Recovering from Narcissist abuse is a long term endeavor. I have developed a step program (will share later) and I still revisit some of the earlier steps. I often have to reassure myself that I am not imaging my abuse. I’ve been pondering lately why this is. What is it about the narcissist abuse that makes otherwise smart, centered, successful people disappear? Because that is what happens – we disappear. By the time the narcissist is done with us we have no idea who we are, why we exist, and what right we have to breath the air, let alone use resources, like food and money.
I’m reminded of play doh. I raised all boys, and I searched for creative outlets that didn’t involve “girly” endeavors. One of the few I found was play doh. My boys and I spent a fair amount of time making burgers & fries, and any other mold I could find – (I am not artistic!) Two things happened when we, (i.e. my boys) were done playing. The first was that everything we made was squished into a blob. French fries, hamburgers, stars, circles – all disappeared with the pounding of one little fist. The second was that all of the play doh was smushed into one big ball. Gone was the yellow, the blue, the red – all that was left was a ball of every color which eventually turned grey.
In an odd way I think this represents what happens with the narcissist.
In the beginning everything is shiny, new and Fun!
Play Doh – Open a new can and the smell is intoxicating! Once the play doh falls out of the can into your hand, the act of shaping it, softening it, molding it, is….well….it’s everything, isn’t? Isn’t this one the most primal early feelings of control? Whatever is going to happen with this can of play doh is up to us: total control. It’s a momentary joy, but it is powerful.
Narcissist – A new relationship, with hearts, and flowers and emotion, bursting with possibility. Love personified. Like the child with play doh, the narc takes your heart into his hands and decides: what will I do with this? How will I soften this heart to accept what I want? How will I mold this heart to become what I want it to be? Honestly, this is the part that still trips me up. Did he really do all of this on purpose?? Did he really plan it out? Did he really figure out how to manipulate me to turn me into what he wanted? While I still don’t feel this in my gut, I know it is true.
The work begins.
Play Doh: Decisions are made. What colors will be used in which molds, which molds are worth making, where are the results laid out?? What to do with the scraps? So many opportunities to manipulate, sculpt, control.
Narcissist: Decisions are made. What does the narc need to shape? What colors (i.e. triggers) does the narc need to focus on? What does the narc need to do with these triggers? How to shape them, permanently imprint them in your brain. What are the things that bring you shame, and how can the narc put them together for maximum results?
Clean Up Begins.
Play Doh: Each figure that was made is squashed. Literally. Little hands smash all the figures and shapes they have made. Once the figures are obliterated the pieces of play doh are smushed together and shoved into a canister. Why? The Fun Is Over. The child has no interest in putting things back the way they should be. This is tedious work that, for the child, holds no purpose. The child has 1 goal: get this done so they can have lunch, go to the playground….whatever is next on the schedule.
Narcissist: Each memory, belief, and ritual made is squashed. Literally. The narcissist systematically takes each quality they previously loved & worshipped in you and 1 by 1 squashes it. Were you independent? That independence is obliterated and in it’s place is your controlling nature. Are you responsible? The narcissist will destroy this with one swift blow: you over-think things, raining on his parade. Are you sucesfull? You are now emasculating. Each characteristic your narcissist loved you for is pummeled, much like the play doh being smashed. The Fun Is Over. The narcissist has no interest in putting things back the way they should be. That would be tedious work that, for the narcissist, holds no purpose. YOu have been used up and are now a big ball of grey; a big blob of nothing. YOu no longer feed the narc, and he needs to be fed. The narcissist now has 1 goal: be done with you and move on to the next endeavor – i.e. the next victim.
When I first met my narcissist I was more successful than he. I also had a lot less baggage. This made me a brand new can of play doh. I was just waiting to be opened, warmed up, molded, played with, then smashed and discarded. Ouch.
To be clear, I write this knowing that my words are true. This is how the narcissist works. The narc feeds off of his victim, i.e. play doh, until it no longer serves him. At that point he squashes you, with as little remorse and thought, just like the toddler smashing his play doh. These are facts I know to be true.
What I struggle with is acceptance. How can a grown person do this? How can an adult, who appears accomplished, loving, sincere even, actually behave like an impetuous toddler, seeking satisfaction only for himself? How can a grown man have the mental capacity of a child, yet appear to be a well adjusted adult? I guess that is the real question, right? I understand selfish people. I understand bad people, disturbed people. What I still don’t understand is how a person with the mentality of toddler, convince a normal person that they are sincere?
In other words – how did I fall victim?
More importantly, how do I ensure it will never happen again?