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Are you caring for a loved one coming to grips with narcissistic abuse? This article equips you to do just this. Read on for wisdom from Jona Goddard.
By Jona Goddard
If someone you love describes a new person in their life using this word, be prepared to catch them when they fall, because they will. Hard. Head over heels.
That’s how someone in a relationship with a narcissist feels. They are everything they’ve ever wanted, for a couple of months anyway. You know that saying “The devil doesn’t come to you with a red face and horns. He comes disguised as everything you ever wanted.” That’s what your friend is dealing with.
Then, they start realizing they’re everything they ever wanted, on paper. Something is off. All of a sudden, they’re questioning things. If they come to you with oddities, don’t write it off as “He/she has been hurt. Be patient.” Just listen. You might be the only one who does.
You’re not going to be able to help them see the truth yet, though, so don’t try. It will only hurt your friendship. Your friend will go through a cycle of being deeply in love and feeling hurt. Every narcissist plays the same game.
You still can’t point it out, but now is the time to plant seeds. Tell them the things about them that you like about them. Remind them of badass decisions and actions they’ve made in the past. Don’t make it about the bad person their partner is, just about the good that they are. Stay positive.
Soon, either they will catch on and walk away with an incredibly broken heart or they will be put through a horrible discard. Be there for them, as much as they’ll let you.
Honor the solitude they’re craving, too, though, but don’t leave them alone too much. This is where a lot of people quite literally lose it – “it” being anything to everything. Jobs, homes, relationships with others, and sadly, suicide is prevalent.
A relationship with a narcissist requires some deep self-reflection. Your friend is dealing with trying to figure out where things went bad, what they did wrong, and there’s nothing to be found. It’s incredibly confusing and shattering.
The end of a relationship with a narcissist is not like the end of a normal, healthier relationship. They’ve been psychologically abused resulting in an intense level of damage. They’ve been told in very subtle ways quite regularly that they’re not “good enough” in anything – communication, looks, personality, their job, relating to others, cleaning, cooking, you name it – and then given just enough intense good that they start doubting those little digs.
The narcissist has chipped away at their soul, this is not just a self-esteem or confidence issue. It was abuse. It’s going to take time. Time filled with deep introspection, tears, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, heartache, and a huge sense of loss.
That charm? They’re trying to figure out where it went and how they’re the reason it was lost. This will continue.
Now is the time to think of that “patience.”
For the person going through it, they’ll be deeply sad. Some fall into depression, and as I said before, may even contemplate suicide*.
They’ll definitely pick up some bad habits. Anything to numb themselves. They’ll lose track of time, they’ll let responsibilities slide, they’ll forget to eat.
This is when they need you. Then, they’ll get angry. They’ll realize that charm, that love was never real.
This is also very confusing, because what they felt WAS real. They’ve got to reconcile that it was for a mask, a ghost. They have to figure that out on their own. It’s very difficult for a person to come to grips with – having fallen in love with an illusion.
They’ll beat themselves up a bit for missing all the signs, the flashing neon red flags, that were there all along. This is when you go back to reminding them of who they really are, of the good they bring to the world. And now, maybe it’s ok to point out some of the negatives of the narcissist.
They’ll want revenge. Remind them, that does no good. The universe will take care of it. They need to heal the part of themselves that was hurt, and focus on that and not revenge, no matter how tempting.
Acts of revenge not only feed the narcissist, but could land them in real trouble, losing even more of whatever they have left. Help them not take action, even if it means doing nothing out of spite.
They’ll start to heal. Let them do this in whatever way works for them. Talking, writing, picking up new hobbies, whatever they may be, support them. They’ll start to see the narcissist for who they really are. They’ll want to warn everyone. Don’t let them. It wouldn’t have worked for them, right?
They’ll change. They’re still the person you’ve always cared for, but they’re different. Maybe more guarded, maybe more open. Maybe more contemplative, maybe a little louder.
Whatever changes you see, they’re stronger, for sure. They’re less likely to accept anything less than they feel is right. Whoever they become, their core is still the same.
Keep loving them.
*If you are concerned about the suicidality and safety of your loved one, please contact your local suicide prevention service, or emergency services if danger is imminent.
For information of services near you please refer to the resources provided by the International Association for Suicide Prevention.
Jona Goddard is survivor of narcissistic abuse. She shares that she found herself in the confusing position you may be in, and got out, relatively quickly. She believes in sharing awareness and always staying true to yourself. She wants you to know: “You are beautiful. You are worthy. You are whole.”