So, yeah, I know too well why you’re reading this right now. Whether or not you like being called “Dude,” you’re here looking for answers, understanding, insight, validation for the crazy hellfire you’ve lived through with narcissism.

Maybe you’re still in the thick of it, filled with confusion, anger, and despair. Or maybe you’re out of the relationship and dealing with the aftermath: messy entanglements, nightmares, panic attacks, and bizarre unexplained illnesses. Either way, your experience with a narcissist has programmed you to blame yourself, and you’re filled with doubt and self-criticism.

Of course your parents loved you. Of course your spouse wasn’t that bad. Of course—because parents and spouses love their children and husbands and wives like you love them, right?

No. No. And no. I hate being the bearer of bitter truth, but let’s get real—you knew it already.

This is where I harshly tell you to get a grip because narcissists are different animals, and you’re damaged goods. Yes, you’re damaged. I’m not going to lie.

If you’ve dealt with a narcissistic personality disordered (NPD) partner, parent, and/or other close person in your life, you’ve been traumatized, intensely. I tell you this as someone who is traumatized, intensely, but who is also a survivor, which you already are too, whether you realize it yet or not.

People with NPD are damaged children. Because of formative abuse/neglect, they do not develop a stable identity and lack self-esteem or the ability to empathize with others. Yes, it is tragic. And yet so many victims of abuse do not become abusers. Case in point, you and me.

Personally, I vacillate between pity/love/concern for my NPD father and hard-won reality checks about his extreme and continuing abuse and manipulation. So, again, I remind you to get a grip, stop taking responsibility for sh*t that isn’t your fault or burden (contrary to how you’ve been trained), and step forward with your own life, apart from that of the emotionally primitive parasitic narcissist(s).

That’s it. That’s the lesson for tonight. Sleep tight, and don’t let those bedbugs bite.

Julie L. Hall’s articles on narcissism regularly appear Huff PostPsychCentral, NYMed Times, SmartNews, and YourTango. She is the author of a forthcoming book on narcissistic family dynamics and a memoir about life, and a few near deaths, in a narcissistic family (read excerpts). 

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Image courtesy of Matteo J. Coccia.