I sincerely hope so!
Is there a reason why many narcissistic people choose relationships, marry or spend their lives with empaths? Or vice versa. I’m beginning to realise and think there is. And by ’empath’ I mean someone that has been, or is still; a natural born healer, nurturer, peace-maker, people pleaser – and usually someone others see as self-reliant and dependable; someone that doesn’t seem to need any, or much attention, even. Having recently read or watched various professionals speak on this, or similar subjects, has lead me to a simple conclusion: narcissistic behaviour may stem from ‘Childhood Emotional Neglect’. Or ‘CEN’ now a trademarked term coined by Dr Jonice Webb. Dr Webb is a well-respected clinical psychologist with over 20 years experience of working with real people with real issues.
On my road to ‘self-awareness’ I’ve come to know that my darling OH is a ‘low-degree-narcissist with rare outbursts of extreme’ (I’ve just made that term up – not to minimise his actions or words but more because I realise that there are varying degrees of narcissism; not all narcissists are created equal). He came from a family where I believe all the members had been subjected to ‘CEN’ (including the parents; a cycle of behaviour repeated) so, five siblings who were abandoned by a mother who left an unsatisfying marriage with their father, for what she believed would be something better; the youngest siblings were a set of twins aged 5 years, my OH was 9 years, an older sister of almost 12 years and the oldest was a teenage boy of 13 years. And to my eyes and ears they all seem to exhibit narcissistic tendencies from very mild to extreme. I’ve been part of this family for over forty years so I feel I can offer some comment with a degree of knowledge. Looking back now, after reading and researching, I see the patterns of behaviour formed as adults relate back to when they were children – ‘CEN’. My own family has similar ‘CEN’ issues too; but with parents that stayed married for 27 years. For now we’ll work with what is right in front of me; the state of my own marriage on this day.
NB: This is only my opinion and it is not written to apportion blame to any parents anywhere; including my own. We all know there are various and good valid reasons why relationships/marriages break-down.
In our families cases, us children were well taken care of in a physical sense: feed, clothed, disciplined, educated. What else could we possibly need?
In my husband’s family situation they were not told why their mother had left them. In those days children didn’t get told anything. Never mind the fact that the marriage had broken down because love and trust was lost. You don’t stop to talk to the children to explain anything. And as the adult you just get on and do what you have to do to keep food on the table, the power on and the other expenses met. Which is exactly what my husband’s father did. All credit to him. But what those children saw and learnt at a subliminal level was their father no longer had someone to love him; and they had no mother to love them. So the children developed coping mechanisms to find their way forward in life. And outwardly it seems they all did pretty well. But at an emotional level maybe they didn’t do quite so well? I believe at some core deep level my OH believes he is unlovable. This stems from his own experience of ‘CEN’. And only he can change his current thinking and behaviour patterns.
When we first met and began our life together; at some instinctive level I knew he needed caring for and nurturing; loving. And maybe he saw that empathic side of me before I realised what it was too? Whatever we saw in each other back then we chose to make our way forward together. Fast forward forty-three years and my empathic nature has developed into full on healing work for others; and my OH still has the odd narcissistic break-out. These days I’ve learnt not to ‘feed the beast’, ‘rise to the bait’ or whatever reaction he is trying to get out of me to fulfil some ‘CEN’ issue he has and doesn’t even realise he has.
Dr Christiane Northrup speaks at some length on narcissism in her latest book; Dodging Energy Vampires: An Empath’s Guide to Evading Relationships That Drain You And Restoring Your Health & Power.
Both Dr Webb and Dr Northrup have been key to helping me resolve the healer/narcissist relationship questions I had allowing me to move my part of the relationship forward. And I greatly appreciated the learning from both.
In conclusion, for now, what we know with regards to body self-healing work; if you’re in a relationship that is draining you, and you do nothing to change it or learn about the reasons ‘why’, physical illness is generally the only outcome for your body. So, unless you address some of your core misconceptions or beliefs, all the healthy food, exercise, sleep, holidays, pharmaceutical or recreational drugs, alcohol or money will not make you happy or healthy, either. We all have choices. And they can be fairly simple. Choosing ‘to be well’ means nurturing yourself first; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Looking after yourself ‘first’ is not selfish; it’s self-preservation and completely necessary for you to lead a balanced and happy life; to be at peace within your core-self. So, back to the original question, ‘can a self-confessed empath/healer live HEA with an unaware narcissist’? I do believe anything in this lifetime is possible!