“An abuser can seem emotionally needy. You can get caught in a trap of catering to him, trying to fill a bottomless pit. But he’s not so much needy as entitled, so no matter how much you give him, it will never be enough. He will just keep coming up with more demands because he believes his needs are your responsibility, until you feel drained down to nothing.”
― Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men
In my seemingly unending quest for answers about my past and present, I’m constantly trying to make connections about my current belief system, every day decision making, the tears, jokes and, yes, even the smiles and laughter. What I’ve slowly learned about the effects of abuse is that no matter what form of abuse was carried out, your belief system about yourself and the world around you will inevitably be changed. I had very little physical abuse but i was subjected to emotional and sexual abuse.
Narcissism seems to be a common thread among abusers. They are their own God but most of all they make themselves your God. The only way I learned how to deal with them is by stroking their enormous egos. Today being around someone that makes even a narcissistic comment will usually trigger some type of a knee jerk reaction from me. Usually, it just ensures that you bought some form of argument with me at a sale price. I can’t stand it and it infuriates me. Even a person with a big personality triggers me. Depending on which alter is triggered, I’ll either be very aggressive or I’ll “cow tow” and avoid eye contact. Either way socially both are very problematic.
People sometimes seem to think that if you don’t have black eyes and broken bones that abuse couldn’t have possibly happened. What they don’t understand is that there are gaping wounds unseen by the naked eye that are looking back at them. As the partner your job is trying to help the abuser to cover their own tracks. And making continuous attempts at achieving their unattainable requests and demands. You become convinced over time that everything in the world that goes wrong must have some connection to you. His beliefs were the only ones that were right and your beliefs are now non-existent because they were seen as wrong and stupid.
One of the most hurtful comments I’ve heard about domestic violence of any kind is “Well he only did what you allowed him to do.” This insinuates that in some sick way I enjoyed or was ok with the things that I was being subjected to. This couldn’t be any farther from the truth. Some say that individuals who are narcissistic abusers lack the capacity to empathize. Personally, I think they can empathize but it’s with the ultimate goal of manipulation in the form of pseudo-empathy. The abuse creates trauma bonding with the abuser which makes it incredibly difficult for the partner to leave the increasingly abusive relationship.
The relationship pretty much consisted of my husband pretending through intense involvement and idealization which was quickly followed by devaluing. However, instead of discarding me when he was finished he would begin telling me everything I did that was wrong including myself for just existing. He would begin luring me back with his silver tongue of promises and things that I could do to make sure that never happened again. Once the idealistic narcissist has gotten their partner to commit, yet again, to the relationship the true self of the narcissist re-emerges.
First the belittling comments begin which then escalate to a narcissistic rage. Their feelings of inadequacy which are at the heart of the narcissist will then be projected onto the partner. And soon once the narcissist makes a mistake it then is transferred the partner as their fault. They also use manipulative abuse that leads their victims to questioning their own thoughts and behaviors. I was subjected to public humiliation when he would say something that seemed benign to the public but is very offensive to the me. He does this because he enjoyed the emotional reaction that it would provoke in all parties. Ultimately, the narcissist takes no responsibility for any relationship difficulties and shows no feelings of remorse. And then they believe themselves to be the true victim because their partner could not meet their expectations. The path of destruction this leaves within the psyche of the partner is colossal.
As every single day that I continue to try and recover from a total of 14 years of his abuse, my heart hurts for the woman who loved so hard that it nearly killed her. And now instead of exuding confidence she exudes fear, shame in her tears and the feeling that her soul is already dead. After all when she use to try to speak to him about her reoccurring depression he would say with laughter, “Depressed? What do you, of all people, need to be depressed about? You have it made living with me. For the love of God, Dana, get off the cross cause someone else needs the wood.” Comments like this all the time left me fearing my own tears that I couldn’t control falling many times. I felt guilty for always being depressed. And above all, I felt guilty for thinking that he was in any small way disrespectful towards me. Because I believed that it was ME that made him act and react the way he did. He couldn’t possibly be telling me lies about this because I was the dumb one who couldn’t see to get things right.
Crying which works as a medication to cleanse the soul has never done me any favors with abusive people. It always made the abuse that much worse because now you are seen as weak. I learned not to cry and didn’t for many years. Those tears seemed to go away but only to the inside where I felt completely alone but comforted. But, I did cry to my razors. And they were the ones that were the most non-judgmental. Living with and being abused by a narcissist I learned one thing….They don’t have time to consider your feelings because they’re too busy trying to make sure that you’re taking care of their feelings. And in essence they can’t see the beauty of a person because they’re always looking for what’s wrong with them. I have heard people say, “Well at least he didn’t break anything on you.” Shamefully and secretly I have thought, “He didn’t have to raise his hand to break me. He was my puppet master.”