Not once in my life did I ever think I would need to write these words.
Not once did I ever think I would leave myself so vulnerable to fall under the spell of a narcissist but it happened.
So here’s my story and what I learned about how to love myself after loving a heartless man.
I had just gotten a divorce and was taking a ride on the emotional roller coaster that comes along with it. I had finally found peace and was starting to be happy again.
I was finding myself and loving myself and felt a sense of comfort that only God can provide. I wasn’t looking for anyone new because I had finally accepted the fact I was alone and was actually okay with it.
Then he came along… and my world flipped upside down.
There is so much to say, it’s going to be hard for me to stay on track but I am going to start from the beginning when it was amazing because, without that part, you won’t understand why it ended the way it did – you won’t understand what a narcissist is unless you know it all.
Like I said, I wasn’t looking for anyone. He found me… he CHOSE me.
I got a message one day, asking when I would let him take me out on a date and show me how I’m supposed to be treated.
He would have me, “Throwing rocks at all the other guys.” Well, that sounded real smooth but at that point, I was still not ready, so I turned him down.
A month later, I got another message; this time he wasn’t asking me out, just making small talk. He needed a favor and being the helpful person I am, I agreed, not knowing I was opening myself up to one of the biggest lessons I would learn in my life.
After a month of talking and him making himself out to be a really great guy, we decided to go out one night. It was game over from there… I was hooked.
He made me feel like I could talk to him about anything. He had been through similar things as I had, went through a bad divorce, had a toxic marriage, lost a parent.
He made me feel safe, something I hadn’t felt in so long. He was like walking into a house and feeling at home. It would take me almost two years to realize that place that felt like home was actually a prison.
My friends tried to tell me I was stupid for letting my guard down as fast as I did but it just felt right… he felt right.
It was nice to laugh with someone instead of fighting with them and that’s what we did.
We laughed all the time. We enjoyed the same music and the same TV shows, shared similar interests in so many things that we never ran out of things to talk about. We could stay up for hours talking.
He was mysterious in a way and quiet but I could tell there was so much going on in that head of his and I was determined to know it all.
I tried to learn about him without him knowing… I wanted to know why he was the way he was, his quirks, what made him tick, I wanted to know about every scar, every tattoo, every story he would give me bits and pieces of.
I kept telling myself not to fall so fast because I know how I love… I love hard so when I fall, it’s swan-diving into it without any second thought but he made it so easy to fall.
He made it so easy to let that wall down that I had spent months repairing and rebuilding. The wall I swore to myself I was going to make someone work for.
I tried to play hard to get, I really did. But he flipped the script on me so fast. Before I knew it, I was the one trying to break his walls down and prove to him I wasn’t, “like the rest of them.”
I saw red flags in the beginning but I thought it was just me being insecure and that I was just projecting my past onto this current relationship. I kept telling myself I was overthinking things and he deserved a shot.
Even though my gut was telling me something wasn’t right, my heart was telling me yes it was. So I fought harder for him than I ever did for anyone in my life, even the 5-year marriage I had just gotten out of.
I was determined to make this work because I loved him with every fiber of my being, I wanted to fix whatever was broken in him from his past, and I wanted to not make the same mistakes I made in my past relationships.
I did everything for him and then some.
There is not one part of me that thinks I could have done any better, tried a little harder, or loved him any more than what I did because I know without a shadow of a doubt that I gave it 110%, if not more.
It took about a year before his true self really started to show.
The guy who made me feel safe and never raised his voice and never fought with me was starting to show me a side to himself that was dark and unflattering. I loved him though, so I was willing to look past it.
I had just gotten out of a relationship where we had screaming matches every day and talked down to each other so I refused to do that again.
When he would want to pick a fight, I would walk away regardless of how many sarcastic and passive-aggressive comments I wanted to say, even though I had learned what pushed his buttons.
I told him I was not going to do his dirty work for him, I was not going to give in to him picking a fight and then pulling the crazy out of me only to flip it around on me. I had been down that road before and I refused to go back there again.
Instead of fighting with him, I would just apologize for things that I didn’t do.
I would try to make it better but I was keeping things bottled up inside and that was killing me because I was never the type of person to hold my tongue or walk away from a fight.
One of the things I liked about him was that he didn’t like to go out and party and I was totally fine with that but it became a bit much when we couldn’t even go out to eat at restaurants or go to places we were invited with family or friends.
We became hermits and I made excuses for him every time. I soon realized that this was just to isolate me, not him.
I missed out on so many things because I felt bad going without him. I was at his beck and call and he had me wrapped around his finger completely.
I have always been a strong person, very intuitive, and can pick up on things fairly easily. So how did I allow this to go on for so long before I started really putting the pieces together?
I fucking loved him, that’s why.
Narcissists use empathetic people as fuel. They choose their prey wisely. I wasn’t special to him, I was merely a target.
When I started bringing his darkness to light and showing him that I was catching on to what he was and what was going on, it only made things worse and it would eventually be the real reason he left.
Every day, I felt exhausted because he drained the life out of me.
All of my time and energy was spent on trying to please him, not provoke him, tiptoe on eggshells so I wouldn’t hurt his fragile little ego.
I had never met a man who was so sensitive when it came to someone joking with him. It seemed like anything I said or did was offensive and eventually, I just didn’t want to talk at all.
I am not a stupid person but I let this go on for far longer than I should have.
Once I started to realize what I was dealing with, I would be damned if I would let it continue. I spent days reading up on his behavior and the patterns that were becoming more and more frequent.
It didn’t take me long after that to realize I was in love with a narcissist.
It’s definitely true when they say hindsight is 20/20 because all of the signs I had ignored in the beginning and all of the things I thought were great about him came crashing into my mind like a burst dam.
I realized that this man could never love ANYONE, much less me! All of the things he did in the beginning, the person I had fallen in love with… that was ME!
He had mirrored my emotions, my personality, my traits, and used them to make me fall for him. I wasn’t in love with him… I was in love with myself.
When he decided to leave me, there was a moment where I was heartbroken.
Then it was like I’d had an epiphany. I could either let this make me or break me and come hell or high water I was NOT going to let this man take any more from me than he already had.
I turned it around and used this as fuel. He would not turn me into this bitter woman. I was better than that. I AM better than that.
It took him leaving for me to realize that I fell in love with myself long ago.
He tried to break me but he didn’t. He left me but I found me.
I took that fire in me that I once used to fight for him and started fighting for myself.
The day I watched him pull out of the driveway, I didn’t even shed a tear. It was almost like a weight had been lifted.
I’m not going to lie and say that I didn’t have my moments or that there weren’t times I thought I missed him. We had several good memories together so of course, I missed those but I couldn’t allow myself to stay in that feeling because even though those moments were real, the memories happened… the person he pretended to be during those times was not.
I had to come to the realization that I had slept next to a man, for almost two years, who never gave a damn about me and it never bothered him when I cried, it never phased him when he hurt me. He never loved me.
We all want closure after a break-up, but sometimes you just don’t get the closure you want or think you need.
Sometimes the closure is just moving on and bettering yourself.
Sometimes there are no explanations or rationales.
Sometimes you just end up with a shitty person, a heartless man, someone who is incapable of feeling love or remorse. So as much as we want to believe that these types of people will realize what they had and lost one day, it’s bullshit.
They will not miss us, they will not think about us and they will never regret doing what they did to us because they don’t feel love like we feel love. They had every intention of leaving from the moment they picked us.
Make no mistake, they did not pick us because we are weak; they picked us because we are strong women who were found during a vulnerable time.
Narcissists have very fragile egos, they need someone with a strong mind, strong personality, someone who’s likable, emotional, empathetic, and driven so they can feed off of us like a parasite needs a host.
What I’ve come to realize after loving this kind of human is that I am stronger than I give myself credit for and I will never let another person make me think otherwise.
What I thought was the greatest love of my life has proven to be one of the most valuable lessons of it instead. I now know what I am capable of emotionally and refuse to allow anyone to take away my peace EVER again.
I am now more aware of people’s intentions, red flags, and subtle signs. Yes, I was betrayed and it will take more time to heal completely but I know that not all men are like him.
I wish I could say I hate him for what he’s done, but the truth is… I don’t. Had he not broken me down to nothing, I may have never rebuilt myself into who I am becoming now, and who I am becoming is worth every tear, every heartbreak, every lesson I have learned after loving a narcissist…
by Ashley Richard