Today, I want to explain possibly the most traumatic aspect of the narcissistic relationship, what it looks like and why it happens. I think this is an aspect of the relationship that most people, who have never experienced the excruciating pain of this type of emotional and psychological abuse, just can’t seem to understand when we try to explain it. Then again, how could anyone understand it? We, ourselves, who experience it firsthand, have a hard time understanding it… and we had to survive it!
I’m referring to the narcissistic cycle of abuse: Idealization, devaluation & discard. This is the outline of the victim’s heady rise to glory, their unceremonious fall from grace, and the unrelenting psychological/emotional torture that clings to your very being for too long afterward. The Hell on Earth that the victim is left to navigate- blind and without guidance.
In the beginning, there is nothing more amazing….nothing more miraculous, beautiful, inspiring, life-giving… as a narcissist who has chosen to love you. You are literally the center of the Universe, and all things in creation must have conspired to come together over the eons just to give birth to this love. It is unlike anything you have ever experienced. You lie in his arms feeling safe, and protected, and truly understood, for the first time in your whole life.
Sure, you know he is broken- there is something fragile, and damaged about this man. But you rationalize it away. You heard the whole sob story he told you about absent parents, mothers who abandoned them, fathers whose “loving” corporal punishment crossed way over the line. You hear tales that made you ache and shed tears for the pain this man suffered as a child. You were horrified on his behalf. You secretly plotted revenge on the people who would hurt your beloved so callously.
You didn’t know…
When the first “strange” thing happened, you brushed it off. When he called you at 2 AM, and you didn’t answer, because (like any normal person would have been), you were sleeping and didn’t hear the phone, and so he showed up at your house, knocking on your bedroom window, you made excuses. He said he was worried when you didn’t answer- after all, you’re a woman living alone. You accepted his lame excuse, even though your intuition was yelling at you- He only came to check up on you and make sure you weren’t with another man.
You told yourself that, with just a little patience, this magnificent man would see that he had nothing to fear with you- that you wouldn’t ever betray him, or abandon him. You would show him that there are some people in this world (like you) who could be trusted. Your love would heal the damage that other careless souls had done to him.
When the “strange” things only increased, and started to become hurtful, your gut told you to get out. You knew it was time to go…BUT…. you just couldn’t comprehend the behavior. You couldn’t find a way to reconcile the loving, adoring man you knew, with this new persona that was emerging. You rationalized away the abuse. He must be really falling for me, and he is terrified that I will hurt him. That’s why he is acting this way. He is just scared. And who wouldn’t be, right?
Who doesn’t have issues and baggage? Right? How can you judge someone, or even consider casting them aside just because they had a rough childhood, and are afraid of completely letting someone else in? So he has some trust issues. Who wouldn’t, after what he has had to endure? Your capacity for empathy and compassion are, ultimately, your downfall.
The more “strange” behavior you try to excuse, or explain away, the more it escalated. You couldn’t understand why…and how could you have understood that your unconditional love, and forgiveness, disgusted him? None of us wholly comprehend the cold machinations in the mind of the narcissist/psychopath sharing our beds, our homes, our hearts, and our lives.
As a human being, with a conscience, how were you supposed to guess? That the man you loved- the one who (at first) made you feel like a goddess- like you could truly be the best possible version of yourself as long as he was by your side- the one who made you feel safe, and unconditionally loved & accepted- AT LAST….. How could you possibly guess that his intentions were dark all along?
Once upon a time, you were floating on a little cloud called, ‘#9’… blithe and completely steeped in love.
Then… a lie. A nasty comment, sparked from nothing. A secret kept. A betrayal. Your beloved turns cold. Distant… and no matter what you do to call forth the love that was there mere hours ago, it remains locked within him… and the world stops spinning.
In a single moment, it seems you stepped through the looking glass, and the man you love was replaced by some evil twin. Where once he was gentle and affectionate, he is now cold and distant. His words are no longer gentle and encouraging, but hard and taunting.
The man you love no longer exists. He is gone…though you don’t realize this right away. You valiantly continue to extract him from the callous shell of the man that stands in front of you now, but the harder you try, the more viciously the cold one strikes back. The shock is paralyzing. Frightening.
Who is this man? Were is your beloved?
The innocence of your soul can not comprehend the metamorphoses. You recklessly dive in. You try harder. You forgive one lie after another. You attempt to pour every ounce of unconditional love and acceptance in to the hollow shell of the man who wears the face of your beloved. If you just love hard enough, he will sense the safety of your acceptance, and his fear will melt away and reveal your ‘true love’ once more. But, each time you offer up a morsel of love, or forgiveness, or understanding, the monster simply devours it unapologetically, along with another portion of your broken heart.
You try to communicate your grief and your pain, but Dr. Jekyll is gone, and Mr. Hyde doesn’t care. He feeds on the pain. Your mind shatters under the strain of struggling to comprehend that which a soul of love was never meant to understand.
He watches your suffering. Your endless fall. But, there is no remorse. Only indifference. Something cracks inside of you as the man you called ‘soul mate’ witnesses your descent into agony and despair with only emptiness in his eyes.
How could he do this?
The narcissist is nothing more than a shell. A tangle of grand delusions, and exaggerated projections. All pomp, and no substance. He has built his entire existence- his entire self- on a fragile web of self-deception, and your love threatens his foundation.
Your need and desire for true intimacy threatens the survival of the false identity the narcissist has built to compensate for the true self he killed off long ago. This is why he devalues, then discards, you. The threat of closeness forces a choice within him- love you…or try to deny you ever existed.
Loving you means getting close. Close enough for you to realize that he is a fraud. A thing of no substance…a phantom of empty words and ether. Evanescent in the light of true intimacy. He can’t let that happen. Not ever. To him, it would mean total annihilation. Really, it isn’t a personal thing. To the narcissist, it really is a matter of survival- HIS false self’s survival. And sadly, he is as big a coward as he is a fraud. And so, when it comes time to make the choice- either to take a leap of faith into the fires of love, and burn away the false pride to discover the real man underneath the facade, or to run away like a thief in the night- he will always choose to run.
And so it goes. Just as quickly as he appeared… he is gone. And, without so much as a ‘goodbye’, you are left defiled and alone. Left to pick up the jagged, mismatched pieces of your life- not seeing how they could possibly ever fit together again to make a single whole.
You can rise again, though. You do not have to feel shattered forever.
There is another way,
~The Narcissist’s Wife
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