From an email on relationships I get daily. Take what you will; leave the rest.
The Zen of Leaving an Abusive Narcissist
Lynne Namka Ed. D. © 2013
The definition of narcissism is excessive love, interest or admiration of oneself at the expense of others. Synonyms of narcissism include selfishness, egocentricity, egotism, egoism, navel-gazing, self-absorption, self-centeredness, self-concern, and self-involvement. Narcissism is a personality trait which many people have. After all we do need to have enough self-interest to look out for ourselves. Too many narcissistic traits cause problems in a person’s life and those with whom they interact. A few traits may not interfere with a life but when a person has too many narcissistic behaviors they might be considered to have a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Although it has not been linked by research, I suspect that people who verbally, sexually and physically abuse others are narcissists.
The World Health Organization reported that one-third of women have been physical or sexually assaulted by a former or current partner. Violence against women is a “global health problem of epidemic proportions” and calls for domestic violence screening to be added to all levels of health care. The WHO guidelines calling for protection for women can be found at http://www.who.int/gender/violence/womenfirtseng.pdf.
Abusers are those people who give themselves the right to hurt others with their words, actions and manipulations. Abusers have the abnormal need to control others. Most often they do not want to change their angry behaviors. So they must find those gullible people who allow themselves to be abused. It’s a two way street. They need others to be the victim of their misuse of power.
If you suffer from someone who puts you down and harms you, here are important questions to consider for your life:
• Do you need to be the victim of someone else’s dysfunction?
• Do you need to be abused?
• Are you still caught in the pattern of giving your power away just because you think you “luv” someone, fear being on your own or alone or can’t make it without them?
• Are you willing to stay until your self-esteem is so eroded that you can’t function on your own?
• Are you willing to have and raise children who are “chips off the old abuser’s block” who will abuse you in your old age?
If not get ye to Al Anon or Codependents of America (CODA) meetings either with local groups or on line. Get a sponsor and start looking at what personality traits and beliefs keep you in a destructive relationship. Read several books on codependency. (My book The Doormat Syndrome is a funny, spiritual description of how to stop being codependent.) Join Facebook pages that teach about bullying and abuse and offer daily support.
So what is abuse? Here is a great description from Patricia Evans’ book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship:
“YOU ARE BEING ABUSED: When you are yelled at, snapped at, told that you are acting wrong, acting smart, acting dumb, trying to start a fight, imagining things, twisting things around, interrupting, trying to have the last word, going on and on, thinking wrong, thinking you're smart, thinking you know it all, picking a fight, asking for it, looking wrong, looking in the wrong way, looking for trouble, trying to start an argument, and so on and on."
The World Health Organization defined physical violence as being slapped, pushed, punched, choked or attacked with a weapon. Sexual violence was defined as being physically forced to have sex, having sex for fear of what the partner might do and being compelled to do humiliating and degrading sexual acts.
The abuse will continue as long as you allow it.
We train people how to treat us and if you believe that you are not worthy of being respected, it will play our in your relationship. You can choose to have a different kind of relationship if you learn to set boundaries and choose someone who is capable of being fair and respectful.
We all have some selfish behavior. The issue is how destructive their selfishness is and how much you are willing to take. If you set strong limits to what you will and will not allow and the person cannot accept honesty and respect in a relationship, you may have to leave. Leaving an abusive relationship is a journey to finding your worth and True Self. So here are steps to leaving.
The Zen of Leaving a Narcissist
• Educate yourself. Hmm.
• Keep reading and recognize your patterns of giving in. Hmm.
• Read between the lines. Read the gaps between the words.
• Read the bigger picture of your life.
• What sense of self-respect and self-esteem didn’t you get as a child?
• What part of yourself did you have to give away? Hmm.
• Get social support for new ways of thinking and acting.
• Warn that you will leave if…. Hmm.
• Turn up your “Nardar.”
• Boundary yourself well. Make yourself unavailable. Hmm.
• Get a plan. Do your homework. Save money.
• Get job training in a field that pays well. Hmm.
• Create a new life with friends and interests of your own. Hmm.
• Insist on being treated with respect. Hmm.
• Learn to set fair boundaries. Hmm.
• Repeat louder when violated. Hmm.
• Use healthy anger to ramp up the momentum to help you leave. Hmm.
• Celebrate how life makes sense when you clear the clutter from your life.
• Note how much calmer you are when the drama is removed.
If you leave having clearly stated all along what you will not put up with, there need be no guilt.
Keep your Nardar scan set on high (that intuitive knowing that pops up when someone is trying to scam you or push past your boundaries). Challenge inappropriate behavior: “Wait a minute; that’s not fair. Look at what you are doing.”
The key and test of whether a narcissistic person can change or can they heal is to address their unrealistic expectations and manipulation. Can they stop expecting the world to give them more because they think that they are special? Can they learn to see things through the eyes of others? Are they willing to do reality checks with others when uncertain? Can they learn to live with uncomfortable feelings and can they learn to see things from other’s point of view? Can and will they stop the abuse?
Perhaps the more potent question is why you need to stay and take abuse.
Finally, educate your daughters. Teach them about choosing friends wisely. Teach them about their Nardar signal that goes off when someone selfish is trying to manipulate them. As my friend, world activist Bob Hunt said about changing the world, “We have long known that if you can only do one thing to fight poverty that educating girls is it.”
Peace and joy,