Why you feel drained in relationship with a narcissist, all the time.
It took me quite a while (like about 30 years) to figure out that narcissists feed off of all your emotions, good and bad. I mean technically they are still human beings so of course they would prefer your good vibes, but if they can’t get those, any emotional response will do. They just need to be fed.
Narcissists in their younger lives experience some form of trauma — it could be anything from an emotionally unavailable parent to addiction in the family, to a teacher that belittled them, to physical or sexual abuse — which triggers a deep shame response in them. The depth of the shame response and the lack of cultivated resilience (which would otherwise have been developed with the help of healthy supporting emotional structures — family, guardians, mentors) triggers the need to cut off that part of the emotional body.
I envisage that the shame creates a blackness, and if the emotional body matches the physical body in stature and shape, the blackness is pushed deep down into the gut, and that part of the body is sealed shut. The aim of the narcissist is to never have to access or deal with this pit of shame.
The issue with shoving all your shame and perceived darkness away is that human beings are creatures of contrast. We are not only one thing, always. We must experience both sides of all things to fully understand and contextualise our own existence. We cannot appreciate sweet if we have never tasted salty. We cannot fully appreciate joy if we have not experienced pain. And the extent to which we can feel and experience one thing in life opens up the potential to experience it’s equal and opposite force just as deeply.
So when you lock away all your deepest pain, as narcissists do, you equally cannot access your own positive emotions, that are created and truly come from within. Narcissists can absolutely respond to stimuli — pride at a promotion at work, or satisfaction at a new car. They can also mimic emotions they have seen other people express, such as happiness at a wedding, but they cannot feel true inner joy, contentment, pleasure or peace. They can only leach these feelings from others. Narcissists specifically go in search of people who are emotionally open or vulnerable — such as codependents, empaths, intuitives and highly sensitive people. They fit together like a hand in a glove. Codependents and empaths need to feed and narcissists need to be fed. Codependents and empaths need to heal and narcissists have a wound that can never be healed.
So if you find yourself in relationship with a narcissist you have become their source. They cannot draw power from their own inner source because they cut that off long ago. They can only draw power from outside themselves. It’s like your neighbour tapping into your electricity supply because theirs got cut off and you’re left wondering why your bill is so high every month.
When you become the source for a narcissist what you must realise is that they draw their energy from your negative emotions as well as your positive ones. If you have ever been in a relationship with a narcissist you will notice that when they cannot illicit a good response from you, they will simply do more to provoke a bad one. Rage is not as pleasant a drug to swallow as love, but it is as potent to the narcissist. Because narcissists cannot access their emotions, they cannot feel empathy, so they care little for how damaging it is to make you angry, miserable, rageful, bitter or scournful. They will either simply manipulate you back to an equilibrium with them or they will discard you for a better, less worn out source.
When you understand this, you can finally understand that the only way to be released from narcissistic abuse is not to try to heal them, or love them more, or try harder, or be kinder, but to get out. Your pain feeds them as much as your love and joy. You cannot kill them with kindness. They eat it up. You cannot scream them into submission. It recharges them all the same. A narcissist wants whatever you have to give, with nothing offered in return.
The sanest thing you can do is unhook their supply completely and get out.