Answering The Call
Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
Like waking from a years-long coma, to escape narcissistic abuse is to be resurrected. The spell breaks, and you see the world with new eyes. Life regains its vibrancy, hope seeps back into your heart, and for the first time in a long time, you dare to dream of a better future.
Then the honeymoon ends, and the night sets in. You find yourself in a world that has moved on without you, while the aftershocks of your ordeal rise to the surface. Waves of emotion, nightmares, even panic attacks seem to come from nowhere. For a time you struggle with recovery, having good days and bad, occasionally reaching a point of clarity and focus. Other times you find yourself thrust into the fog of despair and confusion. The crushing loneliness feels like it will never end.
As you progress with recovery, you start having more good days, and the flashbacks taper off. It seems like the worst is over. This is a time to reflect, to understand what happened. You draw comfort from the fact that your efforts are paying off. You are growing, and you are healing. You look ahead with newfound clarity, and the realisations hit you one by one. You find that your earlier innocence has given way to an emerging awareness and wisdom. You are maturing and discovering confronting truths about your world. Your eyes are opening.
Something new is also surfacing inside you, having appeared soon after the spell broke. You grow curious about this ‘strange other,’ but also unsettled. It trembles your foundations and brings with it an ominous warning. You get a sense that nothing will be the same again, that you are standing on a precipice. Far from fleeing, however, you find yourself drawn within, toward a boundless realm filled with opportunity. You eventually get on with your life, but you cannot help occasionally peeping inside the dark, mysterious cave. It whispers to you, sends ripples through you, and draws you in with its allure. If you go too far inside, however, you quickly feel unnerved and return your focus to the outer world of distraction.
What you may have realised by now is that you are being called to undertake a journey; one that you were born to embark on before narcissism corrupted your world. Somewhere along the line, what began with promise and hope descended into a dystopian, claustrophobic maze without end. Yet you have re-emerged, ready to take the first step back toward your evolution. You look around, and notice that outside is a life not yet fully lived, while within you are the ashes and rubble of narcissistic abuse.
So far, you have exposed the narcissist while taking steps toward healing. That mysterious presence inside you is now pointing to the future, while deep down you know that the fight is not over. Something still feels unresolved. Will you answer the call? Perhaps you are already on the path without being conscious of it. Maybe you are wondering what this path is, and what form your journey is supposed to take.
Joseph Campbell called it the hero’s journey. This tale of adventure has been told in countless forms, wherein a protagonist leaves home, overcomes numerous obstacles and challenges, and then returns transformed. From Hercules to Perseus, all the way to Luke Skywalker and Wonder Woman, there is no shortage of hero stories in our culture, and no sign of this phenomenon slowing down. Something about them resonates deep within us, and for good reason. That these stories are so ubiquitous can numb us to their significance and distract us from their purpose, which is to awaken the hero within ourselves. Yet why go on a journey, suffer, and then return transformed? What is the point? And how does this relate to modern life?
A common thread in all hero stories is adversity. Without it, there would be no need for heroism. In every version of this myth, something is wrong with the world. There is an evil that must be faced and conquered. Tyranny has gripped society, and the people face terrible hardship or even death; unless someone steps up and does something.
Enter the hero.
In most cases, the hero is thrust into their situation by chance, or is ‘chosen.’ They receive the call and know they must answer. The hero never feels ready to face the challenge, but knows instinctively that they have the potential to rise to the occasion — if they are prepared to suffer through adversity. Whether in fiction or the real world, answering the call always comes with potential danger. Heroes are not celebrated for nothing. They take real risks, and own the consequences.
For us, narcissism is the tyranny we must conquer. For reasons that we will explore later, it descended upon us and corrupted the natural order of our world. Overcoming it requires facing enormous challenges. The target of narcissism must shed their identity, descend into the belly of the beast, fight numerous demons, and then return ready to face the world from a higher state. A part of you may dread this, but another part may feel excited to rise to the occasion. That is your inner hero awakening.
Some humans were destined to take the unexplored path. In doing so, they test their potential and integrate the results so they can better serve the world. Routine, doctrine and ideology all distract from this. The hero inside us is the pioneer who leaps into the unknown and discovers riches that they can share with others. The hero’s journey is an attempt at removing the training wheels, and with that, discovering one’s strength. Without an outer journey, there can be no inner. The two are entwined.
Many people choose not to take the hero’s journey, remaining in their routine, content to live out their lives simply. There is nothing wrong with this. Sometimes the sacrifice is not worth it, other times a hero’s journey is not required. Some of us, however, are destined for more. The target of narcissism, much like a conventional hero, is thrust into the underworld against their wishes. Maybe they were ‘chosen.’ Who knows? In any case, tyranny found its way to their doorstep, and they have no choice but to undertake the difficult journey out of their predicament. Going ‘no contact’ is not enough; the target of narcissism has internalised the abuse, and must transform through and through if they are to truly thrive.
The hero’s journey is there to guide us toward an actualised and purpose-filled life. There is no one size fits all. Everyone’s path is unique, and must be adapted to their true nature. Breaking free of the narcissist is one thing, growing to your highest potential is another. The outer journey helps you carve out a life worth living, which is carried out in conjunction with an inner journey into the Self. This book supports that endeavour by providing you with a complete map of the journey, as well as the steps to get through it.
In ‘PART I: THE ORIGINS OF SELFHOOD,’ we start by mapping out the True Self, which reveals the building blocks required for an enriching life. This includes the blueprints which shape us and the energy forms that empower us. By seeing our inner gifts clearly, we come to know how power is lost, regained and expanded in our relationships. Above all, by integrating the True Self and its gifts, we can better weave an empowered reality. Ideally, this initial phase is managed by a good-enough parent, wherein the Self thrives as a result and we become captains of our own ship, proudly sailing toward actualisation. What begins as a divine Utopia during infancy leads to growth and prosperity in adulthood — unless the process is interrupted, of course.
‘PART II: THE AGE OF NARCISSISM’ details the fall from this garden, so to speak, where trauma lays waste to the soul. The natural flowering of the True Self abruptly stops, and a rigid personality emerges to compensate and defend from insanity. Meanwhile, the True Self remains buried deep within the rubble of the soul. During this dark period of tyranny, the narcissist enslaves anyone they can to gain supply, eventually taking this corrupted mindset into family life. Here we explore the roles and dynamics of the narcissistic family, along with how this blueprint manifests at all levels of society, including friendships, workplaces and spiritual communities. The kaleidoscope of the narcissist’s many faces is also explored, including the cluster B personality disorders and psychopathy, allowing you to spot a narcissist in their infinite, hidden forms. Additionally, we will explore the narcissist’s playbook of manipulation tactics, such as scapegoating, gaslighting and triangulation, which will further arm you against toxic abuse. Finally, you will be guided in seeing how this entire landscape shaped you. By knowing the scope of the problem, and having the courage to own your part in it, you can break the cycle of narcissistic abuse for good.
We find ourselves now having temporarily broken free of the narcissist’s spell. Yet this moment is not the end of our journey, nor is it the beginning. Rather we are resuming an original journey by first freeing our True Self from the clutches of narcissism, and then going deep within ourselves to restore the five developmental forces of the Self: security, vitality, tenacity, divinity and wisdom. ‘PART III: THE HERO’S JOURNEY’ outlines the process of shedding the layers of narcissistic abuse and actively developing the five forces from our core.
Such an undertaking is not to be pursued lightly. It requires the heart of a hero, a person willing to venture to the edge of their faith — and then further. This modern-day spiritual journey requires that you travel away from home — i.e. your routine and comfort zone, and into the depths of your being. There you will encounter formidable opponents such as toxic shame, rage, despair, confusion, the inner critic, your abandonment wound and, of course, fear. Facing and moving through these ‘demons’ will be essential to your success. It is on this path that you will also meet with a mysterious figure; a certain someone who has been there the whole time, waiting for their saviour to arrive. You are that saviour, and you are the mysterious figure.
As you will soon discover, this enigmatic ‘other’ is your divine essence, which feeds your actualisation and growth. Tapping into it opens you to a world not only of torrential grief, but also abundant potential. For reasons beyond your control, this divine figure was imprisoned, left alone in the depths of your soul as the narcissist took control of your mind. It is this powerful being who you will bring back from your journey, and it is their superhuman qualities which you will integrate so that you can find wholeness. Only then can your evolution truly begin.
As it is with all heroes, inside you is the blueprint and resources to actualise into the person you were meant to be. Hero energy lies within all of us, having been gifted to us by our ancestors, who underwent their own journey into the soul in order to conquer the challenge of their day. We are here because they faced their demons and won. We are products of countless generations of successful evolution. What is needed from us now is the readiness to pay our ancestors homage by also taking on the mighty struggle. We must willingly be torn apart and put back together; to be pushed to our limits, and emerge anew. This is not wishful storytelling, but a genuine alchemical and psychological process. You should not take hero stories literally, they merely point toward a necessary human undertaking. This process leads to a cosmic expansion of your consciousness, the evolution of your mind, body and spirit, and the discovery of unimaginable wonders.
Every hero who ventures into the underworld will have help along the way. While this can and probably should take the form of a therapist, support group or good friend, assistance will also come from unexpected places. As you plunge into the depths of your Self, you will discover resources you thought only others possessed. You find that every courageous act brings with it unexpected rewards, as periods of pain and frustration lead to an eventual revelation or breakthrough. With each minor victory, you learn that your pain tolerance is great, and that inside you is an organism which is self-regulating, supportive and wise beyond imagination. The more you learn to trust this organism, the further you will progress.
As already stated, healing from narcissistic abuse is not a goal in itself; we do it so we can free our inner resources and channel them toward a higher purpose. It was narcissistic abuse which put us in this position, and it is the hero’s journey which gets us back on course. Only when the road is sufficiently travelled will you truly know yourself. When all is said and done, you will return with ‘the gold.’ That is, you will be in possession of a fully-actualised Self that you can channel in incredible ways. What you choose to do with this powerful gift is the focus of ‘PART IV: THE RETURN,’ where you take what you have learned and gained, and apply it to your daily life, except this time on your terms. By living through your True Self, you will finally have a sense of meaning and purpose. That gnawing feeling of emptiness gradually fades, and your relationships cease to be dysfunctional and abusive.
Having returned from your hero’s journey, you see your old world with new eyes. You take a sobering look at the part you played in the narcissistic dynamic, and undergo deep grief, as fantasy gives way to reality. Furthermore, you come to see the wounding behind every narcissist you meet while maintaining a safe distance. In doing so, the tyrannical grip of narcissism shatters forever, and an age of authenticity and hope can emerge.
The narcissist’s dystopian world is perilous, yet you nonetheless possess the capacity to overcome it. Narcissists are everywhere, always seeking to dominate and control. Narcissism is a part of human nature, and as a consequence, so is malignant narcissism. Its sorcery is boundless.
Lucky for you, so is the power of your True Self.