Living with a Narcissist?
Overcome the love locking you in.
Deal with the Abuse
(this essay adapted from Tears and Healing Reflections
with selected pages from Tears and Healing)
Is your partner a narcissist? You may not know how to tell, but even worse,
you may be thinking that you are the crazy one. Narcissists work hard to
distort our reality to make their reality feel safer.
So what is a narcissist? Someone who preens in front of the mirror all day in
admiration? NOT! Ask yourself this: is your partner intensely angered by
anything that seems to suggest that he or she might have a flaw? Narcissists
will do anything, including brutalizing their own family, to maintain their own feeling that others see them as
without any flaws. And, narcissists have
extreme and illogical sensitivities, sometimes connecting the most minute
observations with their intense fears of being seen as flawed. Narcissists will
strain every muscle to meet their own "flawless" image, and demean or destroy
anyone or anything who casts any doubt on this image. If you see this dynamic in
your partner, family member, coworker, or friend, you are very probably dealing
with a narcissist.
Overcome the Love Locking You In
Many of us ended up in unhealthy relationships because, in the beginning, our partners held up a
false front. Many of us felt or thought that we had met our soul mate; found the
perfect partner; met that one special person in the universe. It's no surprise
that we can fall in love with someone like this!
Later, usually after we've made a binding commitment like marriage, or
sometimes after the relationship changes due to children being born, a job
change, or other major life changes, our partner shows a completely different
side. The person who was once perfect now can become angry, demeaning,
demanding, and harshly critical. When alcohol or drugs are involved, the
substance abuse usually takes a big step up, too. I talk about this dynamic in my book on
disordered behavior, Meaning from Madness. From someone we have deep
feelings for, these actions are brutal. Yet we may still have strong feelings of
love pulling us to that person. Talk about being torn!
At some point, many of us realize this situation needs to change, but
feelings are not chosen. How can you overcome the love that pulls you to someone
who is abusing you?
While you can't turn those feelings off like a switch, you can learn to
understand where those feelings come from, and how our minds create them, and
then set the stage for new feelings to develop - hopefully toward someone who's
better for us. At first this issue was a chapter in my book, Tears and Healing,
but it was so important it eventually became its own short book,
In Love and
Loving It - Or Not! The really sad part is that our minds create these
feelings so that we'll be motivated to engage in a relationship that meets our
emotional needs, yet those same feelings can end up locking us in, pulling back
again into a broken relationship that just can't fill those needs! Its like a
trap, one that we need new understanding to get out of.
Are you in love with someone
In Love and Loving it - Or Not! - A User's Guide to Love and Being In-Love
explains not just why we fall in love, but why we fall in love with the
people we do, the difference between love and being in-love. You can't choose your
feelings, but you can set the stage for them to develop with a healthier,
happier person. This book explains how.
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the Big Storm Pack.
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packages at a savings.
Deal with the Abuse
Disordered people aren't just hurtful. They
also spin our reality to make theirs less painful. They project their problems
onto us, and blame us for what they do. After a while it becomes hard to
distinguish what is real from what is being projected and what is being
distorted. We begin to doubt our reality and question whether we're the crazy
ones. What's more, disordered people hide their problems very effectively,
concealing their disease from most people, causing us further confusion.
The truth is, THEY'RE NOT RIGHT. But they feel better when they can get us to
carry the burden of their illness and their behavior.
Dealing with this situation is complex, and people need some idea of "What do
I do now that I know this?" For most people, there are important values,
beliefs and obligations that have to be carefully thought about. Abusive
relationships are very hurtful situations, and significant
decisions have to be faced, then resolved. Tears & Healing holds a light
up in this dark place. Written from the inside perspective of someone who has
been through the hell of being emotionally and verbally battered by a spouse,
this book addresses the major issues that we all must wrestle with.
Tears & Healing begins with the most difficult issue: abusive partners
constantly work to distort our perception of what is happening and what is right
and wrong, until we doubt our own judgment so much we can't make decisions. It
then addresses the process of
detaching to find safe space and to regain a sense of right and wrong,
and searching to understand what we, as people, need in our lives - needs that
often must be simply put aside to survive in these brutal situations. It deals
with love, and the conflict of being in love with someone hurtful to us. And it
addresses the intense feelings of obligation that many of us have, which keep us
locked in situations that are beyond what any person should endure. Tears &
Healing is an intensely personal and validating guide through this maze of
thoughts and emotions. The reader reviews below can give you some sense of how
liberating Tears & Healing has been for many, many people.
As I said already, dealing with feelings of love is a huge barrier for many. My
book, In Love and
Loving It - Or Not! , addresses these issues. It explains how and why we
fall in love; what we can do to get out of love with someone hurtful to us; how
we can make choices so we are more likely to fall in love with someone good for
us; and how being in love relates to the different, chosen actions of loving.
Many of the people I help to deal with their abusive situations need this kind
After talking personally with many people in phone consultation, I found that
people also need a way of making some sense of their abusive partner's actions.
Though their actions make no sense from the perspective of a healthy person, there is
something inside them that motivates them. After explaining this many times, I
wrote a companion book, Meaning from Madness, which explains what makes abusive
people act as they do, explains the psychological defense mechanisms they use which
cause them to see a different reality than we see, and explains how alcohol and
drug use - so painfully common among them - compounds these disordered patterns.
I consider Meaning from Madness to be the second essential piece of this puzzle,
What is Narcissism?
Meaning from Madness - Understanding the Hidden Patterns that Motivate Abusers:
Narcissists, Borderlines, and Sociopaths explains the simple psychological
driving force that defines this disease, the irrational actions of narcissists,
their treatment prospects, and the impact of alcohol abuse. It explains the overlap/relationship
with borderline personality disorder and sociopathy.
More about this book.
Books are available in
at a savings.
About the Author
Richard Skerritt is a writer, inventor, engineer, and athlete. A survivor of a
marriage that turned abusive, he forged a path through confusion, love,
obligation, and emotional damage to safety and truer life. His experience and
insight, shared in Tears and Healing, originated in his contributions to online
support groups for people in relationships with a partner who has borderline
personality disorder. He actively contributed and mentored in these
groups for the six years, and continues today. His writing and publishing work now includes
six books (see them all here)and he continues to help
people through books, daily
and phone consultation. Not a mental health professional, his
perspectives and guidance "from the inside out" have been especially
relevant for people in abusive relationships. More information is
Are you Divorcing a Narcissist? Or afraid you'll have to?
Surviving the Storm - Strategies and Realities for Divorcing a Narcissist
More about this book