A Beautiful Bouquet of Red Flags

Sorry for my absence! It’s been a crazy summer, but the hard work was worth it! For my Anatomy & Physiology 1 & 2, I earned an A in both classes and was named to the Dean’s List for the first time in my life. Its very exciting for me to see hard work and effort pay off, as I haven’t always felt that way about school in the past.

In my limited down time, I’ve come across some interesting Instagram posts lately. They’ve been slightly “triggering” (I still absolutely hate that term, I think its overused and mocked, but it is what it is) for me. Narcissists are often either glossed over or puffed up. When people don’t see the “behind the scenes,” that person is the greatest ever. They’ve got a charming, glossy exterior, that fools everyone. Until they’re the victim. This is something that seems to get talked about once a year when its domestic violence awareness week, and then we forget about it. Those of us who have experienced it don’t forget. Often, we live with complex diagnoses, dealing with silent triggers each day, that evoke powerful emotional reactions that we don’t realize happened until its too late. I’m speaking mainly about men as the perpetrators here, but this can go both ways, so guys, don’t disregard me – it happens to you too!

I’ve been in therapy for a year now. My diagnoses are something I never expected, but very fitting. Sometimes my reactions to SIMPLE things are so instinctual; all emotion, no consciousness to them. Its been a long year. Its been more down than up. But I want you to see and hear from someone who you may have watched (or may not have, I’m not offended 😉 hopefully you’ll stick with me now though!) go through “some shit.” I want people to hear how REAL this is and how incredibly damaging it is, and how intensely difficult it is to break those learned protective habits. I wanted to share this thread (IG: @narcissistic_abuse_is_real) that resonated with me.

Its hard to nail all this down if you’ve never truly dealt with a narcissist on some level. You might read through this and say “everyone has some of these traits” and roll your eyes and click back to Facebook. I get it! I didn’t believe it or understand it until I experienced it. I pray you never have to – but I think its valuable to understand it so you can spot it, and more so, be a good friend when someone is unfortunate enough to get caught in the web.

Its almost impossible to believe that someone would be so foolish to fall in and worse, STAY with someone who does this to them. How do you get stuck thinking that someone who makes you feel like utter garbage every day, still loves you?

Its simple. First, the attraction is like a moth to a flame. They have an uncanny ability to be unreasonably attractive for a reason you will NEVER be able to put your finger on. Its mind-boggling sometimes. Even you, being madly in love, will look at this person and not be able to understand it most days. Second, this person does absolutely EVERYTHING to earn your trust straight out the gate. They prey on people who have weak boundaries in this area. Whether its because you were raised to be submissive, you are anxious to be “taken care of,” are in a bad position financially, mentally, or otherwise, or even a combination of these, you’re lured in because they fulfill a weak spot in your current situation.

Narcissists love to be the hero. A damsel in distress is their favorite target. Why? Because they can swoop in, make you feel like a million bucks when you need it most, shower you with whatever money and love and attention they can muster, and then the deal is sealed. Now that they’ve “rescued” you, you’re beholden to them. Or so you feel, sadly. They may have left you in an equally crappy situation – but in their telling of the story, you have been restored to greatness… all thanks to them. This is how you get trapped in the web. What I see most often is a women who is down on her luck – maybe a bad breakup or situation left them homeless, or they’re trying to get out of wherever they are; this person swoops in and improves their situation. Sometimes its not even a major improvement! Sometimes, it could be equally as bad, and especially as the victim realizes they’re trapped in a new situation, it goes down hill quickly.

Usually its practically blissful for a while. The worst offenders assert their control over the situation in the most sly of ways at first. Little ways to keep the person trapped, financially or mentally – you “build a life together” and now, boom, you’re having his child, or you’re still completely unable to financially separate yourself from them. The more obvious offenders go for gold. Physical abuse is the most obvious, offensive abuse.

But the mental toll being on-guard 24/7 takes is overwhelming. Then the victim starts blaming herself. Why wasn’t I stronger? Why couldn’t I just figure this out for myself? Why couldn’t I see all this coming!? We beat ourselves up endlessly for things that have always been out of our control.

Here’s the thing to remember: if you find yourself in this position, its not your fault that the other person is exerting control over you that you cannot thwart. The sooner you can acknowledge and embrace that, the sooner you can move on. Its so important to start exploring your own energy. Start figuring out who YOU are, outside of this situation and relationship. Its so important to keep working on yourself and growing. Embrace the bad attitude and consciously and turn it around. Its going to be a long, uncomfortable period in your life, but the most important thing is, you have to remove the ability for that person to control you. Do whatever it takes to get out of that situation. That abuser will never change. You can’t do anything to change them. It is not worth the energy, effort, or what you assume is the love you are giving to try to fix anything. A true narcissist will never change because they are heartless; you aren’t. You aren’t perfect – no one is. But you can and will survive this, carry on, and do better. Work on yourself. Find your light again. You can do this, and if you don’t have friends who will help you get there, now you have me!

Much love & Light ~ Jess

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