I’m really lucky to have a husband who is fully supporting me as I try to overcome my personality disorder. But he doesn’t always know how, and that’s incredibly frustrating for both of us.
A huge downside to having such a stigmatized PD is that it’s nearly impossible to find any helpful advice among the mountains of hate, shaming, misinformation, outright lies and general vitriol for people unlucky enough to be stuck with my disorder.
One of my husband’s chief complaints is that whenever he searches for anything having to do with NPD all he gets are narcissist hate sites. He can’t find anything on how to help me manage my disorder, how to more effectively talk to me, or how to support me in my recovery. He has searched and searched and the only advice he says he can find is, “get away from them.” Nice.
“I’m not giving up on you. I’m not leaving you,” he tells me. “I love you unconditionally.” For me that’s pretty hard to hear or accept, in part because vulnerability is still so fucking hard for me. I am still struggling to believe anyone can really love me at all, let alone unconditionally. But he’s trying to show me and I’m trying to learn to believe him. So, how can we help each other out?
Where’s the practical advice for those who aren’t ready to give up on their spouse or loved one with NPD, who is trying to change? I don’t have all the answers, but when I find something useful, I will pass it along — because it’s quite literally like finding a needle in haystack.
I came across this article the other day, and I think it had some decent, practical advice for people like my husband, on how to more effectively communicate with a narcissist:
How can you effectively communicate with someone who is generally only able to process what’s going on in their own lives and minds?
- Let them think you are focusing on them, but really divert their attention to the emotions and thoughts of others. Giving them outside perspective. When they try to bring their feelings or thoughts back to center, acknowledge, then divert again.
- Remind them of their responsibility in the causes and consequences of their actions. Not everything is someone else’s fault. Although they will try to make it seem that way. And they cannot complain about the choices they made freely and willingly.
- Remind them of their responsibility to care for their own ego, and boost their own self-esteem. While encouraging them to support others’ emotional needs, as well. Not necessarily by making someone feel good, or feel anything for that matter, but by providing an open, welcoming, gentle atmosphere for others to dwell.
- Remind them of the difference between caring for others and trying to control them. What they think isn’t always best. Support and show affection to others. Don’t just peddle advice.
- Ask them to really listen, not just talk. Think how what is being said affects them as they’re listening. Focus on how the topic of conversation affects others.
- Be sure to note direct comparisons of their lives, attitudes and actions to those they deem inferior or incorrect in others’ lives. They easily notice flaws in others but rarely notice, acknowledge or take responsibility for their own flaws. If they are doing these things, they probably will put forth a lackluster effort to change them, if any at all.