Feeling Crazy? The Codependent Struggle to Leave a Narcissistic Relationship by Roberta Cone, Psy.D.
Updated: Apr 13
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You may be feeling crazy because you love a narcissist and are afraid to leave the abusive relationship. It will be easier to help yourself leave the more you know about codependent behavior and the narcissistic partner. Narcissists require someone who is willing to cater to their needs and to give up their own desires. They are self-destructive people with concealed low self-esteem and insatiable needs for attention and nothing to give. They purposely attach to a giving, supportive person who avoids center stage and thrives on taking care of others.
Expecting something from a narcissist who has nothing to give can make a codependent person feel crazy. Trying to pretend that the narcissist is someone he or she is not can drive you wild. So what is codependency? What does it mean to be codependent? Codependents are people who have spent years negotiating with reality concerning particular people from their past and present. Codependents spend years trying to get mom or dad to love them in a certain way, when that parent cannot or will not.
The development of codependence has its roots in dysfunctional family systems and occurs over a fairly long period of time. Overly rigid, dogmatic, or authoritarian types of families where there may or may not be alcohol abuse or dependence appears to produce codependency. These families tend to emphasize discipline and control where rewards are given for compliance with strict and often illogical rules. Children learn that any positive feelings about self are dependent on the mood of someone else. These families may appear to be perfect to neighbors, but there is a great deal of pain and secrecy behind closed doors. Children learn early to not express their thoughts or feelings and to ignore family behavioral problems. This family survival response effectively raises the child’s tolerance for emotionally abusive and inappropriate behavior in others.
As adults, these children have a greater tendency to get involved in abusive painful relationships with people who are unreliable, emotionally unavailable, or needy. Lacking entitlement to their feelings, these adult children tend to be indirect about their needs, deny feelings, and distrust intimacy. They start with the belief that love is sacrificing for my partner and putting up with whatever my partner wants to dish out. This is a set up for making the abusive relationship more important than you are to yourself. Generally, codependents feel consistently unfulfilled in relationships and are the ones who tend to get deeply stuck in purgatory with a narcissist.
If you are a codependent in a relationship with a narcissist and are asking yourself, “Why am I feeling so crazy?” It’s time to let the narcissist go. It is time to let him or her off the hook. Like your caretakers, the narcissist is constitutionally incapable of loving you. That doesn’t mean you can’t love that person anymore. It means that you are ready to feel the immense relief that comes when you begin accepting the truth and stop denying reality. You release the narcissist to be who he or she actually is. You stop trying to make that person be someone he or she is not. You deal with your feelings and walk away from the abusive relationship. You stop letting what you are not getting control you and you take responsibility for your life. You then begin the process of healing and loving yourself.
Get angry, feel hurt, and land in a place of self forgiveness. Your life in purgatory will end. You will no longer be a victim of abuse. You will recognize that you have been mistreated and allowed yourself to be mistreated. You will no longer create, seek out, or re-create situations that victimize you. You stand in your power and no longer live in quiet desperation.
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