The sequence of events that led many of you here- to my blog, and to countless other sites like it- is eerily similar. In fact, the sequence of events that characterizes the entirety of the narcissistic relationship, is eerily similar from victim, to victim.
At first, life is good, and you’re thrilled to have met a man whom you’re starting to believe could be ‘the one’…your soul mate. The way you connected, so easily and so quickly, may have been a little outside the scope of what you had intended or imagined for the relationship but, the depth and intensity cannot be denied. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before… and it feels amazing. Though, occasionally, there are moments when your beloved seems a bit off, or distant, you explain it away. He told you all about his “difficult childhood”- fraught with neglect, abandonment, or abuse- and so, you rationalize, he is simply wrestling with some clearly understandable trust issues, as a result of the sudden depth of his feelings for you. Yes, that must be it. Right? (ominous foreshadowing music)
After a while, the frequency of those odd/distant moments increases, leaving you properly bewildered by the changes taking place in your soul mate. Bewilderment then turns to shock and fear, as the person you believed was your ‘true love’ disappears almost entirely. Now, no matter what you do, it’s never enough for him. He defiantly refuses to cooperate with you on any level. You suddenly realize- although you have no idea how it came to be so- that your entire life now revolves around this man’s moods. When he feels loving, nothing can go wrong in your world, and you start to think you must have been imagining things before. When he pulls back, it’s like watching the transformation of Jekyll into Hyde, knowing that Jekyll (aka- your true love) will be murdered, in the process.
Then, one random, almost completely ordinary day: he’s gone. Just like that. No note on the fridge. No phone call. No discussion… not even a text, or email. Something inside of you snaps and, in spite of your best efforts to logically talk yourself down, and despite berating yourself for acting crazy, you find yourself becoming the master detective. You’re searching through phone records & deleted texts. You’re rifling through closets, old luggage, and you’re calling/texting his phone a million times a day, feeling absolutely desperate. Like, somehow, if HE doesn’t acknowledge your existence, then maybe you truly don’t exist. You’re horrified by the sheer intensity of the need to make contact with him.
What’s happened to you? You look in the mirror and no longer recognize the woman staring back at you. After a couple of days of the Silent Treatment your grief sets in… along with the trauma. Your heart and mind struggle to comprehend the impossible…
You didn’t matter. This whole time… you were just an object ,of no real value, to him.
You enter a phase of denial, where you’re spending hours and hours, searching online for any rhyme or reason, research or statistics, to help you make sense of the pain you’re feeling. You type his behaviors into Google’s search box, or maybe, you type “husband’s behavior, WTF?”. And, that’s when you inevitably trip over the term Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
At once there is an almost-instant knowing…this is it. You start reading the lists of signs & symptoms, feeling totally creeped out at the detail in which these lists describe your man’s behavior…right down to the words, and phrases, he repeats most often. Part of you is relieved, that you finally have the answer you’ve been looking for. At the same time, another part of you is confused, crushed, and coming up with a whole lot more questions. What the hell have I got myself into?– you think to yourself, as you read one account after another of women who have all been prey to the narcissist predator. The more stories you read, the more you get that sinking feeling in your gut.
Your story is just like all the other women’s stories out there…only, your story stops short of the really ‘out there’ experiences some women have had. You almost breathe a sigh of thanks, for having escaped the worst of it. You vow to move on with your life, lesson learned, thank you very much. Then there’s a knock at your door (or call, or text, or email), and guess who’s standing there, roses in hand and a look of humble apology plastered on his face. Your heart is pounding, and there are tears in his eyes- then streaming down his face- as he begs your forgiveness… confesses that you deserve so much better then him….he is unworthy of such an angel!
Shit! Shit! Shit!
Before you even fully know what happened, he’s in the house again, and your watching his favorite T.V. show cuddled up on the couch together. You have no idea how it’s possible, but you’re on Cloud 9…the level of bliss is unreal- even better than when you first fell in love (dreamy sigh). You feel exhausted, as all the adrenaline and stress-chemicals start to finally normalize again- after days of running at Defcon 5. There’s an overwhelming feeling of relief, and safety now. And as you drift off to sleep, in his arms you think: I must have been crazy. Freaking out before over nothing…blowing things out of proportion. Denial sets in. I was making a mountain out of a molehill…obviously, my situation isn’t nearly as extreme as those others.
Without hesitation, or knowing from where it came, a voice in the back of your mind whispers: That’s just because your story isn’t over. It’s only just beginning.
You shiver as a chill runs down your spine, but you brush it off as fatigue. Still, to be safe, you resolve to take things slow… build up trust again. It’ll be just fine, you think…
“In the Narcissist’s Own Words” is a new series of posts that I’ve decided to write because of this common experience of denial and confusion so many women have. Many times, even when we have the evidence right in front of our faces, our minds aren’t meant to comprehend the level of indifference and cruelty, such as a narcissist is capable of…and so we dismiss the signs. We think we are misreading something- or perhaps, reading more into it than we should’ve= probably because, at the time we were reading these things, we were upset.
I believe that, if there had been some very real, explicitly clear examples, then a good bit of confusion and doubt, could be cleared up. Maybe actual, real-life examples will bring this horrifying type of abuse to light for more women, while they still possess enough strength to not get sucked in again.
In each post, I’ll be posting a ‘script’- an example of a specific abuse tactic and what it would look like in real-life. These ‘scripts’ will be verbatim, actual, exact depiction of conversations with a narcissist. I’m interested in seeing how closely these conversations resonate with conversations you have had with your narcissists/psychopaths.
My guess? The similarities in phrases, flow, energy and tone prove to be eerie. But, I guess we shall have to just wait and see.
There is nothing simple about NPD. Somehow, it seems like the more you learn about it, the more there is to explain, or understand. And, while you might have felt a great sense of relief, to finally have some validation that something really was terribly wrong in your relationship, you might also have experienced anxiety, fear, worry, and confusion, when more of the NPD signs/symptoms than you wanted to admit, could just as easily be applied to YOUR behavior. I know that, for me, this was a very frightening & worrisome time. Not only was I increasingly shocked and stunned by the things I read about my husband’s dark disorder, but that sinking uncertainty, regarding whether or not the NPD diagnosis would apply to me, too, was an almost constant stress.
Thankfully, I am now very confident in my non-malignant prognosis but, I think that the one big thing that lead to a lot of confusion was that, while many different signs/symptoms are outlined, they are often described in very general terms, and therefore they were very easily confused with either, (a) normal, healthy confidence, (b) attempts to set boundaries with a narcissist, or (c) the effects of prolonged exposure to the narcissist and his use of projective identification. [a tactic that I will write a more in-depth about, in an upcoming post]
I hope this helps you to also further identify language, and tactics, that are meant to appear innocent to an outside observer (thus making you look crazy when you try to tell someone what’s going on), but which, in reality, are incredibly pernicious in their effects.
See below, for a list of symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Click on any symptom to see an actual, real-life script of how that symptom might play out in real life.