Stop Cycling Back to the Narcissist for More Torture

I frequently–more times than I can count–hear from men and women who are trapped in a severely painful pattern of returning to their narcissistic spouse or narcissistic parent. Each time they go back they believe that life with the NPD is going to be different. This is not true. With very rare exception –Once A Narcissist Always A Narcissist! If you are involved with a narcissist it may help you to repeat these words to yourself and recognize that you can no longer tolerate sharing your life with this highly pathological person.

I use the word “torture” (“the action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or to force them to do or say something, or for the pleasure of the person inflicting the pain”) in the title to emphasize how impossible narcissists make our lives with their multiple cruelties. Sadistic, cold, controlling, treacherous–they gain pleasure from weakening us, to have ultimate control over our being and in some cases to destroy us.

You don’t deserve this. You didn’t when you first became involved with this person. If you are the child of a narcissistic parent, you happened to be born by fate into a highly pathological family. First, know that this is not your fault. You are not to blame.

Some children grow up only knowing cruelty and torture. This is how their identities are shaped. The idea of being loved, feeling peace, protection or freedom is not part of their psychological repertoire. They have a prisoner of the gulag mentality and that is not surprising. We tend to repeat what we have experienced early in our lives. Some children have a sense that their narcissistic family members or their narcissistic spouses are very disturbed and they make a break for it early.

Being a child of a  narcissist lingers in the psyche, mind and heart. This innocent person did not get the bonding, loving touch and kind words of affirmation that he absolutely needed. He was criticized, thrown away, discounted and in severe cases—tortured.

Why would anyone return to this horrid scene of psychological massacre that almost killed our souls. Because human beings tend to repeat what they know, what is familiar. A child raised by a narcissist who feels undeserving and worthless and un-entitled will be drawn to partners who have a similar personality structure and will abuse them.

Over and over again the victim returns for more abuse, then leaves, then comes back and on it goes. In some cases the victim is broken and this is tragic.

Don’t wait any longer. Understand who your narcissistic torturer is–through and through. Then make a decision that you will sever this non-relationship. Do the work of healing yourself through the methods that work best for you–excellent psychotherapy (Be careful–don’t choose a narcissistic therapist), yoga practice that is gentle with emphasis on the breathing that quiets the nervous system, getting the sleep that you need and deserve, discovering and using your creative gifts, finding and nurturing loving and caring relationships.

I know that you will end this cycle of abuse and torture. I have faith in your decision and action to change your life along the pathway of healing and wholeness and yes, peace.

Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.

13 thoughts on “Stop Cycling Back to the Narcissist for More Torture”

  1. Comment: From Magdalena
    Found your book few days ago. What an eye-opening knowing that the cycle of mind games I endured these 53 years were not my fault. Tried separation many times, always pulled me back in. Finally I decided I had enough! I am enjoying the first TEN days without having to look over my shoulder and to worry about consequences for my actions. Thank you for liberating me and others. M.C.

  2. Comment: From Nancy
    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I was giving momentary thought to giving my narcissistic husband another chance (no, he hasn’t changed any of his behaviors) and the timing on this article was perfect!

  3. Comment: From: Sariah
    For years I put up with never-ending comments from my narcissist mother such as;

    – You baby him
    – Your husband must be a saint to put up with you
    – No one can tell you anything
    – You take things the wrong way
    – You blame everyone else for your problems
    – Your too sensitive
    – Your acting paranoid
    – I have to watch what I say around you
    – I walk on eggshells when I am around you
    – You have a big mouth
    – No one would want to marry you
    – No one can talk to you
    – You read too much into things
    – You have an answer for everything
    – I’m sorry YOU feel that way!!
    – “I don’t see anything wrong with that person. YOUR the problem”.
    – You have an awful lot of medical problems!

    If I tried to stand up for myself, I was often blamed that I had some sort of a mental illness. If that were the case, their conduct toward me certainly didn’t help matters any. If a person is in a wheelchair, does one put a stick in the wheel? Telling someone who they clearly think has an illness, that they are “too sensitive” and that “no one can talk to them” is not helpful, but abusive.

    Making the decision to go no contact with my mother was the easy part. The hard part was being a mother to my own inner child.

  4. Thank you for writing this. I’m 48 years old and nine months ago I cut most ties with my covert narcissistic mother. Yesterday was her 74th birthday and I did send a card and an e-mail. I just have no desire to see or talk to her. I’m feeling so much better since I cut most ties. Your writing has helped me understand what I was up against and what I needed to do. More than a decade ago a therapist said to me “you’re like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football and your mother is Lucy and always pulling the ball away.” Another therapist asked if I thought my mother was a narcissist. It wasn’t until I read your writing that I put the pieces together. I’m sad that I don’t have a healthy mother-son relationship but I’m happy I put myself first and stopped trying to manage this incredibly dysfunctional relationship. What’s funny is that I was so worried about what the rest of my family would think about me – how could a son abandon his mother? When I told a cousin how I felt she said, “I think everyone in the family will understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.” I had no idea.

  5. Comment: From Sariah
    Your in good company, David. I am female but like you I’ve had to distance myself. I’m emotionally healthier because of it. ((Hugs))

  6. Comment:From Carol

    I didn’t have a clue what a narcissist was until I packed my girls & ran from my marriage. At 3 am one morning, I sat at my computer and googled things he used to say to me & about our girls: Its not all about you, Carol. She’s going to grow up to be a loser because she can’t get over it? Whatever it is YOU do around here, Carol. Whatever F-ing problem you have, is your F-ing problem. I don’t know whats wrong with me, I feel dead inside. I don’t want to go to counseling because I’m afraid they’ll PEG me.
    Divorced him, remarried to a wonderful man, but his ADULT children are destroying my new marriage. They live with us. Killing me, my two kids. My step-daughter is what my counselors have called “an attention whore.” I feel trapped in this house. I don’t want to go downstairs to have dinner “with them” anymore. Meanwhile, my oldest daughter stays with friends, boyfriend. My youngest, a budding narcissist, stays in her room because she can’t stand them. My children are not without blame. But his kids are 23 (with fiancé here), and 26 1/2 son, who will never leave.
    These types of people get away with this behavior because they appeal to your kind personality. If you stand strong, they claim you are being mean to them (enter the “attention whore” mode).
    I’ve decided I am cutting them off. No more nice conversations, helpful, nurturing comments or going out of my way to help them. I am going about my business in this house as if they don’t exist. I am not even touching the dirty pan that’s been laying in the sink for 3 days.
    My only concern is that they have learned how to play their game a little better.
    Its scary to think that I have a two-year plan. Get my oldest through last year of community college. My youngest through high school. Then either die, or get better.

  7. Comment: From Cindy
    You have a plan and you will one day recover. Once you are out of the relationship everything will become clear. You can move on and will. your self esteem will grow and you will be happy and healthy. Not saying you will ever forget the pain but it will fade. I promise.

  8. “Be careful–don’t choose a narcissistic therapist”

    This is excellent advice.

    I am wondering, however, why it’s so rarely followed up with signals and/or questions as to how a layperson, in the first few visits, is supposed to be able to tell …?

  9. I had a wonderful therapist to help me with my grief & declining marriage and after divorce have just turned down 2 narcissist men as possible courters. Narcissists get easier to spot, and friends can be helpful in helping you understand these people and their backgrounds. There are good people out there, and you are a good person and worth protecting. MiniCooper

  10. Get a reference from a friend on your counselor/therapist. Ask the person how long they have been using them. Also, now you can look online and see the ratings and comments for this doctor.

  11. Cut the ties to these sick,sick people. I know that is easier said than done but for your sanity and peace of mind it needs to be done. They are not going to change not for you, not for anybody. Their whole life is a joke. They are empty shells incapable of love. Let them stay in their fantasy world of Oz while you enjoy yourself in the real world with a real person who genuinely loves you for yourself and not some idealised version that someone creates. Love to all who are dealing with these predators. Mel xx

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