The Beginning of the End
Years ago I had a friend who was in a violent relationship and try as I might to understand why she stayed I could not get my head around it. I thought I would never allow any man to treat me like that. Never say never!!
Ironically, in true narcissist fashion JC actually gave me this analogy as a way of explaining why HE stayed with ME so long and it was the catalyst to me finally accepting this man was toxic and if I was to ever be happy I had to cut him from my life. Here it is:
If you throw a frog in a pot of boiling water he will jump right out
But if you put the frog in a pot of tepid water he would be quite comfortable and stay.
If you slowly increase the heat under the pot of water his body temperature will slowly increase also; he doesn’t realize he is being cooked alive and dies.
A person often fails to see exactly how bad the state of the relationship really is until substantial damage has been done. This happens because at first the relationship is perfect, the N is agreeable, even-tempered, and helpful and the woman can do no wrong, they are able to discuss anything and come to a resolution. Then out of the blue the N will go into a rage about something he thinks the woman is doing or thinking that is totally untrue. The woman is baffled, caught off guard and immediately tries to resolve the problem. It is obviously just a misunderstanding, she tries to discuss the issue, but all of a sudden the N is totally unreasonable. No matter what she tries there is no resolving the matter and she is to blame. The N probably withdraws from her in anger and she is left wondering what happened, any attempts to discuss it result in another fight so she drops it. That night she goes to bed wondering what she did to make him so angry and he comes to bed long after she’s fallen asleep, he pulls her on top of him and they have sex and he holds her tight. She is relieved, he still loves her, all is well, and he must have just had a bad day. The next morning everything seems back to normal although she feels tension in the air and a knot in her stomach but dismisses it. Little does she know the roller coaster ride has started and she didn’t even buy a ticket.
When things start to get crazy and you start doubting your sanity the best advice I can give you is to start a daily journal and keep track of finances. The N will lie, deny and twist events in trying to make you feel you are going crazy and to put up smoke screens covering his trail, a journal will help you keep events straight. After a while with my N there was so much conflict, so many incidents of infidelity, so many lies so many fits of rage I couldn’t keep them all straight and some simply got forgotten in the confusion. If he can keep you off-balance, defensive and confused you are less likely to catch him at whatever he is doing and its easier for him to make you act crazy and believe that maybe you are going insane.
N’s use ending the relationship as part of their control tactics, if you don’t do what they want when they want it done they will threaten to end the relationship; if you actually want to leave him he will go to almost any length to prevent it from happening so you are wise to do it without him knowing. The N has probably made it all but impossible for you to leave, they control the money, have probably made sure you no longer have a support system by alienating your friendships and family relations, quite possibly you don’t have reliable transportation and that isn’t taking into account the damage they have done to your self-confidence.
If you can, hide money and build a support system for when you leave, but I mean HIDE it, don’t tell him in hopes he will back off because he knows you can leave if he pushes you. If he knows you have money and a means to leave he will become that sweet, loving and agreeable guy you remember, until your guard is down and he can manipulate you into giving him the money. You have to remember you are not dealing with a rational reasonable person and no matter how out of character it feels to you to lie or hide something from the man you love, you won’t regret it later.
Whether you know it or not, they are snooping through your belongings looking for evidence you are up to something. He is lying to you so he just assumes you are lying to him plus he wants to know if you are on to him.
JC had a camera hidden so he could watch me while he was in the barn, he had an intercom strung out to the barn so he could listen in on my conversations and he had something in my truck to listen and track where I was. I know it sounds paranoid and that is what he wanted me to believe but I had his sister with me and she is the one that found the intercom and was with me in the truck. She is also the one that confirmed my secret fear; that JC was capable of killing me and making it look like an accident.
It is very common to split from a narcissist several times, the N “punishes” by withdrawing or banishing you from their divine presence. After a period of time, a few weeks or months, they figure you should have learned your lesson and will reappear laying on the charm, telling you what you want to hear and you go back and the cycle begins again. Personally, after we had split half a dozen times I truly didn’t think he would ever really leave me; it had become “just the way the relationship was” and he was confident that he could do anything and I would always welcome him back with open arms. I even tried reasoning with JC, pointing out that every time he had said he wanted to end it he almost immediately wanted me back so let’s save ourselves a lot of time, money and heartache and pretend we broke up and get to the part where you want me back. But there is no “reasoning” with a narcissist; cognitive thinking is not their strong suite.
In an attempt to keep the peace with the narcissist you have slowly given up control of the finances, given up your support system of family and friends and you feel you are stuck to ride this emotional roller coaster from hell for ever more. In my case I actually felt the pain of leaving exceeded the pain of staying and I thought I could “make” it work no matter what and I would never leave. I felt I was stuck for so many reasons, lack of resources, I feared his rage, and the thought of leaving hurt so bad I didn’t think I’d survive. I thought I could ride it out and just not react to his raging, but that doesn’t work, he wants a reaction and will not give up until he gets it.
The N gets more cruel and hateful until you crack; and then like a volcano that has simmered and finally blows he spews venomous bile all over you, in my case I would get punched and he would scream into my face what an ungrateful bitch I was and it was over. I would believe him and start making plans to leave; then he would deny ever saying it. Eventually it was impossible to stay, I truly thought if I didn’t leave he would kill me, to say he treated me with loathing would be an understatement. But by this time I had nothing, absolutely nothing, I was terrified, where would I go, how would I go, I was stuck; I prayed he would kill me and end this torture.
Like me, you are NOT stuck, you don’t have to stay, but you do need to get help because leaving is not easy. Believe me you can do it, if I could find a way out so can you!! You need to find a trusted friend, someone you can confide in, if not a friend or family member, perhaps a support group for abused women, or a forum on one of the many web sites about being involved with a narcissist, but you need someone who will confirm you are not crazy, it is not your fault and you don’t deserve the way the N in your life has treated you.
Be very careful to not let the N know you are planning your escape, when you hear of a woman being killed by a lover it is usually when the relationship is ending so it would be very prudent to plan your exit very carefully. Don’t worry about taking furniture, things can be replaced, take your mementos and think about safety first, not fairness to the N, or revenge, just get out and don’t look back. I found that JC got the most violent and scary when he thought I was actually going to leave, it was at those times I truly thought he could kill me. If you think about it you are dealing with a person who has no conscience, you probably know things about him that he doesn’t want anyone else to know, if you leave he loses all control over your actions, who you associate with etc, he doesn’t want to have to give up anything, pay child support or be inconvenienced in any way, if you were to die or just disappear, he doesn’t have to deal with any of those things. No matter how he feels about you he certainly doesn’t want to think you would be happy without him or God forbid with any one else.
Narcissists can’t stand being alone and will never let you leave unless he has your replacement firmly hooked. But it will happen eventually, don’t kid yourself.
I truly never thought it would end, I didn’t know what would happen, but after 10 yrs, after we had recommitted to each other I really didn’t think he would actually find someone else. No matter what I read about Narcissists, and how closely he fit every description of an N that I found, and our relationship followed the described stages, I really thought he loved me, I thought I was special, I thought we were different. How foolish of me. It wasn’t that I was surprised he had a new woman, he had screwed around our whole relationship, had personal ads our whole relationship I had found love letters he had written to other women, but he always came back to me. He had said that once, “I don’t know why you get so upset, I always come back to you.” And I had thought, yeah because I am the only one stupid enough to always take you back.
Then there was the conversation we had just before I moved out, when he had blamed me for the relationship failing and I had mentioned that he was the one who continually had personal ads and screwed around. He got that exasperated look on his face and said,” And what did you do?” I said,” I stayed.” And he looked at me over his glasses and said,” EXACTLY” and went back to reading his magazine. In that moment a part of me died because I saw him for what he was, empty, heartless and no one I could love.
When the narcissist realizes they can get nothing more from you, either they have drained you of all resources or you are so “on to them” they can no longer manipulate you into doing what they want they will move on. There is no such thing as “amicably” splitting from an N, even if it is his idea, he will punish you for not living up to his fantasy and not having an endless narcissistic supply; he will cast you aside as being worthless treat you with disdain. He will not be fair in the division of property, the breakup will be all your fault and he will expect you to still be there for him until he is firmly enmeshed in a new relationship.
You must remember you are not dealing with a “normal” person; they have no feelings, guilt, or even the ability to love, no matter what they tell you. As JC said to me once when I reminded him of his tearful apology, promises and professions of love when he begged me back, “I told you what you wanted to hear”.
They lead a very fragile fantasy life, that is why they must control every aspect of it, including you, they will not allow you to destroy their illusion, they will not face reality, don’t try to make them. If you think about it they are to be pitied, they are so empty and ill-equipped to deal with the real world they can’t function without someone constantly feeding their ego. It is impossible to break up and remain friends with an N, if you aren’t a source of ns then you are of no use to an N and if you take his ns away you are his enemy and he will do anything to make you pay.
The Healing Begins
Breaking up with a narcissist is different from a “normal” breakup and there lies another problem that makes the relationship with an N so damaging. As if being involved with them isn’t toxic enough but to then have to go through the breakup after you are emotionally, financially, mentally and maybe even physically depleted of all resources combined with the lack of support and empathy from family, friends, and society in general can make it all but impossible to heal. The victim ends up feeling as she has been kicked almost to death and left to die in her own pool of blood while the one who was kicking her goes off to live happily ever after with someone is young, beautiful and full of life (and narcissistic supply). The ONLY people who can understand the devastation are those who have survived a significant relationship with a Narcissist.
In a healthy relationship break up one grieves:
The dream of love not continuing
The loss of familiarity
The pain of saying goodbye
The sadness of having ill will between you and someone you love/loved.
A sense of loss
Living with the memories of past pleasures, shared experiences, visiting places you once went together.
Well wishing put aside for self-survival
Feelings of failure
But when grieving an N a person deals with all the above and other ingredients such as:
The nightmare of going from being idealized to being devalued.
Discovering the web of lies at many many levels
Coming to terms with the terrible realization that you were never an object of love but a source of narcissist supply. That in itself is so painful that it has many stages of comprehension.
Coming to the understanding that your nostalgic and tender memories of loving times are corrupted by the N’s agenda.
Feeling isolated and alone with your grief because people don’t believe or feel you must be exaggerating about some of the weird things the N did. Some of the N’s actions are so unbelievable it sounds like the plot to a suspense movie, even when the movie is based on a true story it is still a movie and not happening in their world. I think people just simply don’t want to accept that their neighbor, co-worker, family member could be that evil and cruel without provocation.
Discovering with some relief mingled with horror that the person you loved was not the person you thought you loved.
Everything, simply every aspect of the relationship is tarnished in light of the realization that it was typical of all N relationships and nothing was “real”.
When one hears about a healthy ex moving on, dating, marrying, or has gone totally from their life there is sadness and the letting go of what could have been. But as time goes by that sting turns to acceptance and well wishing and the ex becomes one of your fond memories. But with an N ex, they invariably move on immediately, flaunt their new relationship and of course are being their charismatic sweet selves as they “hook” their new victim and blame you for all the problems in the relationship. The survivor is flooded with conflicting thoughts; Will they ever come into my life again? Will they miss my N supply was I not good enough, maybe they really have changed, maybe it was all me, even if they are abusing their new partner there is a feeling of inadequacy.
Not being able to get closure except to accept that the ex is disfigured, deformed and always dangerous. There are no explanations, no shared blame; you are left to deal with it as best you can while they coldly move on without a backwards glance.
You have spent however long with the N as your main focus whether it is walking on eggshells trying to prevent an N rage, being hyper sensitive to their moods, denying your own feelings to avoid conflict, suspicion, the constant barrage of criticism, defending yourself to false allegations and your own struggles to deal with the warped reality of the N and now you are expected to act “normally” when you don’t even remember what normal is anymore.
Feelings of failure, not just of the relationship but you failed to protect yourself (and perhaps the children), failed to be “enough” for the N and now people’s lack of understanding is making you feel that you are a failure at grieving and healing.
The impatience of society in general who can’t understand why you are grieving at all and feel you should be happy to be free of your tormentor.
You are left feeling empty, raped, the victim of a holocaust; was it all for nothing? All that pain, all the effort, all the forgiving and trying is nothing more than a loss. It isn’t lost love; it is a dark abyss that evolves from nothing into nothing.
Life without the narcissist in it will be better, less conflict, no one telling you white is black, no one criticizing you, no one expecting the impossible and blaming you for their unhappiness. Unfortunately again, the minute they see you getting stronger they will try anything, say anything, to get you back, because you now have resources they want. You must stay strong and not give them an inch, it is not possible to stay friends, and narcissists do not change! They don’t change because they don’t think they have any flaws or faults! Just keep remembering, if you stay or go back the pain will never stop, only get worse, once you leave you can start the healing process and healing WILL occur.
It’s been 6 months and I am still sleeping on the couch, still waking up in tears, and still have to force myself to eat, work and carry on. But life is getting better, I don’t cry every day any more, I don’t jump when the phone rings, I don’t call him or message him any more, I have more money again, I laugh more, my bad days are further apart, well in fact I have good days, that in itself is an improvement.
The Stages of Healing (Suffering)
Looking for Answers
What we need most is certainty, stability, and we want answers. Our world has been turned upside down and inside out, we are disoriented from everything we valued, our beliefs, morals, boundaries and self-confidence being smashed against the “granite faced” reality of a psychopathic narcissist. It is a reality so alien to us and so twisted we are sent spinning into the deepest, darkest, unfathomable abyss with no way of getting back.
For me, the only way I can describe how I felt was total devastation. Initially I think I was operating on auto-pilot, packing, moving, saying good-bye, sure there were tears but I was just kinda numb. I was saying this was it, this was the last time, and he was acting like he hated me, even worse than the times before, but I still think deep down I thought somehow it would never really end.
I felt I needed his approval, that my life was empty without him, we talked daily on the phone, I knew he was probably dating, he’d had personal ads and dates when we were together of course now that we weren’t living together he would be going at it full force. But as usual once we were split he started being nice again and the little glimmer of hope started deep inside me. We had been apart 2 ½ months, but he was still “fixing” my truck (that he destroyed to begin with) I wasn’t able to work so was reliant on him and he was resentful. He was stopping by to get money off me when ever I was able to work, still phoning and saying he missed me and loved me.
Although we know the narcissist is not good for us we become obsessed with him. For one thing, he has programmed us to make him our life, without him in it, a large part of our lives is now empty plus he is our link to life and our sanity. We somehow feel he holds the key to our survival and we look to him to give us back what he took, our life. We know on some unconscious level that he has something we need. That something is our soul.
When I found out about the women he was seeing, a married woman and a widow and he was so cold about it and uncaring and saying horrible things to me and it became obvious he had used me as his “sure thing” until he had a new victim firmly under his spell; that is when I totally fell apart. It wasn’t that I was shocked by him and his lack of love and his callousness towards me it was my realization of how delusional I was and how I had lied to myself. All of a sudden I hated him like I have never hated someone in my life and I knew I would never get what I needed from him and it was up to me to heal myself.
From there I had to try to accept that everything I had given up, the compromises I had made, the values I had given up, all the times I had forgiven him and all the tears I had cried had been for NOTHING, just a sham and none of it meant a thing to him. He went straight from saying I love you to me one day to literally moving in with another woman the next and being disgusted with my emotional display.
I have accepted that, and now I know I could never go back, go back to what? There is nothing to go back to, except abuse because I now know without a doubt that I did everything I could to make him happy and I know now that he will say anything and do anything to get what he wants, at that moment.
Now I have to get over the loneliness and try to regain my self esteem. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell myself that it had nothing to do with me, I have lost all my confidence when it comes to being with a man. I never doubted that I was attractive to men and able to keep a man satisfied sexually and otherwise but now I doubted everything, from how intelligent I am to whether I take too long to have an orgasm. But the process has begun and now I know it is just going to take time, he doesn’t control me any more.