In my last post, I ranted about a few bloggers that targeted me when I began to move on from my righteous anger at what my narcissistic parents and ex did to me. About a year ago, I reached a point where my rage at “the narcs” was no longer serving me well. I began to see things in a new way–that my narcissists were victims themselves and that’s why they became so abusive. These bloggers didn’t like that. As far as they were concerned, I was a traitor to the narc-abuse community as well as a narc-sympathizer. They told me I was evil and going to hell.
But that’s also when I began to see myself a lot more clearly and realized what I needed to do to begin to heal. Why? Because while righteous anger is good and healthy when you’re trying to go No Contact or get away from abusers, once it no longer serves that purpose and you have gone No Contact, all that rage has nowhere to go. At that point it becomes hatred and begins to poison your soul. And there isn’t anything more toxic to healing than hatred. These bloggers have become so trapped in their rage it has poisoned their souls and they have become what they hate. Unfortunately for them, they are utterly blind to it.
When I began this blog, I was a lot more angry at my narcissists, and narcissists in general. If you read some of my early posts (within the first year or so), you will notice a lot more rage and even hatred toward narcissists than in my later posts. As long as I remained in that anger, I was A-OK with these bloggers. And at the time, that anger was healthy. It was how I processed the whole experience of being an abuse victim, and it validated my decision to go No Contact. It wasn’t a bad thing and I don’t regret it. But at some point, I began to chafe at the constant narc-bashing I saw, and wondered if perhaps “the narcs” were being given more power than they actually deserve.
I’m going to make an analogy here, because it ties right into this idea. I can’t embrace fundamentalist religion for a number of reasons, but here is one of them: some fundamentalists (not just Christians, but Muslims too, and really, fundamentalist anything) gives the entity commonly known as the devil or Satan a lot more power than he/it deserves. They seem to equate his power with that of God. They tell us the world is under Satan’s dominion and we must repent and believe exactly as they do or we’re going to hell. They tell us Satan planted scientific evidence that indicates evolution exists (which means he somehow got bones into the ground that looked half-human, half-ape.) They tell us he brought every bad thing that exists to the world–disease, famine, death, war, you name it. They tell us God has allowed this because of “free will.” They quote the Bible (or Q’uran, or whatever–to back their claims). But if Satan exists at all, he’s merely a fallen angel–with about the same amount of power as Michael, the archangel–he doesn’t even come close to God’s level of might. Would Michael be able to do what God does? Would he be able to create life and rule the universe? Of course not–the idea of it is laughable. To give the devil that much power is an insult to God, in my opinion. In fact, God himself created Satan!
The power some religious people give Satan causes a lot of people to fear God because God seems to exist solely to punish humanity (who “disappointed” him by sinning) for giving in to or being fooled by “the adversary.” The whole God vs. Devil argument seems like an enormous cosmic opera, with God continuously waging war with this all-powerful entity who represents evil to God’s goodness–but in the end, God’s behavior is just as “evil” as Satan’s–judgmental, authoritarian, punishing, jealous, and controlling. In fact, I would say that God acts quite a lot like a…malignant narcissist. People have turned away from religion or are put off by it because of this punishing, negative view of God as Holy Avenger. And among those who embrace it, how many are doing so out of fear, and not out of genuine love for God? If your father was an authoritarian, punishing parent, you may “love” him but you will never be able to have a healthy relationship with him. You probably did what he said because you HAD to, not because you wanted to. You feared his wrath if you did not. You find it difficult to be happy or grow into a loving, joyful person with a satisfying life and relationships because your father’s wrath and judgment became internalized. It continues its live on inside you, as an inner critic that continues the abuse in the form of self-abuse. I think that’s often the case with fundamentalist religion too. It’s nothing more than brain-washing and negative programming whose intent is to frighten and control. What sort of God would even WANT his creations (who he holds in contempt for even questioning that might) to quake in terror at his presence? A narcissistic God who craves power and control, that’s who.
The point of this isn’t to make a point about religion, though (that’s a whole other post I will probably never write). Many narcissistic abuse survivors talk about narcissists as if they were actual demons. They talk about them having almost supernatural powers over the rest of us. Yes, it’s true, their behavior is dangerous and can destroy the souls of those they abuse. But they don’t have any more real power than anyone else. They are broken people, not devils. Their brokenness is what causes them to abuse others. In their own minds, I don’t think (in most cases) they actually know what they’re doing. In their own minds, they may even think what they do is the right thing–or they don’t think about it at all. They are incapable of seeing their own narcissism and how it destroys.
Some narcissists are sociopathic and actually take pleasure in hurting others. But I think that only applies to those at the top of the spectrum–the ones who have turned malignant. Most narcs are simply unaware of the way their behavior impacts others. It was programmed into them just as surely as many victims were programmed to remain victimized throughout their lives.
Narcissists are emotionally retarded, so much so they are incapable of having enough empathy to be able to stop playing out the elaborate (and mostly useless) defense mechanisms they constructed to protect themselves. They aren’t devils and don’t have any real supernatural powers; they are merely blind and stupid. Dangerous? No doubt they are, and it’s always best to go No Contact. An angry rhinocerous charging toward you isn’t evil; it’s just doing what nature has programmed it to do. It defends itself by attacking even though you mean it no harm, because that’s in its nature and it assumes you will attack first. While the rhino isn’t evil and doesn’t get its thrills from watching you bleed to death, it does what it does and it’s best to get as far away as you can. Same thing with a narc, who (unless they have become malignant or sociopathic) isn’t evil; he or she is reacting to internal programming that was probably instilled when they were very young and defenseless. In their emotional stupidity and blindness, they think you are going to attack them (or think you are already attacking them), so they instinctively jump on the offense and launch “pre-emptive” counterattacks on you. They lie to themselves about your intentions AND their own (and I think most of them actually convince themselves these lies are the truth). They may even even think what they do is “for your own good.” Just like that authoritarian, punishing father or that judgmental, angry, jealous God.
So what’s so wrong about thinking narcissists are evil and have supernatural powers or are possessed by demons? After all, they do act pretty evil. They nearly destroyed us with their abuse. They made us incapable of living happy, normal lives or developing any self esteem. Thinking of narcissists as these powerful evil entities from the depths of hell is natural when you realize what you’ve been up against and what their actions did to you. The righteous anger you feel also helps you get away from them. I think at first, thinking of narcissists as having that much power is a healthy thing because it gives you the motivation to remove them from your life. Here’s the problem with it though. Righteous anger isn’t meant to be permanent. It’s a fight-flight response that ensures survival, but when the danger has passed (and you know your going No Contact was justified), it becomes bad for both body and soul. Besides building up unhealthy levels of cortisol (the fight-flight hormone) in the blood that can lead to physical illness, never-ending rage in the absence of an enemy has nowhere to go but inward–or turn itself on innocent people. It becomes hatred and hatred will eventually destroy its bearer. You begin to see “the enemy” everywhere and are constantly on the offense/defense against real or not-so-real monsters. You begin to see narcissism everywhere, even in normal human behavior. You live in paranoia and terror and the world seems like a hostile, evil place. Your fear of supernatural and uncontrollable forces beyond anyone’s control (even God’s) can even cause you to become a narcissist yourself, in self defense.
You can’t heal until you can let go of that rage. That doesn’t mean enabling a narcissist or staying in contact with them. But it means moving on and letting go of hatred. At some point in my healing journey, I was no longer able to hang onto my rage. I began to see them as victims too. Of course, this was heresy to some of the narc-abuse bloggers. But by thinking of them this way, they held a lot less power over me. I became less afraid. You can’t feel terrified of something that is pitiful and broken, and by seeing them as pathetic, toothless victims who were crippled emotionally, they seemed sort of…powerless. It wasn’t until I was able to do this that I began to turn my attention in toward myself–and what I could do to change me. If you’re constantly slaying dragons, you can’t have self-awareness because there’s no room for it. In your mind, if you stop fighting, you will be killed. What people don’t realize is that if you never put down that sword, even after the dragons have disappeared, you turn that sword on yourself.
Narcissistic abusers want you to be afraid. They want unlimited power. They want to control your mind even when they’re not there. So, to hold onto hatred (which is fueled by fear, so there is always terror present wherever hatred exists) is really just giving them what they want–control over your mind and soul. Ironically, thinking of them as broken people is the opposite of enabling them. What would a narcissist hate the most? Being seen as pitiful, impotent, powerless, broken, emotionally retarded people. It’s really the only way you can begin to undo the negative programming that keeps you trapped in fear and keeps you from growing into a whole person. It’s also the best revenge, because then you can thrive in spite of their efforts to keep you down.