Let’s be honest over here: no one chooses to call themself a survivor. Yet in reality it’s probably the bravest position one can be in. Of course there are many ways one can become “a survivor.” Today I’m giving myself that title, so that I can start the long process of healing. I have survived and am now healing from a narcissistic friendship.
The gift of friendship is a blessing that usually enriches our lives. We invest trust and emotions – and our hearts and souls – in others. We open ourselves, make ourselves vulnerable, and connect in this this wondrous relationship with the people we call friends.
What happens when unhealthy patterns, unsettling arguments and feelings of pain start to infiltrate that bond? What happens to us when we are trapped in a narcissistic friendship?
We try holding on, in the hope that people will change, that things will go back to the way they used to be. But sometimes, we’re not so lucky.
We start becoming victims because we allow those we treasure most to impose on us and our lives. They become the source of our suffering by devaluing our character, by lording their power over us. Then, they completely deny their role, deflecting all blame and instead make it our fault, accusing us of causing all the upheaval in the friendship.
They need us to meet their expectations and fill their demands; but the rules they establish for us are only for us. They needn’t follow the stifling guidelines of friendship that they’ve imposed. They never apologize or show remorse, because they believe they can do no wrong.
We start questioning our own sanity and self worth and we lose our own self respect in the process of trying to fix a friendship because it is so important to us. Like a drowning man flailing for a life preserver we invest all our energy in saving the friendship – and every effort saps us of our energy and deepens our wounds. We tolerate insults and verbal attacks, because we want to believe they truly care about us. They are our friends, after all! We withstand the pain and weariness because we want to allow ourselves the hope that things will change: if I try harder, if I plead more pitifully, if I apologize one more time…
The most vicious and last tactic they will try in an attempt to win is abandonment. They will reject the people they love. They are in pain, and instead of looking inward they dispose of you. Your honesty about their behavior threatens their self image.
I know it sounds ludicrous that this can all transpire in a friendship, but unfortunately this does apply to many. It is acutely painful when this occurs in a friendship because it’s so unexpected and shocking. We are being hurt by the people we love most, by the people who love and know us best!
Often, we have no support system, because we are too ashamed to tell other friends that we are being treated this way by the people we trusted most. We grope through the darkness of confusion, loss, and grief alone.
Can you relate to the confusion and pain of a narcissistic friendship? How can you cope?
Be good to yourself.
Work up the courage to free yourself.
Do not tolerate anyone making you feel like anything less than than you deserve to feel.
Seek the help of a professional who can guide you through this challenge and equip you with tools that’ll enable you to move on.
Find someone that you can confide in who can support you on your journey.
But most of all, look into that mirror and say, “I am worthy!”
Losing a friend is complex, being able to let go takes courage – and it hurts. Mourn it if you must, but remember: