Why you should never jump into a new relationship after narcissistic abuse

The Wheel of Abuse

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Not all abusive relationships involve physical abuse. Emotional and mental abuse can be every bit as damaging, and sometimes more so. (Click image to make larger).

A new friend of mine (a survivor of several abusive relationships with narcs) and I were talking on Facebook. Rather than try to paraphrase, I’ll quote her directly–and then give my own opinions.

Friend:

“I realized he [her malignant narcissist ex-boyfriend who she’s still in minimal contact with but who is still trying to gaslight her and get her attention by stalking her on Facebook] did everything on that wheel except for the Economic abuse. He started to subtle test the boundaries…and realized I wasn’t game. Although I believe he probably still believes I’ll contact him again. It’s amazing, [Lauren.]

The more time your away, they stronger you feel. Your self-esteem comes back slowly. I get those frightened moments when I think my new boyfriend will just Abandoned me out of nowhere. I understand why the Psychopathic free support group did not recommend a relationship right away. They know you suffer from PTSD from the aftermath of this abuse. It’s difficult. I find myself having dark flashbacks. I also believe you have to be careful and choosy about your women friends and surround yourself with only kind people. We are fragile and vulnerable after this abuse.

My reply (My original reply was short–I embellished it when I wrote this post. I hope my friend sees it).

These are all great points. It makes sense to stay out of relationships if you’ve just escaped from an abusive one because of the PTSD you probably have or even worse problems such as major depression–you need time to find yourself and work on yourself. You need time to be selfish and not have to answer to anyone because you’ve been giving, giving and giving some more with nothing to show for it in return.

We’re mentally and emotionally exhausted and need time to recover, just as if we’re recovering from any illness. We need to not have to be responsible for someone else’s welfare or self esteem or happiness for a while before taking the plunge into a new relationship. We need to take care of ourselves and find out who we are–whether that means going to therapy, writing a journal, turning that journal into a public spectacle like a blog or video diary, taking up martial arts, yoga, or finding God. We need time to heal.

Jumping into any new relationship–even with a non-narc–when you’re this vulnerable is almost guaranteed to fail and retard you in your self growth, and if you’ve been attracted to another narcissistic abuser (which is common in codependent, PTSD and Borderline women), you may wind up much worse when all is said and done.

We’re like addicts. Narcs need their narcissistic supply; we codependents need our narcs. Let’s face it: Narcissistic suitors (male or female)–at first–make us feel alive, vital and fulfill our wildest romantic and sexual fantasies (when they are trying to trap you as their prey). In a weakened state like PTSD or depression, your judgment is not going to be great and you re going to be VERY suggestible. Most likely, you’ll also become unconsciously attracted to a romantic partner who reminds you of the narc you just left (or who left you). He made sure you can’t forget him easily, even if he was terribly cruel at the end.

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Anime drawing (artist unknown).

Also, we tend to be attracted to the same type of person anyway. So if you’re usually or always attracted to narcissists, then most likely your taste is not going to change.

Getting involved too early after the end of a relationship with a narcissist is dangerous. Even with a non-narcissist, old patterns will still come up and you will be hypervigilant and suspicious of your new partner, causing them confusion and eventual discord. If you’re falling for a non-narc, that’s a good sign, but if you just left an abusive relationship, please wait. Envision a giant red STOP sign. Be friends instead. Now’s not the time to get involved beyond that level. If you met someone who truly cares for you, they won’t mind waiting a while and being friends with you.

If you’re already falling hard for someone, I know it’s going to be really hard to resist the pull of a new romance. It’s a powerful force, built into normally-wired people’s genes.

But remember, even though it feels like the most exciting, heady, intoxicating rush you ever felt, that feeling won’t last: what you feel is infatuation, a crush–actually caused by changes in the brain that act like a euphoric drug. That’s really what it boils down to.

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Infatuation so soon after an abusive relationship is really just a form of transference onto a phantom “therapist” [the person you are infatuated with] when you are at your most vulnerable. You’re looking for someone to rescue you. There is no Prince Charming. A love relationship cannot rescue you from yourself, your memories, or your PTSD. By its nature, it can’t. You are the only one who can make you well, with the help of therapists, counselors or another other trusted person who is not involved sexually or romantically with you.

So be patient, wait until you heal yourself and feel more confident. Then if you fall in love, dive in and enjoy it–and with any luck it might turn into the real thing.

Thank you to Mary Pranzatelli for this idea.

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Am I that annoying or am I just paranoid?

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There are days I feel like I have to apologize for my existence. Today was one of those days.

The woman I was teamed up with today to clean houses is someone I’m used to working with. We don’t have a whole lot in common, but normally we get along well enough and we work well together. I know what to expect and she doesn’t have to check my work because she knows I know what I’m doing.

She usually drives (because my car is very old and is starting to have transmission problems, which I refuse to worry about right now) which is fine by me, but that also means I’m forced to listen to the music she wants to listen to, which means Christian contemporary music all day, whenever we work together. The music isn’t so bad really, but it can get annoying after a while, when every song played starts to feel like a sermon. Give me some Nirvana, give me some U2, Rolling Stones, or Jimi; hell, even Lady Gaga will do. Or play some damned country. But it ain’t gonna happen, not with her.

Now that it’s the Overhyped Season of Greed and False Cheer again, she’s switched over to one of the pop stations, which plays Christmas music 24/7, starting the day after Thanksgiving. Bleccchhh. While there are a few carols I have nostalgic childhood memories of, as a whole I can’t stand Christmas music. If I hear “Jingle Bell Rock” one more time, I think I’m going to put my head through the dashboard. Especially because she SINGS ALONG to it. That, along with “Little Drummer Boy” are my two least favorite Christmas songs EVER, but for some reason I can’t possibly begin to fathom, they play those two ALL THE TIME. It’s pure torment. Shoot me please.

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So anyway, we get along alright even though we’re never going to be Thelma and Louise together. But today I thought I was getting on her nerves. I have no idea what I did or said, but she wasn’t speaking to me and snapped my head off if I asked her the most innocuous question or even said anything at all. After several hours of this treatment (and being silent right back), I finally couldn’t take it anymore. I had a little hissy fit.

“You haven’t spoken to me all day,” I fired at her. “It’s obvious you’re mad about something. I have no idea what I said to make you act so angry, but whatever it was, I’m sorry.”
I was apologizing for nothing at all really, because as far as I knew, I hadn’t done or said anything wrong, but I just wanted this to be over with. I hate it when people are angry with me, I hate it when I just imagine they are angry with me. Because as an Aspie, I can’t tell the difference.

Still she said nothing. She just harrumphed and kept on working as if I wasn’t there.
I didn’t say another word about it, because I sensed that would annoy her more, but I still felt sulky and wounded so back in the car, I pretended to sleep.
After another hour or so, my work partner suddenly became friendly again. She said she was tired. So that’s all it was, I guess. Another day ruined by my stupid paranoia and hypervigilance.

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WELL, WHY COULDN’T SHE JUST HAVE SAID SO BEFORE? She KNOWS about my disorder, she KNOWS I can’t read social cues, and she could have at least TOLD me she was tired this morning. That would have prevented hours of interpersonal tension, and my stupid paranoia and babyish hissy fit over nothing could have been avoided. But that’s not how she is.

This sort of thing happens to me so often. If people don’t think I’m stupid, they think I’m annoying. Sometimes they think I’m both. Or at least that’s what I think they think. They probably don’t think that nearly as often as I think they do. But I worry about it.

I have a related problem right now that’s probably just my hypervigilance but I’m not sure, and that uncertainty is what’s driving me crazy.

I have a friend in the narcissistic abuse community, a woman I seem to have a lot in common with. Our backgrounds are so similar it’s downright scary. We started e-mailing each other, but she never replied back to the last email I sent her, which was quite long. It’s been four days and every time I check my inbox, there’s nothing new there from her. After two days of no reply, I sent a friendly reminder asking simply if she got my email. I didn’t want to appear too concerned, but I was.

Another day passed. I emailed her again, asking if she was getting my emails. Maybe they’re going in her spam folder. But that little disapproving, judging voice that lives inside my head and I wish would go away was saying, no, no! It must have been something you said in your last email, something that made her not want to be your friend anymore.

I went back and analyzed my email, trying to pinpoint what it was I must have said to make her avoid me. It could have been anything. Or nothing. I’ve been ruminating over it and worrying myself almost sick over it. Again, why do I care so much? It’s not like I don’t have other friends in this community, other people who read my blog and like what I have to say.

There is probably a perfectly reasonable answer for her silence–maybe she’s been busy, maybe she’s been sick (she does have health issues), maybe she can’t access her email, maybe she’s just lazy about replying to emails (like I can sometimes be). But of course, it’s never the reasonable, mundane, logical explanation I look for; it’s always something terrible and dire, it’s always because of something I did to upset them and make them hate me. It’s always because I’m such an annoying person they want nothing to do with me. My hypervigilance and paranoia is crazymaking and even…well, narcissistic. Why do I torment myself like this? It’s stupid.

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A few people (almost always neurotypicals who don’t get me) have actually told me I’m annoying. No doubt my annoyingness is due to my tendency to interject comments at inappropriate times during my rare pathetic attempts to appear “normal” in social settings–or making some other embarrassing social gaffe due to my high-functioning autism.

I analyze and brood about people’s reactions to me way, WAY too much. I’m hypervigilant and paranoid. Maybe I’m not really coming off as annoying and stupid to others as I believe others think I am. I am my own worst enemy sometimes.

I care too much about what people are thinking about me. But why does it even matter? Are these people I want to be best friends with? Do I really want to attend a backyard barbeque at their McMansion with a bunch of their friends and relatives I have nothing in common with except the fact we’re all of the human species? Would I pay any of these people $100 apiece to like me? NO, I WOULD NOT. So why do I CARE so much what others are thinking about me? Why do I care if they think I’m annoying? Or stupid? Or weird? Or fat? Or ugly? Why do I want to be approved of? AM I A FUCKING NARCISSIST?

Probably not, but I was raised by a family of N’s and as the scapegoat, I WAS NEVER GOOD ENOUGH FOR THEM. I questioned myself and everything I did; it seemed I could do nothing right. I felt awkward and defective even in my own family. My parents were bullies, especially my mother. Later I was bullied at school too, especially in the 3rd – 5th grades. I remember during 4th grade, I was followed home every day by a group of kids who laughed and jeered at the way I walked and imitated my walk, as my tears welled and threatened to overflow (no wonder I hate mimes). The bullies would call out to me and sometimes even throw things to get my attention, but I wouldn’t turn around. I just kept on walking. I knew I couldn’t let them see me cry because that would make everything so much worse.

My third grade teacher, Mrs. Morse, was a psychopath with arms like Jello who always wore sleeveless dresses, so whenever she wrote on the board, all that quivering, pale freckled flab hanging from her bare arm made me want to throw up, but I still couldn’t take my eyes off it. It was mesmerizing in a horrible way, like a car accident.

Mrs. Morse knew how sensitive and scared of everything I was. She knew I was bullied by most of the other kids. But she had no empathy for my plight. She was a sadistic bitch from hell. She deliberately called on me whenever I was daydreaming, which was often (no kids got diagnosed with Aspergers back in those days) and always made me stand in the front of the room and answer a question or solve a math problem. She never did this to the other kids, who were allowed to answer from their seat.

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One time I couldn’t solve the math problem on the board (which was my worst subject), and she berated and belittled me in front of the class.
“You never pay attention. You’re always daydreaming. Do you have a mental problem?”
The class laughed.
My tongue was in knots and I felt the blood drain from my face. I felt tears burning the backs of my eyelids like acid.
I swallowed hard and tried with all my might not to let a tear loose but they started to flow anyway. I hung my head in shame and rubbed away the tears with my grubby fists as I turned away toward the wall. My narrow back and bony shoulders heaved with silent sobs.
That was exactly the moment this sadistic malignant narcissist who passed for a teacher was waiting for.
“Look everyone! Lauren is crying! Look at the tears! Cry, cry, cry, baby.”
The class burst into screams and hoots of laughter.
“Cry, baby, cry!”
I stood there in front of the class, staring at the floor, snot mingling with my tears, and longed to melt into those scuffed green-gray linoleum tiles, and never return.
In today’s anti-bullying environment, this “teacher” would have been fired for that shit. She might have even lost her teaching license. That kind of thing isn’t put up with anymore.

Not too many years after this, I stopped being able to cry. I stopped being able to talk to people. I stopped being able to feel much of anything.

I still worry that people won’t like me, even though I’ve learned to hide my sensitivity pretty well. Too well, in fact. It’s hard for me to show my true feelings, but lately I’ve been opening up, getting better at it. I need to start feeling confident enough in myself, that other people’s opinions of me won’t make or break my day.

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