Understanding the Language of Narcissistic Abuse.

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hands woman fingers wring

I fell hard. And fast.

Overwhelmed by his attention and adoration, I jumped in headfirst without blinking, believing him after only weeks of dating when he declared his never-ending love and that I was his soul mate, that I had brought meaning into his meaningless existence.

I was everything he had ever wanted, ever dreamed for, ever hoped for, he said, and proved it daily by drowning me in love and passion. He couldn’t keep his hands off me, we made love often, sometimes up to five or six times a day. Not an hour went by that I didn’t hear from him. He wrote me notes, he wrote me poetry, he recited poems in public, he told everyone I would be his wife, that I was the mother of his unborn children.

I didn’t have time to think, to reflect, to question. There was nothing I could do but free fall into his love and ride it like a roller coaster with my eyes squeezed shut—it was scary as hell, but I didn’t want to get off.

But that was then, before I knew anything about…

Love Bombing

A manipulation tactic involving lavish demonstrations and constant bombardments of attention and affection in an attempt to gain control by moving the relationship forward quickly.

Everything he did was perfect. Everything he said was perfect. It was as if he had some secret insight into my soul and what I wanted in a relationship, as if I had handed him a list of the top 20 qualities I longed for in a man and within the year had checked off every last one. He said it was because we knew one another in a previous life and we were destined by the Universe to find one another. He had searched for me for so long and then I appeared just at the right time.

But that was then, before I knew anything about…


A calculated and predatory act of maneuvering a person into a more dependent and isolated position by claiming a “special connection” where they are more vulnerable to accepting future abusive behavior.

I gave him everything, without question, without reservation: my kindness, my loyalty, my love, my forgiveness (over and over again).

But that was then, before I knew I was an…


A highly sensitive and empathetic person who feels and often takes on the emotions of others often at the expense of their own emotional well-being.

I was full of forgiveness and understanding. I had to be. Otherwise, I would have been forced to listen to those quieter voices in my head suggesting something wasn’t right, things didn’t add up. I would have had to open my eyes and see the small cracks in the shiny mirror of love that had started to form.

But it was easy to ignore my inner voices when he seemed so full of remorse anytime another side of him was exposed—or rather a side that I had found out about. All his bad behavior was in the past, he promised, over and over again. He hated the man he used to be, and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. He was just misunderstood, he said. Deep down he really was a good person who wouldn’t hurt anyone on purpose. Especially me.

But that was then, before I knew I had entered the world of a…

Pathological Liar

A person who habitually and compulsively lies in order to suit their own needs.

Over the years, even if I did stumble upon something new about him that made me question the relationship, he swooped in so fast and drowned me in so much love that I couldn’t help but become dizzy in his grasp, even question my own intentions to assume such terrible things about him. How could I think he would do that (whatever “that” happened to be each time)? Then I would feel guilty for even asking him about it. I loved him, after all, and I was his soul mate, as he claimed. He was a changed man and it was all because of me.

But that was then, before I knew anything about…


Named after the Hoover vacuum, it is a tactic used to “suck back in” the victim by exhibiting improved or desirable behavior.

We became the couple who had it all. He showed me off like a new car. People wanted to know our love story and I became an expert at telling it. I left out the smaller pieces, of course, the unpredictable moments here and there that appeared and disappeared so quickly that it was easier just to push them out of my mind—like the names of women that seemed to pop up here and there, everywhere, and then nowhere.

But that was then, before I knew anything about…


A tactic used to desensitize a person to inappropriate or abusive behaviors; manipulating a person to agree or accept something that is in conflict with the law, social norms, or their own basic code of behavior.

I had never met anyone more charismatic or charming. The first few years I was the sole receiver of his gifts, which made it easier to let that inquisitive side of me, the one interested in the truth, fall away. So by the time he began sharing his charm with others, saving less and less for me unless I had something he needed (such as approval or sex), I had already subconsciously resigned myself to being a part of the audience in his one-man show.

Going out with him in social situations became a spectacle. I was in awe of how he transfixed a room, captured every ounce of energy there was to be had. Everyone liked him, or so I thought. All of his charm was now being directed to any other woman in his immediate presence, no matter their age, no matter if they were married or single. Nothing mattered to him outside of making them laugh or smile through his own efforts.

But that was then, before I knew anything about…


A narcissist’s insatiable need to gain the attention and adoration of others for the purpose of building them up and confirming their false sense of superiority and entitlement.

I soon became exhausted, focusing solely on getting through each day. I blamed everything on myself. Then I blamed it on having kids. He disagreed. The kids weren’t the reason I was such a mess, he said. It was because of me—I couldn’t handle my own children. He compared me with every other mother in America. They could all do it, why couldn’t I?

At the time I didn’t think I was asking for all that much: on some Sundays I had asked to go grocery shopping by myself, and once I asked if he could watch my infant and toddler while I went to get my teeth cleaned. Figure it out, he said, like every other mother does. So I imagined a scenario where I would hold my baby, nurse him if needed, while my right foot hung off the dentist’s chair and rocked my toddler. This never happened, though, which proved my inadequacy as a mother, since I didn’t go to the dentist until my kids were in daycare, two years later.

But that was then, before I knew anything about…

Ambient Abuse

The stealthy, subtle, underground currents of maltreatment that sometimes go unnoticed even by the victims themselves until it is too late; the fostering and enhancement of an atmosphere of intimidation, fear, and instability; often viewed as the most dangerous type of abuse.

The last few years there were days I wouldn’t leave my house, the dark pockets under my eyes from all the crying and shouting and begging, making it appear as though he had hit me. But he never hit me. On several occasions he placed his hands around my neck, professing his love while squeezing, whispering how he could kill me he loved me so much. But he always let go just as I got dizzy or needed a breath, and then broke down and cried and promised he would never hurt me. I learned to remain stoic during this ritual and listened patiently while he reminded me how lucky I was to have a man who loved me so much, who put up with me. Since I had no faith in my own emotional state, I had no choice but to believe him. I told myself I was lucky to have him, especially considering how crazy I had begun to feel, losing all logic, questioning myself at every turn, staring into the mirror day after day and not recognizing the woman who stared back.

But that was then, before I knew anything about…


A form of mental abuse that includes brainwashing or convincing a mentally healthy individual that their understanding of reality is false, making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity; the term is from the 1944 movie “Gaslight,” in which the villain used this technique.

As time went on I became more isolated, though he still “allowed” me to have dinner with friends once in a while, or to visit my mom, or to go to my high school reunion. Wherever I went, though, his questions became more persistent, insistent once I came home.

Who did I see? Did I get in touch with any old boyfriends? What did I talk about? Did I talk about him? What did I say? Why was I lying? Did I find that man in the restaurant attractive? Did I cheat on him? Did I think about cheating? Why wouldn’t I just tell the truth?

But that was then, before I knew anything about…


A psychological defense mechanism where a person “projects” their own undesirable thoughts, feelings, or actions onto someone else in order to seek acquittal from their own conscience; example: accusing the victim of cheating when the accuser is actually the one cheating.

Days, months, years passed and more and more he began walking around me, ignoring me, even at the dinner table when he ate the food I had prepared and I sat at the other end using every muscle trying not to cry. I cried while doing the dishes, standing out on the porch in the middle of winter, sitting in the bath, lying in bed. His presence was felt only in the small breeze that walking by me caused, as if I weren’t a human being but instead a piece of furniture that got in his way.

But that was then, before I knew anything about the…

Silent Treatment

A preferred weapon of Narcissists; a passive-aggressive form of emotional abuse in which displeasure, disapproval, and contempt exhibited through nonverbal gestures, such as glaring, while maintaining verbal silence.

The last two years I put myself to sleep to avoid all feeling. That way, even when I knew he was lying or when I found out about something he had done, it somehow made it easier. And I was wholly unaware that other stronger forces were at work, and had been at work, to keep me numb and silent and weakened:

Dosing {small and temporary revivals of the love bombing phase}

Denial {denying one’s actions even in the face of physical proof}

Bait & Switch {luring the victim in with kindness and affection and once they are “hooked” the abuser switches to being demanding, inattentive, and cruel}

Because of the tender physical state I also existed within, plagued by daily stomachaches, nausea, and panic attacks, I also possessed nowhere near the amount of strength or energy required to face any sudden additional traumas, such as when I discovered he had been hiding money, or lying about me to our friends, or his infidelities. In this self-induced emotional coma, daily life took on a dream quality, which softened the edges and allowed me to take shelter while outside what felt like a tornado threatened to destroy everything I knew. I hid, I cowered, I retreated, and I gave up all hope on anything ever being good again.

But that was then, before I found myself in the office of a psychologist who was an expert on…

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

A personality disorder in which the individual has a distorted self-image, unstable and intense emotions, is overly preoccupied with vanity, prestige, power and personal adequacy, lacks empathy, and has an exaggerated sense of superiority. NPD is closely associated with egocentrism—a personality characteristic in which people see themselves and their interests and opinions as the only ones that really matter.

And my life would never be the same.

I was a victim of emotional abuse. But my story doesn’t end there. In fact, that is where it begins.

Through empowerment, education, and enlightenment I have not only survived but thrived in my new life of freedom and peace. I was a victim, but I am no longer a victim. This, however, was only due to the journey I committed myself to take in understanding what exactly I experienced in my relationship with a Narcissist, which included understanding the language surrounding it. With this knowledge, I was then able to forgive myself, recognize I was not the one with the problem, and take responsibility for my own growth and emotional development upon escaping the situation.

Above all, however, my healing has come only because I granted myself the love and the time needed to heal. Unlike all those years ago, now when I look in the mirror I immediately recognize the woman looking back. And she is awake, and she is brave, and she is loving and strong and compassionate.

The one thing she is not, though, is crazy. And as I finally learned, she never was.

If you believe you might be a victim of Narcissistic Abuse, my hope is that through your own education and enlightenment you will then gain the tools and find the support necessary to help you escape your suffering and find the peace that you so deserve.

Because when you know better, you will do better. I promise.


October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In honor of this I hope to shed light on the more insidious form of emotional abuse that, while not physically visible, causes as much damage and trauma while leaving what can be lifelong scars on the hearts and souls of its victims.

Before learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I spent a decade in shame and silence, taking the blame, hating myself, hiding away and gradually slipping into a numbed emotional state to survive the daily punishments from a man who took great pleasure in inflicting them.

Narcissistic Abuse is a dark and confusing tunnel where victims might spend years not realizing what is happening, unaware that their abuser has maliciously and intentionally created a world to isolate, demoralize, and dehumanize their victims to better feed and supply their disorder. It is my hope that by giving definitions to the language surrounding NPD that those currently suffering will see their own story reflected in mine, gain the knowledge necessary to better assess their situation, and then take the first steps needed for escape and eventually healing.

Because as Maya Angelou once said: When you know better, you do better.


Bonus videos



Relephant read: 

Identifying Emotional Abuse before it Happens.


Author: Suzanna Quintana 

Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Flickr


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Suzanna Quintana

Suzanna Quintana is a writer, abuse survivor, women’s advocate, feminist, and single mother of three sons. Along with being a former ballroom & Latin dancer/teacher/choreographer, she is a board-certified holistic health coach, holds a B.A. in History, attended the graduate writing program at Naropa University, and is currently pursuing her second B.A. in Women & Gender Studies at Arizona State University. Holding a life preserver and ready to throw it to any woman still living in the darkness, Suzanna serves as a guiding voice to those ready to claim their space in the light. For more of her work, story, and programs, visit her website. You can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.


156 Responses to “Understanding the Language of Narcissistic Abuse.”

  1. Lara says:

    Thank you for writing such a long-overdue article around an method of abuse far too elusive to most who experience it. I too found myself in the exact story you have written about: falling deeply in love with someone who appeared too good to be true. A person who was extremely charismatic and successful in his profession; in fact almost revered. His emotional instability and abuse was so normalized that even after sleeping with my aunt at a family reunion vacation, he told me to, “just get over it” after we returned home. I knew very little about mental health when I decided to leave the marriage, which lead me in the direction of mental health and eventually becoming a marriage and family therapist. Through my studies, I was able to identify what actually had happened and what it was that I had been dealing with for so many years. The term Narcissist gets thrown around often, but when you are in a relationship with someone who truly does have this personality disorder, its meaning cannot be understated. I am now having to co-parent with this person, which has also been a nightmare. The difference is that I know understand his abusive personality and it no longer controls my life. Thank you again for posting this and I hope there is someone out there that can find the type of peace you and I have found through our journeys.

    • suzannaq says:

      "I am now having to co-parent with this person, which has also been a nightmare. The difference is that I know understand his abusive personality and it no longer controls my life." — I could have written those exact words, Lara! Thank you for writing. I am happy to hear that you took a horrible experience (being with a Narcissist) and turned it in the end to a journey of peace and healing. I could have actually written most of your story, except just substitute a 19-year-old immigrant girl from Russia for your aunt. It's pretty sick and disgusting and I used to be quite overcome by it but now have risen above the emotional trauma for the most part (still there are days I have triggers and flashbacks). Again, thank you for reaching out and sharing your story!

  2. Anita says:

    Thank you, -So well written and in such a painfully familiar flow and format. There is comfort in knowing that a situation was so textbook that it was written almost word for word as I would have done having come back into the world as a real “person” again. It’s actually a comfort.

    • suzannaq says:

      Thank you for posting, Anita. Yes it is healing for us when we realize others share our stories. I, too, felt like since I escaped I went through the process of becoming a real person again. It is definitely a journey! I'm grateful my story resonated with you. We are not alone!

  3. Thanks for sharing! I was also in a relationship with a narcissist and I MST say it was devastating of what I was experiencing. I reasonly educated myself about what I went through, which I didn’t quite understand when I was still with him. I often have flashbacks that make me go in a depression that makes me insulate myself from other.

    • suzannaq says:

      It is such a devastating experience to go through, Cheryl, and I'm sorry you had to. I have found that my own healing and recovery is a long process, one with setbacks, but by reaching out and educating myself I can finally say I've come to a place where I am living a life of joy and peace. Take it day by day, one step at a time, and remember to love yourself first. You'll get through this and you are not alone!

  4. Anne says:

    I am so grateful to have found your article! It was like reading some of my own story as well. I luckily got out after my ex decided to start physically abusing me and threatened my children. We’ve been separated 5 years and the children live with me. He recently decided to try to take the custody of the kids away from me by going to court and I got extremely lucky as our judge saw right through him and cut his visitation in half! Thank you for your story. It’s truly an inspiration!

    • suzannaq says:

      Anne I am so grateful that you reached out and that my story resonated with you! And I'm very happy that you have escaped your situation and are on a journey of recovery and healing and living a life free of abuse that you so deserve. Our stories connect us and that is where I have found the greatest healing in knowing I am not alone. All the best to you and your children. <3

  5. Samantha says:

    OMG! “Figure it out”, how many times was I told that, how often was I stunned by that response from the man who was supposed to be my husband, the father of our children, how often did he leave me with my mouth hanging open & act like it was ME who was wrong? To this day having anyone say that to me guarantees an instant flood of anger until I remember it isnt him saying it.

    • suzannaq says:

      I know that stunned response all too well, Samantha! It's a difficult thing to wrap your head around that this person you thought you knew turned out to be someone altogether different. I hope you are on a journey of healing and peace and away from anyone who continues to bring you pain. Much love <3

  6. Kim says:

    My first marriage described to a tee, minus the children. I spent years living with this chaos, constantly trying to resolve his extremes. My therapist, too, told me about NPD and it was like that moment at the end of The Usual Suspects. Terror and relief combined when I was finally able to connect all the dots to form a real picture. Writing, art therapy and a truly living new relationship brought me to a life I deserve. Thank you for writing this piece.

    • suzannaq says:

      I'm grateful my story resonated with you, Kim, and that you are living a life that you so fully deserve. Yes writing has healed me beyond words, along with finally realizing I'm not alone in this. Thank you for reaching out!

  7. Hannah says:

    I can’t believe this when I read it. This is what I am living right now with my husband and two young children. My life is a living hell. Oh but when it’s good it’s amazing and so far after 8 years I believe him after every huge stupid fight and all the mean things he says, I forgive and forget somehow. Time goes on and I think oh awesome everything is great and normal we are happy and then BAM another terrible fight erupts out of nowhere. I love him but I have reached he point where I can no longer do this. I’m not happy anymore, I walk on egg shells in my own house and so scared of anything that might set him off and in reality that could be anything so I live with constant anxiety. I’m tired of living this way. I deserve to live a life I’m proud of and be he best person I can be for my kids. My kids also deserve better I do not want them to grow up thinking this is what marraige is like. I need prayer good vibes and any advice sent my way!!!! Thank you for this article!

    • Ashley says:

      My advice get out now! I was right were you are now. Depression and anxiety had taken over, because everything is always my fault! I have two children 3 & 5. My husband is 25 years older then me, I am 24. And he was a cheater to his ex wife. When we met it was just like this article. He showered me with flowers, poems, jewlery, and sex was numerous times a day! Then when we got married he went to work and came home and ate in front of the TV. Forgot about my birthday or other special days. He lost his job 3 times, and we had to move numerous times because of it. Then that’s when it all started. I did not cook enough, I did not clean enough, I could not homeschool because I was not smart enough. Yet when we met I was still in HS and I was so smart even smarter then him he would boost proudly. I am pregnant with our son now, and the last couple months I have found out he has been seeing other woman. He has been talking to another young girl and doing the exact thing to her. Writing her poems and all. And he has never met her, but they already love each other. I am back living with my mom, and it is not how I ever saw my life going. But I was so controlled I never could go back to college to get my degree or even get a job. So I need the help now. And I am thankful for my mother’s help. Yesterday was my first day not contacting him. We have to wait a year before we can file for divorce. My son is due in April, and I just wish this nightmare was over! To think about co-parenting with him scares me! But if your life is anything like this article, its going to be hard to leave. Because you want to believe the best is yet to come, save yourself and kids from it. It’s the hardest thing I have had to do, but I can honestly say after reading this article I feel like I have a bit of power back over my life!! I have lost 25lbs during this pregnancy. All he has to say is I am truly sorry. No real man would do this to his wife or his children. No man wants to see his wife in this kinda of pain. But my husband ddoesn’t care because he never loved me. He may thought so with the high he was on, but this article explains him to a tee!! So make up your mind and don’t look back! I am a Christian and I know God has a plan for my life. Jerm 29:11!

  8. Sandy says:

    I thank you from the depths of my soul for this article. I have a dear, loved one who married what seemed to be the greatest guy ever when she was freshly nineteen. He turned out to be a narcissist, but she did not escape him before bringing two beautiful children to the family. The divorce was brutal, and the battles over the last decade in and out of court are nothing but torture for her. She is worn, and her son now acts like his father. He seems to revel in it, and now CPS is involved. Any help or support you know of would be great for us. I hope you are all healing, and growing stronger and stronger.

    • suzannaq says:

      Sandy thank you for reaching out. My heart always breaks when I read of yet another woman's story that is similar to my own, especially when there are children involved. I wish I had answers for how to spare our kids the pain, but unfortunately Narcissists are notorious for causing immense emotional damage to their own children. I am the mother of three boys and my greatest heartbreak is that I am powerless to stop their father from hurting them. All I can do is love them and give them a safe place to be and pick up the pieces when they fall. What has helped me is all the research I've done on parenting with a Narcissist, so I suggest doing the same and empowering your friend with the tools to help herself and her kids. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope your friend knows that she is not alone in this.

  9. not59sanymore says:

    YES!! This is the exact abusive hell my X put me through. This is my story, much like hers. I was raped (bruised in the morning for trying to maintain virginity), told it was because i made him want me so much (Christian upbringing was "don't lead a guy on", so i thought it WAS my fault; thanks church), to enter the relationship permanently (because my church taught it was sin to "know" anyone, but 1 man)–now for the baby (he told you to abort), made for the 18 years of abuse that followed. "EDUCATION is the key" is such a true statement. If i knew God was there to forgive me, instead of there to add guilt to my life, things may have been different. Year 14, I signed myself into the Chattanooga Women's Shelter and learned about abusive people and completely defined my current relationship in every question asked on the questionnaire at the start of a small group class they held (but said nothing of the sort, yet). i had to get my kids and left early am. The shelter fit into having to complete a report for school, so the overnight was tolerated but used against me from then on. "PHYSICAL TERROR" followed when he was questioned about the abusiveness, and he overtly denied any of it, used the defense mechanism of blame, and made me the victim of my own accusations. Whined about my abandonment of him every time he saw me from that one night on. Calling me a murderer because of a car wreck in which i lost my best friend when i was 18. Made me feel like a horrible Christian, wife, mother and robbed me of friends by threatening to hurt them, to protect me. I went to counseling at my church during lunch breaks from work (six hours a day for two days he allowed me to work); i told him nothing. Counselor said, "leave him and take the kids, now"–she held my hand and told me she was terrified for me, and gave me her number. The fact that i held pages of information from the shelter that mirrored his behavior toward me caused intense angst– and i was so sweet about it, waiting the right time, never speaking during any conflict he had…but the facts were evident on the papers the Shelter gave me, and for this, i was physically restrained, over and over, and made to hear him until he finished, whatever he had to say, hit a few times (but no fun, he said, because i never fought back), told how wicked i was for not standing by my own husband, was forbidden to leave the house except to go to work, kids' school, and church, and he drove his van around the neighborhood when i went to talk to anyone at all and sat there in his van, by me until the conversation was over, listening to everything, every time. WHAT TIPPED THE SCALE was that he left for 6 weeks, and told me nothing about where he went or what he did; he just told me he needed time away (my fault, he said). Then, came back suicidal, cleaning his new gun, buying bullets with different metals, talking about the gun and that he'd kill us all if he took his own life (which was the threat, "if I can't have you, nobody can"), and leaving the gun out from its drawer when i constantly returned it to the hiding place because the kids were around. And deliberately leaving porn on the computer the kids used for school, said he needed to make men out of them, not pansies like i was making of them. I struggled to protect my kids every minute of their lives; i slept on the floor my entire second pregnancy with the first child–begging God to quiet any cries, trying to prevent the rages. Every door in my house was damaged from my trying to save myself. Locking doors enraged him, but was the only way to get my bearings some times. Mine was a pattern of lying for him, in public, all the time; silent at his side everywhere he took me, and those were the only outings-ones with him, except 12 hours a week at work, Sunday morning church, and getting the kids to/from school. INFORMATION (1) Police do not act fast. (2) Don't go to an attorney from the same group he used for his previous divorce, because what seems fair in court before a judge will be erased when presented as a written document by your attorney, later, and nobody will have the truth about what was said before the judge, it's not recorded anywhere…it's the attorney's word against yours AND HE"S NOT FOR YOU; HE"S THE X's. He may get custody of one child by promising what he never gives and will falsify his income, and deny you money the court states he owes by taking you back to court until you are broke, and then, threatening to take you to a higher court for what three local court hearings said was yours. Then…get this…he may have some Archdiocese want you to deny you ever were married- under- God in a written statement, so he can marry another woman. NOW…10 years later, the losses are stabilized; kids are adults; i have obtained adequate education/income from college (i was smart enough!! and so are you), and i think it's behind me; then, i read this. WOW! I love it. Just reading it made me reminiscent.

    • suzannaq says:

      I am so sorry you had to endure such suffering. No one deserves this. I am grateful that you are far removed from it now and in a better place. Thank you for sharing your story as it will help so many others.

  10. Stephanie says:

    So similar to my story. Thank you for sharing. My ex and i have been divorced now for several years and I’m finally beginning to heal. But I have a new issue to figure out. My teenage son is now displaying the traits and our home is getting more tense. I have 3 other children who are dealing with anxiety over it as well and don’t know what to do. Any advice or recommendations on what to do, how to find help or someone who specializes in this? Feeling so lost and scared again.

    • suzannaq says:

      Stephanie I am dealing with the same issue. I have been free from my ex now for over two years but my 15-year-old is incredibly similar to his father and my other two boys also suffer from the effects of having to deal with both their father and their brother. I was told by a psychologist that it is very common for a child who is already similar to their parent to exhibit the same traits of Narcissism. Of course we have to remember that they are still children and not fully mentally capable yet to understand their behavior, yet I worry as you do about the future. I wish I had answers for you. I would try searching for a psychologist or therapist who is an expert with NPD. It's so heartbreaking, isn't it, to watch our children suffer and be powerless to do anything about it. I wish you all the luck and hope you find some answers.

    • suzannaq says:

      Stephanie I have struggled with the same issue. One of my three boys is a teenager and displays so many of the same characteristics of his father. We must remember that they are still children, though, and unlike their adult father they are for the most part unaware of their behavior similarities. I suggest searching for a psychologist or therapist who is an expert on NPD and start there. That is what I did and I received much help for my son to better navigate his way. Unfortunately it is hard to find someone who is an expert on this subject, but keep searching because the help you receive is priceless. Thank you for reaching out to me and trusting me with your story!

  11. Nikki says:

    I couldn’t have said it better, this is my life right now! I live in a world of constant fear, in fact I will check five times to make sure he couldn’t possibly find this post! I live with him and our 2.5 year old daughter, I have no family and neither does he. I don’t even know how to begin to get away! I have no job, and no car, all his choosing! When I did have a job I was constantly asked who I was messing with at work, and I haven’t been allowed to use his car in a year and a half! I’m trapped and alone, and I no longer want to feel this way!

    • suzannaq says:

      Nikki the first thing you need to do is reach out for help since it sounds like you are very isolated. Begin with contacting domestic violence shelters in your area or go online. There are many organizations to help you escape while protecting you and your daughter. Understand that situations like yours only get worse so it's crucial to get help as soon as possible. Please be safe and I'm sending you much love and support your way. You are not alone in this!

  12. Meg says:

    Hi Suzanna, I’d like to thank you so very much for writing this article. It’s like reading about the almost 9 years I spent with my ex. I was wondering if I could get your permission to use the basic format of this article to write a song? I’ll rephrase some parts but I resonate quite a lot with the part where you say “and that was then, before I knew about …”

    It’s just an idea at the moment but I find I communicate & heal so much better through music & this is a part of my life I do desperately wish to heal, even though it’s been two years since we separated.

    • suzannaq says:

      Meg thank you for reaching out to me. Yes of course you have my permission to use the basic format. I know how much writing has healed me so I'm glad you have the outlet of music to help you heal. It is a journey, and though I left my ex just over two years ago I still am in a process of recovery. It's important that we do whatever we need to in order to keep us moving forward on that road to healing and peace. All the best to you!

  13. Heather says:

    Thank you for being brave enough to put yourself out there and write this article. All of these things are true of my own mother. Only after understanding she is a narcissist, I was able to heal myself. For me, I am unable to have a relationship with her and feel no guilt over it whatsoever. The article is beautiful….best wishes to you and your children.

    • suzannaq says:

      I totally understand how you feel, Heather. Empowering ourselves by learning of this disorder is one of the best tools we have for healing. And then establishing a no-contact policy for ourselves if possible – no guilt involved! I am grateful you are in a better place of peace and that you reached out to share your story. Thank you!

  14. Marie says:

    Thank you for your openness.

    I recognised every stage you described although my relationship was very recent and not as long.

    I reacted to his abuse by challenging him but also forgave him, over and over. Eventually (less than a year later) I asked him to leave my home. It took him 6 more months of applying his skills, with me moving back and forth, with and against my decision that he must leave. Finally, when he was incredibly offensive about my children and grandchildren, I put my foot down and he left, affronted and upset, and, of course, because I was such a bad parent.

    Despite his leaving, I continued to support him and so we continued our dance of my need against his distance, which was caused by my not being quite good enough.

    Yesterday, I stopped. Hopefully, I will hold strong and not relent – and see our relationship for what it was -abusive, even at our age (60s).

    The worst part for me is that I realised that I have been manipulated in all my relationships, so now I must find my voice – being an empath has its blessings but . . . . . .

    Many, many blessings to you and yours and thank you again for sharing

    • suzannaq says:

      Marie thank you for writing and sharing your story. I am so sorry you've had this experience, but I hope you see now that you are not alone in this and your well being and health and sense of peace are the most important, which is why it's crucial you keep moving forward and not going back to the pain and suffering. Stay strong and make yourself the priority. You are worth it!

  15. Amy says:

    If you have kids with a Narcissistic ex, do you have to co parent? That’s my current struggle. We got out, moved to another country. I’ve tried to allow a relationship between the kids and father via telephone and visit, but the minimal interaction we have seems to be goin

    • suzannaq says:

      Narcissists are unable to co parent in any capacity. I wish I had the answer for you but in my experience the less contact the better. I tried for years to help my ex see the damage he was doing to his own children to no avail. The only thing I can do is give my kids a safe and loving place to grow, and then pick up the pieces when they fall every time my ex damages them in some way. It's a heartbreak like no other, unfortunately. Stay strong not only for yourself but for your children because they will need you.

  16. Michelle says:

    I just want to say thank you. This is the only article (of many) I have read that puts this all together and gives me the knowledge and strength to let him go, to move on AND GET STRONG! I am NOT crazy! I've been told for 4 years that I'm crazy… I know now that I'm not and I need to move on to making me happy. Thanks to you I now feel I can! Thank you and God bless you!

    • suzannaq says:

      Thank you Michelle! Damn right you are not crazy and now you know you are not alone! Stay strong and all the best to you. You've got this!

  17. Mary says:

    Reading your story was like reading my own story. It was like a mirror I needed to see. My therapist has called my (late) marriage abusive, but I have rejected that term. I couldn’t stand hearing that I could have been a victim, especially since I have been healing so quickly since it ended. Now I see what she meant after reading this. I need to recognize my own responsibility in this game so it will never happen to me again. Thank you for speaking out.

    • suzannaq says:

      Mary it took me a long time to recognize that I was a victim of emotional abuse. It's such a tough thing to own, yes? But that is how we take that first step to healing. Remember just because you were a victim doesn't mean you still are. Now you are a survivor and can put yourself first so that you can step fully into the light and have a life of peace and love that you so deserve.

  18. Sara says:

    Thanks so much for writing this article Suzanna. Sometimes we’re in denial of what is going on in our lives or what had happened (marriage/relationship). I realized so much more after reading this, I am still dealing with the dark thoughts from my past relationship, something that doesn’t really go away. In time I know it does get better but at least this serves as a reminder that no, it wasn’t my fault, I was dealing with a Narcissist who I truly loved. However, emotional abuse is never a healthy thing. You’ve got to do what’s right for you in the end because they will never change.

    Thanks so much for this again!

    • suzannaq says:

      Thank you for your message, Sara! You really summed up what it's like to survive a Narcissist – the darkness, the journey, and the realization that we are not at fault for what the abuser did and that they will never ever change so it's best just to get out. I'm so happy you have reached a place of acceptance and peace in your life so that you can move forward into the life you really deserve. And now you know you are also not alone in this. <3

  19. Carol says:

    I was married to a man with NPD for 30 years, all the while trying to figure out what was happening. Kicked him out 5 years ago. Young women need to know these men exist and how to avoid them.

  20. Agnieszka says:

    Thank you for that article. I was looking for something like that from the Empath point of view. The way how you explained. … perfect.
    All your emotions and true you . Thank you.

    • suzannaq says:

      Thank you for your kind words. I'm glad to hear that my story resonated with you and hopefully gave you some added peace in your life. We empaths must stand together!

  21. To all those who have made comments here and those who will read this page in the future, my heart goes out to you. My expertise on the subject has been developed not only as a clinician but on a personal level. I was in love with a narcissist and have a young son with her. My love and blessings to you all and especially Suzanna for raising awareness of this subject.

    • suzannaq says:

      Thank you for your kind and supportive comments. We need more experts like yourself on the subject of NPD to help the many victims who struggle to heal and recover after leaving since it is only when we realize we are not alone that true healing can begin.

  22. Jessica says:

    I dated someone like that. When I broke up with him finally it wasn’t pretty. And people said how could you do that they all thought it was cute. And at first it was until it became crazy. I never went out with friends and the one time I did I came home and had 300 missed calls and a message saying I drove past your house and your car is gone. He would bring me flowers every single day to school and put them in my locker. At first I thought it was so sweet then it got weird and obsessive. He bought me a phone so he could keep track of me. In the mornings before school I would have to drive to his house to just sit there with him. And then I stopped because I wanted to sleep in the mornings and he would be so mad. I finally got away from him and I am with someone amazing. But I still feel robbed of my high school days. He was out of high school.

    • suzannaq says:

      Thank you for sharing your story, Jessica. I am glad you are no longer in that toxic relationship and have found real love! We mustn't blame ourselves for falling for these kinds of people. And any time spent in regret is only taking away time from your new life today. I hope my story helped you find a bit more peace since now you know you are not alone. All the best to you!

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