This past weekend I was driving home late at night. The moon was huge and bright. The streets were quiet and there was barely a car on the road. As I continued on my journey, I felt really good. Really, really good. In fact, I was beaming happiness. I felt like everything in my life was unfolding exactly as it should. I felt entirely stable, at peace, empowered and fully in control of my life.
I reminisced about my past relationships. I’ve been involved with a long term cerebral Narcissist, I’ve had a slew of boomerang somatic Narcissists and even a Psychopath. Never in any of my relationships did I ever feel as good as I feel now.
Around this time two years ago, was my very last Narcissist encounter. I was struggling to hang on to a boomerang Narcissist. I remember feeling so much heartache. I would wake up hurting. I would hurt throughout the day and I would go to sleep hurting and missing him. I was desperately hoping for a nugget of his attention, just something that showed me he cared. But as always I’d get a ton of mixed signals, into me one minute and gone the next.
It was always a cycle with him – two weeks of hot and heavy, followed by two weeks of silence. Then one week on, two weeks off, one week on, one week off….I was trapped in this mini cycle of ups and downs and I couldn’t see a way out.
“If someone behaves like they only want you some of the time, you’re not in a relationship – you’re an option. No guess work required.”
My reasons for staying with each of them varied, but they all boiled down to:
1. I was seeking validation, because I didn’t know my own worth.
2. I felt most comfortable being mistreated. The erosion of my self-esteem felt normal to me.
3. I put too much emphasis on appearances. All of them were physically beautiful men and it was a ego boost for me to be with them.
4. I have a huge caring heart and I was a sucker for a guy with a broken wing and believe me all of them were a hot mess.
5. I didn’t think I could do any better or deserved better.
6. I was addicted to them.
The addiction theory really stood out for me, as recently I read a study on the effects of intermittent rewards. The study had apes playing with a slot machine, with fruit as a payout. Researchers discovered that when fruit was dispensed every time they pulled the lever, the apes played with the machine some of the time, when fruit never came out, they never played with it, but when it came out intermittently, they couldn’t stop playing with it. This is the principle behind slot machines at casinos and gambling addiction. When people cannot predict the outcome, it keeps them fixated on the task and playing the game a lot longer. The same theory applied to me and my Narcissists.
When I got home that night I checked my email and there were a slew of messages from readers, many to the effect of, ‘I know this relationship is killing me, but I can’t let it go.’ I get messages like this all the time and believe me I get it. The highs of a Narcissistic relationship can be like a shot of heroin. But if you want a happy healthy life, they are a drug that you have to wean yourself off of.
Anger: A Tool For Action
Have you ever had a friend, family member, co-worker, or even a stranger be deliberately disrespectful to you, right to your face? How do you feel in those situations? Do you feel angry? Outraged even?
And what do you do when that happens? Do you get mad, fight back and stick up for yourself?
I had a co-worker that was a real bully. She always tried to take credit for my victories, reveled in my failures and tried to get under my skin every chance she got. I’m pretty easy going, so I tried for a while to just let it roll off my back, until one day I had just had it. I walked into her office, shut the door and locked it behind me and I let her have it. I roared like a saber tooth tiger and she did what all bullies do. She cowered. I taught her in that moment, that I will stick up for myself, how I expected to be treated and what she can expect more of, if she continued. She never bothered me again after that day.
That started me thinking, If we stick up for ourselves against other people, why then do we allow those that we have been most intimate with, to walk all over us? Because we have given ourselves to someone emotionally and physically, shouldn’t that mean that they should give us more respect – not less?
The fact that someone has seen you naked does not entitle them to a free pass to disrespectful town.
As this was unfolding at my place of employment I decided to try it against my boomerang Narcissist and I discovered that a Narcissist will do one of two things. If you confront a Narcissist and stick up for yourself, he will either a) fight back even harder and with more venom (blaming it all on you) or b) he will give you the silent treatment and disappear, until you start to miss him and regret what you’ve done. Either way he is teaching you, that by fighting back and sticking up for yourself, you will always lose.
People always say that you should never hold on to negative emotions like anger. I disagree to a point. Anger is a very powerful tool. The need for fairness and justice is an innate part of the human psyche. It’s our soul’s way of telling us that something isn’t right. Anger motivates us into action. It’s our line in the sand that tells us when we’ve had enough and it’s time for change.
A Narcissist’s behavior is designed to erode your ability to get angry. By roaring back even harder at you, or by disappearing, he is replacing your anger with fear. Fear of harsh retribution, or fear of abandonment.
When we fear losing someone we will alter our behavior. We will stop being ourselves and become people pleasers. We have been taught that if we are nice all the time, if we are easy going, kind and giving all the time, then maybe they will stick around and they won’t leave.
When my boomerang Narcissist did his disappearing act I got mad and I stayed mad. I kept my anger close to me. I replaced my usual hurt with anger. I replaced my fear of losing him with anger and two weeks later, when he decided to test the waters with me again he got – you guessed it, more anger.
My resistance didn’t make him go away this time. It made him try harder. He was so persistent and so repentant. I’m not an angry person by nature, so holding onto my anger was a chore, but I knew that if I didn’t hold onto it, I would cave in like I had done a hundred times before.
At this time my girlfriends and I were watching an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians, I‘m not a fan, but I watched. One of them was single, Kloe I think and her phone rang. It was a repentant boyfriend and she said to him, “No you disrespected me,” and she hung up.
That was it. She gave this guy one chance and he blew it and she was done. I thought of my relationship and how many chances had I given my guy. Watching that fueled my resolve and I was done once and for all.
I realized that anger is a very powerfully motivating tool. I don’t live in angry town, but I’m not afraid to pull it out when I need it. Being angry and sticking up for yourself doesn’t make you a bitch or high maintenance. It makes you someone that loves and respects themselves.
If you are in a relationship where you are afraid to say no, and voice your opinion or displeasure, out of fear of retribution or abandonment, you are not in a mutually fulfilling relationship. It’s a huge red flag.
Readers ask me all the time, how do I break away?
When your mate continues to be disrespectful, give yourself permission to get angry. Draw your line in the sand and say no more. Anger is part of your emotional color pallet and it’s there for a reason, don’t be afraid to use it. Hold onto it for as long as you need to and then put it back on the shelf until you need to use it again. If you have to be a door mat or a people pleaser to keep a man – then that man is not worth having. It’s your job to stick up for you – no one else’s.
My relationships taught me a lot about myself, the places where I needed to toughen up and get real with myself. I’m at a place where I can look back at them and be grateful that they happened, because without them I couldn’t be where I am now. I remember being so afraid of being broke and alone that I stayed when I should have left. Fear stops you from being who you truly are. I am two years Narcissist free and I can tell you I am fully independent in every way and fully in control of my life. I am happier now than I have ever been. It all started with me getting angry. After I took that first step, I took another and another, until the grass under my feet actually looked a whole lot greener.
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