At that grandiose point that we realize that our partner is a narcissist/sociopath, we can also assume that we’ve been his/her enabler for a very long time. Our codependency to the narcissist and to the relationship drama itself has almost has as much to do with our allowing it as it does with the narcissist’s manipulation. And while this fact may not be an easy pill to swallow, accepting it and vowing to undo it becomes a giant step forward in our quest to mentally break free from this very toxic individual.
The truth of the matter is – and this applies to any situation where we get that uncomfortable feeling – whatever we allow is what will continue. If we allow the narcissist to disappear and reappear…to give us the deafening silent treatment…to press the proverbial relationship reset button whenever he feels like it…then he will continue to do so until the end of time. Keep in mind that, to a narcissist, this kind of bullshit never gets old. He loves it. It makes him feel gloriously alive and in control. If you allow it…hell, he’s in narcissistic heaven.
And just in case you feel that I’m being judgmental about your game participation, I offer you the following two proof-of-enabling examples from my own narcissistic hell:
One wee morning hour (around 4am), approximately two years and four silent treatments into the relationship, my ex and I were sitting in a studio (we were both musicians) playing guitar and having a grand old time. About eight hours earlier, he had finally called wanting to see after six weeks of absolute silence. During those six weeks, I had been inconsolable, having no idea why he’d disappeared again (this being before my “a-ha” moment, of course). I’d lost weight, been unable to sleep, and written letter after letter trying to get him to respond but to no avail. Needless to say, relieved that he finally called, I happily accepted. So there we were, singing and laughing, and me feeling as happy as can be when he suddenly put down his guitar, looked at me in loving amazement and asked, “Wow. Why do you love me? I don’t even call you.” Great. My response, if I’m not mistaken, was to have sex with him right there on the studio floor. “Wow” is right. Even the narcissist was amazed at my enabling capabilities.
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Then, there was the time about six years later that my ex, after cheating on me, admitting it, and then trying everything – including a hard smack to the head – to pull me out of my crying jag, finally realized he might have gone too far (ya think?). Feigning remorse, he begged me to forgive him. I continued to sob, pleading “Why? Why? Why did you do it?” until the N, completely exasperated and unable to pretend a second longer, threw up his hands and replied, “I don’t know! I always figured I could do whatever I wanted and you’d still take me back!” My reaction? I don’t really remember and maybe I don’t want to. This happened after the “a-ha” moment and about four years before we broke up. Do the math.
Oh…and just one more: I can’t count the times that I would ask “Why do you do it?” or “Why do you treat me this way?” and he’d reply, “Why do you let me?” My reply? “Because I’m an idiot”, I’d say. Hell, I was right about that one! Or sometimes I’d just look at him so sadly and say, “Because I keep hoping you’ll change”. Either way, what came to pass was inevitable and, even now, it gives me a knot in my stomach. I was a Narcissist’s Enabler. And the fact that you’re reading this probably means you’ve been a Narcissist’s Enabler as well. In fact, I can say with confidence that anyone who lets a narcissist back in even after just one silent treatment is a Narcissist’s Enabler. The narcissist uses the silent treatment to not only gauge our level of codependency and/or enabling capability but also to gauge his level of control at any given time. This is why the silent treatment always seems to occur out the blue, catching us off-guard. Something that we do or say causes a warning bell to go off in the narcissist’s twisted head indicating that we might not be as gung-ho for his program as he once thought.
Shit, what’s going on here? Better give her the silent treatment so I can get the levels on this.
What we allow, will continue. I did it for years and years. In the end, when I didn’t (and my levels kept coming back negative), he left for good after thirteen or so years and never returned. That was a little over a year ago and not a word since. Obviously, whoever was on the other receiving end of his narcissistic evil was – and still is – being compliant. To her, I say good luck with that.
Please don’t be a Narcissist’s Enabler.
The above article is an excerpt from Zari Ballard’s workbook for narcissist abuse recovery, Stop Spinning, Start Breathing
This is a re-post by request from 03/20/2013.