It was February 7, 2015.  That’s the day I met her.  For the sake of anonymity, we’ll call her, “Julia.”  Julia was like no one else I’d ever met before – articulate, educated, intelligent, athletic, funny and witty with a beautiful laugh.  She was tiny – 5′ 6″, 102 lbs. with sandy blonde hair – she was lovely, to say the least.  I’m a cyclist.  And on that day, I’d just finished a ride, the second of the 2015 Cycling Season.  As I was putting my bike away, there she was, seemingly from out of nowhere.  I don’t know what possessed me, as I don’t normally strike up conversations with strangers, but I definitely struck up a conversation with her.  As we talked, I noticed she had the most beautiful Russian accent.  Our initial encounter was brief, maybe 5 minutes, but from tiny seeds come the tallest of trees.  Little did I know it but this was the beginning of the most amazing, beautiful, terrible, toxic relationship of my life.

At the time, I was 46 years old, she was 36.  I fancy myself to be a rather intelligent person but, when it comes to loving a narcissist, intelligence won’t save you.  It won’t even tell you there’s something wrong.  Sure, your intuition will be screaming from the rooftops, “THIS IS UNHEALTHY!!”  But your mind, your intellect, that which comprises the sum of your psyche and self, somehow, for some reason, can completely and utterly be blinded to not only the hell you’re going through, but the hell you’ve already been through and all the hell you’re about to go through.  Don’t misunderstand, she’s not evil, at least not in the way many people recount their experiences with a narcissist.  But manipulative?  Yes.  And a narcissist?  Absolutely.

As with most any narcissist, it’s always about ‘self.’  To this day, I honestly still wonder if she was even remotely aware of how broken she really was/is.  Out of the 4-Β½ years we were together, really more off than on, there were times (two that I can recount) where she broke down crying, saying he’d “poisoned” her.  Who’s “he?”  Oh, that would be her ex-husband.  We’ll just call him, Mr. B.

According to Julia, Mr. B. is a Class-A, dyed-in-the-wool narcissist.  It’s said that narcissists find and love bomb an empath, making them think that the “love” the narcissist is giving is real.  And, believe me, it truly is the most amazing feeling – being love(bombe)d like that – but it doesn’t last.  It never lasts.  It can’t last because it’s simply not genuine.  The reality is anything that’s not sincere cannot be sustained.  Unfortunately, for her, she and he were married just 6-months after first meeting.  And, for her, that was the beginning of the downward spiral into what she described as an abusive marriage to a narcissist that lasted almost 6 years.  It’s here, in this 6-year trek, that I think she picked up traits and mannerisms from him, behaviors that she would later use on me.  Was she an empath?  I don’t know.  There were moments in our time together where she seemed empathetic but narcissists are exceptional at appearing to actually possess empathy.  I want to believe she was his innocent victim the way I was hers, but I think, for her, being with Mr. B. awoke latent narcissistic characteristics within her.  Regardless of whether or not Julia was a narcissist when she first met Mr. B., by the time I met her, she had indeed become a narcissist.

Our love bombing phase was absolutely amazing!  I had never, with anyone, felt the “love” I felt with her.  She would come and stay with me sometimes for up to 2-weeks.  Every night ended with her curled up in my arms as I pulled her into me and we drifted off together.  Her hair always tickled my nose, but I didn’t mind – she always smelled so fragrant.  And it was absolutely ineffable starting each day with her beautiful face the first sight to greet my eyes.  There were times I’d just lie there, watching her sleep – a few strands of her hair gently resting across her nose, rising and falling with each breath.  God, she was so beautiful.  The only thing better than how our days together began was how they ended.

At the time, she was a Math Lab teacher at a local college.  She would get home around 9:00 PM each night.  I would meet her at the door; welcome her home, take her things from her, and we’d sit at the dinner table while she told me about her day as she ate.  I remember one night, she’d found this fantastic article from Paul David Tripp – 23 Things That Love Is – and she was so eager to share it with me.  She was sweetly reading them off to me, one by one.  While she was reading, I was on my phone, (seemingly) not paying attention.  I could tell she was getting progressively annoyed but she didn’t say anything and continued reading.  She finished with number 5 and began, “Number 6…” I interrupted her, “Number 6. Love is…making a daily commitment to admit your sin, weakness, and failure and to resist the temptation to offer an excuse or shift the blame.”  She looked at me, stunned, her cute little Russian mouth agape.  All she could say was, “You found it!  How did you find it?!”  Happy tears welled up in her eyes.  We sat there, smiling at each other, holding hands across the table, taking turns reading the list of Things That Love Is to each other.  I want to think those tears were genuine.  I want to believe that she honestly, at some point, felt a true and sincere love for me.  But looking back, I don’t know.  How could something which started off like that, deteriorate into what it became just a few short months later?  Moreso, how could it remain so obscenely toxic over the next 4 years?

So this is it.  The beginnings of chronicling my journey of healing from the most amazing, mesmerizing, interesting, intelligent, beautiful, educated, destructive person of my life.  And, if you’ll give me a moment of your time, I will share that journey with you.  A journey rife with some laughter, a lot of pain, and many, many lessons learned. And now, the process of mending and healing.  Perhaps these words will help you to heal, too.  Perhaps they will help you to know that you are not alone in your experiences with your narcissist, in your pain, in your healing; in your journey.  And perhaps we can discover some form of solace and closure together.