Narcissistic abuse has the power to hold its victim for long periods of time. There are phases of this abuse which alternate between rage and peace, which confuse and bewilder.
I was married to a narcissist for over 20 years. When someone finally saw the truth of my abusive relationship, they would urge me to leave. When I didn’t leave, these friends and family members grew angry at me. They just didn’t understand how hard it was to leave. Let me explain why it’s so difficult to get away from narcissistic abuse.
Phases of narcissistic abuse
There are stages of abuse used by the narcissistic individual. After all, narcissism is really a mental illness, sometimes uncontrollable and debilitating. These stages make it extremely difficult to see the truth behind the behavior of narcissistic abuse. Here’s a secret, however. You can stop this narcissistic abuse during any of these stages.
The honeymoon phase
When you first enter a relationship with a narcissist, you will have no clue who they really are. Truth be told, the narcissist will seem like your soul mate, the perfect partner. He will shower you with attention and gifts. He will compliment you on your beauty and personality. If you are a young adult, you will all head over heels for him. If you are an older adult who is unaware of this phase of narcissism, you may also be easily fooled.
The honeymoon phase is so skillfully crafted to fulfill the needs of the narcissist, that it will seem legitimate. For a moment, the narcissist will truly be in love and filling a deep void within. So, it’s no wonder why the honeymoon phase can seem like a dream come true.
Remember, never give too much of yourself during good times. Yes, it is important to let your walls down with someone who truly cares about you, but be careful. There’s nothing wrong with protecting your emotions and your mind by limiting how much you choose to give away.
The fading phase
Over time, the interest of the narcissist will fade. You will notice they aren’t as attentive as before, and they even stop giving compliments. Soon, the narcissist will become distant and you will find yourself becoming clingy. After all, you were once spoiled by the lavish treatment you received before, and it’s hard to adapt to sudden changes. The closer you get, the more they will pull away.
Make sure you retain those interests you had before you met someone. Spend time with family and friends so that the fading phase will not damage you as much as it could. This treatment is wrong, but you don’t have to become a victim by falling into its trap.
The emotional phase
By this time, emotions are heightened from the push and pull of the changes occurring the narcissistic abuse. The strength of the relationship has faded and anger and loneliness begin to take its place. The narcissist grows even more distant leaving their mate confused and hurt. During the phase, the narcissist will continue to pull further away as you try harder to mend what’s broken.
Stop! Right now, just stop trying to pull them closer. Let them grow as distant as they please and they will notice how you aren’t chasing them. This will further reveal who they really are. I guarantee they will accuse you of being the one who grew distant. This blame game will prove their serious mental illness to be true.
Anger and fighting phase
You may now start to make attempts to mend the relationship by confronting the narcissist. Unfortunately, confrontation never works with this type of personality. Fighting will start and then the silent treatment will be used to keep you from forcing the narcissist to look at the truth of their behavior. Before long, this silent treatment will force you to be the one to apologize, leaving you back where you started, with no answers and feeling alone again.
This will be hard, but no matter how much the narcissist uses the silent treatment, do not give in. You will feel lonely and hurt, but you should remain strong.
Now, we are convinced the whole break down of the relationship is our fault. Our self-esteem starts to take a hit and we become obsessed with trying to fix the problems. We lose ourselves to the narcissist as we try desperately to make them happy. They have already lost interest and this effort is ignored. Now we start to think we are crazy and we wonder who the person is that we once loved.
When you start to blame yourself, make a list. List all the actions and words used by the narcissist. Then you will see that none of this breakdown was ever your doing.
The end game
Whether the narcissist ends the relationship or you do it, it will be a gift. Sometimes the narcissist, although they have lost interest in you, will keep you around for certain satisfaction that you do provide. Some narcissists will get rid of their mates as soon as their interest has faded. It varies from person to person.
If you feel you are being dragged along and there is no hope for release, you will have to end the relationship yourself. This will be difficult because your self-esteem has suffered so much. Sometimes the narcissist has convinced you that no one else would love you. This is a lie and a desperate ploy to keep someone by their side for distraction.
It’s best to leave the relationship unless a serious effort has been done to get help.
If you stay, there is a small chance that the narcissist will seek help. If they do not seek help, they will trap you in a cycle of rage and peace. What this means is the narcissist will grow furious about something in which you are to blame for, in their eyes. They will taunt you, call you names and accuse you of being the source of their unhappiness. Since this rage is so intimidating, you will give in and apologize for things that aren’t really your fault.
The rage will quiet and the narcissist will go through the cycle of a few weeks of extremely good behavior. He will compliment you again and spend time with you. This doesn’t last, however, and after a few weeks, the rage will return.
Some people in this position find it worth the rage to get the peacetime efforts. This is a trick, a trap, and you should consider getting out of the ordeal for good.
Narcissistic abuse and why it happens
There is no set reason for the narcissistic behavior. Sometimes these traits can be partially genetic. Other times, they come from severe childhood trauma and abuse. Unfortunately, abuse can repeat itself in the form of narcissism because the adult survivor of the abuse has a void which cannot be filled easily by normal behavior.
If you are dealing with a narcissist, whether it’s a family member or a life partner, please seek support. It can be difficult protecting your sanity and health when dealing with an individual of this sort. It’s important that you stay healthy and remember your worth. I wish you well and hope you can escape any phases and cycles of narcissistic abuse or traps set by narcissistic behavior.