Living with a narcissist is like living in a fairy tale. But not the kind you might have read to your own children. More like dungeons, dragons, evil spirits, smoke and mirrors. Where there is no happily ever after but instead lost friendships, broken families, loss of the ability to trust others, loss of self-esteem and even loss of who you remember yourself to be – and more. It’s all just an illusion that they have craftily presented to you in the beginning and continue to present to others on a regular basis.
This fairytale is a place where you bring home your favorite chocolate treat only to find it missing because the narc has hidden it from you. Why? you might ask. Simply because he doesn’t think you deserve it. “You need to keep your figure in check,” he’ll say.
Or when you’re given expired food to eat. Eight years expired! WTF? Or he’ll insist on cooking dinner and infuse your food with pepper, knowing that your body can’t handle it. He’ll insist, ‘it’s just a little.’ But if you should EVER put something they don’t like in a meal, you better run for the hills. There’s a price to pay.
When you proudly announced that you lost 5 pounds, he’d give a sly smile and pinch the fat around my middle. He wouldn’t congratulate you or tell you you’ve done a great job. But he’ll make sure you know that what you’ve done is not good enough. FYI, I only needed to lose 10 pounds, I wasn’t grossly overweight. But this was another ploy to get me to feel bad about myself and my accomplishments.
Or when you’re given a ‘floor dump’ at 8 am on a Saturday morning because ‘nobody should sleep in past 8 am’. The fact that you’ve worked hard all week while you’re trying to heal from autoimmune disease doesn’t matter to the narc. He’ll just grab your ankles from the warm bed and dump you on the floor because that’s what HE thinks you need.
Or when he hits you in the head with a dog’s toy supposedly thrown for the dog to play. Company was there, they saw it happen and said nothing. The narc’s laughing response was “You don’t think I did that on purpose do you?” Well, actually yes, I do believe you did that on purpose! But I wouldn’t start an argument in front of company (and the narc relies on that) and the company won’t ‘get involved’. Once again, I’ve been abused by a man who cannot empathize with me or anyone else and takes great pleasure in conning everyone involved. But he has to look like he’s the good guy. Oh, there never was an apology for that hard toy hitting me in the head. I was supposed to overlook it, forget it ever happened. After all, our guests ignored it.
His driving scared everyone, including me. I was always at risk when I was in the car with him. If I spoke up – even the slightest whimper or gasp – there was hell to pay for ‘distracting him’.
And there are the many times, in front of 20+ friends, he stood up at the table, pointed his finger down at me and said “I was talking” as if I had interrupted his non-stop monologue to others. Not me, I wouldn’t dare. But did the others take notice or, more importantly, stand up for me? Of course not. The narc spoke with such authority that they believed it actually happened. They were all gaslighted. Such was my fairytale life.
On the other hand, when we would go to a restaurant with another couple in our car, he graciously opened the car door for me. They all noticed and commented on what a nice guy he is. Yes, image is everything to a narc. And it absolutely works to con others into believing their narrative of how much they love you and treat you with respect. But you know all too well that he never opens any door for you when you’re alone with him. In fact, he’ll walk ahead of you, open the door to a building and be sure it slams in your face just as you approach. To enhance his image, when I wasn’t around, he even told ‘our’ friends how much he loved me. He told me that occasionally, but his malicious actions spoke to me louder than his words of love. I could no longer trust him.
In 25 years of this fairytale marriage, I never had a birthday or holiday that was enjoyable. He always started an argument with me on any day that I found to be special. He couldn’t handle my happiness or my joy. So I would show up to parties a complete wreck, put on a good front, and he would suddenly be Mr. Charming in front of everyone.
Oh, and the times he would sabotage me. One example, I would have carefully selected and brought flowers or a gift for the hostess when we would go to a friend’s get-together. As soon as the doorbell was rung, he would grab the flowers (or gift that I selected) and present it as if he had done it all on his own. WTF?? No credit was given to me whatsoever. It was always about him and the adoration he could con from others. And these ‘friends’ always admired his thoughtfulness! My narc would never allow me to get a word in edgewise to tell our hosts that I took great care to select the perfect gift/flowers. I was always in the background to his fake persona.
My fairytale life never included a compliment by him. And I was no slouch, either. Yet I was never good enough to get a ‘good job’ or ‘hey, you look great’ from him. He just didn’t have it in him. So I did without compliments, congratulations or any kind of emotional support for 25 years. What took me so long to wake up?? It was the fairytale image he presented to me in the beginning.
His favorite saying was “Show me the bruises.” This tells me that he knew exactly what he was doing on a psychologically abusive level. Apparently he, among the majority of the population, thought abuse always left bruises, scars, broken bones, black eyes, hospitalization, etc. I’m here to tell you that’s not how narcissists operate. They abuse under the radar of ordinary people’s perceptions of what abuse looks like. Narcissistic abusers are cunning. And they always win.
When I finally learned what/who I was dealing with and left him, he decided to turn the tables in his favor. He started love-bombing my family members. He lived with my narc mother when our house was sold and he claimed that he needed a place to live (mind you, his retirement income is well over $100,000 and he could easily have afforded an apartment for a few months). And I can see how he’s now trying to worm his way into her will while removing me from it. He thinks he deserves her money because of what I took (in his mind) from him. He doesn’t remember, or mention, the $100,000 I gave him from my retirement account to get rid of him. He wants me diminished, obliterated from the face of the earth and everyone’s mind all while he looks like the good guy who ‘tried to help’ me. I believe his intent is to make me look like the ‘crazy’ one.
His charm has also influenced my adult child. My only child. My abuser is her fairytale step-father and she only lived with him/us during the first year of our marriage – the love-bombing phase! She didn’t believe a word of the abuse I described to her when I left him. I might add that he treated her much better than he did his own 4 children who are now either low or no-contact with him. And trust me when I tell you they have serious psychological issues of their own now as adults. But that’s their fairytale life with a narcissist.
My daughter saw the physical effects of the abuse on me at the end of my relationship with him. Extreme weight loss (I dropped to 92 pounds), hair loss, isolation, night terrors. During an overnight visit to her house, one morning she and her husband were downstairs when they heard my screams from the upstairs bedroom from yet another nightmare. They came into my bedroom to see if I was OK and woke me up. And still, she doesn’t believe! Since I left the narcissist and shared my abuse story with her:
She blamed me, saying I needed better boundaries. (Anyone living with a narc knows they erode your boundaries in every way, doesn’t matter how strong you are. In fact, days before I left him he told me that I didn’t need boundaries with him!)
She minimized the abuse, saying I was just living with him 24/7 (we had been retired 15 years) and he was ‘getting on my nerves’. She added that IF he was a narc, he wasn’t on the high end of the spectrum. I guess it hasn’t occurred to her that since I lived with him, I knew him waaay better than she did.
Then she set her own boundaries with me by telling me not to talk about him (but she allowed him to talk to her about me)
She won’t learn about Narcissists or Narcissistic abuse, or the effects of abuse on the target. In effect, she doesn’t support me. She supports my abuser.
She asks the narc to keep her secrets from me and she keeps his secrets from me. No support from her!
Needless to say, there’s so much more to this story and I’ve only scratched the surface. I could go on and on. But I hope you get the idea. The fairy tale that you think you’re entering into with a narcissist will turn into your worst nightmare. You will lose friends (who all have been charmed into thinking that he’s the nicest guy they’ve ever met!), family members (who are either oblivious to reality or disordered themselves), your self-worth, self-respect, sense of who you are, ability to trust others – the list goes on, reaching too many tentacles to name here. If you suspect you’re with a narcissist, please love yourself enough to get out. Deep down you know you don’t deserve to be treated in this manner. You deserve so much better than what they give you. And really, have they given you anything? Or have they just taken all of your goodness from you?
I was 62 years old when I left the narc. I hadn’t worked in 15 years and by all outside appearances was living a good life. Until I realized I couldn’t live that lie anymore. When I left I was scared in every regard – where would I live? How could I afford to live? Could I even get a job at my age? I had almost no friends left as a safety net or support. My only child couldn’t even believe my story. I had agoraphobia and couldn’t trust anyone. But I’m surviving (in blessed peace!) and discovering that I am still the capable woman I was before I married the narcissist. Very soon I will be thriving! And that is my hope for you.
The trauma accumulated from this daily, subtle abuse is cumulative and destructive on a soul level. To facilitate healing I’m currently doing inner child work, meditations several times a day, journaling journaling journaling, therapy, watching YouTube videos like Angie’s and reading books on narcissistic abuse and others on recovery. And as Angie recommends, I state at least 10 things I’m grateful for twice a day. And when I hit a low point during the day I rattle off as many things I can think of that I’m grateful for. Gratitude is HUGE for raising your vibration.
These have all been extremely helpful, especially in the fragile, raw beginning of freedom from narcissistic abuse (I’ve been separated 16 months now). A major discovery for me was realizing that I am here on this planet as a soul on a learning journey of lessons and growth, which means my recovery has taken a spiritual turn. This turn has helped me realize that I am on my own soul’s path as are my loved ones who cannot see my truth. Right now our paths are not the same but they might cross and join again in the future if that is what is meant for my lessons and growth as a soul. In other words, I’m following my soul’s journey with help from my spirit guides. And trusting the Universe to fulfill my desires.
You are stronger than you know. You can recover. And thanks to Angie and others knowledgeable about narcissism and narcissistic abuse, you have support systems online to help you through your darkest hours. You can get your life back.
Special Holiday Rate for One-Hour Coaching Sessions With Lise Colucci
As the holidays approach, we want to make narcissistic abuse recovery support coaching as accessible as possible without breaking your budget. We know firsthand how tough the holidays can be for survivors of narcissistic abuse. That’s why we’ve decided to offer extremely discounted, personal one-on-one coaching starting today.
After five months of the silent treatment, for some transgression I only vaguely understood, you re-appeared: “Happy Mother’s Day, stranger.”
I responded, thinking, as usual, “I can take it.”
You started, immediately, trying to get me to do things you wanted. The difference this time was that this time, I stood my ground. I’ve gotten past the smoke and mirrors and see clearly what the game is. As soon as I resisted you changed your tune, blowing hot and cold and distancing yourself, revealing how insincere your overtures really were. It was just like before.
The last time we were together you asked me why I kept going back. I told you I care about you and love being around you. Then I asked why you keep asking for me and you said you “don’t care” if I’m there or not. This was one of your few clear statements, confirming that how you were treating me was the true reflection of how you felt about me. The rest was mind games to get me to do whatever you wanted. Lies.
I DID care, very much. There was a time when I was in love with you and did everything I could to make it work. You took it all, while hiding my existence and denying to anyone who asked that there was anything going on between us. After three years, I was still “just a pal”, and you were doing whatever you wanted, with no regard for me or my feelings. I was devastated.
You lied, cheated, screamed at me, put me down and belittled me; you asked for all the favors, and just took whatever you wanted, but never offered a thing in return; you flirted while I was right there and online with strangers; if we went out, you never asked what I wanted to do, and then would ignore me the whole time, expecting that I wait for you and drive you home; you demanded I show up when you wanted and would push me away until next time you needed something; you NEVER came to see me; you talked to ex-girlfriends and potential ones, giving them compliments and presents, while you starved me for affection.
I was exhausted; I felt like I didn’t matter and I got depressed and constantly worried. I was anxious to the point of not being able to make decisions or eat, waiting for the next terrible thing. I spent most of my time lonely and ruminating.
I slept beside you even though it was a torment because you didn’t love me. It was such a violation of my values and integrity that I was in a constant state of self-disgust.
I tried to leave you, but struggled to stay away, thinking your disrespect of my need for space was actually love. I drank too much so I wouldn’t have to think about how humiliating it all was. I was destroying myself with my own hopes and expectations and you finished the job with your callous user mentality.
That prolonged silent treatment freed me. I became stronger and less angry. I was more productive than I had been in almost three years. I was able to engage properly with my friends and family and did better at work. I took a holiday. I enjoyed everything more.
And within a week of you contacting me again, I slipped backward. Anxiety, depression, and rumination quickly returned. My mind and body reacted to you very strongly and it was unbearable, after knowing how much better I am without you.
I can barely remember what made me fall in love with you because every memory is tainted by something awful you did. I know it would never be better, no matter what you say when you need something and push for another chance. As ever before, your words and actions do not match and I can no longer fool myself into believing only the pretty things.
My mind and heart have been forever altered by you.
I met him online and we chatted for some time before we met. He picked me up as I had no car which I thought was sweet at the time. A bit old school.
I met his friends where he socialized and they all were really nice.
Things started to go wrong when someone who knew him asked me if he had ever hit me. I was shocked and asked him about it he was very defensive and quite nasty about it which upset me.
I let it pass.
Over the years the red flags should have been enough for me to walk away. There was no depth to our relationship. I discussed what happened when I was a child with my father and his response was a friend who had been sent to prison for abuse and how he couldn’t believe this person had done it. Not the response I had expected really.
There were good times and when they were good they were really good. However, when they were bad they were horrendous.
For example, I remember being locked in the house so that I couldn’t leave to the point I nearly called the police.
Another time, we went away with a group of friends. It was always four of us – never just me and him. We were laid in bed and I just said an innocent comment in a normal tone of voice to which he went ballistic.
This left me prepared to find my own way home in a strange country with no idea how to get to the airport. Once he realized I was serious, he launched my suitcase in the road.
Red flags, wow, manipulation, no empathy, not prepared to have a two-way conversation where I felt heard and my feelings mattered. Being called names, belittled and put down for the person that I am. Standing and shouting in my face so close that he was spitting his anger at me. The anger was something else. Negativity with life in general.
I should have never put up with any of it.
I am a caring and loving person who would do anything for anyone if I can. And yet, I was told I was inconsiderate, uncaring…and the expletives…I am unsure of what I haven’t been called.
I think we so desperately want someone to give us the love and affection that we are prepared to give another if only they could treat us right.
The frustration of twisted conversations saw me exhibiting behaviors that I am disgusted by. I won’t beat myself up for them though. I have never been like that in any other relationship I have ever had before.
Weeks of abuse, bullying, manipulating…and him saying he wasn’t doing it anymore; however, the abusive messages still flowed.
My last message was simply, “see ya.”
We live in the same village and go to the same club. There was a trip away this weekend which I did not go to. But I still went to the social club. I still have friends. One of the girls on Friday told me that he hit his ex-wife and another lady. She said she couldn’t tell me when we were together.
Now I am rebuilding me, I know that I am not the names I was called. I know that I deserve to be treated better than that and that I deserve love and respect and someone who can work together to build something close intimate and happy.
I don’t really have a support network so finding this site for me is amazing in helping me along my journey. I do have a strong sense of self, I know who I am.
If I could offer anyone any piece of advice it would be this:
Should you ever find yourself googling abusive relationships and narcissists you need to get out of it. It won’t change and the fact you are googling that stuff should be a massive red flag. One that I didn’t recognize at the time.
If anybody treats you in a way that doesn’t sit right with your gut leave life is so short. If someone can see you upset and not care run away as fast as your feet will carry you. You deserve to be loved by someone who wants to make you happy and see you smile someone who feels like your best friend, not your worst enemy.
Know your worth and know you are worth so much more. xx
This is an unpublished letter I wrote to my narcissist colleague about six years ago. All of this happened in the first three years of my interviewing and hiring this person. She was eventually fired for unprofessional behavior (including using a topless photo as her Facebook profile image). There is no personally identifying information in the letter.
Are you serious right now? How do you justify asking the person who interviewed you for your job, and personally signed off on your work visa, “What qualifies you to take on [PR Project X]?”
Overconfidence is one thing, but you’re arrogant and extremely ignorant to the point where you’re embarrassing yourself and don’t even realize it. Let me count the ways you compensate for having a fragile ego. For example, we were at lunch with four other colleagues and you frowned and said “don’t like” restaurants that serve four-course meals with formal cutlery settings.
And before you pretend you can really afford a Hermes Birkin, we all know that was a PU knockoff you plonked down in the center of the table. The handbag is supposed to be made of crocodile skin and you shouldn’t have it because new import laws make it illegal to bring one into this country.
Please avoid chewing your meal open-mouthed while holding the fork vertically in your clenched fist, while stabbing it onto the ceramic plate, and clanging the tines against your teeth.
What was I saying? An authentic, used Birkin can cost more than a new A-Class Mercedes Benz, so why are you hitchhiking? Their Hondas cost less than your handbag. And, if you can afford a real Birkin, why did you tell me that $80 is EXPENSIVE for a designer canvas tote when I mentioned that I got mine at 98% off?
Also, why did you have a colleague telephone City Hall on your behalf to complain that your health insurance is expensive when your monthly premium costs half the price of one pair of the (supposedly authentic) Tory Burch shoes you’re wearing. You have them in assorted colors to match your outfits. You are wearing two years’ worth of premiums every week.
By the way, that Emporio Armani wristwatch costs $200. While you were acting like the newly arrived cat that got the couture cream after I complimented you, please note that your colleague sitting next to you was on her second rose gold Omega. She misplaced the first one, and bought a new one because she couldn’t bother to look for it. She doesn’t talk about it, so you didn’t notice.
My favorite part is the fake engagement ring. The stone is too large so it is easy to see about ten colors beaming out of it. If your boyfriend can afford a real diamond that size, he would have brought you to the store to have the ring sized to match you. The mixed metal band is tarnished (blackish brown) and is swiveling around on your finger. The whole thing looks tacky. At least do some research if you want to really fool people. It’s not the fakery that bothers me, it’s the laziness. A lot of women in the office wear real diamond accessories, so they either think you’re not sensible or that your boyfriend is cheap.
Also, if you’re going to wear a real five-carat diamond ring, a real Hermes Birkin, and five pairs of Tory Burch shoes, how come you can’t afford to visit a salon to style your hair? You’re acting all high society, so why the flat, dull tresses and ratty-looking scrunchies?
On a more serious note, use of laxatives to control your weight is causing you to be malnourished and is messing with your hormones and brain function. Your colleagues told me so. Boasting to them about your eating disorder being a trend was a bad idea. Some of them were genuinely disturbed by your words.
Out of concern, I offered to teach you how to grill your daily lunch salmon to get the most nutritional value, but you said you prefer bland food.
But answer your question, “how am I qualified”, I co-hosted a radio show while still in high school, do several media interviews and profiles every year, designed swimwear for the tourist board of a developed country, wrote and directed ten stage plays, wrote and produced PSAs at the request of City Hall, and consult with NPOs.
So, if I’m not qualified to do a public relations project, then neither are you, you resume-embellishing, “I did six HOURS of a media literacy college course and therefore I’m an expert at producing radio segments”, PU knockoff Birkin toting, open-mouth chewing and smacking, spiteful, ungrateful, presumptuous, pompous human!