Acceptance or Denial Phase
My life went on and I slowly began to lose my perspective. I was miserable. I still did not understand why.
I decided to join an online support group that was for sexless relationships. I mean that in itself was horrible for me to even admit that this was my relationship. He never liked sex right from the beginning of the relationship which was something I had never experienced before.
I found some very supportive people on this forum and it helped me feel like I was not the only person with this problem. There were many people in this same situation. The difference was that my partner had qualities that were pointing to an emotionally abusive relationship and the sexless relationship issue was only the tip of the iceberg.
I had not figured out that this was part of his control over me and did not really see the whole picture, yet.
I started to talk to a few close friends I trusted and told them about the relationship with my partner. I began to tell them about how he put me down, his extreme sense of entitlement, the way he would argue around and around in circles that never made sense to me, how he was so good at lying that it was part of who he was, how he blamed me for everything and of course his other angry controlling behaviors. He would use these behaviors daily because that was who he was.
Looking back on my life, I remember that he never wanted to go anywhere with me or the kids. I would literally beg him to go on a vacation every year, until one summer he said yes sure we could go to a cottage for a week. I was so excited in spite of his grumblings or that he did not lift one finger to help prepare for our trip.
The day arrived for us to leave and after he got up late while we all waited for him, we left with the car packed and two kids for the 12-hour drive. I drove the entire trip because he was too tired since he had to work overtime to get ready for this trip, he told me. I had also worked my full-time job, looked after the kids, the animals, and packed up for the entire trip.
He spent exactly one day with us and did not set one foot outside of the beautiful log cottage before he returned to our home leaving me alone at the cottage for the week with no car and 2 children. He returned the day before we had to go home. He spent the entire day sleeping inside the cottage while we spent the day at the beach. Although I had fun with the kids, this is the kind of life I lived which was much like living as a single parent.
These behaviors were very common for him. His sense of entitlement, lying, need for control, manipulation and his intense rage are obvious to me now. They were not then.
He would arrive home after the dinner was prepared and the girls were both in bed, even though his job ended hours earlier on a regular basis. He never ever helped out with any of the household work. He did not do laundry or cleaned the house. He did allow me to sleep in on Sunday mornings for a few hours so I could get some rest and he would ” babysit the kids.” I was not a stay at home Mother. I had a full-time job and looked after the house and children on top of that.
As time went by he would diminish my friends and family.
It took time and it was a gradual process but he managed to isolate me almost completely from everyone. Thankfully I had friends at my work and friends online. He was clever in his tactics and would use things that I may have told him years before about a family member or friend and use these against them to distort my opinion about them.
Here are some of the things he said as I remember:
- ” You know your mother did not love you. Can’t you see that? That is why you are so messed up.”
- ” Your friend is such a bitch and clearly she will be divorced in a few years.”
I slowly began to realize what was happening and started researching on the internet. I also opened up to my friends who had concerns that my partner sounded abusive. I decided to follow a close friend’s advice and go see a therapist on my own.
I had gone with my partner, to two different therapists until the last one was totally manipulated by my partner telling me ” I was not trying hard enough and I was causing the problems.”
I had discovered that not all therapists have the skills or knowledge to understand narcissistic abuse although I had not identified it as such at that time.
I saw my therapist for a year and as I began to trust him, I told him about my relationship with my partner. He eventually told me ” you are in an abusive relationship,” It took me a while but finally I got it and it was as though a lightbulb turned on in my head. I was actually horrified to think I was in an abusive relationship with the person I had decided to spend my life with. It was, in fact, quite devastating to me, for a while. I did not want to believe it.
I was in an abusive relationship and did not realize spousal abuse does not always involve physical violence. Emotional abuse, coercion, and controlling behavior can be just as devastating for survivors but it is more difficult for us to recognize. This however was what part of what made him narcissistic- his deception. It is also very much violence.
My partner used to tell me it was me that had the issues and problems and that I was ” crazy.” I later found out that it is common for the abuser to convince us that we are the ones with the problem.
My partner’s abuse was textbook: we were together for 14 years, and I could not see how things gradually changed.
He would criticize and question my every utterance, but never in front of others, except the children if I did not get them out of the room quickly enough. He would then either deny it or tell me I was overreacting when I would confront him about this. I knew something was very wrong with our relationship and at this point I knew it was not me, which is the lie I had been told over and over again by him.
I had put it down to his work stresses, or due to his childhood abuse history – basically, I found excuses for his behavior. I even thought he might be depressed as he did have a history of anxiety, but there is no excuse for abuse, even if he did suffer from either of these mental health issues. My eyes were opening.
He wanted to argue day and night which was so draining and difficult. I argued back and demanded that he treat me with more respect, but the arguments would follow the same increasingly bizarre pattern: he would take no responsibility for anything and shift the blame back on to me; he would deny the things I accused him of with such absolute conviction it usually had me believing that it was all my fault.
Soon, I stopped pointing out his bad behavior just to try and avoid the arguments. I remember at one point, I tried to agree with everything he said so the almost constant arguing would stop but then he caught on to this and with his face in a sneer, he said ” This crap you are doing is not going to work. I can see you are trying to agree with everything I am saying.”
I was still seeing my therapist weekly and when he told me I was in an abusive relationship.
As hard as it was for me to hear, I did finally hear what he said and sadly I knew he was right.
I knew I was in an abusive relationship.
During my research and learning about the abuse I came across definitions used in psychology such as “stonewalling”, gaslighting”, “compartmentalization”, – all of the things he did to me finally had a name.
This is what was happening to me and there was a name for it. I was not going mad. I found a book by Lundy Bancroft’s Why Does He Do That: Inside the Minds of Controlling and Abusive Men which literally changed my life. To this day, I am grateful for finding this book.
In the end, I realized that either I accept the situation or deny it. The outcome of the research I had done along with the therapy had shown me that abusers are incapable of change.
Learning about narcissistic abuse and narcissists empowered me but after a certain amount of time it is time to move on to the next step in healing.
This was a pivotal point in my healing journey. I accepted that my relationship was abusive and my partner was a narcissistic abuser.
It was extremely hard for me to believe that this person, this man that I loved and thought was my soulmate could be abusive with me and worse he knew exactly what he was doing. His intentions were in fact to control me and he got satisfaction in having power over me.
It was heartbreaking for me.
If this is sounding familiar to you, please have a look at the next step in my healing journey; Step Three.
Love to you
Go here Step Three