When a narcissist is stressed about anything in his or her life, they take it out on their primary source of supply – and most likely, if you’re here, reading this article (or watching this video), you’re it, my friend.
You know what I mean, right? Where you’re finding yourself laying in bed, tears streaming silently backward down your cheeks and into your ears as the narcissist peacefully sleeps, whether it’s next to you or somewhere else.
You’re crying (or raging or seething or feeling suicidal, or whatever) because you once again have been subjected to the torture of gaslighting in an elaborate but textbook “flip the script” type deal.
Maybe you called the narcissist out on something important – or insignificant (like “hey, would you mind putting your coffee cup in the dishwasher when you’re done?”, to which s/he replies “Oh, you mean while I’m on my way out the door to go to work and make money with this family while you just sit on your ass and play with the kids all day?? I wish life was so simple for me, but you don’t care! You just don’t appreciate me. God, you used to be the coolest guy/girl I knew. You’ve changed. You’re just not the girl/guy I married. Man my life sucks. Poor me.”)
And we all know a narcissist doesn’t respond well to anything less than “omg you’re so amazing…”
So, because the narcissist is so good at reeling us in and works so hard at manipulating us to their advantage, we try at first to change ourselves and we begin to tolerate things we said we never would.
So we stop bitching. We try to be perfect. We work on gray rocking with a smile. Every now and then we still react and we always instantly regret it when we do.
And sometimes, the narcissist might let it slide. At least until you start to think you’re happy again – and that’s when he will gaslight you to the point that you become brainwashed, suicidal or otherwise miserable.
You lose your ability to care about anything else. You might neglect people and things that matter to you, all in order to avoid causing trouble with the narcissist.
You grow enmeshed with the narcissist to the level that you’re no longer even concerned about your own needs – you never use up the toothpaste or toilet paper without replacing it, and you’ll go without something you need (like glasses or medical stuff, maybe) just to give the narcissist something he or she just wants- and maybe at this point, it’s just become habit. The narcissist has taught you that you don’t deserve to come first, ever.
Worse, you kinda believe it.
The worst part of all is that the cycle continues as long as you allow it, and a part of you tries to convince yourself that you’re okay wirh it because it feels easier than “causing conflict” – for which you’ll always pay dearly.
The narcissist would be happy to keep you in perpetual suspension for his or her source of supply as long as you’ll take it.
And when a narcissist has had a bad day, she’s going to take it out in ways that healthy people would not. Like mentally and in some cases physically – and nearly always at the expense of some poor empath just trying to shine a little light in the world.
I’m not going to sugar coat here – the fact is that the narcissist does this because he or she needs to use you as their own personal emotional dumpster. Yeah I said it.
See the narcissist has an image to uphold “out there in the world” – but he also needs a way to release all his pent up crazy in private. And while a normal or healthy person might like start working out or journaling or meditating or whatever – a narcissist will need to go ahead and release all the poison and refill with supply. You know, like how a vampire will get hungry and need to suck the blood of someone in order to regain strength and vitality and in fact to stay alive.
Except for the narcissist, who needs to put the smack down somewhere safe in order to protect his or her image. So that’s you- the primary source of narcissistic supply.
So what do you do about it? Well, ideally, you go no contact. But that doesn’t always work in real life. Sometimes you’ve got to just suck it up and go gray rock. But if you’re still in it – living with the narcissist, for example, you ought to consider your options.
Upset your whole world for a few months, maybe, or take the chance that you will feel this way until the day you die – and spend every moment until then hating your life (or just not living). YOU decide.
Never stay for the “wolf you know.” Don’t allow yourself to believe the lies the narcissist tells you about yourself – start rewriting your own story.
Okay, it’s your turn: have you ever been in a situation like this before? How did you handle it? What advice would you offer a fellow survivor? And if you’re “still in it,” tell me what you’re going to do next – or what you’re struggling with today. Share your thoughts in the comments and let’s discuss it.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.