Are you feeling unseen?
Isn’t it astonishing that there are partners who will stay with those who are prickly and defensive? Those who regularly take out their weapons and spit out their resentments? Those who are puffed up in their own grandiose reflections? Who are filled with their own cleverness and enamored of their successes?
Partners who stay (unseen) can become like Echo in the myth; ever unappreciated by this man staring into a mirror, she recited the story of Narcissus to any who would listen–even as she eventually faded away like a cloud of dust.
I saw something like that in the way my mother defended my father (protected him by co-signing his nonsense) and, in the bargain, lost her own identity. I witnessed the way my sister erased herself in relationships. In my family, this level of strange loyalty to the point of self-injury is partly explained by a long legacy (burden) of male domination; women were there to support their man (even when they were being stupid or abusive).
This isn’t always a gender issue, but I do think there is always something under the surface driving dysfunctional relationships. Attachment histories. Trauma. Coercion of the vulnerable by partners who have more power.
If you are in a relationship where you are feeling chronically invalidated, where you can’t be authentic for fear of being judged or worse, where you can’t speak out or make complaints without being attacked, if you don’t seek counseling, I am hoping you will find some safe place to speak up. Break the no-talk rules.
In counseling I find that if we can create a safe enough place to talk it through, dig deep enough, we will find why in the world you signed up for life with a Narcissist. Or, more accurately, why in the world you were enlisted, or why you have committed to staying in captivity.
Its not really loving to support a partner who is self-centered. Being silent or loyal is not loving toward them because it supports their worst egoic instincts. Often these instincts become self-defeating if not self-destructive.
And it is also not loving toward yourself when you exist in a relationship largely as a tool for someone’s ego. I’m reminded of my mother, dying of cancer, as my father attempted to sell some story to us about his love and devotion to her. He said they were “soul mates.” Even then she didn’t say a word, but you could see it all in her eyes, the regret that she had spent too much of her life being emotionally manipulated and largely unseen.