BETHESDA, Maryland, October 7, 2014 — Gloria* is a survivor of narcissistic/pathological abuse living and recovering in the United Kingdom.
Before the relationship became intimate, I spent two years being assessed and groomed although I did not realize it at the time. It was by far the most intense friendship I have ever had and we spent every day (five days a week) chatting briefly on messaging and emailing each other at work. I felt great, because I had just come out of an abusive eight-year relationship and here was this man, my friend from South Africa, back in my life after 23 years, and he made me feel good about myself. He told me I was very attractive, so kind and friendly with everyone, and we seemed to have so much in common. He became my best friend all over again. He persuaded me to buy a webcam and I did not see anything wrong in this at the time.
During the second year of our rekindled friendship, he became a bit depressed and opened up his heart to me, telling me that the relationship he was in lacked intimacy but admitted it was his fault as he only loved his girlfriend, Laura, like a sister. He added that they had worked together in the past and got on well, but he should have left her years ago. He just did not have the courage before. But now, with me, he felt he was missing out on being truly loved.
He spun my head with so much crap, yet I believed it all. He was so convincing, and I admit I loved the flattery. Being told in my 40’s that I was attractive meant everything to me, and we did genuinely seem to have so much in common. He would say things like, “Talking to you is like talking to myself” and “It’s like you’re my twin” and “please don’t ever go from my life; you’re the only one I can open up to. I can’t talk to Laura like I can talk to you. She’s stoic and she’s just not you, Hun”.
I do remember after around 16 months, waking up one morning and feeling a bit depressed and almost immediately a voice in my head said, “I’m going to have to stop talking to him, it’s making me depressed.” I remember laughing out loud wondering why on earth I would think such a thing. I loved talking to him. Perhaps I was just depressed because I was starting to like him a bit too much. Now I realize that it was my intuition telling me that something was not quite right about him.
Finally, after two years, he had convinced me that we should meet up for ‘old time sake’. I hesitated but not for long. I knew I couldn’t keep away from him for much longer. Three months later, it became an intimate relationship.
For the next 11 months, I was on cloud 9. Expensive gifts, endless texts and emails and a holiday to California. I was so in love with him, and he seemed besotted with me. We made plans for the future. Big plans. I felt I had met my soul-mate, and so did he. He told me he had. He told me he had never felt happier, that it was fate that had brought us together again after 23 years and that we were meant to be together.
After the relationship ended, his last words to me in person were, “Well, you let me get away with it all. I’m a city man. I’ve always wanted to live in a city, and I have my friends come to me”.
I was so confused, so mashed in the head after a week of going through the mean/sweet cycle after we split (because of my apparent nagging??) I did not know what to say. He then kissed my hand, told me to ‘take care sweetheart’ and made his way to the check-in desk at the airport. He was flying to The United States for his nephew’s wedding, the wedding, which he had told me I was going to and how lucky he would feel to have me on my arm and how his family would adore me just as much as he did. He constantly told me this right up until around 3 weeks before we split.
Afterwards, I suffered terribly from PTSD. The flashbacks were terrible. I felt suicidal. He texted me from the States telling me how much he was missing me. I made the mistake of asking him in a text if we could try again, that I was sorry for having a temper at times, and I was just depressed that Laura was digging her heels in and had not started packing up her stuff yet (he told me she was fine with the split seven months beforehand as she knew their relationship was not going anywhere and needed to let him go find happiness somewhere else). His reply text was, “Gloria, I am still in a state of recovery from us. I have good days and bad days, and I just need to concentrate on myself at the moment”.
This confused me. He was in a state of recovery? He was the one who dumped me. He was the one who told me I let him get away with it all. He then sent another text only a couple of hours later saying, “Oh hun, you’d love this whitewater rafting. Big kiss x”.
At that point, I remember my whole body trembling. I could not make any sense of it.
During the relationship, he texted and emailed me 24/7, professed his love and of being my soul mate. There were expensive gifts and generosity like I’ve never known before. I was struggling with paying my bills and rent (which he knew), and although I never asked him for a penny, I did tell him things were very tight and there he was, my knight in shining armor, sending me the odd check. He told me that he loved me and that I didn’t need to pay him back. Flattery, grooming, feeding my ego. All the things which narcissistic sociopaths do to ‘hook us’ he did, and he did it with well.
I started being devalued around April 2012, four months before the split, before being discarded. I did not notice it at first, but he would say things like, “I’ve decided I’m not going to buy you an Easter egg this year”. I said, “Okay, no worries.” To me it was not a big deal. I did not question why.
The subtle and cruel criticisms came in batches. I would receive perhaps three loving texts and emails and calls a week, only then to be met with two or three cruel and mean texts. Until in the end, I dreaded the phone ringing or hearing a text being received. He said things like, “You’re boring” and “I never realized it, but you have an antagonistic personality and your cup is always half empty. I’m starting to have second thoughts about us.”
I was shamed into believing I was not good enough for him, that I was an angry person, unworthy of his love and that I had been the one to ruin it. By the end, from months of being blamed and shamed, I felt diminished. I hated myself and felt I had lost my soul mate thanks to my ‘ugly’ personality.
I would constantly say sorry and would try hard not to question him for things which did not add up. I was sorry for not trusting in him enough and that he was doing his best for us. Every day I would tell him how much he meant to me, because he told me I was not as loving towards him as I once was and that I had made him miserable for months. I apologized for that. I was so sorry, and yes, of course, I will look at my temper and my rotten personality. Please give me another chance. Please don’t leave me. He said he would not and then sometimes said he would have to think about it. He literally sent me crazy, and I became a shell.
I suffered from cognitive dissonance big time. His life became my life. Every weekend was taken up with him. If I wanted to spend time rock climbing with my friends, he would become histrionic and say, “What about me? Don’t you want to spend time with me?”
Because I didn’t want to lose him, I cancelled plans with friends. I became a loner in between seeing him. If anyone texted me, he would want to know who it was. Male friends at work were obviously after me, because they spoke to me and maybe I could not be trusted. When I told him that my sister could not make sense of some of the things he told me and also my friends thought he was lying to me, he would repeatedly say, “Oh, Hun. They don’t understand the close bond we have. They’re just jealous of what we have, Hun.”
I would believe him and that my sister and friends were just jealous of our close bond.
Not during the relationship, but afterwards yes, I did feel suicidal. I did not know I was suffering from PTSD and was still caught up in the trauma bonding. I thought about committing suicide and almost killed myself. If it had not been for the love of my dog, I would not be here now.
I do not drink alcohol (doesn’t agree with me), but I did try and overdose on sleeping tablets. I could not eat, I lost too much weight, lost my job, did not want to exercise and lost my passion for hiking. I felt too weak anyway to even step outside the front door. My dog had to be taken for walks by a neighbor for a while. I became paranoid and thought everyone could see what an ugly person I was. I was bad tempered, antagonistic and felt undeserving of a loving relationship.
My biggest challenge was trying to overcome the awful symptoms of PTSD, short-term memory loss and flashbacks. Also, not being believed by family and friends that I was a victim of narcissistic abuse. I struggled with feelings of isolation, not having anyone to talk to, trying to remember to pay bills on time and remembering to eat.
I joined the Psychopathfree forum, Paula’s website and an online Facebook recovery forum. All this has helped me enormously. My friends are all virtual, yet I feel validated and can share my story with other survivors.
I was totally brainwashed for three and a half years and did not know I was in a psychopathic relationship. All I can say to anyone who has left or been discarded but still misses their ex is to please read up all you can on narcissists and sociopaths and do not ever go back. They won’t/can’t change.
I missed him for months but now realize it was not him I missed; I missed the ‘love-bombing’. I missed how it was in the beginning.
Take time out. Get to know yourself. Be kind to yourself. Self-blame is common but just remember that you are recovering from a lot of cruel mind games. Do you really want to go down the same road because you will if you go back. You deserve to be in a healthy relationship. You cannot fix crazy.
There is so much more to my story, ending with my ex and Laura opening a case of harassment against me for unwanted communication. They have been stalking me and continue to do so. I have moved, yet again, but still I find them searching for my new address. He is a very sick man. The stories (i.e. how his friend’s ex girlfriend stole IVF eggs from the clinic after they split, a man who set himself on fire because he was wanting a relationship with my ex’s girlfriend at the time) so much crap, so much craziness.
I believed it all in the sense that with the stealing of IVF eggs, I thought his friend or his friends’ girlfriend was crazy and making it up. I never once suspected my ex of lying and storytelling. I fell for a charming con man.
Each day during the month of October, column author Paula Carrasquillo will feature a story written by a survivor of domestic violence. At the end of October, a compilation of all stories will be available for free as an e-book.
*All names have been changed to protect the survivor and the survivor’s family and friends.