Being caught in the haze of a Narcissistic relationship is being in a state of denial. It’s relative obliviousness to the subtle manipulations of a seasoned predator.

It’s a slow and subtle form of brain washing, where you know that you are unhappy and that feeling in your gut is telling you something isn’t right, but it’s also your lack of willingness to acknowledge it, or do anything about it. This haze makes us catatonic, unable to move and it brings us feelings of powerlessness and worthlessness.

I felt compelled to write on this subject, as I’ve received several emails from women this past week, describing how the light of truth is just starting to dawn on their relationship, how they’ve been caught in this funk for years, decades even, but they’ve been unable to describe it or put a name to it, or even dare to escape from it.

Many people find my site, or others like it, because they are searching for answers. They’ve been existing in a fog, watching their lives unfold without being completely present. They are miserably unhappy and they’ve luckily reached the point where they are starting to wake up and see the truth. This is a scary time for a lot of people.

There is a big difference between cognitively knowing something or someone is very wrong for you and being emotionally ready to do something about it. It’s what happens when your mind and your heart or your mind and your fears are in two very different places. You know what you have to do, but you’re too afraid to do it.

Women that have been involved with a Narcissist have been living in the dark for so long, the light can be blinding. They have been living a lie for so long they’ve forgotten what the truth feels like, forgotten what feeling good feels like and forgotten how to care and love themselves.

Even though there have been no chains or locked doors they have been prisoners – prisoners of Narcissistic abuse – they just didn’t know it. These conmen are skilled manipulators and as the smoke begins to clear most will eventually ask themselves, “How did I let this happen to me? What was I thinking?”

Don’t beat yourself up. Considering that estimates for Narcissism in North America can be as high as 16%, you have roughly a 1 in 6 chance of running into one. These men are skilled and well-rehearsed at this dance. They play mind games meant to take away your power and suck out your self-esteem. It’s not overt or obvious. It’s slow and deceptive. So much so that you probably didn’t even notice it was happening. Here’s how they do it:

Conveying Initial Irresistible Charm: You will notice right out of the gate that these men are exceptionally charming. They’re everything you’ve ever wanted in a man. They’re so loving, so attentive, they’ll do anything for you. And they’re so into you it’s a little scary. They will tell you things like, “You are my savior,” or “You’re an angel.” It’s too good to be true and impossible to resist.

They Pull the ole Bait and Switch: Once they know they’ve got you hooked the mask comes off and the real McKoy emerges. Since this change is abrupt you start to wonder what you’ve done wrong and you will spend the rest of the relationship jumping through hoops, trying to get that person back and make up whatever it was that you think you did to cause this change in them.

They Become Controlling and Start to Isolate you From Your Loved Ones: The real person is a ball of anger and rage. They’re controlling and slowly they will start to isolate you. They know that if you are close with your family and friends that your loved ones will see them for who they truly are and that theywill try to make you see the light. They want you confused, so they will stop associating with your loved ones and they will try to create rifts between them and you. They will make it unpleasant for you to want to spend time with them. They will throw fits to the point that it’s just easier if you stop hanging around them. Those loved ones that won’t go away so easily, will begin to tell you the truth, of who you’re involved with, but you won’t want to hear it. When we think that we’re in love we don’t want to hear the truth and we are ashamed and embarrassed that they might be right, so we will do the rest of the shutting out for them.

They Go into Rages and They Attack Your Self-Esteem: They will teach you that you need to walk on egg shells around them, as one little offence could have them reeling in rage. They will attack your self-esteem. They’ll spot your insecurities and go after them with a vengeance, or they’ll create new ones. They don’t want you to feel good about yourself, for two reasons. One, if you have self-esteem and self-worth you’ll leave them. There’s no way someone that demands respect would put up with any of this, so they need to eliminate whatever stores you’ve got left. And two, they are projectors, they hate themselves, so if they don’t feel good about themselves – why should you? You are an object to them. You are their punching bag, their cheerleader, their nurturer and their slave and you need to learn your place.

They will spin lies and tell stories meant to keep you off balance and in this toxic haze. Everything is all about them, all the time and you will forget about your wants or needs. You stop being your magnificent self and you become a shell of a person, watching your own life just happen to you. Little by little they have been sucking the life out of you. They has been taking away your power, until you feel powerless. They’ve convinced you that without them you’re nothing, that without them you could never survive.

That’s how you got here.

The first step to breaking free and reclaiming your life is awareness. This awareness doesn’t come easy though. You will deny it. You will rationalize their behavior, you will make excuses for it and you will want to doubt what you are seeing, because if it is all true, then you have been a victim, you have to acknowledge that you’ve made a colossal mistake and you’ve wasted years, sometimes decades, of your life. So you will fight this awareness. Why?

Fear

Cognitive Dissonance is a term used when an individual holds two conflicting beliefs. On the one hand you know your relationship is toxic and you’re miserable and on the other hand you may still think you’re in love, or you’re convinced that you’re nothing without your mate and that you can’t make it on your own. The thing about cognitive dissonance is that we can only hold two different view points for so long. Sooner or later as one side gathers more weight the scales will eventually tip.

What keeps us stuck in these unhealthy relationships is fear. Part of their repertoire is to convince us that we can’t survive without them. They have made us dependent on them financially or emotionally. That’s part of their control. Our identities have become so entrenched with theirs that we no longer have our own.

We will make excuses and say things like, they’re so good to my kids and I don’t want to hurt them, but deep down we know that there being good to our kids, is just another means to control us. If we were being truly honest with ourselves we would know that our kids would want us to be happy, safe and fulfilled, even if it meant leaving their home, their x-box and the comforts they are used to. They are not unaware, they know what’s going on and they are resilient.

Wouldn’t their lives be more enriched if their parent was strong, emotionally healthy and fully present in their lives. Wouldn’t we be better role models if we showed them courage in the face of fear, independence and strength.

“When fear knocks, let faith answer the door.” Robin Roberts

A very devout friend of mine said to me as I was fighting my way through the haze, “God takes care of the birds and the bees, what makes you think he won’t take care of you?”

Change is hard. It’s unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Sometimes we think it’s easier to stay where we are than to face the unknown, but if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you will keep getting the same results.

There are always options and opportunities. Our lives are the culmination of choices that we have made, and if those choices have led us to pain and misery, then it’s time to make a new choice.

Buddhists believe that you are only truly alive when you step out of your comfort zone, where you are in no man’s land, fully alert and fully present in the face of new challenges, that’s what being alive is all about.

You were put on this earth to be happy. That’s your purpose. That’s it. You were not meant to live for someone else. You were not meant to live on an emotional rollercoaster. You were not meant to walk on egg shells. You were not meant to be unhappy. In time you will come to see all of this as an incredibly valuable learning experience. You will never again put yourself last and treat you with a lack of love, care and respect and you won’t want to consort with anyone that tries to.

Trust your instincts, and start walking through the fog until you see the light. There you will find freedom, joy, self-sufficiency, self-love, inner peace and utter bliss. I promise.

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Written by Savannah Grey
Savannah Grey is a Freelance Writer, a Hypnotherapist, Consultant, Sports Fanatic, and Philosopher and has a degree in Psychology. She is the founder of www.esteemology.com, a website dedicated to educating and healing survivors of abusive relationships.