6 minute read
How on earth is it possible to go from soul mate to worthless for no apparent reason? How can anyone in a relationship make such a dramatic 180?
If you’ve clicked on this post, then you are probably feeling extremely confused, lost, and heartbroken. You may also be feeling unsure of yourself, down and anxious, and possibly even like you have no worth or value.
You may be trying to understand why things have changed so dramatically with your partner, when you believed you had found the love of your life. The person you love and who used to worship you so completely, seems to have turned into someone else entirely. The once perfect soul mate, now appears to almost despise you, endlessly criticizing, mocking, threatening, controlling, and abusing you for little or no reason whatsoever.
Every now and then you briefly glimpse the one you miss, so you come to believe that your soul mate is still there, somewhere. You ask yourself, what do I need to do to get that person back? Sadly, you are also most likely trying to make sense of what you have done wrong, and what you need to do to fix things to make your partner kind and loving once more.
Does this sound familiar?
Here’s the thing. It is not you. There is nothing you can do to ‘fix’ things to bring your loved one back. That person doesn’t exist. The one that does exist, who is painfully real, is the monster before you, an abusive narcissist.
The person you fell in love with was merely a carefully constructed charade. The person behind the façade is the one who has constructed, and can only ever offer you, the hell you’re in right now.
You are not worthless. Your value is endless. Hell is not right for you. Time to find some peace and freedom. Let’s start getting you to that place by answering your question: how is it possible that in the eyes of your partner you have shifted so dramatically from being their soul mate to someone worthless?
How the narcissist relates
There are predictable phases to the abusive narcissists’ relationships. These are idealize, devalue, discard. These labels accurately reflect the core purpose of each stage, with the abusive narcissist treating you ultimately as an object.
The inevitable narcissistic relationship cycle adopts the following patterns:
- Idealization is all about worship, adoration, and making you feel like no one can love you like they can. You are “love bombed” receiving incredibly fast declarations of undying love, constant contact reminding you of the unparalleled love shared, and intense focus on you and meeting your needs.
- This is starkly contrasted with devaluation where the abusive narcissist does a 180 and deliberately undertakes to convey contempt for you, keep you insecure about the relationship, and dismantle your sense of self and power. The focus is to debase and diminish you.
- Discard delivers on the threats embedded in devaluation. You are rejected and abandoned with brutality, disposed of like an inconvenient thing, at times this is done with less energy invested than one would in actually taking out the trash.
Time to break the cycle of ‘what can I do to fix this, be good enough, be worthy once more…etc.’. Time to break the cycle of abuse. Time to reclaim your power and your true self.
To achieve this you must understand what motivates the abusive narcissist in each stage, that moving through each of these is unavoidable, and that your gorgeous self has absolutely nothing to do with why you are receiving the abuse.
To recap… you CANNOT fix this. Walking away is the fix.
From soul mate to worthless – why the 180?
‘Splitting’ is a fundamental component of the psychological make-up of the abusive narcissist. The Narcissistic Personality Disodered (NPD) individual is incapable of accepting both the positive and negative aspects that are the hallmarks of being human, and of integrating these into one whole (Vitek, 2000).
Not only does this apply to others, but also within themselves. This means that those with NPD view themselves and others in extremes. One is either ‘all good’, or ‘all bad’, there is no balanced position or in between (Zosky, 2001).
You can do no wrong
The ‘love bombing’ that creates enmeshed attachments during idealization feels like worship, because this is, in essence, what it is. Here you are viewed as ‘all good’, your strengths are amplified, and you are told you are incomparable amongst others.
You are rhapsodized at every turn for your greatness. Not only are your own traits magnified, but the narcissist also bestows upon you the traits they desire of their mates, as well as those that they believe they possess in themselves (Hinrichs, 2016; Mahoney, Rickspoone, & Hull, 2016).
This is the start-up of projection, when you suddenly acquire characteristics that don’t really ring true for you, because they are not really reflective of who you know yourself to be. For example, you might be questioning whether some of the devotions are somewhat over-the-top however much you’d like to accept them. Still, aversion to lavish praise and adulation is not commonly something we object to! Being seen as ‘all good’ is generally, ‘all good’, so we happily roll with it.
You can do no right
Splitting and its slave, projection, become less welcome once devaluation hits. Particularly when contrasted so starkly with the adoration that was heaped upon you in the first weeks (or few months if you were lucky). The 180 is that you are now, suddenly and jarringly, ‘all bad’.
Once the shift starts, so does your self-questioning and search for answers about what the hell is going on? This is what is going on: you are being punished by the narcissist. There are three key reasons for this, none of which have ANYTHING to do with you, and are entirely due to what festers behind the mask of the abusive narcissist.
The first reason relates to the inability to accept that they themselves are flawed. They develop a false self to manage and to preserve their conviction that they are ‘all good’. This results in using defence mechanisms of grandiosity, superiority, inability to accept criticism, and constant need for adoration. The imperfections must however be dealt with, and these are denied as being aspects of the narcissist and are projected onto you (Vitek, 2000; Zosky, 2001).
The second reason is that it is fair to say that you as a normal human being (albeit a gorgeous one!), will have moments of imperfection. Devaluation will also be precipitated when the narcissist comes to this realisation.
The narcissist incapable of accepting flaws in you, and now incompatible with being ‘all good’, will reclassify you as ‘all bad’ in keeping with their black and white thinking. The abuse that ensues is driven by contempt and the need to punish, control and manipulate you for being ‘less than’ their superior selves and the image of perfection they previously idealized you as being (Keller, Blincoe, Gilbert, Dewall, Haak, & Widiger, 2014).
The third reason is that dependency and attachment are reviled by the abusive narcissist. These evoke hate, frustration, envy, and unbearable vulnerability which are emotions that challenge the omnipotence and control held so dear by the monster. Your reclassification as ‘all bad’ in the devalue and discard phases are also defences against these intolerable emotions (Vitek, 2000; Zosky, 2001).
So here are your reasons. The abusive narcissist is only capable of existing within relationships where the other party is either worshiped or reviled. Once the pendulum has swung towards realisation that you are a perfect imperfect human being, it does not swing back the other way. Ghosts of your ‘soul mate’ make fleeting appearances only for the purpose of maintaining power over you. There is no recapturing what once was. Walk away now and reclaim your power.
DO NOT for a second think you can change any of these aspects of the abusive narcissist. You cannot. These cognitive classifications are hard wired into the NPD’d individual (for more on the narc’s capacity to change read Proof the narcissist abuses you intentionally and will never change).
Even if you could, not for one millisecond would the monster choose to be any other way than who and what they are. They are ‘all good’, remember? To their way of thinking, why would they elect to be any other way?
Hungry for more?
Psychopath Free by Jackson Mackenzie is super helpful as an intro as to how all cluster B disorders destroy those they are in relationships with. Mackenzie walks through the emotional process of waking up to abuse, and what to expect through recovery.
This is a fairly typical book outline for this topic. Mackenzie’s book has extra specialness. A clear mission surfaces about celebrating the empath, the dreamer, and the gifts these offer the world. Sadly, these are the very qualities often targeted by narcs. So I just know that this book will speak to many of you out there and remind you to protect and treasure what makes you so very wonderful.
Also, Mackenzie at times writes like a poet (a humorous one!) which makes reading this challenging topic for victims a softer experience than the more common clinical/dry style found in similar titles. Loved it.
(Note – if using link/s provided to purchase, you’ll receive free shipping and title heavily discounted. You’ll also be supporting my work in providing you free resources on this site, by earning a very small commission, at no extra cost to you – thank you 😊)
- Hinrichs, J. (2016). Inpatient therapeutic assessment with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Journal of Personality Assessment, 98(2), 111-123.
- Keller, P.S., Blincoe, S., Gilbert, L.R., Dewall, C.N., Haak, E.A., & Widiger, T. (2014). Narcissism in romantic relationships: A dyadic perspective. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 33(1), 25-50.
- Mahoney, D.M., Rickspoone, L., & Hull, J.C. (2016). Narcissism, parenting, complex trauma: The emotional consequences created for children by narcissistic parents. Journal of Counselling & Professional Psychology, 5(1), 45-59.
- Vitek, J.A. (2000). Aggression and differentiation of self in narcissistic subtypes (Doctoral dissertation). The Wright Institute Graduate School of Psychology. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations. (Order No. 9970787)
- Zosky, D. M. (2001). The role of projective identification with domestically violent males (Doctoral dissertation). Loyola University Chicago. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations. (Order No. 3001640)