* Note: This blog article is not a complete discourse on narcissistic abuse but I hope it can be a starting point for you if you are dealing with it.
Narcissistic abuse sucks.
Seriously and literally.
It drains life force energy from people, similar to dementors from Harry Potter. Here’s a dementor:
There are 2 things narcissistic abusers do to drain JOY.
- They throw invisibility cloaks on others (as an attack, not for fun).
- They aim the emotion of contempt / disgust / hatred at a person who is close to them, strategically and frequently.
A few rules that the narcissistic abusers live by:
- Keep the abuse hidden.
- Confuse the one being abused, especially if they are a significant “source”.
- Keep the “source of supply” handy by making them dependent on you.
- Confuse them some more so they can’t escape.
Abusers are usually harshest with one or 2 family members (primary supply sources). And brilliant at showing the world a different, happy, strong, successful face.
Common responses from outsiders: Who, HIM??? No way, he’s the nicest guy! She’s the kindest most generous woman in the world! No way, I don’t believe it!
Why in the world am I discussing this at JBL? Because many of us who are committed to JOY were conditioned and trained as young children to generously give our life energy to such soul suckers.
Pathological Optimism (PO) became a way of surviving (“they’ll change, I’ll help them, they’re really good people once you get to know them… really, really.”) And the drug a PO takes is called: Hopium (hope-ium).
This kept the supply constant and perpetual, causing the narcky narc to not have to work so hard to get their energy needs met.
(hey, I like calling them “narcky-narc”, it’s kind of funny and lightens up the mood!)
Think of Wormtail from Harry Potter who would do ANYTHING to do his “master’s” bidding:
Now, narcissism isn’t bad in and of itself. We all have a degree of it. Young children certainly do. The world really does revolve around them for quite some time. It’s not a bad thing. It’s how they get their needs met. However, it turns pathological when a person grows up to believe the only way to survive is to drain others of their energy, their life force, their chi, their JOY.
What must a narc-narc feel?
Why would they feel jealous when they seem to have so much on the outside? Because they see that you have warmth, you have character, you have substance, you have true connection with others. You have love. You have contentment.
And they don’t.
They SEETHE with jealousy. They try to “fill” their EMPTY black hole by dimming your light.
How do they perform this ritualistic and routine dimming?
Abuse #1 – Invisibility cloak:
You do something amazing and they pretend it didn’t happen, they dismiss it, they deny it, they distract your attention away from it.
Abuse #2 – Looks of contempt / disgust / hatred aimed regularly at key people, with the intent to destroy.
Kind of like Pinky:
Often, in some of the worst narcissistic abusers, the look of contempt / disgust / hatred is reserved for their “prey”. It’s the look they internally give themselves, which is what causess them so much pain. It is DEVOID of empathy.
This “look”, which is LOADED WITH ATTACK ENERGY, is most often hidden from public view, including other family members who can be sitting right there in the same room. The attack-look will be delivered only when no one else is looking (except their “supply source”).
WHY would any sane person behave this way?
Well, sane people don’t behave this way.
In the narc-narc’s perspective, as soon as you appear “dimmer” (through confusion, depression, upset, anger), they actually look appeased and relaxed. Relieved. Like a piece of food was stuck between their teeth and causing pressure, and it was just removed with dental floss. I hope that metaphor makes sense. I used it because it’s the closest I could come to understanding what they must be feeling on the inside.
Once you’ve been dimmed by them, in comparison to your dimness, they appear BRIGHTER. This is their favorite source of supply (or energy).
Their second favorite source of supply is to get the admiration of others who are on the “outside”. Sad but true. But it goes a little bit deeper.
It’s the one thing that made everything else make sense to me.
Narc-narcs feel EMPTY on the inside. Empty in a way that can’t be described unless you are a narc abuser, or you have been emptied by one and you existed as a shell at one point in your life.
When they see someone else feel as empty as they do, they feel better.
If you’re dealing with such abuse, what can you do?
- FIRST: recognize it for what it is. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT.
- SECOND: get informed.
- THIRD: get support. Your life matters. Your joy matters.
Here are some resources for you.
These youtube channels are loaded with clear information, examples and stories that are empowering and helpful.
- From Surviving to Thriving (great for parents)
- Permission to Exist (great for the workplace)
- Inner Integration (great for getting down the basics)
Great books on Amazon:
- The Journey by Meredith Miller
- I Miss Me and I Want Me Back by Michele Nieves (this one can also be purchased as a pdf, just google it).
Last but not least, if you were raised by a narcky-nark, you are probably dealing with C-PTSD. Or Complex-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. C-PTSD is when you get Emotional Flashbacks (as compared to visual ones). Because of their “invisible” nature, they can be hard to identify (much less manage). If you find yourself repeating the same patterns or flashbacks, I highly recommend Pete Walker’s book called Complex PTSD and his article: 13 Steps to Manage Flashbacks (which I’ll paste in the comments section below).
I hope this post is helpful to you.
I hope it arms you with tools to deal with and overcome narcissistic abuse so that you can stand in your JOY. Because JOY is just the beginning.
The world needs your magic!
But no one can enjoy it if it’s hidden under an invisibility cloak!
The world needs your MAGIC!
Update: This post turned into a 3 part series, and more.
Here’s Part II
Here’s the collection.
12 thoughts on “At the heart of narcissistic abuse: 2 core abusive behaviors, why they do it, and 3 tips for you (Part I)”
Here’s the 13 steps to managing flashbacks:
13 STEPS FOR MANAGING FLASHBACKS [Focus on Bold Print when flashback is active]
Pete Walker, MFT [925 283 4575]
1. Say to yourself: “I am having a flashback”. Flashbacks take us into a timeless part of the
psyche that feels as helpless, hopeless and surrounded by danger as we were in childhood. The
feelings and sensations you are experiencing are past memories that cannot hurt you now.
2. Remind yourself: “I feel afraid but I am not in danger! I am safe now, here in the
present.” Remember you are now in the safety of the present, far from the danger of the past.
3. Own your right/need to have boundaries. Remind yourself that you do not have to allow
anyone to mistreat you; you are free to leave dangerous situations and protest unfair behavior.
4. Speak reassuringly to the Inner Child. The child needs to know that you love her
unconditionally– that she can come to you for comfort and protection when she feels lost and scared.
5. Deconstruct eternity thinking: in childhood, fear and abandonment felt endless – a safer future
was unimaginable. Remember the flashback will pass as it has many times before.
6. Remind yourself that you are in an adult body with allies, skills and resources to protect
you that you never had as a child. [Feeling small and little is a sure sign of a flashback]
7. Ease back into your body. Fear launches us into ‘heady’ worrying, or numbing and spacing out.
[a] Gently ask your body to Relax: feel each of your major muscle groups and softly encourage
them to relax. [Tightened musculature sends unnecessary danger signals to the brain]
[b] Breathe deeply and slowly. [Holding the breath also signals danger].
[c] Slow down: rushing presses the psyche’s panic button.
[d] Find a safe place to unwind and soothe yourself: wrap yourself in a blanket, hold a stuffed
animal, lie down in a closet or a bath, take a nap.
[e] Feel the fear in your body without reacting to it. Fear is just an energy in your body that
cannot hurt you if you do not run from it or react self-destructively to it.
8. Resist the Inner Critic’s Drasticizing and Catastrophizing: [a] Use thought-stopping
to halt its endless exaggeration of danger and constant planning to control the uncontrollable. Refuse
to shame, hate or abandon yourself. Channel the anger of self-attack into saying NO to unfair selfcriticism.
[b] Use thought-substitution to replace negative thinking with a memorized list of your
qualities and accomplishments
9. Allow yourself to grieve. Flashbacks are opportunities to release old, unexpressed feelings of
fear, hurt, and abandonment, and to validate – and then soothe – the child’s past experience of
helplessness and hopelessness. Healthy grieving can turn our tears into self-compassion and our anger
10. Cultivate safe relationships and seek support. Take time alone when you need it, but don’t
let shame isolate you. Feeling shame doesn’t mean you are shameful. Educate your intimates about
flashbacks and ask them to help you talk and feel your way through them.
11. Learn to identify the types of triggers that lead to flashbacks. Avoid unsafe people,
places, activities and triggering mental processes. Practice preventive maintenance with these steps
when triggering situations are unavoidable.
12. Figure out what you are flashing back to. Flashbacks are opportunities to discover, validate
and heal our wounds from past abuse and abandonment. They also point to our still unmet
developmental needs and can provide motivation to get them met.
13. Be patient with a slow recovery process: it takes time in the present to become unadrenalized,
and considerable time in the future to gradually decrease the intensity, duration and
frequency of flashbacks. Real recovery is a gradually progressive process [often two steps forward,
one step back], not an attained salvation fantasy. Don’t beat yourself up for having a flashback.
Expecto Patronus, INDEED!!! Superb, succinct & insightful vision into what I’ve experienced and am stepping diligently forward through myself, toward not just healing but greater inner peace and JOY! Thanks, Debbie, once again, for sharing the light you’ve uncovered in your own soulful journey. 🙂
Thanks so much, Will!! It was actually FUN to write :-). May your path be blessed and may joy and peace be the springboards for so much more!!!
Thanks for your well-wishes, Debbie… And yeah, I kinda’ knew you’d had at least SOME fun writing it — especially with the “narky-narc” bit and the Harry Potter-isms, including that glorious ending image of the Magical Elk! (SO inspiring to me!) 🙂