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It is like a slow working poison, you don't feel quite right but cannot put your finger on it. It starts out slow, you don't even recognize it as abuse. But it takes little bites out of you, you’re not quite sure why you feel uncomfortable. But you’re in a safe place -so your defenses are down, getting ready for that golden relationship you have always dream of. You need to stay focused- so you brush it off.

Yes, your unsettled. but you're sure things just hit a rough patch and your beautiful life will get back on track.

There are a few things your beloved frowns on about you, but you’re working on them and their shiny love will be yours again.

Your perceptions of reality blur as you try to see things their way. You don't think things are quite the way they are being presented, but going along with it, repeatedly, has proven to be the path of least resistance.

Deceptions, they can't be real, they couldn't. Your beloved wouldn't hurt you that way, people don't act like that when they care for you. You just accept that your perceptions are off. It ain’t real because it can't be real.

Things still seem to be off track. You have worked so hard to make the changes needed to please the one you love. But approval never comes. It's painful and you have despaired- but it's worth it , right? All this will pass. Things will work out. You must put more of yourself into it.

Yet there it is, you are the problem, your issues are screwing paradise up. You feel it being packed up and put away. You try to fit into the mold cast for you but some how always fail. The bar is always being raised.

You whole life could change, uplift with just an approving nod, or kind word, validation that never comes.

You live your life through their eyes - and what you see in their eyes when they look at you, is the disapproval that withers you away. It feels like a slow death, slowly carving out your heart and soul out with repeated slashes.

Despite all your efforts you are not allowed to feel good about yourself or the relationship.

The nonstop questioning of your values, morals and worth as a human being and partner is getting debilitating. You try to develop a thick skin but your shattered sense of self worth is being slowly but surely crushed.

It’s always you! Your faults, your mistakes and your shortcomings, real or made up that are always the issue. Why are you not fulfilling their needs? Why are you so worthless? It isn’t even a question any more -it’s an accepted fact. It can't be true, but it must be true, because you and what is wrong with you, is the ongoing open discussion.

You may falsely think that coming to a agreement is the final conclusion or goal to the endless painful discussions. It is not. Keeping the conversations rolling to keep you off balance and to continue to feed off your emotional responses are the goals- and those are already being met, nothing will change.

No conclusions or common ground will ever come to pass, as this would end their control and end the supply they get by continually churning your emotions. Word salad is spoken and revolving conversations you already had are started up again like they never happened.

An endless supply of mind-fuckery, is your steady diet now as thing progress and deteriorate. Your nerves are raw- it won't be long before you have to defend yourself again, so you’re always on edge, ready to snap. When you do, it's used against you. You’re too sensitive, or it's proof you’re unstable. It's proof you’re abusive, unworthy, shameful, and pathetic. And you won't forget because you will be reminded so often it feels like it never quits.

If you have an issue with them, or try to voice a need you have, you are shut down before you get the first sentence out. They will never allow you to call them on their crap. Trying to do so, is a punishable offense.

You are demeaned, shamed, put down and vented on, as much as you can stand now, and maybe just a touch more. You are beat up until you are in a rage or tears. They always claim victory when you lose it emotionally. And they did win; it was their intention all along to pump up your emotions and feed off them. This drives you to the edge of sanity and beyond- a price they are willing to pay. You don't even know you are playing a game with your mental well being at stake.

Never in front of people would they treat you this way, which is another smoke screen. Their public image is all important and is carefully groomed. None of the horrors will happen when company calls. No one will believe the narcissist is capable of the abusive behavior you endure daily.

After it has gone on way too long your self esteem is gone, emotional stability impossible. Depression sets in and God knows what else. Mental afflictions including the depression, are: nervous breakdowns, PTSD, anxiety- and these can lead to physical health issues. Health issues including, gastric and skin issues, autoimmune complications, cardiovascular problems and other ailments.

As you find that you are always defending yourself, you become hyper-vigilant. You never know when the next attack is coming or what form it will take. But it is coming.

You get rays of hope from the Narc acts of kindness, just enough to keep you engaged and stuck in place. You get treated better for a while, but just enough to keep you hoping and keep you in the game. It is generally after a particularly brutal beat down when the narcissist may think they pushed you too hard, then things get sugar coated.

If the belittling and tormenting are not bad enough, you may get the silent treatment, which can seem the worst part of the abuse, ignored, left alone, diminished by silence. It breaks your will and your heart. This kind of cruelty you have to experience to understand.

You go to the very person tormenting you for relief, which leads to trauma bonding. When you combine that with the fact your self esteem is shattered, you're totally shattered and dependent on the narcissist. You feel you can't live without them and yet you are dependent on someone hell bent on destroying you. You do not expect someone who is suppose to have your best interest at heart to want to destroy you. This can’t be real.

They do destroy you - bits and pieces at at a time. They are always pushing your buttons triggering you. It’s brainwashing. You believe, eventually, that you deserve the abuse. So you stay and endure it, because if the narcissist won’t have you, surely nobody will.

You would think breaking up would stop the pain- but it is just a fresh start to it as you struggle with ‘no contact,” breaking the traumatic bonding and putting yourself back together. The pieces of you are so shattered, they will never fit back the way you were. Recovery seems to take forever. The narcissist is always on your mind. You have traded the pain of living with a narcissist for the pain of living without them. At least this has a end, and a light at the end of the tunnel.

People, your family and friends, are often fed stories about you by the narcissist, and the “hell,” that the Narc supposedly endured trying to be with you. They often play the hero/victim role to the hilt, often starting to break down your support group long before the breakup. They discredit your words before you break silence, effectively cutting off any support you may get before you even ask.

If you managed to escape that, you’re still not out of the woods. Often, none of your family or friends understand what you have been through; they think you've overreacted and just need to shake it off and you’re invalidated all over again! Just calm down, they say! We wish it were that easy. Traditional counseling often sought after a ‘normal’ breakup, does not come near to adequately treating this kind of trauma.

But recovery will happen, in it's own way, over time. Conscious effort is required to speed up the process. You will eventually start having good moments, then good days, then good weeks, then a good life. Recovery comes in waves, all bad at first, then your catch a few good waves. Eventually the good wave takes over, but be prepared to let a occasional bad wave pass over you.

If you've never been through narcissistic abuse, you'll never understand it. If you have, you’ve been to hell and back.

Personal note: Cheri was the dream girl I always wanted. I came into the relationship under the false assumption she was better than me. I was determined not to be the weak link. My personal growth should have celebrated.

I placed Cheri high up on a pedestal, I looked to her for validation. I lived my life through her eyes. She never approved of what she saw. Living my life through her eyes brought me down to the darkest days of my life.

I had not even heard the word narcissist yet and would not until the relationship was all bot over. Three and a half years of narcissistic hell I endured not knowing what was going on..

The emotional pain was unbearable. and repeated over and over again. Being so devoted to her, cherishing the ground she walked on and hearing accusations of infidelity stopped my heart and tore it from my chest so often it never healed. To want to prove myself to her so desperately and hear her say I have a sneaky personality and she can never trust me crushed my spirit as if my heart bursting was not enough.

I became transparent, Always available so she could check on me, Quit my friends which was easier than the rage I got if I wanted to include them in anything. I went no where, did nothing without her. I was determined to prove myself worthy. I never in my wildest idea’s never thought that it was impossible, could never happen. All I did was give my power away.

This is how the loneliest period of my life started. I was allowed to hang out but it was always make clear I still did not make the grade and was not fully accepted. I allowed myself to be put on a shelf and lived on what ever crumbs she had left when everybody else important to her was not available.

I Got three Date nights from one Thanksgiving day to a following Easter. She always managed to disrespect me and ruin every one of them. I was always around to neglect and reject, demean and shame. She never failed to do so.

I cannot describe how horrible it was to be called upon the carpet over and over, when we were alone and get dissected, pulled apart and found a unclean, worthless, sneaky cheat, irresponsible low life, or a worthless emotional basket case, what ever that nights theme happened to be.

She learned how important a symbol having a house key to her home was to me. So I never got it back. She loved, just loved to shame me with “You will never be good enough to get a key back.” I could not believe the number of times she could say it in a single evening. Just sheer meanness. It hurt every single time. In fact she loved to hurt me to the point I lost it, blew up or cried. That way she could bring it up, a level and use that to show how unstable I was.

It got to the point I could not understand how she could paint such a low black picture of me and have me around. I mean I was painted blacker than coal, like people you don’t allow in your life little lone around your grand kids.

I was miserable suicidal and could not leave her to save my ass. trauma bonded to the max every time I walked out I snapped back like a new rubber band.

My decision in my broken state was to make her leave me. I knew even as she did that I would be kicking and screaming to get back in, Like the pathetic little man I had become. She was flaunting my replacement in my face anyway. He turned into her favorite subject to be throwed in my face time and time again. I will never be unhappy I was able to ruin that for her.

I thought faking a affair would be a clean break. It just turned into five more months of a angrier version of Cheri living with her was pure hell, When I finally was ready to quit my slow slide to suicide, I traded the pure hell of living with her for the pure hell of living without her.

The stress gave me a heart attack. Coming back from narcissistic abuse, fighting to stay off the longs of traumatic bonding, get a glimmer of joy or happiness back, or a small part of who I used to be back is a tough row to hoe. But hoe I did, and look at me now.

Doing everything wrong didn’t help, just put off my recovery. But I now know there is life after narcissistic abuse. If I can get out doing everything wrong, you will too.

There is life after narcissistic abuse, maybe you can’t see it from where you are standing but it’s real and it’s waiting for you to arrive. So start taking those baby steps, at first it’s just important to be moving ,the right direction will come in time.