I know not everyone who meets a narcissist has low self-esteem, but for me, I definitely did. I had poor boundaries and was not assertive. I wore my target right on my head!
When the narcopath was raging and abusing me, I was so terrified and intimidated, I just obeyed him and was afraid to speak up. A few times, I very timidly tried to speak my mind and he started getting even scarier. Once we were in the car and he started raging and driving recklessly–weaving and going crazy and 100 miles an hour on a major highway outside of Chicago–while I prayed for my life. One of those times, he physically assaulted me. That was his way of keeping me in line–with rages and fear. I never fought back, because I feared he would go crazier and finally kill me.
After I kicked him out of my life, I finally felt all the anger that I had been suppressing, and I started telling people just how bad his behavior was. In response, his enablers labeled me the angry one and he was able to play victim despite the terror that he put me through. Of course I was angry!
A few years ago, I read that this kind of reaction–taking a lot of abuse then finally letting it all out–is not uncommon for people with low self-esteem who let the attacks build up, instead of taking steps to say “No!” and leave earlier. It’s been a few years since I read this book, but I got to thinking about the topic of anger today and wanted to recommend this helpful book with other people who might have reacted the way I did. A therapist recommended it to me several years ago, and I could relate to so much of it. There is a matching workbook as well. I think I’m going to start re-reading them tonight.