When is loving a narcissist our fault and how do we reconcile the blame…clearly, two of the toughest questions that narcissist abuse victims struggle with. Part of the healing and recovery from narcissist abuse is our willingness to forgive ourselves for our own participation and I’m a firm believer that we have to do this. I’ve taken flack from some about not stressing the accountability factor when I counsel but I honestly don’t give a shit about that – nothing that happened to us was our fault. Sure, we could have done things differently…we could have let go of the narcissist sooner or been more confrontational or we could have moved out of town but this is easier said than done when we’re being conditioned to act differently. For now, we have to look at it for what it really was…a Grand Deception that we couldn’t possibly have caught onto in the beginning. With narcissists, even the red flags are passive aggressive! Nothing but nothing could have prepared us for what was to come.
Here’s my observation on why we do it…why intelligent women and men (and we’re all intelligent – every last one of us – because narcissists only target the best!) appear to fall for the bullshit over and over, turning a blind eye to the cheating and the manipulation. Clearly, the answer is simple: it’s easier to “kinda” believe the narcissist’s Lies than it is to fathom that this person that we love is actually (and deliberately) trying to destroy us. What those on the outside don’t understand is that these monsters are very, very good at what they do. Many of us were experiencing narcissistic tactics for the very first time and didn’t know what to make of the bizarre behaviors. Plausible denial becomes the narcissist’s free pass. In my case, I hadn’t the slightest idea what a silent treatment even was let alone think that it could happen to me. The first time that my ex vanished for no reason, I thought surely he was dead. It didn’t even occur to me that he had vanished on purpose….that he was ignoring me just to make me insane! Little did I know that literally hundreds of silent treatments would follow, nearly becoming the death of me. How could I possibly have known? How could you have possibly have known? On the outside these people look perfectly normal!
The bottom line is that a narcissist follows a pathological relationship agenda from which he/she will never waiver and they could care less how much they hurt the victim partner. In fact, the more a victim suffers, the better the narcissist feels about everything. Normalcy is just an annoyance and narcissistic chaos makes the world go ’round…this is the ideology by which narcissists live and breathe and the deception used to push this agenda is, quite honestly, pretty fucking amazing.
Why shouldn’t we believe what a narcissist tells us in the beginning when they do it so convincingly? We can kick ourselves for “falling” for it but what the hell were we supposed to do? In my opinion, it’s human nature (a.k.a. natural) to assume that a person we care about is telling us the truth. Because a narcissist is extremely patient and methodical in carrying out his mission, he will tell us what we want to hear for as long as it takes. By the time we start to suspect that something sinister is happening, it’s far too late to turn back without emotional repercussions. I don’t care what anyone says…there isn’t a person in this world who wants to give up on love and thus it’s natural to hope for the best when it comes to our committed relationship. My thought is that, over time, we develop a codependency to the hope itself because to actually give up on our investment in the relationship would mean that we’re giving up hope or giving up on love and, again, who the hell wants to do that?
Look, you are worth so much in this world – far more than the narcissist could ever hope to deserve. You must understand that if and when the narcissist returns, it won’t be for any good reason and he/she will make sure the next discard hurts far worse than all the others. There is no more room in your life for that. This is a time of reconciliation and recovery and a time to keep moving forward. No waiting or wondering and no expectations of anything left behind. You did the best that you could given the level of his/her deception. Do not beat yourself up and do not blame yourself because nothing positive will come of that. I’m here to tell you that you did nothing wrong.
In the months immediately following my ex’s final discard, I created a mental game of Postpone & Pretend that got me through some very tough times. If I felt an overwhelming sadness that threatened a set-back, I would postpone the sadness for 24 hours. After 24 hours had passed, I would postpone the sadness again and then again and so forth and so on. My thought was that there was “always tomorrow” to be sad and then I made sure to keep extending that timeline. At the same time, I would also pretend to go about my business as if all was okay. Silly as it may sound, it works. With practice, if you keep at it, you will realize that somewhere along the way you stopped having to postpone and you stopped having to pretend.
It happens when you’re not looking and it happens when you least expect it but I promise it will happen.