The depth of damage

It’s a kind of insanity, you know, to be involved with a narcissist. You don’t realize what you’re doing to yourself when you’re involved with one, and if anything, you fight like hell to keep him in your life.

I never felt like I left him. I escaped.

But with what? Oh, it took strength, courage, resourcefulness to leave. I give myself that. But what did I lose?

Well, with children, a lot. Let’s say my relationship with them, while I was focusing all my energy on the N and being devoured – oh, like only a major portion of their childhood, as in most of it.

How about my sexuality? In our relationship, sex was a big thing. For me it was an expression of love, sacred. I adored him, and there was nothing wrong that we could do together as an expression of our love – two consenting adults giving freely and openly to each other.

Only, to him it wasn’t about love. It was about self pleasure, control, power, opportunities to feed his ego, to brag to friends and acquaintances and strangers, play by play.

It’s been almost 20 years since we first met, since that usury began, masquerading behind labels, like girlfriend and wife, but still the same careless, heartless usury. And only now, am I able to type it…first time…and it hurts still, deep inside the shame wells up. Well, it’s a start toward healing, I guess.

But I wonder, do we ever heal? Is there a place that is just so ravaged, that there’s no moving on? I don’t know.

I just know he took something from me, that while I do the best I can as a mother, and grow in that area as never before with greater strength and understanding, there is a part of me that is missing.

It is broken, and I fear there is a capacity to trust that I once had that will never return.

And that is sad.

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About PhoenixRising

Singer/songwriter, human rights activist and author of the book series and podcast, "Where There's Smoke: Covert Abuse". Demian Yumei's creative focus is on reclaiming your dream and healing the wounds that prevent that. Her artist activist site:
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22 Responses to The depth of damage

  1. mynewlife2010 says:

    Wow, these are very powerful words. I too feel just ravaged. I cannot trust anyone (except my family) because I cannot trust my own judgement anymore. I work on it..but I feel like there is no progress. Remembering that I actually exist takes quite a bit of effort. I am committed to that though because of my two children who also struggle with whether they matter to their N father. I have years of work ahead of me and a very ugly divorce in progress and a nasty custody battle which, I, thankfully am winning. I am really lucky that I have a very insightful attorney and an excellent therapist. My kids have an excellent therapist too, however, she is not convinced of my N’s narcissistic behavior. As we all know, it is not easy to spot. It takes time, and lots of it. I am confident that she will realize the truth with time.

    I am grateful I found this site. It has really helped me affirm that my refusal to argue with my N is the right choice. He is always deflated when I walk away. Sometimes I giggle a little when that happens. But mostly I let out my breath with enormous relief that one more bout is over.

    I am, without a doubt, broken. Completely smashed and ground up and I must act like I am not for the sake of my children. I am all they have to lean on. I am so grateful for my children, for they are the reasons I can actually smile and laugh.

    To everyone out there suffering this nightmare too, hang in there. You will be stronger and you will help hold someone else up too, believe it or not. One day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time…but never stop moving forward.

  2. PhoenixRising says:

    Welcome, mynewlife2010!

    I cannot trust anyone (except my family) because I cannot trust my own judgement anymore.

    You hit that nail right on. I cannot trust my own judgement anymore. And that’s it, isn’t it? It’s not that we can’t trust men. I think most of us know there are good men and bad men and everything in between and it goes for women too.

    But how do we know who is who? Or in what circumstance it’s real or not. It all boils down to discernment.

    And when we start giving up that discernment or have it gaslighted away from us or belittled or whatever, then we come to the place where we are truly crippled.

    That’s the greatest damage that can be done to us, and inversely then the greatest gift we can give to our children – validating their experiences so they can trust themselves, their ability to discern, and with that a greater willingness to forgive themselves for their mistakes.

    Maybe that’s the real issue here…not trust, but forgiveness. Maybe it’s not a matter of not being able to trust anyone including myself, but a matter of not yet willing to forgive myself and give me a second chance.

    Okay, I need to think on this a while…

    Bless you…

  3. cinderdinder says:

    I am new to this site and so grateful i have found it. I am in the middle of a divorce with my narsisist husband. I don’t even know who i married! I am finding out all sorts of things about him and what he has done that make me sick. I was once very trusting, open, positive toward all people. I now trust no one. I just want to raise my boys and not include any other adult in my life. I am sooooo happy that I have escaped from the false life i was living with him. I can’t believe i have been had!

  4. morgand says:

    Wow another hit home post…I had identified this as major issue with myself since his latest “attack” after working so hard on it when first apart. Actually had some successes..but then things went sideways and had “trusted”him again only to have rug yanked out from under me in NOv…now I am having to rebuild my confidence in my own judgement all over. When one stops trusting oneself, indecision sets in major time and you can find yourself Frozen in “fear” of making choices – so afraid to make the wrong one you make no choice…which of course leads to further issues as challenges accumulate.

  5. kspen says:

    I have to say that I can completely empathize with you. You hit everything right on the money. I have a young daughter. I am currently in the middle of a divorce from my N husband. He has robbed me of everything I feel. I hardly recognize the person that I have become. I liked when you said that you escaped because that’s exactly how I feel. I want to believe that I will have the ability to love and trust someone in the future. I also hope that this has taught me to stop doubting myself. I think that I have blamed myself for everything because I have been told it was my fault. I think that in time I will learn to start loving myself again. I hope everyone who has had the unfortunate experience of being in a relationship with a narcissist will realize that this person will never value you. You must save yourself. If you do not, you will die inside a little more each day. I know this first hand. It is a lesson that is too easy to forget when they come around and turn the charm back on. Be strong. They WILL just hurt you again.

  6. lucasmom says:

    I needed a reminder to keep myself in check while dealing with my N ex and am so lucky to have found this site. I want to thank you all who share your stories, it does empower me to know that I am not the only one going through all of this. And it is also so frighteningly similar.
    I am grateful for all of your suggestions and really does make a difference to hear how you all have handled your situations.
    I have been divorced from him for 4 years now and have a 5 year old boy. And nothing has been more difficult to deal with. Not only my own issues that I am still trying to piece back together but trying on a daily basis to be my son’s rock.
    Again, thank you for this site.

  7. Survivor says:

    I feel like I escaped too but couldn’t rescue my children. What gets me is that he has supporters that don’t see what he can be capable of. I need to find a way so he will let the children go. They are his narcissistic supply so I think they are stuck. The children don’t want to go back.

  8. PhoenixRising says:

    Narcissists are good at that, playing a good front. How old are your children?

  9. Survivor says:

    I have a 6 year old daughter, an 8 year old son, and a 12 year old son. Their father won’t put them in counseling because he said they have the perfect family. The only problem they have is a bad mother. However, I can get them counseling when they are with me. The oldest had his first session last week in which the therapist felt he may be depressed due to the living situation with his father. Imagine that. The youngest two will be seen later this week.I will do what I can to help them survive.

  10. Mr Survivor says:

    One of the hardest things with this is realizing that we will never be able to reason with or influence the person with NPD. Trying to get them to do what is right for the children doesn’t work. So all we can do is make sure that we provide the most stable, normal life for them when they are with us.

    We never know what tomorrow will bring and all we can do is hope that as time goes on the people in our life with NPD will find new targets.

  11. PhoenixRising says:

    Yes…I was elated when Ex found a girlfriend…and a little guilty, knowing what she was in for. But mostly happy for myself and relieved for my daughter.

    Would have been a happy ending, except girlfriend didn’t turn out to be such a blessing to daughter after all. But it did have its perks to not be the focus of attention all the time!

  12. Survivor says:

    Well, all of my children have been seen by a therapist now. The oldest will benefit greatly from continued sessions. My daughter seems to be coping well. My middle kid blames me, said I broke a promise, and moved too far away. I knew I would be blamed at some point but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. Somehow I must figure out how to develop a thicker skin.

  13. PhoenixRising says:

    As long as your middle kid can tell you how he feels, even if it’s being angry at you, this is great! There’s a lot of trust in your love for him to be able to express that. There can be none of that for the narcissist who must demand you love him always, admire and validate him always, never criticize or question, because his image depends on that.

    I know this hurts. I heard similar things from my youngest in the beginning…actually for over a year or two, until she began to experience things herself, until she started connecting the dots from her own observations. And even then, a part of her wanted me to have stayed anyway, so I’d be there to protect her.

    I’d apologize for what she was going through, but I’d have to reiterate, while totally empathizing with what she was feeling – how could I blame her? – that nonetheless, I would not have been able to protect her while I was there. That there would have been nothing left of me, that I could possibly have become a source of abuse, myself, as my own rage from my dying spirit spilled over onto innocent people.

    It’s so hard, and I realize that in my situation it’s reversed from yours in that I do have my child more often than you have yours, and still, there’s anger and a feeling of abandonment she must deal with.

    So I imagine it’s even harder for you and your children. But still, to be able to give voice to what’s inside is priceless, and will go a long way to your child’s healing and the healing of your relationship.

  14. Survivor says:

    I apologized last week to my son for what he has gone through. He said don’t worry mom, I can deal with it. He then had a breakdown later in the day. His step dad and I spoke with him. He said he gets his anger from his father because his father’s parents have anger problems. He gets his sadness from me because I am sad about the children. He hates parts of living at his father’s during the school year because his father makes the kids do the chores that were once mine. He also said that his father yells a lot and it use to be me that was yelled at.He wants to do fun things with his father but doesn’t like all the negative things his father does. He also said he was angry at his dad for not listening to the court and being mean to his stepdad and mom. For an almost 9 year old, he had some important things to say.

  15. Survivor says:

    It is amazing how a few weeks separated from the drama can help. The kids will be with me for another month and the narcissist factor is placed to the side. My husband and I are stressed but only from taking care of our blended family. The narcissist ex is out living life for the summer. I wish every moment could be like this. I know this freedom won’t last but it will be nice even if 5 children can stretch us at times.

  16. beatrixkiddo says:

    The depth of the damage is all but complete. I’d say when I awoke to what was first done to me, then to what I allowed and finally what I sought out and encouraged, the depth of the damage was to every cell running through the makeup of my being, except one. I have listened to the lies and the blame and the distortions and the manipulations and have internalized them for so long that they became real. Until I, myself, contributed to the illusion, the delusion, the sheer fantasy of the false-life filled with false-selves. Until I believed I was the bad mother, the slefish one, undeserving and unreceiving of my children’s love or respect or presence in my life. Until I wondered if they really weren’t better off without me. The narcissists greatest power play: To gain revenge on the one who left by murdering the most precious bond, mother to child. Not to mention, the mind rape of one’s own self. And what makes the damage so insideous is that he trained me to participate and then even insitgate this upon myself while he sat by and smirked, “I told you so…” No, I may have left many years ago, but I did not escape. Unfortunately, neither did my children.

    But somewhere, there was a tiny, almost silent voice, or maybe more aptly a silent hope, with no voice left at all. But a hope that lay dormant until the shocking, existance-shattering news miraculously broke through. News of NPD. News that other’s are out there sharing in this nightmare, and have found a way out. News that the silent, voiceless hope that I am not the crazy one, that the accusations that I am doing and being all that in reality he is and does is not just wishful thinking. Oh my goodness! How crazy–how kafkaesque–it felt to watch him do horrible, abusive things to me and the children and then point the finger at me for those very things! And then in his manipulative NPD way, to have poisoned and warped the thoughts of my own family, counselors, teachers, the courts and even the children to his side. How complete a damage!

    I am thankful for this knowledge. For me, healing began the absolute minute I became aware of NPD and narcissistic abuse. And it continues each time I read your storeis and know that I am not alone, and that everything that has happened to me and every defense I put up against it (which turns out only served to feed it), is storybook characteristic of this disorder and the victims of it. For me, that flooded me with an overwhelming forgiveness–of myself. And in that, I find freedom.

  17. beatrixkiddo says:

    I came across a post on another site about forgiveness and healing from narcissistic abuse. I got a lot from the author’s words. Here is a lnk if anyone wants to read.

    One part I really liked was this quote…

    “Know that you don’t know and then step into the unknown” ~Richard Carlson

    The author goes on to express what this has come to mean to her but the question that hit me like a ton of bricks was why the fear of the unknown? How can the unknown be worse than this that I know too well? (paraphrasing).

  18. Survivor says:

    I was fearful of the unknown which kept me in a horrible relationship for so long. It has not been an easy two years without the kids full time but I am finally healthy. Things always get worse before they get better. I understand that now. I have been in a nurturing relationship which I thought I never deserved or would have. I know an incident in the future with the ex will rattle me again but for now I feel stronger and have found some peace. I was always fearful that the children would not value their time with me. My son told me at the end of the summer, “Dad will never take our memories away. I can’t believe he doesn’t see that.” For a 9 year old to say that, I was amazed. It also made me realize that no one will take the love away that the mother and children have. They may get mad as normal kids do with their parents but they will love me.

  19. beatrixkiddo says:

    Thanks Survivor. I too have not had my older two children full time since I left their father nine years ago. I remarried five years ago and have a wonderful two year old boy. Things have gotten really horrible with my ex (NPD) and I am now in the middle of a custody battle for my teenagers, which it loos like I will win (despite his tactics which are making life for all of us absolute hell!). I have fallen into the trap of believing that he has succeeded in alienating my children’s affection from me, and there is nothing more painful. There is no doubt they have suffered. They need a lot of healing and help, which I am trying, against his wishes, to get for them. (After all, they don’t need help, they are perfect, it is I who needs help and if I just got out of their lives they would be just fine!)

    But now I am also dealing with a new fear and a new pain. My current husband, completely different from my ex is (dare I say it) NPD also! The thought of putting my baby through the nightmare I am living with my ex is unbearable. But so too is the thought of continuing to live with the abuse of having a narcissistic partner (if you can call it that). The recent post on Save your Babies hits me hard. I find myself asking, “is it really so bad?” and then it is and I find myself asking “Is it me?” (and he’ll be happy to tell me it is). But putting me aside (and maybe I shouldn’t), I have to ask myself, “what will happen to my little guy?” How horrible is it to have parents who are at best just indifferent and detached from each other? And then what about when it is worse than that?How will he be affected by having a mother who has given up on being happy or being treated as an equal? And mostly: how likely is it that if he stays in this environment, he will grow up an NPD himself or (worse?)dependent on one? Either way, his chances at happiness in life will have been robbed. Oh, God! Is it really that bad? So I lie to myself that it isn’t. And then last night happens. And I am here again, posting. Looking for answers. Looking for hope. Wishing for the impossible, a happy ending without having to step into the unknown!

  20. Survivor says:

    The book Beyond Codependency really helped me figure out how I am wired and fed into this victim cycle. Therapy has also done me a world of good. These things may help you in coming to a sound decision and feel supported. There are a lot of different things happening in your life. I find the more I have in my life, the more compromised I am in making decisions. I guess that is why they say one step at a time. Hang in there.

  21. beatrixkiddo says:

    Thanks Survivor. I have taken to identifying and implementing many resources to help me get through this. I see a counselor, who is wonderful, have rejoined my support group–just today found a wonderful new group of women, plus am trying out alanon for help with the codependency. (Should re read Melody Beady!). I attend a martial arts class, which is one of my best tools. Reached out to an old and dear girlfriend and reconnected. She’s going throuogh a painful break up right now too. Am reading meditation books. Taking steps to plan for a secure future, no matter what happens. Nurturing myself–therapist says carry around a photo of myself as a little girl and take it out and work on loving her and forgiving whenever I hear the voices of self doubt and guilt and shame. And learning and sharing here. Today, I feel sane!

  22. Survivor says:

    It sounds like you are doing exactly what is necessary, taking care of yourself. I think that is something I need to do today. When I stop taking care of myself the world becomes a troublesome place. Take care.

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