Narcissistic abuse is a strange phenomenon to experience. Because of the very nature of the abuse, victims get sucked in gradually and often have a hard time putting their finger on what’s going on. Many experience “waking up” to the realization that their parent, boss, or partner is a narcissist. Initially it can feel like the navigating the Twilight Zone as they step into a new world of insight and understanding. People who have experienced this form of abuse are often motivated to learn everything they can about narcissists to better understand what happened and why they got sucked in. This is good information to know, and there are so many great resources for survivors to understand the predatory nature of narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths. However, there is something that all survivors need to understand about narcissists: they aren’t nearly as interesting as you.
You were groomed by the narcissist because you are interesting. You have empathy, which is something they lack. You have interest in values and ideals greater than yourself, while they only have interest in their own image. You have the ability to create, and they can only destroy. Because you are connected to all that is universally good, beautiful, and true, you are infinitely more powerful than they in your ability to love, heal, and grow. That is why you were a target. That is why they will do anything to divert your attention away from your own power.
Because the targets of narcissists are naturally good at listening and validating others, these traits are hijacked and exploited by the narcissist. Eventually, all of the attention goes to the narcissist, but is never reciprocated. Because the survivor is already in such a habit of putting the needs and whims of others before their own, it can be difficult to break this habit, even in recovery. Many survivors have been so eroded by the relationship, they no longer know who they are. They struggle to put their own needs first because they’ve forgotten they have needs. Additionally, they were likely groomed to believe that caring for themselves is “selfish,” while focusing solely on the narcissist is “good.” This is why it is common for those in recovery to soak up everything they can about understanding the narcissist, but fall short when it comes to understanding themselves.
If you find yourself putting more energy into “understanding” the narc than you do cultivating your own beautiful, loving, complex personality, give yourself permission to stop. There is a limited amount of information to know about such a stunted person, but there is an infinite well to discover about what makes you uniquely you. Make sure your recovery time is really spent on the one who really matters. You.