The Epidemic of Toxic Relationships
Spot the Signs to Dodge the Bullet
It seems the past two decades have created a legion of diverse narcissists. Although, as humans, we're all capable of narcissism from time to time, what I want to explain clearly in this article is the stark difference between healthy narcissism and the toxic narcissism that creates very toxic relationships that never seem to end well (and they all end at some point).
The Millennials have been dubbed the "entitled" generation, and although narcissistic traits have become increasingly common, the darker, more disturbed, and highly damaging form of narcissism that is seen in what the medical community refers to as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (as diagnosed via the DSM-5) is a perverse mental illness in a vastly different league of its own when we think of narcissism.
The news has been buzzing with people acknowledging conditions such as Borderline Personality Disorder, but why aren't there any with Narcissistic Personality Disorder coming forth to claim their illness and the havoc it wreaks on those closest to them? Simple. A narcissist will never accept blame for anything they do. It is always someone else's fault or the world at large.
Why? They lack the ability to feel an appropriate level of empathy.
The saddest part is that they actually believe their own distorted realities. They even rewrite scenarios in their mind and memories to avoid, at all costs, the feelings of shame that come along with their incredibly cruel actions.
My seven-year marriage to a malignant narcissist was absolute hell. There were days I wouldn't even have opened my eyes in bed and have the blankets ripped off me, endure sadistic name-calling inches from my face, and witness a narcissistic rage equivalent to watching the Incredible Hulk transform and return to normal again, as if nothing ever happened. No apologies, acknowledgment or ownership of wrong-doing—nothing.
I've been called names I wouldn't call my worst enemy (daily), belittled, threatened, even occasionally physically abused. After the episode was over, it was always as if life went back to "normal." Victims of these kinds of toxic relationships can end up with PTSD and it is like having Stockholm Syndrome without the kidnapping.
This is but one of the many angles of what a toxic relationship looks like. If you find yourself enmeshed in one, it can be tough to get out and salvage what you have left of your self-esteem, self-respect, and every other aspect of your life.
These toxic people are deemed Emotional Predators. They suck the life and any materialistic (or otherwise) resources from you. It's all about them. It was never about you. They loved what you could do for them, not you. You were simply the next narcissistic supply source. Once you're bled dry, you're discarded like trash. Literally. They have absolutely no use for you anymore.
Lacking truth empathy, they are incapable of loving someone, even themselves. Underneath all that arrogant narcissism is extremely low self-worth and self-esteem so they seek out victims to prop up their weak sense of self.
I am so grateful to a particular LCSW and Psychiatrist, who potentially risked their licenses and careers to save me. We had arranged a couple's therapy session and when we arrived, I got out of the car to go check in while my spouse parked the car.
The couple's therapist came swiftly out of his office and ushered me into his office with a worried and hurried demeanor about him. I was confused but followed. He sat me down and told me one sentence: "You need to end this relationship/marriage because there is little to no hope of ever having a normal adult relationship with this person." Having been filled in by the Psychiatrist prior, they orchestrated this in order to relay this saving-grace message to me.
After absorbing the atomic bomb he just dropped into my lap and attempting to compose myself so I could leave the office and my spouse could have their turn, I felt like I had been punched in the chest by a wrecking ball.
I'm not sure what the counselor told my spouse, but they came out saying, "That wasn't bad at all." The entire way home I was quiet in order to concentrate on not shaking or crying from the devastation unleashed upon me.
There is a mountain of information on narcissism and narcissists on the internet. Watch a video on YouTube and you'll easily be able to identify whether or not you're in a relationship with one of these very toxic, damaging, abusive people.
One point to keep in mind is that they will never change. No amount of love, affection, kind treatment, etc., will ever change these people. Their ingrained patterns of behavior are a part of their actual personality. Most have experienced trauma from a parental figure during the early years when personality and sense of self is developing.
Thus, they're ultimately missing that piece and it can't just be developed or fixed. They have no sense of self and seek sources of supply to fill that void. Bottom line. Their capacity to love is child-like and ends at the infatuation stage. They are incapable of developing adult love, after the infatuation stage naturally ends in all relationships, replaced by a mature kind of love.
I strongly encourage you, if you see yourself in this article as potentially being in a relationship with a toxic person, to research it. Often, a particular kind of person is very attractive to the narcissist and that is most often the empathic, kind, giving, genuine person. All the qualities they're missing and want to bleed you dry to obtain.
Now, three months out of the hell, I see things so very clearly. I've got my self-worth, self-respect, and self-esteem back on-par and life is grand. I've learned my lesson the hard way but if I can help another dodge the bullet and avoid intertwining with these predators, sharing my story and wisdom was well worth it.