We live in a world where sharing experiences enlightens everyone who hears the personal testament of others who are brave and are willing to share their experiences — no matter how personal. In the name of assisting one person who may be in a similar circumstance. iLO’s words should genuinely be taken to heart as this beautiful creature shares valuable information.
As always when a survivor comes to you with their experience; please listen and avoid judgements. We as a society as able to assist individuals simply by providing a historical example that can be utilised as a teachable moment, which is exactly what iLO did. For more on iLO I would recommend you check out her Facebook and stay awhile — especially tomorrow at around 6:30 pm UK time for iLO’s weekly livestream. iLO’s voice is something that every single human being on this earth should be a witness to — as she truly offers so much! ❤Rania M M Watts, EIC CCIQ Press
Hey. I’m iLO, and this is my 2nd iLOTalks blog. Today I want to talk about what it is like to love, live, survive, and thrive after narcissistic abuse.
If you’ve ever been in the grip of a narcissistic relationship, be that with a partner, friend, boss, family member.. you know this isn’t something we can just get over and move on in a scripted way. Its tough to describe what you feel when a narc’s influence takes over you. Your grief, post-contact, remains for a long time. Grief itself is not a timeline and you have to give yourself permission to feel it and learn slowly to find the real, authentic YOU that chooses the right people to love, who respect, treasure, and love you back with the devotion you deserve. There’s no prescription to find closure after leaving a narc, by rationalizing the destruction caused in any understandable, rational way. It isn’t rational, because the narc’s nature isn’t like any other. So lets talk about it.
I want to point out Im not delving into any personality types where a few minor narcissistic-like traits are on show. Or painting a picture of an overinflated ego. I’m talking about narcissistic personality disorder, something much darker and more serious because of the ruins it can leave people in after having close contact with them. Its pathological and can cause a great deal of pain. But there’s SO much light and joy to be found on the other side of things, and all we can do is nurture and love our authentic self, and learn more about how to notice the red flags from the beginning.
I’d like to stress that I had NO IDEA I was suffering narcissistic abuse until AFTER these people were gone for good. I didn’t know anything about it and had never read or come across it. I was in complete shock after I realized what was happening to me — after a combination of therapy, extensive research, conversations with friends, and contacting professionals on the subject as even then I refused to accept something this twisted could have swallowed up years of my life without me realizing.
Here is why. The true nature of a narc, in a few words, reveals someone with a twisted sense of self-importance, yet huge insecurity, a lack of empathy, the inability to feel, give or receive true love, and a deep need for others’ admiration and attention. It is not something you, or they, can really change. There’s no rehabilitation for a covert narc, but there is one for your heart and soul if one has attached themselves to you and caused you pain.
Narcs choose to gain closeness (I say ‘choose’, because every move they make is calculated to suit what they need most and can get the most supply from) to people who are smart, strong, independent, kind, sweet, amazing, loving, empathetic, and who see the best in others, and love to help others. The more beautifully rare qualities you posses, the more they may run after you. This is simply because narcs are unable to grow and develop as a person with genuine empathy, express or feel genuine regret, emotion, or true commitment. They crave someone amazing and pure to feed from, because facing their true self is impossible to do, therefore they require a masquerade to live under – and to present themselves as good, loving, wonderful people to the rest of the world (especially on social media).
Whereas an authentic human being knows how to navigate through life by nurturing the desire to grow and learn, treat others with respect, care for others, and be a decent person, the narc isn’t able to have the sensitivity, emotional intelligence and freedom to have such natural interactions with anyone around them. The bad news is the exploitation and manipulation they use is such an ingrained part of their being, they believe their own lies; they don’t see any flaws within their way of thinking at all; the good news is, you can learn to spot the warning signs and cut poisonous people out of your life as soon as you can.
The first thing to watch our for, wether its a friend or partner coming into your life, is the love-bombing. If its going incredibly fast, if you’re being admired to a grandiose level right off the bat, if you’re told you are ‘loved’ and a ‘soulmate’ very early on, that you are ‘The One’ after 3 dates, etc etc… take a moment and reflect on what’s happening. It takes time to truly love someone, because it takes time to truly know someone. Falling in lust, thinking of someone 24/7, being infatuated, feeling obsessed – some of this is fun, NONE of this is real love.
At the start you cannot have any idea who you are opening up to, no matter what they say to you. Their actions over time will show their commitment to you, and in most cases you’ll naturally want to take some quality time to understand the person you begin to fall for, their quirks and what makes them tick, how they feel love; to weather the storms together as your relationship is put to different tests by life, and to make the decision of ‘Do I want to spend the rest of my life with this person?’ or ‘Do I want this friend to be a permanent part of my life for good?’. Ask yourself why you want it. Is it a choice or does it feel like you’re out of choices?
My biggest mistake was ignoring the red flags I saw from the very start, and as a result becoming trauma-bonded, which I mistook for love. It wasn’t.
When you’re trauma-bonded to a person, there are conflicting feelings that can begin to cook inside of you.. Let me address a couple things. It can be SO confusing when everything feels incredible right away because we all want to be treated as queens and kings! Who doesn’t want to feel special and wanted! We all deserve it too.
But we deserve it with the RIGHT person.
Believe me, when a narc meets you, it feels like ‘fate’. They are extremely charming. Attractive. Cute. Magnetic. They say the right things. They look at you like the only person in the room and begin to pursue you there and then. You feel like you’ve known them forever, like you’ve met before. It feels like destiny within hours. After one conversation they can figure out the one thing you are insecure about or what’s maybe missing from your life right now. In my case, the only thing missing from a very full, rounded, beautiful life I had, was true intimate love, and the narc realized I wanted that so much that I was ready to do anything to find it. I was desperate on the inside. I was lonely. I craved to be loved so badly it was pouring out of my eyes.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to find love. But I was doing it at a time when I hadn’t taken care of putting myself first beforehand and working through some major demons I’ve had in my life. I wasn’t in a good place to receive love , because I didn’t love myself enough, and didn’t even know who I was at the time. I know this because I remember thinking: ‘’If only I have love from a partner, all will fall into place and finally heal me forever’’. This kind of dangerous thinking is unhealthy. It unfortunately pushes you to give and give up more than you receive, to settle, to put up with less than you deserve, to chase the idea of ‘love’ like the be-all and end-all, instead of allowing yourself to meet someone and experience life with them and accept and welcome love when it comes your way, but not be so obsessed with the idea that you must find The One or else you’re die alone.
You don’t choose your life partner out of fear, but out of genuine desire to love them and grow with them. If you happen to be single for years, while you’re on a journey of loving and finding your true self, so be it! I think its a beautiful, fantastic thing to do! Enjoy it!
Lastly, when people try to tell you who they really are, LISTEN to it. Believe them. Very often narcs have no shame about admitting it. I was repeatedly told ‘Look, Im a narcissist, so…’, ‘I am many things but Im not good with empathy’, ‘I am a cold-hearted motherfucker’ (yes in those exact words); ‘Sorry, but that’s the narcissist part of me coming out here..’, ‘Im taking a few days, the narcissist inside of me needs to do this’. Did I hear all if it? Hell yes. Did I listen? Absolutely not. I was in denial. I thought, ‘That’s crazy, you seem like the most genuine wonderful soul I know, don’t be hard on yourself, you are a great person’. I refused to accept it because I thought there’s no way on Earth a strong and together woman like me would fall victim to anything. Why would I be with someone this cold and twisted? No way. Not me.
So I developed a self-sabotaging strategy to keep me sane: the more emotional abuse they’d throw on me, the more love I’d give them, to show them love conquers all. I didn’t know it was emotional abuse. I thought they were often having a bad day. I rationalized it. Excused it. It was easier for me to suffer inside than leave. I thought I’d die without them ‘loving’ me. But we are only human. It can happen to anyone and everyone.
Relationship-wise, was lucky because in spite of all the dependency and toxic bonding, I still had one deal-breaker in my head that I knew I’d never stand for – cheating. As soon as I saw proof, I was able to leave, to cut them out emotionally too. Thank God they did what they did so publicly, as I’m afraid I’d have stayed with them until I disappeared as a human and lost myself in my pain.
** Quick p.s. here: most narcs you’re romantically involved with, will cheat/are cheating on you repeatedly and consistently – its just a fact – they need to have their next supply ready or groomed to use in case you come to your senses early, or you gain strength to leave etc. – expect them to never admit it , even when there is clear proof, even if you catch them doing it in person. They’ll turn it on you, deny it, gaslight you, blame you, and discard you once you show them you know who they really are.** I encourage you to run, and not look back.
Family and friends can be such a good source of truth too – again, in my worst dealing with a particular narc, I was advised, passionately, to RUN while I can, by their own family. I wish I’d listened, but that’s so hard to hear, when you believe you love somebody who is good, whose family is trying to protect you from suffering because they know YOU are good, you won’t necessarily face that, you’d first think the family was nuts and unfair and trying to mess with your bond. I protected the narc all along. But denial is powerful.
These experiences were many years ago but I still sometimes have a trauma-bonding response to some things, in spite of now being happy and on the other side of any past nightmare. Lockdown triggered a few of those too. PTSD has been strange to deal with too, but healing takes patience and forgiveness. I have forgiven myself for allowing toxic people in my life, and remained open and trusting despite them trying to kill that vibe in me. But that’s for another blog soon.
I hope this can help someone who may be in a similar situation, and help you relate and know you’re not alone. Sharing something so personal is beyond vulnerable but only my truth sets me free and that’s what I have always wanted, to be free. There’s a great deal of love in my life now that is genuine and precious, tried and tested, beautiful and strong, and I wish the same for all of you. Yours, iLO x