The topic of abuse from malignant narcissists has been addressed repeatedly on this blog in the last few years. The posts are still up, and a simple search on the home page of this blog will bring them up. I heard again today from someone who was greatly helped by reading basic info on how these abusive people operate and what they do to their targets. Understanding what is going on is crucial to survival.
The spiritual, psychological, emotional and physical fall-out of living in an environment where you are either targeted and/or are the scapegoat in a family or ministry setting is so devastating, it is difficult to write about at all.
Today, however, a friend posted an article that summarizes the destruction left by these people—people who are shells of human beings. They look whole, normal and even admirable on the outside, but they poison the lives of those they target to such a degree that recovery can seem almost impossible even years later. A quote from the article:
Victims of Narcissistic abuse often appear uncertain of themselves, constantly seeking clarification that they haven’t made a mistake or misheard something. Their confidence becomes so low that they have trouble making simple decisions, questioning and re-questioning things. This is a direct result of the emotional and psychological abuse used by the Narcissist to erode their self-esteem as well as instill confusion and anxiety into the victim to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgment. This is skillfully guided by the Narcissist and it clouds reality with leading statements like “I never said that”, “You are crazy”, or “you are imagining things.” The Narcissist will even step up the game by reinforcing what they say by backing it up with statements from friends, co-workers, or relatives that supposedly agree and ARE very concerned about the target/victim (and probably just more lies). (See full article here, A Narcissist’s Damage)
I will never forget the night I received a call from a pastor I had worked with for many years in Christian radio. He had first been introduced to listeners for his work in our city with troubled youth. He had moved out of state, and I hadn’t heard from him in some time. I was in bed and reached for the phone on the nightstand, bleary-eyed.
I sat up suddenly in shock at what he was telling me, a blatant lie so slanderous that it took my breath away had been disseminated by the narcissist who was trying to destroy me. I had lost my mind, the pastor had been told. I was nuts. That was a polite way to put it. He had inquired about me, and the response by the narc was a complete, vicious lie to cover up my departure from the station.
This had followed the crafting of a false letter that the narc had shown around, claiming similar things. It was a desperate attempt to cover up sin and ugliness on the part of the narc, to protect his own reputation at the expense of the one he had grotesquely harmed.
Hate mail sent to our home, false posts about my mental health on a friend’s blog, lies to whomever would listen, some of them half truths without the other half that explained fully the situation, manipulation of others willing to be used, all of it was just the start of something that went on for years. Appeals for help went unanswered.
Worst of all was the turning of minds, once respectful, loving, to mistrust and blame. If the narc cannot succeed in controlling you, they will control how others see you. They will take everything you have or thought you had.
So you learn to question yourself. The strongest of minds are infected with self-doubt. You walk on unstable ground. Ground that you once thought was stable under your feet now cracks in places with every step. Those who once respected you now turn away. You’re too toxic to handle. Not worth it. Probably some truth in what was said, others think. Such a shame.
The poison then drips into your spiritual life. A good God who values truth and goodness and righteousness allows a monster to do this for years? God builds his Kingdom on the whited bones of sincere people crushed in the gears? He allows other professing Christians to kick others (that they’ve known for decades and worked with successfully) under the bus because the narcissist said they were bad all of a sudden? (Decades of personal honor flushed overnight based on false testimony of one?)
The simple faith in God that you had is undermined. You are shaken to the core. There is no reconciliation with anybody. Total silence. Years of it. You were trash and you didn’t realize it. The sense that you were serving Christ faithfully with other Christians is demolished. You feel used and foolish for having been so naive that you could have believed in those around you or thought they respected you.
Your body takes the hit of years of stress. You can’t handle the slightest stress anymore. The massive adrenaline that helped you function has done great damage. You blame yourself for anything that has gone wrong. You can’t go forward, because your body won’t let you. People think it is way past time you got over it. Except you’re locked in a cycle of grief. You valued people. You valued your family. You loved people. But they didn’t love you. They didn’t believe in you. The narcissist destroyed their belief in you and your character.
I write these things to give others a sense of how pervasive and hellish the abuse of these demons with skin on really is. Those claiming to be Christians need to be much smarter about how narcs operate, especially those in leadership.
Covert narcs are the most damaging kind. A braggart, a chest-beating malignant narcissist isn’t hard to spot. The ones who slither rather than strut are the ones to watch for. They present a flawless, righteous image to the public, while, undetected, their fangs and poison sink deep into the skin of their target.
If you are discerning, if you ask God to show you what is going on in these situations, you are wise. For blind enabling of these soul-murderers is to participate in their evil. Those who looked the other way, who were cowards and who discarded innocent people are complicit. Years and years and years can go by, and it doesn’t change that reality.
So, all of this is true. What now? Ultimately, rejecting God is not the answer, friends. Why such violence to souls is allowed in this life by those supposedly “serving” Him, we will never know. But if there is any antivenin to the poison, if there is any healing possible, it won’t come from repentant enablers, graciously seeking forgiveness for their help of an evil person and the harm done to you. (I dream of this all the time.) It has to come from God alone. Some damage is too deep, too all-encompassing, to have any human cure. And waiting for someone with a conscience to step forward and do the right thing is a waste of your life on this earth. Given the state of “Christians” today, they can run over you with their tanks while fighting the culture wars and “winning souls” and never look back. There is no love.
I’ve watched as those harmed by the church or Christian families have turned into fountainheads of blasphemy, non-stop sources of hatred for God and all that is good. That’s no answer to anything. You just end up adding to the darkness, and what is the point of that? We believe in love. We believe in kindness, Tom and I both. We’ve seen pure evil put on quite a show for years now. We’re walking in love anyway, because without God, there is no love. The times are bad everywhere. But the fact that we can discern good and evil at all takes us back to God’s existence. Out of the depths, those injured must continue to cry to the Lord for his mercy in all areas of life. I still believe what Scripture says. Weeping endures for a time, but joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)