Though I write these articles, I also think labels can potentially be problematic. I tend to straddle both the “for” and “against” fences for diagnoses and labels, in general. Part of the reason I decided to quit being a psychotherapist, is because I felt a pressure to pathologize and label so much of what I see as context-based symptoms of human behavior, that are actually very much influenced by culture and time frame.
I also think the label “toxic” can be used as a way for someone to scapegoat another, for their own experience. It has the effect of one projecting all their un-owned shame onto this scapegoat, and essentially branding them as poisonous, untouchable, or unlovable. I am wary of people who label others as toxic, frequently, as I see this as a sign they, themselves, have not dealt with their own toxic tendencies.
We all have our blind-spots and issues, and this is BY NO MEANS a reason for us to be deemed unlovable or an outcast. I think some of us have far more extreme blind-spots than others, though, and it warrants setting strong boundaries with them, if their blind-spots are causing serious harm to you, and they seem unwilling to genuinely repair and make things right. Someone who is certifiably, pathologically Narcissistic, is a person who does great harm just by being close to people, due to their blindness and lack of empathy or true willingness to be accountable. In this context, I think it is completely appropriate to eventually cut ties and contact with this person, as to remain close and connected is a form of violence to the self.
It appears through what you are sharing that you find you do harm when you are experiencing the extreme aspects of your disorder, but that you also attempt to repair and make things right. I have also struggled through several diagnosable disorders and their impacts on the people I am connected to. I have also had some people, at different points in my life, decide they couldn’t be close to me because of my state, and what I had done. I have found these experiences of rejection and blame to be extremely painful, as I am assuming you have as well. I am sorry you have struggled so much. It is extremely painful to be scapegoated, because you and I happen be convenient targets.
I don’t think you should automatically be be cut ties with, by anyone, for the challenges you experience with your self, based on this diagnosis. However, as I see it, if friends do choose to stop being close to you because of the damage that has been done, as well as their incapacity to hold the complexity of and uniqueness of who and how you are, if you experience it as “abandonment”, this is also partially your wound to heal. As I see it, no adult is entitled to unconditional love, forgiveness, presence, access to, and acceptance, independent of however they treat another intimate adult. Everyone has a limit. It is within another’s rights to say they can’t do a connection anymore, and to cut it off entirely, because the relationship is not meeting fundamental needs. That is not abandonment. In my eyes that is having boundaries, needs, standards, and a sense of self.
Having said this though, I know the immense pain in losing people because they have decide they can’t handle me or no longer like me. To be cast aside like that is extremely painful, and I don’t wish it on anyone. But, I also see I have had people do me a favor by leaving my life, as it is best to only surround yourself with people who can give the right kind of love. Also, people leaving has encouraged me to dig deeper, take responsibility for my self, and heal myself, in all sorts of ways. I am sure it has helped you in many ways, too!
I believe every human is entitled to genuine self-forgiveness and forgiveness, as well as compassion for what caused them to be and act the ways that are in question. I have had several Narcissistic people close to me in my life, and have loved them deeply, despite how the huge holes in their awareness, their lack of integrity and empathy, their projection, and their delusions, severely harmed me. I have had a lot of compassion for the horrors they have gone through (multiple intense traumas) that have caused them to become Narcissistic. I have also forgiven most of them and forgiven my self. I have also forgiven myself for the ways I conducted myself with these N people, and for what it is inside of me that caused me to be drawn to closeness with someone who would harm me, in the first place.
I think on a macro (global) level, all the way down to a micro (family) level we all share responsibility for restructuring relationship in such a way as to create a more supportive, loving, caring, compassionate society. We all share responsibility for preventing traumas from occurring, and helping those who have experienced trauma to heal and form resilience. I do see Narcissism as a symptom of a world where domination and exploitation run amok. I think we all must face our own tendencies to offload responsibility and accountability on others, and grow in our capacities for genuine, non exploitative connection, before we can heal this cultural and global wounding. And, while we find ways to inspire and help the human race to heal and evolve in a more positive direction, I think the best thing that can be done is helping people see that there are natural consequences to harmful behaviors, while loving them through it. In the extreme case I mention here, sometimes the crisis of losing contact, communication, and relationship is THE ONLY WAY to help someone who is extremely disordered and harmful, see that they perhaps need to change and start looking within.
For a small portion of the population who are incredibly damaged in their capacity to self-reflect and be accountable, I would say that mandatory treatment of some sort, or some equally strict and confrontational crisis, might wake them up. But, these people have created a whole false self organized around not having to take responsibility, and honestly I have very little faith in anyone or anything making them see the light, until the perfect circumstances come along, and they HAVE TO face themselves.
I am currently hopeful that my mind will be changed and I or another may discover a way of being with and relating to very Narcissistic people, that gets them to want to heal themselves. For now, I like writing articles that help people overcome the gaslighting that has been done to them, and begin to become more empowered to live a life without abuse and violence.