Many of us who end up getting involved with narcissists are conditioned to deny our own needs and focus on the wants, needs and desires of the other. We learn, early on, that our needs are not important and should we voice a need, we are shamed for having it. We are often called selfish or needy if we express simple needs such as to be talked to respectfully, to take time to ourselves, voice our feelings, or to do the basic things we need to do to take care of ourselves.
Although initially it may seem the narcissist in your life caters to your needs and is very attentive, this only goes so far. Just when you believe you have a loving, caring, and concerned partner, you discover a deeper truth. He/she is really incapable of caring about anyone but himself/herself and your needs have suddenly become a huge burden. In fact you might get a laundry list of everything you did from the beginning of the relationship that proves you are weak, fragile, needy, unloving, unattentive and not worth loving.
With a narcissist, it really is all about him/her. The fallout or end of the relationship may quickly come when you voice how you feel about an action or behavior displayed by the narcissist in your life. You may not have a clue you are dealing with a narcissist up until such a time. You may express a disappointment and expect to be heard and have your feelings validated, because, up until now, you have perceived yourself to be in a loving, caring relationship. But instead you are hit over the head with how your behavior is the cause and you need to take responsibility for what you have done….here is the list.
This kind of behavior is crazy making, to say the least. You may be left scratching your head, wondering what just happened. Or worse, you may be thrown into fight or flight as a result of an over stimulated nervous system and experience Post Traumatic Stress symptoms. Your only recourse is to identify your own unmet needs and take care of yourself. You can be sure the narcissist in your life is not going to care about anything except for how you are failing to meet his/her needs. This is justification for devaluing you, discarding you and quickly replacing you with someone who he/she perceives can take care of his/her needs. The cycle begins again, for the narcissist, but you are left sitting on the emotional fall-out of the relationship. The narcissist is seemingly unaffected and happily carving out a new life, without you. This is because the narcissist has the ability to blame and dump everything on you and cut off from you as the source of the problem.
The only way for a reconciliation, if you have not been replaced already, is to sweep all your concerns and needs under the carpet and take up as if nothing has happened. To live with a narcissist, you must enter the world of the narcissist and live an empty, shallow life. Most of us can’t do this for long. We know, in our core, something is deeply wrong but often can’t put our finger on it. We may not be consciously aware of how we have swept our emotions under the carpet and denied our own needs in order to pacify the narcissist. Once we do become aware we need to make our needs and emotions a priority. Of course if you do this, within the relationship, the relationship will end quickly. Let it end and keep your focus on your needs and emotions.
For many of us, focusing on our own needs and feelings may feel selfish. Especially if we were told often enough that our feelings and needs are not important.
In a normal, healthy relationship there is a balance between taking care of your own needs and considering the needs of your partner. In a narcissistic relationship you slowly and methodically give up your needs, your emotional health and your voice in order to comply with the needs of the narcissist.
In your healing process you must swing to the opposite end of the spectrum and ask yourself “what do I need right now.” You may feel that you need love, care, to express your feelings, to grieve the loss of the illusion, to take time for yourself and to stop blaming yourself for the failure of your relationship. Narcissistic behavior is not your fault. You didn’t cause it. The narcissist was a narcissist long before you entered the picture and will be long after he/she is out of your life.
You must find ways to meet your needs without the involvement of the narcissist. You must be willing to give up on any false idea that the narcissist cares about what you have to say, what you need, or how you feel. You have to be the one who cares.
Although it is difficult to accept the idea that this person whom you believe loved and cared about you so much, is not who you initially thought him/her to be, acceptance is part of the healing process. The sooner you realize that the narcissistic well is dried up, the sooner you can let go and face reality. The honeymoon is over! Now your life with the narcissist is about meeting his/her needs and demands and jumping through hoops to please him. Who really wants that kind of life?
We all want a life in which we are genuinely cared for and loved. But we must be willing to extend this love and care to ourselves first and foremost. The more we can love and care for ourselves, the more we refuse to allow others to mistreat us. Self-love and Self Respect is key to living an honorable life. When you have been dishonored by someone who obviously sees no harm in his/her actions, it is time to walk away, pick yourself back up and rebuild your life based on a deeper care and concern for yourself.