Today is Independence Day in the United States. And, while today is technically an “American” holiday, a multitude of other cultures and countries observe their own annual celebration of independence albeit from occupation, oppression, or regaining their culture and their freedoms. In other words, the concept of freedom is universal. But how does a person find themselves making that transition from living a life of freedom, to one of subjugation, and then back again to freedom? To be free, but subsequently subjugated, is one thing. But to be subjugated and then freed is something altogether different.
You never noticed it, did you? That subtle transfer of power from yourself to your narcissist, giving him/her almost complete control over you and the relationship. That’s because they did it so deftly, so surreptitiously, it was almost as though we gave them that power, that control, without regard for what they would do with it. Well, in effect, we did. But only because we thought they would never do what they did – we trusted them. We believed that the bond we were building with them would be one that would last a lifetime. And why wouldn’t it? I mean, every time we looked at them, talked to them, spent time with them, it was as though we were longingly leering into someone who was the other half of ourselves, wasn’t it? The more you shared with them, the more you got to know them, the more you realized you shared so many commonalities. It never dawned on us that we were handing them the knife that they would very soon repeatedly drive into our heart. You see, therein lies the foundation of a ubiquitous truth we all-too-often forget – betrayal never comes from an enemy.
“Why me?” I can’t even begin to count the number of times I wondered this whilst involved with my narcissist, Julia. Although, this why me isn’t to be confused with the self-victimizing how could this have happened to me?! I recall a couple of times I asked Julia, “If it hadn’t been me who came along, if you’d met someone else before me, someone who showed you the same affection, attention, and understanding, would we have ever been?” She just smiled and said, “You were exactly who I needed.” At the time, I took solace in her answer, feeling that I mattered, that I was needed, that I was not just loved and cherished, but cherished by the person who was paramount to me. But now, in retrospect? What she said was spot on and probably one of the very few truths she ever told me in our 4-½ years together – an empath, a fresh source of narcissistic supply, was exactly what my narcissist needed.
While there’s no denying that even after everything my narcissist did to me and to us that ensured the regrettable and unrecoverable demise of our relationship, I honestly don’t regret our time together. Don’t worry. I haven’t fallen off the wagon. And I’m most assuredly not falling into the trap of romanticizing what she and I had. I’ve sufficiently healed to the point that I will never again allow my heart or my mind to return to such a dark and damning place. I have no reservations over giving my love to her unconditionally or believing all of her lies and hollow proclamations of undying love and devotion. Although, I do wish I hadn’t fought for something and someone who saw me and the love I gave as disposable.
There’s a scientific term, spaghettification, that’s used to describe what happens when matter crosses the event horizon of a black hole. The event horizon is the point of no return wherein once something crosses that threshold, there is absolutely no escape. Even light cannot elude its eventual demise if it crosses that point. In essence, all the matter that comprises an object is simultaneously compressed and stretched, like spaghetti, to the point that it’s torn asunder on a quantum level and there is nothing left of its previously recognizable state as it is swallowed by the gravity well. And no amount of any matter or energy, of any volume, will ever fill the black hole. Without exaggeration, it’s hunger and capacity for consumption are literally endless. This scientific dynamic also runs eerie parallels to what happens when you are involved with a narcissist.
What amazing parts of you did you hide to make your narcissist happy? More importantly, Why? With my narcissist, Julia, it was my (admittedly) exuberantly expressive and somewhat boisterous sense of humor. Julia is a relatively quiet and reserved girl, at least in comparison to my fervent loquaciousness. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for her to effectively manipulate me into being quieter and more reserved when around her. At the time, she very deftly convinced me that the me she had surreptitiously twisted me into, was the me that was happiest when I was with her. But the reality is, I was more worried about losing her if I continued being the real me than I was concerned about losing the real me if I continued being with her. You see, somewhere in all of that manipulation, triangulation, and gaslighting, I’d lost my identity in the relationship with my narcissist and I was brainwashed into believing who she had changed me into was who I truly wanted to be. The thing is, it wasn’t. And I feel quite confident that you experienced this same, if not a very similar, dynamic. So, where along the journey with your narcissist did you feel the need to hide some part of the beauty that is you?
Home. Such a simple, four-letter word. But if you asked any number of people to define home, you will get a myriad of copiously varying answers. One person might tell you it’s where they sleep each night, another might say it’s where they hang their hat when the day is done, and still another person might share that it’s where they go to escape the rigors of reality and the world. Regardless of how you define home, didn’t your narcissist feel like home to you? I know mine certainly did And through repeated triangulation, manipulation, gaslighting, and trauma bonding, my narcissist cemented in me an unwavering devotion that would last for years. And when our relationship finally ended, I found myself not only emotionally bankrupt but “homeless,” as it were. So where do you go when your heart no longer has a home?
Survivor’s Log: Stardate 73838.6. It’s been well over a year since I walked away from my narcissist. If I’d had any idea meeting her would have resulted in the 4-½ year trek through hell I was about to undertake, I would’ve turned and warped into a different star system. But I didn’t. Damn me, I didn’t.”
What did your narcissist steal from you? Mind you, I’m not talking about the common casualties of war – money or even physical items that one loses when battling a narcissist, most of which can be replaced. I’m talking about those intangible things that, no matter how hard you try, can never be reclaimed. As we have already established, the narcissist will spare no intellectual or emotional expense when it comes to planting those infinitesimal seeds of doubt early in the relationship. Then they simply sit back and shower those sinister seeds with a deluge of attention, knowing that one day those tiny little saplings will grow into the biggest of destructive doubts, thus aiding the narcissist in absconding with your self-esteem and your sense of self-worth. But what else did your narcissist steal from you as a thief in the night?
How long did the relationship with your narcissist last? From the first time you met, till the last time you interacted with them in any fashion. Mine was right at 4-½ years. That’s fifty-four grueling months, or 1,643 demoralizing days of the soul-crushingly repetitive cycle of narcissistic abuse – hoover, idealize, devalue, discard – lather, rinse, repeat. Looking in from the outside, one would think that after several discard phases, I would have finally realized what was going on and never returned to her or the abuse again. Unfortunately, thanks to the wonders of gaslighting and trauma bonding, I was caught in my narcissist’s web of manipulation and deceit, thinking I was in love with a person when, in actuality, I was in love with a lie.