How often do you hear conversations about narcissistic abuse? When you think about abuse are you limiting it to just physical? Have you ever experienced narcissistic abuse? Do you know someone who has? Well, I have and I still relive many of those moments. I am still conquering the aftermath of narcissistic abuse.
There are so many things I often think about saying to my narcissist if given the chance. But then I remember who I’m be dealing with and literally have to snap out of the thought. Whatever I say would be turned into a convoluted deflection and attack against me. This is no longer my reality. It doesn’t deserve my energy.
So what exactly is narcissistic abuse? Well, let’s first look at what a narcissist is. A narcissist is someone with a strong need for admiration. They lack empathy for others and they are often viewed as arrogant and self-centered. Their focus is fixated on grandiose fantasies like their own achievements, success, intelligence, etc. They feel superior yet they are incredibly charming.
I used to have to give a pep talk any time we were preparing to go out on the social scene together or he was about to meet my friends. “Unless they ask, they don’t have to know all of your accomplishments and how many countries you’ve visited. And please don’t try to indoctrinate them with your religion.”
Surprisingly, he became childlike in those moments and was very compliant.
Underneath the entitled and superior veneer, narcissists carry a deep sense of shame. I sensed this from my narc coupled with believing he stopped emotionally maturing during his childhood, given his environment.
They will also take advantage of you to further their agenda, they will verbally attack you, blame and criticize you, and they will invalidate your perception of reality. I can’t tell you how many times I distrusted my own viewpoints, convictions, values, and morals because he conveniently always recalled situations occurring vastly different than my recollection.
A narcissist will also punish you by withholding things like affection, communication, sex, and financial support, making you feel desperate to earn whatever it is they are withholding.
They will intimidate you, embarrass you in public and then accuse you of being emotional and weak. They are impulsive and easily offended.
Ah, this brought back a memory – we were in Publix one day after I asked him to come grocery shopping with me so we could spend time together. As always – as a single mom – I budget each week and spend a certain amount on groceries. So, as we get to the checkout line, he leaves to go get a few things and I’m thinking he’s going to go to the 10 items or less line. Nope, returns and places his several items with mine and goes and stands next to the bagger. So I softly say to him, “am I supposed to get all of that?” His response? A very loud, “So I’m not good enough?” I was so embarrassed and laughed it off while the cashier displayed a look of shock.
Do you see what happened there?
In hindsight, one thing I find quite comical is that he was always the victim. Always.
I was punished every other week. I could pin exactly when he’d withhold communication, love, and kindness. If I disagreed with, criticized, or boldly stood against what I knew what not right, he’d stop calling, would avoid my calls and texts, and would not have anything to do with me for at least an entire week. Most of the times it lasted two weeks. I was desperate to talk to him, to make him understand, to show him how much I loved him. Countless times I just couldn’t take it anymore and would drive to his house seeking a resolution and calm waters again.
But do you really wanna know a classic sign of narcissistic abuse? Once they mistreat the mess out of you, they’ll charm the pants off of you. Every. Single. Time.
While I listed some examples of abuse above, according to Psychology Today, there are the clear signs you need to be aware of.
Narcissist Behavior Patterns
Verbal Abuse: accusing, blaming, shaming, demanding, ordering, criticizing, sarcasm, raging, opposing, undermining, interrupting (I experienced this so often and when I tried to finish my sentence, he’d shout, “are you going to shut up so I can talk). However, you do need to consider the context and frequency behavior before labeling it narcissistic abuse.
Manipulation: typically an indirect influence on someone to behave in a manner that pleases and furthers the goals of the manipulator. It’s often expressed as covert aggression. The words may feel and seem harmless when they say it but you ultimately feel demeaned or a sense of hostile intent.
I remember how often he would tell me he didn’t want my body, he wanted my mind.
Now, I can see why he would say that. If he was able to groom me in his way of thinking, in his religious beliefs, and make me conform to his standards, I’d be exactly who he wanted me to be and under his complete control. Then, it would be that much easier to control me into fulfilling all of his demands while accepting his volatile behavior as normal.
Emotional Blackmail: this is a mix of threats, warnings, intimidation, anger, or punishment. This form of manipulation provokes doubt in you making you fearful and obligated and maybe even guilt.
Gaslighting: an intentional act to make you distrust your perceptions of reality or believe that you are mentally incompetent.
I knew I held strong convictions about many things and I was a pretty level-headed person with sound judgment but I questioned myself countless times thinking maybe I really am too emotional. Maybe I really don’t have the capacity to think beyond this level of understanding.
Competition: they will always be seeking to one-up you to stay on top.
He was always questioning my knowledge and understanding of things. Challenging my convictions, my lifestyle choices, and taking stabs whenever he could to let me know I wasn’t up to par on my “knowledge” about a particular subject. Because, of course, he knew it all and his way of thinking was superior. Anything that threatened his self-assurance, he quickly shut it down.
Negative Contrasting: unnecessarily making comparison’s to negatively contrast you with the narcissist or other people.
It was only about a month into our relationship when I disagreed with something he said and he told me he’s never dated anyone who didn’t have a degree and I should appreciate him pursuing me.
- he had the wrong info. I have a degree and had one then.
- that snide comment came out of left field
Sabotage: disrupting and interfering with your endeavors and relationships as a means of revenge or personal advantage.
Exploitation and objectification: using or taking advantage of you for personal gain without regard for your feelings or needs
Lying: persistent deception to avoid responsibility or to achieve the narcissist’s own ends
One of the first times I realized I was probably dealing with a liar still, for some reason, didn’t fully resonate with me. He told me he had an upcoming dental convention one weekend and we spent the entire week together. I knew when he’d be leaving and coming back so when the day came, I wished him a safe trip and gave the usual, “I’ll miss you” spill.
I didn’t hear from him until I called to see if he’d made it back safely.
It took almost two weeks – after we’d gone back to our norm – for him to call me one night asking if he could come over and talk.
There was no real apology, just a confession. He never went to the dental convention. He didn’t really know why he lied. In his words, he”just didn’t go”.
Withholding: withholding money, sex, communication or affection from you.
Neglect: ignoring you or the needs of a child for whom the abuser is responsible.
Two days after Imri was born and we were still in the hospital, my narcissist walked away from Imri and did not show back up until an entire month later. Why?
He came into the room as I was finishing Imri’s birth certificate and took a look at the name documented on the paper and went into a fit of rage with my mother and the representative present. In a very loud, belligerent, and aggressive tone, he looked at the paper and looked at me and shouted the name he saw on the paper, using an influx, as he was really saying it in the form of a question. He did not expect to see the middle name I gave Imri.
Immediately after observing this behavior my mother told the hospital staff we may need security. So, he immediately storms out of the room and doesn’t pop back into the picture until one month later. His excuse when he finally called and I asked how he could neglect his child he so desperately wanted and ‘needed’? “Did I not have security threatened on me?”
To this day I can count on one hand how many times Imri has seen him? Does he support Imri? Well, I had to make that happen. One thing I was not going to allow him to get away with was not taking responsibility for his child. Imri was 11 months old when the support began.
So you see, Imri, too, is collateral damage. The cycle doesn’t stop, not even when it involves children.
Character Assassination or Slander: spreading malicious gossip or lies about you to other people
Welp, since the day at the hospital, he’s been eagerly seeking out every opportunity to exercise this characteristic to anyone and everyone who will listen, saying everything under the sun about me and my family.
I hear and I ignore. There’s no need to squelch the nonsense and lies. The truth always comes to light. It’s only a matter of time.
Financial Abuse: they may try to control you through economic domination or draining your finances through extortion, theft, manipulation, or gambling, or by accruing debt in your name or selling your personal property.
Isolation: isolating you from friends, family, and loved ones, or access to outside services and support through control, manipulation, verbal abuse, character assassination, or other means of abuse.
Life After Abuse
So how am I coping after five years of this? I have a strong support system and I remind myself every day that I am worthy, I am valuable, I am strong, and I am a queen. Though my narcissist tried to convince me I was only a princess not yet worthy of a queen status – inserts eye roll – I know who I am.
I am a queen.
Anything that threatens my confidence and self-esteem, I shut it down! Nope, get it outta here! It took me a loooooong time to realize I had a voice in my relationship. Once I did, I felt so proud of myself every time I stood up to him. It was like I was the very hungry caterpillar who ate and ate and ate. I ate the criticism, the berating, the hostility, the deflection, the belittling, and the volatile outbursts. I ate it all – I tolerated it for so long. Just like the caterpillar, after years of hiding in my cocoon, I emerged. The beautiful butterfly was ready to take flight and bask in the freedom of a peaceful life…I decided enough was enough.
Now, my political correctness has taken a back seat.
During my relationship, I had a tendency to shy away from the blunt truth. The sheer exhausting trying to remember to Tread lightly on certain topics just about undid me. I dare not let one trigger word slip from my mouth and solicit a violent outburst from him.
Post-relationship and many lessons later, I have no problem voicing my opinion. Pointing out wrong when I see it, standing up for what I believe, checking someone who is outright disrespectful or mistreating others gets easier by the day. If it’s one thing I’m grateful for after being with a narcissist, it’s my growth in self-assurance, assertiveness, and boldness.
And as for leaving the past in the past, well, I try, but can’t leave it 100%, exactly. My reminder is a beautiful little soul who calls me mama. At times my heart is heavy with sadness because Imri doesn’t know his father. He, too, is collateral damage from his father’s past and present. But then I feel a surge of relief and gratitude because Imri is safe. He’s not exposed to emotional instability, negative energy, extreme religious beliefs, volatile behavior, and potential danger.
When it’s all said and done, do I regret loving him? No. Are there regrets for offering unconditional love for someone who was incapable of loving himself let alone anyone else? Nope. I can only imagine what true love feels like. There isn’t a shortage of good men, I just settled for the wrong one.
I was in constant war with myself. It was a battling between the truth I didn’t want to see and the lies I needed to believe. I never brought those views into alignment. You know what I understand now? Cognitive dissonance – the war between the truth and the lies.
To learn more about narcissistic abuse, telltale signs and dealing with abuse, check out https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/toxic-relationships/201709/how-spot-narcissistic-abuse and https://yourdream.liveyourdream.org/2018/10/definition-signs-of-narcissistic-abuse/.
I hope these words resonate with you. If you are or know of someone who is currently experiencing narcissistic abuse, please, don’t take a backseat. It’s not impeding in someone’s relationship when their well-being is at stake.
Do you want to read more content like this? Would you like to hear more of my story? Are you interested in more examples of abuse or what drove me to walk away once and for all? Please let me know in the comments below.