My Relationship with a Narcissist

I met my ex-husband when I was 21 years old. I was in college and he was a local small town cop. At the time we met, I was in a relationship with someone who I rarely saw, was also in school and did not work. Essentially, I was craving attention and stability. I certainly received the attention I so desperately wanted, what I didn’t realize at the time was that it was toxic and a huge red flag. 

Our relationship went lightening speed fast. Within three days, I had broken up with my boyfriend and began a relationship with my ex-husband. He showered me with attention, so much attention that he didn’t want to spend time with anyone else. That eventually meant he did not want me spending time with anyone else either. Two months later we were living together and not spending time with anyone but each other. This was also the time mark when another huge red flag popped up. He accused me of talking to a guy, shoved me away from him (I fell down) and he called me a cunt. This was the first time anyone had ever spoken to me like that. I immediately burst into tears. He responded by telling me, “Oh, don’t exaggerate, you made yourself fall down”! Oddly, this occurence and one more many years later, were the only “physical” occurences in our relationship. His main super power was verbal abuse which started out few and far between but progressively became more consistent. 

Flash forward, we have been divorced one year and our relationship lasted for a total of thirteen years. Here I hope to talk about every experience I had while in this relationship, from why it lasted so long to how I made it to a divorce and every thing in between. 

My Arguments with a Narcissist

If you’ve ever argued with a narcissist, you’ve probably noticed the conversation is a continuous circle that always comes back to how every thing is your fault. It doesn’t matter how hard to you try to steer it into a logical direction, it will always get derailed. Unfortunately, my ex-husband spent time as a police officer and part of his training involved something called Verbal Judo. It’s purpose is to de-esclate a situation and combat abusive verbal behavior. Now think about a narcissist with this “power” except it’s not being used to de-escalate. One technique used in verbal judo is Deflecting, changing topic or focus as a means of avoiding disagreement or negative reaction. Again, deflecting was always used to place blame back on me. This “skill” only inflated his ego and he thought of himself as an expert at aruging. He would often tell me so in the middle of arguements, “why don’t you just give up, you know i’m a better arguer than you”.

The times that I pushed through the verbal garbage only opened me up to the more agressive tactics on his part. Here is where the name calling would come in, the yelling, extreme emotions, threats, all in an effort to deflect from the argument. This is the tactic that would always hit me emotionally. I broke 90% of the time when we would reach this part of the argument. His go-to seemed to be a combo of name-calling and attacking my intelligence. If I didn’t understand his “logic” I’d often hear, “How do you not understand, college girl!?” (I’m a college graduate and he’s not.) This is also the time when anything that I shared with him that was related to a mistake I had made or bad thing I had done was used against me. It would be thrown in my face to emphasize how I’m not perfect and shouldn’t judge him for any faults. These past life mistakes I had made of course were in no way relevant to the argument, whatever it was about because at this point you’re totally lost. They were only used against me to break me emotionally. Every piece of your life that you have shared with this person will be used against you, every single piece.

The emotion that would pour out of me during these attacks seemed to spark a fire in his eyes. I almost felt like I could see it sometimes, a little flicker of a flame. My sobs and begging for him to stop would only feed the fire. I became aware of it at some point and that would only make me sob harder. I finally knew it was intentional on his part. The thought of that coupled with realizing this person didn’t really love me was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through.

The 10% of arguments where I held my emotions together, I would attempt to explain that his approach during arguments was the problem. (I was often bereated for reacting emotionally.) The name-calling, the yelling, the mocking, the insults all prevented from getting the “issue” resolved. Sadly, it took me a long time to figure out that the “issue” was total bullshit. He wasn’t capable of emphathizing with the emotional impact it had on me. These arguments are what fueled him. It’s like a parasite and a host, it feeds of the host, slowly sucking the life from it. And all I was doing was handing over a buffet on a regular basis.

All of this breeds self-censorship and you start to silence your own thoughts, feelings and opinions. Keeping it all inside makes the fights shorter and the emotional blows bounce off the surface a tad easier. Then you start to tailor your responses because you think it will make him stop sooner. Over time you don’t even know what your natural response or thought would be. You’ve conditioned yourself to think this way.

It the end, for him the purpose of arguing was not to resolve issues but rather to just win. It was his way of dominating the relationship, emphasizing the control he had and exhibiting his “intelligence.” It worked for a very long time, 13 years to be exact but one day I finally woke up and decided I needed to fight back. A year later and I’m still working on forming my natural responses and opinions. I sometimes still have a fear of rejection when expressing them but I do my best to push through. Now that I’ve surrounded myself with healthy minded people, I’m able to work throught it.

My Experience with Reactive Abuse

I recently realized that a large part of my relationship with my ex-husband involved reactive abuse. I think a lot of people in relationships argue and sometimes attempt to push each other’s buttons. For me, having my buttons pushed was constant. I would endure, endure, endure until it built up into an explosion. My ex-husband used this as the perfect opportunity to convince me I was the abusive one in the relationship. 

It’s important to share what I endured repeatedly before each explosion. It was a mountain of bullshit to be blunt about it. The name calling was at the forefront for many years. That was usually the first button to get pushed repeatedly. Crazy bitch was a very popular one but when he really wanted to kick it up a notch, it was cunt. For awhile there I contemplated having my driver’s license changed to my “official” name. (My sarcasm was never appreciated in this relationship.) Sometimes this would knock me out in the first round. Over time, I learned to endure the name calling. Unfortunately, this only caused more pushing on his part. He had to throw other things into the mix.

There were always complaints about how I did things, how I thought, my reaction to things. He would start picking at these things when I didn’t react to name calling. Often those complaints followed with a “what’s wrong with you?!?” His convinction during all this seemed so real.

The end result of all this usually ended in me sobbing, begging for him to please stop. I spent many evenings crawled up in a ball in my walk-in closet. But it’s like this only fueled his fire. Now enters the looks of disgust, shouting for me to grow up and get over it, or that I was weak. There were times that he would mimic my sobs, even try to mimic whatever agonized expression I had on my face. “Stop crying, it’s not like I’m beating you! You act like an abused wife!”

There were days where this would “beat me” into silence and other days where I would lash out. The pain was devastating and sometimes I would get this energy to throw back some hateful words or literally throw an object in his direction. You would think this would make him say, hey, wait, I went way too far, I’ve obviously hurt her badly, she doesn’t normally chuck a remote control at my head.  But, no. This is the part where I would be told that I was crazy. How dare I throw things at him, how dare I say horrible things to him, etc. It was a fucking nightmare. A sick game of reverse psychology that was CONSTANT. 

And when your soul is completly worn down and you’re told that you’re crazy for a long time, you start to believe it. I thought I needed therapy. (Granted I did but for completly different reasons.) I spent hours analyzing MY behavior in these situations and wondering if it was me that was mentally ill. It was always his expressions that would make me doubt myself. The “hurt” caused by my retaliating words always seemed so real. I would work ideas in my head on how to handle the next battle. I would tell myself well maybe if you do this differently, you won’t start this. I THOUGHT I WAS CAUSING ALL THIS DRAMA.

There were moments were I felt like my head was going to explode. I would try to run out of the house to my car to have the door blocked and my keys taken. Telling me to calm down and stop being crazy. That I would cause for the police to be called. When I was only running from the attack, just trying to find a moment’s peace. 

This abuse made me physically ill. I would sob so hard sometimes that my head would pound or I would vomit. It exhausted me, made my stomach ache and took away my ability to concentrate. The pain caused by this behavior is such a real thing that not only does it manifest itself emotionally and mentally but physically as well. 

It’s been over a year since I exited the relationship. I don’t get tension headaches 3 times a week, hey, or even sob anymore. I have yet to curl into a sobbing ball in my new closet. I’m pretty proud of that. Also, I sleep now. Real sleep! It’s pretty fucking magical.  

I would loveee to hear about other people’s experiences with reactive abuse. I’ve found that it’s healing to hear that others have experienced the same craziness. When you’re caught in a relationship like this, at least in my case, you are humiliated to tell anyone about the awful details. Please share and thank you for reading!!

You mean I can’t lock the bathroom door? – The Lack of Privacy When Living with a Narcissist

I think everyone that knows a narcissist can agree that normalcy of any kind just doesn’t exist in their world. A piece of  normalcy missing from my old life was having general privacy. It’s something that you don’t really think about until it’s taken from you. In a healthy relationship your things are your own, like your cell phone or your computer. If you want, you can run to the store whenever you feel like it, you don’t have to let someone know hours in advance. “Hey, just wanted to let you know that in 5 hours I’m going to feel like running into Target.” You can do stuff around the house without being questioned at every step. I mean, sometimes you just want to lock the door while you’re using the bathroom without having someone beat on the door and tell you we don’t lock doors in this house. (But it’s my house??) Or maybe you don’t want your work e-mails gone through every night while you are asleep and then waking up to questions at 2 a.m. 

My ex-husband would even critique the tv shows and movies he saw that I watched on Netflix. The subject matter would send him into a panic. And we’re not talking pornography here or stories about marital affairs. Just NORMAL shit. He would always try to find a hidden meaning. “Are you watching this Lifetime movie because you think he’s hot? You do don’t you? You think he’s hot.” 

These invasions of general privacy build up. You just reach a point where you realize you are no longer a person. You forget what it’s like to receive basic human respect from another person. The constant texts and phone calls asking where you are, even though you’re just grocery shopping, and the long laudry lists of invasions start to wear you down. You get so tired that you stop fighting the nonsense and you give into it. The lack of privacy becomes “normal” to you. It becomes too exhausting to defend yourself over every little thing. Over why you decided to watch Oprah today or why you decided you wanted to stop at TJMaxx after work or why you wanted to call your mom and just talk or why you wanted to go somewhere with a friend. It becomes a neverending list of things you have to defend yourself on. 

Now add onto your lack of privacy, the name calling, the unkind words, the looks of disgust and anger, the irritation with every thing you do. It becomes near impossible. Not only are you receiving all those abusive actions, you’re receiving the flip side (I love you, I need you, etc.) You start to lose yourself and become a zombie, a robot. You tell yourself that you don’t want to cause anymore problems, that you just want peace and to be loved, so you don’t call your mom just to talk and you don’t text your friend back. Piece by piece, you disappear. 

I stayed a zombie robot for years. It was too hard to deal with the situation, too hard to stand up to him. But one day, at work, after being called 4 or 5 times and having him angry at me for not answering one of his calls (I was in the bathroom), I said to myself FUCK THIS. My soul has been taken from me and I won’t fucking take it anymore. I will take my privacy back, my self-esteem, my soul and my life. I will not spend this one life living it for some asshole. 

Today I’m in a healthy relationship, a normal one. He respects my privacy. I mean, it’s pretty exciting when you miss a phone call and don’t get yelled at for missing it. It’s also cool to lock the bathroom door whenever I feel like it. 

The time away from my ex, the no contact period, has opened my eyes to normal. I’m still working at becoming a “person” again but I’ve learned that it can happen and that it will because I will make it fucking happen. So don’t let ANYONE take your soul from you. They have no right, no matter if you have made mistakes in the relationship. You were your own person before you met and you should be your own person when you’re together. 

Intimacy with a Narcissist

In the thirteen years of my narcissistic relationship with my ex-husband, my self-esteem and own sense of sensuality gradually dwindled. The lack of intimacy was devastating to me and triggered the erosion of my self-worth. It began with subtle remarks, pointing out that a skirt was too short or asking why I was wearing makeup. He would point to a woman and ask why I couldn’t dress like her. He even would point out if he thought I was walking differently in public, swaying my hips, saying I was trying to get attention. It rapidly progressed after marriage and I would often hear “I don’t want my wife wearing…” or “I don’t want my wife going to places like that” (all of these normal places to go, mind you). I could write a million sentences starting with “I don’t want my wife…” Near the end of the relationship he didn’t want his wife going to gas stations because his wife doesn’t pump gas. Of course, this behavior was all chalked up to his insecurity that I would find someone better or be noticed by someone better. 

During the marriage, our intimate time together became very few and far between. For many years, we were only intimate sometimes once or twice a year. His excuse for this was that he had a problem and could not get himself into that “mindframe.” Funny enough, he had no problem spending intimate time alone with himself and the computer. This continued to blow my self-esteem and my sense of sensuality disappeared at the snap of a finger. I immediately thought I was the problem. According to him, I was the problem most of the time with anything else that was wrong, so why wouldn’t I have thought the same with this problem? I tried re-doing my makeup, dressing more attractively and working out. Of course, all these things triggered accusations from him as to why I was doing these things. In my effort to look good for him, I only attracted more criticism and accusations. I still kept it up in a strong effort to “fix” our problem. It got to the point of my advances receiving quick rejection, most of the time with “No! What are you doing?!”. This rejection had a huge effect on my self-esteem. It often included looks of digust and anger. This caused so much pain in my heart. I thought there must be something terribly wrong with me if the person I love (and that I thought loved me) is so turned off by me. It led to me stopping any sort of advance on him in that manner. 

After a period of time with no advances on my part, it became noticed and I was then accused of no longer being attracted to him. I began to suffer even more guilt from the constant accusations. I had been frozen solid from the rough rejections and had no energy to return back to that behavior. My effort to explain this got nowhere and only seemed to fuel the accusations. It broke my heart and only added more resentment to the pile that was already inside of me. 

I began to separate myself emotionally in order to protect my heart.  I felt so alone during this period, so unattractive, so unwanted and when the eye of another man came my way it shocked me. I had forgotten what it felt like to be attractive. I even doubted the possibility of it. It didn’t seem likely since I was so put down by my husband. After some time, I began to think I’m stuck in this marriage where I felt despised and will probably never feel beautiful, wanted or attractive ever again. In my despair, I gave in to the wandering eye. It went against every natural instinct I had to be a faithful partner. I can only describe it as a subconscious way of finding a way out of the marriage. I don’t regret this experience for one simple reason; it reminded me that I am attractive and interesting, that life could be different for me. I was of course disappointed in myself for being unfaithful but I was so beaten down emotionally, so alone and so lost. I slowly started remembering what it felt like to be attractive and my eyes opened. I began evaluating our entire relationship and realizing how absolutely unhealthy and toxic it was. Over time, I ultimately began realizing that I hadn’t been doing anything wrong all these years, that it wasn’t me. I had been made to believe I was horrible.

He eventually learned that I had been unfaithful. Imagine the warfare that occurred after this. I took the verbal beatings because I thought I deserved them for being unfaithful. The guilt sucked me back in and I felt it was only right for me to try to fix the marriage. Notice I say fix, hey, I’d tried fixing every thing for years to no avail so why not try some more. Our talks about what I had done lasted for hours. I was grilled with multiple questions, so detailed I think they were meant to knife me in the heart. This lasted about a month and we decided to stop talking about it and move forward. At least I did.

We slowly became intimate again and at the time, I was flattered that he “cared” and wanted to be with me in that way again. But then the odd behavior started, the odd requests and direction giving. At the time, I felt I had to accommodate his requests because of what I had done, but there were times when I was just plain uncomfortable. My self-esteem was so low and having other women up on a tv screen for every intimate encounter knocked that down even further. This only added to the feelings I was having of not being attractive, not being good enough and feeling unwanted. I would do my best to voice this to him, of course carefully picking and choosing words and trying to make it clear that these were the feelings that led to me being unfaithful. It didn’t matter, it didn’t make a difference, it didn’t even strike a hint of empathy in him for how I was feeling. He told me he needed to do these things in order to perform, especially after what I had done to him. This of course came with a look of anger and disgust.

As if that wasn’t enough to make things near unbearable, intimacy became a list of Do’s and Don’ts. If I crossed into the Don’ts, I received criticism that often came with looks of frustration, anger and disgust. This only led me right back to that frozen feeling of rejection. I began to check-out during these moments and eventually he noticed, which only prompted more accusations. “You’re not attracted to me!”, “You don’t love me!”, etc. Each one was like another stab into my heart.

This is only a piece of the intimate relationship I had with my ex-husband. There were other oddities and hurtful words but I would be writing for days. I only hope that this helps others realize that someone else has experienced terrible things while in an intimate relationship with a narcissist. The damage still affects me today but I refuse to accept the damage as permanent.