By Christine Wills
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning. (Little Gidding)”
― T.S. Eliot
There are no victims here, only warriors of truth.
If I tried to explain the last five years of my life to someone who knew nothing of abuse, who knew nothing of “narcissists,” it would be like trying to explain colour to the blind. For this reason, I am sharing my story of narcissistic abuse and how I survived it.
Five years ago, I met a girl. I hadn’t necessarily been looking for love, or even the One. I know now that that mentality of looking without, instead of within, to fill the void was perhaps the greatest weakness of my character. To believe in love at first sight, to believe in princess charming, to believe that one day I would be saved from my own inner loneliness…
How wrong was I, in this whole experience?
Experience, that I sorely needed; I have come out now with fresh new eyes, a new mind set, new knowledge of what people can truly be like. I once believed in monsters, the ones hiding under the bed, the ones lurking in the shadows of our closets, ready to pounce at us, to grab at our ankles.
It was the same for believing in love, I think.
I grew out of being afraid of the monsters, but still believed in Love, with a capital L.
How naive I was, how innocent. How trusting, how loving was I to trust the Devil with my heart. I look back on my life, realizing that I had always had a brush with narcissists, but this last one was the worst, staying in my life like a piranha on prey. Something about me, some inner vulnerability must have led her to me, like a shark to blood in the water.
She love bombed me, made me feel like the only person in her whole universe. Made me feel like we were soulmates; made and created for one another. She made me feel safe to share everything about me with her, my strengths and weaknesses. My hands are trembling, memories just below the surface, twisting and fighting, like a pit of hungry snakes, writing and slithering.
I try not to dwell on what was, but what will be. I do not see myself as a victim. I am a survivor. The day I realized that all those years she was simply abusing me, using me; with a fake smile on her lips, reveling in the misery I felt, her nails painted red with my blood as she had clawed at me, like a hysterical animal snared in a bear trap; I knew what madness had claimed her.
She was not like me.
She would never be like me.
These creatures, these human “beings,” lack everything necessary to grow, to become whole themselves. For this reason they seek us out, hoping to capitalize on our own securities and vulnerability, brainwashing us, taking us for a ride. They mirror all of who we are back onto us. The saddest part of all this, is that despite having all of our wondrous qualities and strengths mirrored at us, we think we can never be without them. This is all an illusion. A perfect performance worthy of an Emmy.
The truth lies in understanding that we fell in love with ourselves. That we fell for an illusion of who we thought they were. Nothing about her was real. It was like falling in love with a dream, one that felt so real; a lie we wanted to believe so strongly, out of fear, out of desperation.
She was my everything and I hers.
But soon, after the months and years of struggling for money, and her tearing into me like a hungry shark, that illusion was being challenged, every day. Why was she always criticizing me, why was she always talking about herself as a victim, why were things always going wrong, why did I feel so nervous and unsure in her presence? Why was I always doubting myself? Why was my health, slowly but surely, getting worse?
I spent years fighting to get her to admit to her faults, to take responsibility for her words and actions. I tore myself in two trying to get her to love me as I loved her. I burned the candle at both ends to prove to her that I was worthy of her love, her trust, of her time. I spent so much of myself trying to get my ex-narcissist to love me.
And in all this madness, I felt like I deserved it. Some sort of karmic retribution? But for what? Even God himself was not that spiteful, and yet, I allowed this daily ritual of chastising to happen to me, to allow my whole soul, mind and heart to be assaulted by her own damaged thinking, and her own twisted version of what love was.
I felt I deserved it, even as she brought an ex-lover into the picture. I allowed it, out of love, trust and to prove I wasn’t insecure or jealous. I should have left so many times before that day. But I think the worst emotion to have when it comes to these kinds of people, is to have hope. Hope that they can change, that they will change, that if you work at it things will get better.
They use hope to keep us captive; we basically put our own selves in chains and give them the key.
I had no boundaries. No self-respect for my own self. The worse thing I thought while with her was, “If she loved me, she wouldn’t do this.” “If I trust her, she’ll respect me enough not to do this.” “If I do this for her, she’ll need me.”
All these thoughts I’ve had, all created to keep me trapped and in a relationship that was eating away at my soul. I became a ghost of my old self. I was ashamed to show my face to my mother, to my father, to my siblings. I was ashamed at my own weakness, at how love had made me a victim. I was also stubborn; I never asked for help. I just rolled with the punches, every single one aimed at my soul.
This whole time, there was a spark in me, that would rise up for a week, every month, coming out of hiding, crying and screaming at me that I wasn’t happy, that I deserved better, that this was not love. That I had to end things, I had to move on, I did not deserve this…
THIS ISN’T LOVE.
It was like having Tinkerbell, rising out of the shadows, shedding light and reason into my world.
The day it all ended was when I said NO!
No to giving her money, to disregarding my feelings, to being abused, used and discarded. NO! to having my own kindness turned into a weapon against me. NO! to having my boundaries constantly tested. NO! to being treated like an object.
It was over. I had reached my limit.
On the drive home, my face red from a numbing slap unmistakable with the scratches on my face, neck and arms, I cried. I hadn’t even touched her. Nothing in my behaviour had warranted that attack on my person. I was numb. There was only numbness for how I felt but there was also acceptance.
There was Tinkerbell’s voice, chiming in my head telling me, “I told you this was not love.”
As I drove home, I cried, talking to myself out-loud.
“This is not love. This isn’t love. This is not fucking love!”
The last came out in a scream as I gripped the steering wheel, blinking away tears to clear my blurred vision. I was done, so done with all the pain, the madness. I exhausted. I was tired of trying to save someone who didn’t even have a soul, tired of throwing myself down the rabbit hole. She could stay there, in her own version of Hell. She didn’t need me there, when all I was was something to keep her afloat in her own madness, while drowning me at the same time.
I was done with it all.
And when I left, she didn’t fight for me. She already had her next supply. A girl that I had hated, a girl that mirrored my own kindness. A girl that was also in love with the idea of love itself. Another person who wanted to save an already lost soul, and who was just as naive and innocent as I had been, despite being present in more than half of all the drama.
There was anger and hate, but I realized that wasting that kind of energy on those emotions is like drinking poison, waiting for the other person to die. I take it one day at a time, being grateful for the experience, for the pain I had endured. It was something I needed to learn, pain that I needed to feel, madness that I needed to touch, and have it envelop my whole world to know that I did not want this in my life any longer.
So, I say this; your kindness to the world, your naivety, your innocence is not a weakness. It is only such viewed in the eyes of those who have none. Be as pure of heart as you can possibly be in this world. Not all who love, can hurt us as much as their kind can. Be pure, be honest, if a little bit cautious. You aren’t blind to the truth of the monsters. You know they exist, and they walk among us.
Be strong, be brave,