I am writing this book because I am angry. I am angry at witnessing so many people being hurt and devastated by relationships of any kind with toxic and narcissistic people. I am angry at seeing good people, who are empathic, strong, and wise, losing the best of themselves to narcissistic people who tell them they are not enough, and who devalue, invalidate, and dehumanize them. I see so much wasted potential and shattered happiness at the hands of narcissistic abuse. I am angry that no one is providing young people, especially young women, with the skills to choose healthy partners (instead of controlling and abusive pseudo-Prince Charmings). Regardless of whether relationships with narcissists end or if they are sustained, they result in an untold toll. Even if you do get out, it is not as simple as just breaking up with the person.  These breakups and divorces can create lifelong challenges, because a narcissist never lets go easily. Children get ruined by toxic custody battles and uninformed family court systems and enter their adulthoods tentatively, vulnerable to more narcissistic abuse, re-creating the cycles put into place by their toxic parent or parents.

I am angry that people are sold a message of second chances and forgiveness that allows toxic and narcissistic people to continue to do cruel things and say cruel things with impunity. I am angry that people are called “judgmental” for calling out toxic people and, instead, are told to compromise with them or meet them “halfway.” I am angry that the damage wrought by toxic people, by difficult people, by narcissists, by sociopaths, and by psychopaths goes relatively unaddressed by our justice system, family courts, human-resource departments, risk-management systems, schools and universities, employers and, frankly, even the mental health system. I am angry that families, consciously or unconsciously, collude to protect the toxic amongst them or give them a free pass. I am angry that people who are emotionally abused are often doubted or told to adjust or communicate or “get over it,” as though only a bruised face requires intervention and a bruised soul does not. I am angry that we spend effort to encourage people to quit junk food, cigarettes, sedentary lifestyles, drugs, and alcohol, while never suggesting that people step away from toxic relationships that are destroying their health. I am angry at all of the lost human potential—lost to fear and self-doubt and controlling partners, families, and other people who clip the wings of so many gifted people. I am angry that most of the systems in the world reward toxic behavior—and that narcissistic and toxic people are exalted as leaders, celebrities, billionaires, and heroes. I am angry because all of this is having a detrimental effect on the mental health and psyches of anyone who encounters these toxic and difficult people, and anyone who lives in this world, and I want to provide guidelines, information, a framework, and, perhaps, an exit strategy so people do not keep shaving off parts of their souls in the name of toxic relationships. I want to help people learn to save themselves, to stop wasting their time rescuing other people, and, instead, spend their time rescuing themselves.

Excerpted from Don’t You Know Who I Am? How to Stay Sane in an Era of Narcissism, Entitlement, and Incivility by Ramani S. Durvasula, Ph.D. with permission from the author and Post Hill Press.

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