Everyone who has been involved with a Narcissist experiences this contradiction of logic. Severing the relationship with a disordered personality should be a no-brainer, right? Yet it seems no matter how much our cognitive brain understands the benefit of leaving such a person, we participate in a metaphorical self-flagellation, allowing the abuser back into our lives over and over again, creating even deeper wounds to our psyche due to the sadistic nature of being intimately involved with an emotional abuser.
It doesn’t help that the Narcissist repeatedly shows up via phone, email, or in person… dressed as Mr. or Ms. Nice Guy, future faking and giving you the impression that they have long-term plans for the relationship, all while squeezing out a crocodile tear. Then, if we attempt to stay strong, we are criticized and condemned, accused of being selfish, and subjected to guilt trips that would make a Viking warrior surrender. This is the blue-print of the relationship between a Narcissist and a Codependent.
(If you’ve implemented NC in its true form, you wouldn’t have to deal with the Narcissists occasional trick-or-treat excursions).
Codependents spend their days trying to get from morning to evening with as little drama as possible. They minimize the abuse, hang onto magical thinking, and come to depend on the Narcissist for their confidence and self-esteem. They are unable to end the relationship because they want to hear the Narcissist say, “I didn’t really mean those things I said. I know I told you that you are unattractive, worthless, trashy, and that no one could possibly love you. But, none of those things are true. You’re smart, attractive, and successful. Anyone would be lucky to have you.”
Codependents crave closure and without it, they stay stuck in the moment, ruminating on their abuser’s accusations; letting the Narcissist return repeatedly, hoping to get their approval. Any decent human being would feel some element of remorse and apologize, right? Maybe even admit they said those things in a moment of anger and didn’t mean them? The Narcissist will not only re-emphasize that they meant it, but that those things still hold true, widening the void that is the Codependent’s lack of self-love and self-esteem.
This is one’s Inner Child resurfacing, desperately seeking love and acceptance. Codependents are caught in a cycle of re-creating their childhood patterns in an effort to resolve the memory of not feeling loved; aching for their abuser to wrap their arms around them and tell them they are precious. Searching for gentle, nurturing words to make the pain go away (the pain the abuser caused)… so that they can go back into the world feeling safe and confident. They try to reclaim the innocent, trusting person they were before they met the Narcissist.
If this sounds like you, watch the video below to see if you have any of the signs of being codependent.
Codependency Test: Are You a Codependent?
Keep in mind that many people are codependents and don’t realize it.Some believe their childhood was okay because their parents provided food and shelter and didn’t use physical abuse. But those are not the only indicators of a painful childhood. Perhaps your father is a Doctor or CEO who provided all the trimmings, but was always absent in your life, or maybe nothing you did was ever good enough. Perhaps you had a teacher who made you feel inferior, below-average in intelligence, and perhaps ridiculed you in front of your classmates. Maybe your primary caregiver was in the military and you had to stay with a family member who had their own children and you always came last when attention was being rationed out. Any of these events can result in childhood wounds that may cause an individual to develop codependent traits.
The reason No Contact is so hard is because it’s essentially the first attempt at recovering from codependency. It involves establishing boundaries, accepting there will be backlash from the Narcissist (guilt trips, shaming and blaming, character attacks, etc.), physical and emotional cravings, and accepting that other relationships may possibly be lost. It’s not only the severing of a toxic relationship, but the start of a new lifestyle.
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