He doesn’t want me to write about him, and to be honest, after today I likely won’t, but not for the reasons he’d like. His attempt to enforce silence won’t be the cause, I will still write about what he put me through to help others like me leave toxic people like him. It is possible to find the strength within to leave, and to use your experiences to help others, even when your former partner wishes to suppress your voice.
In my case, he was abusive, unrepentant, and a narcissist. I spent many nights on the kitchen floor, begging him to stop – all too aware that my son was cowering at the top of the stairs listening to every word. Eventually, it got to be too much. My son was clearly suffering, so I made the incredibly difficult decision to leave. I left my son with family who would provide him with a safe and loving home, hoping it would help him overcome the anxiety living with an abuser had caused, while I experienced homelessness. Honestly, it was hell, but not nearly as bad as living with his unpredictable but vicious abuse.
There are a whole range of difficult, and often conflicting, emotions that I and others who have fled abuse experience. I ached for my son, and at times didn’t think I’d be able to keep myself together. Friends and family members no longer knew how to treat me. Some would spend entire conversations minimizing the ongoing impact living with years of abuse had on my life, while others would question my own motives for staying. Even friends who I thought would understand would question what “drew” me to him, as though the abuse started instantly and I made a conscious decision to enter into a relationship with someone like that. Each time I would refocus the conversation, wondering why no one ever asked what made him decide to abuse me.
During those first few months, he would contact me incessantly. He’d ask about where I was living, want to take me out for meals, and made empty promises to change. I caved a number of times, and met him at restaurants or in public places. Each time those promises of change would turn into direct attacks against me, against my parenting abilities, and against my own inner strength. For years he had me convinced I couldn’t make it on my own, and every time I saw him he tried those same lines. The last time I saw him I was finally able to see through his lies, and his attempts at keeping me down. He’d panic, and alternate between begging me to return to him and telling me I couldn’t function without him so fast my head felt like it was spinning. I told him to stop contacting me, and walked out the door.
Eventually, I started piecing my life back together. First, I managed to find housing, and then began dealing with the anxiety, depression, and flashbacks those years caused. I surrounded myself with support, stuck with my “no contact” approach to dealing with him, and made it through in one piece.
His narcissistic tendencies made my life hell. They gave my son panic attacks, and still causes me regular flashbacks. He destroyed my belongings, and stole from my son. He left me with no recourse and without the means to have those things replaced. He made those years with him and the months that followed absolutely terrible. His abuse and need for control made my life unbearable, and he got away with it.
There is one thing I do have, however, one thing that is the worst thing a person can do to a narcissist: I can tell you how he is average, unimportant and, eventually, will be forgotten. In fact, he really isn’t anything special. Through therapy sessions and support groups, I’ve encountered many people who lived with narcissists exactly like him. He’s just one abuser of many – there’s really nothing unique or extraordinary about him. Even his techniques of choice are increasingly being recognized as common tactics all abusers use. He is completely average, and in the grade scheme of things, relatively unimportant.
While I may be still be healing from his actions and words now, the flashbacks will lessen, and eventually disappear. I may never forget those hurtful words, spoken with the intent to make life hell, but I’ll use them to help others, to help people like me looking for support from someone who understands. I’ll forget the sound of his voice, the passive aggressive tone he’d use, and the feeling of tension he’d bring into the home. He will fade into the past, and become nothing more than a distant memory. At best he will be remembered as a punch line, as that ex who thought he could win by stealing from a child. While he is still trying to obtain information about me and creeping my social media feeds, I’ve moved on, and were it not for the ongoing and disruptive flashbacks, I’d hardly think about him at all.
He abused me for years, and made my family suffer, but the truth is, we’ll heal, we’ll move on. We’ll let him become that bad memory. Leaving helped me realize something about myself, and about him. I’m so much stronger and so much braver than he’ll ever be. I was able to face a situation causing my family and myself harm, and I left. I found a resilience he’ll never have. He wasn’t strong enough to handle the loss of control and lacked the bravery to face change. He’ll always be a narcissist, just like any other, and after today, he’s no longer worth my ink.