Moving Beyond Toxic Empathy
If you're wanting the tl;dr version, here's the post: The Toxic Attraction Between A Narcissist and an Empath. Go read it and the post about the traits of an empath and a narcissist.
This post is hard to write because of another post: Five Powerful Ways Abusive Narcissists Get Inside Your Head.
It's not that the latter post is bad, not at all.
It just doesn't leave room for goodness. For people being better. For people changing. (And yes, that this bothers me is clearly a sign that I'm more like an empath.)
When I read that post about "Abusive Narcissists", it seemed like I had to hate the other person. It seemed like I had to cast them as some kind of bad person... and that simply wasn't true.
That weighs heavy on me when I think about exactly how many of the traits of a narcissists I have exibited. Maybe I was the sole problem. Maybe I was solely the reason everything self-destructed.
And then I read this passage:
An empath at this stage must realise the situation they are in and wake up to it, as anyone who is deeply in pain and has been hurt can then become a narcissist themselves as they turn their focus onto their own pain and look for others to make them feel okay again.And it all came clear.
I've been telling people that I used to be more empathic, but that a prior relationship really jacked that up. And for a while, I was really unable to react appropriately to other people.
It took me a while to learn that again. To learn to ask when I didn't know. To learn to not second guess.
During that time, I did a lot of damage to two people - the woman in the relationship I was leaving, and the woman in the relationship I was entering. I didn't mean to. I didn't want to.
But I did.
What that passage above did for me was to allow me to both see how I've behaved narcissistically in the past and to see how others have behaved that way towards me... without dismissing them as a person.
There is a danger in emotional self-diagnosis.
There is also a liberation in being able to identify behaviors without vilifying the person attached to that behavior.
When I identify behaviors that are counterproductive, I try to work to fix them.
And the first article let me see clearly the problems I have right now.
An empath will begin to frantically seek love, validation, confirmation and acceptance from a narcissist and each cry for help as such will affirm to the narcissist what they are desperate to feel inside—worthy. A bitter battle can ensue.
As an empath focuses solely on their pain, trauma and the destruction of their lives, they become self-obsessed and fail to see where the damage is coming from. Instead of looking outwards and seeing what is causing it, the empath will turn everything inward and blame themselves.
I hope that I am right.
I hope that the damage I did created the narcissistic behaviors that ended up hurting me so badly. I hope this statement is right:
From my own experience and studies on the narcissist personality type, there is always one core trait: A narcissist is wounded.
Something, somewhere along the line, usually stemming from childhood causes a person to feel worthless and unvalued and, due to this, they will constantly and very desperately seek validation.
And I hope that I caused it.
Because if I caused it, then it is something that may eventually be healed.
And even if I never see the benefit of that healing, I still hope that the healing occurs.
For everyone involved.