My name is Dana, and I have been in the health/education field in various capacities for close to twenty years now. Currently I am a mental health nurse, but for a time I worked as an advocate for victims of domestic violence (and for awhile, taught classes on signs of abuse and of abusers), as well as worked with children, teenagers, adults, seniors, and even sex offenders with challenges ranging from developmental/cognitive disabilities to severe behavior/personality disorders/mental illness.
I thought I had a really good grip on personality and mental disorders/challenges. I also thought I knew what all forms of abuse looked like. So you’d think if anyone would be able to see the red flags, and avoid dangerous and destructive people, it would have been me.
But I didn’t.
When I first started this site, I hadn’t really anticipated sharing my story. I wanted this site to be more informative, and educational for others, and not “about me.” Then I had a friend encourage me to share what I’d been through in more detail, and how my story could help others–that there’s already enough silence surrounding the different types of abuse, and it’s time that targets, and survivors of these people started speaking out. I know that he is right, but, like most victims I carry around a lot of shame and embarrassment about what’s happened to me–especially since I feel I “should have known better.”
My goal with sharing my stories is so that I can share my lessons learned, as well as start the conversation about the different ways damaging and abusive Narcissistic behavior can come across–and perhaps most importantly, so we can share how we healed, and how to move forward.
The condensed version of my story is that I’ve been tangled up in two serious (or I should say, serious to me) relationships with Narcissists in the past six years. I didn’t see either one of them coming, as I never knew that Prince Charming was a man to watch out for. Both men didn’t fit the profile of an abuser, nor did our relationships fit the traditional pattern of either a physically, or Narcissistically abusive relationship.
They both came across as charming, likable, and good men–the kind of guys who love to help out their neighbors, and who help little old ladies cross the street. But that’s only how they come across when you don’t really know them.
The relationships that I was manipulated into (yes, manipulated–as both of these men pretended to be people that they weren’t) didn’t involve physical abuse. However, they did involve a massive number of lies, deceit, and manipulation, all with the intent to either use me financially or emotionally, or both.
Like I mentioned, both of these men were incredibly good to me, up until their “mask slipped.” They both lived a double life, lacked empathy and remorse, and turned out to be two of the most cold, calloused and manipulative people I’d ever had the misfortune of knowing. At the time I didn’t know what to make of all the similarities between the two relationships, except that I knew I was dealing with something outside the realm of normal behavior. I soon was on a mission to find out what was really going on–and that’s when I really began learning about Narcissists and Sociopaths (many victims refer to them as Narcopaths, because lots of them have traits from both personality disorders).
Trust me when I say that there’s a whole other set of red flags of abusive people out there that aren’t being taught in a mainstream way, that really need to be (and what I’m trying to do now). After I began to put the pieces together of what I went through, I knew I wanted to write about my experience, and that I wanted to help others avoid making the same mistakes as I did. I wasn’t emotionally ready to do so until fairly recently.
As of today, I’ve written over 75 blog posts on Narcissism, and have 46 rough drafts of posts that are waiting to be finished, and I still feel I’m not covering everything I need to. I’m having a hell of a time accurately describe everything that is involved surrounding Narcissism.
There are just so many different layers of crazy-making, and to try and break down and explain them is yet another form of the crazy-making!
There is the layer of crazy-making that is Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
There is the layer of crazy-making of all the manipulation victim’s feel during (and after) the relationship.
There is the level of crazy-making of bad/uninformed advice from well-intentioned friends, family, therapists, and church members.
There is the level of crazy-making that comes with dealing with all of the emotional fallout after the relationship is over.
And of course, the layer of crazy making of trying to understand what just happened and how to pick up the pieces and move on.
Narcissism is a big topic, and there’s a full range of Narcissists and Narcissistic experiences out there. If you’ve never had the misfortune of having a Narcissist in your life, then a lot of what’s on this site won’t make any sense. In fact, a lot of the info and experiencing I’ll be describing on here will probably sound outlandish, or even paranoid.
Unfortunately, having a Narcissist in your life is one of those things that until you go through it, it’s really hard to understand it. However, with that said, if you are here with the intention of trying to learn more about Narcissism in order to better support a loved one who has a Narcissist who is causing massive destruction/abuse in their life, then I applaud your efforts.
The most helpful thing that you can do is to start by reading this, and to fully realize that all conventional advice about giving second chances, going to couples therapy, etc. do not apply when you are dealing with a Narcissist. They are dangerous and destructive people and needed to be treated as such–even if they come across as Prince (or Princess) Charming.
One of my goals with this site is to capture (as best as possible) the full range of people’s experiences with a Narcissist, as I think a lot of the existing information out there only shows a very narrow range of Narcissistic behaviors. And because most victims tend to justify, minimize, deflect, and deny what they are going through with a Narcissist, if they don’t fully identify with it, they discard the possiblity that their partner is a Narcissist and continue to stay stuck in these crazy-making dynamics for years, if not decades longer than they would have if they were able to identify what their partner was (and what they were going thru) a lot earlier.
So, if you don’t see your experience exactly, or accurately, represented here and you want me to share part of your story, or if you feel I need to correct some of my information, let me know.
I think the more stories other victims can read, the more complete of a picture (and spectrum) they can see. Also, if you have a good resource, support group, book or anything else you’ve come across that you feel someone else can benefit from, let me know, and I’ll add it to the resources page.
…And if you are a survivor of a Narcissist or a Sociopath, just know you aren’t alone, you aren’t crazy, that physical abuse is just one type of abuse, and what you went through was more than just a “bad breakup or relationship.”