A year has passed since I ended a relationship with a narcissistic man. I am removed from the relationship now but my heart has not healed. I can go several days in a row without thinking about it. I can still clearly remember when it seemed impossible to get through even a minute without thinking about it. During the first few weeks I had to train myself to not think about him or his betrayal for five minutes, then 10 minutes, then an hour at a time. It took a long time to get to this point and it has taken its toll on my spirit. I think back upon that time as a traumatic event in my life from which I am still recovering. The term ‘soul damage’ repeatedly comes to mind when I think about it.
A blogger wrote (Phoenix Rising website, 2013) that she had come to realize, years later but still in pain, that the experience had made her aware of things within herself which she had lost due to her relationship with a narcissist. She listed all the things which she had possessed prior to their relationship. Two and a half years later, she had partially recovered some of these things and others she was still working on. She felt some were gone for good and she didn’t know how to go about getting them back. When I read the list, I realized that I could have written that list and it broke my heart all over again:
What I Lost
Faith in Life
Sense of Direction
Hope for the Future
Belief in Love
Belief in my worthiness
Belief in my dreams
Faith in my Intuition
Faith in myself
Ability to Trust Intimately
Sense of Worth
Sense of Personal Power
Belief that I was special
Belief in my Sexuality
Faith in following my heart
Peace of Mind.
Belief in soul mates
The magical feeling that my life had come full circle
Belief in sexual partnership/sexual union between two people as being meaningful
Sense of self
Feelings of magic and wonder in the world
Sense of having my feet solidly on the ground
Faith in myself to make the right decisions
I still don’t totally “get it”. Intellectually, I understand (now that I have read so much on narcissism), but my heart and soul are broken and they have yet to understand. I mean, WHY would a man fall madly in love with me and shower me with affection and attention—then suddenly—without warning or reason, turn ice cold, push me away, go silent and ignore me? HOW could he switch from Prince Charming in public to a mean, vicious, cold and silent person in private? He always said I was the only woman he ever wanted or that he would ever want; he said we were soul mates.
When I first met him, it was amazing. He was attractive, charming and sexy. He was too good to be true (a major Red Flag that I missed). Life and our relationship couldn’t be more perfect. As he showed more and more of this other side in private, I tried desperately to get him to open up and tell me what was wrong. Was it me? What was I doing to deserve such behavior? The more I questioned him and the closer I tried to get to him, the further he pushed me away and the colder he got. He started blaming me for everything that went wrong in his life- even things that he himself did. Then the real abuse began; he belittled, criticized and condemned everything I did, but he also began getting physically aggressive with me. He never apologized; he said that I made him act that way. It was my fault. It was always my fault. I walked on eggshells, never knowing when I would get blamed and when or why he would fly into a rage.
I couldn’t take it anymore and finally got the courage to leave him. After torturous weeks of silence, he finally called. He acted as if nothing was wrong and pretended that nothing ever happened. He was back to his old self again: sweet, loving and caring. He begged me to come back and I did. Everything was perfect again. The sex was out of this world. Again he made me feel special, cherished and adored; he put me on a pedestal and said no other woman could ever compare.
Then it started happening again. He was cold and distant. He was mean. He played the silent card and showed no interest in my life or being in it. He told me he needed space and seriously questioned whether we were right for each other. I found out he was back in contact with the woman he had been seeing when I left him…or had he ever stopped seeing her?
I was confused, depressed, heartbroken and in pain. I left.
Repeat the cycle– several times.
I finally realized he was never going to change. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I was tired of all the abuse, tired of the constant state of confusion, tired of the constant depression and finally- I was tired of all the wondering and questioning myself over and over. I wanted my old self back.
Eventually, I came to accept that he was not capable of loving me or anybody other than himself. Unless I wanted to spend the rest of my life in an abusive relationship, it was I who needed to change. I needed to get away from him and the toxic relationship. I packed my suitcase and tucked my broken heart inside it.
“Remember — you win this one by accepting defeat. In this contest, the only way to lose is to keep playing.