He lay on my bed, struggling to control his emotions. “How can you say this? You have no idea how much this hurts me”, he sobbed. “You are the only person in my life that I could always be honest with and I have no idea how I will cope without you.” I instantly tried to trackback on what I said.
“I am sorry, I didn’t mean it that way. I guess what I was trying to say is that you haven’t been honest with yourself either. Up until a few weeks ago, you swore that you had no feelings for her and now you are leaving me for her. It just feels dishonest.”
His tear-filled eyes turned darker and his pupils widened. “Oh for fuck sake Kara, people are allowed to change their minds.”
I tried to comfort him. I loved him so much, why did I keep upsetting him?
In the 1 1/2 years that we have been together, I have seen him cry more times than all of my friends combined. His sensitivity was something I had loved, finally a man who wasn’t afraid to show emotions. When I mentioned it as one of the 100+ reasons why I loved him he smiled and said: “You love that about me? Many people find it difficult to deal with it because I can struggle to regulate all my emotions, I just feel things a lot more intense than others”.
I was surprised, who wouldn’t like to be with someone so caring and sensitive? But truth to be told I had found it tedious at times, I just had to be so careful about what I said or did so it wouldn’t upset him. I was used to speaking my mind, especially with those close to me, I just had to learn to think more carefully about what I said and how it might come across, that seemed to be a good skill to learn in my mission to become a better person.
Half a year later
Half a year later I look back at this scene and can’t help but laugh. “The only person he could be honest with” was just a pawn, in a game she had no idea she was playing. Throughout the entire relationship, he was leading double-lives, cheating and having secondary relationships with other women. Many stories he told me, things that he liked or valued were fabricated to match my character. Everything was a lie.
I realize now that his sensitivity only ever related to himself. When I was upset, he was stone-cold or got angry. Maybe the tears were real and he was just feeling so sorry for himself, or they were part of his tactic: Mimicking emotions to siphon my empathy, because sadly, people like this exist, and too many are still trapped in their web of lies and manipulation. Of course, there are men out there who are genuinely sensitive and not afraid to share their feelings, but if you constantly feel like you are hurting your partner, make sure you are analysing the situation thoroughly.
1. Check in with your friends
There is a saying that no one should know more about your relationship than your partner. However, this does not apply in abusive relationships.
Especially when you are with a Narcissist, they will continuously try to isolate and gaslight you. Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk through a situation or fight you had with friends. If you feel like questioning your own behavior or thoughts: Speak to friends, post in support groups or even speak to a counsellor. It can be very hard to spot abuse when you are caught in the middle, speaking about anything you experience, even if you don’t think it’s abuse but it doesn’t feel right, can help to get clarity.
2. How often is he/she the victim?
Some people are pessimistic by nature and focus on the negatives more than the positives, but the Narcissist constantly blames circumstances or other people for their perceived misfortune, nothing is ever their fault. Playing the victim helps them gain credibility and trigger empathy with their partners. They count on your feelings to feel sorry for them, cleverly masking their behavior and making you focus on their feelings over your own. And you can’t blame a victim right?
Because narcissists lack authentic self-esteem, they often resort to self-pity as a substitute. Feeling sorry for yourself because youre a victim makes you the mistreated and misunderstood hero in a story thats all about you Dr. Joseph Burgo
3. Trust your gut
If someone has to stress that they are always honest, or “only ever treated you with respect” or if they mention that they would “never patronize or laugh about you” (all quotes from my ex), chances are that they are already doing those things. Adding intensity and emotions to it is all part of the show. “I need you to know this”, “You need to understand that I am not like that”, sentences he would say to make sure I understood. Many Narcissists are rarely or never physically abusive, and the psychological abuse is so subtle, hidden or gradual that we don’t notice it. But it’s still abuse. Your gut feeling or intuition is your most valuable asset in an abusive relationship and a Narcissist will do everything in their power to make you doubt it.
Recovery from gaslighting requires recognition. It is hard to recognize your own thoughts as real if the only person you’re around is someone who’s telling you they aren’t. Rebecca Lee
This post was previously published on Medium.
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