Hello everyone, and thank you for being here. As I look back at my relationship with the narcissist (narc), it goes without saying that when things started changing from the ‘once-wonderful-top-of-the-world’ relationship into the ‘what the heck is THIS’ relationship, I ‘kind of’ knew something wasn’t right. I knew, even then. I knew within a couple of weeks. Exactly what that ‘something’ was however I could not fathom, so I continued blindly on, already assigning this person SUCH an important role in my life. I was presented with a person who had achieved stellar career standing in both military service and law enforcement, who is now a practicing Pastor here locally. I fully ADMIT my own guard went way down as I first learned about these career achievements; I blindly assigned so much credibility and credence to the person via those achievements! I take FULL responsibility for this complete lapse in judgement and common sense. I would NEVER have believed or guessed that someone assigned to the Presidential Protection Detail of our US Army, as well as 28 years of upstanding law enforcement dedication could or would actually NOT be a quality, worthy, emotionally and mentally balanced person. It did not compute that someone who had SUCH achievements was actually, underneath it all, an individual with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). I never would have expected it, and as the signs became glaringly clear, I didn’t WANT to believe it. I didn’t WANT to accept the truth; I was with an abuser.
During the initial dating phases, the ‘honeymoon period’ so many speak of, I truly believed I had won the Love Lottery. So many wonderful dinners out. So many laughs, shared jokes, fun, and frivolity. Meeting all the friends. Meeting all the family. EARLY in the relationship, I was already being ‘GROOMED’ to become the narc’s next victim, I just didn’t know it yet. I felt VERY special with all the attention, felt very special that the ex narc was already seeing in ‘little ole me’ such great things to be WORTHY of so much attention! Ahhh, but you see – the trap was being set, I was being targeted, and I was falling for every little gesture. I was treated well. I was shown manners, kindness, even a gentle nature coupled with a ‘barely under the surface’ humble attitude. There were imported wines from Italy. There was talk of TRAVELING to Italy (‘future faking’ and false promises of course, I just didn’t know it). There were family outings and dinners and bar-b-ques and birthdays and holidays. My ex has a large family, some of whom were living in the home at the time. This was the VERY FIRST indication that something wasn’t right; I was told they were ‘visiting’, not living there. First red flag, yet, I overlooked it as perhaps a miscommunication or misunderstanding on my part. I took responsibility for misunderstanding A LIE! Oh my goodness. Looking back now, I truly see how much I WANTED this relationship and all those wonderful things that would come with it – the family, the beautiful home, the cars, truck, motorcycle, THE FAMILY (most are addicts as it turns out), the trips, the stability of being involved with someone with THOSE DANG CAREER ACHIEVEMENTS! I wanted the WHOLE THING. “Okay, so maybe there ARE MANY family members living in the home”, I thought to myself. So what? It was a large house, after all. Surely there are GOOD reasons for everyone to be living under one roof. There were a total of 5 adults and one toddler at that time. Of course, the addiction issues only came to the forefront later. I guess I misunderstood the whole scenario when I was told they were ‘visiting’. “My mistake”, I thought.
So as the weeks and months progressed I was conditioned thoroughly, through very subtle statements to incite shame, guilt, blame, and told so many things about MYSELF that I KNEW weren’t true (didn’t I KNOW that never before in my entire life, NO ONE HAD EVER said those negative things to me, about myself?), YET, someone so ‘STELLAR’ was telling me these things….!! Perhaps my own self-view was skewed, maybe I WAS being selfish for questioning how drug-addicted family members (who had placed me in VERY precarious situations with dealers, putting my career at risk, not to mention personal safety of course, – all unknown to me at the time – but the ex NARC knew it) came to live in the house, and inquire how long they would be staying. In those very early days and weeks, things were VERY tenuous with those addicts; people attempting to break into the home, I was used as a ‘transport’ of sorts – driving the drug addict nephew to make a ‘buy’ on occasion, the police out to the house in the wee hours of the morning, and on and on. Yet, I was thinking perhaps I DID need to accept the negative with the positive. Perhaps I DID make too much out of things. Maybe I DID live in the past (a favorite statement of narc who don’t WANT to address past abusive behavior). Maybe I DID need to be more understanding; after all, I was with someone who fought on the front lines for this great country of ours. Oh, how THAT was held over my head: “At least I fought for our country; what have YOU done?” Over time, every good thing about me that was celebrated in the beginning of the relationship seemed not to be present any longer… somehow, I was being told that I was no longer that same person, that someone I was now needing to change to bow to the narc demands. This is how it is done folks; the OVERWHELMING (and oh-so-captivating) love bombing and over-attention in the beginning, as setting the trap for our vulnerable, giving, loving, caring, and yearning hearts. I wanted love. I wanted the relationship. And I thought I wanted those things with the person who turned out to be a narcissist. I could go on and on about the emotional and mental abuse; yet, you have your own stories that you are working on recovering from, working on moving THROUGH.
So, in a snapshot, here are some things that I learned from being involved with a narcissist:
- Words are to not be believed. On our very first date, I was regaled with war stories, stories of heroic efforts. I just could NOT believe my good luck at meeting someone who had devoted such a large part of their lives to serving others, in such monumental ways!! I have since learned these tales are likely quite exaggerated, if not outright lies. Remember, a narcissist will exaggerate achievements for THEIR AUDIENCE. They do this by telling untrue stories, making things up, LYING, all in an effort to be seen as admirable, upstanding, outstanding, and just a supreme example of humanity (in my case). Sadly, this just wasn’t true. I have since concluded that in the case of my ex narc, the military, law enforcement, and clergy careers are ACTUALLY a way for this person to continue getting their needs met for power over others, control over others, to be held in high esteem by the general public (and now the congregation), and overall a way to be seen as a quality, upstanding human being. Oh, if the world only knew. I also learned that as these ‘words’ were either not coming true, or were falsehoods that I found out about, or that the lies themselves just were NOT stopping, I should have left THEN. I learned that I let MYSELF down by not ending the relationship early. I learned that things would NOT get better, that these examples of deception were WHO the narcissist is/was. I had the power to leave, and should have done so. I let my OWN yearning for love and the relationship take priority over emotional, mental, and physical safety.
- Patterns of behavior are where I should have placed my confidence (and you should too). Patterns of behavior tell you WHO someone is, how they live their lives, and what is consistently a part of that life. Over time, cutting, hurtful ‘humor’ and jokes became part of the ex narc’s interaction with me; I was expected to just understand this was the ex narc’s HUMOR. These slights and belittling were disguised as HUMOR, but in fact, were digs at me. Digs at how I spoke. Digs at my own character. PROJECTION of who the narc actually is, not me. I was even given a pet nickname; a characterization of a man with whom I had a previous relationship. I was called this name FREQUENTLY. A narcissist will do this as a way to ‘needle’ you; a way to pay you back for having had a prior relationship (or whatever else upon which they fixate). Narcs are driven by insecurity and jealousy and will work tirelessly to overcompensate for these deficits (note not just ONE powerful career, but THREE in the case of my ex). Additionally, they will find ways to compensate for this jealousy by making US pay, hence the nickname that was a form of the name of my ex. Every time my narc ex used THAT name, what I was really being told was “I have power over you now, HE doesn’t have ANY power, and I will be constantly reminding you that HE is nothing, and I am EVERYTHING.” Complex, isn’t it? Patterns of behavior TELL you what someone is capable of and who they are. Pay CLOSE attention to patterns. As I learned about these patterns of behavior that at the time ‘seemed’ hurtful, didn’t make sense as no one I had ever known before acted in this way, I should have left. I learned that I overlooked TOO much, made excuses for too much, and that I had the power all along to leave. I should have. I learned I stayed too long.
- Narcissists have an entirely different ‘playbook’ of rules and regulations for each different person in their lives, and a separate rule book for themselves. A narc will expect everyone around them to abide by ‘the rules’ as the narc sees fit at any given moment, which could also change at the drop of a hat. In those early days, this was not so apparent, yet over time, it became clear that things were just NOT adding up. I was being asked to do things the narc didn’t WANT to do; I was turning into a care-taker, errand-runner, and all around ‘do whatever, whenever the narc says’ type of person. These were expectations placed upon ME, yet the narc gave NONE of the same back to me. The playbook was being set, I was memorizing my rules, yet the narc seemed to have NONE. They could do whatever, whenever, while I was out running their errands, shopping, cleaning the house, etc., and I myself (even knowing differently, deep down) was just giving, giving, giving. I learned that I gave TOO much too soon, rationalized too much, excused too much, put my own needs on the back-burner too much, and that I had the power all along to leave. I should have. I learned I stayed too long.
- Narcissists will MOVE fast and do everything, say anything to SECURE you, their victim, as their next source of supply (attention, admiration, source of whatever they deem desirable or necessary at the time). A narcissist CANNOT be without their supply, and will rush a new romance when allowed to do so. All within a span of 4 years, there had been the end of one long-standing marriage (I have NO idea how the first wife could have managed 17 years with this person), ANOTHER marriage and divorce, another relationship that ended in a restraining order, court battle over dating violence, with yet ANOTHER person being ‘wooed’ here locally, other multiple dating experiences, and then finally – me. The narcissist had many women ‘on the string’ at the same time, and when two of them found out about each other, the ‘you know what’ hit the fan, resulting in the court case and restraining order. I don’t know the details. I don’t WANT to know. All I needed to know was that this had happened in the first place, but I did NOT do my due diligence with research AHEAD of time, asking questions (that would have resulted in lies anyway), or even TAKING THE TIME to let the relationship progress SLOWWWWWLLLLYYYY. I just rushed into the relationship like a good little woman YEARNING for love, and didn’t HAVE this information. I learned that I did NOT have proper BOUNDARIES. I learned that I overlooked so much due to my own desire for the relationship, I put myself in the position of being with an abuser. In hindsight (always 20/20 of course), I know NOW that any narcissist will move FAST, overwhelming their victim in such a way that the victim DOES feel they have won the ‘love lottery’. I learned that ‘too much too soon, and that which seems too good to be true’ IS A HUGE indicator of an unbalanced narcissist. I also learned it was I who should have put the brakes on. I should have slowed down. I should have had STRONG and firm BOUNDARIES. I learned I was NOT protecting myself. Hard, hard lessons.
- I had given away my power, my common sense, my very self to an abuser. This one may be the most important of all, everyone. I WILLINGLY made choices that put me in this fast-moving (red flag!), all-consuming (red flag!) relationship in the first place. I WILLINGLY excused and rationalized the abuse. I DID THIS. I must OWN this. I DO own it, and know it will never happen again. While easy to point the finger or make statements about how the abuse is subtle at first, we are captured through the attention shown to us, we didn’t KNOW what was coming our way – all of these things are TRUE – I STILL had the ultimate responsibility to get the heck out of the relationship. I didn’t, soon enough. I AM actually one of the lucky ones however; the relationship was SHORT, marriage averted, engagement ring returned, relationship ENDED. I learned that as with everything else in life, the buck stops with ME. I am in charge of my life. Yes, I was ‘conned’ by a master manipulator, with a long line of rough relationships and dating violence incidents; things that I should have learned by my own hand, and taken the prudent steps at getting out earlier. I did NOT protect myself. I did not perform due diligence checks. I did not research the narc’s history. I was with an esteemed US Army veteran, a retired Lieutenant with local law enforcement, and now a practicing Pastor!! What would I need to research anyway… with all of those wonderful accomplishments?? OH, oh, oh – HAD I done the research however, had I taken things slowly, had I CREATED BOUNDARIES, I would have saved myself such a devastating experience. Had I done those things, but I didn’t.
So, here we are. Please allow MY lessons and experiences help YOU in your future relationship decisions. WE ALL create our own lives, no matter what person enters our life, no matter what experiences we face. WE control our lives. Bottom line stops with us. We ALL learn every single day; we learn what to do, what not to do, we learn more about others and ourselves, we learn more about the world in which we live. Please, allow this article to guide your decisions in the future about what YOU will do, and what you won’t do. Perhaps some of you have even ‘been there’ with similar experiences, similar actions and reactions, similar outcomes. We are SO blessed to be able to CREATE the life of our dreams; no MATTER your current situation, you can start TODAY making changes that will ensure your emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, and ‘soul’ safety. Create boundaries. Commit yourself TO yourself and the actions that will prove prudent while getting to know a new person. Let your past experiences teach you what to do differently ‘next time’. While these lessons I’ve learned have been so difficult, they have been SO eye opening, valuable, and ensure I will never again return to an abusive relationship. The lessons I learned taught me what to DO NEXT TIME. Let these lessons also serve YOU. Blessings, L.A.