After having dedicated fourteen posts to the common modes of narcissistic behavior – with an emphasis on those I had to face in my last relationship – I will now put more focus on the victim’s perspective again. I feel more capable of talking about my own feelings and experiences in my interactions with the narcissist than of trying to make sense of his behavior. My motives and emotions are the only things I can work with, evaluate and try to understand. The narcissist’s thoughts and feelings will forever remain a mystery to me. The only thing I ever could was scratch the surface and try to point out in what ways the guy I dated fit the mold of narcissistic behavior. I finally accepted that there is no use in trying to make sense of why he acted the way he did, and why he broke my heart in thousand different ways. Instead of wasting time and energy on a vain attempt of looking for answers and meaning in the wrong places, I have to focus on myself. I have already spent too much energy and sacrificed too much of my own well-being trying to make sense of the narcissist’s behavior. If there is one thing I’ve learned by now, it is that racking my brain was never worth the effort and only prolonged the inevitable.
One thing that is very hard to deal with – from a victim’s perspective – is being drawn into the narcissist’s crazy world of dishonesty, manipulation and triangulation. As they gradually reveil their true colors to us, we feel as if we are slowly losing touch with ourselves to the point where we can no longer function in our daily lives. I was so absorbed in dealing with all the craziness surrounding me that I at times almost lost control over my emotions and had a hard time completing the most basic tasks. As the narcissist worked as a free lance teacher at the same place I have a side job, I found it really hard to focus on my work and function the way I should have. Besides, whenever I tried to get ahead with my Master’s Thesis, I found that I couldn’t keep my focus. I tried to read through scientific papers, but it was often fruitless and useless, as my mind was always occupied with making sense of his craziness and unavailability. I racked my brain for days about why he didn’t call, why he still prioritized his exgirlfriend, why he blew me off once more etc. I desperately wanted to find answers to why things just didn’t work the way I wanted them to. There was no more brain capacity left to focus on anything else.
Being with a narcissist can at some point have you seriously doubt your own sanity. You are constantly surrounded by ambiguity, drama and disappointment. Showing codependent patterns of behavior, you often don’t manage to disentagle yourself from all the craziness, but instead hold on to the narcissist in a desperate attempt so make things work. However, in order to find the strength to hold on, we somehow have to make sense of their behavior. We want to justify our endurance and willingness to stay with them and therefore need to find the rationale behind their behavior. As we cannot manage to figure them out, we have to make do with every single excuse we can come up with. We accept each and every one of their lies and breadcrumps of affection to justify the fact that we are still holding on to them. Our desire to stay with them draws us deeper and deeper into their world of craziness and deceit – and we still try to make sense of all the disappointments and setbacks that keep coming our way.
Looking at the role I played in my relationship to the narcissist in retrospect, I am amazed and shocked at how much I was willing to take before finally having had enough. I allowed him to disrespect me, blow me off, lie to me and draw me into his crazy relation to his exgirlfriend, and still didn’t find the strength and self-respect to opt out. I spent thousands of agonizing thoughts on why he was being so unavailable, inconsistent and dishonest. More often than not, I blamed myself – thinking that I was too clingy, asking for too much, getting too attached too fast. On some level, I had long understood that he was not as emotionally involved as I was and that he had no stability, commitment and emotional support to offer to me. I pushed those thoughts to the back of my mind where they would be a constant and hidden source of unhappiness and agony.
Being with a narcissist, you often have an unusual amount of craziness to deal with. I was after some time completely overwhelmed by it. Never before did I have to deal with such a high level of dishonesty and ambiguity. Up until meeting him, most people I ever had to deal with were reliable, honest and considerate. Consequently, I was not in the least prepared for what the narcissist drew me into and couldn’t find a healthy way to deal with it. In the course of being part of an annoying triangle with him and his hysteric, hateful exgirlfriend, I had to deal with so much bullshit and mindfuckery that I felt as if I was losing my mind. She accused him of having sex with his sister, he accused her of being mentally imbalanced. She lied to him and told him I was forwarding his emails to her (which I of course never did). He believed her and got angry at me. I was suddenly part of a crazy world, where people were accusing each other of nasty shit and feeding each other lies, only to consider themselves as best friends again only a short time later. In my complete fixation on the narcissist, I tried to endure all of it. I listened to their bullshit and deceit and tried to make sense of it – a pointless and exhausting endeavor!
I kept wondering: Why is it that they yell at each other and throw lies and accusations at each other, but he still doesn’t move out of her apartment? Why does he constantly complain about her irrationality and then goes on city trips, to concerts and even to the dentist with her? I was slowly disintegrating into a human wreck trying to find justifications for his behavior. People kept telling me to finally let go. I didn’t want to hear any of it at the time. I tried to deal with both of them, I tried to make sense of what was going on, I endured their dishonesty and mindfuckery – and in doing so, I completely lost touch with myself. I must have been completely out of my mind to allow the craziness to engulf me to such an extent.
Coming to terms with the realization of how little self-respect and strength I had shown in my relationship with the narcissist was – and continues to be – painful. I basically allowed him to trample all over me and draw me into his crazy world without much resistance. I’m relieved that I have finally come to the point where I no longer feel the need to find the non-existent rationale behind his behavior. It took me a very long time to get there. Even after he had already flown back to the U.S. I still racked my brain trying to figure out his craziness. I wasted many agonizing toughts on the question of why he had left without even uttering one word of goodbye. Now, I can finally accept it as being the final act of his indifference and emotional abuse that I allowed to go on for far too long.
It takes a very long time to disentangle yourself from all the craziness that has been surrounding you for months – and to let go of the desire to find an explanation for what he has done to you. Only if you accept that there is no real rationale behind what happened to you, can you finally find closure. I’m still not at the end of my journey towards full recovery. I still catch myself trying to make sense of his complete unavailability, I’m still often sad because of what happened, and sometimes I still miss him very much and think in a very idealized way about the good times that we shared (despite of all the craziness). But, by now, I have also learned to see that being with him would never have made me happy. While I was still in a relationship with him, I always thought that if he could just let go of the craziness, drama and ambiguity, being with him would be the greatest thing ever. Now I know that the craziness, drama and ambiguity were a fixed part of him, and that he would likely not manage to let go of these traits any time soon. Being with him surely was an eye-opening experience that made me question my approach to relationships and my willingness to endure and hold on to the point of self-sacrifice. I never want to allow others to turn me into a victim ever again. And I never again want to nearly lose my mind being engulfed in craziness and deceit!