The aftermath of loving a narcissist
Our game is over. We can keep fucking and cuddling and fighting and shanking each other in the most intimate wounds we shared when trust was the drug we shot each other up with. But I have no trust left to give you. I don’t know who broke you so badly that you aren’t able to feel consistently happy with anyone, namely yourself, before the wolf-child inside you needs to tear them apart, feast on the juicy vulnerabilities they entrusted to you, spread their entrails around town and then blame them for the carnal mess left behind. Yet despite the blood dripping down your face, your charming mask remains perfectly in place, a lifetime of practice no doubt, and sadly, I know other women are destined to ignore the bloody warnings and suffer the same fate. I know I certainly waved away the women who were kind enough to warn me to run, not walk, away from you.
Naively, I’d hoped that, with enough effort and honest communication, one day things would change. That if I was good enough, supportive enough, cut ties with the friends you despised (one being my business partner of several years), if I was just creative enough, witty enough, pretty enough, successful enough, sexy enough, the PLUR acronym or “Love Harder” phrase you throw around so opportunistically as part of your personal “brand” would actually emerge from its hiding place inside all your anger and the “Love” would shine its light onto the world. But it won’t. They’re just logos, overused philosophies you spout for personal gain but couldn’t be further from embodying. The “Light” you take such pride in spreading is merely another avenue used to spotlight your ego and gain more of the power you chase. Once I’d mastered one of the qualities you’d told me so many times I lacked, the game changed. There was suddenly something new that was disappointing you…a relationship forever off balance…impossible to ever measure up or find stable ground. You’re addicted to the feeling of being in control, luring someone in, parading them around for your image, devouring them whole and then eventually spitting them out…a cruel punishment you convince yourself they deserve for being weak enough to love you.
And should these women have enough self esteem after months of emotional abuse and constant criticism, to still have their own opinions, question your actions and enough energy to express themselves (I did for a long time) hell hath no fury. It’s easier to sit in silence and take the unwarranted rage in private, rather than publicly anger the beast and face such a cruel retaliation that it will turn every thought you’ve ever had about humanity and kindness and intimacy on its head. Smear campaigns based on the the most private intimate secrets you’ve shared are in no way off limits, over-the-top character assassinations, screaming obscenities at you in rooms full of people, lies and exaggerations told to turn her closest friends against her and public shunning are a preferred form of torture and she will face them all.
Then, once she’s suffered enough, you will come back as though nothing’s happened. She’ll be too scarred to start the pain over again by mentioning the fight so it’s swept under the rug…until the next time. And should she react, should she remain rightfully angry and hurt, should she attempt to discuss her feelings, she will be called crazy, emotional, over-reactive, and have her valid pain minimized and talked-over until it’s pointless to even try. Should your actions snap her completely and she screams or cries or yells back in your face out of sheer frustration and self preservation, suddenly that is all that will be discussed. Her behavior. Never yours. And it will be exaggerated to the point that you now claim victim status and she ends up apologizing to you.
Once this began happening to me on a regular basis, I lost so much of myself I eventually stopped fighting back as the only way I was able to to find peace. I’m ashamed to admit these things but can’t keep them in any longer and owe it to anyone else caught up in this hell to know they’re not alone. Narcissistic abuse doesn’t happen suddenly, it’s insidious, creeping in slowly, until one day you don’t recognize yourself. I am a year into healing and it’s still inching along.
I loved who you were when you were kind. I loved who you could be. But I don’t love who you are are. Not anymore. I wish I did. I wish this could mean as little to me as it does you. I wish I could shut it off. I’ve wished that for years. I wish I could brush your consistent cruelty off my shoulders and keep dancing. But I haven’t yet masted that grace, though I keep trying. No matter how many months I’ve ignored your incessant texts and emails and “heartfelt” apologies and all too recent declarations of love, some nights are raw and the words get in. Truthfully, at times I yearned to hear them. I’ve fallen back into your lies and manipulations time and time and time and then embarrassingly, shamefully time again. To the point I agreed to marry you, though it went against every fiber of my being. I’ve questioned my sanity, my desperation to be loved, to be known, to have a partner, to prove to you that I am not the evil person, the “fat, ugly cunt”, the “worthless piece of shit,” you’ve told me for years, along with anyone who will still listen to you, that I am.
I was so mind-fucked from this constant criticism, and jumping from love to hate in the blink of an eye, at times I couldn’t get out of bed. I was scared to leave my apartment. I jumped at loud noises. I saw a PTSD counselor. During the worst of it, my self esteem was so beaten down, I felt there was nothing left to live for. Thank God for my friends. What I’m finally learning is that I don’t owe you anything. What I do have to learn is to give myself the love I swam so hard upstream to fruitlessly win from someone who doesn’t even love himself. It’s a battle I am fighting everyday.
Still, inexplicably, I don’t wish pain onto you. The love I felt I can’t just shut off cruelly, the way you have done so easily time and time again. I’ll always be here for you should you ever need me and I’ll keep our intimacies safe. But I can’t hold this close anymore and after years of your calculated, blatant lies, I don’t believe anything you say.
I need to stop believing the lies you tell of self reflection and growth while nothing actually changes except time and age. And that begins with me facing reality, accepting my responsibility, admitting the truth of who you’ve been to me and letting you go.