Approaching the narc with compassion

I'm reading a new book called "Disarming the Narcissist" that has interesting strategies for coping with the narc in your life. Most of it is based upon education, understanding yourself (in relation to the narc) and something called schema therapy. The author also provides specific strategies that use mindfulness and compassion to communicate your needs to the narc and to deal with the kind of narc you care about.

This is an intensive undertaking and something not for those in a very troubled decline with their narc, I fear since the book does not seem to address the big issues I have seen prevalent in this forum.

I don't know exactly if any of this can be applied to my situation with ER - I fear we may be too far gone at this point. However since I do truly love him and have considerable compassion for the little boy inside of him who is so troubled and damaged, I am willing to practice this if possible in the hopes that perhaps some good will come out of it - even if it only helps me to begin meditation again and gets me back to a healthy place in my Buddhist beliefs.

Today we had a fight when I discovered that he had gone back on one of the BDSM websites yesterday when he told me implicitly he would not do that anymore. Then he lied to me about it and said he was there to delete it. Of course it was not deleted.

I know he has been lying to me too about going hunting as well. He is trying to make himself absent and avoiding me. Yet he is right there to take the money I send him. He is cold and detached to me otherwise.

I did get very vicious when I asserted myself in anger today. I get extremely personal in my attacks on him. He does not behave this way toward me. Then I feel guilty because of the terrible hurtful, humiliating things I have said to him. I would like to stop behaving this way when I find out he has lied to me. I should not be surprised.

I get so angry though, the heat swells from the center of my chest and floods my face and my heart begins pounding so hard and I start biting the inside of my lip and my body goes rigid. Then I explode in anger.

He stopped communicating with me about 8 hours ago. Not a word since. I have sent two very short apologetic emails (our emails are always one or two sentences) and he has not responded. Perhaps this is now the silent treatment?

I'm reading everything I possibly can, studying day by day and I see how so much that happened to me with my narc father has made me the way I am. I am also seeing that although my husband had some of these tendencies as well that his kindness and support and compassion in our relationship is something I need to consider now especially.

It is just very difficult to do since he passed away three and half years ago and truly I don't think I have ever been able to process it. I became a widow at 34 years old which is something I had so much trouble with as well as all my friends and family. No one could really understand what had happened and how to help me thru it.

I am terrified of losing ER completely - I barely have him now and he is married as well.

I feel like one more loss and I will be lost myself.

Is compassion the way thru to ER? I will try anything.

Sunafterrain's picture

I've not read through all the posts yet, but I really don't have too. The ONLY way for you to get well again is to get out. Since you're still willing to placate the disordered one, you will stay exactly as you are. I think professional help for you is going to be key in being able to extricate from this man. It is CLEAR to me that abandonment issues and past daddy narc issues, as well as the death of your spouse, play a HUGE ROLE in your FEAR of losing this man, despite the fact that he is so mentally ill, that you've lost sight of the fact that he has made you psychologically sick too. I've seen a lot on this board in the short time I've been here, but never anything so apparent as your need for help and support before you lose yourself completely. This is your decision and because of the obvious nature to which you are wishing to make it right with this man, when it isn't a state of health or reality, I cannot comment further to you. I hope you find the peace and help that you need. When you are ready to let this very sick human being go and start taking care of your own mental health, you will find tons of support here. There are others here still "attached" to their disordered ones, living with them, but I have not seen the willingness to placate and continue involvement to the detriment of themselves as I've seen in your posts. They want out or are trying to get out safely. While you're trying to figure out how to fix this. Please get help as soon as you feel ready and are able too
WhiteSwan44's picture

Please realize that this man is sucking you alive financially. OMG. Stop the financial support and this bottom feeder will retreat. I'm truly sorry for your pain but I've heard enough. Quite enough. This man should not be allowed to be in your presence yet he continues to bleed you dry. ENOUGH. TIME TO SAY NO! He's a bottom feeding vermin and the worst kind. I'm sorry for you that you were involved with him. Distance yourself as soon as possible He makes me sick. He's using you to pay his bills and provide entertainment. Yuk!
gettinbetter's picture

Deckard Im gonna be kinda blunt not to hurt your feelings in anyway but when I read your story I was horrified the abuse this man has dealt you. You should not be reading anything on learning how to deal with them. YOU NEED TO GET AWAY FROM HIM AS FAST AS YOU CAN. That man is clearly mentally disturbed in a very serious way. He has used and abused you to the fullest extent. Everyday you engage with him your addiction will deepen. You have one of the more horrific stories I have seen on this board. Your gonna be awhile climbing out of this even if you started NC today and in my opinion and its just my opinion you are going to need some intense professional help. There is nothing to salvage with this man. He never was or is. He is a different individual everyday. He doesnt triangulate with women, He's got a whole hexagon working! Step outside of yourself a moment and go back and read your story as if it were someone elses on here. This guy is a complete psychopathic con man. He feels nothing for you. You are simply and ATM. I am sorry if this sounded harsh in anyway, I dont mean to hurt you in anyway at all but you have a very serious situation with this man and it sounds like you have a pretty serious addiction to him. My guess is your reading these books with the idea that you will learn how to get him to behave. This man will never "behave" He is unable to bond with other humans. Those are just the facts sweets. He is one of the worst I have seen on here. Its like asking a color blind person to describe Red. Does someone who loves you tell you they are not going to give you their phone number unless you send money? He doesnt think hes done anything wrong. He thinks he is entitled to that money because he talks to you. You have something far more serious than joining a support forum and reading some books will solve. Do you have a therapist? Whay does your mother think about this?
FarmGirl's picture

I just read your story too. This man is a complete monster. You poor woman. I hope you've cut him off financially? He's going to bleed you dry & when you are broke he'll move on or worse keep you around to fuck with your head when he's bored. Please for yourself...start putting yourself first and ditch this creep.
prettypeeved's picture

I'm not sure I believe in the "compassionate" approach. I've tried it myself before, and it usually ends up meaning that I end up being the perfect doormat. The unspoken, unwritten assumption in all this is that if you are compassionate, he will (a) notice it and (b) respond positively to it. Both of those are JUST assumptions. There is no guarantee he will do either, and in my experience they usually don't.
dulcinea441's picture

They enjoy provoking us into being our *worse* selves. Unlike in a healthy relationship, they do not want to bring out the best in us. They know we are compassionate and loving and they thoroughly enjoy bringing us down to their level then watching us struggle with our guilt afterwards. Another insidious form of mental abuse. I'm sorry you're enduring this kind of pain. Hugs xoxo
Susan32's picture

Be compassionate with a Narc, he won't appreciate it and he'll take it for weakness. Be cruel to a Narc, he gets a high. Be indifferent to a Narc, he will probably get ticked off... and in rare instances, gets a high. Sometimes, when Ns/Ps unintentionally bring out the BEST in us... I think it shocks them. Because they expect and want the WORST. When I kindly, serenely told the ex-Psych prof to go off&have a happy life with his girlfriend (now wife)... he raged. He had wanted to see me angry, jealous, ready to fight his girlfriend... and I had deprived him of that pleasure, with a smile on my face. When Ns/Ps bring out the worst in us... it validates their belief that everybody else is as bad as they are. They can say "see, everybody is as dishonest, unforgiving, cruel, angry, and envious as ME."
drcrnp's picture

In August of 2010 and again in April 2011 I remember going back to my N and thinking that I would do everything in my power to maintain my equanimity, not rile him up, not make waves, keep the peace etc etc etc just so i could end the agony of being without him. I was willing to pay any price to not be in exile any longer. So I do understand how people feel when they try to bury their feelings to stay with the N. And surely i'm miserable now too, but 1) I know I will be healthier in the end with NC and 2) in my mind, I've decided that if I have to choose between the two - and I do - I'd rather have the N's respect than his "love." I'm fairly certain that after all of the begging and groveling I did that he is surprised and maybe even amazed at my 100% NC for almost 3 months now. I know, i know - who cares, right? Well, stupid, but I care. Caring about that and maintaining NC is the better option.
deckard's picture

from Dr. Sam Vaknin on his site that one way to actually leverage the narc in terms he can understand is to have no contact with him. Interestingly, each time I had NC with ER, he always came looking for me in utter desperation. He could not handle me having nothing to do with him. This last time was the same. I felt so good that I didn't break down and contact him. I wish I could feel that good again.
Used's picture

i understand your careing....i still think this about exn....he thought i would go back as i have so many times before....this time i havent....so i know where you are coming from..congrats as well on your nc..
Goldie's picture

First of all, I am sorry for all that you are going through, sounds like he is pushing your self survival buttons, which is not a bad thing. Those are the buttons which allow our higher selves to see and know the truth. This is WHY you attack him, because your wiser, smarter, self survival sense is kicking in and it is fighting back, it is the part of you which is angry because it knows that you are being screwing with and it is helping you to see the truth and fight back. Nothing wrong with that. We have this to protect ourselves from harm and danger. You are on high alert, red alert, warning warning warning, danger ahead. Back in the day when I went to my first Alanon meeting (and I like Alanon, by the way, I think it helps many), to deal with an addict in my life. I saw two types of women there. One who was going to learn how to GET OUT of the relationship with the addict and one who was there to learn how to coexist with the addict in peace and to learn to let go of the addicts bad behaviors so that they would not be affected by it. One women was proud of herself because she now knew how to still love her addict and "detatch with love." She said that she would no longer enable him and rather than to cover for him and put him to bed when he came home drunk, she just left him there and let him "clean up his own messes." She said that she was now able to get on with her own life and the lives of her children without the craziness which comes from trying to save and cure the addict. I remember thinking to myself, this is all well and good for her, however, WHAT quality of life could she possibly be living if every night her husband was passed out on the living room floor after arriving home late at night and then leaving for work in the morning. Doesn't sound like much of a marriage. I just thought, to each their own and forgot about it. Several years later, I found myself with someone who I thought might be a sex addict, so I went to a support group for the families and loved one's of Sex and Love Addicts. I will never forget this meeting. These women were all sitting around talking about how they COPE with and LET GO of their husband and bf's sexual addiction and recognize that it is a sickness and not a reflection of them. That is all good stuff, to learn to detatch from someone else's bad behavior and put the focus on you. I found myself growing angry and as I listened I grew even angrier. When my turn came, I said, WHY would you try to turn yourself into something which can learn to accept this crap, WHY not just leave? They turned and looked at me with those glazed over eyes which you often see in cults, and said, keep coming, you will understand, you need more meetings. I said screw that, I did not come here to LEARN how to accept and put up with this bullshit behavior, I came here how to learn how to GET OUT. WTF!!! I understand if you have children or need to stay with them for some reason that it is good to have a support group to help you to get the focus off the sickness and back on your own life, I get this, what I don't get is that to some extent the meetings made it seem like it was now YOUR problem and YOU had to change and learn to cope with and detatch from their insane lifestyle. I said if this is NOT about teaching me how to detatch and get out, then I am all set because I will NEVER accept and live with a man who is whacking off 24/7 to porno, cheating, and all the other sick shit that goes along with a life with a sex addict. The situation of living with, loving, and maybe having children with a sex addict, PD, or addict of any type can be complicated. The question to ask yourself is a simple question. Keeping in my, that most addicts relapse or are suject to relapse, so even if they are dry for awhile they are always in a position to go back to their addiction if they get stressed out or for any reason. Do I love this person so much and myself so little that I want to LEARN how to be "good", keep quiet, don't make any waves, so that I can stay with this person and be sweet and supportive of their BAD, UNACCEPTABLE behaviors..... OR Do I want to learn how to love myself and my family enough, to GET AWAY from this sickness and destructive behavior, and live a live free from the daily pain, tormil, struggles, self doubting, miserable life with someone who only knows how to put their addiction first and is incapable of loving anyone? My heart goes out to you and I am sending you love and prayers as you look at all of this and make some tough decisions. The fact that he is married may also be worthy of playing into your decision because not only is he not available to you because he is mentally and spiritually sick but he is not available to you because he is married. Also what may be playing into this is that when we are grieving the loss of a loved one, it is very common to become so vulnerable that we seek out the familar and someone like your dad is going to feel familar and even though it is extremely painful it serves a few purposes, it keeps you from feeling your feelings regarding the true loss, your husband, and it fill that hole left by his departure, and it keeps you from looking at the big picture, which is your life and getting that back on track without the distraction of a disordered married man who basically has NOTHING to give or offer to you on any level. My guess is that he is a "filler" so that you don't need to look at you and your pain right now and yes, "fillers" can feel like love, because they are filling a need and a void and when you snap out of your buried grieve, this will become more evident. I have been there, I turned to some real doozies when I was avoiding my pain and my life. God bless, Goldie P.s. Have you been to grief counseling? Someone who specializes in dealing with the loss of a loved one? This is essential in dealing with this loss for you because while friends and family want to help, most of them do not understand how bad you feel and how long it can take to grieve losing a husband at such a young age and if like you say, you don't grieve enough, you can be a sitting duck for any sick man who comes down the pike to fill that hole and take full advantage of your vulnerable state. If the grieving get buried it will only come out in other ways.
FarmGirl's picture

You have no idea how helpful those words are to me too. Thank you - thank you - thank you!! xx
prettypeeved's picture

Nice post!
tresor2's picture

Your post just triggered something. I realize that my entire life has consisted of hooking up with "fillers." It only makes sense; if my trauma/injuries occurred at a young age, then all my choices thereafter are fillers. It stops once I work through the pain of the original damage. Everything I ever did that depended on outside sources for happiness and self fulfilment were fillers that backfired everytime. I've really never faced that reality before. I tried filling the hole with Alanon, SLAA, and a bunch of other 12 step groups...not my cup of tea and my conclusions were pretty much the same as yours. (Not to knock the groups, as they help many.) When I hear "grief counseling" I shut down and block it out and that's probably because that's what is needed. Grieving the loss of a childhood, friends, relationships, etc. is essential to recovery. Thanks for the post and your invaluable insight. It helped me and I know it helped others on this blog.
TNR1's picture

There is an incredibly good book as well called "The Grief Recovery Handbook". You can find it on Amazon. I gave it to my stepfather when his nephew died.
tresor2's picture

I'll go ahead and purchase it.
Trulybroken's picture

That was a slap into reality that I needed to hear today! I too am in al anon and have been for only 2 yrs. I still go even though I left my addict. I also used to sit in my home group thinking "how do all these women stay" even when I was staying. Now that I am out, I still go to meetings to keep the focus on me. Not always easy ! So true about the "filler" I never was really into my ex and he was just a filler for pain about self that I was trying to avoid. I left my ex a yr ago, but like a fool, brought him back into my life last June I believe to just keep my avoidance going. There is no way I will ever tolerate another's abuse again. Whether or not they are sick, it doesn't matter. Sure all relationships have their issues, but leaving the toilet seat up compared to cheating is just not the same. great post...........thanks for that. I'll be reading this a few times today
deckard's picture

I went to Al-Anon myself many years ago and had the same reaction. My husband was a recovering alcoholic and he suggested that I go to the meetings to get a better understanding of what AA was about (I also sat in on AA meetings). It was a big part of his life and he thought that I might enjoy Al-Anon. It did NOT work for me at all. I went to one meeting and never went back. When we discussed it I told him that I didn't believe what some of these people put up with and I said that if he ever acted like that to me in our marriage I would leave him - bottom line. Fortunately he was sober until the day he died. I have definitely sought the familiar in ER - the day we met I recall telling my mother that I never felt so instantly comfortable with a man in my life. Every time I have been with him in person it has been this way. Unfortunately our time apart has been terrible. We have only ever argued a few times in person. It is usually on the phone that the worst happens. I think this is why I may cling to our in-person encounters because they have always been good. Yet how can they truly be good when everything else is happening around them? I guess that is the fantasy-life. I see the point that ER has been filler and a distraction from my grief and loss. And the overwhelming feeling of fear I have regarding any loss at this point. Losing my husband was a shock that happened so quickly I barely had time to understand what was happening. I did have some therapy after my break-up with ER 8 months ago. It didn't last because my therapist really wanted me to focus on myself and all I cared about was getting back with ER. I never had any counseling regarding my husbands death and my subsequent grief. My world has been so filled with ER for the past year it is strange to read the truth in what you have written - that he has never offered me anything at all. It seems like he has and yet I know all I have done is give and give and all he has done is take and take. How can it be that he has taken up so much space that he has eclipsed my own soul?
Goldie's picture

" However since I do truly love him and have considerable compassion for the little boy inside of him who is so troubled and damaged, I am willing to practice this if possible in the hopes that perhaps some good will come out of it." This does not work with a Psychopath. They are incapable of change, the damage is done and they do not change. It is a personality disorder which means that it is now a part of who they are. You are NOT describing PTSD here, not at all, I just read your story and what you are describing is a Psychopath. I would highly recommend that you begin to read books and literature regarding Psychopath's. Basically he is what you would call a Psychopathic Narcissistic Addict. There is no cure for this disorder and hundreds of books and literature has been written on this subject, the only cure for a relationship with a psychopath is to GET OUT. They do not change, they do not get better, they just take you down lower and lower and lower, until there is nothing left to give and then they discard you. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE get to a therapist and describe what you have been going through and they will help you to get deprogrammed from this man. He has completely brainwashed you and you need tremendous support in disengaging from him. We will help you here as much as we can, as Hunter said, however, you also need the support of people in your life who can help you to begin the process of letting go of his unhealthy hold over you. Alanon would be a start, clearly this man is a drug addict, sex addict, ect... and they sure know how to deal with that at Alanon and a therapist. God bless, Goldie
Trulybroken's picture

Al anon doesn't work for anyone after only one meeting. That's like saying "I went on a diet for one day and didn't lose weight" It's a process, I suggest you go back. Al Anon saved my life
Goldie's picture

They intentionally eclipse your soul so that you will give and give and they can take and take. You have described it perfectly. Basically they slowly take the focus off of you and your needs and put it on theirs so that they can use you as supply and suck you dry. The only defense for this is to FORCE yourself to do exactly as your therapist suggested, put the focus back and you and a great start would be grief recovery counseling. This is all about looking at your loss, your needs, and eventually your new life. This relationship with a married, sex addicted, PD will eventually take you down if you do not snap out of it and get to a good therapist and begin the grieving process and putting the focus back on you and your needs. Make the call, I'm wondering where you live, PM me if you would like and I will see what I can do to hook you up with a therapist who deals with grief. It is not uncommon to fill the hole with an unhealthy relationship while you are vulnerable. This happens all the time and only compounds what you are already going through. Don't forget that the PD's target the vulnerable situations, they love to find people in bad marriages, in distraught states, feeling lonely, depressed, grieving. A healthy man will WAIT until he is divorced and the woman is back on her feet BEFORE making his big move. God bless, Goldie
Layla's picture

I love this............110% TRUTH. No way in hell we should twist ourselves into some kind of robot essentially accepting any bullshit these abusers want to toss our way........no man is worth it. No woman either. No one is.
Sea's picture

I have compassion for my exN but I dont ever want him back or see him again in my lifetime. I do feel sad that he is alone and when he grow old he would be miserable and even more disordered. He was like that due to severe child abuse. Some people snap out of that and grew into strong adults. My exN never did. Yes, alot of compassion but this disorder is not treatable. It is a permanent condition. The only way I have is save my sanity and life. I have to let him go to be what he is, a narc. I will still chant a prayer for him on my weekly temple visit a d meditation time.
Used's picture

why?...so he is an injured little boy inside, b/c he was spoiled/ not spoiled/ too loved/ not loved enough...i mean come on what is it that we should feel sorry for these...soul destroying parasites.....i had a poxy childhood, i didnt sit down one day and think, right i am going to hurt everyone to make my self better...i am going to shag anything with a pulse...i am going to lie, cheat, defraud, ponce, be a predater.....ruin people,s lives, that will make me feel better...NO I GREW UP AND STOOD UP TO BE COUNTED....as long as women /men dont make this idiots grow up and take responsibily....then there will be narcs forever..
onwithmylife's picture

I find the best way to raise your self esteem is to let the narc go, he is both married and a narcissist, it will be very painful, but get therapy and read all you can and you will move on, recover, and become wiser and stronger about relationships.. good luck to you
Sea's picture

U said what I had in mind. I have decided to let him go for my self esteem that seems to have gone to sub zero level at the point I left him.
Hunter's picture

If you have children and need to parent together read the book! Otherwise, the Book is crap !!! Why in the world would you accommodate anyone?? Especially a narc. These people have a disorder you can't not please them no matter what tactic you use! You are barking up the wrong tree!! Get mad at me if you want to but I know this narc stuff way to well to allow you to think it's ok to adjust your life, your emotions, your gestures, yourself to anyone!! What about you??? Is he giving you anything ??? Oh I'm sure he's giving you plenty of grief, anxiety and maybe even a STD!! You need to read self help books about you. Hunter
freaked's picture

Hunter, what you say is true. It is utter foolishness to treat a narc with any compassion. doing that would further hurt us, unnecessarily. Once we have recognized and understood that we are dealing with a PD person, the BEST option is NC. However, as you rightly point out about the scenario where the victim has no money. job, support and she/he has to be the sole support for the children, then she/he has to grit themselves and stay on till such time as it becomes feasible to quit. I doubt if there can be any success story in the sense that we gained anything at all..financially, spiritually, materially from our association with the narc. The only Success in my book is for the victim who successfully gets away and is able to construct an independent new life...with all the grievous memories of pain deleted. Deletion of pain from these horrible memories must take first place in the list that constitutes success. I sincerely wish that every member on this Forum realises without further delay that there really is NO BETTER OPTION than NC. And that it is purely due to circumstances some of us are forced to take few more years of this torture... that is if I am not mercilessly thrown out of the marriage. Honestly, as long as we are financially dependent on a narc, we don't have the option of keeping head high. What to do... we have to live through it. and one day break free. I always wanted to compliment you for being able to break free and LIVE on your own. Also, few months back, I somehow didn't get round to saying Thank You to you for greeting me on my birthday... it has taken me over 60 days to understand that I must consider myself Lucky that i am around to see my birthday this year. so much is happening here.. I dedicate this post also to Lisa, Goldie, Scoop, and every one of you here who has interacted with me directly or indirectly. Those interactions are what helped me regain parts of my self esteem back. Friends, you made me realise that I am a Human Being and must not accept the abuse being dumped on me. If I am not in a position to revolt overtly, at least I must safeguard my MIND. Thank you everyone. and wishing all a nicer day than yesterday.
deckard's picture

I found this book to be utterly USELESS.
Lisa E. Scott's picture

I'm sorry, but I absolutely do not support following the advice this book gives. This may sound harsh, but at one point in my decision to divorce my husband, I asked myself the following and it forced me to move on. "If I stay with him and accomodate him, I must be a complete masochist." Not a way of living whatsoever. We deserve way more! Like Hunter said, I encourage reading self-help books about finding yourself and getting in touch with yourself again. That is the key to recovery. We have lost ourselves in the narcissist and need to work on finding ourselves again. Self-compassion is key right now, not accomodation, suffering and submission.