Of course, it isn’t that simple. Narcissistic abuse is a very gradual and insidious process that doesn’t start off abusive at all. In fact, during the beginning of the relationship with the narcissist, you will have been love bombed, placed up on a pedestal and told you are the narcissist’s soul mate, and your relationship will have moved at an alarmingly fast pace so that, before you know it, you are enmeshed with the narcissist both emotionally and financially.
You were also told all kinds of tales of woe from the narcissist, how he or she was abused as a child, by former partners, employers. The narcissist will have made you feel sorry for them and protective of them. But you would soon come to realize that this loyalty you have for the narcissist is a one way street. Narcissists are loyal to no one. They view it as a weakness. They expect it of you and they disrespect you for showing it.
And this is when the abuse begins. The narcissist begins by throwing little insult pebbles to see how you react. If you don’t run away or demand that the narcissist show you respect, the narcissist upgrades to insult rocks. And by this time, you are wondering where the original person went – the one who proclaimed to be your soul mate and who loved you oh, so much. That person is not only gone by this time, but was never there. That love bombing narcissist was nothing but an act to get you hooked. Because a narcissist NEEDS someone who will tend to their needs, defend them against their many, many enemies, and who will take abuse and not leave. Because, most importantly, the narcissist wants a mate they can abuse because abusing others is one of a litany of methods the narcissist utilizes to relieve his or her own self loathing. Lucky you!
By the time the narcissist has resorted to insult boulders, your self esteem has been eroded. You might have tried to leave before and found that your attempts to leave were countered with not only the narcissist’s rage, but a smear campaign, damage to your personal property, silent treatments, sabotage and threats to: [ruin you in court, destroy your career, ruin your reputation, turn your friends/family/children against you, leave you financially destitute, kill you]. So instead of leaving, you attempt to walk on eggshells better so that maybe, just maybe, the narcissist will see how hard you are trying to make him or her happy, and will stop abusing you.
And this doesn’t work. Regardless of how hard you try to make the narcissist happy, the narcissist is always unhappy and full of rage. The longer you stay with the narcissist, the more comfortable the narcissist becomes in showing his unmasked, rage-filled, scary and dangerous True Self to you. Frightening, controlling and terrorizing you gives him or her a thrill and makes the narcissist feel oh, so powerful. Robbing you of any self esteem is their mission.
At the same time, the narcissist insists that you wear a similar mask to his or hers when you are out in public. Exposure is one of the narcissist’s biggest fears and nothing triggers the rage more than if you were to expose his monster side to those the narcissist is attempting to manipulate with false charm. You must play along with the happy façade because literally your life depends on it.
So it is likely from this disadvantage point of being financially and emotionally manipulated and depleted of all self esteem, living in an isolated world of abuse that no one else knows about, that you realize you must escape this monster before you literally die.
Just leaving means that you will have to do it secretly, and with little support from the outside. Because you have kept the narcissist’s abuse a secret, very few people will believe your version of events. Because the narcissist has triangulated you against anyone who could have or would have been a support to you, there are few people who will be willing to help you. Because the narcissist has smeared you behind your back, most people believe that YOU have been abusing the narcissist. In many cases, trained therapists and law enforcement officials have been manipulated by the narcissist.
You are isolated, fearful, lacking in self confidence and your concerns are invalidated by trained professionals in the mental health field as well as the courts and law enforcement. It is truly a wonder that anyone gets the courage to leave a narcissist.
I compared it to facing a wall of fire and making a conscious decision to walk through it.
But as if walking through fire weren’t enough, healing on the other side is the most difficult part of the journey. Resisting the hoovers and your brainwashed tendency to feel pity for the narcissist (Stockholm Syndrome) will be the next hurdle to overcome. Learning the value of going No Contact (and not feeling guilty for it) will save your life and your sanity.
If you are currently in a relationship with someone you believe to be a narcissist, I encourage you to read many more articles like this one, to re-engage with your support system, and to begin taking clandestine steps to get your life back. Narcissists do not improve or change or get “cured”. It is referred to as a Personality Disorder because this is their personality. Your mental health, your safety and possibly your life are in danger by continuing to stay in a relationship with the narcissist.
Love yourself enough to leave.