If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a flying monkey or a narcissist, you’ve probably received some hate-mail, but just in case you haven’t, allow me to tell you what it’s like so you can be prepared when it happens.
It might start out with some of your least favorite things and a long list of everything you’ve ever done to offend them along with a scathing rebuke. The narcissist might hit below the belt and demean you for what you believe or they might try to hit your jugular vein with things they know will hurt you. They might even threaten you in some way.
Then, as if they were given this message from Jesus Himself, they might end with a line straight out of Religious Narcia, “I really love you and hope you get your act together so you can make it into heaven,” Make no mistake, this cocktail of name-calling, projection, gas-lighting and self-righteous indignation is a toxic package of verbal, emotional and spiritual abuse, so here are some tips on what to do when it lands in your inbox:
1. Don’t Read It
If you suspect this letter came from a narcissist, before you even open it, you should be prepared for things like shaming, put-downs, self-righteous slurs and lies. Do you really look forward to reading such insanity? I think not. Remember you are NOT their kind of people. The best thing to do is delete it, or file it directly into the garbage can even before you read it. Trust me, if you want real news, go online and check out the Washington Post to find out what’s going on in the world. There’s nothing worth reading here.
Of course if you see them in person, be prepared for the narc to ask, “How can I communicate with you if you don’t read what I write and filter it through someone else?”
Trust me, if the Narcissist wants you to listen to them, they need to start by treating you with respect. If they act disrespectful in real life or spout off enough to get blocked from your social media wall, then they’ve probably forfeited the right to speak into your life. Why read a bunch of insults from someone who doesn’t even try to have a respectful relationship with you?
Of course, I realize curiosity is tempting you to know what the hate-mail says, so the best way to diffuse it, is to find an informed witness to act as a buffer.
2. Find an Informed Witness
Before you even take one tiny peek at the page, find an informed witness. An informed witness in this case should be someone who really knows you and is familiar enough with your personality and character and possibly your backstory to measure it against all the lies from the narc. It also helps for them to be informed about narcissism. If your informed witness doesn’t live in the area, forward the email to them without reading it yourself and have them discuss it with you over the phone. If they’re local, ask them to read the letter first and just give you the highlights worth noting.
Your informed witness should also automatically screen what they share with you. Narcissists play loose and fast with their words–which is to say they say a lot of things they don’t mean. And most narcs will say a lot of things to BE mean. Because of this, it’s not necessary for you to know every word in the letter.
An informed witness can give you the gist of the letter without you wading knee deep through narcissistic sludge. Basically, if letter is telling you that someone is dying they can let you know. Everything else should be flushed. How do I know this? Because friends don’t send friends hate-mail. If a friend disagrees with you and writes you a letter, they will start with some friendly news or an apology or something that infers they care about your heart. The narcissist is so committed to winning that they couldn’t care less about your heart.
3. Don’t Take it Personally
Whatever the narcissist writes about is a reflection of their own heart and this hate-mail is probably just a way of projecting their own issues onto you.
A good man brings good things
out of the good stored up in his heart,
and an evil man brings evil things
out of the evil stored up in his heart.
For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.
When you first hear about the lies, you might be trying to figure out what to do with all the crap the narcissist has thrown at you, you might even feel like you need a shower or maybe you feel like getting drunk or just numbing out on your drug of choice. None of these options will be helpful, because toxic relationship wounds can only be healed by healthy relationships. This means your only cure is to find a healthy person to counteract the unhealthy person who sent the hate-mail.
This is why an INFORMED WITNESS is so important. Besides the fact is someone who doesn’t know you could get confused by all the narc’s lies, while someone DOES know you will be able to help you sift through all the landmines. They can point out the lies in the letter and remind you of who you really are to counterbalance all the fiction.
The other day, I made some gluten-free blueberry muffins for a sick friend. A mutual friend was visiting her when she asked if she thought I would make her some more muffins to freeze. Our mutual friend said, “I’m sure she will.” I wasn’t in the room, but my friend knows my character enough to know I would gladly make more muffins. This is an example of an informed witness someone who gets you and knows your heart. In contrast, the narcissist has no interest in knowing your heart. Oh sure they might like it if you baked them some muffins too, but they would only be sucking you dry for more narcissistic feed.
Instead of feeling all the narc’s venom, you’ll probably hear the informed witness say stuff like, “Oh okay, this handwriting looks like mouse droppings or these arguments are as evil as if the Joker himself wrote them.” If you were to read it yourself, you might come to the same conclusion, but by allowing the informed witness to interpret it, you give yourself a little distance and make it easier to reframe the drivel.
When you find out what’s inside, you might be tempted to cry. I understand, no one wants hate-mail, but crying is really just a waste of your time. For one thing probably half of the stuff the narcissist wrote about wasn’t true and even if some of was true, an angry rant does NOT represent a healthy adult engaging in a mature discussion or a loving relationship, so everything they say is suspect and must be run through your anti-narc filter.
It might seem insulting at first, but a long list of your past offences should be your first clue that the narcissist is off their kombucha. If this letter was from a true kindred spirit, they would start by asking questions instead of accusing you. If they weren’t a narcissist, they might even check to see if they were misunderstanding your intent and then ask if you could have a discussion about it. The truth is hate-mail is really more about the narcissist’s warped opinion and whatever they have evil surmised or accused you of is probably more of a projection of their own issues than anything you’ve done.
Narcissistic people like to claim they have the truth on their side while they berate and dismantle others, but don’t let people lie to you. The word truth can come up again and again without it actually meaning the truth—remember that movie Gaslighting. You might be gaslighted, so don’t take the bait. Perhaps gaslighting is why Maya Angelou said what she did about the little murders:
Some people don’t have the courage to just walk up to you and pull the trigger. If somebody just walked up and said “Boom!”—well, there you go. Bye. But when a person commits these little murders, and then you catch him or her at it, he or she might say, “Oh, I didn’t mean it.” But make no mistake: It is an assassination attempt. -Maya Angelou
And even if their venting does contain some truth, it’s not truth with grace. Truth without grace is toxic. They think they speak for God, but the Bible says to speak truth in love. It’s actually impossible to tell people off and then say you love them and mean it. Such writers are only damaging their own conscience by splitting themselves in two because they can’t even agree with their own words. Talk about a lack of integrity!
4. Recognize Spiritual Abuse
Your informed witness should wisely omit any Bible or religious quotes. Also any references to God or Jesus must immediately be discounted. Jesus does not tell people off in hate-mail and he is not the inspiration behind it–no matter what the narcissist claims.
Remember narcs like to prove something because winning a petty argument allows them to imagine they are a winner—even though this doesn’t prove anything except the fact they like to argue. Adding a Bible verse to a letter full of insults only makes it all the more ridiculous because wielding the Bible as book as a club to set someone straight is oxymoronic for someone who can’t even call you up and have a real life conversation or friend-like relationship with you.
Don’t absorb any shame or guilt from these spiteful words. People who send hate rants are not in any position to give you spiritual advice. It just makes the narcs feel better about themselves if they can attack you and point out your faults, but if they really opened the Bible, they might realize the accuser of the brethren is Satan and they are taking on this role.
If such a person were a true Christ-follower, they would manifest a humble spirit of forgiveness and empathy for others while sharing their point of view. They wouldn’t spew hate at you for every little thing you’ve done since 1999 and they would try to discuss the real issue in a respectful manner. All that bull about hoping you get your life right so they can see you in heaven means nothing without truth and kindness. And how do they know they will even be there?
5. Don’t Apologize or Write Back
You’ll only be wasting your time. You can’t reason with unreasonable people. You can’t awaken empathy in someone committed to misunderstanding you. If the person who wrote such a disrespectful letter apologized and admitted where they were hateful and wrong, then you might have a mutual foundation with which to discuss and explain your points of view, but as it stands very few narcissistic people will do this and if they do, they might only be doing it to manipulate you. The only possibility of reconciliation, is to see a change in their behavior. (Good luck waiting on that.)
Whatever you do, don’t try to fix this rude letter by giving the narc an apology. While hate-mail can be ugly, but it’s not as bad as a shark or Ebola virus. If you can find some humor in it–it will help it roll off your back faster. It’s simply the equivalent of a tiny, purse sized dog yapping at your heels trying to storm your refrigerator, but remember you are the gatekeeper. With healthy boundaries, you can shut the fridge door and keep them out. This is really the best thing to do because this hate-mail is your ticket to freedom. It might seem dark right now, but this really is the night before freedom. In reality, the sun’s still shining and the birds are still singing and the narcissist is not now, (nor will he ever be) the boss of you–go where you are celebrated!