Surviving life with a narcissist takes a lot of strength, energy and prayer. This is my story, as I can tell it in a short version, at least the last 23 years anyway. I am sharing this because I know that there are a lot of people out there that either have been or are going thru a similar situation of living with a narcissist. I have to note that my Ex was never diagnosed and he will never admit it, but he definitely has all the narcissistic disorder characteristics. To make matters worse, he has OCD, which is a recipe for disaster when you have to live with that person.
Stepping out of fear
Since this is a blog, I’m not going to go into the nitty gritty details. I’m condensing greatly because 23 years is a lot to cover. I am stepping out of my comfort zone (because I have been threatened for so many years and feared to say anything) but I feel that God has called me to share my story, so for him, I am willing to let my guard down. Do I still have some fear of him? Yes a little, but I’m not so worried anymore because God is my protector, he has my back.
2 Timothy 1:7; God didn’t give us a Spirit of fear but of Power, Love and a Sound mind.
Phase 1: Love bombing
In 1995 when I was 25 years old, WOW that was 25 years ago, that’s hard to swallow! I thought that I met the man of my dreams. Surprise-Surprise, it ended up being more like a nightmare. What I didn’t know then, was that I was dating a narcissist. I stayed with this person for 23 years, should have left at least 15 years prior.
Our relationship started out with butterflies and fireworks, we fell in love fast. We had a great run in the beginning, had a few bumps along the way, but nothing that raised a red flag of concern that something deeper may have been the issue. As in the beginning of all new relationships, it’s exciting. The love notes, flowers, gifts, adoring attention, etc. all of the things I now know as “Love bombing” (which is explained in the Narcissistic stages post).
Phase 2: Idealization; he got me to fall in love
Long story short; We started out as friends who worked together, then dated & fell in love. Five years later we moved in together then opened a business together. We went through a lot of trials and tribulations together, but also had some good times. Life was good for the most part, up till 2003.
Phase 3: The abuse cycle
The seven year itch is real, pretty much right on cue. Things went from blissful to a fast downward spiral. The mental & physical abuse started. Gaslighting (a form of mental abuse) was just a way of life for him. It got to the point where I was afraid for my life, I had to leave. I was “out” and gone for almost 3 months.
My advice to anyone who is in a unhealthy relationship, when you have a way out, stay out! Go far away and Don’t look back. My circumstances were difficult, after being out for almost 3 months, I found out I was pregnant. So after a lot of praying, I took this as a sign. The pregnancy didn’t work out for me but this doesn’t mean that God didn’t want me to come back, he had his reasons.
Think twice before you move in together
My advice to anyone out there, be very careful when making a major decision to move in with someone before you get a commitment to marriage. My Pastor recently talked about this particular subject. He said that in his years of Pastoring and counseling, he rarely has met a couple who lived together before marriage that didn’t end up exploding. And as my Father used to tell me, a man will think “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free”. This was all so true, but I truly felt that he was “The One”.
Phase 4: Manipulation
At the 7 year mark, when it all started to go down hill, this is when the nightmare started. The man I trusted with my life, my best friend, started to abuse, manipulate and control me. It didn’t just start, it gradually led up to this after his Father passed away in 2000. Something snapped in him, he became bitter, coldhearted, had no empathy for anyone (except for his Mom, who he loved more than life).
The saying; look for a man that treats his Mother like gold, this is the way he’ll treat you. Not so true in my case!
Phase 5 & 6: Devaluation and Victim shaming
Living with a narcissist takes a toll on your mental health. I spent more of my days crying and yelling than anything else. He belittled me on a daily basis, made me feel dirty, unworthy, unattractive, stupid. He pushed my buttons to no end.
When he ran out of things to say about me, he started to attack my family. He said some very hurtful and degrading things about my family, of course they weren’t true but he knew that he would get a rise out of me as I would yell back defending them. It even got physical as my temper would flare. He even made me feel crazy, told me I was Bi-polar, took no accountability for his actions at all! I did not like the person that I was becoming.
Phase 7: Realization
This is when I turned to my family as I got scared and I needed help. My Sister and her family took me in (this was in 2003), they lived 3 1/2 hours away, so it was perfect. I put my Sister through hell, she cried as much or more than I did. She couldn’t stand seeing me so broken and hurt.
She helped me pick up my broken pieces, and got me on track to start my new life. I landed an awesome job and was apartment hunting. I can never Thank my Sister and Brother-in-law enough for all they did for me. It really hurt them when I told them that I was pregnant and I was going back home. I felt so torn and so guilty for leaving, after everything they did for me.
This is why it is so important to speak up, there are people in your life that love you and want to help. But they can’t help if they don’t know you need it. Nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors, if you don’t tell them. I can’t stress this enough, do not fear~speak up! I wish I did this the second time around.
No one knows what goes on behind closed doors if you don’t speak up
Because of what I put my family through the first time, I lived the next 15 years pretty much in silence. Nobody was thrilled (especially my Mom & Sisters) with my decision to rush back the first time and I couldn’t bear to burden my family with my problems again.
Our relationship was good upon my return, but it didn’t last long. The verbal abuse started again, it was like he couldn’t help himself, he wasn’t happy if we weren’t arguing. About 4 years later, we were done! This is when (if not sooner) I should have left.
Matthew West song “Truth be told” (this is a great song about speaking up and not hiding the truth)
Functioning in dysfunction
The term couple was non existent, however nobody in our circle could ever tell. We had everyone fooled (our family, friends, clients, employees, neighbors, regular waitresses, etc.), nobody knew what was going on behind closed doors (I always felt that nobody would believe me if I told them the truth. Everybody loved him, he was so sweet & kind to everyone except for me. He had everybody fooled, especially me).
I tried to stay away from family as much as I could, only because I knew they would ask uncomfortable questions that I didn’t want to answer. I started lying to my Sisters when they asked how “We Were”, I never let them know the truth. I remember my Niece (12 years old at that time) asking me “Are you guys just business partners”? You don’t seem like a couple, I never see you holding hands or hugging.
From the mouth of Babes! Do you know that this phrase comes from the Bible? I actually just read it today, it was a “Wow” moment for me!
Psalms: 8:2 Out of the mouth of Babes and unweaned infants You have established strength because of your foes, that you might silence the enemy and the avenger.
Time to be a “Victor not a Victim”
By 2016-2017, I hit rock bottom. I was physically sick from all of the stress. My Sister Dee showed me an article on the definition of a Psychopath Narcissist. I was shocked to say the least. Everything on the list rang true to his behavioral and what I was dealing with. All along, I thought I was just dealing with an A**hole.
My eyes were open to a whole new world and this is when I decided to say, “Enough is Enough”! Now instead of hiding, I was hoping that people would see the look of “help and hurt” in my eyes and ask me, are you OK?
Out of fear and threats from him, I kept quiet to our employees and inner circle but I fully opened up to my family, friends and Church family. I also voiced my “enough is enough” attitude towards my abuser. I was done being a “Victim” it was time to be a “Victor”. It was not easy, he made it very difficult for me.
The Best Phase: Taking back control of your life!
This new light that was shining on my situation, was a major key factor so Thank you Sis! I now knew that he was never going to change. I decided that I needed to take reign and take back control of my life. I started to speak up and let people in and most importantly, I Prayed and turned the situation over to God.
I wish and pray that anyone in this type of situation will learn from my mistakes of not doing this sooner. The support that I got was so overwhelming. My family and friends helped me so much, I could not have done it without them.
September 2018: For the first time in a long time, I felt like I could freely breathe again. I was free from his wrath of destruction. All Glory to God! RIP: 1995-2018, this part of my life is dead, time to move on! Thank you Lord for having better plans & purpose for my life, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans for a beautiful future!
You Got This!
The daily encouraging words & texts “You Got This” from my Sisters, was my motivation. I was so stressed and worried about not being able to afford or have a place to live. My Sister Lisa told me, just get out now don’t wait, your safety is more important. She told me, you will stay with us while you look for a place.
My Church family prayed for me and continually checked in on me. My friends, some of who I distanced myself from (due to the hands of my Ex) had nothing but love and open arms. Don’t be afraid to speak up, Don’t listen to the lies and threats, Don’t resist help or prayers. Take back control of your life, you deserve to be happy! Surviving life with a narcissist for years on end is possible but not healthy or necessary, it’s not the life God wants for you. Get out, free yourself. You Got This!
As a very good friend told me, Pray for the fear to be gone. Thank you friend, it surely worked!
Dear Lord, Thank you for giving me a Spirit of power and love and not fear. Thank you for making me fearless, strong, courageous, smarter and financially blessed. Thank you for opening my eyes and leading me in the right direction and for having better plans for me. And Thank you Lord for my Sisters, family & Friends, Amen.
All of that I mentioned above are true narcissistic traits. The love bombing, devaluation, manipulation, gaslighting, controlling, emotional & mental abuse.