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!
I was raised in an ideal family, according to most people who know them. Relatively high standing in their community, very well known and respected in their religious network.
But behind closed doors, my parents and my siblings bullied me mercilessly, usually amongst themselves but sometimes in front of others too.
This trend has continued recently, as they have been ‘framing’ me online.
What has been most devastating is that everybody seems convinced that they are wonderful people and believe their lies, but nobody will believe what I have gone through.
They think that I am crazy (which my family freely implies). Maybe some people are aware of who they really are, but they’re afraid that they would be on the receiving end of their antics if they show any sign of siding with any of the people they pick on.
I cringe when I recall how I was unable to avoid the abuse due to the way that I was raised to be such a ‘good girl’ no matter what happened to me. In the network people think my parents are brilliant parents because they appeared to have such nice children. I was actually inviting and drawing abuse to me like a magnet.
It was not until I had some space from my family and children of my own that I realized how terribly my own mother treated me and managed to step away from the toxic network that I was raised in. I could never treat my own children the way she has treated me; nor would I allow anyone to. I want to raise my children in a way that they do not tolerate staying around for anyone who tries to hurt them. The love for my children has been a huge inspiration for me in my healing.
My family enjoyed pushing all my buttons to provoke me and when I snapped they would shame me for being so terrible and call me crazy. I now realize this was gaslighting. At the dinner table, they would call me names and make fun of me: they told me that I would be a lonely old spinster with cats that nobody would want to be around. I was afraid for years that believing this was becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.
One sibling would do all in her power to destroy my friendships, to have them only be friends to her, this also applied to my boyfriends. Another would do all in her power to have my boyfriends date her.
I was madly in love with one boy and foolishly confided to her that I knew he wasn’t the best looking guy ever…but that whenever I saw him my heart skipped a beat. The relationship started to go downhill very fast after this.
When he broke off with me angrily saying that ‘I wasn’t so good looking and he could do better than me’, I realized what had happened. One of my siblings begged me to lend them money when I had just gotten paid. I explained that I really needed that cash for my rent at the end of the month. They insisted they would have the money back to me in time for when the rent was due. When I followed up on this they told me they had sent the money to my mom’s account, my mom denied receiving it. I was left in trouble to pay my rent and to this day I don’t know who was lying about the money.
In desperation, I stopped bringing home any of my friends or boyfriends. I met a man and without their interference, things progressed and we got engaged.
One month before I was due to be married, my younger sister (who had previously said she would never get married), announced that she was engaged to be married. The wedding date? One week before mine.
I asked my mother (who was splitting the money she was contributing as her gift for my wedding with my sister) how she could let my sister do this. My mother’s reply was ‘Do what?’
This was my life. I asked my mother who is famous for her baking if she would make my wedding cake, and she agreed. The day before the wedding, I learned she had changed her mind. She had no intention to make the cake.
I was amazed…she is the woman who is always there for anyone who needs it at church, having made so many wedding cakes for my friends. She makes them beautiful wedding shawls and knits blankets for their babies.
But when it comes to me, nothing.
My sister couldn’t have her wedding the week before mine, as she had forgotten to sign a document and instead, she got married on the day of my husband and my wedding reception in his country.
I was unable to attend her wedding.
I couldn’t understand what it was for the longest time… that I seemed to be surrounded by awful people and I believed that I must be imagining it.
Was I imagining it or was it really just me?
It turns out that it actually was me, but not how I expected. I was attracting these kinds of people into my life and allowing them to stay.
And in the meantime, they were not giving any room for healthier relationships to draw close to me.
I had had enough.
In one year, I cut contact with three women that I considered to be close friends because they all were becoming increasingly abusive toward me, verbally and emotionally manipulative. Then my own mother in law physically intimidated and threatened me in my home in front of my children. At this point, I started to make the connections to my upbringing and the dynamic that I had been drawn into.
I had never challenged anyone before and my mother in law did not take the “no contact” kindly as it threatened her reputation. My MIL took the opportunity at a family wedding to try to create a scene to make herself look innocent and me the aggressor.
I had one of my children with me and I realized at this point that she would stop at nothing to protect her facade. So refuse to allow the children near her without close supervision. I hadn’t recognized her narcissism at all until that last time she would be in our home and then it came super clear from every single interaction after that.
She told me to forgive her and get over it. She referred to my husband only as ‘My son’ and the children as ‘my grandchildren’ as though they were not people in their own right.
She emailed me, copying my husband, and implied that I was sabotaging his birthday and not allowing him to spend it with family.
The truth was I was actually quoting what he had told me to write so it backfired somewhat. She almost did succeed in splitting up our family as my husband struggled to accept the reality of his mother and how she was affecting me.
Virtually his entire family are in denial and downplay what she does. I can see that my husband is like me in ways- a people pleaser.. and I see that as I have gotten stronger and happier, learned boundaries and no longer apologize for doing what works for my family, so has he too.
We are are in our 40’s and finally have allowed ourselves to have peace and be truly happy! My heart is with you who feel alone navigating this in your life. Do not let the bastards get you down. Do not let them push you into choosing to isolate yourself further.
I almost deleted my Facebook account several times. Had I done it, I would have cut myself off from what would become my largest support while coming to terms with everything. For a long time, I thought that maybe it was all my own fault as I was told that I am deserving of the treatment I received, but now I know that it is not.
I never go out of my way to hurt anyone. I still feel I’m doing something ‘wrong’ sharing this even though I know in my head that I’m not. Just part of the process of healing.
Be patient with and kind to yourself. Reading and learning as much as you can can help with healing. I’ve learned ‘not to wrestle with pigs, because we both get dirty and the pig likes it.’
When one door closes it truly does allow space for another to open, and you can choose to keep it open or close it to make space for another if it does not bring a mutually fulfilling and rewarding relationship. Big hugs!
Did this story speak to you? You might want to check out these resources.
“There are as many forms of advice as there are colors of the rainbow. Remember that good advice can come from bad people and bad advice from good people. The important thing about advice is that it is simply that. Advice.” ~Al Franken
As a survivor of narcissistic abuse (who may also be an empath), it makes sense that you’re all about improving yourself and growing forward in all kinds of ways. Most likely, you listen to, watch and read the work of several different self-help experts and various other guru-types. And for the most part, you get advice that serves you well, right?
But be careful, my friend. Take the good bits and use what you can, and leave the rest behind. Because the truth is that not all self-help advice is great advice. All of those gurus are just human, and not all advice works for everyone. Just as doctors and lawyers are wrong from time to time, your favorite self-help guru may have spread some poor advice, too.
Plus, while there are certainly many well-meaning coaches and gurus out there, there are a few who are actually dangerous and even predatory. And for survivors of narcissistic abuse, some self-help tips can actually be kind of triggering or produce the opposite effect. Some of the most common self-help tips have been shown to be ineffective or even detrimental.
A few important things to remember:
If something doesn’t feel right to you, you don’t have to do it.
If you aren’t sure, ask your doctor, or an appropriate professional, whether the tips are safe to try.
If you are trying something new, try it for a while, and then evaluate how it is working for you before you continue.
Follow your intuition! How do you do that? You start by listening and paying attention to your SELF.
Your body and your intuition are constantly sending signals about what’s right and what’s not right in your environment. Going with your instinct, your gut reaction to a request is often the best response. When you’re asked to do something, before you answer, take a moment to check in with your body’s reaction.
Learn to read your body’s responses so you can make the right decision for you. Think about it. How does it feel when you’re asked to work on the weekend? When your kid wants a puppy for Christmas? I’m sure you know very well.
The same goes for self-help advice. When you hear it, listen to it, consider it and then pay close attention to your body and your thoughts. If your stomach clenches, your toes curl or you break out in a cold sweat, steering clear is probably the best response. You feel me?