SURVIVING AND THRIVING AFTER A TOXIC RELATIONSHIP WITH A NARCISSIST
Today is the day I decided to take action on my thoughts and to start blogging and let people around the world take a pique into my mind. It would be prudent to say that I was just reading someone else’s blog that really got me to action this. Lately, I have been doing lots of reading from many bloggers on a variety of topics from: Minimalism, On being debt free, escaping Corporate America, Escaping the rat race, Consumerism, World Travel, On selling or not my home among a great variety of topics. Just before I set out to type my first blog I was reading a blog from Nicole Emerick who created Ms. Career Girl when I got to a sentence that read ‘What do you want your story to look like? What are you doing to get there? What do you love doing? Why aren’t you doing it?’ It was when I got to this very last question that I turned my computer on and here you have me putting this together. I have decided to start blogging as I have kept many thoughts and ideas to myself about life in general. There are so many life experiences I have had in the last 4 years of my life that I just felt the need to share with others with the hope that I can save people out there much heartache and misery. In fact, there are way too many hard lessons I’ve learned in my life that it has taken a lot of courage to sit down and type this. Before I went through the hardest experience in my life, never did I consider reading blogs. It did not occur to me to Google many of the questions I had, until I became involved with the person I thought would bring meaning to my life. Boy was I completely wrong!
I think it is important that I start by sharing with you my story about a 2-year ‘relationship’ with a narcissist. An experience that literally changed the way I view the world and redefined what I understood to be my purpose in life. From this one experience that I am about to share with you, the idea was born for me to write about subjects that I believe will be very helpful to anyone who has been involved in any type of toxic relationship and more specifically a relationship with a narcissist.
How It All Started
It all started when I saw her walking into a store at Wonderland of the Americas mall in San Antonio, TX. I saw her and immediately felt the attraction. My heart started racing and all I could think was I better go and say hello. In some way I had to take the opportunity and reach out to her. There may not be a second chance I get to see her again. So, I go in the store chasing after her until she turns in my direction and we both make eye contact. I could not say a word, but made sure she was aware I was interested and hoping the few seconds our eyes crossed that she would pick up on that. In that particular moment I did not have the guts to go and introduce myself. I walked out of the store and sat on a metal bench that was directly in front of the store on the way out. There I sat for a few minutes waiting for her to come out once again and gain the courage to make a connection and have a small chat. All of a sudden I see her coming out of the store and here I was again with my heart pounding and thinking I cannot let this opportunity pass me so it’s now or never. I started waving at her and signaled her to come to me. She started walking towards me. I started the conversation by extending my hand to shake hers. I couldn’t think of any other way to spark a conversation but by introducing myself and telling her that I had seen her at a restaurant a few months back. She asked me, “At which restaurant did you see me?” I said, “ I saw you at Palenque Grill.” She immediately replied, ‘but I have never been to that restaurant’, I responded, ‘Well, it must have been someone that looks a lot like you’. After this exchange there was no need for further story-making as she asked me where I was from to which I replied, ‘Laredo.’ And she said she happened to live there for a few years when she was younger. This even created more of an immediate bond as she had lived in my hometown.
She sat next to me and I could not ignore that her eyes were wandering all over me. If anything I was only interpreting this as a sign that she was very interested in me and possibly attracted as well. While she sat there she started basically giving me a lecture on how Hollywood being founded by the Jews and how powerful a community they are and the fact that you never really see films that portray them under a bad light. I have to admit I was mesmerized and astonished as to how much she new or at least how much she appeared to know about history. I do not know the story of how Hollywood came to be. It could all have been made up but how could I know this without knowing the actual story if it happens to be any different from what she was telling me. After an hour and a half of her talking about Hollywood she says I need to go now. Before she left though she handed me a personal card that had her mobile number, email and her apartment address on it. I was so excited about this. It meant the possibility existed that we could connect with her at some other time and that this could be the beginning of a great friendship, and in my mind I was yearning for something more than just a friendship but that would be a good start.
That same night I sent her an email address. I tried to work the courage to call her but every time I grabbed my cell phone to dial her number, I would change my mind. I didn’t want her to think I was desperate to talk to her. Instead I decided to send her a note via email. I basically said in the note that it had been a pleasure meeting her at that mall and that I had enjoyed the conversation and history lesson on Hollywood very much. To end the note I also told her I though she was a very beautiful woman. A day passed and I didn’t get a reply from her. I was anxious to be honest. I was hoping that I would get a reply from her right the next day but nothing. I decided to call her. The phone rang twice and she answered the phone. I told her I had sent a note and that I also wanted to just chat for a few minutes. She told me she had not had a chance to look at her emails and that was why she hadn’t replied to my note. We only chatted for a few minutes and she said she had a piano at her home and that she had some bottles of wine and that I was welcome to a glass anytime I wanted to stop by. This was on a Sunday that we were talking and I said, ‘Well, I’m not doing anything right now, it will only take me about 20 minutes to get to your place. What do you think if I show up right now? She said, that sounds good to me. We said our good byes, I changed clothes into something more comfortable and in a matter of 20 minutes or so I was at apartment front door. She welcomed me in her home and the first thing she did was give me a tour of her impeccable apartment. She had a collection of a variety of items in the living room above where her piano was positioned and had some replicas of famous works of art hung. Everything was in its place, very orderly. She made her way to the kitchen and took a bottle of wine from one of the kitchen cabinets removed the cork and served herself and me a glass of wine. We toasted for a ‘lifetime friendship.’ I was about to put my glass of wine before taking a sip and she stopped me in my tracks and said, ‘you are not supposed to do that until you have taken a sip, it is not good etiquette and is considered disrespectful.’ I didn’t think anything of that and basically did was told and proceeded to take a sip prior to setting the glass of wine on the kitchen counter. She then invited out to her balcony from which you could enjoy a nice view leading to highway I-10 where traffic never ends at any time of the day or night. She sat on a stool and I followed suit. She noticed that my eyes were affixed on to her and she said ‘ You are in disbelief, aren’t you?’ I said, ‘yes, I am. It’s just a little crazy that we met at the mall just 2 days ago and here I am having a glass of wine with you in your apartment.’ She was extremely nice and welcoming and really felt like we just connected like never in my life with anyone I’ve ever met.
This is how my ‘relationship’ started. It took off very quickly. It so happened that her apartment was only 3 minutes from my office. She said to me, ‘Feel free to stop by my place any time you want to.’ Since I worked a few minutes away that to me was awesome. A few days later I invited her to dinner at a restaurant that has some very delicious dishes so I thought I would take her to eat dinner there. She accepted my invitation – I was flattered that she accepted. Things in my mind were going great and I felt like I was connecting with her at every level. We agreed to meet at the restaurant at a certain time and she showed up a few minutes late. When she arrived I was already at the table waiting for her. I waved at her when I saw her so that she would walk over to my table. She sees me and starts walking towards the table- we hug each other and she sits down. A minute later the waiter shows up and hands us our menus. He asked if we knew what we wanted to drink. I ordered my diet soda and she asked for a beer. The water asked if she wanted salt on the rim, she said ‘Why are you asking me that, I asked for a beer, to which the waiter replied, Oh, I was just wondering if you wanted salt on the rim, some people like salt on it. She said, I asked for a beer only. He said, ok chief I will bring it right out. She said, ‘what did you call me?’ Do you seem me wearing feathers or something?’ I didn’t know what to make of that. The waiter was very nice and cordial. He was just trying to make sure we were attended to. The waiter comes back and brings us our drinks, my diet soda and her beer (no salt of course). He asked if were ready to order and she ordered first. She asked for some steak/shrimp plate, which was one of the most expensive dishes on the menu. I was the one inviting so I was ready with the funds but had never experienced my date choosing the most expensive dish on the menu particularly on our first date. I tend to be conscious of things like this especially when someone else is paying. But again I didn’t think much of that either. Our entrees are brought out and I can say my quesadillas were very tasty. All of a sudden a mariachi band shows up at the restaurant and she signals one of the band members to come to our table and she requested a very popular song. I felt special. We had a great meal and to top it off we had the Mariachi band playing at our table. One thing though, as they started playing the song she started banging her eating utensils on her plate following the rhythm of the tune. To say the least that was a bit loud and I would say it was more than likely annoying the patrons sitting around us. It was loud enough to make it an unpleasant experience but it seems as though she was enjoying the attention she was getting. In the end, it was in my mind a very special and memorable dinner date. Though I could not forget the little annoyances that were part of that night: being rude to the waiter, banging her eating utensils on her plate and choosing one of the priciest dishes from the menu. All of these were red flags of the type of person I was dealing with, a narcissist. At the time I had no idea this was the case, otherwise, I would have run like forest lol. I can laugh about it now, I guess, but the pain that this person caused me was so great that it almost cost me my life.
I felt the need to share the beginning of this personal agonizing experience as it has taught me so much about what is important in life, to know myself better as a person, what I value, what I represent, what I stand for and what I am willing to fight for. My intention is not to dwell on the past and feel bad for myself for what rough times I went through but rather to put those experiences to work in my favor to get me through to the other side a survivor and a winner.
To all of you who are currently recovering from a relationship with a narcissist, I say love yourself, surround yourself with people that highlight the best in you, get close to your family. During this period of recovery you will go through many ups and downs but believe me life will get better and better. And in a way you will use this experience to make you an even better person than you were before you got involved in this relationship to begin with.
It is not going to be easy nor will it happen overnight. It is an experience that you will never forget but I can almost assure you that your life will be better than perhaps you ever imagined. You will be true to yourself and really go for what you want out of life. I remember when I was going through the agony of breaking away from that relationship addiction. I had insomnia. I could not really function at my job. I was always tired and didn’t even go out to enjoy my life as I had done before engaging in this relationship. I love singing and even stopped singing or going to karaoke bars on the weekends. I was in such bad emotional shape that I even avoided getting together with my friends. In fact, you really get to know who your friends are as you are trying to recover from this. I have 2 really good friends of mine who I confide in in to share my very deepest secrets and even they at times would not answer the phone when I would call them. I can understand their reasons really. Who really wants to be on the phone with someone who doesn’t talk about anything but how bad his or her situation is and talking about the same subject hour after hour –that was me at the time. I would call my friends and practically wouldn’t even ask, ‘How is your day?’ The minute they would answer the phone I would start telling them about my relationship and how things would seem to work one day and how they wouldn’t the next. This of course was due to the games the narcissist plays with you. It’s nothing but mind games to keep you stuck by their side but in reality their enjoying and savoring the suffering they inflict on you. God really was on my side when I went through this I tell you. I am thankful I did not lose my job nor did I ruin my credit by missing payments or going into debt.
I know everyone’s situation is different and there may be some people who may be able to get out of such a relationship and find themselves again in perhaps a much shorter time frame than I did. As I was going through my recovery process I always wondered, ‘When will I stop thinking about her, when will I be through with this agony, how much longer before I feel happy and I’m able to enjoy life once again?’ I never really read anywhere from all the blogs or forums that talk about narcissistic abuse recovery where someone spoke of a particular time frame, but I can tell you from my personal experience that it took me a good 1 and a half years to feel like I could really focus on something other than the narcissistic person (if you can call them that). The one advice I can give you to recover is to educate yourself about narcissistic personality disorder as much as you can. Forget about the possibility that you can somehow help them save themselves—do not risk your life doing this. It is important that you come to the understanding that there is no cure to their disorder and that would be wasting your life away trying to fix something that is irreparable. It is not easy to walk away but you have to do it and do not make any contact whatsoever once you have decided to regain your life, sanity and self-confidence. Something I did was to disassociate from any friends we made together, get rid of anything that he/she gave you. I, for example, deactivated all of my social media to not have the urge to look her up and see what she was up to. You will have the desire to know how he or she is doing but do not fall into their trap again. Move one and really take care of yourself.
As mentioned in the beginning of this post, this experience has changed how I view the world, myself and my aspirations and goals in life. Through the lens of optimism I can gladly say this experience has brought about the best in me. I will be writing very soon about some of the decisions I made after having spent about 2 years into my healing journey. It has changed my world and I’m excited to very soon write about life experiences since then and the places it has taken me to. I can understand what you are feeling and going through from first-hand experience and all I can say is stay strong, stay the course and do not look back.
Survive & Thrive