There are so many things I often think about saying to my narcissist if given the chance. But then I remember who I’d be dealing with and that whatever I’d say would be turned into a convoluted deflection and attack against me and I literally have to snap out of those thoughts because that 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. They often focus 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 Muslim beliefs.”
Surprisingly, he became childlike in those moments and was very compliant.
Narcissistic abuse? Underneath the entitled and superior veneer, narcissists carry a deep sense of shame. I sensed this from my narcissist coupled with believing he was still 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 much 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, 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, these are the clear signs you need to be aware of:
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: this is 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. You can also be made to
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: this is 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 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.
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
Withholding: withholding money, sex, communication or affection from you.
Neglect: ignoring 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 the child he so desperately 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, and supporting him? Yeah, that only lasted for two months and Imri was almost 1 by then.
So you see, Imri, too, is collateral damage and being punished. The cycle doesn’t stop, not even for 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.
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.
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, although my narcissist tried to convince me I was only a princess not yet worthy of a queen status – inserts eye roll.
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 and 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, I ate the berating, I ate the hostility, I ate the deflection, I ate the belittling, I ate the volatile outbursts. I ate it all – I tolerated it for so long. Just like the caterpillar, after weeks of hiding in my cocoon, I emerged as a beautiful butterfly 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 and would tread lightly on certain topics from the fear that just one word from my mouth would trigger a violent outburst from him and send him into a fit of rage.
Now? I have no problem voicing my opinion, pointing out wrong when I see it, standing up for what I believe, and checking someone who is outright disrespectful or mistreating others. 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. I am reminded of him every day I look at our son. At times my heart it weighed with sadness because Imri doesn’t know his father and is also collateral damage from his past and present. But then I am relieved and grateful that Imri is not exposed to emotional instability, negative energy, and potential danger.
When it’s all said and done, do I regret loving him? No. If I experienced what I deemed unconditional love for someone who was incapable of loving himself let alone anyone else, I can only imagine what true love would feel like. There isn’t a shortage of good men, I just settled for the wrong one.
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 or if you know of someone who is currently experiencing narcissistic abuse, please, don’t sit back and watch from afar, vowing to never impede on their relationship. Do something!
If you want to read more content like this or would like to hear more of my story, more examples of abuse or what drove me to walk away once and for all, please let me know in the comments below.