I’ve written before about my relationship with a narcissist. But I wanted to expand a bit more on my role in that – the doormat. Doormats are magnets for narcissists. Being walked all over is no fun and it can suck the life right out of you.
Do you have trouble saying “no” to people? Even after you’ve said no, if pushed, do you have trouble sticking to your simple “no”? Do you understand that “no” is a complete sentence? Or do you feel compelled to offer an explanation of why you’ve said “no”? Do you accept unacceptable behavior from others? Do you get in a huff about “having” to do this or that but feel you must still perform the task? Do you take on others’ problems only to become overwhelmed by them?
You don’t have healthy boundaries. How do I know this? Because I’ve gone most of my life without healthy boundaries myself and still have a bit of trouble setting them. At least I’m aware of the problem now. When I become angry, or feel guilty, or get my feelings hurt I’m painfully aware that it is usually my own fault. Am I excusing the behavior of others? No. They are still responsible for their own behavior. But guess what? So am I.
When we walk around with this martyr’s complex, feeling like we do all the work in relationships, and feeling exhausted by the weight of these relationships we are not exercising the power we have over the one thing we can control: ourselves.
I had a very hard time learning this simple lesson. Yes, it is much harder to practice it than it is to preach it. For me, anyway. Especially when it involves those closest to me. The fact of the matter is the word no is a complete sentence. No explanation necessary. I’ve begun putting this into to practice and little by little, each time I do it, it gets a little easier.
I’ve always been afraid that people wouldn’t like me anymore or that they wouldn’t ask me to do things in the future if I said no to them. That’s actually a pretty irrational way of thinking. If the only reason a person likes me is because I can do crap for them they don’t really like me anyway. If I always so no then, yes, they might stop asking me to do things because most normal people get tired of one-sided relationships – not because I say no once or twice. If I don’t reciprocate and ask others to do things they’d also get tired of a one-sided relationship. But that doesn’t happen either.