Let’s take a look in the mirror. No, not a narcissistic mirror. A true mirror in our thoughts, that can show us who we really are. I believe this is a crucial part of healing, after a destructive relationship. I also believe, the long and hard look at ourselves, can usually wait a while after the relationship has ended.
When we are just out of the relationship, I am doubtful of self-examination, it is a bit “overkill”. Sort of like starting physiotherapy right after your leg is broken, before the doctor has put the cast on. But when we feel that we have gained some distance to the events, let’s be curious about what landed us in this situation in life. Isn’t it nice for a change, to just focus on ourselves, instead of that obsession with an empty shell of a person!
Before I go further, I want to make clear that there is a difference between examining ourselves and blaming ourselves. The abuse was not your fault. If someone abuses you, it is their fault. There was nothing you could have done to change the other person. Nothing you did “provoked” the abuse to start/go on.
But the question still remains in our hearts. Why didn’t we “just leave” when we started feeling pain from abuse? I believe there are a couple of important factors. Number one, which I consider to be the most crucial one:
- You were simply completely “brainwashed”. The emotional torture/manipulation gets you in its grip. The narc has done this all his life. And this might be your first narc encounter. So he has an “unfair advantage”. And the longer you stay, the more your own voice disappears within you. If you ever watched “Homeland”, just think of Brody, how the enemies tortured him for years, switching from cold, plain torture, to treating him nicely, even lovingly. He joined their cause after that. This can also be referred to as: Stockholm syndrome, where you are kidnapped and under threat, yet you start identifying with, and becoming attached to, your captor. I believe these are deeply rooted defense mechanisms in the human psyche. It is there to increase our chances of survival.
Number 2 could also have a large role in our difficulty in leaving the abusive relationship:
- Our old wounds. It is possible that we did have some self esteem issues/boundary issues, even before entering a narcissistic relationship. Some might suffer from “codependency” issues; where you have difficulty letting go of relationships even if you are treated horrifically; you still stick around and try to “fix things” for a long time. This doesn’t mean you consciously want to torment yourself. These patterns could go back to your childhood and I believe they are mostly subconscious. But I believe it is fully possible to change these patterns, either with a lot of work on your self, or together with a therapist.
My advice; don’t be too quick to let yourself or others put any label on you. Discover and process at your own time schedule. When you are out of the worst pain and started healing; ask yourself; How did my childhood look? Is there anything there that could give me a clue as to why I might have had an extra vulnerability, when it comes to staying around in an abusive situation? It might be beneficial for you to read more about codependency, dysfunctional childhood, and attachment patterns, if you wish to get more insight into the psychological mechanisms that may have played a role in your story with a narcissist.
I have done a lot of soul-searching myself and am continuing to do so on my healing journey. (I will share some self analysis in a future post!☺)
Remember; even if you find that you do have some old patterns/wounds, that made you extra vulnerable to a narcissist’s evil schemes; That does not define who you are. Neither does it in any way mean that you are “weak”.
Remember that narcissists go after people of true and good qualities; people who have a lot of empathy, (empaths), who are caring, loving, and forgiving. These are strengths, which they used for evil purposes, and preyed upon! They took advantage of your good nature. And most people are not prepared to meet someone like that; it is almost unfathomable that a person can lack empathy completely, until you actually meet such a person!)
The narcissist just happened to find one crack in your armour, and clawed and tore at it, until they forced your armour to break. But things are not at all hopeless. Before your next relationship (Yes I believe we will find love again), we will look at how to reforge your armour so that no one can break it in that way again!