I receive a lot of personal stories from those who read my blog. I encourage everyone to share their experiences, it might help a lot many other people. Once such reader had shared her account earlier. you can read it HERE.
This is the second part of that story.
Most people who read my last piece wanted me to give a deeper insight into how narcissistic abuse plays out. Every day since then I have attempted to sit down, sometimes in anger other times in tears, to tell you what I wish I knew then. At times I postpone my writing because I want to get on with my life and the other times it’s because I violently swing from anger to hurt. Sometimes I want to give details, other times, it’s just too hard. The tough part isn’t understanding the relationship in hindsight or him. It is forgiving yourself for not leaving earlier. And for replaying memories.
Lundy Bancroft sums up this internal conflict well. “Friends say ‘he is mean.’ But she knows many ways in which he has been good to her. They say ‘I would never let him treat me the way he treated you’ but she knows the moment she puts her foot down – he makes her pay. The say ‘leave’ but she knows it isn’t easy. He will change. He says he will. He is sorry.
People feel sorry for him and pressurise her into giving him another chance..” (Why Does He Do That)
A narcissist isn’t born, he (she too but, I will be using he since that is what I have been personally exposed to) is bred. For reasons ranging from extreme idolisation to abuse, a child doesn’t feel comfortable with his real emotional needs or self. The True Self is replaced with a False Self – a never-ending ego pit that seeks ‘narcissistic supply’– a source that admires, loves, applauds him. They have grandiose self- esteem, arrogance, entitlement and lack empathy. They are never sorry and everything is your fault. At the core, narcissists are engulfed with abandonment anxiety and hence, manipulate to keep you hooked. Narcissists are the neediest of needy people – they NEED you to love them so they can feel good.
Narcissus didn’t fall in love with himself – he fell in love with his reflection. They don’t love you – they love the fact that you love them. The moment you question them or disagree – BOOM! You are replaced with a better source of ‘supply’.
Phases of abuse by a Narcissist
Phase #1- Idealization: The idealization stage of a narcissistic relationship is the most important one. If a narcissist has chosen you as his next lover aka appliance you can be sure he will leave no stone unturned to hook you. He will do and be whomever he thinks you will fall for. And he moves fast. This Dr. Jekyll avatar is often held as the gold standard when Mr. Hyde appears and is rebuffed as a one-off case of bad behavior. Here’s some from my stable:
“You are the most perfect woman I have known”
“I told my friends about you. They agree with me. You are not a regular girl.” (total lie. His friends didn’t know squat about me)
“I wish I could keep looking at you.” “You are f**king sexy.”
“I haven’t been this intimate with a woman since my last break up (3 years ago)” – a line he repeated to my replacement days, if not hours, after discarding me.
A common friend tried to warn me. She was just jealous, I reasoned. I know his past, he is sorry, I said. He won’t do that to me. I am not, like he said, ‘other dumb/psycho girls he has been with’. Things from his past kept coming up but I turned a blind eye. Nothing mattered. It felt so good.
Why does he do that? So you fall for him. You forgive and ignore the red flags. Also, there is a ‘psycho’ ex he needs to replace. He makes it all about you so it can be all about him.
Pro Tip: If a guy ever calls his ex psycho ask him – do you attract psycho women or do women turn psycho after being with you?
Phase #2- Devaluation : During your idealization phase you made the guy a priority, let down your guard and allowed yourself to be vulnerable. In short, given him what he wants.
Once certain he has you hooked, he starts to feel that void again. You start to question him and notice how the words and actions don’t match. You’re not a priority and that’s when the next phase of torture begins leaving you anxious, confused and walking on eggshells. He plays it well and ensures he is ALWAYS on your mind.
How does he do that? Here are some ways –
a: Gaslighting: This is when the Narc makes you believe it is your fault. He makes up situations, provokes you and then calls you crazy. For instance, when you call him out on for breaking promises like calling or meeting he, he calls you obsessive and crazy. Also says that he is the only one who can handle your idiosyncrasies.
b: Silent Treatment – a guy who can’t get enough of you, suddenly stops responding to texts and doesn’t return calls on time.
“I am busy..” “Working babe” etc.. you let it go – he is working.. after all, he was obsessed with you, right? I often saw him online on whatsapp but he insisted it was work – yes even at 2 am. I later realised, that he was being humored by his harem.
c: Triangulation – You might not be the jealous kind.. but the Narc knows how to make you feel insecure. He will mention ‘friends’ he plans to go on trips with and when you’re fighting, he ‘hangs out’ with other women. ‘It’s because we were on a break’ he says, echoing Ross Geller. ‘It was because YOU fought with me and broke my heart. I would never have met her, else..’ Except that he starts seeing her 2 weeks after you break up. A friend’s boyfriend would break up with her on Friday, cheat and come back on Monday claiming he was single that weekend and hence, it didn’t count as cheating. He would provoke her to fight and then storm out screaming ‘this is over’ and jump into bed with someone else minutes later only to return all misty eyed. Like Akancha mentioned in her BLOG – he will leave hints of infidelity to keep you on the edge, second-guessing yourself.
Pro Tip: this is a classic move. My Narc cheated on his ex girlfriend with the woman he was seeing before her. He told the former partner he was dating this girl only because she started seeing someone else. So she agreed to be the other woman while he tried to break things up with this girl.He got caught, blamed for her wrecking things with the ‘love of his life’ and we all forgave him. Always get the other side of the story.
The devaluation stage makes you feel like shit, literally. You try harder to make thing work. You change your attitude, you compromise, you apologise (and you keep doing it). If he was upset because of X, the next time you do Y – only to have him want X again. The dance continues. You make excuses, you talk to people who reinforce your belief in your relationship – bad patch, bad childhood but deep down a loving, loving man.
He becomes the traumatiser but also the savior. You need his approval and want to resurrect stage 1. But it becomes more elusive as time passes. You develop Stockholm Syndrome and Trauma Bonding – you empathise with him and blame yourself.
He keeps you hooked.. He treats you badly, but throws in occasional crumbs to give you a glimpse of the idealization phase. I remember feeling anxious about unreturned calls and then there he would be, driving to my place late at night, holding my hand throughout, giving me tight hugs and throwing some of those old compliments. It is intense, not intimate, but we tend to confuse the two. It is an adrenalin rush.The cycle continues – you drown and you struggle and once in a while, he lets you come up for air and everything is right in the world again.You fight, you make him a priority and believe in your love.
Pro Tip: When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.
Phase #3- Discard – After all the torture and humiliation, the break up is another slap on the face. Mine didn’t bother to let me know – he kept me hooked, still saying we need to talk and meet over dinner but for now ‘he needed space’. He yelled at me saying I was horrible, messed up, immature and that I judged him. That I didn’t love him and I was stupid. And while I could deal with him not wanting to be with me what hurt was that he, after giving me everything I mentioned above and more, didn’t bother to meet me to say all this.
My crime? I stood up to him. I snapped at him for treating me badly. In return, he used one of my deepest, painful secrets to call me names and accuse me. In the end, I felt it was my fault entirely and was in hell. What makes it worse is that in days, if not weeks, you see the Narc with another woman – giving her exactly what he kept from you and rubbing it in your face.
You’re a wreck. It is sudden and painful. It makes you more desperate (if that was even possible!)Did I mean nothing? Did those moments, the connection, the understanding count for nothing? The painful answer is yes. You don’t mean a thing to the narcissist. No one does. The moment you threaten his ego or put your foot down – you’re replaced. The Narc doesn’t see you as a separate person – you’re just an extension of him, there to serve a purpose – his well being and grandiosity. You frantically look for the man you once believed in but the truth is he doesn’t exist. Dr. Jekyll doesn’t exists, it was Mr. Hyde with a mask and now the mask – and the gloves – are off.
How does he do that? He has been lining her up. Narcs only discard when they have a back up. THEY CANNOT BE ALONE. Once they are certain they have someone else, they will drop you like a hot potato. You are the questioning low functioning appliance – she is new, shiny and he can have the honeymoon period with her. They keep you hooked by dangling the carrot of what you want without giving it to you. But they don’t think twice before giving it to the other woman – another carrot will be dangled for her and given to the next. He needs you to feel hopeless and worthless. Your love was his fuel once and now it is your pain. He is drawn to it like a vampire is drawn to blood.
Why does he do that?
The Narc’s mind is wired in a way that he needs you to exist for him. He believes your job is to make him happy and give him everything. He honed you – so if the hugs stop, the sex becomes self-involved and starts lacking compassion, he doesn’t care. It is for him. You question him and you will be replaced like an old toaster that burnt the toast.
The Narc has trampled on your self-esteem and knows you will apologise. I did too. He uses that to prove how crazy you are about him so if you do find out the truth and try to call him out on it, he has proof of your ‘jealousy’. He uses it to gain sympathy and trust of the next girl.
Pro Tip – Narcs are predictable. And if a guy blames his childhood remember that explains his behavior, doesn’t excuse it. After all, if he knows what abuse feels like, shouldn’t he be more compassionate?
We often think of such men as liars and cheaters. But that’s incorrect. He is an abuser .They tell the truth in letter but not in spirit. They use the truth to manipulate to leave you guessing. Their value systems are so warped that while they are aware of what they doing, their actions are reflexive. They can see the harm, the tears and pain – but they don’t care. In their head, it makes perfect sense.
The memories keep you awake at night and other times you cry yourself to sleep. You want to move on and be happy – for him and for yourself – but you’re caught in an emotional whirlpool. You may even seek physical pain to numb out the emotional trauma.You still love the sad boy who needs to hurt others before they hurt him and at times the compassion gets the better of you. You have to let go and move on but it is so bloody hard. Sometimes you hold on to the anger to avoid dealing with the painful truth – your love was a lie. And as you pick up the pieces, struggle to make sense of his actions, he moves on – repeating the cycle with the next victim.
I would once again request readers to share their experiences. I am happy to publish them anonymously. Please stand up & reclaim you life. Inspire others while you do so. And remember that this world is full of wonderful, amazing people. They make the world a happy place & keep our faith in all things beautiful, alive.
Stay happy. Stay strong.
Lots of love!