The Person Who Suffers from Narcissism, Deserves Empathy Too

a.j.k. o'donnell
3 min readFeb 5, 2021
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We live in a world that is obsessed with the narrative of the Narcissist and the Empath. The feeler and the one who supposedly devours all emotion. But, I want to discuss this narrative in a more intimate way.

We all have the capacity to be both.

I have been the Empath, and I have been the Narcissist. I can tell you where my struggle with Narcissism comes from. I can tell you more about the child abuse, the abuse from the Catholic Church, and the abuse from school teachers. I can go on and on about how I was always the bad kid. I spoke out of turn too much, I was too feminine, I was too emotional. I could tell you that my childhood was a war zone, and I was constantly under fire from everything around me. Bad, bad, bad. That is all I ever was. The emotional toll that has taken on me has been immense for me, and I have not always handled the fall out well. I have moved in ego more than heart. I have hurt people with my words, actions, and ignorance.

In my life, the long twenty-three years I have had thus far, I have come to understand wounds in a very intimate and profound way. I have learned that the wounded will wound those around them with the very same imprinted wound they have — if they haven’t dealt with their own wounds. I have learned that people will process their trauma one way or another — either in therapy and with medical help, or onto others. The only way to end the cycle, is to truly end the cycle. That can be a scary and daunting task. But it must be done.

It has taken me time to deal with these wounds of mine, and I am still dealing with them. They deserve attention. They deserve to be acknowledged, dealt with, and gently let go. Holding onto the fragility does not serve us. It does little, but stagnate us in a way that harms more than heals.

My Empathy must include the people struggling with Narcissism around me

Now, I have come to an intersection. I am working on my Narcissistic wounds. I have named them, I have acknowledged them. Working through them is the next step. That means when I move in this world with a deep Empathy — my Empathy must include the people struggling with Narcissism around me.

It is easy to write people off as Narcissists — as evil, irredeemable things. But, if we are to live in real Empathy — that includes extending empathy toward those who may make it difficult. Empathy is not easy, but it is necessary.

As you work on your own Narcissistic wounds, I wish you nothing but grace with yourself. Self-love that is rooted in altruism, and a steady healing of the wounds you carry. There is always hope. Always.

In Light,

a.j.k. o’donnell



a.j.k. o'donnell

wordsmith, activist, and artist. She is the author of the collection "This Void Beckons".