Never Lonelier

I had never been as lonely as I was while entangled in a love relationship with a narcissist. I could be sitting next to him, and because he had no regard for my feelings, I felt invisible and utterly alone. I always felt “less than” in every way, and my needs and desires were ALWAYS eclipsed by my partner’s. I didn’t matter, I was always wrong, I was always at fault for everything, and I was always an idiot, a nag. I was constantly pinned against the ropes and made to feel like I was completely worthless, which was exactly how my partner wanted me to feel. It maintained his control over me, and he remained my kryptonite for many years.

During the years that I was foolish enough to be with this person, I spent my money on him for food, trips, gifts, and helped him in whatever way I could, in the hopes that he would finally see what I was doing for him, and finally let me in emotionally, which of course he never did. I’d wait for texts which wouldn’t come, and if I dared to say that I missed him or wanted to perhaps receive greetings from him, he would turn it around and say that I was being too needy. If he upset me, and I revealed that I was upset, he would gaslight me, twisting things around, telling me, “Tough shit”, or “I can’t always be there for you, it’s not my job.” Like a first-class jerk.

I was never respected or appreciated. The relationship was NOT reciprocal. I would give, give, give, and all he would do was take, take, take. I was not allowed to ask for his help, even with lifting something heavy, because that meant I was giving him a “chore”. It didn’t matter that he outweighed me and was taller than me. I can’t even count the number of times I would struggle with heavy groceries or boxes, and he would simply sit on the sofa and WATCH me struggle, like he was watching a humorous scene in a sitcom. On the rare occasion when he would offer to help, he would wait until I put everything down before saying anything. Um, yeah, too late.

The narcissist always makes the outside world believe that he is the most wonderful, caring person. But the truth is that a narcissist has no heart, just like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. A rusty, loveless, impenetrable, cold hunk of metal.

How do you know you are with a narcissist? Here are some signs to watch for:

Has no regard for your feelings.
Completely dominates conversations, even when they’re about you.
Constantly argues with and challenges you.
Blames you for all the difficulties in the relationship.
Regards you as weak if you reveal any emotions.
Never takes responsibility for anything.
Must be the center of attention while with you and friends.
Hates being interrupted but will always interrupt you and talk over you.
Turns on the charm with strangers and often adopts a certain voice or persona while doing so.
Feels superior or entitled.
Lacks empathy.
Has a tendency to lose his temper and become completely enraged.
Controls and manipulates his partner.
Only cares about getting his own needs met, while ignoring the needs of others.
Cannot listen to criticism.
Exhibits a complete lack of emotion, often leaning towards cruel, vindictive behavior.
Is extremely opportunistic and will always go for the bigger, better deal.
Harbors extreme fantasies about power and wealth which are out of proportion to what he is able to achieve.

My narcissistic partner would usually back away during the times I most needed emotional support. I always felt invisible to my narcissist. I was also insulted on a consistent basis, was instructed on which individuals I was allowed to communicate with, and was even second-guessed on my medical knowledge, despite being a board-certified physician with over a decade in practice. Never mind that the same rules did not apply to him. I was even punished for things which happened in my distant past which I of course could not change, basic things like dating someone he didn’t like. What was I to do? It was of course my fault, and I was made to feel like the worst person on the planet for something I had no power to erase. I suffered endless torment over his insane jealousy.

My narcissist NEVER let me in emotionally, and always treated me like I was the enemy. That way, it was easier for him to rage at me, to blame everything on me, to devalue me. He was so incredibly mean to me that at times I was more shocked than anything by the fact that someone who supposedly loved me (I realize that had never been the case) could be so incredibly heartless and cruel. The depths of his cruelty ran so deep that I found myself trying to figure out how someone who seemed relatively normal to the outside world could be such a monster.

Speaking of jealousy, the narcissist will become incredibly jealous over you, and his possessiveness may trick you into thinking that he honestly cares for you. The truth is, you simply serve as a source for him to project his toxic behavior onto. If you react to his patterns by expressing frustration or by, god forbid, revealing your hurt feelings, the narcissist will very craftily knit his rationalizations so that you seem needy and overly sensitive.

Once the narcissist has discarded you, be prepared for him to insult, bully and threaten you. He will ALWAYS want control over you, so unless you practice no contact and block him (or her) from your life completely, that open door will be kicked open again, and the narcissist will feed on the deranged dynamic which got you trapped in his nest in the first place.

I saw this passage online and was stunned, because the line in bold was exactly what happened to me each time my narcissist dumped me:

“During the discard phase, the narcissist abandons his or her victim in the most horrific, demeaning way possible to convince the victim that he or she is worthless. This could range from: leaving the victim for another lover, humiliating the victim in public, blatantly ignoring the partner for a long period of time, being physically aggressive and a whole range of other demeaning behaviors to communicate to the victim that he or she is no longer important.”

As an empath, I was always willing to repair the relationship, and took the blame over and over again, because I honestly believed that my narcissist would recognize my efforts at some point and wake up. He was unemotional, unaffectionate, and even had me conditioned to avoid touching him in any way while we slept. And forget about getting him to say ‘I love you’. If he did say it, he said it begrudgingly, like it was some big joke, and only after I said ‘I love you’ to him.

We always did what he wanted, and I took care of everything. If we went on a weekend getaway, I had to plan the trip, and pay for everything. I paid for our dinners. I even paid for HIS stuff which I had no financial responsibility over. Do you think I got anything in return? He didn’t like my friends or my family, and rarely took an interest in them.

When we talked about the future, my narcissist made it clear that I wasn’t a part of his future plans. He had no impulse to care for me, even though I had broached the subject of our golden years together. His attitude was, “You’re on your own. Figure it out.” And stupid me, I actually accepted that as a reasonable response from my love partner. We’d also have arguments about where we were in our relationship. I was instructed at numerous points in our relationship to avoid referring to him as my boyfriend. These were simply tactics to devalue me, and boy, did they work. I never felt like anything to him. I was utterly and completely lonely, neglected, and unloved.

Even though my mother and closest friends couldn’t stand him, I didn’t pay much attention. I wanted to believe that they didn’t know him like I did, and I wished that they would love him the way I did. I see now that they were able to see my narcissist’s true colors.

Here’s another passage which I found online, which I honestly could have written about my narcissist:

“He came up to me on evening and he told me that he didn’t want to be with me anymore. To say I was stunned and devastated would have been putting it mildly. He swore up and down that there was no one else and I believed him. He said that he hadn’t been happy for a long time and that he should have left years ago. He minimized our whole relationship, he said people break up all the time and he couldn’t understand why I was so upset and emotional. He couldn’t get away from me fast enough. I’ll never forget looking into his eyes in such pain looking for something, anything that would show any kind of emotion, but there was nothing, they were completely dead.

A couple of weeks prior to this confession of his, we had been on vacation together. We had been intimate several times a day. There was no indication or anyway I could have seen this coming.”

“The two most bone chilling parts of the whole experience were how easily he could shut himself off emotionally. How one minute we’re on vacation and being intimate and then as soon as we’re back he’s cold as ice.

The second thing that so astounded me, was the ease at which I had handed over my power to this man. How easy it was for him to be in total control of me. I realized that I never would have left no matter how abusive it got for me, I would have stayed and taken more and more.”

Lastly, here is a link to a great article which details the three phases which a narcissist goes through while in a relationship. I have provided the link to the original article, as well as copied and pasted a portion of the article here.

http://esteemology.com/the-three-phases-of-a-narcissistic-relationship-cycle-over-evaluation-devaluation-discard/

The Three Phases of A Narcissistic Relationship Cycle: Over-Evaluation, Devaluation, Discard
2013 – Feb Posted by Savannah Grey

A relationship with a Narcissist has been compared to being on a roller coaster, with immense highs and immense lows. They have been described as the proverbial Jekyll and Hyde, one way one minute, another the next.

People usually get into relationships for love and the need to connect and bond with another. Narcissists get into relationships for entirely different reasons. They do not feel love and they lack the ability to connect and form normal attachment bonds with others.

Narcissists need people more than anyone. Because their entire sense of self-esteem and self-worth is dependent on the admiration of others, their emotions are a precarious balance of needing others and needing to be left alone.

Narcissists feel an enormous void inside of them. This void is ever present and the only thing that fills it, is the love and esteem of another. The fix is always temporary though. A Narcissist describes it this way, “It’s like my brain is constantly seeking something. It’s like I’m always chasing a carrot at the end of a stick. Nothing I do satisfies me, at least not for long. I feel like I only do things because I’m supposed to, because society does it. I don’t feel like I belong anywhere or with anyone.”

Narcissists are completely self-absorbed and are oblivious to the wants and needs of others. They enter into relationships in an attempt to fill this void and to make sure that they have someone who is always available for sex, an ego stroke or whatever need they may have. A relationship with a Narcissist always follows three phases, the over-evaluations phase, the devaluation phase and the discard phase.

The Over-evaluation Phase

A Narcissist is very careful when choosing a target. Typically, they will choose a victim based on their status. They must be attractive, popular, rich or extremely gifted in some area. The greater the status, the higher the value the Narcissist places on the Supply derived.

Once a target has been chosen, it’s almost like the Narcissist gets tunnel vision. They are hyper-vigilant in their pursuit and will project the perfect image that their victim wants them to be. They are excessively caring, loving and attentive at this stage. They shower their targets with attention, compliments and literally sweep them off their feet.

They place their target on a pedestal, idolize and worship them. Their target is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Here the Narcissist is ecstatic, full of hopes and dreams. They will talk and think about them constantly, they are euphoric. This is as close as a Narcissist will ever get to feeling love. This kind of idolization is what others would call infatuation.

The victim is likely so caught up in all the attention and is usually thinking at this point, that they have found their soul-mate. Their pursuer is exactly what they want in a partner (because the Narcissist is mirroring what they have learned appeals to their target) and they can’t believe how lucky they are and that this catch is still single.

What they don’t know, or could ever be prepared for, is what comes next.

The Devaluation Stage

The Over-Evaluation phase, if you’re dealing with a Somatic Narcissist, usually lasts anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months, just long enough for the Narcissist to be confident that they have secured their target’s love and devotion. Unbeknownst to the target, what they were witnessing in the early phase was the Narcissist’s false self. In this second phase, the mask comes off and the Narcissist starts to reveal their true colours.

The shift could be gradual or almost seemingly overnight. Suddenly the attention they so lavishly gave you is gone and replace by indifference and silence. Days or weeks could go by and you won’t hear from them. They don’t return your phone calls, they don’t keep a single promise and you’re starting to suspect that they might be involved with someone else. The target is left baffled and confused and wondering what they did wrong to cause such an abrupt turnaround.

Narcissists become bored easily and what usually starts happening in their heads at this stage, is that the void begins to emerge again. The high they were feeding off of is waning and they begin to question your worthiness, that perhaps you weren’t so special after all, because if you were then the void wouldn’t still be there.

They become moody and agitated easily, blaming you for even the slightest transgression. They start to disappear more frequently and they give you the silent treatment in an attempt to create distance. As the Narcissist withdraws, the target starts to cling and your demands for his attention and your need to understand what’s happening, grate on his nerves. The harder you cling the more the Narcissist pulls away. They start to blame and criticize the target for everything, treating them like an emotional punching bag.

At this point the target is an emotional wreck. The Narcissist has left without any explanation and they can’t figure out how one minute they were put on a pedestal and now it’s like they don’t even exist. The Narcissist is a projector and they are projecting their emotional turmoil onto you. They feed off of other people’s misery (as long as it’s caused by them) just as much as they feed off of your admiration, either way it makes no difference to them.

It is this person, this cruel, indifferent, unfeeling, sadist that is the behind the mask. Most targets desperately try to find the one they fell in love with. What they don’t realize is that that person never existed. They were a facade an act put on by the Narcissist to secure their Supply.

The Narcissist will take no responsibility for their actions, because they simply don’t care how they’ve treated you or how you are feeling.

Narcissists are not capable of forming normal healthy attachments to people. Those that aren’t familiar with the disorder are completely at a loss to understand how unnecessarily cruel their behavior can be. The target was never more than an object to the Narcissist, whose usefulness is on the decline.

The Narcissist isn’t one to throw away a potential piece of supply though. They will keep up this I love you, I love you not charade going for as long as it suits them or as long as you allow it. They will breeze in and out of your life as if nothing ever happened, completely oblivious and indifferent to your suffering.

This mind fuck is deliberate and they will keep feeding you crumbs of attention, just enough to keep you emotionally invested and available to cater to their every need.

At some point one of two things will happen: either they will find a new target and begin phase one with them, thus ignoring you completely, or you will have had enough of his psychotic abuse and you will take control and put an end to it, thus ushering in phase three.

The Discard Phase

It is almost baffling to watch the ease at which a Narcissist can pull away from his partners. Many targets are left asking themselves, “Did he ever love me? Did I mean anything to him?” The simple answer is no. No one means anything to him. Women are only a means to an end – to obtain the much needed Narcissistic Supply. Once your usefulness has run its course, you will be discarded abruptly and cruelly, without warning.

Trying to get over a relationship with a Narcissist is extremely difficult. Once it is over the target is usually an emotional wreck, whose self-esteem has been annihilated by the persistent demeaning behavior, insults and cruelty of the Narcissist. Depending on when they were able to break free, the target maybe a shadow of their former self, with a lot of work ahead of them to rebuild their shattered self-image.

As a victim tries to pick up the pieces, what must be remembered is that you were deliberately targeted, lied to and manipulated by a skilled con-artist, for their own gain. There was nothing you could have done differently and none of this was your fault. The Narcissist will repeat this pattern with every person, every time, bar none.

All former targets must be vigilantly on guard, because a Narcissist always reserves the right to revisit a former source of supply, no matter how much time has passed or how badly they’ve behaved.

Once you have broken free you must close the door on any and all contact, because if you don’t you’re headed back to a watered down version of Phase One – over and over and over again.

Gaslighting

Healthy relationships provide an environment in which each partner can safely express feelings and opinions without fear of being mowed down and told they’re absolutely wrong every time. Relationships which involve a narcissist are very different. If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, you already know too well that no matter what emotions you share, they will be immediately invalidated by the narcissist. You already know that your feelings absolutely do not matter to the narcissist. What is completely messed up is that the narcissist will make you feel even worse by manipulating your words and twisting them around. This is known as gaslighting, and is a devastating form of control for the narcissist.

In the mind of the narcissist, any time you express concern about a situation in which you were emotionally railroaded, somehow you are always made to feel that you are “wrong”, “stupid”, or “making things up.” It’s enough to send anyone to Crazy Town.

After the honeymoon phase is over, the narcissist quickly moves to the devaluation phase, and will criticize you whenever you reveal your emotions. You aren’t allowed to be upset, to mention that something he or she did really bothered or hurt you, and if you do, the narcissist will turn the situation around so that he or she can blame YOU for the entire incident. Phrases like, “lighten up”, “I didn’t say that”, “you’re so sensitive!”, “you’re crazy”, or “can’t take a fucking joke”, are common with narcissists and provide them with a means to convince you that the abuse never took place, or that the incident was all your fault, and that somehow you started it.

If you are unhappy about something and you mention it to the narcissist, be prepared to be berated. It doesn’t matter if other people witness the emotionally abusive behavior, either, because then the narcissist will maintain that the others are somehow defending or in cahoots with the partner who is being abused. If you’ve ever been subjected to gaslighting, it’s one of the most frustrating behavioral aberrations around. The narcissist is incredibly good at being manipulative, and never takes responsibility for harsh words or actions, because in his or her mind, the rules don’t apply and he or she never does any wrong. Don’t ever hold your breath expecting the words “I’m sorry” to escape a narcissist’s lips. The concept is foreign to him.

You will find the situation confusing, and if you are an empath, you will probably try to offer to fix the situation and take the blame to appease your narcissistic partner. By this point, however, the narcissist is disgusted with you and regards you as having little to no value. The narcissist will see your effort to repair the situation as a sign of weakness, which further feeds the narcissist’s feeling of superiority.

After a while, the partner of a narcissist who has endured gaslighting will have experienced so much emotional invalidation that, even after realizing the relationship is toxic, will begin to believe that one’s instincts are wrong.

The best thing you can do if you are in a relationship with a narcissist is to LEAVE, heal, and practice NO CONTACT.

How Hoarders Process Information

I found the following article to be incredibly fascinating, and concur with study author Jennifer M. Sumner’s statement that hoarders have difficulties with establishing bulk categories for their possessions. This results in a complete inability to organize items, so they accumulate. I have included a link to the original post for reference.

mind of a hoarder

https://www.braindecoder.com/inside-the-mind-of-a-hoarder-1378787672.html

Inside the Mind of a Hoarder
A new study hints at the real reason behind the mess.
By Agata Blaszczak Boxe

When Paul Hammond, a resident of Mobile, Alabama, started collecting used cars and appliances to sell for scrap metal, he probably did not suspect that his habit would one day turn into a serious hoarding issue and land him in jail.

But, over the years, random items kept piling up in his yard, and Hammond just was not getting rid of them. After numerous complaints from the neighbors, who accused him of turning his property into a junkyard, county authorities got involved and cited him for criminal littering. They also threatened to put him in jail if he did not clean up.

When Hammond’s brother came to visit him for the Fourth of July several years ago, he saw about 90 cars, about 50 refrigerators and 100 lawn mowers in the yard. The brother quit his job for four months to help Hammond get rid of the stuff. But the county officials were not happy with the job the men did and they put Hammond in jail for five days.

“I thought I was a law-abiding citizen,” Hammond told A&E’s show Hoarders. Although he was released after the five days, he was still facing up to 90 more days in jail if he did not clean up around the time the TV crew came to film an episode about him.

Hammond is one of the many people with hoarding disorder who end up being overwhelmed with possessions they can’t organize or get rid of. Hoarding is a disorder that may be present on its own or as a symptom of another disorder, for example, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression. To try to understand what mechanisms in the brain may be responsible for hoarding behavior, researchers have recently begun to look at the neurocognitive aspects of the disorder, but studies have yielded mixed results.

For example, one study looked at people with obsessive-compulsive disorder and found that those who had high levels of hoarding behavior performed significantly worse on tests of decision making, planning and properly shifting attention, compared with people with OCD with lower levels of hoarding. However, it’s difficult to conclude that these cognitive traits are responsible for hoarding because another study found people with hoarding disorder actually performed better on the same type of test than participants with non-hoarding OCD.

In a new study, published in Neuropsychology, researchers looked at neurocognitive functioning in 26 people with hoarding disorder and 23 people without the disorder. The researchers thought the discrepancies between the results of previous studies could have been caused by the effects of medications used by some of the participants, so in the new study, they decided to only include people who were not taking any medication that could affect their brain functioning in any way.

The new study found no significant differences in how people in both groups performed on tests examining their verbal memory, attention, or executive functions such as planning, organization and decision-making.

But the researchers did find a difference between the groups: when they asked the participants to categorize different stimuli in a separate test, the people with the hoarding disorder appeared to use different learning strategies during the categorizing task, compared with the controls. Namely, they tended to use explicit learning, which is about developing and verbalizing rules to remember something, explained study author Jennifer M. Sumner, of the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. In contrast, most people without the disorder used implicit learning, which is an unconscious, non-linear and non-verbal way to learn new information.

The researchers don’t know for sure how these results should be interpreted. But the findings do make them wonder whether, in people with hoarding disorder, the inability to organize and sort through their possessions might have something to do with how they process information, Sumner said.

It could be, for example, that people with the disorder try to come up with rules as to where different objects should go, but because they may end up creating too many rules, “it ends up being chaotic and cluttered,” Sumner said. Conversely, people without the disorder “might look at objects in their home and have this implicit, intrinsic subconscious ability to know where objects go, to know what is not important and what they can get rid of,” she told Braindecoder. “So they don’t have that clutter.”

In fact, previous research has suggested that people with the disorder tend to be under-inclusive in how they categorize the things they have, Sumner said.

“If you give them 10 objects to sort, they may put them in 10 different categories because they are all unique and complex in their own way,” Sumner said. But if a person without the disorder is given the same 10 objects, they may be able to put them in just two different groups, so they are easily organized and there is no clutter, she said.

“So we have this ability implicitly to decide where things should go,” which many people with hoarding disorder may not have, Sumner said.