I AM ON A MISSION. To tell the whole world(well, at least all 10 of my followers) about narcissistic abuse. We all know about sexual abuse, domestic abuse, and physical abuse. Why is the world still so misinformed about narcissistic abuse?
Had I been educated about narcissistic abuse in 2010(when I first met my Narc) I would have run for the nearest convent and signed up to be a Nun For LIFE!!! No more narcs and no more bad hair days. Gosh, the thought of that brings me so much peace. My psychologist insists I can have peace AND a relationship(with a non narc, of course) but a peaceful relationship sounds like an oxymoron to me. Perhaps, one day, I’ll get there!
I often hear “He sounds absolutely terrible. Why didn’t you just get out?”
In order to address that question, I think it’s important to understand the abuse cycle and also what a narcissist is.
Narcissists suck you in fast and they suck you in strong. This is called the Idealization Phase and it’s the first phase of the abuse cycle. This phase is glorious. You will feel like the most important person in their world. You will feel understood. You will feel cherished. You will feel high on life. This is an addictive feeling and becomes a drug and you literally cannot get enough. What you don’t understand though, is that this phase is fake. Narcissists are stealth mirroring experts and they thrive on hiding their real persona behind a fake mask. If you like cooking, they LOVE cooking. They trained once, under Julia Childs, you know. If you like the opera, they LOVE the opera. Pavarotti wanted to be their mentor once, back in the day, you know……
When I first met my narcissist, he was training to be a Navy SEAL. Due to his erratic and often unpredictable work schedule, we would often go weeks at a time without seeing each other. This enabled him to drag the Idealization Phase out and I remained gleefully unaware of what was to come. Ignorance really is bliss, y’all. Within a few months of dating, he moved in with me. I was thankful to have a roomate in San Diego as rent was not cheap. I was also flabbergasted, but giddy, that he choose to live with me over his friends from SEAL training. He showered me with gifts, compliments, date nights, wine, flowers-you name it! My interests were his interests and he acted as if he’d never met anyone as interesting as me! This is called Love Bombing. And the icing on the Love Bombing cake was when he tattooed my initials on his rib-cage. That officially SEALed (pun intended) the deal. I was hooked. I was in love.
Apparently, he was in love as well. With me. And also with Brittany. Brittany was an ex girlfriend from his college days. I don’t remember the specifics but I do remember the gut wrenching hurt and confusion I felt when I first came across the text exchanges with her. There were many! He told her she was the love of his life. That he’d never forget what she was wearing the first time he met her. That he was planning a trip to see her. I could go on and on. These messages were endless and thrust me into a river of confusion and chaos. How could someone who tattooed my initials on their body be texting another women this way? Brittany was the first of many, many, women he triangulated me with over the course of our relationship.
This, my friends, is The Devaluation Phase. And boy did I ever feel devalued. Nothing made sense. If he loved me so much how could he behave this way? Obviously it was me! My flaws! In hindsight, and with my current knowledge on narcissistic abuse, I should have kicked his sorry @ss to the curb and moved on. Since he had put me on such a high pedestal and the Idealization Phase was so intensely intoxicating, I instead became determined to retain my position. He became my drug of choice. So I did whatever I could to keep my drug fix coming. I worked out with the intention of being as skinny as possible. I colored my hair darker to please him. I updated my wardrobe to suit his tastes. I would stop at nothing to make him love me like I loved him.
Sadly, narcissists aren’t capable of real love. My psychologist once told me that she believes The Hubby loved me to the extent that he can love anyone. In order for a narcissist to feel good, they must make others feel bad, including and most especially those they “love”…. And that, unfortunately, means a life of misery for anyone who gets too close.
The last and final phase is the Discard Phase. Once the narc has sucked the last bit of supply from you to fill his thinly veiled ego, they move onto the next victim. You’re left to pick up the pieces and gather up what’s left of your life. Trust me when I say, you’re lucky to be discarded! As awful as it was, I’m so thankful the final discard set me on a path to freedom.
Most people have some narcissistic traits and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But a small percentage of the population has full blown Narcissistic Personality Disorder. As defined by the DSM 5:
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a cluster B personality disorder defined as comprising a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), a constant need for admiration, and a lack of empathy.
I’m impressed the experts could sum that all up in one sentence, I however, feel I could write an entire novel on the horrific aftermath narcissism abuse leaves on it’s victims.
More on Narcissism from Dr. Helen Okoye, MD, MBA, MS-Epi:
These identifying features can result in a negative impact on an individual’s interpersonal affairs and life general. In most cases, on the exterior, narcissists act with an air of right and control, dismissing others, and frequently showcasing condescending or denigrating attitudes. Nevertheless, internally, these patients battle with strong feelings of low self esteem issues and inadequacy. Even though the typical NPD patient may achieve great achievements, ultimately their functioning in society can be affected as these characteristics interfere with both personal and professional relationships. A large part of this is as result of the NPD patient being incapable of receiving disapproval or rebuff of any kind, in addition to the fact that the NPD patient typically exhibits lack of empathy and overall disrespect for others.
By now you MUST be wondering what the symptoms are.
The definition of NPD states that it comprises of a persistent manner of grandiosity, a continuous desire for admiration, along with a lack of empathy. It starts by early adulthood and occurs in a range of situations, as signified by the existence of any 5 of the next 9 standards (American Psychiatric Association, 2013):
- A grandiose logic of self-importance
- A fixation with fantasies of infinite success, control, brilliance, beauty, or idyllic love
- A credence that he or she is extraordinary and exceptional and can only be understood by, or should connect with, other extraordinary or important people or institutions
- A desire for unwarranted admiration
- A sense of entitlement
- Interpersonally oppressive behavior
- No form of empathy
- Resentment of others or a conviction that others are resentful of him or her
- A display of egotistical and conceited behaviors or attitudes
Discovering Narcissism was a game changer for me. I couldn’t believe that someone had condensed all the crazy making chaos into one neat, definable, and understandable term. So THANK YOU to those people for your hard work and dedication. You have brought immense amounts of peace and mental clarity to my life!