Falling In Love With A Narcissist Almost Destroyed Me, But I Came Out Stronger

Narcissists don’t always show themselves for what they are immediately. They’re charming at first, to the point of being irresistible and their toxicity doesn’t become apparent until you’re good and hooked, at which point the personality shifts, the tide changes, and then the gaslighting starts, along with the isolation and insecurity. It nearly destroyed me, but even though it was a long, hard road, I ultimately emerged stronger, more aware of my worth, and with a newfound inability to put up with any BS.

  1. That free fall from “center of attention” to “reason for every bad thing that happens” is brutal. Looking back, I see that it happened gradually, but when I was in the middle of it, it felt like it happened all at once. One day, I was the GOAT and the next, I was the cause for every disappointment in her life. Have you ever been on the receiving end of that? I remember thinking that for someone who had so much power, I sure did bend to her whim a whole frigging bunch.
  2. My vulnerabilities were just fodder for her manipulation. I’ve always been a private person, but since my trainwreck relationship with my narcissist, I’ve built my walls higher and reinforced the locks. It takes me even longer to open up to people because she encouraged me to open up to her about every fear, every insecurity, every mental, emotional, and physical issue, and then she ruthlessly used them to manipulate me. Classy, right?
  3. She isolated me from my friends, one by one. I was stupid to fall for it, to believe her when she presented “evidence” that my friends didn’t like her and that they were trying to drive us apart. I was 19; I feel like I should mention that – a very sheltered, very lonely, very newly out 19. But then, that goes hand-in-hand with the narcissist’s tendency to target vulnerabilities.
  4. Every emotion except happiness was a personal insult. If I was sad, it had to be because of her. Anger was always directed toward her, whether it was or not. Depression meant that I was just pissed off at her again. Even confusion with something she said was an issue – because, you know, clearly it meant I just thought she was stupid.
  5. A difference of opinion was a direct attack. I didn’t like a book she liked? Why was I attacking her taste? Because I didn’t enjoy a particular movie, I was saying I didn’t want to spend time with her. And when I liked something she hated, oh my god. I still can’t talk about it. Too many flashbacks.
  6. My feelings were only valid when they agreed with hers. This conclusion is pretty obvious. Because I’m naturally emotional, argumentative, and stubborn about my opinions, I didn’t figure out how to placate her for way too long. Once I did, I hated myself every time I agreed with her just to avoid a confrontation.
  7. There was so much gaslighting that I started taking notes. I’m not exaggerating even a little. She’d say or do things and then swear it didn’t happen. I legitimately thought I was going crazy, and I’ve never doubted my memory – it is maddeningly excellent, just ask my wife. I started journaling, keeping Post-Its in my pocket, and screenshotting everything – but that, of course, turned into an entirely new issue.
  8. She began to denigrate the things she once praised. Narcissists are envious. They’re jealous of anyone who has something they want. My relationship with my family became a source of venom and contention because her family was not close. She began taking jabs at my writing, something she once complimented while she was in full-courting mode, because I had a job doing it and she didn’t. My achievements, suddenly, were a justification for abuse.
  9. I doubted my instincts for way too long after this horrorshow. That was nearly as damaging as the devastation of my self-esteem, but I got that back to rights more quickly than I got my gut feelings in order. That had a disastrous effect on my next relationship – sorry, wife.
  10. Near the end, I was genuinely anxious every time I was with her. I know. How could I ever let it get to that point? Because I was convinced I needed her, even though my stomach twisted and I got the shakes every single time we talked. She still pops up from time to time, trying to talk to me, and although she doesn’t have power over me anymore, I still feel anxious each time she appears on the fringes of my life.
west virginia native, new hampshire transplant, parisian in the depths of my unimpressed soul. owner of an impressive resting bitch face. writer and reader. fluent in sarcasm and snark. lover of lower case and the oxford comma.