Breaking the Glass Box

When I read I tend to do it from several different places within me. My eyes scan the words, my gut scans the feelings within the words, my ears listen to the voice and tone I give to the words, I monitor my body for physical and other reactions, while my mind processes the information which my senses are relaying to it. There is nothing unusual about this, in fact we all do it which is why different people saying exactly the same thing can affect us in a multitude of ways. I do it when I reread my own posts, and I glean added information about myself by doing that. It can reveal to me secrets which I may be keeping from myself, especially if I repeat something. Repetition is a sign pointing to something which is determined to be heard and noticed.

I was reading posts on blogs written by Adult Children of Narcissists, or ACONs as we are now dubbed, and the thing which struck me the most, the overwhelming feeling which came across was rage. I know that rage well, which is why I tuned in to it. It is a symptom of being in a relationship with a Narcissist, and the level of rage is in direct proportion to the length of that relationship.

If you read any of my posts where I discuss my parents or my childhood you will find the rage bubbling and boiling within my words. It is also there when I discuss any other people I have interacted with who I have come to realise are Narcissists. Because when you are in a relationship with a Narcissist it feels like you are trapped in a glass box, nothing you say or do can be heard or seen. You bang repeatedly on the glass, but the sound only reverberates inside, echoing within you and driving you crazy. The levels of frustration are akin to the levels of radiation in a nuclear power plant reactor. Thus when a victim of a Narcissist finally manages to break the glass box and express themselves, the impact of their words can be toxic. Which is why many victims of Narcissists find that other people, such as therapists and friends, reject their words in what seems like a similar way to Narcissists. This fuels the rage. Why won’t anyone listen to me! Believe me! Acknowledge my words!

Victims of Narcissists have certain traits which define them. They have been shamed into silence for so long, the few times they try to seek help they have found that they are not believed and they have retreated back into shamed silence. Shame creates an anger which is so strong that it can eat its bearer alive from the inside out. Which is why many victims of Narcissists feel compelled to break their silence and voice their agony. Yet this agony often gets dismissed, and the vicious cycle goes on and on.

Now I’m going to say something which may alienate me from other ACONs and victims of Narcissists. The constant repetition that Narcissists are monsters is a Narcissistic trap. Narcissists feed as much on our rage against them as they do on the endless praise they desire. In fact some Narcissists prefer to be seen as monsters. Monsters are also superhuman, and since there is an innate fear of monsters in all humans, being a monster, a supervillain, gives you greater power than being a superhero.

If you are stuck in the rage you feel against a Narcissist, to a Narcissist this means they have you in their thrall as much, maybe more so, as they do when you are in love with them. To them as long as you are feeling an emotion towards them, then they are the centre of your universe and you belong to them. To Narcissists, who don’t experience emotions the way that we do, all emotions are the same, they are energy for them to feed on, thus whether we love them or hate them, as long as we are feeling something for them we are feeding them. The one thing they absolutely can’t deal with at all is being ignored because then they can’t confirm to themselves that not only do they exist but they are the most important being in the universe. Thus feeling nothing towards a Narcissist cuts them off from their main food supply. No contact is the correct tactic, but if they know that you still feel emotions towards them, even if you no longer communicate with them or are in their life, that knowledge is power to them, they still own your soul.

This has spurred me on to do more than just release my silent shame-filled rage, to move beyond the phase where I point my finger at Narcissists calling them monsters. My goal, for myself, is to unmask the monster and see it for what it actually is, a terrified, lonely little child who never grew up because it was afraid of growing up. Being an adult and a human with all that that entails is the most horrific thing to a Narcissist. It represents all the vulnerability from which they seek to escape and disassociate. They see growing up as growing old and dying. They see human emotion as kryptonite which weakens them, makes them vulnerable, prone to pain and hurt, and disappointment. Everything which ordinary mortals embrace about being human is everything the immortal Narcissist fears with a terror that threatens them every second of every moment that they are alive.

Now those who have been victims of Narcissists may view my words as a form of sympathy towards Narcissists, excusing their behaviour, but this is not my intention. My intention is to turn Narcissists into humans. Not to actually go around trying to humanise the Narcissists themselves, that would be a vain quest. No, just point at them and say – They are not superheroes, nor are they monsters, they’re just really fucked-up humans, and their only power, superhuman or supernatural, is the one which we give them. Narcissists are very vulnerable because they need others to exist, and they feed on the energy we give them, if we cut off that supply, they shrink into insignificance. But to do that we have to see them for who they actually are, warped children in an adult body. Not heroes, not monsters.

It is necessary for victims of Narcissists to pass through several stages, just as those who grieve pass through the stages of grief, to heal the wounds caused by Narcissists. First we have to see that the beautiful enchanted mythical mermaid singing her hypnotic song, is actually an envious and evil siren hell bent on luring us onto a sharp and deadly reef, then drag us down into the watery depths of her deluded confusion, but to truly escape the grip of a Narcissist we then need to realise the evil siren is just a fish, and a small one at that.

I sound slightly crazy, don’t I? Most victims of Narcissists know that feeling. Being trapped in a glass box for a long time will indeed drive you nuts, and that insanity is the very thing which helps to break the box open. We do need time to release years of fury, frustration, rage, and shame. To break our silence. But after that, we have to heal ourselves, move on to the world which lies outside of the box, and that means letting go of all myths. Because the world of myth is the home of the Narcissist. So whether you are saving them from their endless damsel in distress routine, or fighting them as a hero fighting monsters, you’re still stuck in their territory, their game, still feeding them. Get out. It doesn’t matter if no one else believes what you know about the Narcissist in your life, they’ll find out for themselves, maybe, one day. Your job isn’t to save others, it is to save yourself, and that you can do. Believe yourself, know your truth and stick by it. Because doubting your truth is one way that Narcissists keep you stuck in their trap.

You are not a Narcissist, therefore you do not need others to confirm your existence or your version of reality, nor do you need to be a hero saving others from Narcissists, you are human, mortal, and the key to freeing yourself forever from the glass box is to stop shaming and blaming yourself for being the victim of a Narcissist. Break the glass, express yourself, heal your wounds, and live your life… for you.

In truth, the only reason I’m writing this and posting it is because I’m hoping that I will listen to and hear my own words. That’s another side effect of long exposure to a Narcissist, when others don’t listen to you… you sometimes stop listening to yourself. And that is a wound which causes so many other wounds… within the self, and within others.

ps. This whole thing about writing shorter posts on your blog so more people will read them, and how long posts are a sure way of no one reading your words… ties in with this. It’s been bothering me, even though I’ve told myself not to let it and just keep doing my thing for me… still the doubt is there. Hmmm.


  1. I hear you and understand you. Again, another excellent writing concerning a Narcissist. I appreciate you wording and expressing all that you have about Narcissists and victims of Narcissists being a voice among all the damn noise. I had reblogged your writing “Sympathy for the Narcissist” because I felt it must be shared. There are and will be those silent readers who do not click a Liked or comment, and so I know this gets read for those out there that are on both ends of the stick…. Narcissists and victims of Narcissists. By the way, I cannot say this as a provable fact but I can say I feel this is so as to be silently read as well as from my years of experience running discussion forums and blogging. Many do read but not voice. So… I am going to comment on the reblogged piece to add the link to this writing, “Breaking the Glass Box”. Thank you, Ursula. Keep doing your thing for yourself and keep expressing. Your expressions matter.


    • Hi Anna, Thank you very much for all your wonderful support 😀

      I’d forgotten that I had added that bit at the bottom of this post. It was more as a note to self. I keep doing that with my posts at the moment, leaving little messages to remind myself that my mind made some connection between thoughts which I should explore further. With this post, when I reached the end of it, I thought – This is too long I should edit it to make it shorter – and I started to argue with myself about that. I struggle a lot with what I am told I should do versus what I want to do and feel is right for me. If I can see logic to both sides of the argument, then I get confused as to which one is the way to go, and finding a middle ground is not always easy.

      That internal argument reminded me of an element of the Gordian knot I am trying to untangle or cut. Someone, keeps telling me how I should be doing things, and at first I considered doing things their way, but then I decided their way was not right for me, so I changed tack and I am now doing things my way. They have been very obstructive and rather abusive because they’re annoyed at me for not doing things their way. Their behaviour has facets of NPD to it. They have no understanding of any view but their own, and they are not listening to a word I say, but they are doing an awful lot of talking, most of it irrelevant to the issue at hand. Yet they think it is all of paramount importance.

      Anyway, advice is sometimes like a siren beckoning you onto rocks, it is alluring, makes you doubt yourself, and sometimes you have to jam bits of wax in your ears and stick to your course trusting that your inner compass will steer you in the right direction for you so that you can accomplish your quest.

      Ha! The length of this comment is the sort of ideal length for a readable post according to blogging experts… Which reminds me of something silly. I did consider for a very brief and nutty moment that I could expand on the ideas in some of my posts using the comment feature, sort of chatting with myself as I do inside my mind only out in the open, then I told myself that that was just a bit too crazy, some things, like how loopy I can be, perhaps need to be kept silent… or just not shared with others 😉


  2. Hi Ursula, you are very much welcome. Your writings has spurred me to ponder within myself various avenues and this goes into the whirling of how “I see myself’ ways. 🙂 I am doing a quick check online as my only slice of time for the day being on the computer. The last paragraph in you comment caught my attention as to using the comment feature. I fiddled with that idea several times throughout the years when I had my own independent discussion boards. I would post something and then go back and reply once or twice or more. Something I experimented with to further my own thought processes and also hoping to snag a reader to share. I didn’t carry this through and wondered if perhaps this could have been a fertile exercise for my own self. I feel it is a great idea and not a bit too crazy. Instead of silence, letting spurts of steam out of the kettle, if you will. : So, I thought I would reply again here and share my thoughts on this. I had forgotten all about the comment thingie until reading your comment on this. And now I reconsider this for my hub blog as it is the only place I have for comments. I enjoy your comments, Ursula, and look forward to them. You are of like mind, I feel, and it does help to let the chat out of mind in the open as it may help to open the flow and give space. Anyway, I’ve said my piece and it is time for me to slip back into ‘real’ time. Blessings to you, Ursula.


  3. You have shared so many helpful insights in the pages I’ve been reading, and this one especially strikes a chord with me. I am currently about three years in from starting down the path of trying to finally heal from a lifetime of eating disorder, addictions, compulsive behaviour, etc. I am now 39. It took me almost a year to figure out what the HELL was going on in my life. Fast forward to now, and I am well aware of having been raised by a narcissistic mother, and all that entails. It’s only through finding helpful things online that I was able to put the pieces together and figure things out and what had happened, and why it had affected me the way it did. Enough about me though! This post is wonderful. The comparison to living in a glass box is spot on. So if your assertion that narcissists are not monsters – I agree completely. I knew my grandmother, and know why my mother turned out the way she did – a fact that led me to feel sorry for her and see her as wounded and fragile, which only strengthened my belief that it was my job to look after her and accept her abuse. Now, I try to tell myself that it’s not my job anymore to look after her – my only job is to look after myself and try to deal with the damage she has done to me. I have not yet found the courage to cut off contact but that may well be in the cards. Anyway, I just wanted to give a bit of a hello and to say thank you for all of your posts. I see myself and my life in so many of your comments. I am having a lot of insights from reading your entries. I’m so glad I came across your blog. -Kristine in Canada


    • Thank you very much 🙂

      I’m in my 40’s and I’ve only just felt confident enough to share my experiences openly, and publicly. I was very nervous about doing it because I was conditioned to keep it all quiet, partly because no one would ever believe me. Other people always seem to find the Narcissist more believable than the victim of the Narcissist, especially if that victim is the child of a Narcissistic parent. Children are not allowed to say anything bad about their parents, even if it is true… but parents are allowed to say bad things about their children apparently. And in the past when I tried to speak up, I always ended up wishing that I hadn’t. Silence has been both a prison and protective, which makes breaking it a double-edged sword – one which frees you from the ties which bind and one which can cut you and open up all your wounds again.

      I read a very good article recently about the dynamics of the Narcissistic Family –

      I think the recent rise in awareness of NPD has been beneficial for those of us who’ve lived with it for a very long time. We’re not alone anymore, and we can finally give a name to a problem which has plagued us our whole lives. The unknown is now known.

      I think that viewing Narcissists as monsters, even when they walk, talk, behave and we experience them as one, is detrimental to the victims of Narcissists because it gives the Narcissist in our lives a supernatural, mythological, fantasy aura… which is the territory of the Narcissist. We give them too much power over us when we see them as monsters, or evil, or a super villain.

      And we get trapped in the role of Monster slayer, the good fighting the evil, the super hero fighting the super villain. Which if you’ve grown up with a Narcissist is a role they gave you at some point because they turn other people into monsters and then expect you to save them or you’re the monster they ask other people to save them from. Children of Narcissists tend to play both roles depending on what story the Narcissist is enacting at any given moment. So we are still stuck in their version of reality, even if we’re now seeing them as the monster and fighting them trying to save ourselves. And we run the risk of becoming like them, they finally manage to do what they’ve always attempted to do to us but which we’ve always managed to fight (even though the fight is often self-destructive). As Nietzsche said so succinctly – Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster.

      Whereas by seeing them as very ordinary human beings who were traumatised and thus became distorted, a living and breathing person who has a festering wound they carry around like a trophy and pass on to others, is a healthier approach. Pop the grandiose, larger than life, bubble and see the miserable child inside who never grew up.

      One of their greatest fears is that they’re a nobody, ordinary, human, flawed… so seeing them that way is the antidote to them.

      That’s my take on it anyway, it works for me, better than any of the other approaches I’ve used over the years. It’s something which has been very useful recently as both my parents resurfaced in my life after years of No Contact – No Contact is incredibly difficult to do because Narcissists don’t acknowledge it (unless you can get them to do it to you, get them to Discard you) and doing it with NPD parents is very problematic. If you live in the same community as your NPD parent, they will use the entire community against you. I moved when I went NC.

      But being NC can feel like being in the witness protection program and a part of you is always on the alert, never relaxes, because the moment you let your guard down they’ll get you. So, it has a good side and a not so good side. In some ways the best version of No Contact is an internal state of being. You remove them from your mind, heart, and soul, cut the ties inside. Therefore whether they are still in your life or not, they can’t touch you.

      The most important thing is to take care of yourself… which is a challenge for a child of NPD parents as we’ve been taught to care for everyone but ourselves, but it is a challenge worth taking and winning 🙂


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