August 22, 2019

How letting myself Love a Psychopath Saved my Life.

The deepest core belief I unravelled about narcissistic abuse, the single greatest source of all my suffering, boiled down to one simple truth.

After wading deeper and deeper into my feelings toward my ex, I realized something that fundamentally shifted me forever: the vast ocean of my pain came from blocking the love I felt for him, because, after all, I “shouldn’t” love a monster.

This moment of enlightenment was the beginning of a path to deep healing, forgiveness, and a life of true inner freedom.

The entire abuse dynamic teaches us that our love for the abuser is bad and wrong. We feel ashamed of it; we fear it. Because the narcissist confuses love with abuse, we become conditioned to believe in this lie too: our love is something to fear.

Over and over again, they prove to us that we shouldn’t love someone who hurts us. Yet no matter what they do, we still love them, we may even love them more, and we are left with all of this love that seems to have nowhere to go.

Whether consciously or unconsciously, we begin to block the love we feel and it starts to burn us from the inside out. After all, we shouldn’t love a monster; look what they did to us! They have used every trick in the book to show us we should feel silly and ashamed of ourselves for loving them.

The narcissist pulls more and more supply from us, thriving on our endless offerings of both love and suffering, often caused by our self-loathing for loving them. We become caught in a constant feedback loop that affirms their role as “monster who shouldn’t be loved,” and it drives us to absolute insanity. We lose ourselves completely in the pursuit of this most basic and fundamental of human needs: love and acceptance.

They control us through this foolproof method, and, reeling, we try to regain control by giving them just a little more love, thinking maybe they will accept it this time. It even goes on in the aftermath as we relive the whole thing in our minds and hearts, shattered that they never accepted our love, that they are incapable of doing so. In the end, the truth is that we were the ones abandoning ourselves all along, and we are the only ones who can possibly save us.

Perhaps like me, you really, deeply love someone who behaved in horrific ways toward you. Perhaps you too kept trying to prove your love to that person in endless acts of self-sacrifice. Perhaps you also came to realize that nothing you ever did would open that person’s heart or be enough for them. You may have also internalized the belief that it must be you who “just wasn’t enough” for them.

Let’s flip the script for a moment. What if the truth is that you are a deeply loving, kind, and caring person who can sense the immense pain that person was in? So much pain, buried so deeply, that they will most likely never be able to access it or heal, never be able to face themselves or their behavior that stems from it? What if this makes you one of the strongest people on earth? And what if the secret to releasing the pain of that relationship was within you all along?

What if the truth is that this person, with their cold, dead heart, simply wasn’t enough for you, can never be enough for you, and is doing the best that they can no matter how bad that looks? How can we know this? Because it’s what they are doing; it’s reality.

The belief that they will change because we love them is the one that keeps us trapped. I have to ask you, how long have you been denying the love you feel because of their inability to accept it?

For me, I denied my love, off and on, for most of my life. Until, one day, I was lying in a pool of self-pity and loathing and I finally woke up to the truth: I simply love this person. Nothing they say or do can change that, how could it? I would have done absolutely anything for them to accept my love. In that moment, I decided that I could just allow myself to start to feel the love I bore them, and a miracle occurred.

I felt absolutely amazing, like a thousand lifetimes of abuse lifted off of me—the gripping in my chest, the anxiety—it all just lightened up and released. It was replaced by a strong current of love, my own love, that flowed through me. It washed over me, it bathed me and filled me with light. It expanded outward, and I felt love for everything in existence. In that moment, I understood that seeking love outside of me was never the right goal, albeit an understandable one.

The true gift was always within me—the love contained within my own heart. I felt forgiveness wash over me as hatred was replaced with gratitude. I thanked the person for inspiring this much love in me, and showing me my beautiful, precious heart. In that moment, I began to learn to love unconditionally. How could I continue to hate someone who taught me the greatest lesson of my life? It became impossible.

I began to write, and out spilled 10 pages of poetry. I began to let myself grieve and heal. The love I felt was my ultimate healer, all along, and I was no longer ashamed of it. Nor did I need to continue to abandon myself or sacrifice myself to that person. I could just feel it, it’s always there for me, and it fills me with beauty when I allow it to. I realized that while my presence in someone’s life is conditional, my love for them doesn’t need to be, and it began to set me free.

Stop for a moment. Think of someone, anyone whom you have love for; it doesn’t have to be someone who hurt you. Can you suspend your mind a moment, and just let that love expand and grow from your heart? How does it feel to just be that love? Does it really need to go anywhere or do anything? Can you just let yourself feel it, even if only for a moment? After all, it was always your feeling, it always belonged to you.

If we unravel our conditionings around love, we can unlock a vast reserve of healing for our precious broken hearts. Conversely, we can continue to seek love and approval outside of ourselves until the end of time. We can continue to believe that we need someone else to feel love, that we need them to accept it, and we can get caught up in cycles where we constantly are bashing our heads against their cold, dead hearts in vain. I’m certain I could have stayed in this cycle, myself, forever.

When we choose to take full ownership for our love instead, everything we ever dreamed of becomes possible, because we allow it in. With hearts full of love, we begin to tap into our self-worth, to value our loving selves deeply, regardless of anyone else’s opinions. We stop seeking approval. We start seeking support and loving-kindness, and the whole world around us can completely shift in an instant.

For me, this shift was to inner freedom, joy, and the influx of healthy, loving people into my life. I started to unravel all my fears around love and learn how to allow it in. I felt safe knowing that no matter what came my way, my love would always belong to me, I would always have it and keep it safe. No one could take it from me, and so what was left to fear or judge?

It meant being able to truly love others without expectations, to give them the freedom to be themselves, and to set effortless boundaries with toxic behavior. I can love you from a distance if it’s necessary, but you can’t take my love away from me, for it was never yours to begin with.

This is true freedom. This is how I began to truly love others and create a life I can engage with and live to the fullest. This is when I started to love being me. This is when I became infinite love, embodied.

Many of us were taught that love is a finite resource, that it always comes from outside of us, and that people must accept it for it to be real. What if we choose to believe the opposite? Can you imagine the possibilities of a life of limitless love? A love that you no longer need to seek, simply uncover within you? A love you do not have to work for, just let yourself feel?

We fear loving ourselves for many reasons; after all, we have been programmed to associate love with abuse. For how long have you been denying yourself the love that is within you? For how long have you been afraid of it? Convinced that if you allow yourself to feel it you will go back to that person, or you will get hurt? For how long have you cut yourself off and lived in the agony of isolation just to stay safe? 

When we block out the darkness, we also block out all of the potential light. Allowing it back in is a process that requires much patience, grace, and courage. If you can love a malignant narcissist, I promise you that you already have those inner resources in abundance! It takes a truly strong being to survive what you have been through.

I want to say to you that you don’t have to block out all the light anymore. You can let love take you and feed you and nourish you without anyone else’s presence. It was always within you, all along.

You have always been love, you just forgot this.


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author: Janelle Marie Brown

Image: Gossip Girl (2007-2012)

Editor: Kelsey Michal