I was thinking about this today, following a presentation I participated in on narcissism, and wanted to add this. It’s important.
We know narcs are attracted to empaths and vice versa. We also know that even as strong and insightful as many empaths are, we connect with narcs, because we do have holes; we feel less than; we find purpose and significance in serving and helping to heal others. Very often, if not always, we come to a relationship with a narcissist with a pretty well-worn playlist of negative self-talk. If we didn’t, the narc would never find us easy prey and we would never put up with the abuse. In other words, since we already abuse ourselves, we are ready to accept the abuse from another. This might even remind us of the abuse we endured from a former partner or parent.
Brene Brown calls the damaging stories we tell ourselves “shitty first drafts.” They are untrue, but we tell them to ourselves, nonetheless, because we are accustomed to self-blame and self-loathing, and this is how we attempt to make sense of hurtful situations.
In order to evolve and emerge out of victimhood (that we or others perpetrate), we must tell this story, get it out of our bodies, and then reshape it into something useful and healing. When we are conscious, we can see how flawed the story is and we can tell a new and empowering one.
So here’s the main point. When a sensitive person or empath is enmeshed with a narcissist, rather than provide for the empath a calm sounding board or soft place to fall when she is clearly expressing or living in the throes of “the first draft,” the narcissist, intent on maintaining control, will actually reinforce the soul-crushing story the empath is telling herself. He will compound the empath’s self-hatred and utter sense of worthlessness. He sees the wound and pushes the proverbial knife in deeper; he rips it open. And if the empath has a fleeting moment of enlightenment and tries to defend herself, the narc will attack harder, protesting in as loud and condemning way as possible that she is deluded and stupid, and, no, she really is as worthless as she probably already believes.
This is why, ultimately, many women can’t leave the relationship. After years of this abuse, even women who at one time had at least a modicum of self-worth, are eventually so emotionally shattered and fragile, their self-esteem having been continuously raped and ravaged, they have no strength to escape. What’s worse, they believe they cannot survive without the abuser who has sucked the life out of them.