Should you go or should you stay?
That’s the question that keeps many daughters of narcissistic mothers up at night.
There’s always another event, a holiday, a birthday… but speaking up doesn’t work either- it just gets you into more hot water.
Sometimes, it just feels easier to stay, but is it worth it in the long run?
5 Hidden Costs of Staying In Contact With A Narcissist
To be actively involved with someone who suffers from a personality disorder, such as narcissism, will cost you and cost you dearly.
Like Sisyphus, when you stay in contact with a narcissist, you are condemned to roll a boulder uphill repeatedly, only to have it roll over and crush you.
Remaining involved with a narcissist is demoralizing and exhausting, and, at the end of the day, you might not know the true cost of staying.
Here 5 Hidden Costs of STAYING in Contact with a Narcissist
1) When you stay involved with a narcissist, you are forever working to prove yourself to someone invested in your defeat.
Because a narcissist needs to put you down to lift themselves up, working for their approval is a needless and futile task.
Over time, your self-esteem suffers under the weight of their judgment and insults.
2) While your default is peace and harmony, they thrive on conflict.
If they can bait you and get you to into their arena of chaos and discord, they feel they have a fighting chance to defeat you. It is no skin off their nose, and it destroys your peace.
Over time, you stop expressing your opinion. You tell yourself, what’s the point? It isn’t worth it.
3) You give them material to use against you.
As long as you remain engaged with them, they will use whatever they gather about you as fodder for their campaign to discredit you. Nothing is private, and nothing is sacred.
Sharing yourself isn’t safe. Over time, you begin to withdraw.
4) If they aren’t using you for supply, they see you as their enemy.
Because of this dynamic, you end up either feeling used and going along with them (even when you don’t agree) to keep the peace, or you risk being a target of their wrath. There is no neutral ground.
Over time, you become afraid to rock the boat, so you stuff your thoughts and feelings.
5) In their world, you are either for them or against them.
There is no room for independent thought and action. You aren’t valued as a person in your own right who can come to your own conclusions and direct your own life. You are treated as an object.
When you are appropriated, you can stop seeing yourself as having worth.
Cumulatively, when you stay in a relationship with a narcissist, you risk losing hope.
That’s for a good reason. Relationally speaking, there is no hope. They never had it, and through their treatment of you, they destroy yours.
Sadly, the relationship is hope-less. But you are the only one who feels the pain of it in the present moment.
The narcissist is like a zombie- the living dead- who only appears as if they are (relationally) alive. They are still living, but their hope, their humanity, died a long time ago, and with it, their capacity for empathy or kindness.
The problem is that there is no bringing them back from the dead.
But you don’t know that. You keep trying to breathe life into a (relational) corpse.
What you can’t see is that the narcissist gave up on relationships a long time ago.
Their early relationships were not good enough to give them the hope that every child needs to connect with others in a healthy way.
Yet, they are all too willing to drag you into the darkness with them. It gives them supply, but not (relational) life.
They are just bidding their time… in this limbo state- neither alive and hopeful nor dead and inactive.
Yet, remaining in contact with the narcissist is costing you. And it costs you in ways you can’t see but can feel.
At first, confusion, then fatigue, and eventually exhaustion set in
Your hope starts to die. And, when your hope dies, you can feel numb and dead inside.
When that feeling state takes hold, it becomes depression. You toggle between depression and anxiety- hopelessness and fear- lost in a maze with no healthy path forward.
Is this sad? YES. Is this tragic? Yes. But it is also dangerous, very dangerous to you.
Staying in contact with a narcissist will cost you.
As long as they have access to you, they will suck the lifeblood out of you. They can’t help but do so. It is a matter of psychological survival for them.
Do you become narcissistic in response? No, you don’t become narcissistic, but you do become miserable.
After suffering years of narcissistic abuse, it is common for people to become a shell of themselves. My psychotherapy clients frequently
tell me they don’t know what they think or feel.
If you decide it costs you too much, it isn’t worth it- you can get free.
Breaking free is not easy, but it is possible.
You aren’t alone, and you aren’t crazy- there is a way out.