“When it comes to relationships I just have two different people inside fighting for supremacy.” – Narcissist
One of the most difficult aspects of recovering from Narcissistic abuse, is having to watch the one that hurt you walk away completely unscathed. Many move on and behave like you and your relationship never even existed, while you are still deeply affected by the trauma. What I try to tell people, who are having a hard time with this, is that that’s not the case. It’s the opposite in fact. Having Narcissistic Personality Disorder doesn’t mean you don’t suffer any consequences, or any punishment – having Narcissistic Personality Disorder is much, much worse – it’s a life sentence.
Many say they wish they could be like their Narcissist, not caring about other people’s feelings and the truth is that Narcissists are not Psychopaths, they do have doubts, they do have a conscience. They are constantly second guessing themselves and are full of anxiety. If you knew what actually went on inside their heads you would quickly discover that that isn’t a place you would even want to visit, let alone live there. Their everyday life is a constant battle with insecurity, depression, feelings of mania, worthlessness, and frustration. Many also suffer from addictions, trying to self-medicate the battle that goes on inside of them.
Narcissists on Needing External Validation
Needing Narcissistic Supply is at the heart of everyone that suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. They cannot regulate their feelings about their own self-worth. I’ve discussed at length, with the Narcissists I counsel, about how a healthy person is responsible for their own self-worth and self-esteem and that another person’s inability to see their worth doesn’t alter its value. Narcissists can’t self-regulate their own value. They are dependent upon other people to give them their worth. All of them cognitively understand the concept, but none of them can integrate it into their lives.
“It’s like giving a total stranger the keys to my feelings. That person becomes my everything. I know it’s stupid and superficial. I can tell myself (what other people think) doesn’t mean anything, but it never works. Even though I know that’s what I do I can’t help it. I’ll do it every time.” – Narcissist
These Narcissists that I talk to get most of their dates through dating websites. While all of them are good looking, young, athletic and charming, they do get rejected quite a lot. When this happens they explained that they feel depressed, agitated and worthless. They forget about all the women they themselves have run from and only remember the ones where they didn’t get a second date. It’s not that they remember them specifically, what they remember is the accumulation of people that didn’t want them.
A Narcissist will keep looking for someone that will make them feel good. They behave under the pretense that it’s someone else’s job to make them happy and keep them happy. Often they do meet someone that will arouse those feelings in them initially, but as always those feelings subside and when they try to understand it – it becomes the other person’s fault. They know they didn’t do anything differently, but their feelings have waned, so the only conclusion they have left is that if must be their partner’s fault. They then tell themselves that if you were the one for them, then their feelings wouldn’t have changed and the devaluing phase begins.
“When I’m pursuing someone and I realize that they like me, they become my energy supplier. At that moment I feel hopeful, positive about the future. I feel all good stuff.” – Narcissist
The Amygdala, Insecurity and Reality
I have witnessed Narcissists be overwrought with insecurity and indecision and I have also watched them, with ease, glaze over any reality that would paint them in a bad light. It’s almost like they can walk along a path of reality only so far and then something happens, inside of them, that refuses to see themselves as anything but superior and grandiose, even when presented with undeniable facts to the contrary.
Many believe this is the Narcissist’s false self in action. The Narcissist has developed a coping mechanism which allowed them to rewire their brains. For example, in the most layman of layman’s terms: if as a child you are constantly and viciously berated and demeaned by a parent on a daily basis – the first few times the child’s emotional reaction is what one would expect – they would experience fear, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, and emotional pain. When this same scenario replays over and over again and the child’s emotional development matures some, or gets used to it, they learn how to tune this out and it stops having the same effect on them.
One of the tasks of the Amygdala is to make sense of our surroundings and emit the proper hormones for the right emotional reaction. One theory is that Narcissists have learned to bypass this internal mechanism. This is simplifying it to the extreme, but what happens is that they’ve learned how to tune out reality and ignore any situation where they aren’t seen as the person they wish to project to the world.
Here’s an example: Bob works at a restaurant. He was hired as a favor to his mother by the owner, even though Bob didn’t have any restaurant experience and wasn’t the greatest of employees. One day Bob got caught stealing money from the till. The owner called his mother and then fired him. Both Bob’s mother and the restaurant owner were very upset and were angry that Bob would do this to them after they both went out of their way to help him. Bob expressed that he wouldn’t have stolen the money if the owner hadn’t cheated him on his paycheck (Bob’s paycheck was accurate) and he couldn’t understand why everyone was so upset. It was just $50. He then became upset at his mother and his boss for being upset with him.
Here’s another example: My first love slept with anything that moved. Before he hit 20 he had amassed a harem of women all pining for his return. Although he slept with my best friend at the time and my cousin, I still continued to be involved with him, even though he was now involved with someone new. We all ran in the same circles and would occasionally run into each other at different parties and gatherings. At one such event, he tried to speak to a girl, whom he dated and cheated on. She ended her relationship with him when she found out and refused to have anything further to do with him. At the party, he came up to me and commented on his ex and said, “She’s not cool like you. She’s so uptight.” At the time I took it as a compliment. Now I look back at that scene and realize that he was completely incapable of seeing the reality -that he was 100% responsible for and deserving of her animosity and that I wasn’t the one that was cool – she was for standing up for herself.
Anxiety, Crashing and Soaring
I get texts from Max every so often. Usually, they will say something like, “I just met this gorgeous girl at my gym. She’s so hot. She’s inspired me to get my shit together.” When he just meets someone he is almost manic. He’s oddly, too excited and too happy.
A few weeks later I’ll shoot him a text and ask him how it’s going. He’ll say something like, “I don’t talk to her anymore. She’s nuts. I’m not dating anyone. I should just end it and kill myself. I know just how to do it too.”
Narcissists live on a never-ending emotional roller coaster. Unable to control much of their emotions, they soar and crash on a regular basis. Never able to find balance or peace in their relationships. They are the drug addict that never knows when his supplier is going to show up. They teeter on the brink of oblivion, living with intense anxiety and fear – never knowing or able to control what comes next.
Even though it looks like your Narcissist has trotted off into the sunset and you keep thinking that he’s happier with his new partner, remember that these things just don’t go away once they’ve left you. Yes, they tried to make everything your fault, but by God don’t believe them. All of these problems still exist inside of them, regardless of who they’re with. It may seem like a nice idea to be able to bypass over reality when you’ve done something shitty, but reality is obvious to everyone else around you. I wouldn’t want to be the only one foolishly unable to see it or accept it. While it looks like they perceive themselves as superior and grandiose, the reality is they are ripe with insecurity, fear, and anxiety. They are driven by emotions that they cannot control and they are a slave to the opinions of other people. So the next time you’re thinking you’d like to be just like your Narcissist…. think again. That’s one ride you’re going to want to sit out.