Occasionally I find a subject that fascinates me, and I spend hours learning about it. Mt. Everest and Fairy Circles are two examples. Ask me anything – I probably know the answer. Today I am pondering quicksand. The more I learn about it the more similarities I find between quicksand and the narcissist.
You don’t see it coming. Quicksand looks like a patch of wet sand. If it’s in a dry location it might actually look appealing. The narcissist is also not seen coming. He seems attractive, nice, a good person. Both create an illusion that is easy to fall for.
They grab you immediately. Quicksand grabs your feet and holds tight. So does the narcissist. If you are deemed useful to him he will grab onto you and hold on tight. You won’t realize you’ve been captured until it’s too late.
The more you struggle the deeper you are sucked in. In the beginning you will fight. In the quicksand you will thrash around, trying to pull yourself out. With the narcissist you will do this with your words. You’ll try to figure out what is happening, why you suddenly feel crazy, why you have become a terrible partner. You’ll ask questions, try conversations, letters, even therapy, all to no avail. Each attempt made by you will be met with gaslighting, which will pull you in even further. You say “it seems like you just don’t want to be home and that’s why you’re working such long hours” and he’ll respond with “why are you so miserable? you’re always miserable”. He, like the quicksand, is slowly consuming you.
It isn’t the quicksand that will kill you but the sun from above. If you don’t get out of quicksand the chances of it completely swallowing you are less than the chances that you will die from dehydration. This is the same as the narcissist. In your relationship with the narcissist you eventually get to the point in which you stop struggling. It becomes apparent that you have no power or control over the situation, and you just stop fighting it. You stay paralyzed in the hell you’ve come to know. It is during this time that the narc might actually kill you. It is during this paralysis phase that you begin getting sick, depressed, anxious, and develop panic attacks. You loose all that you were, becoming a ghost of your former self. If left in this state long enough you eventually give up all hope and lose all memories of who you used to be.
Getting out of each is an arduous battle that must be deliberately planned out and executed. Getting out of quicksand requires you slowly lay your entire body onto the quicksand so you can pull out one leg and then monkey crawl over the quicksand. How terrifying is that!
Extricating yourself from a narcissist requires a similar difficult, dangerous and exhausting battle. The narc has conditioned you to accept his reality as true, a reality that includes the premise that you are too damaged to be on your own. If he has been successful he has created an addiction like process in your brain which makes leaving him feel like you are cutting off your life force; it feels like you are drowning, laying your entire body on a pit of quicksand. To fully extricate yourself you have to do the following:
- make the conscious decision to leave
- promise yourself that you won’t look back
- disengage, completely, from the narcissist’s nonsense and bullshit
- experience the plethora of horrendous feelings that accompany this disengagement
- rebuild your life; reinvent, rediscover yourself.
It is really, really hard.
As with quicksand though, extrication is the only hope you have for survival. If you stay in the quicksand you will die of dehydration. If you stay with your narc you will also die from dehydration, as he takes away your sanity, your sense of yourself, your connection to the outside, and eventually your health