June 27, 2016

Overcoming the Narcissist

We are not here to fix anyone. We cannot fix anyone. Everyone is responsible for and capable of fixing themselves, but only if they so choose to.  -Alex Myles, The Toxic Attraction Between an Empath and a Narcissist

This is something I don't even feel comfortable talking about sometimes but I hope that in explaining my story, others in similar situations will see the light. Recently, a friend of mine and I were discussing past relationships we were in and how we couldn't believe how blinded we were. We've all met a couple like this. You want so badly to tell them they are in a toxic relationship but you know it will do no good.

I've been there. I've been that girl with the guy who is controlling, manipulative, and makes you feel worthless. He (or she) is "The Narcissist": someone who is preying on a person who just wants to be loved and love others. Someone who sympathizes with the "damaged" narcissist.

Elephant Journal's The Toxic Attraction Between an Empath and a Narcissist had really struck a cord with me the first time I read it. It describes the dynamic as a give & take...which I feel is completely accurate.

In my experience, I gave the relationship everything. Two and a half years of travelling, crying, and doing everything I could to make it work. To prove myself. The fact that I thought I had to prove myself says it right there. I felt like I wasn't worthy of his love. And he made me feel that way, but consistently listening to me say "I love you.." never to hear it back. To tell me not to say that to him. Not to hold his hand. Not to try to cuddle. Two years. Two years of not understanding how you can be with someone and claim they are so special to you, yet refuse to say "that's my girlfriend." Two years. Two years of driving two hours every other weekend just to spend one night with him. Two years of feeling like I had to be someone I'm not. This hard, hyper-sexual person. Someone I was uncomfortable being. Someone I didn't like seeing in the mirror.

To cope, I partied. I drank a lot and dated because "two can play that game. I'm not your girlfriend so why should I act like it, right?" I met some great guys, too...who I proceeded to completely screw over and hurt because I couldn't let go of the narcissist. Because deep down I'd keep telling myself, "he loves me, he just doesn't know it yet." In the meantime, I wanted to be around anyone who made me feel worth it. Someone who made me feel pretty and special. And I met those people sometimes. But it didn't matter. Anytime my narcissist got wind of it, he'd come back around to crap all over it. And I let him. Because I thought that meant he cared and loved me. I let him make me believe life was like some movie. The twisted guy is saved by the girl.

I distanced myself from friends, family, co-workers. I didn't want to hear what they had to tell me about my relationship. The worst part is they really tried to be happy for me. They wanted to see it succeed for my sake, but we all knew that wasn't going to happen.

I felt guilty. I hated who I had become and it was my own fault. I was angry. For letting someone take control of my life. For hurting people around me. I knew I was never going to have another functional relationship until I could get rid of the toxic narcissist. It wasn't until I was driving home from his house for the last time. During my two hour ride home at night on a Sunday, I saw a shooting star. And without thinking, I wished that I'd never see him again. And then I cried. I cried for the next hour home. That was my ah ha moment. I came home, called him and told him we needed to take some time apart. Something that is virtually impossible to do when the narcissist is fighting for the control he is losing. The phone calls and text messages were non-stop for the next two weeks.

It wasn't until I started hanging out with my now husband, who was an old friend, when I really had enough. Tim told me he had met a girl from the same area as the narcissist. She had slept with him...recently. I felt stupid. Ashamed. Embarrassed. I was done. Took every measure I could. Broke it off with him. Blocked him on all social media. Changed my phone number. If he could contact me, he could control me. And I had to prevent that until I was strong enough to fight back and say no. And I did get stronger. Strong enough that when he showed up at my house a month later to tell me how much he loved me and "needed me" I stood up for myself. I told him to go home. Life was not a movie. This is not the part where the guy who screwed up gets the girl. This was the part where he went home and laid in the bed he had made for himself. And I've never felt more proud of myself that I did in that moment.

I am not writing this to blame him for hurting me. I'm not writing to shame anyone or play the victim. I am just as much as fault for my dysfunctional relationship and the actions that I didn't take. I should have been more aware of who I was becoming. I should have never tried to change myself for someone else. I'm writing this because if you are someone in a situation like this or know someone else who is, please understand. They are not naive, or stupid. They are someone with a huge heart who just wants to be loved. They are someone who just wants to feel like they are worth it. That they deserve a happy and healthy relationship. So tell them you love them. Tell them you are here for them no matter what. Let them talk without judgement. Let them cry, without the "I told you so". Because that's what they are looking for. And as soon as someone sees the light, they can build themselves up to be free of that pain. I did, and ended up marrying the person who helped me see the light.

Thank you for letting me share this. I know it's a bit dark, but I just feel like there are a lot more people in these situations than you think. We use social media as a veil to what our lives are really like. I wanted to be honest and open, so again..thank you.   

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