Yes, I know you’ve heard that word over and over again. Remember the night you just couldn’t take it any more? He wouldn’t listen, but he sat there sitting with that look…you know the look…as if to say, “You know how nuts you sound right now?” And then calmly, rationally, methodically, he laid out your issues one by one. And you slapped him…
Yep, now you’re crazy.
Crazy is the feeling you feel with a narcissist. If it’s not a feeling on that popular “Feelings Chart” marriage counselors hand out, it should be. It’s that moment you think and feel, “Maybe I am really out-of-my-mind…he seems so certain and I’m feeling so confused…maybe I am a bad Mom, maybe I am a bad wife, maybe I should just ‘get help’ like he says and realize what a good guy he is.”
Narcissists feign emotion with the best of them, but lack real empathy. They can appear calm and clear, cooperative and seemingly open, charming…even sensitive. A young therapist can be easily drawn in to his convincing orbit. Many times I’ve sat with a younger supervisee who says, “He seems really great, but she seems like a basketcase.”
I’ve been down this road many times with many narcissists. Crazy thing is, I’ve grown to really care for them. I’ve come to enjoy working with narcissistic men because I know what they don’t yet know…that deep down, they’re vulnerable little boys who need to be loved. But that doesn’t mean you need to feel this. In fact, you may need space. You may need to get out. You may need to protect yourself. And you certainly need to take care of yourself…or, in my perspective, allow yourself to be loved by One who won’t subject you to this emotional and psychological abuse, One whose heart breaks for you in a way that his doesn’t.
But hear this – though you feel crazy, you are not crazy. You may be broken. Confused. Fragmented. Trapped. Stuck. But at your core, you’re loved more deeply than you know, and valued more profoundly than you feel. Your dignity and sanity, at some level, has been stolen, but your work now is to begin listening to a more gracious Voice. And you need to feel all the permission in the world to get to a place where you feel safe, where you can begin to recover, where the sanity can end and real healing can begin.
Finally, a word about your responsibility. I know what you’re thinking. You’ve done stupid things, said stupid things. Yes you have. I don’t buy into this whole, “He’s the abuser, you’re the victim” thing, in large part, because we’re all more deeply broken and confused than we know. Yes, you’ve blown it too. But what sets you apart is your willingness to own your own stuff and to heal. You are a victim. And you are responsible. Yet, unlike him, you have empathy. You feel. You are capable of repenting. You can be rightly grieved for how you’ve hurt others. And so, you’re well on your way to healing. And part of that healing with involve discovering your own story, why you are susceptible to the crazy-making ways of the narcissist, and how you might self-sabotage, too. It’ll be a hard journey, but a good one. And you’ll feel much more clear and whole in the end.
After reading this, I hope you feel a little less crazy. But do me a favor. Find community – preferably your church, a safe pastor and therapist, people who will look you in the eyes and tell you the truth about yourself. And late at night, when the voices of confusion enter again, listen for the whisper of One who says, “I love you. You’re not crazy. You’re my beautiful daughter. It’s time to leave Egypt, and fix your eyes on the promised land. Your slavery is over.”