Until about 2 weeks ago, I had never heard of Narcissistic Abuse. This is odd, because I’m a professor of psych and sociology and even teach classes on Domestic Violence.
Last winter, I got into a relationship with a man, “Sarge”, who was absolutely perfect for me! I was going through a divorce, and to have this good looking, younger man want me validated my worth amongst the self-defeating feelings the divorce was causing me. It was as if he were custom made for me. He was funny, smart, charming, and the attention he paid me and the compliments he showered upon me caused me to fall for him. Hard. My ex-husband and I hadn’t lived together as man and wife for a couple of years, and I was longing for intimacy and closeness. The first time Sarge hugged me, I wrapped myself around him and thought that I would never let him go. The first time he spent the night with me, we slept entwined around one another, and I truly believed I had found my soulmate.
This should be the end of the story. You know, the line following ‘soulmate’ should be that they lived happily ever after. Because that’s what I wanted. And that’s what he led me to believe he wanted. And I thought it was going to happen…at least for the first couple of months this was the anticipated course our relationship would take.
But things started to change. He would become critical of me at times…rude…behave arrogantly…act as if everything I did was wrong, and everything he did was right. He would ‘move in’, say we were forever partners, and then move out 2 weeks later saying he didn’t love me anymore. On 2 of those move-outs (and yes, there were more), he cheated on me with an old girlfriend. Multiple times. And I took him back. After the first time. And after the second time. And after every time. Because I was starting to believe that there was something wrong with me. Why couldn’t I hold on to this man who had been so perfect for me at one time. Surely it was my fault he was pulling away. Cheating on me. Lying about the cheating until I found out about it via a relative.
And there was more. Always more. He choked me one time…and I don’t know where it would have ended if his young son hadn’t come into the room and asked what was going on. He pulled on my hair and twisted my neck. He called me names I’m too ashamed to even type. And he made me feel as if I were nothing. Nothing at all. I lost myself. I lost my heart. My spirit. My confidence. My fun. My soul. And he had it. Right in the palm of his hand. When I look back, I can’t believe what I allowed myself to take. To forgive. To withstand. I was gone. A shell was in my place.
Then my 23 year old nephew was killed, and I was devastated. My son and nephew were raised together on the same property…he was like another son to me and told me on occasion that he thought of me as another mom. On the day I found out he died, Sarge left me. He said my nephew didn’t mean anything to him. Why should he care? He had seen many men die during Middle East deployments, so what was the big deal?
I was stunned. Truly stunned. And that night, when he left, I decided that it needed to be for good.
I’m an academic, so immediately I started reading about healing from abusive relationships and came across information on narcissistic abuse. As I studied article after article, and then book after book, I felt the authors of these were literally in my head, writing everything that had happened to me verbatim. It was scary how Sarge fit the profile for a narcissist and how I fit the profile for an empath. In other words, it was a dangerous combination from the start.
So where am I now? Eleven days of no contact and trying my best to understand what happened to me. After this, I’m hoping to find my old self among the rubble.
This is what I know: narcissists exist and they will hurt you, use you, manipulate you, blame you, gaslight you, triangulate you with another, break you financially, and then make it all your fault. It’s a hard thing to learn, that such evil exists. And it’s a hard thing to reconcile that I found it.