Why do we stay with abusers even when we are miserable?

While going through old files, I found a very long document I’d typed out right after I left my first narcissist husband. I didn’t even know he was a narcissist then. I knew he’d been emotionally and verbally abusive and that the things he said to me made so little sense I thought I was going crazy. I knew the therapist had told me he was a narcissist, but I didn’t really get it. As I’ve been reading through my story that I wrote, it couldn’t be more clear that I was describing a narcissist. Many of the details are personal, but I am going to be sharing some sections that show exactly how it feels to be caught up in a relationship with a narcissist. I’ll bet readers will be able to relate all too well.

Here’s a longer section  I wrote as part of my therapy:

The victims often come to depend on their abusers. You fear the bad moods, so when the good moods come, you are relieved and grateful. You become grateful to your abuser for not abusing you! His good moods and his insistence that you are at fault for his bad moods cause you to lose touch with reality. If I’m with this man who seems perfect most of the time, but sometimes he gets really mad at me for annoying me, I feel like that must be my fault. Sometimes in my relationship, I was able to open my eyes and say “hey, wait a minute! This thing he’s yelling at me for is something that plenty of normal people do. No one else gets mad at me for this.” But then, there was another dynamic going on. My abuser was my whole life. I had moved across the country to be with him. I didn’t have any friends or family nearby. He discouraged me from working, getting my license or having a car. Even when he was cruel to me, he was my only support figure in life. He abused me, but the only person I could turn to was… him! What do you do when you are over 2000 miles from home in an area with an outrageously high cost of living with no money and no job prospects? What do you do when you’ve been too embarrassed to confide in anyone what is going on? You keep trying. You keep trying to “fix” what it is about you that makes him so angry. You cry and hate the way he treats you, but you feel helpless to get away. You accept his blame and you begin to feel crazy when you realize that his reality is not matching up with yours. Not only is money an issue, but by the time you’ve experienced severe emotional abuse, you don’t feel good enough to get a job. Your self-worth is bashed into the ground. You feel worthless like you aren’t good enough to do anything productive with your life because your abuser insists you do everything wrong.

Wow. Just reading this brings back so many memories, but I realize now that I have come so much further than I ever thought I would! It does get better!

2 thoughts on “Why do we stay with abusers even when we are miserable?

  1. P.S. I was the one who ended up in a mental hospital. Then, he said he didn’t want to be married to a “mental case.” Thank God!

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