Through the intricate mechanism of projective identification, he forces her to play an emergent role of “the sick” or “the weak” or “the naive” or “the dumb” or “the no good”. What he denies in himself, what he is terrified of facing in his own personality – he attributes to others and moulds them to conform to his prejudices against himself.
The Narcissist MUST have THE best of everything he covets, the MOST glamorous, stunning, talented, head turning, mind-boggling spouse in the WORLD. Nothing short of this fantasy will do. He will mold you into his perfection or you will be sorry for not conforming! To compensate for the shortcomings of his real-life spouse – he invents an idealized figure and relates to it instead.
Then, when reality conflicts too often and too roughly with the ideal figure – he reverts to devaluation. His behavior turns on a dime and becomes threatening, demeaning, contemptuous, berating, reprimanding, destructively critical and sadistic – or cold, unloving, detached, “clinical”.
He punishes his real-life spouse for not living up to his standards as personified in his Galathea, in his Pygmalion, in his ideal creation. The Narcissist plays a wrathful and demanding God.
To preserve one’s mental health – one must abandon the narcissist. One must move on. Moving on is a process, not a decision or an event. First, we have to acknowledge and accept reality.
It is a volcanic, shattering, agonizing series of little, nibbling, thoughts and strong, voluptuous resistances. The battle won, harsh and painful realities assimilated, we can move on to the learning phase.
We label. We assemble the material. We gather knowledge. We compare experiences. We digest. We have insights. Then we decide and we act. This is “to move on”.
Having gathered sufficient emotional sustenance, support t and confidence – we leave to face the battlefields of our relationships, fortified and nurtured. This stage characterizes those who do not mourn – but fight; do not grieve – but replenish their self-esteem; do not hide – but seek; do not freeze – but move on.
After being betrayed and abused – we grieve. We grieve for the image we had of the traitor and abuser – the image that was so fleeting and so wrong. We mourn the damage he did to us.
We experience the fear of never being able to love or to trust again – and we grieve this loss. In one stroke, we lost someone we trusted and even loved, we lost our trusting and loving selves and we lost the trust and love that we felt. Can anything be worse?
The emotional process of grieving is multiphased. At first, we are dumbfounded, shocked, inert, immobile. We play dead to avoid our inner monsters. We are ossified in our pain, cast in the mold of our reticence and fears.
Then we feel enraged, indignant, rebellious and hateful. Then we accept. Then we cry. And then – some of us – learn to forgive and to pity but never return to a demeaning monster. And this is called healing.
ALL stages are absolutely necessary and good. It is bad NOT to rage back, not to shame those who shamed us, to deny, to pretend, to evade. But it is equally as bad to stay like this forever. Permanent grieving is the perpetuation of our abuse by other means.