It’s often true in a narcissistic relationship that the narcissist is the likable one in the couple. He’s the one that people notice, that seems to have everything together, and who knows how to be social. Often the other person in the relationship is quiet, shy or introverted, and seems to ride on the coattails of the narcissist.
When the relationship explodes it’s often the narcissist’s spouse that is seen as the problem by friends and family. Marital counseling can be torturous because if the counselor doesn’t see through the narcissist’s charm she will continually place the bulk of the responsibility for the problems in the marriage on the spouse. Many times the spouse of a narcissist stops going to church for the simple reason that they are assumed to be the problem in the relationship. Well-meaning people add to the despair by encouraging the hurt spouse to repent, to get counseling for their commitment problems, and by giving advice that has nothing to do with the core problem.
Meanwhile the narcissist eats up this new supply of attention and gains power.
Truth Has a Way of Making Itself Known
It’s frustrating and painful to be misunderstood, accused of exaggerating or lying, or even accused of being a narcissist. It’s a million times worse when those accusations come from your close friends or even children. Although the temptation is to defend yourself sometimes the best thing to do is to just be silent and wait for the truth to make itself known.
It will, eventually, it always does.
Your ex can hide his narcissism for a period of time but he can’t hide it forever. At some point he will treat others in the same way he treated you or he will do something that other people can’t ignore anymore.
Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe…
…Catch a narcissist by the toe…if he hollers let him go…my mother says that you are it!
I remember those little sayings from my childhood that helped us with every kind of choice from which cookie to pick up off the plate to who to choose for your team in kickball. When the word “it” was said, if the finger was pointing at you, you were the chosen one.
Narcissists kind of do the same thing by muddying the waters for family and friends. They point you out as the problem, the narcissist, the crazy ex.
One of the weirdest aspects of my divorce is the fact that four years later he still blames me for the things that happen to him. He has even called me a narcissist. Let me tell you, that was weird because I spent days wondering whether or not he was right. I even asked people I knew if they thought I was narcissistic!
The thing is that he has moved across the country and is surrounded by people that know him but don’t know me. It’s relatively easy for them to look at the situation from where they are and decide that I am indeed the problem.
What they don’t seem to see is that there are people here that knew us as a couple for 20 years or more that know both of us well, and that assure me that, although I can be a royal pain in the butt, I am not a narcissist.
They don’t have to take my word for it – they have seen him in action.
When It’s Your Kids
No doubt the most hurtful thing ever in a high conflict divorce is when your kids take sides and accuse you of being hard on the ex, causing problems, and being unfair. I know several people that are dealing with this and it is truly one of the most painful things a parent can go through. One thing that I have learned is that there is no point in defending myself to them. They are going to believe what they are going to believe. Although it’s painful the best thing you can do is accept that they are being deceived and let time bring out the truth.
While it is tempting to fire back accusations and examples the practice gets you nowhere but deeper in trouble. It may take time but eventually they’ll see what’s going on. You may never get an apology, you’re a parent after all, but you probably find that your relationship with your children does heal.
When It’s Your Family
I know someone whose parents have been so taken in by the sweet talking narcissist and his grief over the demise of his marriage that they continually encourage her to go back to him and make things right. Although they feel that they are doing the right thing they are creating a deeper hurt than they can understand.
There is nothing worse than being kicked when you are down. When you have been betrayed by your narcissistic ex it is almost unbearable to then be betrayed by your own parents.
Once again, there is no point in defending yourself. For some reason when you do it makes you look guilty of the things he is accusing you of. Let time be your defense.
Do what you need to do to find peace in spite of what is going on in your life.
Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons, User: M. Dolly
Finding Peace in the Meantime
I didn’t say that it would be easy. Whether you actually say anything or not you will be accused of all kinds of things, blamed for everything that goes wrong in his life, and made to feel responsible for his circumstances. Functioning in all of that takes courage, determination, and a desire to really be free of him.
When I was first going through my separation and divorce I had an online friend, who has since passed away, that reminded me every day to take the high road. He reminded me to be the one that ignored, overlooked, and trusted that the truth would win out. It took a long time, and in some ways I am still waiting, but his actions are becoming more and more apparent.
Still, there is all of that frustration building up inside that you have to deal with. Try some of these techniques for dealing with your emotions. Whatever you do, don’t stuff them down. They are your emotions, you have a right to feel them.
- Journals can be very helpful when it comes to releasing your frustrations.
- Support groups help you to know you aren’t alone.
- Consider therapy.
- Prayer and meditation can help you get centered.
- Physical activity is a great way to release stress. Consider taking a self-defense, karate, or kickboxing class.
- Sometimes a walk in the woods helps put life in perspective.
- Volunteer your time to a cause you feel strongly about.
Find some way to release the negative energy that seems to build up inside you and watch your life change for the better.
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Lead Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons, User: h.koppdelaney