In my previous blog post, I wrote about the story of Narcissus and Echo to give you clues as to whether you are living with someone with a narcissistic personality. If you didn’t read it click here to check it out.
That post was about understanding the modern day Narcissus. Now it’s Echo’s turn and how living with narcissism affects you.
Echo’s story is the part of the myth that we tend to forget. Perhaps that’s not surprising. Not only has Echo lost her voice, but she also has no presence of her own.
Echo was a vibrant, beautiful nymph but she was a chatterbox and loved to talk. Her love of talking gets her into trouble with Hera, Queen of the Gods and as a punishment Hera curses Echo. Hera takes away the thing that Echo loves, her ability to talk freely and spontaneously. Now Echo is only able to finish a sentence started by others and unable to say anything of her own.
In the myth, Echo falls in love with Narcissus, but she cannot tell him. Eventually, Narcissus becomes aware of Echo but rejects her love.
Spurred On By Rejection
The more Echo is rejected, the more her love seems to grow. According to Carl Jung, her love feeds on her grief, and it grows because of the grief. And as she grieves, Echo’s body wastes away until she becomes thin and wrinkled and all the moisture drains from her body into the air. Only her voice and bones remain and then just her voice because her bones turn to stone.
There is no happy ending for Echo.
Echo’s mind, body and soul faded away while hoping that one day Narcissus would pay her attention.
It takes a long time for flesh to turn into stone. It’s a slow, gradual process. And while Echo waited, she got nothing in return from Narcissus.
But still, she waited.
How long have you been waiting? Like Echo, for some, the wait is long. It may take many years before you realise that your identity, self-esteem, self-respect and life-force is disappearing. Your once vibrant self is now insecure, confused, anxious and exhausted.
You feel like you are losing your mind, all while you wait for someone else to change. But they don’t, you do.
Living With Narcissism – Let The Mind Games Begin
Now you find yourself deferring crucial decisions over to your partner. They always have the final say, and you echo back their words. You begin to do things against your better judgement because your partner convinces you that it’s the ‘normal’ thing to do.
Perhaps you get used to disproportionally contributing to running the household to show your partner that you care or to make a statement that you can do it all. But actually, what this does is take you away from the things you need to do to nourish yourself because now you just don’t have the time.
And somehow all the problems in your relationship are your fault. Even though you don’t remember saying or doing the things you’re accused of, not only do you start to believe what you are told, but you get busy trying to make things okay. You take responsibility. Your partner, on the other hand, sits back while you get busy.
Somehow, like Echo, you have learnt that if you give up completely on yourself to serve another, one day your love would be reciprocated. The issue with being in a relationship, any relationship, with someone with narcissistic behaviours is the fact that there is no reciprocity.
Who’s Preoccupied With Who?
So, while Narcissus was preoccupied with himself, Echo was preoccupied with him. All attention was on Narcissus. You may feel this way with your partner; when living with narcissism you notice they have to be the centre of attention.
But hold on, let’s stop a minute.
In her longing for Narcissus, Echo wanted something that, at one extreme, she was willing to harm herself for, and at the other willing to die for. An emotionally healthier Echo would have perhaps told Narcissus to go away, and she would have got on with her life.
I know, it’s not that simple. People with narcissistic personalities are not always easy to spot, and their behaviour can be subtle. Maybe if you left this relationship, you would find yourself living with narcissism in another just with a person with a different name, a different face and different clothes.
Something made you susceptible to be in this relationship in the first place.
And that’s the hard part about reflecting on being in a relationship with a narcissist; facing the fact that there are two sides of the coin. In long-term relationships where you find Narcissus you will find Echo.
Echo desired to be loved, to feel lovable and special. There was a void in her life. An echo, and between the echo, a deep painful void. Echo was preoccupied with getting this void filled by someone else at all costs. Her narcissistic wounding a very different version of Narcissus’ obsession with himself.
When you realise that you have been living with narcissism and a narcissistic personality, there is a sense of loss. You begin to question your relationship, what it means, what your future looks like and you start to look at your partner and maybe even yourself differently.
With loss comes grief, sadness and anger.
I imagine you’re reading this post because your soul is trying to reimagine your relationship with Echo and Narcissus. You can create a different a story and transform your life. Being awake and fully conscious is the first step to avoid the slow transition into stone. Your relationship and this awakening is all part of the work of the soul.
Soul work is not always easy. But what if your soul is inviting you to heal, grow and know your potential.
Fill the void in your life with your words and your voice.
Over To You
Are you living with narcissism and do you recognise Echo’s presence in your life? If you want to reconnect with your voice touch and book your first counselling appointment.
Or call me today on 07535 864836.
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P.S. PASS IT ON
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© Sandra Harewood
Soul Centred couples counsellor Sandra Harewood specialises in working with couples and single women with childhood wounding that impacts their adult relationships. Sandra provides a soulful space for her clients to explore and discover creative solutions to their difficulties and create great relationships.