How I Dealt With Narcissism

In a retrospective look over past posts, I’m surprised I haven’t written more detailed posts about narcissistic abuse. My fiancé suggested that I might have subconsciously avoided writing about it due to the pain I suffered and he’s probably right. I’m still healing even after all this time.

There are varying degrees and types of narcissism, all of them being very difficult to deal with. I have had relationships with 2 narcissists and further experiences with several others who exhibited narcissistic behavior. As an empath, I’ve felt like an irresistible target for narcissists because of my tendency to put the needs of others ahead of my own, as explained in one of the many articles about such relationships,

Many years ago, when I met {Narcissist 1}, he immediately knew that I was in an extremely vulnerable state. I might as well have worn a neon sign, saying, “Exploit me! Exploit me!” And that’s exactly what he did, under the false pretense of being the ever-interested listener, making mental notes of the things he could use against me throughout our relationship.

He put me on a pedestal very early in the relationship, telling me what a “perfect angel” he thought I was and how we were meant for each other. I believe he did that because “perfection” was what he thought he deserved but, for me, it was more than that. I confided in him that I’d been verbally abused by my father, which was indicative that I would feel “safe” around him if he made me believe that he couldn’t see my flaws. I could do no wrong in his eyes and I found that appealing. I didn’t see it for what it was ~ a future of unrealistic expectations that I would never live up to, no matter what I did or how hard I tried. I eventually learned that my constant “failure” to live up to those expectations had extreme consequences.

His arrogance was off the charts. He could do no wrong and, therefore, had nothing to apologize for throughout our relationship. Nothing was ever his fault. He did not like losing or being wrong. One of the most memorable things he ever said to me started a huge argument early in our relationship. When I moved in with him, I wanted to decorate a corner of the bedroom with a few things that held sentimental value. I had all of my brooches and pins on some lace material and I decided to hang the display of jewelry near the dresser. Many of the brooches were gifts from my family and, being 4000 miles away from them, I found comfort in displaying them where I could see them. He walked in and, with a look of disgust, he asked, “Why are you putting that up there?” I explained that seeing them would make me feel less homesick and he told me to take them down because it was “tacky”. I asked him why since they were in the privacy of the bedroom where nobody would see them and he said, “Nobody else in the entire world would think that looks good. They would all agree with me.” I said, “How could you know that? Have you asked them all?” Of course, his attitude was, “I don’t have to, I just know.” Did I mention that his arrogance was off the charts? It didn’t stop there. He acted as though rules never applied to him. He didn’t care if he was late or if he was rude. He prioritized everything that was important to him and ignored everything else as “trivial”. When I brought up “divorce”, he reacted with incredulousness {“Why on Earth would you ever want to divorce me?! You’re joking right?”} and when he realized I was serious, he threatened to fight dirty and leave me with nothing.

{Narcissist 2} was similar in that he never apologized or believed he was wrong about anything. It didn’t matter what I said or how much I tried to resolve our issues, he refused to accept blame. Whenever I stood my ground and proved my point, he would hang up on me instead of conceding. He played the poor victim, especially when I told him that I would not speak to him if he was disrespectful. I explained to him that, because I had been through an abusive relationship before, I was not going to be an audience to his drama or waste my time arguing with him. He wrote me texts and emails, asking me why I was “breaking his heart” and that he didn’t understand why I was “throwing ‘us’ away” and that it was my fault for the failure of the relationship. He would say stuff to guilt me: “Look at me. I’m pitiful for reaching out to you and you’re being mean to me. You’re the one who’s abusive for ignoring me. I hate being ignored!” He had an extremely nasty side when he was angry, saying things that nobody should ever say to another human being, let alone someone they’re supposed to love. He wouldn’t accept that he had hurt me {“How could I ever hurt you? I love you!”}. Talking to him was as effective as talking to a brick wall. He did not hear what I was saying or acknowledge my feelings.

Speaking from experience, the following are important things to remember, if you’re in a relationship with a narcissist or healing from a past relationship with one:

  • No amount of anger, crying, reasoning or effort will make a difference. Narcissists don’t listen, nor are they affected by tears, anger or frustration. {Narcissist 1} laughed at me when I slammed doors out of frustration from talking to him, saying, “I don’t do tears and tantrums.” {Narcissist 2} hung up on me when I cried and would tell me, “You’re babbling again” when I tried to explain myself. It doesn’t work. They don’t care about anything but winning and being right.
  • Things will never get better, only worse. The “improvement” you see after a fight or abuse incident is only an opportunity to draw you back in. It’s a continuous cycle in which the victim forgives {perpetuating the misery} and the abuser is emboldened to continue as before…and escalate. Don’t “wait and see” if things get better. Don’t expect the abuser to magically become aware of their dysfunction. You must take your power back. You have no control over your abuser, but you do have the power to decide when enough is enough.
  • If possible, use texting or instant messaging to document important conversations to avoid gas-lighting. I wish I’d thought of this back then. We didn’t have cell phones, but we had instant messaging. Narcissists act brutally nasty when gas-lighting. {Narcissist 1} thought nothing of gas-lighting our daughter to the point where she would come crying to me, wondering why her father would deny what he told her. Someone I’m close to was involved with a narcissist who regularly gas-lighted him. If he challenged her, she told him, in a mock-sympathetic voice, “You must be suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s. I’m so sorry” and, if he didn’t like something she did, she’d point to the door and say, “There’s the door.”
  • You will never hear an apology or see remorse from a narcissist. Ever. It doesn’t matter if you know you were right or justified. It doesn’t matter how much s/he hurt you. {Narcissist 1} told me {after nearly attacking my son}, “If you’d done what I wanted, I wouldn’t have had to do that.” {Narcissist 2} laughed at me when I showed him the bruises on my arm from when he grabbed me too hard, denying he’d done anything. He ignored me when I told him he hurt me {both physically and emotionally} and countered with, “What about what you did to ME?!”
  • Never act out in revenge. Resist any urge to provoke his/her anger. Not only does it do no good, it also gives narcissists ammo that they most certainly use against you. {For those who are supporting an abuse victim, please, please, please never suggest that the victim “retaliate” or “make the abuser’s life miserable” or do anything that might provoke the abuser’s anger. The last thing an abuse victim wants to do is anger the abuser and instigate a potentially dangerous reaction.}
  • Once you end the relationship with a narcissist, stop all contact. If you must communicate, for whatever reason, do so only through text or instant messaging. Documentation of post-relationship conversations protects you. Always document. Don’t participate in any argument the abuser tries to start. The best thing you can do is keep your responses brief, unemotional, and factual. Steel yourself against attempts to make you feel bad. Once the relationship is over, their dysfunction is not your problem.
  • Resist any of the narcissist’s attempts to draw you back in, including leaving personal items behind {to retrieve “later”}, “accidental” phone calls {“Oops, butt dial!”}, “I miss you” texts. {Narcissist 2} hated being out of contact with me. He would send me one-line emails, saying he missed me and another time, he asked, “Do you ever think about me at all?” Remember, they want a response. Any response, even a negative one, keeps the dialogue going for them.
  • Passive-aggressive behavior is a major tool in the repertoire of a narcissist. They’ll tell you everything is fine, but act as though it isn’t. They’ll find subtle ways to let you know how they really feel, all while acting sweet to your face.
  • Realize and accept that the failure of the relationship is not your fault. There’s nothing you can do to improve or change the dynamic. The narcissist has to want to change and make a concerted effort to change and unless that happens, you must end the relationship for your own sanity and protection.

If you find this article relatable, please do what’s necessary to end the relationship and end all contact. Ending a relationship with a narcissist is extremely difficult, but moving on and being happy is the best thing you’ll ever do.

As always, we’re here to help. ❤

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