One of the things from my abuse that haunt me still is the “you’re replaceable” message I received growing up. In the Consumer-Supply relationship, the Supply is treated as a commodity (think of that donut you ate. Do you care about how it felt? Nope. You ate it and went on with your life.).
When you’re no longer useful for supply (making the other person feel good), you are discarded and REPLACED.
This happens overtly sometimes (they break-up and find the love of their life a week later). But most often it happens in small repeated events throughout the relationship.
These small events are when they take something you’ve provided for them in the past and get someone else to do it.
We see this most often with affection, time, and attention.
The dog suddenly is more interesting. The computer or video game absorbs the time. Attention is given to that coworker or the new boss.
All things that were once given to you are not redirected to other sources of supply.
This is a startling event. It is sudden and without context or explanation. They just do it.
For example, I felt replaced as a friend when one of my “friends” decided to spend more time and energy with someone else. Now, him making a new friend wasn’t the replacing act. It was that he no longer invested ANY TIME with me. That’s the key. They no longer involve you with their life.
I was replaced.
Now, with narcissistic people, we will be replaced incrementally as they devalue you and hunt for new supply. This will show up in the form of affairs, covert business partners, friendships outside your awareness. This is where the “double-life” some of them lead is created.
This kind of thing shatters our sense of security with the idea of being kept. Rather than emotionally and mentally associating with a sense of social worth and being kept, these experiences re-associate ourselves with the feelings and experiences of being replaced.
We experience high levels of insecurity in friendships and relationships. We struggle to feel secure in the bonds we’re forming with others. We often become anxious or avoidant in how we respond to emotional intimacy.
All of this is natural to the trauma of being discarded.
This alters the way we see active relationships and the world. We take on a fear of scarcity and are easily triggered when people who have shown us affection, interest, friendship, support, and praise choose others and give them the same.
This is because we’re interpreting their behaviors through the lens of the discard experience.
We can heal this. To do that, we need a new context to interpret organic changes in relationships and friendships. I call this The Law of Inclusion.
The Law of Inclusion states that we belong. Period. This means our value is not in what we do, but in who we are, and we have a natural place of belonging with like-minded individuals. Basically, we have our own tribe.
So, how do we know we belong?
We assess that we belong by examining the level of involvement the other person(s) foster with us. Here are some questions that help you see if you’re being kept or replaced:
Are they still asking us out to activities?
Do they give us attention, praise, affection, and time like they do the other person(s)?
Do they affirm and enjoy the friendship?
How do they respond to our requests and bids for time, attention, and affection?
How do they show us
You see, the key is to see the bigger picture – the context – around a person’s behaviors. This allows us to train our brain to see healthy, involved, appreciative friends and significant others and discern if we’re experiencing a normal change in a relationship or if we’re being replaced.
Remember: Healthy people love and appreciate who you are. People with narcissistic, abusive, toxic thinking, perspectives, habits, and skills will appreciate what you give to them. Don’t be the Supply. Be loved, cherished, and kept instead.