Home

The CatBox Forum

Ask The Doc Board

 

8/14 Interactive Board: Accepting Reality - Or Not

2/9 Interactive Board: What Do I Do?

4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

3/23 Interactive Board: He's Changing... I'm Not...

3/1 Interactive Board: D/s Lifestyle

1/14 Interactive Board: My Purrrfect Husband

12/12 Interactive Board: What if He Could Have Changed?

10/23 Interactive Board: Quandary Revisited

8/24 Interactive Board: Quandary! What's Going On?

7/20: Dr. Irene on cognitive behavior therapy and mindfulness

 6/12 Interactive Board: Unintentional Abuse

11/7 Interactive Board: Is This Abusive?

12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

11/4 Interactive Board: A New Me!

10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

9/8 Interactive Board: My Ex MisTreats Our Son

5/1 Interactive Board: I feel Dead - Towards Him

4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

4/19 Interactive Board: I Lost My Love...

4/7 Interactive Board: Too Guilty!

Doc@DrIrene.com


 

 My Story: (50 Ways to) Lose Your Lover (The Narcissist)

"Readiness is all." - Shakespeare

May 1, 2002

Y'all can call me BJ -- that was my nickname when I was working and living in Charlotte, North Carolina, last year.
 
I just stumbled across your wonderful forum site today, after following a link that Sam Vaknin gave me in one of his emails to those of us who subscribe to his newsletters.  I thought I'd tell you a little about what I've been through in the last year (although the story began much further back than that).  You see, my tale has a happy ending!  (I hope it's not "The End" of me just yet!) 
 
I was married to a man who subjected me to daily verbal and psychological abuse, from 1994 to 1999, when we finally separated and then divorced.  Two years after he moved out of the house, I took the "Big Step", quit my job of 5 years (where I thought I was going to retire!) and moved from North Carolina to Oregon, where I took up residence with my sister and her husband.  In the process, I found a new job with another gentleman who has what I believe is the same personality disorder has my ex-husband -- and he, too, abused me verbally and psychologically on a daily basis -- but I had the sense to bail out of that relationship after a mere 8 months!  I quit that job without having even started looking for another -- suddenly -- but I did give myself a safety margin of a month's notice.  With considerable effort (all of it on the Internet), I found another position, with a $1,000 raise, and started a new job the Monday after I left the old job!  What a blessing!
 
The message, however, is that I learned something of real value by having endured four years in an abusive relationship before I was released from it (it was he who released me -- I was trying too hard to be a "good" wife and to succeed in that role).  What I learned was -- to get out of the relationship -- and to get out fast -- NOT to wait until "his mood changes", or "he recognizes my worth", or "he learns how much he's hurting me", or his financial distress goes away. 
 
Abusers don't ever learn to recognize their victim's worth.!  They never have "better moods" -- just moments when they're distracted by other problems, or moments when things are going extremely well, and then they can celebrate their good fortune with their suffering significant others.  The majority of the time, however, their self-esteem is too low to begin with, and anytime a spouse, or girlfriend, or secretary, or child, does something that "shines" -- that seems to be an accomplishment or a positive effort, it serves as an example of "superiority" -- it "outshines" the abuser -- and the abuser will punish you for that!
 
My ex-husband, God forgive him, was a narcissist -- I'd never encountered such a being before.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I met him.  He came on like a freight train when we first started dating, and I was so very hungry for a relationship!  (I'd been single for over 15 years!)  I'm shy and introverted by nature, even somewhat socially avoidant.  I was starving for attention.  I made the mistake of complimenting his handwriting profusely during our introductory meeting (I was a resume consultant, he was a client.)  He kept coming back for more attention.  He was oh-so-careful about the way he introduced himself into my life.  I was charmed!  Bowled over!  I paid dearly for those first few weeks of his undivided attention.  He ruined my health, my self-esteem, my family relations, and he forced me to give up the resume business -- the one achievement I thought the major goal of my life -- self-employment in a helping profession where I was really making a difference in the lives of others.
 
But narcissists do that -- when they take "possession" of a lover, they take over completely -- abusers deliberately isolate their spouse from contact with family and friends.  That is the best way to keep the abuse their dirty little secret.
 
In other contexts I have written on this issue, and at one point, I said that an encounter with a narcissist is very much like an encounter with a vampyre (okay, we say vampire in this country, but I like the Old Country spelling -- I also enjoy reading vampyre novels!)  Anne Rice fans unite!
 
A vampyre is a being that:  1) nobody believes exists, and in that lies his key strength -- he/she can go about unrecognized and unhindered.  Invisible by default!
 
A vampyre is a being that:  2) sucks the life force out of his victims and leaves them for dead.  A narcissist, a controller, an abuser - they all do the same, leave you drained and tired, and most of the time afraid.
 
A vampyre is a being that:  3) isn't really alive -- he's only "faking it".  Narcissists are just like that -- they're "faking it" -- all the time!  The narcissist fakes care and concern for others.  He/she fakes understanding other's views, needs, and rights.  Abusers and controllers fake it too -- they fake being "nice guys" in public.  They fake being "good guys" when they're still in the courting phase of a new relationship.  They fake remorse after they hurt you, to keep you from leaving them, or reporting them to the police.
 
A vampyre is a being that:  4) first pursues and attacks his/her closest family relations in former life, and then his friends, and then he moves on to strangers.  Need I make the correlation for abusers and narcissists?
 
In order to rid oneself of a vampyre, one must first come to accept that he exists, and that he is deadly, and that one has only two choices -- seek protection and run away, or destroy him in some way.  The same is true of abusers, narcissists and controllers.  You need to recognize a dragon when you see it.  And believe me, that isn't easy!  (Did you know that, in Dragon Lore, there is an odd belief that real dragons are magical beings who can make themselves appear in human form?  Interesting, isn't it?)  If one wishes to be rid of a deadly companion, one must first realize that one has a deadly companion!  In a culture that for centuries has conditioned us to ignore, deny and rationalize manifestations of evil as anything from common and ordinary to divinely ordained, that's a tall order! 
 
But once you've done it, there comes a great sense of relief.  The future opens new and wonderful possibilities.  But the feeling of relief takes time to come!  I think most of us want to think of ourselves as loving, warm and compassionate people -- and we want to feel that we are good companions, good mates, good friends.  You get robbed of that feeling when you live with an abuser or a narcissist.  He/she doesn't want you to feel that you are good at anything -- especially, if you are not "making him happy"!  And heaven knows, we can't make anyone truly happy.  Happiness comes from within one's own soul, from having a sense of being centered in the world, of doing the right things in the right way at the right time, and of being loved.  Abusers don't feel centered, and they certainly don't feel that they are loved.  That's why they abuse others!
 
It is not better to live with the demon you know than to venture into the unknown.  Demons eat people!  In one way or another, life with an abuser, a narcissist, a controller, will destroy you.
 
I had to move across the country to rid myself of the bad memories and feelings I had toward my ex-husband.  He, of course, remarried just minutes after we were finally divorced.  That, too, is the way of a narcissist!
 
I was very sick for four months during the time that I worked for that narcissist -- the stress I endured was quite literally killing me.  My brother-in-law was concerned that I would not be able to find another job in this economy.  I was worried myself, about how I was going to pay my rent and my credit card debts.  But once I took the leap and quit the job, everything got better for me.  My boss felt so awful about my having quit (and I let him know in my resignation letter that he was ruining my self-esteem, my well being and my productivity!) that he made an extraordinary effort in that last month to treat me well!  Narcissists CAN do that sometimes!  (Mostly they don't, however.) 
 
But I had learned to recognize a vampyre when I see one!  I knew it about him within a week of working with him.  It was devilishly difficult to keep working for him as long as I did. 
 
Now I'm so glad that I shed that relationship!  My life at work and at home is so much better, so much less stressful, so worth living now.  Of course, it helps to have a nice sister and brother-in-law to live with.
 
But that's also one of the possibilities for others who are trapped in a deadly relationship - find your family again, or a good friend, or a social agency, and get help to get yourself out of it!
 
Whether you believe that we have only one life to live, or many (as I do -- reincarnation is as believable as the concept of angels, demons, Heaven and Hell), the fact is, you can only live one life at a time.  It's a terrible waste to live it with an abuser or a narcissist!
 
There must be 50 ways to leave your lover, so the song goes -- so get yourself free!
 
BJ
 
 I love happy endings. Thanks BJ! Thanks Dr. Sam!   Doc
 

Back Up Next

  Back Up Next

Website Design, Content, & Trubble 1998-2006 Dr. Irene and the The Medical Communications Resource.  All Rights Reserved. The contents of this site may be reproduced expressly and exclusively for not-for-profit publication in printed format as long as the source URL, the website, and the author(s) are specifically mentioned. Sites interested in publishing specific pages online should link unless granted specific permission to reproduce.  For permission or commercial distribution, please contact Dr. Irene at Doc@drirene.comThe pages and posts in our forum, The CatBox, may not be reproduced. All material is intended for educational purposes and must not be considered a substitute for informed advice from your own health care provider.