“I never would have left.” That’s what I said to my long-term Narcissist, during one of my futile attempts to get him to stay. “I never would have done this.” The scary part is – that was the truth. It didn’t matter how much pain he caused me. It didn’t matter that nothing was about me, or that I had no idea who I was anymore. None of that mattered.
It was as if I was resigned to the way that that was how my relationship was going to be. I had gotten too used to being mistreated, forgotten, ignored and abused. I had put in the time. Almost ten years of my life I had invested in this man. We had a house together, a mortgage. We were building a life. It didn’t matter that I was the only one that saved for the down payment. It didn’t matter that I was the one that pushed and did all the work. I had all the external things that made this look like a relationship, but it was all a façade and I was all good with pretending it was otherwise and I had no intention to leaving ever. The question was why?
Something was wrong. I knew that, but I chose to not see what was right in front of me. I minimized huge issues and I was fully compliant with my own mistreatment. I really didn’t think I could leave. I didn’t think I was capable of making it on my own and besides I didn’t have a good enough reason. I never caught him cheating. There were no text messages or phone calls from other women. This is the problem with most in my situation, unless they have that smoking gun, they don’t feel like they have the right to leave. An inordinate amount of circumstantial evidence is still not enough to scare off most codependents. It’s as if they live in a perpetual fog.
Codependents are really good at doubting their senses. They are so used to taking the blame for everything and this makes them really easy to manipulate, because all a deceptive partner need do, is slip in the lamest of excuses and that’s usually all it takes to take the wind out of the sails of even the most observant of codependents and replace it with doubt and self-recrimination.
Codependents are also excellent at minimizing big issues. It stems from their martyr complex and their ever suffering personas. “It’s ok that you hurt me – it’s just me. I’m used to it. I can take it.” They are way too quick to forgive and have few if any boundaries that tell them exactly, when enough is enough.
They are also quick to settle for less, believing that they don’t deserve more. ‘What you allow will persist,’ and codependents allow an awful lot. I can relate to being fully compliant in my own mistreatment. Instead of speaking up and demanding to be treated with love and respect, I was afraid to rock the boat and even more afraid that he would leave me if I did.
It was almost as if a fog had entered my brain and cast a shadow over all things common sense. I had an ideal of what and how I wanted my life to be. At times my reality would almost touch the fantasy and that was enough. I thought I could change him to fit the mold that I wanted. We both knew he was f**cked up enough to know that he needed to change, so with my help I could mold him into the prince I had always dreamed of – right?
The reality of trying to change someone is a lot different than the fantasy. When I think now on how difficult it is for us to make little changes in our own lives, the thought of actually getting someone else to change is downright preposterous, especially someone who will not acknowledge that there is anything wrong with them.
A codependent really is the perfect fit for a Narcissist in a dysfunctional and twisted way, because Narcissists are really good at creating doubt and codependents are really good at buying it. Narcissists tend to be quick on their feet and very convincing, not to mention charming.
The reason they’re so good at it is because they are masters of deflection. You can’t pin something on someone who refuses to accept blame. There is a smug arrogance that washes over them when faced with the possibility of getting caught. It’s due to their impaired ability to feel empathy which blurs the line for them, between right and wrong. It’s like it’s a game to them and their greatest advantage is that you don’t know the rules.
What does an insecure codependent, who willingly accepts blame, do, when faced with someone, who just as aggressively, refuses to accept any responsibility? It’s the perfect storm.
A narcissist wants to create smoke and mirrors. It’s how their behavior flies under everyone’s radar for so long. The longer they can create doubt, the longer they can get away with their agenda. If they know you’re unsure, even though you suspect something, they know the right buttons to press to keep you guessing.
If you present them with text messages you found on their phone, they’ll often have a quick excuse, “I’m just helping her out with something.” If you press -then their deflection kicks in, “You’re so paranoid. You’re nuts. You’re so jealous I can’t take it,” and when you tell them you don’t believe them and ask them to show you their phone, or their Facebook, or their email and prove that nothing is going on, what happens then?
The rage kicks in. Their first attempt to get out is through quick thinking and coming up with plausible, believable excuses and that generally is enough to get them out of most scrapes. When that fails though, they will resort to deflection and gaslighting, to get the spotlight off of themselves and onto you, so that with your already depleted self-esteem, you’ll internalize their wrath and back off. When that fails and they know they are caught, it’s a full blown rage directed solely at you, complete with name calling, character assassination , threats and abandonment.
They will leave you with the belief that you pushed them too far. That all you had to do was believe them (which requires you to doubt your senses and feelings as well as the proof you’ve gathered) but you didn’t, so now they’re gone and you’re miserable and internalizing the brunt of the conflict.
Dr. Phil has a lot of great sayings, but my all-time favorite is this – “Those that have nothing to hide – hide nothing.” If the end of the conflict would mean showing you their phone – then why aren’t they jumping to show you their phone? If it means showing you an email – why aren’t they showing you their email?
Another oldie is – “Where there’s smoke there’s fire.” If you’re hearing things, or seeing things that are causing you to feel uneasy, then there is something there that needs to be addressed. If your mate would rather blow up and walk away, rather than ease your mind and provide proof to the contrary, then there is something going on.
Believe me, if anyone is being blamed for something that they aren’t doing, they will be the first ones shoving proof down your throat. When you corner a rat they switch from defense, to attack.
The bottom line is, if your relationship has got you twisted in knots and acting crazy, then you seriously need to rethink your situation. Healthy relationships consist of full disclosure and the desire to have each other feeling happy, confident and secure. If you’re unhappy and your relationship is making you act crazy, or it leaves you feeling physically ill, these are all good enough reasons to walk away.
When your instincts are screaming at you, that you shouldn’t trust someone, it’s a good indication that you shouldn’t trust them. I tend to believe that we all have a six sense that can pick up on things that we consciously cannot. So if you are feeling all of these signs you don’t have to wait for indisputable proof. You don’t need permission to walk away from anything that is making you feel uneasy. Practicing self-care is removing yourself from anything that you deem unhealthy for your wellbeing.
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