Waking Up, a guest post by Donna Shin, MSLCPC
Does something feel off? Is your intuition or your body waving red flags at you to slow down and pay attention? I know for me, very early in my relationship with an, unknown at the time, covert narcissist, I started feeling unwell at times. It was a bit concerning and hard to name, but I ignored the discomfort and kept moving forward with him. He was so charming and romantic not to mention good looking and a surgeon. As they say, he swept me off my feet. I’d have been better off to keep myself grounded, but he was a master at baiting the hook for the catch.
As a therapist myself and one that had studied advanced psychopathology and treated a lot of codependence, I clearly had some blind spots and deeper healing in myself to do. I later learned codependence can present as denial. I prayed and meditated to be sure if I was on the right path with him. If I wanted to learn, grow, go through hell, grieve my guts out and end up better than before, you could say, I was on the right path. I also got duped and have earned an honorary PhD in Narcissism.
Have you had to ask, like I did, who in God’s name is this person I am dealing with? Have you fallen in love with and perhaps even married him or her? I realized, after a time, that I clearly did not know him. It was scary. When you start losing yourself, don’t like who you are becoming, and feel repeatedly hurt, what you’re experiencing is far from a loving partnership. It is time to seek support and become educated. Many survivors are left to deal with degrees of complex PTSD after entanglement with a covert narcissist.
The abuse is, for the narcissist, a way to cope with the internal prison of shame they live in. They work very hard to avoid their feelings of shame, so it gets projected onto you. At first it is subtle, that is until you catch on and confront them. It will make you feel awful – even physically ill if the stress goes on long enough. If you confront them, even gently, by telling them how you feel, they perceive it as criticism and are unable to hear you or take responsibility. You will be dismissed, shamed, and blamed. Thus, begins the vicious cycle of trying to get them to hear you and be available to you emotionally.
Ultimately, you will get is sucked back into the lure of make-up sex, manipulations, and empty promises. This cycle creates trauma bonding and is difficult to recover from. The covert narcissist is a dangerous character. Their more introverted and passive way of being, even appearing, humble at times creates massive confusion. Their generous giving, as was the case with my ex-husband, is done to get something in return. When it all started coming together for me, it was shocking and devastating.
Living with someone who lacks empathy and is emotionally neglectful is very lonely. Being told that I was losing my mind while gaslighting me was maddening until I learned how to be less reactive. Once they realize that you are on to them, it’s usually over. They can’t control you anymore.
If you think you are in a relationship with a covert narcissist it is important to seek help with a knowledgeable professional. Seek safety, and a support system. Learn healthy boundaries – discover what you need to heal in yourself that kept you with them for so long, or was attracted to them initially. Many who are targeted have the biggest hearts and are the most agreeable and conscientious people. The research shows that not everyone that ends up with a narcissist is codependent.
Please remember that narcissism is on a spectrum, so everyone’s experience is unique, but the similarities in narcissistic behavior are profoundly eerie.
Waking Up with Further Study
To learn more about Donna and her passion for helping others, visit Donna Shin Wellness here.
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