They likely have never heard of narcissistic abuse, so they will compile a list of possibilities, including the consideration their partner has depression or other common mental health issues, addictions, or unhealed childhood scars. They don’t know about the smear campaign already discrediting them, the constant, intentional jabs at their ego, or the purposeful gaslighting ritual, wearing down the confidence they once had over their own recollections. The don’t immediately flee the situation, not only because they have yet to put their finger on what is going on, but because they feel guilt at the thought of abandoning someone who is struggling. They stay…out of compassion…and confusion…not out of unhealthy attachment issues.
There may come a point where the targeted partner either realizes what narcissistic tendencies have penetrated their happily ever after masquerade, or they are still confused, but have clued in to the fact that their partner is unwilling to change their now hurtful behaviors. If they started out with a few clear boundaries, and an ounce of self-respect, they will start considering ways out. This is not an easy contemplation. The victim’s head is still spinning, they have yet to receive any reassuring explanations, and their resources are intertwined with the life they now realize was an act.
Survivors that eventually claw their way out of the narcissist’s bag of tricks can find themselves leaving behind belongings that they worked hard for, and even those that may have sentimental value. They may opt for homelessness, live in isolation as they realize their circle of contacts have already been conned by the Narc, and are forced into the realization that they have a story to tell that few can relate to, and most don’t even believe. They pick themselves up, along with the pieces of their broken heart, shattered self-esteem, and weakened recollections- and put them in their pocket…and they start over…without belongings, without answers, without support, without validation.
Narcissistic abuse survivors do share some common characteristics. They go on living with nothing more than a sense of who they are, a sense of what they deserve, a desire to seek the information necessary to put the puzzle pieces together, and a commitment to spread awareness to future potential abuse victims. They act from a place of inner power, sincerity and self-preservation.
This altruistic strength is not descriptive of a codependent personality. It is what remains after a strong, healthy personality has fallen victim to a calculated and insalubrious, but unintentional, codependency. Being blindsided by the guise of the narcissist does not make one damaged, accepting of abuse, or lacking in self-esteem. Needing to be needed and feeling guilt over leaving someone in need are different concepts. Feeling dazed and confused does not coincide with a reliance on their partner for approval. Having self-doubt about a situation that was designed to defy logic, is not equal to a belief that they cannot do better, or that they do not deserve better.
The relationship between a compassionate person, and one pretending to need help, is not a mutual addiction to the well-plotted, one-sided, intentional and neurotic sequence of events.