Resisting the Temptation to Have the Last Word
Written by Narcissistic Abuse Expert and Coach, Randi Fine
Narcissistic Abuse Awareness and Guidance with Randi Fine
"Arguing with a narcissist is like getting arrested. Everything you do or say will be held against you."
You have struggled long and hard with the interactions you've had with the abuser in your life. While searching for answers to help explain the abuser's painful, unpredictable, frustrating, and cruel behavior towards you, and in an effort to gain some sense of clarity and stability in regard to it, you have had a "eureka moment". Every bizarre, unexplainable, disconnected behavior that you've witnessed in the abuser can be singularly characterized by one diagnostic phrase; Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Never having heard of this disorder, or at least understood the implications of it, you voraciously search for information about it. Confirmation received again and again solidifies your belief that the abuser in your life does in fact have narcissistic personality disorder.
Now what do you do about it?
Most likely you have learned that narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health condition. And you may have heard a professional somewhere state that NPD is a treatable condition (something I wholeheartedly disagree with). You cling to a shred of hope that the abuser can get better. If only the person knew what was wrong with him and how it was hurting you, he could remedy it. The majority of the effort would then be on them, not you. And you wouldn't be in the position of having to make excruciatingly painful life-altering decisions.
If you have drawn and stuck to that conclusion, the logical next step may be to inform the abuser that she has a mental health condition, back the disclosure up with the plethora of information you've gathered about NPD, and hope she is willing to get treatment.
To your dismay, when you do this, your gesture of kindness and concern is met with extreme hostility, the situation was turned on you, and you were blamed, as you always are.
If you only had the best intentions, how did things go so wrong?
For one, you used logic to confront an illogical situation. Nothing about this disorder and the related abuse is cognitively relatable. Approaches normally used will flare, not resolve issues with narcissists, because everything about NPD is counterintuitive.
Narcissists cannot be confronted about their behavior; not even in the most loving or gentlest sense, without extremely negative consequences. There is no way to reason with them, communicate with them, or compromise with them. They will never consider or see things through your perspective. They have no compassion for your thoughts and feelings. They simply do not care about you.
Narcissists feed heavily on reactions and emotions, and will do almost anything to solicit them. You may think you are standing up to them, or putting them in their place by asserting yourself or confronting them, but you are not. You are perpetuating the abuse. They enjoy the attention they get from your scolding, assertions, and negative reactions. It only encourages them to abuse you more. The more you react, the worse the situation will become for you.
Silence and withdrawal of attention is excruciating for narcissists. If you are feeling vengeful or looking for ways to punish them, that is THE way to do it.
This brings me to the point of this article. I strongly advise that my clients walk away from the abuser to avoid conflict and make strides towards permanently leaving them--all without saying a word. I advise them not to stand up for themselves, not to try to prove a point, not to seek validation, not to call them out on their bad behavior (as in "I know who you are" or I know what you did"), and to completely give up on the notion of having the last word, because these things will elevate the abuse and possibly put them in danger.
Some clients heed my advice. Others go rogue, and then when everything goes off the rails, desperate and fearful after an unsettling outcome, seek my guidance. Sometimes the damage is reparable, often it is not.
I understand that the temptation to do these things is strong and that the impulse can be overpowering at times, but you must resist it. Find a professional you can trust and then fully rely on that person's expert advice. Relying on your own logic, the advice of a layperson, or the advice of those you meet in narcissistic abuse support group rooms, can potentially cause you irreparable harm.
If you ultimately choose to navigate this process using your own instincts (which is inadvisable), you are certain to get this wrong. Please be aware of the risk you are taking by doing that for yourself and possibly your children.
There will never be validation from or closure with the narcissist, so don't bother trying to get it. The journey to recovery from this type of abuse is one you will have to take within yourself. I hope you wisely choose to navigate that challenging process with the help of a skilled, professional.
You can grow and heal, and then put the experience in your rear-view mirror. The narcissist is forever trapped in the living hell he or she has created.
This journey will go much smoother if you get it right from the start. Don't hesitate to reach out and allow someone to help you find your way back to the sanity and peace of mind you deserve.