When your eyes first open in the morning, it’s usually because your alarm clock is making that awful aaaaaa-aaaaa-aaaaa noise. At that moment, you have to decide – do I get up, or do I hit the snooze button?  Have you ever wished that life gave us the same kind of signal – some sign that would alert us that we were off course and that we needed to wake up?

The good news is, that life does provide us with a wakeup call, except the alarm isn’t a sound, it’s a feeling. It’s our emotions.  When we waltz through life continuing to play out the same dysfunctional scripts from our childhood and we keep making poor choice after poor choice –  then we are going to, at some point, find ourselves in the grips of emotional turmoil.

Many people go through life continuing to ignore the obvious signs that something is seriously wrong. Whether you’re going to get up and do something about it, or continue to snooze is entirely within your control.

Every time you go back to an emotionally abusive relationship, you are hitting the snooze button, and putting your life on hold. Every time you give in and let your emotions overwhelm you and you answer that text, or that phone call, when you know it’s unhealthy for you and you know how it’s going to turn out – you are perpetuating the belief that you don’t deserve any better and you are sending the message to your Narcissist, that says, ‘I’m good with being mistreated – if you’ve got some more cruelty to dish out – pick me, pick me.’ The more you do it, the more you remain stuck and the further away you are from your true self and your purpose.

The giving-in-process is really about unresolved issues from your childhood. It’s so painful and so easy to submit to what ails you, because you’re not just dealing with the immediate separation anxiety from your Narcissist, you’re dealing with a lifetime fear of abandonment, not being loved enough, not being worthy enough and not being good enough. And until you resolve these issues, it’s going to be one painful ride after the other.

Consider this, if you were a smoker and you decide you’re going to quit, everyone knows the hardest part about quitting is psyching yourself up to do it and the first few days after. That part is so hard that people put it off and put it off, usually until their health is affected and their choice is – quit smoking or die. Unfortunately, as a species, we seem to like to ride the boat of complacency until we are forced off of it. You don’t have wait until some part of your life is threatened to make a change.

Each time you go back to your abusive partner, just like quitting smoking, you have to start at the very beginning and try to psych yourself up to do it again. When a smoker quits and then gives in and takes that first drag, that first cigarette is absolute bliss – there has never been a feeling quite like it, it’s a delicious rush of pleasure. It continues to feel good for a while, but after you’ve had your first pack, second pack, reality sets in and you remember all of the reasons you wanted to quit in the first place. Damn that cough is back, trying to run is a lot harder, you’re out of breath, your fingers turn that awful yellowish color and everything smells – your fingers, your clothes, your environment, your breath, your hair and you kind of feel like a loser.

When you go back to your Narcissist, isn’t it the same rush, don’t you initially feel like you’re on cloud nine, isn’t your heart soaring and you’re filled with such relief? And then after a while you start to witness the same behaviors in your partner that you did before and you start to feel the same painful feelings and then, all the reasons why you wanted to get away, dawn on you and you’re back to square one.

And each time you go through this loop you feel worse about yourself. You start to feel weak and pathetic and you start to resemble that rectangular piece of fabric sitting outside your door, that others wipe their feet on, that says welcome.

What your acquiescence means to your abuser is a rush of a different kind. Every time you give in, you are confirming their belief that they are special and unique, so much so, that you can’t resist them. You are powerless and they are powerful. They are great and you are small. When you give in, it makes them feel like they’ve won – it makes them feel full.

The Narcissist’s Game

We all want the person we’re in love with to feel the same feelings about us, but when you lack the ability to feel empathy, it’s never going to happen. In their minds you couldn’t possibly love them for them – so they have to trick you into caring about them. And when you fall for their ruse…again – it’s almost like they say, “Sucker, fooled you again.”

Make no mistake, this is a game to them – the problem is, you think you’re in a relationship. It looks like a relationship (sort of), it smells like a relationship, but it’s not a relationship. When you get involved with an emotional manipulator – it’s a game and it will always be a game. And the game is of one-upmanship, because they are always trying to pull one over on you.

The rules of the game are simple. They will try to take from you – love, money, affection, esteem, sex, resources…while at the same time, they will knowingly and purposefully not give you what they know you want, they will dangle it, to see how far they can make you jump and how much you’re willing to give up for it. They will mislead you and keep you in the dark of their true motives and how many players are involved. You’re winning when you have a number of people that you’re conning and you’re able to keep them all oblivious, with lies and cunning.

The game is over, at least for you, when you figure out the rules of the game and you stop playing. Once you understand this, don’t try to beat them at their own game because you will lose – it’s like picking up a tennis racket and thinking you can beat Roger Federer. They are pros at this game – you’re an amateur –you walk away and you don’t come back.

Don’t be the gambler who spends the rent money at the poker table, trying to win back your money. Remember the house always wins.

It’s natural to want revenge when you figure out you’ve been duped, but remember that no experience is ever wasted. All this hurt was necessary to propel you to make the changes necessary. Smooth sailing doesn’t change you. It’s the storms in our lives that get our attention and have the power to wake us up and steer us in a new direction.

Empathy is one of humanities greatest gifts – the kind of people that play these games, have an impaired ability to experience it. Be grateful that you get to carry it forward with you into your new life and your new relationships. Recognize the signs that a person lacks empathy – pay attention and don’t ignore obvious signs that you’re not in a relationship, but in the middle of game you never even wanted to play.

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