About 8 months ago, I got an answer that I'd been waiting for since I was born.
I was physically and emotionally abused by someone I considered a very special person to me.
Despite how scary this experience was, it was all-too-familiar.
I didn't know how to explain it, but even though I hadn't dealt with this person before, I had dealt with the situation before.
After visiting my best friend before school started, she taught me a little about narcissists and their abusive tactics.
I didn't know the first thing about narcissists, but as she explained their nature to me, I realized I'd been dealing with narcissists my entire life.
I was constantly beaten down by horrible, monstrous people that would manipulate me into remaining in their lives despite the horrible ways they treated me.
I was hardly ever physically abused, but I was mentally abused almost every day, especially in adolescence.
I was convinced that I was stupid, invaluable and unworthy of love. I began to believe I was a burden, but I didn't know why.
I didn't have an answer for it then, but I have an answer for it now.
I've learned many valuable lessons from my 21 years of experience with narcissists, and I'd like to share some of them with you.
1. Narcissists are much more common than you know.
About 30 percent of the population is classified as narcissistic, a number that has doubled in the last 30 years. From my own experience, they can be found almost anywhere. They can be your professor, employer, best friend, roommate, organization officer, etc. They might even be one of your relatives. You might even be dating one.
2. They have a special way of making you feel like everything is your fault.
No matter what, they can never admit to their wrongdoings. If they're late for work, it's because you didn't wake them up. If they're having a bad day, it's because you didn't do your job as their significant other. It's never their fault; they always find a way to blame you for things completely out of your control.
3. The only thing they want to talk about is themselves.
They don't understand there's other people in the world. They have to have attention on them at all times to prevent from losing their minds. It's exhausting to be around, and it can make you feel like you're not important. Spoiler alert: you are.
4. They fake their confidence.
On the outside, they may seem like they have it all together, but this is usually a result of them constantly beating others down and feeding off of their energy. However, deep down inside, they actually hate themselves. They just aren't consciously aware of it.
5. They have no respect for boundaries.
They don't understand that you're not their property. This is especially true for narcissistic parents, because they view their children as simply an "extension of them" and won't treat them like the human being they are. Sad and disgusting, but true.
6. If they seem "too good to be true", then they are.
For romantic relationships, narcissists will start the relationship by love-bombing you, which involves them showering you with excess levels of "love" and attention in order to manipulate you, put you on a pedestal, and then mentally destroy you in the end. They do this so you'll form an attachment to them, which gives them levels of power over you that you didn't even know possible. When you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags look just like flags.
7. Only believe what you see with your own eyes.
Narcissists are notorious for gaslighting, which is a technique the narcissist uses to make the victim question their own reality. They will try to convince you that they didn't do what you know they did even though you saw it with your own eyes. If you need to, write it down to remember it. They can and will convince you that you're crazy. You are not.
8. They throw away good people while keeping harmful people around.
They're not in your life to contribute positivity. They're there to feed off of your energy until they get what they wanted, and then they'll leave you without warning. You're basically a drug to them (which is ironic considering most narcissists are addicts).
9. They are notorious cheaters.
Narcissists have severe intimacy issues and are extremely dismissive. Whenever they find someone that truly cares about them and they have a strong bond, subconsciously they have to ruin it. They will usually cheat with someone who is unhealthy for them, which is
10. They're aware they hurt you. They don't care.
Trying to "talk it out" with a narcissist is a waste of time. Trust me, they're aware they hurt you. If you try to talk to them about it, they'll either dodge the subject or turn it around on you. They don't care, and you can't force them to.
11. "No contact" is the way to go.
To reiterate the previous point, informing a narcissist about their wrongdoings is pointless. Explaining to them why you're leaving them is pointless. Going "no contact" on them is the healthiest way to cut them off that will save your mental sanity. Ghosting isn't always a coward move.
12. All narcissists follow the same behavioral pattern.
My professor divorced her narcissistic ex-husband years ago and started reading a book called "Psychopath Free", and it gave her some insight as to the way these people operate. It will not only give you an explanation for what happened to you, but it will remind you you're not crazy. Also, you'll be able to recognize these red flags to avoid future abusive relationships.
13. They may be a lot of things, but they are not stupid.
Narcissists are some of the most clever people in the world. They know exactly when to turn on the charm to make everyone fall in love with them. However, when there's no one around, they show their true selves. This is why many people don't believe the victim when they reveal their abuser because they "seemed so nice". But if we've learned anything from Wizards of Waverly Place, it's that "everything is not what it seems".
14. If they can't control you, they'll try to control other's perception of you.
For example, one of my friends was abused by the same narcissist as me. After he broke free from this person's torment, his name was slandered. This person knew exactly what to say to make everyone else view him negatively. They will try to destroy your name. However, the people that truly love you will believe you, not them.
15. Narcissists don't just break your heart. They break your spirit.
As someone who has experienced both heartbreak after a healthy relationship and heartbreak after narcissistic abuse, I can tell you that both hurt like heck, but the latter literally feels like your body is being set on fire. It's much harder to come back from a broken spirit, but you will come back. I promise.
16. There are always red flags.
My most recent narcissist had numerous red flags. They were extremely unhappy, they had nothing nice to say about anyone, they were emotionally cut off from everyone, etc. I thought these were just personality traits, but they were warnings.
17. The red flags may be internal rather than external.
For example, my favorite YouTuber Nu Mindframe mentions how her physical health began to plummet when she was with her narcissistic boyfriend. She was having stomach ulcers along with mental health problems. Sometimes the red flags manifest themselves internally. Is your anxiety higher than normal? Are you rapidly gaining or losing weight? These may be signs that something is disrupting your energy.
18. Breaking off a relationship with a narcissist takes many tries.
Priscilla Du Preez
One of my professors told us that it takes an average of about 7 times to break up with a narcissist because they know exactly how to worm themselves back into your life. They'll bring flowers and gifts along with "apologies" and their "promise" to do better. However, once you learn their behavior pattern, you'll be better equipped to cut them off for good.
19. They're not attractive because they're good. They're attractive because they're familiar.
Psychologically-speaking, we gravitate towards things that are familiar to us, whether those things are good or harmful. I had been surrounded by narcissists my entire life, so I didn't know anything different. The people I gravitated towards in adulthood mirrored what I had experienced growing up, which made them "attractive". I am currently working on breaking this pattern, but it takes time.
20. Having a good support system is an absolute must.
A huge part of our resilience level is whether or not we have people in our lives to help us get through our negative experiences. This has been exceptionally difficult for me because I've become very closed-off and I've cut off many of my friends, but I know that once I become more open (and not just on Twitter), the healing process will truly begin. Reach out to a friend, talk to a counselor, confide in your family, etc. Do what you need to do, but just remember that there are people out there rooting for you.
21. You are not alone.
I used to think I was the only one that experienced this kind of torture. I thought it was because I deserved it or I was being punished by The Universe for something bad I'd done when I was younger, but as I spoke to others around me, many of them had had similar (almost identical) experiences. Sadly, this is something many of us have gone through at least once, but our lived experiences bring us together and help us find ways to heal. You are not alone. You are loved.
There is a support network for those who have suffered at the hands of these monsters. As you take the necessary steps toward recovery, remember that you are not alone. I see you. I believe you. I am you.