Breaking Free from the Narcissus
There is a story in Greek Mythology about a handsome hunter. This man was so good looking, but apparently lacked integrity in his character. When he came across a stream one day, he saw his own reflection and fell in love with himself. Yes, Narcissus was so smitten with himself, he didn’t need a boo, he had no desire for romantic relationships, he only wanted to be admired, just as he admired himself. As you can probably imagine, Narcissus was so enamored with himself, he lacked empathy for any other, because it was all about him, after all.
Along comes Echo, she was a chatty Cathy, and crafty with distractions, and this caused her to be cursed. So, the only words she could speak was to repeat the recently spoken words of another person.
She saw Narcissus hunting with his companions and she fell in love with him. Infatuated with him she followed him, longing to call out to him, but because of the curse she could not.
One day Narcissus sensed someone following him, he called out, “Who’s there?”
Echo repeated, “Who’s there?”
“Come here!” Narcissus called out.
“Come here!” Echo answered.
Narcissus assumed whoever was answering him must be walking in the opposite direction, so again he called out. “This way, we must come together.”
Echo, in her excitement and misunderstanding, she repeated, “We must come together.”
She ran to Narcissus, threw her arms around her beloved, only to be rejected by Narcissus. Appalled, Narcissus pushed Echo away, and said, “Hands off! May I die before you enjoy my body!”
Scorned, humiliated, and ashamed, all Echo could respond with was, “Enjoy my body,” before she fled.
Despite his rejection, Echo’s love for Narcissus only grew stronger. When Narcissus died, gazing at his own reflection, his final words to himself were, “Oh, marvelous boy, I loved you in vain. Farewell.”
“Farewell,” Echo repeated, as she mourned over his body. Eventually, Echo, too, began to waste away. Her beauty faded, her skin shriveled, and her bones turned to stone. It is said, today, all that remains of Echo is her voice.
Although the story is Greek mythology, it is a classic tale of a narcissist in any relationship, and what could happen to the unfortunate soul who is on the receiving…er, non-receiving end of the relationship.
Have you ever loved someone who could not reciprocate your love? Perhaps in the beginning of your relationship as things began to progress, and you became entangled in the “relationship,” you heard what you wanted to hear, and ignored what would appear obvious to outsiders looking in, to the cost of your own injury?
Most of us want to believe that we are good judge of character. We tend to take people at face value, and we trust them. We know there is evil in the world, but we never want to believe that we could ever be fooled, or that we could fall in love with someone who is evil, or at the least “controlled by evil.”
It usually isn’t until the relationship has ran its course (several times) that you realize you have invested yourself in something that will never bring you a return. This kind of relationship is doomed from the beginning, but you just did not want to believe it. You hold on, believing your love will melt the ice in their heart and they will soon realize you are “worthy” of their love and affections. As if you need to prove your worth to anyone (I will talk about that in another post).
Sadly, when the relationship has finally ended, you discover the only one who changed was you. You are no longer the person you used to be, rather you have become a shell of empty, numb, confusion, and grief. Does this sound like you? If it does, you are not alone and there is no need to feel ashamed, I have been there, and I hope what I have learned through the journey of healing will help you.
Over the past couple years, I have noticed an increase in the word “narcissist” when someone was describing the breakdown and break-up of a relationship. I usually take things with a grain of salt, there are always two sides to every story, and people say and do stupid things when they are hurt. I mean, just because the relationship ended, or someone was rejected, does not necessarily mean the other person is a narcissist, right.
When you keep seeing something over and over again, there must be something to it.
This I can say, through experience, narcissism is real. If you have ever been caught up in a relationship with a true narcissist, then you know the damage it can do to your soul. No one wants to believe the person they love could be so… twisted, evil, uncaring, unempathetic, calculating, cruel. In the beginning you didn’t see it, or if we are honest with ourselves, you didn’t want to believe what you were seeing, because the signals were so mixed. The continuous cycles of love bombing, devaluation, gaslighting, ghosting, and discard, can utterly destroy you.
The Bible has something to say about this in 2 Timothy 3:15:
But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them.
Now read that again. The warning in this scripture is not just about people in the world, it’s also about people in the church.
If you love the Lord and are called by God, then you better believe the devil wants to kill, steal, and destroy EVERYTHING in, around, and about you. We know the devil is no match for God. And we also know the Bible tells us the Holy Spirit within us is greater than the devil. But on your own, the devil will annihilate you. He has been studying you from day one and he knows your weakness, and he will use it to gain entrance.
This is why you must be vigilant and pray God give you discernment. Not everything that glitters is gold, and the devil can appear as an angel of light, or a sweet talking, Bible thumping, good looking, man (or woman). You do not want to get tripped up.
Narcissus was so enamored with himself, the only use he had for Echo was to repeat back to him his delusions of grandeur. Of course, to keep Echo in her place he had to cut her down to size, make her question her own reality, and work on her already broken self-identity. Eventually, Echo had no voice of her own, even after Narcissus died (or discarded her) she was still tied to him (his image) and she was just a shell of a person.
All of her dreams? Dead!
Her gifts? Forgotten!
Her youth? Shriveled up!
Confidence? Replaced with fear and insecurity!
Joy? Strangled by depression!
Friends and Family? Distanced or gone!
Prayer Life? Non-existent!
Does this sound like you? If it does, look up, because I have some good news for you.
Narcissus never could have loved Echo. It was not in his make-up. We don’t have to psychoanalyze him, wonder what happened to him to cause him to be this way, feel bad for him, or even try to fix him. No amount of love, affection, words, adoration, or a hundred second chances will ever change his heart and mind. Only God can change him. So, if you are holding on and hoping… stop.
You can’t change another person, but you can change you.
You can wreck your brain trying to figure out what went wrong. Ruminating thoughts will cause you more injury. I know, believe me, I know.
Steps to healing from a narcissistic/toxic relationship:
- Admit to yourself it is over. It is done. Even if you don’t feel glad about it, remind yourself it is a good thing that it ended, because now you can begin the process of healing and wholeness. Remember, you are a whole person, you do not complete someone else and someone else does not complete you.
- Journal. Write it down. Get it out! Journaling, especially prayer journaling, can help you. After you have wrote on the pages, close the book for the day, and purpose to not carry what you wrote down around with you. Leave it in the journal.
- Pray! Jesus never stopped loving you. In fact, you could even consider it a gift from Him that the toxic relationship ended, and the person was removed. Be open and honest, God knows anyway. The Bible tells us to cast ALL our cares on Jesus because He cares for us.
- Repent for sins you have committed, because let’s be honest, none of us are completely innocent. Maybe you said or did some things in the relationship that you know are not right. A toxic relationship can cause even the kindest person to lash out and be hateful at times.
- Forgive. This may be a hard one. You may have to forgive the person seven times seventy times. But I promise you, it is worth it. It doesn’t justify the abuse you endured, it doesn’t make the other person “right,” but it will free you from the ties that keep you chained to the emotional injuries. And it’s what Jesus tells us to do.
- Get help. A break-up, or divorce, from a toxic narcissistic relationship/marriage, is not like a “normal” dissolution. Unless someone has experienced the very real assault against your soul, they may not understand why you can’t “just get over it.” They will not understand what a trauma bond is, how it was formed, or how to break free from it. Seek help from a therapist who has experience in narcissistic abuse recovery. For true and lasting help, seek help from a Christian therapist, because the trauma you experienced from a narcissist came from the demonic and only God can free you from that.
- Do not isolate yourself. Get connected with the church again. There is a reason why Hebrews tells us to not forsake gathering with other believers. We need each other for comfort, encouragement, accountability, and safety. The relationship you escaped from already separated you from those who care about you. Get back out there! Reconnect. The people who love you will understand and be happy to welcome you back. Do not be ashamed.
- Take care of yourself. Get rest but be careful not to sleep “too much.” Make healthy food choices, avoid the comfort foods of sugar. Wake up and get dressed. Exercise and let the endorphins do what they are supposed to do. Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up. It will take time, even a small step is still a step, just keep taking those steps.
- Read your Bible. The Bible is God’s word to us. In the Bible you will find strength, instruction, and encouragement. His word is food to our hungry souls. His word will show you who He is AND who you are. When you know who you are in Christ and how much He loves you and values you and has given you great worth, then you will come through this whole and healed. He will renew your strength and restore your joy. And you will never be easy prey again to the narcissistic spirit.
- Examine yourself. Through prayer, reading your Bible, and counsel, ask God to show you why you were susceptible to the narcissist. In most cases, if we have an injury from the past, it does show up in our choices of who we allow close to us. This does not mean there is something wrong with you, it means there is something that made you vulnerable, and God will show you and He will walk (carry) you through the process of healing that old wound.
- Choose your inner circle wisely. Not everyone will understand what you have just come through. Surround yourself with people who speak life to you. You don’t need a group of complainers who will agree with your hurt or tear the other person down. You need people who speak life into you and gently move you forward.
- Go and stay no contact. I know, easier said than done, but it is for your own good. You can not go back to your place of injury and expect to find healing. If you did cave to a moment of weakness, don’t beat yourself up, recommit to no contact and move on. It may mean deleting phone numbers, changing your number, erasing emails, blocking him/her on social media, whatever you have to do to put a barrier between you and the person, do it.
- Forgive yourself. This is just as important as forgiving the other person. When you have been in a toxic relationship for any length of time you may have hurt other people or done things you are not proud of. Apologize to anyone you may have hurt, and then let it go. If God forgave you, then you can forgive you. The Bible says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Unforgiveness aligns you with the destroyer. So, break that agreement now and come under the umbrella of Christ and walk in freedom.
I believe with all my heart that Jesus is coming back soon. This is why we are seeing an increase of the narcissistic spirit. It is in our churches, our families, our government, on the streets, social media… it is everywhere. It is an anti-Christ spirit, and it has launched a full-scale attack on God’s people. It is destroying marriages, families, and ministries.
My prayer for you, dear reader, is that you may find your source of comfort, peace, and purpose in Jesus. I pray that you stay so close to God that the enemy cannot come near you. I pray your heart stays tender in the face of a world gone hard and hateful. I pray you answer the voice of Wisdom and God grant you discernment, and you rise up and take your place in the kingdom of God in all His righteousness and fight the good fight of faith.
I hope this helped you. If you need prayer, I would be happy to pray for and with you. You connect with me by clicking HERE or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a survivor of a narcissistic relationship, please leave a comment and share with us your experience and how you overcame.
Be Free & Stay Free