Narcissistic/ Borderline Abuse is much more ubiquitous than we know. Any contact with unfeeling, abusive people can be some of the most heartbreaking and damaging relationships we ever encounter and without education, can literally destroy lives, careers, health and families. Every one of us, most likely at some stage of life, has had some contact with a disordered person. According to the DSM-5, “one in 25 people will have the disorders associated with ‘no conscience’ which include anti-social personality disorder, sociopath, and psychopath.”
With the days of predatory social media and online dating, these numbers are ever increasing, as social media and dating apps provide access to unsuspecting, well intended and open people, who naturally trust. We believe that others act with good intentions, integrity and would not break unspoken social norms. The problem is… that a certain percentage of our population has no conscience and simply cannot love, all they can do sadly is use others to boost their inflated ego as narcissistic supply, and extract whatever they can from those willing to offer. When they see no more use or are confronted, it causes dangerous, narcissistic injury and the target is discarded and useless to them. All attempts from the victim to heal, resolve, understand, problem solve or at least have basic human closure are “ghosted” or denied. Often the disordered person who forged intimacy, trust and “trauma bonds” will turn on their targets when they plead for resolve as if they themselves are the victims. We talked a lot about D.A.R.V.O. where the offender acts and believes they are now the victim and can become callously vengeful. Idealize, devalue and… discard, it’s formulaic and always the same.
I speak of this process often because I see so many people including myself have been deeply hurt or devastated by conscienceless predatory people. The harm can be quiet and insidious, and you can become easily emotionally addicted to an abuser. It’s not easy to leave them at all, and often friends say “just forget them and get over it.” I have a girlfriend that’s been on dating sites for a few years and the very moment that she does something wrong or the person loses interest and finds someone who they consider to be better, oftentimes if not all, the men don’t even so much as reply to text even after a relationship had been forged for weeks or even months. Ghosting- no reply, they are gone, you mean nothing, see ya. I guess this is the world we are living in right now, people are just treated like ego’s fodder and we live to collect as many Facebook and Instagram likes as we can. I can’t imagine now, the daily heartbreak and damage that happens on dating apps. These electronic relating worlds seem to be birthing more and more narcissists by the moment, replacing love addiction, predatory games and trauma bonds for real love.
What can we do to protect ourselves, is there a solution?
It’s very difficult to heal from relationships with disordered people. In my case I was born into a family with a full spectrum narcissist, so I didn’t have the grace of learning about red flags and what people to accept and what people to avoid. I had no choice but to relate with this person for the greater part of my life. However right before I had a child, in order to not recreate unhealthy family patterns, I sought a deep therapeutic help to understand the dynamics of the long term insidious soul crushing abuse. Through a lot of therapy, journaling, self-awareness and self care, turned the corner to find a sense of self value and self-love, despite the many years of being minimized and devalued, which still sadly continues to this day.
I’ve come to a point where I can accept and understand, that it’s built into the type of mental illness and disorder that a narcissistic person cannot, *ever,* self reflect, apologize and see their fault. All that a narc/ borderline is capable of doing is projecting that onto others what’s called “object other or splitting.” This process is complex and you can read about it if you ever find yourself in contact with one of these people. For me, the beginning of the healing process is simply knowledge and awareness and separating out myself from the disordered person. Once I can see their state of mind and m.o., I could begin to heal and I stopped blaming myself for everything they wanted to blame me for, and most of all stopped any type of codependent attempt to try to fix or heal them. Fixing is untenable, you simply can’t have a healthy relationship with an untreated disordered person ever, it’s a zero sum game.
We can’t underestimate the power of transparency and having these types of discussions, education and knowledge is absolute power. I have volunteered to teach meditation in prisons, and every year we would have to renew our training and safety protocols for entering into the prison milieu. One of the things that they told us is that there’s a difference between the way that normal ordinary rational people thinking and criminal minds. They actually created an acronym for that called N.O.R.P. vs. the criminal minds of the “offenders.” They told us that people like us, come into the prison population as missionaries or trying to teach meditation or some type of trauma support. The people that teach these programs have all of the best intentions and are open hearted and altruistic. The security guards who were running the training would warn us that prisoners did not share the same type of thinking. These are people that are ok with breaking boundaries, laws and social norms. They cautioned us that the prisoners would be looking to see if they could find a psychological or emotional vulnerability so that we would feel sorry for them and maybe take pity on them them and help them in some way either financially or maybe when they got out, or to get out. They would tell us that they would be looking at our jewelry to assess how much money we had etc. In sum, their mindset vs the N.O.R.P. was really different. We were coming in to try to help and oftentimes people with criminal minds would be looking in a predatory way, looking to how to game us and the situation. The trainers wanted to make us really highly aware of how the criminal mind operates without there being a sense of conscience.
Once I got into the prison population even with this awareness and engaged with everyone more deeply, I did see many many moments of genuine grief and regret. I saw cruel, unhealthy issues with our penal system that have to do with race and oppression, but this is a complex social topic that is for another article altogether. It is relevant to this discussion in trying to heal from narcissistic or borderline abuse, because we need to understand that there are certain people that simply see the world in a generally conscienceless, predatory way. Is there any hope or treatment, well, stats say that some personality disorders are treatable, especially borderline, as the heightened emotionality and anxiety very often leads way to self reflection and great regret. I would give up on no one if the pain and their fundamental aloneness prompted them to treatment, but we can’t hold out for that. As someone who deeply loves a full spectrum narcissist, and full spectrum is defined as un-treatable, holding out hope is unhealthy, codependent, life wasting and delusional. The soul damage done to a child raised by a narcissist or BPD can have lifelong impacts, and they in adulthood are very vulnerable to recreating familiar patterns and subconsciously seek out what’s called trauma reenactment. In the past few years, survivors have thankfully created a powerful social movement of bringing tremendous awareness to the narcissist’s destructive capacity, and through healing and solidarity we can protect ourselves and each other.
I discovered a woman Maria Consiglio, who is going very deep into her own healing and writing a book on narcissistic abuse recovery. I wanted to share some of her top insightful, heartbreaking and inspiring thoughts and healing suggestions, you can follow her on Instagram. All of the below content is credited to her. *Trigger Warning…*
“Kill the part of yourself that still wants to save someone after they walked away while your were drowning.” Maria Consiglio
Victims often feel like they are addicted to their abusers. When a person goes back and forth between being nice and then being abusive and rejecting, it causes the victim to become highly addicted and bonded to the narcissist. This creates a Trauma Bond. These bonds are powerful and extremely difficult to break. Victims become addicted to the relief they feel when the narcissist shows them love, or gives them any form of positive attention. This starts a cycle where victims feel anxiety and uncomfortable until the next time the narcissist is less abusive or nicer. This creates an addictive pattern where you literally get addicted to those small moments of relief when the abuser is being nicer or more pleasant. This cycling of back and forth behavior of being good and being bad ensures the narcissist that you become addicted and less likely to leave them. This gives them tremendous power over you.
The After Effects Of Narcissistic Abuse
Even if you are over the narcissist, you still experience so much psychological trauma. Your brain is affected, your functioning is affected, and the way you see the world is affected. There is so much damage in these relationships, the stress alone has dire affects on your health. Your body can not constantly be in hyper-vigilance mode and not be affected. Your cortisol levels are high and you are exhausted, mentally, emotionally and physically. You feel different like you don’t fit in the world anymore. You feel broken and like no one understands. How could they, when you didn’t even know the extent of the damage that was ensuing. You come out of this relationship scared, bruised and completely lost. Not knowing if you will ever feel the same again. Feeling like you will never fit into the world again. They break you down in a way that there are no words that could accurately explain or describe.
Her suggestions for healing:
Important Things To Do When Going “No Contact”
- Block Narcissist on all social media, telephone or what ever else connected you to them.
- Do not look on their social media page to see what they are doing, or if they have a new supply.
- Do not respond, if they find a way to connect with you. Stay firm in your convictions.
- Allow yourself to grieve. You may be grieving a false person, but you still need to get that grief out of your system.
- Do not obsess about the good times or think about the fond memories with the narcissist. Remind yourself of the horrible abuse. And why you are no longer together.
- Join a support group. It is a very difficult process to go through alone.
- Have friends available to help talk you out of calling the narcissist.
- Focus on yourself, practice extreme self care.
- Look for a therapist to help you heal from all the trauma, you experienced. (either a trauma therapist, or a therapist who understands narcissistic abuse)
- Have faith in yourself, believe for the best, and have faith for a better future.
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