Many families are plagued by narcissism. I use the word plague because it feels like a disease, running through the veins of the tenuous connections between the various family members. When you're part of a narcissistic family, the effects it has are devastating. In fact, there will be times that you feel as if the life is being sucked out of you.
When a parent is a narcissist, children sometimes follow suit and, learning the ways of the world from mum or dad, may become narcissists themselves. Another common reaction to being raised by a narcissistic parent is to become co-dependent, something which I have identified with in the past. Whether you're part of a narcissistic family or in a relationship with a narcissist, being on the receiving end of a narcissist's behaviour will leave you drained and depleted.
No matter what good traits your narcissistic brother, partner or parent might have, the nature of narcissistic interactions goes deep to your core by violating your boundaries and manipulating you to the point of exhaustion. When I've been in close contact with the narcissists in my life I have literally felt like so much has been taken from me on an emotional level that I have nothing left to give. In fact, there's nothing left to give to myself, either. The narcissist doesn't care though. All their attention is directed outwards and they feed off others' reactions. It's an insatiable appetite which can never be satisfied.
Why is it that narcissists so quickly zap your energy and leave you drained?
1. Boundary violation.
I choose to have people in my life who respect my boundaries. As soon as I'm involved with a narcissist, I find it very hard to defend my boundaries - even when I have a clear idea of what's right and wrong. That's because narcissists have no respect whatsoever for boundaries. They invade. The ignore your right to privacy, activities and opinions which differ from their own. Not being listened to or respected is exhausting.
2. Living in fear.
Narcissists often get their own way - which is always their end goal - by being openly agressive or passive aggressive towards other people. People around them become fearful of saying or doing something which will trigger the narcissist's agression. Living in a state of fear is mentally and physically damaging on almost every level.
3. Being drawn into secrets and manipulative behaviour.
Narcissistic families thrive on lies, secrets and manipulative and gaslighting behaviours. If you're not the type of person who thrives on constant drama, being pulled into the narcissist's web leaves you feeling trapped and deflated. Sometimes it's all you can do to sit and wait for the spider to make it's attack.
4. Never being able to offer enough.
Narcissists never, ever feel that enough is enough. They always want more attention. They always want to create more chaos between people around them. They want more and more from you. Make friends with a narcissist and they'll want you to be their best friend. Tell them a private secret once and they'll feel upset if you don't share every intimate aspect of your life from then on. You cannot ever satisfy a narcissist's needs - but you can keel over with exhaustion in the process of trying.
If you need help in dealing with a narcissist, please seek out the support you need.