My Abusers Were Lessons Disguised As Blessings

21 Lessons I Learned After 21 Years Of Narcissistic Abuse

It's not you, it's them. Literally.

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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.

Timon Studler

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.

Samn Rios

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. 

Jason Rosewell

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.

Raphaela Vergud

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.

@chairulfajar_

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.

Scott Broome

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.

Hermes Rivera

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.

Jonathan Rados

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.

Karim Manjra

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.

Sydney Sims

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.

Nadine Shaabana

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.

chuttersnap

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.

Samuel Zeller

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.

Sydney Sims

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.

Aricka Lewis

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.

Sydney Sims

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.

Raj Eiamworakul

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.

Guilherme Stecanella

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.

Helena Lopes

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.

Jon Tyson

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.

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Dear Soon-To-Be Seniors

These are a few things we'd like to tell you about Senior year.
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Dear soon-to-be high school seniors,

Goodbye. As the class of ahead of you, we've watched you grow, always one step behind us. As we graduate, there are some things I'd like to tell you about your last year of high school.

Yes, Senior year can be just as amazing as everyone says it is, if you make it that way. But don't think it's a blow-off year with no work. This year may hold some of the most stressful times of your life.Be prepared for late nights writing papers or hard tests that could make or break your graduation status. However, don't stress too much about homework. A question I often asked myself this year was, "in twenty years, will I remember staying up till 2am studying for Econ? Or will I remember a fun night with my friends?" Ok, probably not the best advice if you don't have the best of grades, but most of the time you stress yourself out for no reason and miss out on fun things.

Another thing, try to get on the college grind early. If you haven't already, start looking at colleges and applying! Then narrow it down as soon as you can. You don't want to be stressed about that decision in the last month of senior year. Honestly, the sooner you can make your decision, the happier and less stressed you will probably be.

It's not too late to join new things either; a lot of people join a sport or a club senior year and have a lot of fun because of it. So try that thing you've always wanted to join! Speaking of which, go to prom! I won't tell you prom is the best experience of your life because for some people it's not, but it's pretty amazing. Don't stress too much about getting a date, either the right guy/girl will show up, or you'll just go with your friends and still have a blast.

Don't be too rude to the underclassmen. You were that young just a few years ago. And they're the ones who usually put your senior nights together, so make sure you thank them. Also keep in mind that they are looking up to you. Remember those seniors you looked up to just a few short years ago? Be a good example. Take your place in the school as Seniors and continue where we left off; carry on the legacy of your school and be proud of it.

If your school does Kairos (or a similar senior retreat), be absolutely open to it! If it's your thing, enjoy it! If it's not your thing, still try to be open to it. You don't have to love it, but at least don't hate on it before you've even been. Bonding with your class is a big part of senior year. I made so many new friends this year that I never thought I would if it hadn't been for Kairos.

Speaking of which, be open to new friends. Whether they're seniors or not, talk to everyone. In a few months, you may never see those kids again, so it's worth getting to know them past just being friends on Facebook. Also, don't give up on dating people in your class. Yeah, there's only a few months left and you've spent the last 4 years with these people, but there might be one person out there who could change your whole year for the better if you give them the chance.

Above all, enjoy it. You only get one senior year, so make it count. Go to everything you possibly can: every football game, dance, party, musical, bonfire, etc. Enjoy wearing the jersey of your team for the last time, taking your last bow on your high school stage, and turning in your last final, because it will all be gone within the blink of an eye. You'll find yourself walking down the aisle in a cap and gown of those same school colors you thought you despised (but really, you'll secretly miss). You'll look at your favorite teachers lined up behind you and your family sitting in front of you, and most importantly your class around you, and I hope, I really hope, you don't regret a single moment of senior year.

Cover Image Credit: Anna Skog

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College Can Be Difficult, But Trust Yourself, Girl

Life can throw you curveballs sometimes, and times can get tough, but it is SO important to pick yourself up and trust that you can do anything.

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I'll be honest, this school year was one of the hardest years of my life. There were lots of moments throughout the year that I just wanted to go home and get away from it all. I had to be reminded that I have been raised to try as hard as you possibly can, and I was doing that. It took some determination and time, but I didn't give up.

No matter how bad I felt, I stayed and persevered.

Now that I am home for the summer, I have been reminiscing on the past two semesters of school. At the beginning of the school year, I had a much different idea of how it would go. It was going to be "my year," but somehow while the year was going on, I felt that I had been completely wrong. It's easy to come to quick conclusions when life doesn't exactly go your way. Conclusions like "this year has been the worst year ever" and "I can never get a break" were often popping up in my head. My grades weren't where I wanted them, and I was surprised by a lot of occurrences that I never expected to happen (imagine a wild ride). I found out who my true friends are and who I could rely on, and luckily, my circle only grew. Being extremely extroverted, it was hard for me to get out and just do something. Being in this "rut" took a toll on me. I had to make those hard decisions about doing what was best for me in the long run instead of doing something just for the moment. Trust me when I say, this was NOT easy at all.

Through all the tears and change all around me, I decided to proceed to the finish line because I am NOT a quitter.

I decided that it was time for me to allow myself to fully, undeniably be me. I wanted to start doing the little things I enjoy again like working out, taking pictures, and simply just going out to do anything. I started forcing myself to take any opportunity that came my way, and it helped. One of the things that brought me so much joy was kickboxing – talk about therapeutic, people! Kickboxing at least three times a week helped my mood shift so much, and it was a start to seeing me again. I am so blessed with friends who would come over at, literally, any time of the day. Spending time with them helped me more than they could ever know. We did anything from just hanging out in my living room to splurging on a fun dinner. Through everything that I was doing daily, I was learning how to rely on myself. Looking back now, I have never really had to know what it felt like to rely mainly on myself. I did get so much help from my family and friends, but what good could their help do if I didn't want to help myself first?

Even though I felt like this was one of the worst years of my life, it taught me so much more than I ever expected. Looking back now, I grew so, so much. I learned how to smile when times get tough. I learned that it really is okay to not be okay sometimes, and it will be okay eventually. I learned that it's okay to ask for help because we weren't made to do life alone. Most importantly, I learned how to trust myself. My hope for anyone reading this, you will learn from my experience that the worst seasons get better. I am in such a good place right now because I never gave up, and I will continue to never give up. In a short amount of time, I am seeing how far I have come and how much I grew.

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