It's been said that Narcissists always cheat. They "can't help it" because of their self-focused brain disorder. They are wired for instant gratification- not the long-term junk commitments are made of.
But, that's someone else's narcissist. You just know it won't happen to you. There is something unique, special or extra-strong about your relationship. While you acknowledge that he/she has some narcissistic traits- or has even been diagnosed- you revel in the fact that your love is stronger than that. There is a passion between you and your partner that could never be duplicated. Either of you would be crazy to even look somewhere else.
Then it happens,- the bomb is dropped and your world is shattered. It's nearly impossible to see through the dust, smoke and blinding pain to pick up the million little pieces you will need to carry on. It's hard to breathe, let alone plan for a future without the person who was supposed to be your soul mate, the love of your life. And dammit, you've worked too hard and put up with too much N-crap to deserve this sh%t storm now.
Then there's the family! The kids... the house... the bills.. the photographs on the wall... the memories of the happier times... Not to mention the Great Unknown that's looming out there.
Besides, he or she is sorry. They have real tears and everything. Your partner has never been so remorseful before. It's touching, really. Maybe this is the thing that really turns his or her heart around for good. Maybe this is just a really difficult turning point for your relationship, and it will all be worth it in the end.
Plus, those million broken pieces.
So, you stay. You determine that you two will come out of this stronger, better and closer than ever before. You read about affair recovery and reconciliation. You set your heart toward forgiveness. You go to couples and/or individual counseling. You remind yourself of the other couples who have survived with success - and you hope for the best.
Then reality sets in. There is no true remorse. There is annoyance over how inconvenient your suffering is. There are demands to heal already, forget it and move forward. There is no acknowledgement of the pain that was caused. There is no 'working together to heal.' There is only justification, rationalization, blame shifting, bragging that it was done, threats that it could be done again, and many other defensive techniques that only cause more pain. That promised journey toward healing was a lie. Another mirage in a desert world.
But the human soul is strong and resilient, and those million pieces cry out the truth. "You may be broken now, but not forever!" And, slowly, steadily, you realize that you can heal on your own. You must heal on your own. Slowly, steadily, your pieces come together- wiser, healthier, more beautiful than before.
And eventually, you emerge. Transformed. Complete. Whole. Smiling, even, with an inner joy you never knew you had.
You no longer feel the need to fix or save or stay. You no longer carry the burden of guilt that was never yours in the first place. You see differently now. Clearly. You see that it wasn't about you. It was never about you. Your partner's behavior is a reflection of his or her own brokenness. And in its own way, it too is beautiful. Like a wildfire or a lightening storm.
Beautiful, but not safe. As with wildfires and lightening storms, you now experience a distant awe for your partner; a curiosity over the mysterious combination of magnificent force and captivating loneliness.
You look at them now with stillness of heart. Compassion. It wasn't about you. And now you know that in a way that can never be unknown.
And you are free.
Don't fight the moments that shatter you, my friends. Broken pieces make gorgeous mosaics, - M
Photo credit: http://artbybryn.com/Artbybryn.com/Blog/Entries/2014/9/7_Isaiah_61.html
If you have ever had a conversation with a person who has narcissistic traits, you may have noticed something beyond the "it's all about me" soliloquy.
They talk in circles.
A N-type won't allow for direct communication because a) it's threatening and b) they lose their (false) sense of control. Both of those things can create vague but powerful feelings of impending annihilation.
A non-N-type is able to hear another person's opinion, even if it differs from their own. They are able to "walk a mile in your shoes" and explore your perspective. The N-type is unable or perhaps strongly unwilling to do this because they are too busy protecting a fragile ego.
Besides, acknowledging another's point of view might mean they are -gasp!- wrong about something. And being wrong about something in the N-type's mind equals being bad as a person. And avoiding any potential badness at all costs is the very basis of narcissism.
And now we see the underlying reason for talking in circles... the very illness (or complex coping strategy) is itself a circle. Or a spiral. Or a vortex.
When you find yourself getting sucked into this communication style..
1) Pause and reflect. Be an observer of the circular reasoning. Realize that the N-type is using an ineffective communication style (probably because of their own emotional trigger). You don't have to jump on their merry-go-round.
2) Do not take it personally. Their confusing communication style is not a reflection of you or your value. They are merely demonstrating a lack of emotional maturity and/or an inability to effectively serve-and-return (albeit probably not entirely their fault). You don't have to own some one else's issue.
3) Use summary statements. Instead of putting yourself on the spin cycle, reflect their reasoning back to them with an attitude of "I'm sincerely trying to understand the message you are sending."
4) Be willing to postpone the conversation. Your calm and reflective manner may bring their inconsistency or flaw to light (you might even notice they are getting confused or flustered). This may escalate their emotional state. It is common for aggressive speech, threats, and/or insults to follow. Be okay with walking away from that. Tell the N-type that you do not allow people to speak to you in that manner, but you are willing to resume the conversation when everyone is calm.
5) And finally, be aware that this scenario may be repeated in a variety of settings. Over and over. Your gentle yet firm and always consistent response may (I say may) provide an opportunity for the N-type to learn and practice a new communication skill.
Stay true to yourself my friends, - M
If you found this information helpful, there's more! Subscribe to my therapy vlog at Can We Talk? or find me @TweetmentPlan. And, of course, come visit me here again soon! :)
Photo credit: pixabay
Watch Baby Steps for Setting Boundaries with a Narcissist.
I dropped my daughter off at summer art camp this morning then came back to get ready to start my day (don't judge me). I walked inside and was hit with a beautiful smell and powerful memory- Dunkin' Donuts! It's curious how you don't know what your house smells like until you leave and come back. I think it was the combination of my butterscotch candle and the coffee I sleepily brewed upon rising.
That beautiful smell took me right back to 8 or 9. I would stay with my grandparents for part of the summers. My happiest moments from childhood were those lazy summer days with them.
They would always take me out for a doughnut after church on Sundays. My grandparents would get coffee and I would pick out something chocolate or pink with sprinkles. I remember the man in the white hat who would help us. (Either that or I've merged him with the Time to Make the Donuts guy- memories can be funny, you know.) Then we would sit and visit at one of those plastic tables with the attached stools.
It's also funny how memories can be so happy and so sad at the same time; tears welling up now I as type.
I miss them.
I miss those days.
Scientifically, there's a reason I'm all up in my emotions over this. The part of the brain that is responsible for smell is stored in the part of the brain responsible for memory.
Ahh, nostalgia. What smell-powered memory evokes emotion for you?
Smell wisely, my friends, - M
Subscribe to become a part of the healing tribe at Can We Talk? or find me @TweetmentPlan.
photo credit: wikipedia
The Motley Ms.
Hi! My name is Melinda. I'm a saved-by-grace-er, lifelong learner, INFJ, health & fitness trynabe, Mom, #vanlifer, mental health vlogger, and Director & Clinical Supervisor at a Child & Family Therapy Practice in Northern California.
The Motley Ms
The Therapist's Therapy Blog