For me, it is not just saying something out loud that makes it real, or saying it in a room of your own where the words echo back to you as you close your eyes and hope they aren’t real. It is saying it out loud to someone else who has either seen your struggle or is swimming around in their own. It took a lifetime to get to this place. It was not done without the help of people who love me, were patient and kind, and were always willing to pick up the pieces of my broken world and reassemble me over and over again until I was able to see I did not deserve to live in this prison.
It has been my experience that when you hear the term narcissist, it is thrown around in a comical way. The same as calling someone arrogant or self involved and then dismissing it as quickly as it came up. Not until my own relationship with one, did I fully realize the scope of what that term actually means and how detrimental they can be to those around, more specifically, to someone who loves them deeply. When you are so devoted to a narcissist, you have inevitably given them permission to abuse you, mentally, emotionally and in some cases, physically. All the while, they have convinced you that you are the problem, you are the failure, you are inadequate and the state of the relationship rest completely on your shoulders alone. It is an excruciatingly heavy load to carry. Your knees start to buckle, you struggle to stand, function and even breath.
My relationship with Lucas had spanned years – too many to admit. It started out softly in the beginning. Softly enough for him to get his grip in me, allowing the hellacious journey to begin. In the midst of it all, I could not see, or rather, I would not see what was right in from of me, what everyone else saw. He was and is a man who is kind and friendly to those who do not really know him but to me, viciously disloyal, cruel, disrespectful beyond measure and abusive in many ways. I will state clearly he never hit me, but excessive emotional and mental abuse caused irreparable damage to my young mind and heart. He would control what I did and said while convincing me it was in our best interest. If I ever challenged him, he would fly into a rage and threaten to leave and take the very person I loved.
As you read this, I know your mind is spinning. Why did she love him? Why didn’t she stick up for herself? Why didn’t she leave? Those, along with a thousand other questions come to your mind, but if you have ever loved a narcissist, then you know; the emotional attachment you feel is so strong, you are willing to endure any amount of punishment to please them. You stay because you are beyond loyal. You fight for him because you are protective, and deep inside you think he will change and repair the damage he has caused. He will… won’t he? Doesn’t someone who loves you repair the damage they caused? NO! Why? Simple: they do not acknowledge they caused any damage at all. This stings the most when you realize they do not love you… they never did. They are only ever capable of loving themselves. Everyone else is simply a manipulation, a tool… someone to out maneuver and use every way they can.
One of my darkest moments in this relationship was when I read his emails and discovered, without question, he was cheating on me. After feeling sick with grief over such a betrayal, I mustered up the courage and confronted him. What occurred next still boggles my mind. He flew into a rage because I dared to invade his privacy and I dared to question him. He used his circular logic and antics to convince me that trust had been lost in the relationship because I dared to do that. Was it wrong to look at his emails? Perhaps, but my gut was screaming at me, telling me something was going on and I had to investigate. My gut was right and he was livid that he had been caught, but he was also a master manipulator who — by the end of the conversation — had convinced me I was the one who had committed the betrayal and I was the one who needed to earn back his trust. Yes, I can almost hear your thoughts right now, but I did not leave. There are many reasons for this. I thought I did not deserve more than that. I loved him and I wanted things to be right with him. I also saw him everyday because we ran in the same circles and I did not know how I would manage interactions without peace. So, the control continued.
Every birthday I had was ignored while his were celebrated. Every achievement of mine was irrelevant, even though I managed to achieve them while providing tremendous assistance to him in achieving goals of his own. When I suffered the loss of my mother, he was nowhere to be found. It did not matter to him. But any loss he suffered was paramount in every way and took precedence. When I was ill, he did not want anything to do with taking care of me, but if he was sick, again, he was the priority. Every dime spent in this relationship came out of my pocket. Anything he wanted, I would find a way to purchase for him, even if it meant I could not pay my rent. That is the level of control he exuded on me. I could see it and I could feel it, but it was hidden from everyone else. I protected him every day so no one would truly know what he was, what he is. That alone was painfully taxing. The reasons I absorbed all the blows came down to one simple thing: I loved him. I thought this was the extent of what I deserved and I believed him when he said he loved me in return.
When the fog clears, and it will clear, however long that takes, you will realize what he is and what he has done. You will finally begin to understand your value as a human being. Opening up this dialogue was not easy for me. Even now I feel shame because I am still working through. However, I know at least one person out there will read this and feel a little less alone because someone understands the waters you are treading. When this happens, it is my hope, you will take a deep breath and step out of the cold dark shadow you have survived in for so long. That is when the real work begins.