Sometimes the boxxes we get trapped in really belong to someone else but we take them on as our own. For example, do you know someone who is in a relationship where one person feels so much less important than the other? Where one continually tries to make the other happy, but no matter what they do it is never good enough? Well, there’s a good chance he or she is involved with a narcissist.
The term "narcissism" comes from the mythological story of a Greek youth named Narcissus who became so infatuated with his own reflection in a pool of water that he was unable to leave it, and eventually died on the spot. Although narcissists may appear extremely self-loving and sometimes egotistical; in fact, it’s all a hoax. Their inner self is full of fear and self-loathing, believed to have begun in childhood when certain needs of love and compassion were not provided. They do not truly love themselves, and thus, do not know how to love anyone else either.
Most narcissists (75 percent) are men. Adolph Hitler comes to mind as perhaps the best known and most extreme narcissist. Certainly, most are not as lethal or as famous. However, there are many other small-scale narcissists in our society who inflict their own level of damage upon those they live with, trapping their victims in boxxes of guilt, fear, shame, and self-doubt.
The most common are abusive husbands. Whether physically, sexually, or emotional abusers, we see them in movies like Sleeping With The Enemy and Enough. These men exhibit absolute power and control over ever aspect of their wives’ lives, while inflicting abuse as "punishment" for perceived poor performance of any kind. This type of relationship is dangerous, and professional help should be sought at the earliest possible sign. Abuse, whether physical, sexual, or emotional, (including the "silent treatment,) is not acceptable in any relationship! Taking care of YOU first is crucial, especially in these situations, and even more so when children are involved. Do NOT feel responsible for the abuse you receive. It is the abuser’s boxx, not yours.
Equally destructive, but with a different approach, are the many narcissists who live quietly in all areas of society. I’ll call them "stealth narcissists." Some are highly respectable members of our communities, often appearing to be wonderful people. In public they may wear a mask of sincerity, kindness, friendliness, compassion, and/or a great sense of humor, yet beneath this veneer lays a personality that can inflict extreme damage upon others in their lives… especially those they "love."
When their needs are not met to the degree they deem appropriate, they feel justified in punishing those who are responsible. Unfortunately, the reality is that no one can EVER make them happy, as they are not happy with themselves to begin with.
This vicious cycle is self-perpetuating. The more the "victim" tries to please the narcissist and fails, the stronger become the feelings of low self-esteem in the victim. She then believes she is to blame for the problems and that the narcissist has every right to be disappointed or angry with her performance. The result is that the victim is held captive in one of many boxxes not truly belonging to her, wondering how she got there. As her self-esteem continues to erode, she develops a stronger belief that her narcissistic partner is right and that she is incapable of living without his direction and supreme intellect. He is, indeed, the "Master of her Universe."
How could she possibly function without him? He may look like Mr. Right to the outside world, but in reality, he could be Mr. Very Wrong for her emotional health.
Remember – you can choose to stay in your boxxes or choose to leave them. No one can hold you there for life if you don’t give them your permission to do so!
To learn more about narcissism, go to www.smvak.tripod.com. The information you will glean will leave you dumbfounded and extremely educated about this destructive personality, but may also give you hope for recognizing the fact that this boxx is definitely NOT yours! See also, GET OUT OF YOUR BOXX! for a chapter on narcissism and several personal stories of others who have lived their lives in this confining and painful emotional prison.
Mary Jo Fay is a speaker and the author of the book called GET OUT OF YOUR BOXX! And can be reached at 303-841-7691 or ww.outoftheboxx.com.