“Sometimes, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself.”
In our article about Leaving a Narcissist, I spoke about knowledge being your best weapon. Only with knowledge about what is happening, how it is happening, and how to counter can someone who is brainwashed begin to fight back. Once the person is out, we add to knowledge, “developing a different observer”.
I have always said if we were all born with a little bird on our shoulder who would whisper, “Incoming-danger-abusive person”, “Nothing to do with you/not your fault”, “Good person”, “Insanity”, “Nurturing person,” etc., life might have been easier. The presence of the bird is what I call having a different mentally healthy observer. Sadly, I haven’t met anyone who was fortunate enough to have that bird, so I am assuming we all have to develop the observer.
By starting the journal, I recommended, to assist you in leaving, you are developing a different observer. The Narcissist wants you to believe the abusive discourse he/she is selling to keep you in a constant state of anxiety and depression and incapable of leaving. I want you to have the confidence to know you are in a bad movie which has nothing to do with you and you can leave the movie at any time. Again, even if you can’t leave physically, you can leave emotionally. Building your confidence in a toxic situation is not easy but it can be done.
Now you are out of the abusive situation and it is time to work through the psychological damage and move into a healthy emotional place. If you have your journal great, let’s work with your “pages”. If you haven’t started a journal, please get one and let’s start with setting up your pages.
Record and look at all the examples of lying. Ask yourself what you said to yourself to enable your partner to lie and for you to believe you were responsible for his/her lying. Did you immediately tell yourself it must have been you getting it wrong? If the answer is yes, you have some work to do. Do not “accuse yourself” of being the problem when someone else is acting poorly-EVER. Did you pretend he/she didn’t mean it? There are lots of reasons you can rationalize bad behavior, but why? Make a commitment to yourself to call “a spade a spade” always in your life. You can speak the truth of the situation out loud or silently to yourself, but you must state the facts of what happened not a rationalization of what happened. No more comments such as “boys will be boys’, “she didn’t mean it”, “but he/she is such a nice person,” “she is having a hard time now,” ”he/she lost his job” and on and on. We can never identify and stand up to abuse if we don’t annihilate the part of us that wants to rationalize it and pretend it didn’t happen.
When you look at Blaming, see how easily you allow yourself to again be responsible for the breakdowns in life. Can you see a theme here? If you are answering yes to being the “bad guy”, you don’t have the self-esteem, confidence, backbone, voice to yourself and others to say, “No way I am a good person” “I am that person that I wrote about on the “things I like about myself” page. If you can’t say that about yourself get to work. If you have the money, do some family of origin work. Find out how you were raised: if you were put down, made the scapegoat, raised in a hypercritical family, raised in a dysfunctional system etc.? It is time to stop repeating negative patterns. Change the observer who believes and absorbs others abuse, to the observer who observes and says, “bad movie, not about me, I am leaving.”
Trusting in Your Notes and Yourself
When you review the critical/devaluing page, see if it matches the “things I like about myself page.” If not, another bad movie. For some reason many of us are too porous to others’ negative comments. We all need to work on having a trusted adviser who cares and can let us know when we need to work on an issue to be a better person. We also need to stop being a large trash can for the people who don’t care about us and just go around devaluing people.
Once you start to get clarity about who you are and are not, it is easier to identify the circular conversations or gaslighting. Observe interviews in public forums/TV/podcasts and begin to identify the people who answer the question asked, the people who lie, the people who change the subject. This is free for you and can be very beneficial for your growth. I think it is easier to observe people you don’t know about a topic not related to you when you are studying to understand this very toxic practice of gaslighting. Sit down with a pen and paper and some questions:
- Did the person answer the question?
- Is there evidence to support that answer.
- Did that answer contradict something the person said previously?
- Does that person exhibit sincerity/concern regarding the topic?
- Does the person demonstrate humility?
As you can see, all of these toxic practices are very damaging to an innocent, kind, and compassionate person. I cannot emphasize the importance of working through any toxic situation you have experienced. You are at high risk to repeat that experience if you don’t do your work. One narcissist in your life-not optimal but an opportunity for learning, two narcissists in your life-Not so good!
“It’s better to be single with high standards than in a relationship settling for less.”
This article originally appeared at Recovery.org
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