It is so hard to understand why narcissistic abuse hurts so much. After all, it is not physical abuse that is inflicted upon us. Instead, psychological and emotional damage often leaves us confused, disoriented, struggling with mental health, and alone.

 I always thought it was me, that there was something wrong with me. I never imagined the person I loved was a narcissistic abuser. I felt like my friends didn’t understand or hadn’t been married or together long enough. I never even thought it had to do with the person who I loved with my whole heart. The thought of being abused never crossed my mind. While there were times in our marriage when I was afraid of him and what he could or would do to me, I still always thought all of our problems were because of me. I never imagined it was narcissistic abuse; I didn’t even know what it was.

 Until the time came that I finally saw what was going on when I learned that I was being narcissistically abused. I decided I needed to leave did I see all the mental and emotional pain that had been inflicted on my kids and me. I couldn’t understand why we were hurting so much even after leaving. My mental health was struggling, I struggled with finding my true self, and I would self-sabotage. I am still surprised at how the narcissistic abuse we went through had such a significant effect on us.

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 The Power of Words

Actions and words

 So many of us grew up hearing the playground chant, “Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” but in reality, words have power. They have the power to hurt and the power to heal. When you are verbally abused by someone with a narcissistic personality disorder or strong traits, those words become weapons used against you to control your emotions and behaviors. You may not realize it at first, but over time these manipulative words can have a lasting impact on our sense of self-worth and our ability to trust others.

 No matter what I did, it wasn’t right for my ex-husband. I didn’t wear my hair the way he wanted it, he didn’t like how I parented our kids, and he would even say things like “it was good but…” when it came to meals that I made. Every word like this he said went directly to my core and not only hurt me but made me question everything I thought and did. I wanted to make him happy so he would stop nitpicking and giving me the silent treatment. I had no idea that this was emotional or verbal abuse, that I was in an abusive relationship, or that I was a victim of narcissistic abuse.

 Damage To Self-Esteem

I believe narcissists like to prey on people who struggle with self-esteem problems, but there is none left after they have abused you. When narcissistics abuse you, they do all they can to take away your confidence and make you feel small and worthless compared to them. This takes a toll on a person’s self-esteem and makes you question your worth. The more this happens, the more damage it will do over time until you eventually lose sight of who you are entirely and become dependent on them for validation or approval. That is their goal, it becomes a narcissistic abuse cycle.

I struggled with low self-esteem before dating my ex-husband. Growing up, I struggled in school and was shy. When I hit college and had a guy interested in me, especially one like my ex, I was head over heels. Looking back now, I can see all the times he cut me down, made me feel insignificant, and, as time went on, even more, worthless than I had when we met. He convinced me I wasn’t anything without him and wouldn’t have anything if I ever left him, including my kids. He knew the kids meant everything to me, and he knew he could control me with this. I honestly believed everything he told me and lived in fear of what he would do! I spent years trying to make him happy and earn his approval, but it was never good enough; I believed it and would beg and cry to try again. I felt that he was my entire life. My feelings and needs meant nothing. I felt completely lost without him. I was his narcissistic supply which led to a never-ending circle of emotional and verbal abuse. All of these are signs of narcissistic abuse.

Cycle of Abuse                                                                                               

Hidden Abuse

I lived in this circle or cycle of narcissistic abuse and didn’t realize it for years. Honestly, I didn’t know I was a victim! Toward the end of my marriage, I started to see a pattern in our relationship where things would be good for a while, and then things would be stressful, crazy, and uncertain. For a while, I tried to tell myself that this pattern happened around his work, his coming and going, in and out to sea. Not until I left my marriage and started learning about domestic and narcissistic abuse did I understand this was a typical pattern.

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It is known as the “cycle of abuse” in abusive relationships. This cycle happens when tension builds in the relationship for whatever reason, then an argument or other issue (often referred to as an abusive outburst), followed by a period where everything seems okay before it all happens again. For me, the cycle seemed to happen in 6-month periods of time, but I could never predict what would start the cycle again. Like many victims, when things were going well, I thought we were on the path back to being “good together,” I always had hoped that whatever I had done, I could fix it or make it better. Still, it seemed like each time, it got worse. Every time we went through the cycle, I felt more and more trapped, and the emotional pain grew. I had been with him so long I didn’t know who I was without him. I didn’t know if or how I could leave; if I did, how would I survive?

Learning about Narcissistic Relationships

As I continued to learn more about narcissistic relationships and the cycle I was living, the more I worked with my therapist on what my life would be like if I left. I slowly started taking steps to prepare myself to leave and not be afraid anymore. I started sharing with my family members and friends what I had been going through for years. Many of them had no idea I had been trapped in a narcissistic relationship or had been narcissistically abused. They didn’t know that the kids and I were survivors of narcissistic abuse. I had so much shame about where I had been and even more fear for my future. I had suffered and gone through so much pain because of this abusive relationship

I spent years in a relationship being abused by a narcissist and had no idea. It broke me emotionally and psychologically and ate away at my self-worth. I honestly thought I was the problem and that what I wanted in life was just in fairytales. Who imagines that they are in an abusive relationship? I mean, what is narcissistic abuse? By learning and understanding why narcissistic abuse hurts so much, I was able to start taking steps toward healing, setting boundaries, and creating my life. If you find yourself experiencing emotional abuse, mental abuse, or verbal or narcissistic abuse in your relationships, please reach out for help. There are resources available that will provide guidance and support throughout your journey toward recovery.

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