Quarantine With Narcissists
Let's talk about the situation we're facing around the world right now. Not just the fear of the unknown but the shelter-in-place and quarantine orders in effect for so many places around the world. This is a difficult time for everybody, but those who are locked in with abusers such as narcissists may be finding it especially trying.
One of the hardest things about dealing with pathologically narcissistic people is that so many of them can be counted on to make a bad situation worse. In a situation filled with so many unknowns and so much fear, this can be extremely traumatic. If you're making preparations, they may refuse to help. If you are low on money, they may spend more than they should and create a financial crisis during an already-stressful time. They may create huge blowups and arguments out of very small things, making everyone's stress level go through the roof. Their selfishness, childishness and sabotaging behavior can impact everyone involved in a hundred different ways, none of them fair or easy to deal with.
That's not to mention that for many people, their only escape from the abuse was for someone to leave, whether it was when they went to work or when the narcissist did. Now with so many people unable to leave - in some places for weeks at a time - things can become very challenging to deal with. It's hard enough when you are stressed out, but a stressed-out narcissist is often a nightmare. These people do not handle even everyday, normal stress very well at all. The stress of a change in schedule as well as level of supply they have access to due to not being able to leave can really create some awful scenes involving pathologically narcissistic people.
Dealing with narcissists during an emergency or a crisis can be difficult too because so many of them rely on magical thinking as a coping mechanism and therefore they simply refuse to accept reality, even when it's right in front of them. Magical thinking is essentially a mindset where feelings are considered facts and things happen (or don't happen) solely based on whether the narcissist thinks they will or not. For example, they may say things like, "That can't happen to someone like me," or give oddball "rules" and reasons why reality and circumstance somehow do not or will not apply to them. It's extremely difficult to deal with a crisis or an emergency when there is someone involved who refuses to believe there is one. This can create enormous stress in people.
The fact is, pathologically narcissistic people don't seem to be capable of - or interested in - considering others and since their entire life is often one emergency and crisis after another, an actual emergency or crisis is not cause for any reflection or different behavior. It's business as usual and usually, that's what you'll get: if they are selfish and inconsiderate, that's probably how they will behave in a true crisis. If they are hysterical and over-reactive, that's likely how they will be in a genuine emergency. They're in survival mode all the time, don't forget. This is nothing new and will often not result in different behavior. If it does, it will generally not be better behavior.
Some people have recently ended their interactions with narcissistic people and are worried about their narcissistic loved ones, or ended their interactions some time ago but have become concerned about how their loved ones are doing. Situations where we feel fear or uncertainty can often create pressure to break NO CONTACT and re-establish relationships with those we've decided are too toxic to be around. This is understandable, and we should help others when we can, but please remember that you are not responsible for other adult people and it is certainly not your job to sacrifice yourself or your mental, physical or emotional well-being so others can feel safe or happy. We need everyone around the world to take really good care of themselves right now so that we can get through this situation and move forward when it's over. This really is the best way to help, so please remember that.
In this new and challenging situation that so many of us find ourselves in, it's important to remember the tools you've learned here and through your experiences to protect yourself. Remember that you cannot control others, what they think or how they behave. You really and actually can't. You cannot control the overall situation or how things will go, either. You can only stress yourself out and drive yourself crazy trying. What you can control are your expectations, your reactions and your responses. This doesn't sound like much, but it literally makes all the difference in the world. And please reach out for help if you need it. We are all in this together.