This article has been submitted to us anonymously by a victim of abuse by a narcissist. It carries much value, hence, we have decided to publish it.
Once upon a time, the very beginning of time, Eve was tempted by the beauty and magnificence of the red apple, only to realize that it was in fact the insidious coercion of the snake that doomed her.
Have you ever been in love with a narcissist?
At the stage where you were unwittingly ensnared by the charm, devotion and devastating good looks, have you ever found yourself doing things you’ve never done before, fully convinced that you were in love? Have you ever made a mistake, only to have it dangled over your head like a poisonous carrot? Have you ever been afraid to block or ignore someone in the fear that they might expose your mistake?
Perhaps it was a questionable chat that could easily be taken out of context or a picture you were coerced to send with fervent promises that it would be deleted immediately. Perchance you shared private information about other people with that person, trusting that it would stay between the two of you. Maybe you made a mistake which was punished in a manner that did not fit the ‘crime’ only to be ignored- endless calls and texts which were deliberately meant to make you seem guilty and desperate.
Yes, as Muslims, we are meant to stay away from unlawful relationships entirely, but mistakes do happen. Our reputation is what people think they know about us. It’s hardly ever an accurate representation of who we are. It is in fact God who conceals our sins and mistakes. Sometimes, a bitter human being may attempt to taint the perception that others have of you (often the closest people to you) with doctored evidence, private information, one-sided stories and lies. This article is for any person who has loved a narcissist.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, Fifth edition (DSM-5), Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is defined as a deep sense of grandiosity, a constant need for admiration and a lack of empathy, beginning early in adulthood and persisting throughout a person’s life. According to the American Psychiatric Association (2012), NPD is diagnosed with the presence of at least five of the following criteria:
- A grandiose sense of self-importance (expects to be recognized as superior without any effort or achievements).
- Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited power, wealth, beauty or ideal love.
- Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only associate with other special or high-status people.
- Requires excessive admiration.
- Has a sense of entitlement (unreasonable expectation of favourable treatment).
- Interpersonally exploitative to take advantage of others.
- Lacks empathy, can’t identify the feelings and needs of others.
- Often believes others are envious of him/her.
- Shows arrogant, haughty behaviour and attitude.
When I was being emotionally manipulated by a narcissist, I immediately took to google to find any self-help article that could abate me. I found that the information seemed generic although effective and proven to be accurate. However, in my opinion, dealing with abuse and manipulation does not come with a textbook solution. It is widely prescribed to block the person, change your contact details, avoid any contact with the person and focus on your wellbeing. However, what happens when you are afraid that blocking access to a person may have more serious repercussions? What if you don’t have the money to start a hobby, book a holiday or splurge on retail therapy?
There is a specific feeling that arises within me when the narcissist I’ve had to deal with tries to lure me back in, or to threaten me. It’s almost like alarm bells ringing in my head. My heart drops, my chest becomes heavy, I’m either shocked or completely emotional. To me, this is what I deem as an emergency situation. If you have ever experienced these symptoms or anything similar to them, you may benefit from the protocol I’ve compiled for myself and which I execute immediately when this occurs.
Preparing for the emergency
- Create three folders in your gallery labelled “achievements”, “kind words” and “good memories”.
- The Achievements folder should preserve as many accomplishments as possible, be it academic certificates or the first yeast bun you have ever baked! Why this, you may ask? When a narcissist reappears, it is easy for you to feel drawn back and stuck in the same situation as you were in before. You need an instant reminder that you have accomplished many things without them and are progressing.
- In your Kind Words folder, accumulate screenshots of messages that people have sent you that were meaningful. Add motivational quotes and videos to this folder too. Why, because when you are attacked with insults or accusations from a person you loved or still love, it is natural to wonder if it is true. You need an instant reminder that the people who love you and really know you, don’t see you in the same way.
- In your Good Memories folder, simply add any memorable day, moment or person to you. When the ground feels like it’s being pulled out from beneath you, you need to see that you had good days and you will have many more.
- Your support. Always have a confidant that you can trust and share your experience with. This person may not always be a best friend but could be a counsellor, a cool family member or anyone that you trust to explain the gravity of the situation. In a best-case scenario, the person needs to be aware that they are on standby for your emergency situation.
- Make sure that the narcissist doesn’t have access to you on social media. Whilst it may be tempting to show that person how happy and well you are doing, it can only tempt them to re-enter your life and hurt you again.
- Download a game or app that you can progress on at your own pace. Whether it’s a language app like Duolingo to start understanding your Spanish series, or a game like Sims Mobile where you can start with no money and an awful house and gradually progress. It has been proven that games of this nature can in fact, improve your mental health and motivate you to grow and move forward.
When an emergency situation arises, these are some of the most effective things that I find can be put into action. I don’t focus on what I am going to do, I simply focus on the next step.
- Don’t trust yourself to react even if you have the perfect response. The first step is to put your phone off and out of reach and to fight every single instinct to engage the narcissist. Place your phone in a cupboard and move to another room immediately.
- Water: This step encompasses a prophetic practice. Drink a tall glass of water sitting down, then perform wudhu or take a leisurely shower.
- Contact your trusted person and if possible, arrange to meet them. Ask them to keep your phone and to help convince you out of any irrational thing you may be tempted to do.
- Open up your 3 folders and go through it remembering that you kept it for the times you needed it.
- Distract yourself. Going out, doing a quick workout, taking a drive. Force yourself to perform at least one activity that will occupy your mind. This time allows your mind to process and prepare yourself for what you could expect next.
- Listen to wisdom. I recommend listening to Youtube lectures by Yasmin Mogahed- this helped me quite a bit- and Mathew Huessey to gain perspective on why this relationship is toxic for you and why and how to move on from it.
- Write down a rational response and try to establish whether it will help address the situation or not.
- Seek the help of a counsellor if you feel yourself slipping into a depression or state of hopelessness.
If your response is met with threats, accusations or any form of insult:
- Do not respond with emotion. Do not try to reason or rationalize, if they were capable of negotiation, they would not be threatening you.
- Try and arrange to meet the person with a mediator or counsellor. Do not go alone. This will give you the chance to address the “problem” presented by the narcissist with the presence of someone neutral. A narcissist will never show his/her true nature to a complete stranger which is why it may be challenging to get them to agree to a mediator.
- If the person is verbally abusing you, you may need to take measures such as filing a police report for harassment or approach a third-party for help. Often, we are afraid of approaching our parents, therefore the next step would be to try and escalate the problem to someone trustworthy who can help without involving parents. Personally, standing up to your narcissist alone would be a grave mistake. They will use personal weaknesses and information that they have learnt over time about you, to hurt you and assert power over you.
The ultimate goal should be towards completely blocking that person out of your life, creating boundaries, focusing on self-love and empowering yourself.
“Sometimes it takes getting pushed to the very edge before you can find your voice and courage to speak out again. Sometimes it takes hitting that rock bottom to realize you’re done descending, and it’s time to rise. Sometimes it takes being told you’re nothing—being made to feel like you’re nothing to help you see that you are complete. YOU. ARE. ENOUGH” – Mandy Hale