by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
The concept of narcissistic abuse is so clear when you are standing in one of these relationships. It’s kind of like this…
Pretend you and your partner are standing on the corner, and he/she (can go either way) is stepping on your foot. You tell him that he is standing on your foot…
He says… that simply can’t be. While his shoe is placed directly onto the toe box of your shoe, he is only being near you, so he says. Your partner vehemently denies placing his weight on your foot. And nothing changes…
Time passes and the discomfort of his standing on your foot doesn’t go away. Actually, it gets worse. You begin to feel a throbbing pain. And again, you seek his cooperation in your addressing it.
You tell him that your foot hurts… It’s throbbing because of the pressure and weight of his body placed directly on your foot. That’s impossible he says, you are claiming that I’m hurting you when all I’m doing is being near you to protect you.
He says, if you don’t want me to be near you, then I’ll just leave. (In fact, I’m going to leave anyway because you won’t let me stand on your foot.) Your unwillingness to allow me this privilege/entitlement is a huge blow to me, he claims.
You don’t want him to feel as he reports, so you welcome him to stay all while pleading that he do so without standing on your foot. You feel like an unheard broken record lost in your efforts to deal with his secondary darts thrown in to avert accountability and keep you holding on.
Must Be Something Else
He replies, if your foot hurts when I stand here, then there must be something wrong with you, because many women have allowed him this privilege in the past…and he knows there are many to follow that will welcome this gesture of standing on their foot.
After the two of you toss his rights around and diminish your concerns, still nothing happens to alleviate your pain and discomfort. Eventually, your foot starts to swell and turn purple. You point this out to him, and your experience remains to be heard.
“You are exaggerating,” he declares. What I’m doing here could not be causing you this discomfort. You are making a big deal out of nothing. You are far too sensitive. Your pain must be coming from an older injury you sustained, he asserts. And further, I have every right to stand where I wish, how I wish and when I wish!
Know Your Options
I assume that you see his lack of empathy and failure to assume personal accountability. Can you see how she is awaiting both his permission and compliance to deal with her own pain? And in so doing, nothing changes. Because at the end of the day, a narcissist doesn’t care about another person’s experience if it is in conflict with his/her satisfying their own personal needs. This person’s inability to empathize (stand in another person shoes) and unwillingness to assume personal accountability for their contribution to conflict leaves the two of you in a dead end. You cannot have a satisfying relationship under these conditions.
The only relationship you can have with this person is the one that fulfills the narcissist’s needs—exclusively. If that is not your life purpose, then you are creating the wrong relationship. Trust that you have other options rather than enabling, contributing to and supporting the dynamics that result in continued damage to yourself. Seek to learn how you can break this cycle of narcissistic abuse, before your foot falls off…before this conflict costs you further demise…before the narcissistic abuse spirals out of control.
Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact her if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.