It’s a new year and time to shove 2020 out the window, welcoming a fresh start. The following handful of posts are a series, written a lifetime ago, that track my journey from a painful breakup with a man I adored, to the shock of discovering the truth behind his mask, to glimpsing the depths of his depravity, and finally acknowledging my own error in blindly trusting him. This tale ended long ago, but only now am I ready to disclose it – and perhaps help others who find themselves in a similar situation. Thank you to those who shared evidence and convinced me to tell my story.
The Final Chapter
“First it hurts, then it changes you.”
When you begin researching covert narcissists and realize you’ve endured this form of emotional abuse, the first descriptor you’ll likely come across is “victim.” “Emotional abuse” and “victim” – those two words punch you in the gut and knock the wind out of you. When you first hear the V-word, your blood may freeze in your veins; you’ll most likely be in disbelief. The tough, female warrior inside you may scream, “That’s not ME. I am not a victim!” Yet, this word clings to you, like the sour smell of booze after a night of too much drinking. In our world, victims are seen as weak, helpless, unwilling to take responsibility for the role, however small, they may have played in this reprehensible charade. No one wants to be the victim, but that’s what you are. You unwittingly gave yourself to a con-man, an emotional con-man, who never cared about you, never loved you, and only saw you for what he could “get” from you – nurturing, sex, status, or money – each of these creatures is looking for something different to feed their ego. It is a disorder and this sickness makes him incapable of significantly bonding with anyone – even fabulous you.
This will be the most difficult concept for you to comprehend – no matter what he whispered in your ear, no matter how sincere he sounded in the moments when he gazed into your eyes, no matter how many little kindnesses he did for you, it was all an act; he never cared about you. You’ll want to hold on to these little moments as “proof” that you made him feel something, but they are lies. In his world, you are not special – you are replaceable, something to be used up, like a tube of toothpaste. The charming, good-guy mask he’s been wearing can only stay in place for so long. Finally, it will slip and you’ll be left hurting, alone, and profoundly confused. Where did Mr. Wonderful go? With the final discard, you will feel his tangible lack of empathy or remorse – when he is done with you, he is DONE.
As you learn more – and you will – researching what just happened to you is part of the process victims of narcissists go through – watching YouTube, reading books, listening to podcasts, joining Facebook support groups, maybe even talking to a Therapist – you’ll begin to hear the word “survivor.” Survivor sounds tough, strong, invincible. Being labeled a “survivor” provides hope. At first, you’ll think it’s just a dolled-up euphemism for “victim,” that shameful stench that still swirls around you.
So, are you a victim or a survivor?
You are both. The language we use has significant impact on how we view ourselves and how the world views us. The word “victim” focuses on what has been done to us and, in the beginning, this is unfortunately where we need to focus. A victim has been damaged and mistreated; they are defined by the pain that has been heaped upon them by the narcissist. Their strength and resilience has been assaulted and may even feel non-existent. Victims are divorced from their power. On the other side of this trauma is where the survivors dwell – and you will make it to the other side. Survivors acknowledge the abuser for the pathetic creature he truly is. We’ve processed the disbelief, the hurt, the anger, the realization that people like this actually exist. We recognize that narcissists are incapable of feeling loving emotions and acknowledge our humiliation that, for all our savviness, we fell for their con. A survivor moves forward, stronger and changed. We not only continue to live, but we grow and prosper, sharing our human emotions the narcissist can only fake. As survivors, our power is reclaimed, and the narcissist, for us, shrivels into nothing and dies.
Thai Peanut Chicken Rice Bowl
- Cucumber Salad
- 1 cup cucumber, thinly sliced
- 2 Tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt Peanut Dressing
- ¼ cup bottled peanut sauce
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil Rice Bowl
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 cup edamame, sprinkled with salt
- 1 cup cooked chicken breast, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
- Sriracha Sauce (optional)
- Make cucumber salad: Combine all ingredients and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- Make peanut dressing: Whisk together all ingredients.
- Divide rice between four bowls. Arrange edamame, chicken and cilantro on top of rice. Add marinated cucumbers.
- Drizzle with peanut dressing and sriracha, if using.