Well, the first time I did. By the second time I met a narcissist, I had started to gain some healthy boundaries and I kicked him out of my life when I knew he was discarding me. But the first time? Before I had any clue what a narcissist was or how they acted? I made a complete fool out of myself! And some of you probably did too. But that’s okay. We are human and we were reacting to insanity without realizing just how bad the narcissist’s games were. They screw with our heads so bad, they make us feel crazy when we try to deal with them!
For a brief review of the narcissist’s relationship cycle, let me explain:
1. The narcissist will build you up with flattery and mirroring–that is, they pretend to be just like you–until you are on cloud nine in love. They hook you in until you are dazzled and think you’ve found the best person in the world. You get attached, and you think this is real.
2. They start treating you badly. They devalue you. But, you still believe step one was real, so you become very confused by their sudden change in the way they treat you. You know they used to treat you better than anyone you’d ever met, so when they start treating you like crap, you think you did something wrong. You get caught up in trying to “fix” your mistakes and make them happy again–to make them love you like you believe they did at first.
3. They discard you. They just throw you away. Done. Gone. They are out of there. And you are incredibly confused, and still blaming yourself for the changes in the way they treated you. You get desperate to get the good person back. Even if you’ve started to realize that they are abusing you, you still have hope and you still want things to work out. You’re emotionally invested in making things work out because you’ve dedicated so much time, emotion and love to this person.
So… the way the narcissist treats you is psychologically addicting! The ups and downs, highs and lows, the on and off behavior…it draws you in and makes you more and more determined to make things work.
My first narc ex was a covert narcissist. He’d do wonderful things for me, then turn mean and criticize me. He’d smother me with attention, then tell me what a horrible person I was. He’d give me the cold shoulder for days at a time and leave me begging him for some love. He’d buy me a gift then tell me I was ungrateful. One time, during one of his rages, I locked myself in a bathroom while I cried. He took the door off the hinges and came in screaming that I should kill myself because everyone hated me.
He’s a musician who writes pretty and very sweet love songs, so people would tell me he couldn’t be abusive because he was so sentimental. I blamed myself more and more and more, and my self-esteem sank to the lowest it had ever been. I grew to hate everything about me as he attacked me daily. I couldn’t do anything right. Ever.
I was a mess. I tried to leave him so many times. I’d leave and get a hotel. I’d make a flight reservation to go home to my family. I even went to a domestic violence shelter. Every time, I got scared about being alone and I started to miss his “good” side, so I went back. He continued to get worse and worse.
Eventually one day he left me. But…the house was in his name, and I didn’t have any money of my own. I was 2500 miles from home and I had no one. He’d forbidden me to have a job, and he’d discouraged me from getting to know anyone. Every single person I knew was his friend or family member. But, he called me from his girlfriend’s house and told me to get out or he’d have the police remove me from the house. He closed the credit cards and bank accounts and had threatened to have the utilities turned off. I never saw him again and never got any closure. He sent me an e-mail telling me he had filed for divorce and wouldn’t return my calls. The guy who had been verbally, emotionally and financially abusing me for two years cut me off and left me stranded.
I cried and cried and kept trying to call him. I begged him via e-mail to come home. The guy who made me miserable daily! I didn’t feel like I had any better options. Eventually, I got help to load most of my stuff in a van and get home on the other side of the country. I still missed him. I was addicted to trying to make him happy, but it was a losing battle! But eventually, I got really, really mad. After all the crap I’d put up with for so long, he had thrown me away? And he did it in an incredibly selfish and cruel way. Basically kicked me out on the streets and didn’t even have the decency to tell me to my face or on the phone.
So, I got mad. As the administrator of his web sites, I had his passwords, and I posted on his site that he was a cheating abuser. Of course all his fans of his “pretty” music were horrified. No one wants to believe that Mr. Pretty Songwriter is an abuser. I have paid for that decision for years and I’m still banned from a couple of music forums. So yes, years of abuse made me act crazy for a brief time in my life. I made a complete fool of myself. First I begged an abusive jerk to stay in my life, and then I publicly called him out in a way that destroyed me more than him. Not my finest moment. But, if you have been like me and done something really stupid in the intense stress and frustration of being abused and discarded, do yourself a favor: Forgive yourself!
Narcissists and their addictive mind games screw with your head and your heart. They will drive you temporarily crazy! But like my therapist told me–if you weren’t that way before you met them and you weren’t that way after you were away from them–then that’s not the real you. It’s you acting under the pressure of a bad situation. It’s you being human.