Mod 6: Knowledge


Raise your hand if you’ve felt isolated by your narcissistic abuse, encountered people who absolutely don’t understand what you have felt and experienced, or felt at a loss to explain your situation to others. Well, safe to say, everyone raised their hands.

In my counseling of narc victims, these emotions are universal. And it’s sad how these feelings serve as just another strike against them in their attempts at recovery. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s look at ways to deal with the issues of feeling alone like you probably do right now.

Why narcissists come off looking so good compared to their victims

One thing a narc victim has in spades is people around him or her who don’t get it. As frustrated as we become with these individuals, it’s understandable. Here are some reasons why:

1. If they know the narc, they’ve probably fallen for his act of being mature, together, pleasant, and an all-around good citizen. You didn’t suspect what was under the surface before he chose to reveal the horror to you…so why should they?

2. No one, including ourselves before coming to understand narcissism, suspects such alien beings walk among us. Until you have first-hand proof that people can be like this, who dreams it could be possible?

3. Narcissists, unlike their victims, are unaffected by guilt, shame, or empathy. They never for a second imagine anything they choose to do is wrong. These facts make them supremely adept at lying, cheating, and faking emotions convincingly. You, by contrast, are confused, anxious, fearful, bitter, angry, desperate, etc. And since you behave like a human, you may well appear as the more unstable of the two of you. (Not your fault! It’s better to be human than a mechanical monster.)

4. You yourself are just coming to understand how narcissism works and the effects of narc abuse on you. As confused as your narc has made you, it’s completely possible—and understandable—that you have difficulty conveying to others the nature of your abuse and the challenges of recovering from it.

All these facts result in one exasperating problem: while you feel like you’re coming across as a nutcase, the narcissist looks cool as a cucumber. This can really reinforce your self-doubt, while also making you all the more convinced that your narc is getting away with his crime scot-free.

Well, we’ve already addressed how to believe in yourself and hold to your convictions. And we’ve touched on how narcs never get away with it in the end. That said, you still need to be able to effectively connect with other people in order to make the best recovery from your abuse. And how can you, when you’re always talking to people who don’t get it?

Well the answer to that question is very simple….

You need to speak to people who understand

Yes, that’s it: Talk to people who understand. And here’s a list of those people:

  • counselors and mental health professionals who have knowledge of and experience with NPD
  • other victims of narcissistic abuse
  • close friends and family members you have successfully helped educate about narcissism
  • lawyers, social workers, police officers, and judges who are informed about NPD

The common theme? All these people know about narcissistic abuse. They know the reality of it and have at least an academic understanding of what it is. These are the only people with whom you can really open up as to the details of your experience and rely on for support. This is not to say you can’t discuss anything you are going through with those outside these categories; only that you should talk to those sorts of people differently.

Please do what you need to in order to have at least one person like this to whom you can turn, or preferably two or three. It’s very important to get validation from other people for what you are thinking and feeling, as well as to have encouragement from someone who really gets it.

I highly recommend the Narcissist group at SupportGroups.com as a wonderful place to interact with fellow narc victims. Participation is free, there’s no solicitation involved, and there’s a terrific spirit of mutual encouragement and total acceptance. Many a member has expressed that being in the group saved them from much misery.

What to do about the people who don’t understand

Undoubtedly there are lots of people in your life who don’t understand NPD but nevertheless need you to talk to them about your situation in one way or another. Maybe it’s your best friend, the one who just about gave up on ever convincing you to dump your jerk of a boyfriend. Or perhaps it’s your child’s teacher, who is getting the idea that your soon-to-be-ex is the sane, together one, and you she’s not so sure about. Or it could be all your mutual friends on Facebook, who are getting your ex’s account of the break-up and now asking you for yours.

First of all, know that there are some people who are simply going to take your narc’s word for everything. Probably without exception, these people are not worth struggling with. If they know you and care about you enough to truly be counted as your friends, they will not take his side over yours without at least a bit of investigation. Let them go and consider it a service that you don’t need to expend time and energy on people who aren’t true friends.

But for those who do inquire, or who need an explanation, it’s up to you to judge how much information is required by the particular circumstance. Some people need only the briefest, simplest story from you; others merit more detail. Here are a few examples, along with suggestions for the approach to take:

A very close friend or family member who is worried about you: “I only now am seeing how I was emotionally abused for a long time. I’m going to get better, but all this is new to me and I’m still figuring it out myself. If you ever want to talk about it in more detail, I can—it involves some pretty heavy psychological stuff including codependency and this disorder called ‘Narcissistic Personality Disorder’ which it turns out my ex has. I can tell you about it if you want…otherwise I just appreciate your caring and understanding.”

A co-worker, more casual friend, or more distant family member who asks how you are doing: “Well, you know how it is going through a breakup with someone that you were close to for years—there’s a lot of hard stuff going on, but I’ll be okay. Thanks for asking.”

Someone involved with the situation between you and your narc, like your child’s teacher or your employer: “This is a really sensitive, complicated situation, and it’s important for you to be aware that we’re dealing with someone with an actual personality disorder…unfortunately one that very effectively hides behind a mask of normalcy. If my ex approaches you without me present, please keep in mind that you can’t trust him to be truthful—and let me know. I realize I’m asking you to trust me on this, but please believe me that it’s very easy to be deceived by him. If you need more information on how people with this disorder behave, I would be happy to provide it to you. But really all I’m asking is to be made aware of anything.”

A lawyer, counselor or other professional with whom you meet: “Before we get too much into this, I would ask first that you do some research on Narcissistic Personality Disorder. To be able to deal effectively with this situation, you will really need a little bit of working knowledge of NPD at the very least.”

Regardless of whom you are talking to, it can’t hurt and will probably help if you try to do the following:

  1. Discuss about your situation as calmly, rationally, and non-emotionally as possible.
  1. Keep in mind that people can be sympathetic and supportive even without knowing all the details, so only share with them what they really need to know.
  1. Showing a little sense of humor and a positive outlook helps people be more comfortable as they talk with you.
  1. Keep your expectations low as far as what people will understand…if they get it better than you expected, you’ll just be pleasantly surprised.
  1. Remember that the truth of your situation, your value as a person, and your chances of recovery do not depend on other people. What’s true is true, you are a worthy human being no matter what, and you are the true source of your recovery.

Just completing the Lucy Rising Program will provide you with a lot of validation (because if in fact you’re crazy, apparently I am too, my friend! LOL) and a better understanding of your own experience. I hope this translates to helping you communicate more effectively about your abuse when you need to.

Let’s reiterate about talking with narcissists

While we’re discussing communication, I just want to emphasize again that there is no point in engaging in it with your narcissist. Well-meaning but completely mistaken friends and family members will undoubtedly urge you to try to work things out with your narcissist, or at least get on better terms. They may even tell you they know your narc really wants the two of you to get along.

But you know better: any efforts in that regard are pointless and will only result in more hurt for you.

How to explain this to your unhelpful advisors? Something like “There’s a lot going on behind the scenes that you’re unaware of. While I appreciate you’re trying to help, please trust me that I’m handling my situation according to the advice of informed experts, and support me in my choices if you can.” If they persist in hammering you, then stop engaging with them as well, at least on this subject. You have the right to make personal choices, and to expect others to respect them. If they can’t, that’s on them.

There are other ways to feel connected, and you need to try them

So, at this point hopefully you have a game plan for beefing up your support system, whether through those you already know or other means you haven’t explored yet. And while you’re at it, keep in mind that there are lots of ways to increase your sense of being a valid and integrated member of the human race. Feeling those connections can only improve the speed and effectiveness of your recovery.

We’ll talk about some specific ways to do this in the Mod 6 Concepts for Healing….

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