After I left Kevin, not only was I disoriented, but I felt so much rage and absolutely sick to the stomach. This was someone I had been intimate with, trusted and once considered my boyfriend. I did not think that I would ever find myself in an abusive relationship. I always thought that I could spot an abusive man from afar. I didn’t know that abuse creeps in so sneakily wearing many different masks. I felt like I was recovering from an illness, not a break-up.
Anyone who is in an abusive relationship must get out. I understand that it is easier said than done. It took me many tries to get out. If you are dependent on your partner, share children or fear for your safety, start by drawing up an escape plan and contacting trusted friends and family, an abuse centre or a shelter.
If you are like me, attached solely through traumatic bonding, I understand how difficult it is, but you have no choice but to get out, stay out and go no contact. It can be terrifying at first but you will get better over time and as you educate yourself about narcissistic abuse, you will come to realise and accept that the person you first met never existed. Their good side that you may find yourself drawn back to is also part of the abuse. The manipulation, gaslighting and hoovering don’t stop there. Find someone you trust to confide in and who can help you stay out when you have the urge to contact the narcissist.
Don’t try to retaliate anymore. It won’t work. Narcissists set us up to get a reaction from us, then they use it against us. They will attack you in the most personal way. They will take information you once trusted them with and use it against you. They will tell you that you are the crazy one for getting angry when it is in your every right to retaliate because of the way they have been treating you all this time. You cannot rationalise with a narcissist. They will use anything, as irrational as it may be, and call it rational and tell you that you are perceiving it wrongly. They won’t accept responsibility and you will find yourself going around and around in circles while he drains all your dignity and energy out of you. They are so insecure that they will bring you down so that they can feel good about themselves. Because narcissistic abusers don’t perceive emotions in the same way that you and I do, they can completely flip like a switch. Changing their masks can be done in a split second. When I slapped him (Chapter 29), he came chasing after me to my room, shouting at me and towering over me then gave me the middle finger. But when his friends were there, he could change his mask in an instant to the poor victim who was being bullied by his girlfriend. These people don’t know what love is. They are incapable of feeling love the way you and I feel love. When they say they love you, they are really in love with the way they see you benefitting them. With narcissists, everything relates back to them. You will find yourself going around in circles. They will never accept responsibility for anything. They will never apologise. I understand how hard it is to understand how some people can be so cruel and so unempathetic. These people are really, really sick. The only way to deal with narcissists is to cut them out of your life.
Once a survivor leaves an abusive relationship for good, there is a huge psychological recovery process to go through. There’s the trauma, the anxiety, the anger, the confusion, the emotional and mental flashbacks, and the depleted self-esteem to recover from. Recovery can take a long time but you will definitely get there. Know that you are not alone. Below are some of the things that have helped me through the journey of recovery.
- Listening to people’s stories and educating yourself on domestic abuse and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Just remember to do this in moderation. When we come out of an abusive relationship and discover narcissism, we can end up spending days and nights reading and watching all about this illness without realising that it is consuming us. It is important to educate ourselves about this, but make sure you balance your daily life and mental well-being by doing other things.
- Take this whole ordeal as one big, horrible nightmare. It’s over now. You have a bright future ahead of you. The nightmare is in the past.
- Stay no contact. They will do whatever they can to set us up to get any sort of reaction from us and then use what we say and what we do against us. They thrive off this. Don’t give it to them.
- Exercise to keep yourself active and bring your self-confidence back up again. When you exercise and eat healthy, you will naturally feel good about yourself. At the beginning, it can be difficult to force yourself to exercise, but do it even if you don’t feel like it. The endorphins released will make you feel good afterwards. And listen to some good music as you exercise to keep your mind on better things.
- Make every day a special day to wake up to. Dress up for the day. Put on makeup if that’s your thing. This will help you love yourself and feel self-confident again.
- Meditate either during the day or when you go to sleep, or both. This will help you clear your mind of toxicity. Put on calming music. Before I met the narcissist, I never had problems sleeping and I was able to clear my mind at any time. When I left him, I had a lot of problems sleeping. My mind was constantly thinking about the abuse and I was experiencing emotional flashbacks and severe anxiety. I resorted to sleep meditation every night which has really helped. There are heaps of sleep meditation and Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) videos on YouTube that you could try. Even now, I still meditate to maintain my mental health.
- Surround yourself with nature. Nature is beautiful and calming to be around. Take a deep breath and cherish everything you have. Nature is also a natural creator of negative ions, which clears the air and increases your sense of well-being and mental clarity. They are natural anti-depressants and have a relaxing effect which normalises your breathing rate, decreases blood pressure and relieves tension. Negative ions also naturally increase energy levels and allows you a better and more relaxed sleep. They also reduce cases of sickness and headaches.
- Remove yourself from toxic people as best as you can. Don’t take life too seriously. Enjoy every moment. Don’t waste a second of your life being unhappy as you never know when your last second will be.
- Love yourself. This is so important. You cannot love anyone before you love yourself first and foremost. When you love yourself, you are a strong and independent person. You don’t need to find the right person to make you complete. Only you can make yourself complete.
- Live your life to its happiest and fullest extent. Narcissists hate to see you happy because they hate to see you doing better than them. Living a happy and fulfilled life is the best revenge.
Forgive yourself. When I left Kevin, I was so mad at myself for allowing myself to have been treated the way he treated me; for allowing it to happen again and again. I kept asking myself, how could I have been so stupid? How could I have ignored all the red flags? Why did I not listen to my intuition? I was so ashamed of having been so gullible. You might also feel this way for some time, but don’t blame yourself. These people are master manipulators. They get to the best and strongest of us. For us, it is hard to imagine how anyone can be so insidious, malicious and unempathetic. And that’s why we let the abuse continue because we don’t believe that the person we call our partner could be this sick. We always want to see the best in people and that’s why hope is always the last to die. It took me sometime to understand this and when I did, I could finally forgive myself and a huge weight was lifted. Be gentle with yourself. Once you are able to forgive yourself, that is one step closer to you being able to think more clearly.
This experience can only make you a stronger person. You are now armed with knowledge. Always trust your gut instinct. It is always right. You will become stronger than you ever were before. You do not deserve to be treated the way you are or were treated by the narcissist. Nobody with the right sense of mind and heart deserves to be treated like this. You are full of self-worth and no one, absolutely no one, has the right to tell you otherwise.