In a toxic relationship is a reality for more people than commonly assumed. It is happening to children growing up with a toxic parent, it is happening at the work place and in intimate relationships. The effects are horrendous. More often than not it results in a life long search of finding oneself and trying to root oneself in reality. Obviously the effect is most damaging for those who have grown up with a toxic parent.
It is a mistake to believe this would be an individual problem. Toxic relationships and what it does to people is a problem that concerns all of us.
When we think of children who grow up under those difficult circumstances we understand that they later in life will face major difficulties integrating smoothly into society. Teamwork, relating intimately, in a group or a professional field will be full of pitfalls.
What does it mean to live in a toxic relationship?
In a nutshell: emotional abuse, physical violence (happening more often than we like to acknowledge), gas lightening, projection, guilt tripping, lack of empathy and reliability, silent treatment, uncontrollable rage, blame shifting, brainwashing, triangulation… That’s quite a list, and it’s not even complete.
Living in a narcissistic relationship shakes our deepest core.
It’s living insecurity 24/7.
You can never rest, any moment hell could break loose. Discussions run in circles going nowhere and turn into arguments which leave you feeling desperate, not heard, not understood but confused, blamed and attacked.
As a survival strategy you’ll learn to tiptoe and read the other persons energy. You’ll learn to deny your needs. And you’ll learn to make up excuses. However no matter how much you are willing to please and serve it can never be foreseen when the narcissists temper will lash out making you believe it’s your fault.
All you know is: it will hit you and it will hit you full force. And: it is not going to get better. It’s a down spiral only. But always.
Effects of living in a toxic relationship.
Imagine living in such an energy field and being the target for years often decades: What happens to your sense of self? To your sense of reality? What happens to your capacity to sense and trust your gut feeling? What happens to your confidence and trust in the world as a safe place? What happens to your capacity to relate?
You might want to take a moment to contemplate and allow your heart to get a sense for those living this reality. It’s not hard to understand that it causes ripples way greater than that one persons life.
What this individual experiences ripples through their family system, friends, acquaintances, workfield and society.
As an individual and as a community do we continue to look away? Do we continue to accept this kind of behavior?
Friends and family often have a hard time understanding why leaving seems to be close to impossible for victims of toxic abuse. So what makes it so difficult to leave?
First there is hope it’ll change one day. Then if you happen to spend a good day with a narcissist they tend to come across very charming, they might love-bomb you and seem to be self assured. Finally you get what you were looking for for so long: to be seen and felt. At least that’s what appears to happen. Until it changes the next day or the next moment.
People stuck in a narcissistic relationship experience their worst nightmare.
What seems to be surprising and hard to understand is that they tolerate to be treated in ways they could not even have imagined before. Victims of narcissistic abuse put up with wildest insults, lies, psychological torture, twisting of facts and much more which looks obvious from the outside but difficult to see through living in the situation.
How does a child become a narcissist?
In a nutshell it can be said: the deepest wound of a narcissist is an overwhelming sense of insecurity and worthlessness. In their childhood they usually have experienced severe neglect and emotional or/and physical abuse. They have been mistreated and their core being has been profoundly devaluated. A great need for control appears to be the only way to deal with that inner devastation.
Narcissists will do whatever necessary to never get anywhere close to their inner abyss. Their attention as well as their entire energetic movement is therefor directed outside.
Who is vulnerable to being attracted to a narcissistic person?
We tend to think of weak and insecure people. Fact is: it can happen to all of us! Who would resist someone charismatic, charming and caring.
However some get to know the true face, see reality and leave. Those staying around more often than not have experienced a great lack of being received, seen and loved by at least one of their parents or caretakers. They project their hope of finally being received or finding home on to the narcissist. Unfortunately that’s the last person on the planet who can fulfill that unmet need.
Experts take a strong stand: Emotional abuse is profoundly wrong. There is no excuse for mistreatment.
The saying ‚It needs two to tango.‘ is not true in those cases. To the contrary it adds extra weight of guilt and shame on the victims shoulders.
Please also read Narcissism – what’s that?
Also I recommend to watch Dr Ramani Durvasula’s TEDx talk. She is one of the leading experts on narcissism and is gifted to adress this complex topic in a very comprehensible way.
If you’d like to get the recording of the masterclass I offered on narcissism in June 2019 please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below. You’ll receive the corresponding infographic I created as a bonus gift.