From what I’ve experienced and researched, it’s extremely common to get out of an abusive relationship of some kind (any kind of abuse, and any kind of relationship), and feel like you’re the crazy one. “Is it all just me?” “Will the next girlfriend get the nice version of him, and prove me to be the nutty one?”
But here is my experience with ex-boyfriends:
Peter made me believe he was the One, that he was just like me, that we had a psychic link proving we were meant for each other. After he broke up with me, he began spreading lies about me, changed into a completely different person (mean, smoking, underage drinking, doing weed, cussing), then had a string of girlfriends after me.
I didn’t know them personally, or what happened, but one day, a girl working in the cafeteria told me he had broken up with her, too, so we both had something to be mad at him for. At that point I had moved on and didn’t want to talk about such things, but still, there was another one.
Then senior year, when my roommates got a modem and we began going on local BBS’s, a couple of guys on one BBS told me Peter had been preying upon the girls there. He’d get them to believe he was the man of their dreams, but it wasn’t true. They had no idea I had dated him freshman year. All this is in my college memoirs.
Phil, who emotionally and sexually abused me, had another girlfriend after me whom I knew. I found out, through her, that he was exactly the same with her as with me, and even slapped her one day. His depths of immaturity went even further with her than with me. When she finally broke up with him for good after a string of short-lived breakups, her friends practically threw other guys at her.
I found out through my other friends that his girlfriend after that, after I graduated, was treated the same way. They had to get married because he got her pregnant; they divorced several years ago.
Richard, the narcissist fake friend who used and manipulated me, did the same thing to his friend Todd that he did to me. He also choked his 9-year-old daughter, resulting in probation. I also know, from Richard’s own admission, that he abused an ex (psychologically, I believe) as punishment for her cheating on him.
He even sent an e-mail threatening physical violence to my husband, which you can find posted here. He also told me once that he used to be a Mafia thug, and that he planned to assault (it sounded like kill) the lady who just evicted him. (His wife wouldn’t let him.)
But I bet the people still on his Facebook friends list think he’s a great guy with a “big heart,” as two people have described him. However, not everyone is fooled, as I know from the enemies he has also made on forums–ones who said, for example, that he was a narcissist, or (to Todd), “He always was an a**hole, but you were his friend and didn’t notice.”
His wife Tracy, who abused him and her kids, bullied and psychologically abused me, then later terrorized me by stalking me online and off when I told what happened. She pulled a lot of the same crap with Todd as well.
Also, she has so ticked off Richard’s friends over the years that many have told him, “Sorry, but we can’t be friends with you anymore, because we can’t take Tracy anymore.” Richard TOLD me this with Tracy right there, so I know it to be true.
When I accidentally come across something online which presents her “religious woman, pillar of the community, smart and successful” persona, this is so entirely different from the Tracy I knew (or that Todd knew) that I start to feel like the crazy one. Her e-mails to me sure didn’t help, as they blamed me for everything and treated me like sh**.
It also doesn’t help when I come across something which makes it look like they both cared so little for me that they just moved on with their lives after we broke off relations with them, without bothering to make things right, without caring about us at all, without grieving our loss.
But then, I remember–since we had mutual friends on Facebook and she wasn’t blocked at that time–her commenting “lol” on a friend’s post in the few days right after Richard had been to the court, got his mugshot taken, and started the course of getting convicted of choking her daughter.
So I have seen firsthand how her public persona does not reflect her real life. And I also noticed another mutual friend’s profile showed absolutely no sign of knowing that Richard had been convicted of choking his daughter, even though they were close friends.
The community persona she presents, is not the real her. I’ve seen the real her, nasty, abusive and lazy. So has Todd. So have others.
I can tick off on my fingers the people whom I know she has ticked off so badly that they broke off relations with Richard, too (since she forces his friends to be friends with her, too): Todd.
A woman whom Richard was good friends with, also a popular forum moderator.
Another of his female friends, with whom Tracy was “at war,” and this was AT CHURCH; the friend told Richard that Tracy was going to cause him trouble; Tracy later hit the roof when she discovered Richard phoned her while he lived with my husband and me.
Then there are others I have seen her go off on, online. That included a girl who made the same mistake Tracy did at 19, but Tracy ripped her apart for it. I also know that Richard’s family would scold Tracy for being mean to him/the children, and that she complained his family treated her like a child.
She got upset with Richard for not sticking up for her when they said she was mean to him, even though she had indeed been mean to him. Oh, yeah, and don’t forget the ex, at whom Tracy would scream obscenities over the phone (they shared a child and still had to contact each other).
That persona your narcissist/abuser presents to other people, that sweet, nice, wonderful person who couldn’t possibly abuse anyone, so you must be lying? That is not the real narc.
You’ve SEEN the real narc. You’ve had the–as Shrink4Men so delicately puts it–WTF moment, when the narc’s mask came off. What the narc shows to everyone else, is the same mask she showed to you, pulling you in. It isn’t real.
Remember that next time you start missing the narc and thinking it was all your problem. Next time you start wondering, Is he treating her better than he treated me? Even if he’s treating her well right now, the mask will come off eventually with her, just as it did with you.
Narcs can have the ability to fool an entire community or church for years; this is why it’s often hard for their victims to come forward. If they do, nobody believes them, and the narc paints them as crazy. But the victims have seen the real narc. Some of those people the narc has fooled, will one day be their victims, and think again about what you said.
Also, check out Shrink4Men. It may be about women abusers, but you can apply her insights to any narcs in your life, male or female. She talks about all the things I mention here, in various informative blog posts.
Narcissists often display a façade self based on impressive and admirable traits. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, if it weren’t mere window dressing. Their façade self is fake, covering up a real self that’s insecure and vulnerable…..
- Narcissists are great masters of disguise, describing their behavior in the best of terms, (i.e. I’m only doing it for you!) Hence, it may take awhile for you to ‘get’ what’s really going on.
- Though narcissism has a bad rep (egocentric, egotistical), narcissists also have positive traits. Indeed, they may be quite charismatic and charming. Hence, it may be hard to believe that narcissism is driving their behavior. –Linda Sapadin, PhD, How to Live With a Narcissist
Is he/she really a narc? If you were idealized, devalued and then discarded, just say yes, he is and be FAIR TO YOURSELF.
If he/she isn’t a narc, by the time that conclusion is drawn with clarity from enough distance through NC, you will have moved on from the encompassing toxicity of a dysfunctional relationship – regardless of what labeling helped you to be able to do that.
Allow yourself to heal. Doubt only holds you back and keeps you holding onto a fantasy of what you wanted it to be and are now afraid to let go of, instead of embracing reality and the emotional freedom that acceptance of truth brings. –Lisa E. Scott, Who Really Benefits from Doubt? (read the whole thing–excellent help!)