Another narcissistic mode of behavior that has the tendency to drive those interacting with them insane, is accusing others for exactly those emotions that they are provoking in the first place. Consequently, they can treat us like shit and we will be the ones feeling guilty in the end. This strategy is particularly harmful for the victims of narcissistic abuse, because they constantly feel that their feelings are unreasonable and not valid, when they are in fact more than justified. Instead of trusting our feelings and acting accordingly, we interpret them as sings of weakness, try to push them aside and, as a result, allow the narcissists to go on treating us with disrespect. Our low self-esteem makes us readily absorb all the guilt and the blame that the narcissist is trying to install in us. We don’t believe in our own feelings and instincts and consequently we readily believe the narcissist is right when he accuses of of being “too needy”, “too clingy”, “too jealous” etc. – feelings that are provoked by his ambiguous, dishonest and manipulative behavior.
During the time I was dating Mr. Unavailable I was constantly on edge, struggling with uncertainty, feeling gloomy, worthless, unappreciated and neglected. As if this wasn’t enough, I was also feeling guilty for every single one of these feelings. I was convinced that I only felt that strongly, because I was too needy, got too attached too fast, and allowed myself to have too many hopes right from the beginning. I blamed my codependency for everything and readily absorbed all the blame for not feeling well. It is certainly true that I tend to feel too strongly right from the start and that I get attached very easily. I am therefore also to blame for the intensity of my feelings. However, looking at the way I was treated, the uncertainty and ambiguity I was exposed to for months, it does not really come as a surprise that I felt so extremely low. Everyone receiving such a treatment would have eventually given in to depression and a feeling of worthlessness. Therefore, it isn’t enough to just blame your codependency and dismiss your feelings as wrong. We also have to see that we have gone through an emotional rollercoaster, that our feelings have been played with, and that we endured a lot of dishonesty and ambiguity. Our frustration, sadness and desperation are therefore valid feelings, that are not only caused by our codependency, but by the treatment we receive from the narcissists.
Narcissists, however, deny their responsibility for the fact that we are slowly disintegrating. Our dependency, feeling of islation and jealousy are for them only a product of our own weakness and we are to blame for feeling so low. Because we don’t believe in our own instincts and rationality, we readily believe their assessment of the situation. So in the end, we not only feel low, but we blame ourselves for everything. We end up feeling guilty and completely disempowered. As we don’t trust in our feelings of being treated unfairly, we don’t act on them and stay in the miserable and unhealthy relationship we are in.
There were times in my relationship with Mr. Unavailable in which I felt as if I was completely losing my mind. On some deeper level I always knew that I was not treated fairly and respectfully, and I knew that I had every reason to doubt his supposed feelings of care and affection. However, I never trusted my feelings, but pushed them aside as being a product of my codependency and therefore not valid. I rarely dared to give voice to how much I suffered, because I thought that my feelings were a sign of weakness and dependency. The narcissist I dated contributed to my tendency to shift all the blame to myself. Whenever I couldn’t take it any longer and told him how unhappy I was, he would dismiss my concerns and tell me I was just overreacting, clingy or being unreasonable. I immediately felt guilty for having said anything at all. I believed in his assessment without a doubt and was angry for allowing myself a moment of weakness.
Once, after I hadn’t heard from him for several days and he had ignored all of my calls and messages, I was so worried and feeling so low that I nearly got insane. I lay in bed all day with agonizing thoughts in my head, shaking all over and unable to do even the simplest tasks. I was convinced something had happened to him, or that he had decided to just stop communicating with me. I was racking my brain, feeling completely paralysed. He didn’t even know I was feeling so strongly. The only thing I wrote him was that I was really worried. When I finally heard back from him, he told me I was overreacting. As so many times before, I readily accepted the blame and hated myself for feeling so strongly. In the course of dating Mr. Unavailable, I was often on the brink of losing my mind due to his ambiguity, fickleness and dishonesty. Nagging feelings of uncertainty, doubt and unhappiness were constant companions during my interactions with him. Whenever I dared to complain, I was dismissed as being clingy, overreacting and as allowing myself to have too high hopes too fast. It was depressing as hell: I did not only feel like shit, but accepted all the blame for it. Shifting the blame to myself prevented me from questioning his shady behavior and it never really occurred to me that it would be better to leave him.
Being with a narcissist consequently really makes you lose touch with yourself. You are constantly treated with neglect, distance, ambiguity and dishonesty. They toy with our emotions and manipulate us in very shameful ways. It really drives you insane and turns you into a mess. Because we are not even getting the bare minumum of what we need and hope for, we feel low and depressed. We never feel fulfilled and happy, we always want more than what we get, because the narcissist is unable to give us what we need. He is unwilling to accept blame for not treating us fairly, but instead makes us feel guilty for wanting more. In the end, we not only feel depressed, lonely and neglected, but we also accept the full blame for feeling this way. We think of ourselves as being “too clingy”, “too needy”, “too dependent” and as “wanting too much too fast”, instead of accepting our feelings as valid and as a product of the shady behavior we receive. We end up settling for less than we deserve, because we believe that our (normal!) expectations are too high.
It is therefore always healthier to believe in your own instincts and feelings. Whenever you feel as if you don’t get what you deserve and that your partner is not dedicated and affectionate, you should act on those feelings instead of feeling guilty for them. It is not needy or a sign of weakness if you expect to be treated with affection, care and respect. It is what we deserve and we shouldn’t allow a narcissist to convince us that we are wrong. We should never feel guilty for feeling strongly as a result of not getting the bare minimum of what we wish for and of what we deserve. If we nearly lose our minds because of all the ambiguities and dishonesties we find ourselves surrounded with in our relationship, we are not to blame, but the narcissists who expose us to all this madness. Accepting this fact will hopefully enable us to free us from unhealthy relationships and to have more trust in ourselves and the validity of our own feelings.