My abusive relationships with narcissistic men
This is the 14th in a series of “My journey through anxiety, panic disorder, depression and psychosis.” You’ll also read about me and my abusive relationships with narcissists, occurring over a period of many years.
I started writing about my journey six months ago and I only ever intended to write it in four posts. However, it’s become clear that my journey was longer and more painful than I remembered. That’s made it difficult to get the words down on paper at times. I’ve taken many breaks and written lots of other posts in between. I’ve had time to reflect and bounce back a bit stronger each time.
A year later
Mark had recently moved into a new rented flat and he hadn’t bothered to do much to it. The bathroom, kitchen and bedroom were liveable spaces but the living room was devoid of curtains and furniture. The room was just stuffed full of black bin liners of all his things.
One Friday I’d gone shopping for an outfit for a work party that night, and when I called him, Mark was acting like a petulant child. He thought I should have been helping him sort out his flat instead of preening myself for tonight. Never mind I’d moved a few months back and he hadn’t helped me. He said he would have, if I paid him the £250 he’d lose by taking a day off work. Tutting and eyes rolling, he was so full of his own bloody importance.
Mark came to the party but he made it clear wasn’t enjoying it, or the attention I was getting — from colleagues for Christ sake. He left and said for me to go back to his after the party as he lived round the corner from the venue.
The party was great despite my friends suggesting that Mark had ignored them and seemed very possessive. I hadn’t noticed it previously or, perhaps I’d ignored it. But now I felt embarrassed, and I really didn’t want to go back to Mark’s flat when the party ended. However, it was gone 2am and to avoid another argument, I thought it best just to walk to Mark’s flat.
Way before the ALS ice bucket challenge was popular
Yay! He was asleep when I let myself in so I just snuck into bed, on my side, by the wall. But he woke, he sat bolt upright, and he yelled “You’re taking the p*ss. It’s 2.30am. Where the hell have you been?”
I stayed still and whispered “Ssshh, sorry. Go back to sleep,” hoping that would be it.
“Don’t f*cking ‘ssshh’ me. F*ck off and leave.”
“Mark. Please. Let’s just sleep and I’ll drive home in the morning?” I argued. He shot out of bed suddenly, still cursing, and I just curled myself into the far corner of the bed so as not to disturb him further. I heard him running the tap to get a drink and I heard his bare feet thud into back into the bedroom. I felt the heaviness as he got on the bed then, WTF?
He was standing above me on the bed, pouring a bucket of cold water all over me, and I froze.
It seemed like only seconds later when Mark tipped a second bucket of water over me. I started giggling hysterically and thought How ridiculous is this? But I’m soaked now, so I might as well just lie here. He left the bedroom and returned with a third and maybe a fourth (I was in shock) bucket of cold water, and threw it over me. “Now, f*cking leave. Get out. Now,” Mark screamed. I couldn’t call for a taxi because he didn’t have a great signal in this flat, and he damn well knew this.
Don’t let my son see me like this
There was no way I was going anywhere, when I was wet from head to toe, so I raced to his living room and blocked the door so he couldn’t get in. I dragged bags of clothing and sheets together and threw myself on top of them, shivering with cold.
Fortunately, my hair and clothes were semi-dry when I woke so I walked out to find a cab to get home before my son woke and saw me. Why the hell did I put up with this crap? What’s wrong with me? My son would be furious if he knew what Mark was doing to me, but he’d also be disappointed in me. He didn’t know and I wasn’t going to tell him.
I told Callum the following week in the pub and I laughed at the ridiculousness of Mark’s behaviour. Callum wasn’t impressed and he wasn’t laughing. He wasn’t joking either when he said that if it was his boyfriend he’d have put rotten fish in the hem of his curtains and itching powder in all his pants.
Callum and I were still laughing when Mark sent a text saying “Missed you at cricket on Sunday. Want to meet up later?” Callum took my phone from me and I watched as his nimble fingers tapped out a speedy reply, “Two words, one finger,” and we laughed some more.
Coping with a narcissist
Nope, it’s not easy. It wasn’t easy. I was well aware that Mark’s behaviour was inappropriate and cruel but I still loved him and missed him? However, on hindsight, I realised how many times I’d desperately attempted to appease him — trying to avoid the arguments that would surely follow. I was so stressed, and exhausted, always trying to keep him happy.
I thought back to early on in our relationship, when we had fun and passion and we laughed a lot. But I don’t remember his complimenting me or taking me out anywhere other than the local bar. And looking back, while he never bought me gifts, he often asked if I’d got him anything while I was out shopping. He’d strop like a spoiled little boy who didn’t get what he wanted at Christmas when I didn’t buy him anything.
Of course it hadn’t happened overnight, it was like he was slowly drip-feeding me, making unpleasant comments about how selfish I was, or how little I cared about him. I later learned that trying to please someone like Mark was futile because, for narcissists, nothing is ever enough.
So, what is a narcissist
According to Helpguide.org. the signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder include
- Grandiose sense of self-importance. …
- Frequently demeans, intimidates, bullies, or belittles others
- Lives in a fantasy world that supports their delusions of grandeur. …
- Needs constant praise and admiration. …
- Sense of entitlement. …
- Exploits others without guilt or shame
Narcissistic personalities effectively mask a deep and unconscious self-loathing. To counter feelings of shame, narcissists will project their own issues on to everybody else. They blame others, insist it’s everybody else’s fault, portray themselves as victims and rarely apologise or take responsibility for themselves or their actions (Mail & Guardian, 2019).
Be careful because being subjected to narcissistic abuse can, over time, seriously affect your mental health.
We’ll look at How to leave a narcissist in my next post. But in the meantime, if you are in or think you’re in an abusive relationship with a narcissist, you might want to read Know the signs of emotional abuse here and Let’s talk about domestic violence here.
If you are, or someone you know is in a relationship with a narcissist, then seek support from people you can trust — friends, family, peer support groups and, if necessary, a professional.
Over to you
I’d love to know your thoughts on Mark, his narcissism and me putting up with it. Does it make me look weak? In what ways would narcissism affect your mental well-being? As always, I look forward to your comments and any questions.