Narcissists have been likened to terminators, relentless machines that just do not stop delivering the pain, abuse and punishment that they seem hellbent on causing people.
This can happen with narcissists in the form of criticism and demands if you are still connected to one. Or, this could be their actions of smearing, stalking, abuse by proxy, or co-parenting abuse tactics or any of the many ways that a narcissist chooses to make your life a living hell.
Many people report that the narcissist won’t leave them alone and getting rid of him or her on so many levels, including evicting them from their heads, seems virtually impossible.
But that’s not true- you can get rid of them.
It’s About Control
Narcissists have serious issues with control. They want to control everything. It’s their way of overcompensating for the fact that they feel weak and out of control. You are doing something that is not in the script by leaving the relationship, and that is not allowed.
This leaves them with the gnawing feeling that everything negative they believe about themselves is true: they are weak, they are losers, they are garbage. This is intolerable and they have to do something about it. So they attempt to bring the situation back under their control.
When this doesn’t work, they simply keep trying. Even if they have other people to sponge off of, that feeling continues to plague them. People often believe that the narcissist is attempting to reignite the relationship out of love or caring. This is not the case. They just can’t abide the loss of control. In fact, it is not uncommon for narcissists to convince the other person to come back into the relationship dynamic just so they can leave on their own terms. It isn’t the relationship they want. It’s control.
One of the biggest reasons narcissists cannot let go is because…
They have no way to regulate their own self-esteem or self-worth. They can’t soothe themselves when they are upset. When most people get upset, they still have perspective and a mostly balanced viewpoint. They can say to themselves, “Wow, I made a horrible mistake here but I’m still a good person. This is not the end of the world.”
Narcissists cannot do that. They have no way to produce positive feelings about themselves. This is the reason they flip out over small things and why they use the false self in the first place. The false self is designed to get the positive feelings from other people that the narcissist believes they themselves can’t, by being all the things the narcissist is not. Brave, smart, funny, charming, caring, helpful… whatever is the opposite of what they believe themselves to be. The narcissist needs a steady stream of those positive feelings to sustain themselves so they can validate their self-worth and hold off their negative feelings.
This is what people sometimes call “narcissistic supply.”
It’s important to remember here too, that “positive” is used loosely. Some narcissists want only admiration and applause, but most are perfectly happy to take any type of attention they can get, even attention that most of us would consider negative such as arguing. It isn’t negative to them, though, because to them any type of attention is positive. Without that, the narcissist literally cannot live.
Narcissists that are cut off from it often decompensate. They can dissociate from reality, become psychotic and even commit suicide. This happens because they have no escape and no way to fight back against their delusional self-hatred and shame without other people to prop them up. It engulfs them. The only chance they have of breaking out of that is learning to self-soothe, but this seems to be a task that is beyond most pathologically narcissistic people. They are just too emotionally underdeveloped.
So what do you do if there is a narcissist in your life who will not let go?
The best thing to do is ignore them and keep ignoring them. Many times they eventually do move on, but if you break no contact even once, you will show them that if they persist, they can break you.