How to help a friend who is involved with a Narcissist…

I was recently asked by a concerned reader how to help a friend that she was sure was married to a narcissist. Unfortunately, she probably will not like my answer because it is not a quick fix. It is a slow progression of help which I will get into further on, but first a little background into a typical victim’s mindset. These matters are extremely delicate, as the victim in a narcissistic relationship has been brainwashed into believing that they somehow deserve the bad treatment. They believe that everything the narcissist does or says is actually their fault.  As a result, the victim’s sense of self is obliterated, their strength has been sapped to the point that they willingly take the abuse and have normalized it.  They believe it is the best they can expect. Victims are actually fooled into believing that they are lucky to have the abuser! (Like Stockholm Syndrome)

Usually, the relationship between a narcissist and a victim is that of the “pedestal and the pit.” I discussed this tactic in another blog. This is the situation in a relationship where the narc will place his victim on a pedestal and treat her like gold, then the next moment, knock her down into the pit of mistreatment. It disorientates the victim to the point of confusion. This is a vicious cycle that never stops during a narcissist relationship.  After undergoing this dizzying cycle of ups and downs, the feeling of being in the narc’s good graces again and sitting on top of that pedestal feels so relieving to the victim after being in the “pit,” it is addicting.  As a result of this torment, the victim will do anything to please the narcissist.  She will find herself ignoring the bad in the relationship and only focusing on the good in order to pull through day by day.  So, she makes excuses for him, hoping and praying that things are going to be different. But things NEVER change. It is a sad truth. You cannot FIX a Narcissist!

So, back to the question of “How to help a friend who is involved with a narcissist?”

First, you can help your friend the most by sitting down with her and explaining your concerns and why you are worried about her.

However, after being married to a Narcissist for 7 years myself, I am aware of how proficient your friend will be at making excuses for her husband’s bad behavior.  I was, I go into that topic more in this blog post.  I covered for his bad behavior for numerous reasons. One of those was because I began to believe I didn’t deserve better (as I mentioned above). Also, I wanted to live in the fantasy that our marriage was grand, I didn’t want others to know what he was really like.  I was afraid of casting a light on his horrible behavior and that would mean that I needed to finally do something about it. (Which I knew would be the most challenging task of my life.)  Additionally, I made excuses because I shared children with him, and in my mind, I used to believe that divorce was the worst thing you could do to a child.  However, now I realize that staying in a terrible, abusive marriage only teaches your children to become apathetic and perfect victims, or it teaches them to become narcissistic abusers themselves.

Second, after showing your friend some material on narcissist behavior, you must tell your friend that because you care about her, no matter what, you will be there to support and encourage her whenever she is ready to seek help.
What helped me was when my narc had a earth shattering tantrum in front of my parents that I couldn’t cover up, and I had no possible excuses for.  That moment, my concerned parents offered to take me and my children 3 hours home with them that day. I declined out of fear.  But it got the wheels turning in my mind, and when my mother told me that she thought my husband was a Narcissist.  I began to google everything I could on the disorder because I had no idea what that really was.  In my research, I discovered that my husband had all the markers of it and it changed my mindset.  Learning about narcissism opened my eyes to seeing how I was living day to day and forced me to take a good look at how I permitted him to control my life.  In another blog, I discuss these 13 big signs that proved I was in a relationship with a narcissist.  It was like a blanket of darkness finally lifted and I began to see him for what he really was. I had started figuring out what had been nagging me our whole marriage.  But, the point is, I had to figure it out myself.  My Mother planted the seed, she tried to pull me out of this relationship, but I was not ready to go. I needed it to be MY choice, on MY time. Then one day after endless research online and in books, I finally hit a point, where my fear of staying outweighed my fear of leaving.

Third, you must be patient with your friend.

It will take time, but you cannot just rip her away from a bad relationship. It will backfire and she will end up going back to him and cutting all ties with you.  If you plant the seed, it will begin to grow in her mind and she needs to learn the truth herself.  Looking back, what mattered the most to me during my revelation was knowing that my Mom and Dad were there to support me and to help when I was ready to leave.  I am very thankful for that.

In summary, there is no magic bullet to getting a friend away from a narcissistic relationship.  It is a process that they alone have to be ready to undergo.  The victim must be armored with knowledge about the narcissist’s tactics before they begin to walk through that door.  That is where you come in, be there for them, and they will never forget it, even if they seem to ignore your concerns at this point.  I discuss how I made my escape in this blog post.  To an outsider, it can be hard to understand why someone would stay in a toxic relationship, but unless you go through it, it is impossible to understand it.    Just try to be sympathetic with your friend because it is such a drastic undertaking to break away from an abusive relationship that the victim must be in a fully committed state of mind to make it happen.  If they are only “sort of” ready to leave, that wont be enough to succeed in escaping.

If they understand that they have people in their life who love them and will be there to support them, that can make all the difference.

The Show Must Go On…

We have all heard the phrase, “the show must go on.” But the ones who really understand it are those people who lived it by being stuck in a toxic relationship with a Narcissist. When you find that you need to put on a show whenever your partner is around, that is big sign that you are being controlled by a narcissist.

I am now three years removed from being submerged in a suffocating marriage with a narcissist, however, when I think back to what I went through and how I felt, I had an epiphany. I distinctly remember whenever my ex walked through the door, I had to prepare my 3 year old and 6 year old to treat their father a certain way in order to stall their father’s bad moods, suspicious antics or lecturing behavior.

I found myself telling my children that “Daddy’s going to be coming home soon and they better smile, and give him a big hug” and I would plead with them to be on their best behavior. I quickly learned that we had to go through this role playing because in the past, if my narcissist were to come home and we were all doing something other than waiting there to greet him with smiles on our faces and our full attention, he would be offended and feel that we “did not appreciate him.” He would then go on a pity trip and lecture us, scold us and say that we did not love him, etc. It was ridiculous, but true. It would put a dampener on the rest of the evening and we all walked on eggshells.

So, I would find myself trying to prepare my little actors to put on a show for Daddy. A show that would hopefully, delay the narcissist’s antics for a later time. But it was never for long. The children and I were always in survival mode, just waiting for the next little thing to set him off.

During the marriage, I didn’t actually see what I was doing, or how his behavior truly affected us because when you are living it, it can be difficult to see through it. However, now that I am safely away from my narcissist and in a healthy relationship full of mutual respect and adoration, I can easily see what lengths I went to in order to try to protect my children from their narcissistic father.

If you find that you need to be anyone other than your true self when your partner is around, that is not a good sign. Be aware that all of life is not a stage, or at least it shouldn’t have to be. My advice as someone who has lived through it, lower the curtain and walk away and it is best to ignore the curtain call, let the narcissist get the bows he craves from someone other than you or your children.

Rollercoaster Relationship with a Narcissist.

A few months ago, I woke up from a dream that seemed so real it made me dizzy.  I always have taken my dreams with a grain of salt.  In the past, I have met people with skepticism when they discussed their dreams somehow giving insight to what was going on in their lives.  Well, I have learned many lessons these past two years and feel that a deeper understanding of what is going on in your life can absolutely manifest in your dreams from time to time.

In my dream, I was stuck in the back car of a roller coaster and my Narcissist ex husband was in the front car with the kids and no matter what I did, I could not get to them.  That dream so completely summed up my relationship over the past 7 years with him.

In a relationship with a narcissist, there are extreme highs and extreme lows. They put you on the pedistal and toss you down into the pit, as I have described in a previous blog. When things were good, they were great, and when he was displeased over one thing or another, (no matter how trivial) things were horrible.

Now that I have broken away from my narcissist, life is inconcieveably better. The best thing I have ever done was to leave him.  I have a job I love, my kids enjoy their school and I finally finished building my dream house!  And just then, wouldn’t you know it…when I was happy to be on my way, on my own… I stumbled upon meeting a good, honest, and intelligent man who loves and respects me and my family.  And I met him only 2.3 miles from my new home as matter of fact!  It is funny because I swore off internet dating, as that was how I met my ex narcissist 8 years ago.  Since I entered the dating scene, I vowed that if I was ever to date anyone in the future, I would have to meet him face to face purely by introduction or by accident.

Eventhough I have been guarded since leaving my rollercoaster of a relationship, I have had two years to reflect on who I am and what it is that I want.  I now have the confidence in myself to trust my gut again. I am determined not to make the same mistakes in future relationships.

That is something that toxic relationships with narcissists do, they rob you of your joy, your confidence and your ability to trust and love others by shattering who you are. Whereas, a healthy relationship is meant to build you up, not break you down.

I am enjoying where this relationship is taking us.  It feels incredibally rewarding to trust and love again. He gives me space, but makes room in his life for me and treats me like I had always hoped for.  It is funny how something as simple as being listened to when you talk can make you feel so loved. He always makes time to talk to me about my day, and he actually seems genuinely interested in what I have to say. I no longer feel like my thoughts and opinions don’t matter.  I am loving every day of our journey together and haven’t seen one red flag yet and it has been 6 months.

I see what my narcissist is doing in his relationship since I left him. He is up to the same old tricks.  My ex narc had only been alone one month before he snagged his next victim. Irena is a 26 year old Ukrainian”au pair.” He got her pregnant after three months and they are aleady pregnant with baby #2, and it has not even been a full two years since she landed on US soil. I see how he drives at least 300 miles every other weekend and has moved another 3 times since I left and plans road trips and plane flights on a whim, dragging her and the baby along. I vividly remember how exhausting it was trying to keep up with him when he was on one of his roaming tangents.

I am so greatful that I jumped off of that rollercoaster, that is one ride that I will never board again.