Until three years ago, I had never heard the term “narcissist.”
I also didn’t realise emotional or psychological abuse existed. I grew up in an environment where this type of abuse is pretty normal. It was only after I met someone who displayed many of the traits of narcissists, that I began to consider the fact that there exists a sort of evil in the world that nothing could have prepared me for.
As with anything new and of interest to me, I started reading everything I could find about narcissists and their emotionally abusive nature. The more I read, the more I was convinced those writings contained lies and exaggerations. I wondered how it was even possible for a person to treat someone they loved in that way. I also wondered what would possess a person to stay in a relationship with anyone who treated him or her that way. The more I tried to analyse it, the more I buried myself deep in denial and made excuses for the abuser in my life.
The Push and Pull Effect
When I first met him it was love at first sight. He felt the same way because he was always spending time with me. He was ready to listen to me anytime I wanted to complain about anything. I told him my deepest fears about life and trusted him with family issues. He was the brother and friend I never had. And he loved me deeply. He loved me more than anyone he had ever loved before. I felt the exact same way. Finally, I had met my soul mate. Life was suddenly brighter than it had ever been.
One day, out of the blue, he snaps at me for refusing to do something he wanted done. I thought it was silly and insisted on having my way. He just drove off without me and I didn’t hear from him for two days. I called him several times. He picked up once to say I was stubborn and he didn’t want to be with me. As I tried to explain, he hung up. I called back with no response. By the third day, he replied a text I sent and asked me to join him at some bar. I met him and I was going to ask what happened when he said he didn’t want to talk about it. I sat beside him unsure what to say. I remember feeling happy in spite of the drama. I was happy he was talking to me again. When I got home from the bar, he sent me a message that I had embarrassed him. He said I had too much to drink and was talking loudly. I immediately called back but he didn’t pick up. He said he didn’t want to see me again. I could feel my heartbeat speed up, as I feared he had shut me out again. I kept calling throughout that day until I slept off. The next day he called me and acted like nothing happened. I didn’t think any of this was weird, I just carried on like nothing happened. Again, I was happy he was speaking to me. At this point, I told myself I would do my best to make sure I do just the things he liked.
Healing from emotional abuse can be overwhelming. We know, because we are all survivors, and we have been through the highs and lows of healing. We have created The Healing Academy to help you navigate your healing journey. We share the skills we learned while coming to terms with our dysfunctional past, and share how we took our own lives from permanent survival mode to life-affirming tranquillity.
If I had had any boundaries in my life, now would have been the time to cut the relationship short. I was co-dependent (I found out about this after therapy and research) so I really needed this person to validate and accept me. I continued to learn to please him.
Different things started to happen that made me realise that this person didn’t have my best interest at heart. The first thing I noticed was the litany of lies. Then there were distorting facts. What I came to know as gaslighting. There was also a case of stalking. He would suddenly show up where I was with friends saying he was passing by and saw my car. On one occasion he spoke of something I had been doing the night before when I didn’t realise he was around.
What Finally Broke Through My Denial
The event that finally broke through my denial was when this person drugged me. I had found out about the attempt to drug me when I tasted the pill in food he served me. I confronted him and he denied it. He only confessed when I threatened to go to the hospital for a blood test and sue him for drugging me.
After he confessed, I started to really look at the relationship. I wasn’t completely out of denial, but I was beginning to see things as they were. I sat in bed that night thinking about all the drama I had experienced with this person. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. I felt physical pain in my chest as I thought about things I had had to endure because of this person. In the midst of it all was the love I felt for him. I really loved him and I didn’t want to leave him. Talk about sleeping with the enemy.
The Blinders Were Off
Things were not the same. The blinders were off and I was beginning to see this person for who he really was. Despite seeing him as he was, I was helpless in that I still couldn’t resist his charm. But I started to study more. I started to read about abusive relationships. I read about narcissists, emotional abuse, trauma and self-help. I knew I needed help, although I wasn’t completely sure what from.
As for my abuser, he started acting very concerned when he noticed I was trying to pull away. This show of concern confused me. Just when I was sure he was the devil, he would pull off a totally angelic act and I start to question my perception.
When I realised I could no longer handle it by myself, I enlisted the help of a professional. I started psychotherapy and this was where my healing truly began.
My therapist was a warm, friendly lady and she enjoyed listening to me almost as much as I enjoyed telling her about my experiences with this person who almost had me believe I was crazy. Nobody understood what I was going through with this person, as he seemed to be the perfect gentleman to everyone else.
During therapy, I finally learned to break through my denial and began taking care of myself.
Keep reading in part two of this article.