I want to get this blog back on track as far as offering help and advice following breakups, general self-help, and coping with abuse. Things have been busy, and I have done my best to experiment with some stuff that interest me. That being said, I think I want to keep this blog a bit more focused, even if that means fewer postings. That being said, I have reconnected with an old abuse victims forum on reddit.
R/narcissisticabuse saved my life, and I really, truly believe that. I spent years in a narcissistic, abusive relationship that ended in a divorce where I lost nearly everything including most of my finances, my house, and my dog. Lucky, no children were involved. While I don’t post much there anymore, I wanted to pop in and give some words of encouragement, which is where much of the body of this post came from.
When I first learned about narcissism, gaslighting, projection, hoovering, triangulation, etc., my brain was drown in flashbacks of all the abuse. Everything clicked in a flood of images and memories, like in the movies. Not to long after educating myself and speaking with my therapist, my ex wife was caught in a her web of lies, obviously denying any accusation presented to her regardless of how much evidence there was.
I was a broken person, the thought of being twenty four and a divorcee was mind boggling to me. I frequently posted on that subreddit under a burner account, begging for advice or decompressing from that day’s worth of drama. Now, I’m about five months No Contact. I have my own place. I’m more attuned with my emotions than I ever have been. I am slowly recouping my finances. Honestly, my life isn’t all that exciting now despite my freedom and newly acquired love for who I am, and that’s okay, because there is so much peace. So, so much peace.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have bouts of loneliness where I find myself sitting in my apartment wishing to have more companionship with someone whom I can love and pour myself into. There are still songs that I refuse to listen to, because they spike my blood pressure. And yes, the thinly veiled attempts at hoovering leave me shaking my head (and sometimes laughing depending on the level of unabashed shamelessness).
For all intents and purposes though, the worst is over. The divorce was finalized last year. The affairs with the house and our possessions are settled, and I have no obligation to ever speak with her again. *big sigh of relief* So, as a survivor of mountains of verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse, I want to give you guys the most practical advice that I can reasonably condense down to one post, because I owe a debt to r/narcissisticabuse that I will never be able to fully repay.
First, you don’t owe them any explanation for their behavior. It is typical narcissistic behavior to blame their supply for action they themselves are committing. If you have evidence exposing their lies, cheating, or other unruly behavior and you feel the need to confront them, DO NOT PLAY YOUR HAND. The less information they can have, the better it is for you. These people distort reality like (the real) Dali’s melting clocks. If you have found sensitive text messages, you don’t need to tell them specifics other than you have explicit evidence of their behavior. Obviously, they are going to deny it, but they are also going to deny it even if you show them evidence straight to their face. There is so, so much that I never acknowledged knowing to my ex once things finally came to light, and that served me better than any well thought-out argument I could have come up with. Let THEM fall into their own lies. Yes, that may seem like you are waiting for them to fall into a trap, but remember, they are the ones who set up the trip lines when they decided to start abusing and lying. You have no reason to feel guilty when they can’t maneuver their own labyrinth.
Second, go No Contact if at all possible. Obviously, this is not possible for some especially when kids are involved, but gaslight is like radiation: the longer you are exposed, the more deadly it becomes. A quick glance at that sub will display this fact with increasing veracity. It breaks my heart to see posts that read like “I got back with my ex, and I don’t know why.” With sex and guilt being such a powerful tool in influencing people, it really is no surprises that these are two huge bartering chips for narcs. Frankly, its disgusting, but most of their behavior is. Coming from someone who fell into this ploy several times, even during the divorce proceedings, I know how hard it is to give up hope. You aren’t giving up though. You are vanquishing an enemy that will destroy you. Their pathology is so dense and life-consuming, that most are utterly beyond change, and even if they aren’t, you are not responsible for sitting by, waiting for those promises of change to be fulfilled. Get out. Get help. Hoovering is no doubt on its way, especially if they start dating again. Just know this, the best test to tell if a narcissist is trying to manipulate you is to check if their mouth is open.
Accept that your feelings are valid. Narcissists can distort reality in untraceable ways, but your feelings are like hound dogs for finding the trail of truth. If you are feeling like you are being disrespected, devalued, and discredited, ask yourself “why?” Seriously, ask yourself why you feel that way, and don’t shut it down with “Maybe I’m crazy.” Crazy people don’t think that way; you’re good. You aren’t crazy. Especially if you are in a romantic relationship, you have every right to address these feelings with your narcissist, but I guarantee that it will end with you being told to feel unreasonable, unreliable, or (here is the key word) crazy. No one, no one, has any right to tell you how to feel, because those emotions are valuable and unique to you. They are such powerful boons to your health; embrace them even if they feel hard to love. The feelings that are especially hard to stomach are most likely the most important ones for your cause. If they are parts of you, they are just as lonely and confused as you are. It always helped me to imagine my emotions as different animals that I needed to care for, and the one that I consistently beat and starved was self-acceptance. I take special care of that piece now.
Lastly, be patient with yourself. You, no doubt, are very confused and disoriented. You have probably been walking on egg shells for a while now, only to have cracked one of those eggs and find it rotten to the core. Accepting that you have been taken advantage of repeatedly can lead to a lot of shame. I’ll tell you this now, though. You aren’t dumb. You aren’t and idiot for someone else’s ruthless abuse of your time and emotional currency. Yes, you missed a lot of red flags, red flags that other people may have even tried to warn you about, but you did your best. I believe that, even if you are an internet stranger. You did your best. You made decisions that you thought were the best thing for you based on the information that you had at hand. The problem isn’t you, it was the corrupted information that you had to work with. If you were to have had better info, you would have made different decisions. You did your best, and you are currently doing your best.
Hell, sometimes doing your best (especially if you are planning on leaving your narc) may just be as simple as taking a shower for the first time in days. That’s a fucking win. That is a HUGE win, actually, and anyone who has gone through this process can attest to that. If one of your friends were to go through this type of abuse, imagine how much understanding and patience you would display for them. Now, give that to yourself. You can do it. You deserve that much.
There is so much more I could write here, so much more I have actually written down before too, and so much more that I continue to write on various other places. I see so many people hurting, people that look a lot like I did, and I’m not too far removed from those days that I can’t wholly empathize with you. I know who you are in a deep way, even if I don’t know your name. You are me. I was lost, confused, scared for my life at times, heart broken, battered, sexually repressed, emotionally vacuous, neurotic, sleep deprived, and paranoid.
I survived though. I survived, and found ways to not just cope but thrive. Sometimes, thriving means rolling down my windows and blaring “Despicable” by Grandson, singing at the top of my lungs. Other times, that means cooking a fancy meal and eating it in the bathtub. Other, other times, that means letting myself cry over the strange mixture of emotions that sometimes wash over me in unexpected ways.
The day that all the divorce proceedings and paperwork were finalized, I handed over the keys to my former home, and presented her with her copies of the new deed. She had made the day as exhausting as possible, showing up late, bringing her father, threatened to not show at all, etc. I was exhausted, but I was free. I turned around, and as I was about to shut the door, I hear her say, “Your just going to leave?”
I look back to see her outstretched hand. It was her last power play. She got everything from the day we met. She got a horse, a house, mountains of attention and patience, my heart, my dedication, and now she wanted to shake my hand, as if there were some business transaction in place. There was a transaction, mind you, but I had never seen any returns on my investment. I was/am done making deals with the devil.
I sit back in my jeep, roll down the window, look her square in the eyes, and say, “Yup.” Those were the last words I ever spoke to her. I drove away, free for the first time in years. I hope you discover a way to crawl out of the darkness and find that moment, yourself. You deserve it.