The narcissist needs to uphold the “false self” at all times. They must be seen to be charming, strong-minded and accomplished to outsiders. At home, they require their partner to reflect this positive self-image to avoid the insecurity that they may feel deep down. If the partner fails, the narcissist will resort to manipulation or gaslighting to get what they want or simply ignore their presence. The upshot is that the narcissist experiences physical and emotional freedom, because they never have to worry about upsetting someone because of their off-putting personality traits, which they deny having. For the narcissist, this is what the relationship feels like:1. Everything is great. (“I’m getting what I want.”)
2. Everything is wrong. (“They committed a crime.”)
3. Withdraw until amends are made.
4. Return to the top.
Here’s example of the false self: Narcissists may act empathetic and supportive of others but will simultaneously harbour disgust and contempt for the vulnerable person close to them. They will often use a situation (say, a narcissist’s wife is depressed, and he is unsympathetic) to reinforce their specialness by offering acquired knowledge and support to a friend in a similar situation.
The codependent, however, is always walking on eggshells. They feel overly responsible for others and take on what is not theirs. They do this to avoid their own feelings of inadequacy. They learn to fit into the narcissist’s “self-serving” world and gets used to living in an emotional desert. For the Codependent, this what it the relationships feels like:
1. Everything is great. (“They are getting what they need.”)
2. Everything is wrong. (“You committed a crime.”)
3. Working to gain approval.
4. Return to the top.
For the longest time, I could not make heads or tails between codependency and love. I thought that when you love someone, you put that person’s needs before yours and make their happiness your personal mission. Love is patient love is kind, right? Love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no account of wrongs. How do you possibly reconcile this self-sacrificing kind of love discussed in the Bible with a healthy relationship? It made no sense to me.
Take this one step further- how in the heck do you learn to have a healthy (read: not codependent) relationship when you’re at the point in your life when you’re having children? For any codependent, who needs to be needed, having children is the ultimate test.
I will never forget talking to an ex a few years ago right after I had my son and he said, completely jokingly, “Oh my gosh, I can’t even imagine how much you love being needed 24/7.” He didn’t even say it in any way that was meant to be rude or insulting, just as we were laughing over the topic generally. But OH MY GOSH- how right was he? I didn’t even make that connection until well into my codependency recovery journey that having children is the ultimate fuel to the fire for codependents. Sign me up for little people that need me 24/7; you found your volunteer here!
And that’s another huge problem with codependency:
You give another person the role of knowing and also being what it is that you need to feel loved, happy, important, worthy.
And not because that person goes on a power hungry, manipulative control tip becoming some dominant personality type trying to suppress your natural being for their own personal gain; rather, this person cannot even begin to understand how to keep someone happy or make it work with someone who doesn’t have a clue where they stand, in the world, or in themselves.
There is no relationship, for a person like this, that can ever be genuinely fulfilling.
At first, when you are pretending and changing inside everything you can to relate and make the other happy- that is not happiness, that is relief.
Relief when he/she gives you that smile of approval.
But sheer panic yet again, once they look away too quickly for you to feel confident enough in.
Loving yourself and realizing your own worth is never going to be easy.
It’s never going to be POSSIBLE, attempted time and time again, through the lens of any individual who is not your own self.