I had a dream last night that I felt was quite interesting. In my dream a friend was over visiting and I was talking about how distraught I was over my husband’s recent behavior. It was very narcissistic. He had become aloof, detached, condescending, and playing head-games that were making my mind spin.
As I was explaining my husband’s behavior I kept saying how he was nothing like this in the beginning and how everything had changed.
My friend, in the dream, who ironically is a psychologist, said “well, maybe in the beginning he felt you were the one.”
I awoke from my dream and couldn’t get that thought out of my head. I knew it had some deep significance and yet it was profoundly simple.
In narcissistic relationships, we often feel we have found “the one.” The one person who will change everything for us. He is the one who will right our wrongs, who will make our lives worth living, who is the answer to our prayers, our dreams our hope for love. He is the perfect fit, the perfect compliment to our lives and we just know this is it! He’s the one!
When we feel someone who dashes into our lives romantically is the “magic one” we assign him a lot of value. He is the one we would marry and spend the rest of our lives with. He is the one who finally makes us feel like we are worthy of all the good things life has to offer. We pin our hopes and our dreams on this person and they have a great deal of importance in our lives.
Those who have suffered through narcissistic abuse go through the very painful trauma of having all their hopes and dreams shattered. As we explore narcissism we come to understand that perhaps he really didn’t care after all. Perhaps you really didn’t mean anything to him. Perhaps the whole relationship was just an illusion. And…although this could all be true I would like to explore another perspective.
What if the wisdom in my dream is true? What if, in the beginning, he felt you were the one? What if he pinned just as much hope and expectation on you as you did on him? What if you both assigned each other the power to make each other happy?
If you’ve done any soul searching you know by now that we really can’t make someone else happy, nor can someone else make us happy. We are all responsible for our own happiness.
When we start a new relationship we are hopeful and often project all our hopes and dreams upon the object of our affections. And likewise, the object of our affection does the same. But what happens when we reach that point where the romantic veil no longer protects us from ourselves? When the truth surfaces and exposes the fact that no matter how much hope we have, we can’t escape the pain that we’ve spent our lives trying to avoid. Our wounds run deep and in the case of the narcissistic personality, there is a deep denial as well. There is a denial that says “I can’t possibly be this unhappy, or in this much pain. It has to be her fault. She is making me feel this way.”
The romantic illusion dashes into our lives with such power as to wipe away the pain that lies deep beneath the surface, if only for a little while. It is like a band-aide, covering the wound so we don’t see it. But it is still there and if you rip off the band-aide, without care, it will tear open the wound again and leave you bleeding.
We all want to believe in love. We all want companionship. We all want to be happy! A narcissistic personality longs for happiness just as you do. What separates those who are narcissistic from those who are not is simply compassion and empathy. We can empathize with our partner’s pain. Like any loving, caring person, we want to make it better for our partner. We would take it away if we could. And this is exactly what we do. We minimize their pain by being the scapegoat. Not only are we carrying the burden of our own pain, but also we carry theirs.
If one is unconscious, he will not see the need to take responsibility for himself and for what he creates. He will easily blame his partner and condemn her for his bleak reality. He may also seek comfort and companionship elsewhere. He may seek out someone else to project his hopes and dreams upon, someone who won’t disappoint him as you did. And this person may replace you as “the new ONE!” But what is “the one” anyway but the person in which we project our hopes and dreams upon.
However, we all know this is a never ending cycle. When we are running from the deep wounds of our past, we will always be running. There is no escaping ourselves. The only path to happiness is straight through our pain. We must all face ourselves sooner or later. By peeling away the layers of the onion which represent the many facets of our lives from birth to where we are now, we begin to find the truth about who we are.
We are not our house, our car, our job, our accomplishments, our bank account, our physical appearance, who we associate with, or who we are married to. We are not the things that society measures us by. The true depth of an individual can only be measured by what is in his heart and the depth in which he loves.
If you study narcissism you will find that a narcissistic personality is not capable of love. Why is this? A true narcissist lives in a protective bubble, one that keeps him from the truth about himself. He does not love himself because he does not know himself. He judges himself based on appearances because this is what he learned love was. Perhaps he had a parent that didn’t love him for who he was, but rather how he made the parent look, so all the emphasis was on “how things appear to be” rather than how they really are.
All love begins with self-love. We must care about ourselves enough to take good care of ourselves. We must be honest with ourselves so we can be honest with others. We must know ourselves so we don’t compromise who we are. One of the Ten Commandments is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” This also means “love yourself as you love your neighbor.” Your neighbor is not just the person who lives next door to you, or down the street. He is the person to the left and the right of you. He is the person all around you. We can only love our neighbor to the capacity in which we love ourselves. If you are filled with self-loathing it will be difficult, indeed, to hold others in high regard.
Self loathing is at the root of most pathological narcissists. The voice of narcissism says “I hate myself! I am unworthy! So I will fabricate a new reality where people can’t see this truth about me.” The new reality is constructed on appearances. “If I appear to be successful, then I can feel successful. If I appear beautiful on the outside, maybe people will think I am beautiful on the inside. If I am intelligent, well read, well spoken, well traveled, etc… then people will admire me and I will interpret their admiration as love.
Sound familiar? It should because this kind of thinking is all around us. It is predominant in our society. Our society rewards appearances. Youth and beauty are worshipped more than God. Money is seductive, outward success is admired and praised. We are judged by the jobs we have, our degrees, our homes, the car we drive, how we dress, who we hang with and the over all appearance we project to others.
So we might ask ourselves…how easy would it be to fit into society if you were narcissistic? I would say it would be pretty easy if you had the social graces to play the game. Because this is all our society really is. It is a big game.
When I counsel people who have gone through the horrific pain of narcissistic abuse I always guide them to seek the gift that lies beneath the pain they are feeling. In the midst of our pain, we don’t want to hear “this happened to you for a reason.” Yet there is a method to the madness of the universe. There really is a reason for everything. And..perhaps the reason for this is to help you to see through your own fabrications, your own illusions so that you can become more real.
Perhaps the next person you meet that provokes a great emotion in you will generate a different response. Instead of pinning your hopes and dreams on someone outside of yourself, perhaps you will learn to go within and find what you are missing there. Perhaps you will take responsibility for your own happiness in a way you never really could before. Perhaps you can pick up the pieces of your shattered dreams and rebuild a life not on sand, but on rock and instead of looking to someone outside of yourself to be your rock, you look within to your own connection with God or the source of life.
We know by now that dreams built on sand can be washed away by the first rain storm. But dreams built on rock will prevail, even the darkest storms.
You are “the one” you have been waiting for!