To be very honest– this is a super hard post for me to write. But I DO believe it is necessary.
By nature, I am a very private person and I very much enjoy that about myself. So, whenever “life” comes around and kicks me down, I have this sort of “ritual”, if you will, of stepping back to retreat privately and then I’ll be back on social media once it’s all finished, packaged and handled. This time I can’t do that! It’s important to open my mouth.
I was in a relationship with a man for just shy of four and a half years. That relationship is now over. It ended in March. Some of you may know that. It was a narcissistic abusive relationship. Some of you may not know that. If you are like me 4.5 years ago, you have never even heard of the term — “narcissistic abuse” — much less know what it is.
When we first met, this guy was SUPER charming, said all the right things, and wanted to be around me 24/7. The night we met, we sat in the car and talked for hours. It literally felt like I was talking to an old friend I had known for years. It was like we had almost everything in common. He called me every morning. I received text messages from him all day long. THE WORKS!
The continuous showers of compliments and adoration were almost overwhelming to a point- but, (let’s be REAL) still welcomed! I began to think everything was amazing…but a little too fast for my taste. We met at our college homecoming on October 29 and by Thanksgiving (2 weeks later), we were in a full blown committed relationship with “I love you” and everything. Shortly after, marriage talk. Normal?! I’m sure for some, but not for Juliana! I’m a slow simmer kinda girl and I like to process what is going on. You know, really test the waters before jumping in.
He was posting all over social media about us. Writing these elaborate romantic posts on Facebook. Sending me sweet tweets for the whole world to see. He came to Thanksgiving and wooed my family, my friends– the whole nine.
That was year one.
After that, it was subtle digs at my personality. Passive aggressive moves and moments. Pretty much saying hurtful things, but surrounding them with a joke or slight laughter. During year one, it was compliment, compliment, compliment. Year two became compliment, criticism, compliment. However, he wanted to be around me all the time. Also during this time, it became a little more apparent that when he got angry, he entered very quickly into rage. It was never at me. It was always directed toward somebody else. So I began to think, everything is cool, just don’t get him “mad”.
Enter the stage of criticism, slight compliment, harsher criticism. The anger and rage started being pointed my way and there was no to talking him down. I apologized over and over, even at times, when it wasn’t my fault. By this point, almost everything he claimed he liked about me during year one, disgusted him by year three. I started to become a very insecure, mean and angry person. Excessive weight gain that wouldn’t come off. I didn’t want to get dressed or look good. I became a shell of myself. But I couldn’t understand why.
You might be thinking: “Girl– why didn’t you leave?! What is wrong with you?!” That’s a really great question and it all boils down to this: I didn’t know it was happening! He was still sooo charming and sweet to me when we were in public. When we were amongst friends and family, he was the PERFECT gentleman. People would tell me what a great relationship I had. That we were so cute together. See, when I was in it, nothing logically convinced me something was wrong. If I rationalized everything in my mind (where the damage was taking place), it didn’t seem off. See, manipulation is a mind screwing control technique where you are constantly told everything you know to be true is wrong and are subtly persuaded to adopt another person’s mindset. Narcissistic abuse is pretty much masterful manipulation. This type of abuse is an emotional and psychological abuse. It is literally colorless and odorless.
What my mind could not tell me. My body began to tell me. I gained more and more weight. I was tired and sad all the time and in the beginning of 2017, my cycle was 72 days late (It came 2 days after the relationship was over). Year four. All I knew was that something was wrong. Things in my life were just not working. At this point, he was angry ALL THE TIME. Not a normal anger, but a raging one. I literally felt like I couldn’t be around him and his phone calls gave me anxiety.
Then one day, out of the blue, he dumped me. *sparing the details*
Shame, guilt, relief and grief came — in that order. I naturally grieved the relationship. Cried when I needed to cry. Scream when I needed to scream. Normal stuff. Then one day I had a break down. It was not until later that I was shown what I had been through (details on another post).
Narcissistic abuse is something that I did not know I was in until I was out of it. I didn’t even know anybody who had ever been through it. It is a highly manipulative situation and relationship. So manipulative that from the outside, it may seem like a normal relationship with ups and downs. But emotionally and mentally, something was wrong. Intuition told me something was wrong, but in the relationship I had been conditioned to no longer listen to my intuition (aka gut feeling).
I’m writing this post (mostly for selfish reasons.. see #3):
1) for awareness. If you’re going through or have been through something like this, you’re SO not alone. Tell someone you trust what you are experiencing. Psychopathfree.com is a great resource.
2) To talk about this. I am honestly so grateful to the people that made a bold choice to talk about their experience so I could recognize the signs in my own situation and get the proper help toward recovery.
3) To open my mouth. Y’all, I have literally been living in fear of talking. I had been conditioned for such a significant amount of time that everything I did and said was wrong and crazy (another manipulative tactic)… I felt more comfortable staying silent because I was too scared to be wrong, crazy and criticized. I was also afraid no one would believe me because to everyone else around, he was a charming gentleman. My parents didn’t even have a clue.
4) To encourage you to listen your gut (intuition). Most people that manipulate DO NOT want you to listen to your gut– they want you to listen to them. They will keep talking and talking distracting you from listening to yourself. But your intuition is gift. It’s really there to help.
I’m opening my mouth now and going forward because, I am now re-learning how to use my voice, and well, this is practice.