Narcissistic Abuse and The Narcissist
v I have come to see it as one of the more unpleasant psychological syndromes, for the person it affects and the people closest to them..First off, I think it is important to consider that most of us have Narcissistic traits in some form or another.
Having these personality traits is very different than having the full blown disorder. There are men and women alike that suffer from NPD although the assumption is that it is a male issue, not true. I will be describing the characteristics of NPD and what it feels like to be intimately involved with someone that has this condition. Speaking from my own experience, I did not fully realize that I was in an emotionally abusive relationship with a person that suffers from this condition until it was over and the damage was done.
DEALIZE, DEVALUE, DISCARD
The classic progression for narcissistic abuse typically plays out in this order: IDEALIZE, DEVALUE, DISCARD. The idealize phase is at the beginning of the relationship when a very powerful bond is created. N.P.D. has an uncanny ability to charm, excite and impress you, leaving you awestruck while they are subconsciously absorbing you into their ego. Some call this experience “love bombing”. This is when a powerful neurological love bond is created.
THE LOVE BOMBER
This is also when the “hoped for” relationship is imprinted. This love bombing phenomenon is what makes Narcissistic abuse so unique. You will come to believe that this is a very special and unique person and you are also special because they chose you! During this phase you may have noticed little flashes of concerning behaviors from NPD. This could be angry outbursts, extreme sensitivity to feeling criticized or evaluated and even odd inaccurate responses to body language and facial expressions. These red flags are usually overlooked or ignored because the magic of being intoxicated with your new love overrides any logic.
ITS ALL ABOUT YOUR VALUE
The next phase, devaluing, can be painful and confusing. This is when NPD’s covert criticisms become quite overt. They will typically start lashing out with piercing comments and critiques of your shortcomings and weaknesses. It may happen during arguments or randomly without provocation. The criticisms can be shocking and leave you disoriented. You may find yourself hoping to get back to the magic and love initially experienced in the idealize phase. During this phase you may begin to develop people pleasing behaviors in an effort to avoid upsetting NPD and get a fix of love or affection that you are now craving desperately. Self esteem starts to taper off during this phase. Self doubt becomes common as you come to believe that the powerfully effective criticisms coming from NPD are true on some deep level. The function of the devalue phase is too break your will with the fear of losing the love you were so sure of in the beginning. When your self esteem is but a withering thread, the only sense of worth you may feel comes at NPD’s discretion. In this phase, you are vulnerable to other conditions such as insomnia, anxiety and depression.
DISCARD & DISOWN
The final phase is discard. This is when NPD disowns you. This can come in a final abrupt assault or a cool condescending dismissal. Whichever way it comes, it can be a devastating blow. This phase and the devaluing phase are when seeking professional counseling would be the most beneficial. A trained therapist can help validate you while recovering your self esteem on the way back to health.
NO CONTACT is absolutely the recommended path after you have been discarded. It will be important to avoid getting into any serious intimate relationships for several months following the end of an abusive relationship, lest you repeat the same experience and compound the damage. The numbing pain after being discarded by NPD after the tornado of love, anger and fear you just experienced is quite disorienting.
TAKE TO TIME TO HEAL
It’s going to take some serious recovery to get back to feeling like your authentic and very lovable self again. The majority of the grief is coming from the loss of the “hoped for” relationship that NPD effectively drew you into. The healing goal after experiencing one of these devastating experiences is to discover the parts of your self that attracted NPD and heal them so this does not happen anymore. That will take courage to change.