What does it mean to be controlled by narcissism?
In short, victims of narcissism are inflicted with emotional abuses by their predators. Abusive words and actions are thrust upon victims at steady intervals in order to gain and maintain the intended subordination.
I know first hand, from my own-personal experience, and through my research it is confirmed that it is absolutely debilitating to be bound by narcissism. The talons of a narcissist are deep and incredibly strong, yet they are NOT visible to most outside of the narcissists nest of prey.
Constant criticism, put-downs, name calling, finger-pointing, blame, accusations — an overall undertone of negativity and deceit or smoke and mirrors employed to injure and restrain — are the foundation on which the narcissist/victim relationship exists.
The damage inflicted on the narcissist’s prey is very real and exacting, painful and life-altering.
Victims become molded by their role with the narcissist, a role that is neither uplifting nor complimentary. This role can and will continue to replay throughout their relationship with the narcissist and will most likely effect their decisions and life choices across all aspects of and throughout their life.
Victims of narcissists have low self-esteem and a poor self-image. They accept unacceptable treatment because they are conditioned to believe that they are not worthy of better.
I have been there. I am there. I was raised by narcissists. I have chosen a narcissistic spouse. As already indicated my history of the struggle with, or against, this debilitating disorder began in my childhood. My story is over 40 years old.
Several years ago, when I was suffering the effects of becoming so small that I no longer mattered, by some miracle, I pulled myself up and started to fight for air.
AIR, my own air, so that I could breathe, so that I could survive. Nevermind imagining to live.
The fight started with me, terrified and alone, standing up for myself — against what? I wasn’t sure, but I stood up. The effects of living with no Self were taking a significant toll on me. I was ailing, angry, confused and anxiety-ridden.
I “woke up” one day and decided that I had had enough. I really could not continue on the path I was traveling. feeling the way that I was feeling, so I sought the help of a skilled counselor.
The immediate result of counseling and research was validation. Validation of feelings that I couldn’t pinpoint or identify. Feelings that were too scary or painful to look at directly or alone. Feelings that once uncovered would most likely alter my perceptions — my life, forever.
But the validation was so compelling that I couldn’t not look, it was so completely personal that once the surface started to peel before me, progression was inevitable. I would keep peeling, I had to, until I reached my core or as close as I could get to my core.
My personal validation helped me to understand that I was NOT crazy, too sensitive or off-base, as I have always been told or directed to believe.
Suddenly, the whirlwind of confusion and emotions almost constantly swimming around in my head — that had become my “normal” mode of thinking — were not only NOT perceived and NOT non-existent, but they were crazy-making and they were essentially planted or programmed.
SO…this is real, recognized and acknowledged. Now what?
The subliminal abuse cannot continue on any level, sanctions must be put into place regarding communication and I must be re-programmed.
Through my validation and awakening or enlightenment I gained the courage to stand up against my first offenders — my narcissistic family.
In a nutshell, my family, the people who are supposed to love me unconditionally, established and nourished my role as an emotional subordinate, as a narcissistic victim.
Somehow, although I’m sure it wasn’t deliberate, they decided what my “role” would be and treated me accordingly.
To an outsider looking in we seemed the model family, but within the confines of closed doors there was emotional neglect and abandon. They were so good at manipulating and controlling me that even I didn’t realize what was being done to me.
I didn’t stand a chance.
That was then, this is now. You can’t un-ring a bell, you can’t un-see a vision, you can’t un-learn the truth. I can never go back!
The shell had a crack and there was some light leaking though.
No more excuses. It was time to break through the facade of narcissism and look at my life.
And there were no more excuses…it has been over two years now of ‘No Contact’ with my entire biological family. Through this very difficult and emotionally painful process I have learned so much about myself, my family, and my life.
This metamorphosis has been completely mind-blowing.
The events of the last two years have changed me permanently and, I believe, for the better. I am wiser, stronger, more grounded, more understanding and less tolerant.
That’s no small task, the transformation has been life-altering on so many levels and TRULY exhausting.
I am less tolerant of the behavior that has molded my existence, framed my mindset and crippled me emotionally.
But to find awareness and become less tolerant you need to acknowledge the very behaviors that you would have chosen to overlook or ignore.
Looking back and with my eyes wide open, I can honestly say that my relationship with my family can and will never resume as it was, if ever at all. Although there may be some communication for the sake of my young daughter, there will never be an interpersonal, involved relationship between me and them, about me or them, again.
But an awakening or enlightenment of this nature touches every part of the psyche, so I am more aware and less tolerant of many behaviors and reactions that have defined my entire life from friendships to professional relationships, even my 16 year courtship/marriage.
When I initially sought counseling to deal with the issues I was having with my family, to better handle what would ultimately become the painful dissolution of my dysfunctional relationship with my narcissistic family, my husband was supportive of my counseling. I was learning a lot about myself and my family and it was helping me to cope, which definitely made me more tolerable at home.
Sadly and unintentionally on my part, as I came to terms with my newly discovered Self and with the roles of my family in my emotional development, it became more and more apparent that my husband also fits the description — point by point — of a narcissist.
Even sadder to me now is the realization that he most-likely embraced my newly found validation and knowledge because it worked in strengthening my resolve to keep my family at bay.
Not having to deal with my family and their demands keeps the narcissistic supply going completely and directly to him.
You’re probably asking yourself — how could you be married to a narcissist and not know it?
How would I know? I was groomed by narcissists to accept their mistreatment, I truly knew no other role.
What other type of partner could I possibly attract? And if I attracted another ‘type’ of partner, how could I ever maintain that relationship? I never learned how to function in an emotionally healthy relationship.
Of course, I didn’t realize any of this when I was dating him or even in the first 10 plus years of our marriage, and I feel kind of bad about that. It was not with any preconceived or malicious intent, on my part, you know, to accept unacceptable behavior.
I knew that I didn’t like the way he made me feel, but I also reminded myself “that he didn’t mean it “that” way. He’s not all bad, just rough around the edges.”
Although — it may very well have been intentional on his part to behave in an unacceptable manner. I have no doubt that the main reason he picked me was for my eagerness to stroke his ego and hand over control. After all, I am reminded often that he picked me!
On a different, but related, point In all of this — I do feel stupid for my part in taking over 40 years to recognize that I have been a victim MY WHOLE LIFE. To not realize that something was wrong even though I have never felt “right.”
I never felt like I actually belonged, even in my own family or, completely,with my husband. I never felt like they or he loved me “unconditionally.”
I’ve never felt like a priority or that I was celebrated — by them or him.
Sadly, I also never realized that these feelings and behaviors are NOT normal. I’m not uneducated or bIind to the ways of the world, I can see people living around me. But, somehow, their good/happy-life situations never applied to me. I always just chalked it up to “family,” or “men,” whatever the current catch-phrase was.
And, seriously, is there even such a thing as “unconditional love?” If that exists, isn’t it strictly for parent/child relationships?
So, I was raised to submit. I never realized the roles, including my part, in my dysfunctional marriage. As I’m sure you can imagine, over the last two plus years as I am pulling myself up and together, my marital relationship has gone from bad to worse
My husband has told me, in no uncertain terms, that I have changed and he does not accept me as I am now.
All people change, it’s a natural progression as we get older. But he doesn’t like the emergence of my more independent thinking — my back-talk, evidence of any and all disillusionment in our relationship.
I am no longer able to sit back and accept it as I witness the angry, bitter (spoken) tone and the menacing (unspoken) undertones of our home negatively effecting our precious child.
While I am absolutely capable, and apparently have been willing, to stand by and take the mistreatment and emotional abuse toward me — while I have absorbed this behavior and allowed it to manifest and transform me — I cannot and will not sit back and let it destroy my daughter. She is non-negotiable.
Barring unforeseen life-events, her psychological, emotional, social, physical and spiritual well-being are not optional. I will not give him a pass to damage and destroy her impressionable self-image and develop a skewed understanding, or misunderstanding, about partners, family or any relations because he has issues that he selfishly refuses to address or because “we have issues” that he refuses to try to resolve.
When I asked him during an argument if he would be happy if our daughter dated someone like him he nearly flipped the dining room table. Then after a moments thought he told me that he wasn’t saying this in anger but the truth is that he doesn’t like me. There was more said, but that was the main gist, after that I pretty much walked away from him for the remainder of the day.
That was approximately a year ago. He still hasn’t apologized for the words he hoisted at me that day, or a lot of other days, but at this point it’s truly a moot point.
A short time later when I requested that we seek counseling to work on our troubled relationship — giving the explanation that I don’t see it working if we don’t, he begrudgingly attended 3 or 4 sessions then quit saying that he was happy and “we just need to calm down.” I tried saying, “really? We have some pretty major communication issues” but I understand that my words fall on deaf ears. I also understand that the “calming down” that needs to be done is me, falling back into my role, as prescribed early in our relationship. Then everything will be fine.
I suggested, really almost pleaded, to him only a few weeks ago, after being criticized for something that I felt to be pretty trivial, that he “just accept me. Why can’t you just accept me?”
His reply, without much thought required was, “no, I did accept you — before. Go back to the way you were before and I’ll accept you again.” All indications to me being that if I go back to being almost completely submissive and controlled by him, everything will be fine.
Problem is, there is so much inside me that wants to feel, that wants to be loved or at least accepted.
I don’t want to have regrets but I do wish that I had realized these lessons earlier in my life, so I could have achieved a more authentic Self thus far.
SO now that I understand — and I am cognizant of the reality that I’m engulfed in — how do I, or we, move forward from here?
I say by calling B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T and I think there are a lot of other people — both women and men — who sit in the same boat and call bullshit too.
There is strength in numbers and, in my experience, there is tremendous strength in validation. If reading what I have to say helps one person, woman or man, to recognize that they are not alone in their feelings of insecurity, dismissal, lovelessness, just to name a few — that the script is the same — only the names are different, that’s fine.
Writing, creating with words, is an outlet for me. I write about what I’m experiencing, feeling, realizing, seeing and learning because as I said — it has been emotional, amazing and life-altering to say the least and all at once — certainly overwhelming.
If you are a kindred spirit, I’m sorry. Know that no matter what you are being told to hold you down — spiritually, you are not alone.
Remind yourself, often, that YOU MATTER.
Positive self-thinking can be learned, silent and reinforcing.
Remember, narcissists will use whatever tools available to keep their victim contained and submissive. Keeping your strengthening words and thoughts to yourself will keep them from being twisted and used against you.
Until next time, focus on your needs as much as you can, try to think clearly, always act wisely and love yourSELF.