriends me gets attacked and bullied as well! My mother and I have not been able to understand why this is happening and what we have done, because we just try and live peaceful happy lives and are actually people pleasers! Anyway I have just shown her this article and we are both blown away by the similarities of your experience with our own. So, thank you for this article, it has actually given me strength to keep moving forward and focus on living a happy and healthy life and not get caught up with all their nonsense, which has nothing to do with me!
Thank you so much for your comment, Kristina! I am sorry to hear that you are finding yourself in a very similar situation. It is certainly not a pleasant one. But I am glad that you found my article helpful. I really hope it may help you move forward more positively and that you and your mother will find a way to regain a peaceful, happy way of life. All the best, Berni
This article is super helpful. I am currently stuck in a friendship with a narc. He insists on calling it a love relationship and we have been arguing about this for years now. When I finally stood against it he started making threats that he will make my life hell. He is asking me to leave my job or else he will punish me. He said he will make my life hell every day. I want to believe that he is bluffing but I think he can easily tip over and actually deliver on his threats. If I leave he swears he will make sure to make my life hell and if I stay he will force me to do the things that I hate and make me unhappy. He hates when I talk to other people and started to spy on who I talk to and what we say. I tried no contact but it only made him furious with rage and started making unspeakable threats. I am afraid of what he might do if I do not quit my job but I do not want to quit just to please him because it will not stop there. I am mentally drained after years of gaslighting and bullying. He is addicted to me and won’t leave me alone even after I tried to end the friendship many times. I wouldn’t wish this experience on my worst enemy. God bless you all.
Why do you exclude adult children from your list of narcs? Because it’s an epidemic and comes with a very unique set of moral questions.
You are absolutely right, Melissa. Narcissists can be any relation, not just parents but also siblings and children. And while I have no experience with the latter, I can imagine how difficult a situation this must be for the parent.