From Toxic to Triumph

I didn’t write this blog to entertain, or make you laugh. If I’d understood the dynamics of my narcissist/codependent relationship I wouldn’t have wasted so much of my life trying to make it work. I’m not telling you to stay in your relationship or leave. I want to give you tools to evaluate where you stand. This may convince you it ain’t that bad, but it may be that you identify with too much. Enough to set you free.

There are no easy steps if you’re steeped in a toxic relationship of any kind. If there is an easy solution for you, high tail it and go have a glass of wine. Thinking of the array of toxic relationships this morning reminded me of mistletoe. Go ahead…roll your eyes and wonder what kind of nut I am, right? I’ll explain…or try to.

Mistletoe is a parasite we’ve romanticized. We tie bows with glitter on it. Link it to Santa and Christmas and celebration. If we pass beneath a succulent clump of it, we’re compelled to kiss a lover. It’s cool, clever and fun…or is it?

Truth is, it’s a parasite that will eventually suck the life out of the tree/host/whatever it attaches itself to. It can’t thrive or survive on its own. Neither can toxic people. They need a target for the angst bottled up inside of them. Someone to project it on before it eats them alive.

Most of the time, they don’t know this. Don’t get it. They just do what they are compelled to do. What they learned to do as children. How they survived being abandoned, blamed or beaten mentally or physically. The literature suggests that narcissists aren’t born, they’re created. Sad, but you didn’t do it. You can’t control it and you cannot fix it.

Too simply put, their self-defense becomes self-absorption, and it swells with time to a sense of entitlement. They matter. Period. Their ability to empathize, internalize or care how what they do makes you feel, or affects you, was shut down. Turned off. Gone. This is not a healthy relationship to have. Not for you.

If your boss, lover or spouse finally pushes too hard and loses you, they’ll be on the hunt for another source, and it’s about more than the slot in their life or work environment you filled. They need a source of admiration. Think mistletoe, sucking really hard to get what it needs. This source also becomes their target, the object for projection of their internal angst. They desperately need both.

In the meantime, until they have re-sourced, this empty-slot-limbo-after-you-leave throws them into such turmoil they often apologize, scramble, grovel even, to keep you. But it won’t last, and if you relent and return, eventually they punish you for making them quake and cave. Therefore…it gets progressively worse as time goes on.

There is a huge cost to letting go…guilt, love, responsibility, memories have deep roots, can tear your heart out. Sometimes it’s our fear of change, of the unknown, grooming, programming, that keeps us in the cycle, but there can be an upside if you dare to detach. Let them go.  It took time before I realized it would set me free to the degree it has. You’re a prize worth winning. As you heal, you won’t need to blame them anymore, but you do have to stop making excuses for them. Remember, you didn’t do it. Can’t control or fix it, so take care of yourself.

Trust me…though I love my new apartment and the kick-ass view, it isn’t about that. I left some pretty incredible things behind. It isn’t about that either. Good, bad, indifferent, succeed or fail, I now own it…me. Ripped the mistletoe out by the roots and didn’t know it would create a surge to spread and reach out to embrace my entire world and life in a new way. I’ve made room for true friends, new experiences, failures, achievements instead of using my energy to survive and compensate for the toxic draws.

Whatever you see or don’t relate to in this article, whoever you are, be kind to others, make a stand when you need to, and take care of yourself. You’re worth it.

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4 comments on “From Toxic to Triumph

  1. wow this is put in a very clear and easy way to understand how they (the narcs) work. I only had a brief few days of thinking it’s all my fault and I can fix them but then I gave it a lot of thought and know I was nothing but kind, compassionate, respectful and patient. I asked them to sit and communicate got a flat out no and compromise with the same. after that I said that’s it. I will not apologize for how you behave.they “discarded” me.

  2. It’s strange how patterns emerged the more I learned about the manipulation tactics they use, their defense mechanisms (projecting, raging, blaming us). Odd for me to suggest you celebrate the ‘discard’, but getting out, however it happened for you is a damned good thing, right? My best wishes to you! Alex

  3. I am not quite at the Triumph stage and my situation is complicated. I like Alex was dovorcing with a medicare card in pocket. My husband and I seperated when I turned 60. We agreed to stay together for financial purposes until I went off medical benefits. We still did carry a bond of friendship and I still have a love for him. When he retired when he was sixty we had inhereited his mother’s house . He decided to live there for a good amount of time against my wishes. I was still working and he wanted to be a free bird. He had also gone to an island with his friend and brought cialis along. Coming back and lying and then finally telling me he wasn’t happy. This blew my mind (because he had cheated in the past when my boys were 4 & 5. At that time I became almost anorexic. I did forgive him and we tried to work it out. I always felt I was never enough for him. I thought he would never do this again. When he did the cialis thing it was different. I was stronger. He has a narcissistic personality. Too make this already story too long. I now have my medicare card and am in now in the process of divorce.He had come here to help me and wanted to cut tress (against my wishes) and it fell on him and he is paralyzed. He now is living with me and does have a girl that he has not seen in 6 months since the accident. I do have a friend who is interested inmate but is confirmed bachelor in his 65 years which is ok. My life is so complicated I do not see triumph in site. I have more issues at 65 then 16. SO MANY MORE. Any advice would be appreciated.

  4. Hello Allie,
    Your situation is indeed complex. I can’t give advice as I’m not a counselor or Dr qualified to do so, but can perhaps comment with a more distant perspective. We stay in these unhealthy relationships out of fear of change, duty, guilt, habit, cultural and religious expectations. It’s an interesting exercise to ask yourself why you’re still there? Do you feel an obligation to care for him instead of wishing him the best and leaving a phone nearby so he can call ‘his friend’ for assistance? That sounds cold and crass, but I’m thinking about you…what you want and deserve for your life.
    Once you determine your motivation, then you must wrestle with what you can live with. That’s a tough order for an empathetic person to defy their own expectations to free themselves. Very circular, right? I can only encourage you to be true to yourself. If you decide to stay, tell him the truth, that the guilt of leaving him now would be more of a burden than he is. Knowing that, give him options to make his ‘own bed’ now. If he decides to stay, it has to be on your terms. Whatever you do, I wish you the best. Peace at heart, the knowledge that staying or leaving is a choice you’re allowed to make for yourself. Then coming to terms with it may take on a new perspective that will clear the air, open the gates of your heart to love and take care of yourself, as you so deserve.
    Alex Delon

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