Yep. Believe it or not, there is an affliction affecting people who are in narcissistic relationships and it’s eerie to realize how much you’ve been damaged by the narcissist without consciously knowing truly what was going on. For me, when I began to read about this, I kept looking at the symptoms and saying “YES…YES…!”, that’s me!! And then when I shared these with another friend who had been in such a relationship, he too was able to relate to each and every one of these characteristics. (This is also referred to as Narcissistic Victim Syndrome…although the term ‘victim’ makes me feel as if I’m going to always be powerless against my narcissist…where as saying ‘Abuse Syndrome’ puts the blame on the narc because they are the ones inflicting the abuse on us.)
According to Athena Staik (https://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationships/2017/03/narcissistic-abuse-and-the-symptoms-of-narcissist-victim-syndrome/), the abuse sufferers will do the following because of the narcs language and behavior:
- Question their sanity – yep…there were many times this summer where I truly thought I was going crazy. I still have those moments, particularly since I broke the no contact rule and am pretty much starting over from square one. (By the way, he never responded to my heartfelt e-mail…why am I not surprised…and why am I so upset because of that?) 😦
- Mistrust those who support them, i.e., family, parents – my mom and son tried to tell me about Sarge and their own observations of our relationship, but I didn’t listen. I truly believed, and admittedly sometimes still do, that Sarge is misunderstood and my family just can’t see how great he can be. Yikes.
- Feel abandoned, as if only the narcissist cares – because our families get frustrated with us, they often pull away. I know this happened to an extent with me, but I also pulled away because I didn’t want to hear what they had to say. At times, I felt totally reliant on JUST Sarge…and no one else.
- Feel worthless – oh yeah. I’m overwhelmed by how quickly I went from confident Professor to feeling so worthless I was willing to put up with hurtful behavior that I truly don’t feel I would have tolerated from anyone else in a ‘normal’ relationship. That’s scary to me. How FAST my self-esteem plummeted.
- Give themselves no credit for their hard work – check
- Doubt their ability to think or make decisions – double check. For some reason, I am second guessing everything! I feel like since I was so blind to what was happening, I can’t trust my own judgement anymore. And I’m worried that means it could happen again with someone else.
- Disconnect from their own wants and needs – what are those? I have needs and wants? Really? I’ll never forget this: Sarge and I were in bed sleeping, and I awoke from a terrible dream. I nudged him and asked for a hug. He said this, “I gave you one yesterday…you don’t need one again.” And you know what? I never asked for another.
- Give in to whatever the narcissist wants – I did NOT want to sign for Sarge’s motorcycle. He had literally left me the night before. I was at my schools graduation and we were texting funny messages throughout. But when I got home, he and his stuff were gone! Not a trace left. He was moving out while texting me as if we were OK. I was blindsided. But, he came back the next day, and we looked at motorcycles. I signed because I thought it would ‘bring him back’ and solidify OUR commitment to one another. Didn’t work. Lesson learned.
- Devalue their contributions – check
- Obsess on their faults or mistakes – I go back in my mind all the time, trying to figure out what I did wrong. I’m JUST now starting to force myself to realize that no matter what I would or wouldn’t have done, he is and will always be a narcissist who will abuse his partner(s). I have to remember…it’s not my fault. That’s becoming my mantra.
- Ignore or make excuses for narcissist’s actions – I’m still doing this!! Just read my last post! I STILL wonder if his PTSD and childhood are the reason for his behavior. I still defend him to an extent.
- Spin their wheels trying to gain narcissist’s favor – I can’t tell you (but if you’re reading this, you are probably relating because of your own experiences), but I did anything and everything I could to show Sarge I was in this for the long run. In fact, I did things I can’t even write about. That I’m ashamed of. That I would never do again. That make me feel humiliated when I look back on them.
- Obsess on how to make the narcissist happy – I tried money, ‘things’, love, affection, trips, activities, food…and the list goes on. ANYTHING I thought would work, I tried just because I wanted Sarge happy. It didn’t matter if I wanted any of this…it mattered to me if he did.
- Idealize the narcissist – yep. And I still do. I still think he’s a smart, funny, ‘good’ (DEEEEEEEEEEEP inside) man. And I don’t know when, if ever, that will change.
Whew. One person, who YOU love, can cause all this pain, confusion, and self-doubt. And it doesn’t take long for it to happen. Unfortunately, many people believe that some of these symptoms will be life-long. I’m hoping that’s not the case. But, as I think about where I am in terms of my self-worth, my perception of my own faults/mistakes, my conditioned (brainwashed?) behavior to focus only on the partner and not on myself, these things may be very difficult for me to reverse. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: I’ve had my heart broken a few times. But narcissists break your spirit…they take a piece of your soul…they destroy you in a way that is different from any other relationship out there.
This is what I know: narcs are predators and their prey suffer the consequences in so many ways. Unfortunately, these ways aren’t recognized until they are so much a part of the relationship, they are virtually impossible to change at that point. It’s as if a compulsion takes over…and we can’t help continuing our interaction which only serves to worsen our condition and a toxic cycle is then in place. I want that cycle to stop. Now.