Narcissistic abuse is an intricate web of manipulation that highjacks your entire sense of self and inhibits your ability to think clearly.
When I left my abusive marriage I felt a type of confusion that wasn’t normal. It filled me with anxiety. Now that I was no longer relating to my ex, I couldn’t figure out how I felt in relation to my own personal needs, thoughts and feelings.
I kept second guessing myself and even the most basic decisions left me feeling anxious. I realized that this had come from my ex’s use of gaslighting, one of the most dangerous aspects of narcissistic abuse.
Gaslighting is a type of psychological abuse fuelled by the need to project false assumptions onto a victim with the hopes of causing them to doubt and question their own memory, perception, and sanity. It’s an attempt by the abuser to overwrite the victim’s personal reality by denying, misdirecting, contradicting and lying about what they know is true.
The abuser believes that if he can destabilize and delegitimize the victim’s ability to speak the truth, then the victim wouldn’t feel justified in reporting the abuse. In this way, the abuser’s true identity would remain hidden and there would be no checks and balances to hold them accountable.
The false assumptions that my ex would project onto me stemmed from his own insecurities and self-hatred. They mirrored the assumptions he had about himself and as a way to get them out, he would project them onto me. It was also his method of getting me to doubt myself.
He assumed that he knew the real reason why I felt a certain way or made the choices I did. I would try to convince him he was wrong, that his assumptions were insulting but he wasn’t listening – he would continually go back to the same assumptions and project them onto me.
He showed no concern about how these assumptions affected me. He just said them and they made me consistently feel like I was not good enough and I started to become very self-conscious.
Narcissists have zero empathy. None.
They are born with an inability to feel empathy and that is what makes them expert manipulators and evil. They wound with intent. My ex knew that he was being cruel but it didn’t matter. The only outcome of his abuse that he cared about was whether it would get him what he wanted or not and how to keep his abuse hidden.
Towards the end, when the abuse started to escalate I kept a record of it in my journal. Writing the abuse down helped me hold on to the reality of what really happened against the effect of his gaslighting and narcissistic hijacking.
It gave me the clarity to see him exactly for what he was without doubting myself.
When I left him, I sent him what I had written to remind him of the abuse because he denied it. He told me that my writing didn’t prove anything and that no one will believe me. I assured him that I didn’t need anyone to believe me.
I believed myself and I knew now exactly what he was.
Moving forward, I recognize the influence of his abuse but I don’t hold onto it. I only make the choices that I feel comfortable making. I hold space for the difficult emotions to come and go without identifying with them.
I recognize that there are some wounds I can work with and some that I must surrender to time. There are certain psychological shifts I can’t make just yet.