I’ll bet you know someone with whom you can never have a civil conversation. They criticize, blame, taunt, ignore, withhold, and are generally annoyed by you. They cause you heartache and make you feel miserable. Yet this person is close to you, even in your “inner circle” of friends, family, or coworkers.
You are this narcissist’s punching bag.
Last week, I spoke with two people who serve as punching bags for the narcissist in their lives. This phenomenon is one of the most hideous behaviors a narcissist exhibits: using a close relationship as the theater for their narcissistic rage. Narcissistic rage comes in many forms: silent treatment, temper tantrums, blaming, and other forms of emotional punishment.
About what does the narcissist rage? Rage usually comes from narcissistic injury but I think that, in this case, it is a masterful manipulation to get his fill of narcissistic supply.
It is a sick dance that goes like this: "Because of who you are, with your annoying optimism and hope, I know that no matter how horribly I treat you, you will always try to make me love you. The nastier I am, the harder you will try to make me turn into the person you hope I could be. You remember, of course, the mask of the False Self I wore to win you over, or that I wear to fool people into thinking I'm awesome. Around you, however, I can drop the mask, relax, and be my nasty self. But really, in order to survive, I need all the attention you give me and, if you stop giving it to me, or if you leave me, I will be unable to cope."
Pretty sick, eh?
Yes they are.
Victims of this dynamic feel crazy, anxious, at their wit's end, afraid of losing their partner, and always blame themselves for whatever behavior they "made" the narcissist do (wrong!). In fact, the more they over-function, the more the narcissist under-functions, creating a perfect storm of codependency.
This dynamic must stop in order to restore your sanity.
The narcissist is utterly incapable of understanding one's plight due to a lack of empathy. The narcissist is also incapable of changing. Therefore, you - the “punching bag” - has to change your behavior in order to survive and heal.
Boundaries are crucial to ending the codependency dance. Let the narcissist live his or her own life as they choose, and become a disinterested observer. Stop overfunctioning with attention, phone calls, texts, gifts, and polite questions. Leave them alone. Leave, if you can.
This dynamic is real. For your sanity's sake wake up, accept the narcissist will never change nor morph into a loving person, grieve the loss of your imaginary relationship, and accept it for the bullying-codependency game that it is.
It's a game you will never win.