The saying goes that possession is nine-tenths of the law. Once a narcissist has you in their possession, it is very difficult to escape. You may be unfortunate to have a parent who is a narcissist, as do I, or you may have a partner who falls into this category, as do I. (Hopefully the soon-to-be ex-husband.) However you got into this position, get out as fast as you can, if you can. The recommended thing is no contact with the narc, but this is not always possible, for example if there are children involved, in which case, as little contact as possible is the way to go.
It has taken me 8 years to find the courage to leave. 8 years of blaming myself for a broken relationship; 8 years of guilt; 8 years of being broken down more and more; 8 years of questioning if I am doing the right or wrong thing; 8 years of feeling worthless; 8 years of wondering what I will do for money for me and my kids; 8 years of being told and shown that the dirt under the dog poo is superior to me. I was not shown love or caring or affection, unless there was some end goal in mind. If he was being nice to me, it made my heart soar, as I thought that I had been wrong all along and finally, finally, I had got it right and we were now on our way to our happily ever after, only to be pulled down and torn to shreds in the most callous manner.
The interesting thing about the people inflicting their narcissism on others is that they will fight for you when you are attacked. Or at least that is the way you may perceive it. In fact what it is for them, is a show of dominance and possession. You belong to them, ergo no-one else has permission to mess with their plaything. Anyone who tries to do it will be met with a show of aggression in one way or another, as the narcissists attempt to prove they have the upper hand and show their dominance. For example, last Christmas, my sisters-in-law upbraided me for forgetting the Christmas crackers back at my house – bearing in mind that they had changed the venue for the Christmas meal from our place to another on the 24th December; that I had to load 4 children, presents for 15 people, ham, potato bake, salads, desserts, drinks, changes of clothes and more – into the car by myself, as the narc had decided to cycle to his sister’s house. I had bought and cooked all the food by myself. I had bought and wrapped all the gifts by myself. There was no sharing of the load. There are snarky remarks made when you arrive late at their house and we were running late, so I was already in a panic. I even remembered the Christmas serviettes and decorations for the table, but forgot the crackers. There was a fuss made, with loud and pointed comments being made. I lost my cool and said that I would go and fetch the crackers, as clearly you cannot celebrate Christmas without crackers, right?
Once in the car, I burst into tears, from the frustration that I had remembered so much stuff but was being castigated for this one item, from sheer exhaustion, from the lack of help that I had received, from the lack of understanding shown, from realising that both sisters felt that it was okay to attack me in that manner, from my ex telling me that I was over-reacting. It was the final straw on the back of a month of recrimination, nasty comments, passive aggressive behaviour and put-downs from my sister-in-law. I had been driven to the point of writing suicide notes and was only stopped by a friend talking me through it for 3 hours on the phone. My eldest son had fractured his arm and I had barely survived our wedding anniversary, where I had been told that I wasn’t romantic enough and I was selfish and so much other stuff that my brain couldn’t retain it all. (I know if I really think about it for along time, I can recall what was said, but I have buried it for a reason. I was rebuked severely for 2 hours and then wept my way through a movie and this was followed by further reprimands, on and on until 1 in the morning. Such a lovely anniversary.)
I drove the 25 minutes back to the house to collect the crackers and the 25 minutes back again. I just could not make myself go into that house. I could not face having to sit with the sisters and be fake and pretend that everything was fine. I dropped off the crackers and caught an Uber home. I was sitting at our house, thinking that I had left all the food at the other house and deciding whether or not to start cooking again or go out, when my children and their father arrived. Apparently there had been a huge screaming match between him and his older sister over my bad behaviour and how I had negatively affected everyone on Christmas Day. (Reminds me why Catholicism makes me shiver – they are all “devout” Catholics.) He was very proud of himself for taking a stand and I was absolutely astounded. I could not believe that he had done that and I was blown away, thinking that maybe he had turned a corner or changed his attitude. But then after the children were asleep, he started on me again. How dare I walk out over such a tiny infraction on the part of his family? How dare I cause him to have to stand up for me and put a wedge between him and his family? How dare I ruin the children’s Christmas? Eventually at midnight I put a pillow over my head and hoped that I would die during the night.
It took me a long time to figure it out, but he eventually admitted that he is very competitive with his siblings, particularly his older sister. It made the penny drop. I was his possession and she had messed with me. He didn’t fight with her to protect me. He fought with her to prove that he was the dominant one and that he is right, not her. It finally made sense to me as to how he could “stand up for me” and then attack me on the same day.
There was the time that my mother flew into my school and pulled me out of rehearsals, as she said that it was taking up too much of my time. (We were going on a school cultural tour overseas.) She said that it was cutting into family time and homework time. This from the woman who never came home before 7pm at night, as she stayed at the office to have drinks every night after work. My Dad agreed with her and said that it was taking up a lot of time. This from the parents whom I had to phone to ask them to collect me from school, as they had forgotten me, again. Once I got home from the rehearsal, I was shouted at for over-committing my time, but she had signed the consent form. She then verbally lashed out at me about other things and I was left bewildered, wondering what I had done wrong and how it was that she was championing me being with the family over being at school, only to lambaste me as soon as I got home. She didn’t like the school taking up so much time with her possession. She showed them who was boss by pulling me out from the school hall. She subsequently pulled me out of the tour altogether.
The thing about being a narcissist’s possession is that anytime you try to leave, you either get beaten down to the point where you don’t leave from fear or they love bomb you with kindness, adoration and caring so that you change your mind, then once you are hooked back in, they beat you back into submission.
If this is your situation, then perhaps you are a possession and should leave. It is hard. It is frightening to the point of debilitation. It has made me weep, shake, have panic attacks where I could not breathe, caused depression, sadness, fear and so much more, but I am getting my life back, little by little. Every day looks a little brighter, a little better and so worth the hardships of walking out. I have lost track of the number of times that I wanted to die. There were 5 or 6 times in the last 15 years where I wrote notes. There was once where I attempted it. (I am still here so yes, I didn’t do a good enough job!)
Don’t be a possession. Take back your own life and possess your right to be who you are and be who you want to be, whatever that is in your view.