Life after narcissism

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***Trigger warning***

The subject that I am going to talk about is very sensitive and please therefore be mindful when reading.

I am purely writing from my own personal experience and am not an expert or a professional and thankful I am now out of the situation I am writing about. It has taken me until now to put it into words.

I know that if you are going through something similar that life may seem like a “living hell” and I ask that you reach out to a professional your GP to start like I did to get some expert advice and support.

I first came across the term “gaslighting” when speaking with a close friend on some of the situations I was experiencing in my then relationship.  For anyone who does not know what “gaslighting” is it is when a person manipulates another person by psychological means so that person questions their own sanity.

Narcissism is defined as a person who has an excessive interest in or admiration of themselves and to some extent all us humans have this within our makeup.   The difference is whether our environment and our personalities ourselves bring it to surface.

From my initial talk with my friend I started looking into gaslighting and narcissism and realised that my then partner had some of the traits.  They say that knowledge is power and with this newfound knowledge I started to build my inner strength by learning to say no to the things I didn’t want to do like attending events etc. I also became stronger from within and did not take part in the “mind-games”.  I started to become more aware of the situation and the subtle “signs”.

Then one evening things came to a head and we had a conversation where I mentioned the “signs” to which I was told I was overthinking, crazy and that I had it all wrong! The amount of times I was called a liar and I was told by him “I did not say that” felt like a broken record. He said that he could see that I was unhappy and that the relationship was not working and said that I needed to move back home (I had moved cities to be with him.  I realised in “that moment” I/we could not live like this, I felt I was living at his beck and call, being his support.  When I needed emotional support I was not receopricated.   I was also his cheerleader, helped him out with work and the different charity events he did.  It was just not me as I struggled with social anxiety.  In that conversation he brought up my bad relationship with money, how I did not know what I wanted amongst other things.  In that moment he held the mirror up and I was looking at myself and knew that I could no longer hide.

I took the decision in that moment to end it.  We loved each in our different ways, but we were triggering each other at the same time.  We both wanted the best for each other, but we were a vicious cycle of incredible moments where I felt on cloud 9 to free falling at 0-60mph and hitting the ground with a massive bump.  It was not fair to either of us living like this and to be honest it was not living it was more of an existence with highlights.  In the coming days, he tried to talk me out of it and one night I asked him some questions trying to get his honest answer (as much as anyone is willing to give) not satisfied I kept pressing until he finally let go and gave his answer! In that moment I could see he had not want to be pushed but would have preferred to have me jumping through hoops. I then thought back to the previous “conversation” and he had just wanted to have a rant to make me feel like crap with him saying jump and me saying how high? I had woken up to the games and just wanted out!

In the coming days I secured a new home and moved out a few weeks later.  He tried to ware me down and get me back!  I put boundaries in place so that I remained strong because you know when “enough is enough”?

During this time, I was fortunate enough to be having CBT therapy which helped me to make the transition.  Not only did I have my therapist, but my family and close friends were giving me support.  The community I had built on Instagram and continue to do so and the beautiful souls I spoke to and am still in touch with in various Facebook groups also were supporting and I will also be eternally grateful to everyone.

Shortly after my move I came across a book called “The object of my affection is in my reflection” coping with Narcissists by Rokelle Lerner.  It really helped me to understand the psychology of narcissism and it allowed me to understand that the situation I had been in was not my fault.

I learnt that narcissists are also known as energy vampires and are attracted to empaths otherwise known as highly sensitive people.  They both feed off of each other in that the energy vampires feed off the energy of the empath either that is for their attention, love or money.  The empath is attracted to the narcissist because of their need to want to “fix them” thinking that their love and all their attention will be enough and over time this drains the empath and they lose their own identity.

From personal experience I did not see the damage being done on how I was being chipped away at but I got to a point where I could not function properly and went to see my GP and asked for help and was referred to CBT therapy. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and my scores were extremely high.   I learnt that I had to find me and learn to accept myself for who I was and who I wanted to become and to love myself.

It has been 3 months since moving out and I continued with therapy and working on my mindset.  My anxiety and depression are under control and manageable.  Life is simpler, no drama.  I have the space to think and have used the time to get to know myself, and in the process found my creative side through writing.  I feel like a new woman and I am really proud and happy of my progress to date and am continuing the journey.  This experience has taught me that you are responsible for your happiness and you will find this by doing the inner work which never ends but is continuous.  You will not find true happiness in material items or another person nor is it the other person’s responsibility to make you happy.  I am learning to accept, respect and love myself and that is the best thing anyone can do.  The relationship you have with yourself is the one that forms the basis of all relationships in your life.

Know that you are strong and brave and will get through this and come out the other side.  It will mean having to feel some discomfort at first but trust me when you get to the other side you will enjoy the freedom.

Since writing this post I have now been discharged from therapy and am living life anxiety and depression free.  I am continuing the work on my own self development.

The steps I initially took where the following:

  1. Initially spoke to family and friends;
  2. Spoke to my GP;
  3. Signed up to CBT therapy;
  4. Ended the relationship;
  5. Moved out and restarted rebuilding my life;
  6. Taking the time to work on myself;
  7. Completed CBT therapy.

All our journeys are different and what I chose to do may not be right for you now or you would prefer to do it a different way and that is ok.  Just know that you are not alone and there is support out there to help you.

Much love,

Cheryl

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