The Narcissist and Boundaries

Narcissists don’t like boundaries. If you set a boundary, they will usually cross the boundary on purpose, to prove that you cannot control them. It’s like a challenge to them. Then, they will tell you how selfish or unreasonable YOU are. It’s crazy making, I know.

The first thing you need to learn is that the person who is angry at you for setting boundaries is the one with the problem.Drs. Cloud and Townsend Boundaries-2

To help me set boundaries, I got specific language and ideas from books or my counselor. I gained confidence by “sanity checking” it with another person and confirming that my boundary was wise and healthy.  When my boundary was crossed and tested, which it always was, I was prepared to stick to my consequence. Sometimes that meant walking away, or hanging up the phone, or not responding, or saying “never mind”.

One of the first boundaries I set was a physical one. I needed to feel safe in my own home. When my XNarc came to my door, I practiced that I could either answer or NOT ANSWER my door. I could choose to engage or not engage. If I answered the door, I decided I was not going to invite him inside. If we talked on the doorstep and the conversation didn’t go well, then I would ask him to leave. If he didn’t leave, I was prepared to tell him I was calling the police, and close the door. Then I was prepared to go and call the police. All of those steps may seem simple to some, but because my boundaries had been stepped on SO MANY TIMES prior, and I had been told how selfish and self-centered I was, it took me some time to work through those boundaries and have the confidence that they were healthy and normal and necessary.

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Weekend Wisdom: It Is Well

There will be a day when I will say “It is well with my soul” and mean it.

After divorcing an abusive man or narcissist there is a season of healing. It takes work. Gut-wrenching work. Giving up resentments. Seeing our own fears and selfishness. Developing boundaries. Learning what love really is. Figuring out how we got here. Deciding where we want to go.

This is a journey. So I’m not keeping myself so busy that I don’t have time to think about it. And I’m not numbing myself with shopping or wine. (OK, maybe numbing a little with chocolate.) This quote by Henri Nouwen seems to describe well what we tend to do:

Nouwen quote

Listening to this song by Kristine DiMarco, I know I want to be well. Not just pretend that I’m well; not just say “Oh, I’m fine” with a weak, fake smile when people ask how things are going. I want to really have a deep-down joy and a peace about my life and the journey I’m on. Not because I like it or it’s easy, but because I’m starting to see it’s an upside-down blessing, and I really want to trust that He can redeem it. I want to stop feeling like a victim. Start focusing on the “new me” that I want to be. Warm. Vulnerable. Fun. Empathetic. Broken. Real.

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Marriage Counseling Doesn’t Work with a Narcissist

Marriage counseling with an abusive or narcissistic spouse is not a good idea. I tried it. You may have, too. It simply gives the abuser another venue to blame, abuse, and project. 

Declining to participate in something that is more hurtful than helpful is a healthy boundary-3

I dreaded going to marriage counseling. But thought I needed to go. I went prior to filing for divorce. I went after filing for divorce. I hoped the therapist would be able to do or say something to change him. That never happened. I also went because I wanted to “prove” to my church and our friends that I was doing everything I could to try to make the marriage work. That wasn’t worth the pain I had to endure.

“When there is no safety and no sanity, joint counseling is ineffective and often dangerous. If he can’t see his part or take responsibility for his own wrong thinking, beliefs or attitudes, everything ends up being the wife’s fault and her responsibility.”

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