Becky Reed has written a short book – “Life in the Aftermath of a Narcissist” – that she has kindly contributed to Trans4mind’s free to download selection of featured ebooks.
In Greek myth, Narcissus was a beautiful young man who rejected all potential lovers, but then tragically fell in love with his own reflection in a pool. Freud expanded the term “narcissism” to explain the difference between being pathologically self-absorbed and having an ordinary interest in oneself.
The book is about Becky’s experience of being married to a narcissistic partner, how that destroyed her happiness, and how she managed to reclaim her independence and move forward again in her life. Her situation was not so unusual as many people are narcissistic, to a greater or lesser extent. Narcissists typically display the following traits:
- An obvious self-focus in interpersonal communications
- Problems in sustaining satisfying relationships
- Hypersensitivity to any insults or imagined insults
- Flattery towards people who admire and affirm them
- Detesting those who do not admire them
- Using other people without considering the cost of doing so
- Bragging and exaggerating their achievements
- Claiming to be an “expert” at many things
- Inability to view the world from the perspective of other people
- Denial of remorse and gratitude
Shame is the feeling that lurks beneath all unhealthy narcissism, and narcissists use projection to dump shame onto others. They feel better by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else. They happily exploit others without regard for their feelings or interests. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all.
Love and friendship are unknown to a narcissist, and sex is typically without feeling. Becky suggests that love and sex in a relationship that includes intimacy, are our response to our highest values. “Let the sex be the spices and herbs; let it be tenderizing ingredients. But the ‘meat, vegetables, and potatoes’ of a love relationship should be a deep and lasting friendship that consists of trust, honor, respect, lots of laughter and shared experiences of growth.”
Codependence is the ‘catch 22′ situation when one wants to get from the other what neither of them has. For example, one wanting love, the other wanting subservience. This reliance on the other can be taken advantage of, if one of the partners is only interested in looking after their own needs and wants, and the other is always left begging.
Self love is very different from narcissism (or self-obsession) – one is a strength, the other a weakness, due to perceived lack. But self love is the solution to both codependence and narcissism.