“You’re going to leave me, aren’t you? …you’ve had enough of me, haven’t you? You’re probably so tired of all this crying and all these moods, and I’ve got to tell you, so am I. So am I. Sometimes it seems like my mind has a mind of its own, like I just get hysterical, like it’s something I can’t control at all. And I don’t know what to do, and I feel so sorry for you because you don’t know what to do either. And I’m sure you’re going to leave me now.” –Elizabeth Wurtzel (Prozac Nation)
First, thank you in advance for reading. I am a 30 yr old woman trying to piece myself back together after the end of a 4 year same-sex relationship with a woman I believe may have undiagnosed NPD; I hope that you will read my story with an open mind.
Two quick things:
1) I picked my username because I decided 3 days after the last D&D that I will not be defeated. I have too much to give – and I plan to feel like more than a mega-million bucks! Living well will be my best revenge. SHE. WILL. NOT. WIN. (Thank goodness for my competitive nature!)
2) I included the quote above because it exactly mirrors the way I felt in the last year and a half with exN – I shall call her CUCKOO (a device to mark out her name and behavior). I stated these same sentiments to her as late as March, saying I was going to mess up everything with my craziness (… caused by her).
I loved her very much and am still seriously struggling with CD and the cycle of self-blame and guilt. We were together 3.5 years before the first D&D (a year ago this month); she broke up with me when I had four months left to finish writing my doctoral thesis and I barely made it.
At the first D&D, I was beyond devastated. Everyone we knew was shocked, including her family. She was pretty much unmoved. I could not function and returned to the US and was NC for 2 months (no problem for her as she had massive NS as well as OW), then I contacted her – this was followed by 6 months of attempted reconciliation conducted electronically (me in the US, her in the UK). I am ashamed that I agreed to be in a ‘committed non-relationship’. I was told I had nothing to worry about, she wasn’t going to see anyone else but saying she was my ‘girlfriend’ (again) made her feel trapped, boxed-in and freak out.
I still struggle with the reeling/dizzy state of questioning (cognitive dissonance); even with all I know, I still ask EVERY DAY 'what if it's me? what if I'm the abusive one? what if she's happy and I never am?'
I am 4 months out from Cuckoo’s D&D, and almost as long NC following one ‘last look’ at Facebook and a single cordial e-mail sent 1 month after the D&D requesting my things be packed up and given to a mutual friend. I STILL do not have my things, nor have they been passed to my friend (with whom I have also had to go basically NC as well). I am not active on Facebook or Twitter – left those to her and my, did she milk people for attention/acting out virtually in that first month. It actually made me laugh – her FB picture is semi-blurred, her shouting while wasted. ‘Fun’ Cuckoo, performing for others. After the first 6 months, I hardly got to see this fun side – I got all the aggression and hostility that came out when she’d been drinking and we were alone. Our relationship was escalating into conflict and physical violence when alcohol was involved – to the point where I felt it was best that we didn’t drink or go out.
I have not been hoovered, save her ‘liking’ and reblogging 2 different Tumblr posts. It made me angry and physically ill. Despite knowing ALL I know now, I cry just about every day about the fact that I meant so little to her that despite the fact I never want to speak to or her from her again… she has not even bothered to call/text/email/message… I believe she may be seeing one of 2 OW/NS she cultivated and may have cheated with before the last D&D, all to be expected.
As with most people on this forum, I allowed most of these things to slide because the ‘good times were SO good…’ but mostly I didn’t even realize what was happening and how I was being manipulated/abused. I want to move on, I want to heal and I want to make sure that I’m not going crazy; I wake up every day trying to make this make sense and ask all the unanswerable questions all over again.
Ultimately, my primary and persistent/returning concerns are that:
a) I have either an undiagnosed PD or have practiced/taken on abusive behaviors due to my time with Cuckoo (based on critique/evaluations made by Cuckoo: that I was ‘overly critical, demanding and suspicious’ and I did struggle with and discussed my jealousy). I slapped her once when she was being violent and had given me silent treatment and run away for an hour, leaving me panicking and unable to get into our flat (of course when drinking). It remains one of the most shameful things I’ve done and I am still working to forgive myself for it.
b) I am making this all up or ‘seeing what’s not there’ and this is just a run-of-the-mill break up that I’m trying to pathologize… or it’s just me and I’m impossible to deal with in a relationship (as she told me I was a handful and never happy)
c) I attracted and allowed someone I thought I loved/loved me to twist and manipulate me and that this will continue to happen (in future relationships or even with her); that once someone knows the real me, they will leave. She said she loved me more than anything, that it was love at first sight, promised marriage and spoke of our future and children often, that I was the love of her life and ‘IT’ for her… and that in the end she felt nothing and I made her want to kill herself.
Oh, I made so many excuses. During the course of our relationship, I saw Cuckoo was extremely selfish, emotionally immature at key moments and extremely attention-seeking. I also would have described her as a ‘dreamer’ (big talker) and thought for the first portion of the last year that she was commitment-phobic. She has demonstrated actions and activities that are extremely control-oriented – extreme dieting and weight-lifting schedules, nearly OCD household and weekly routines, etc. Cuckoo even behaved like a 6 year old. She often threw fits or pestered me for attention; she had a tantrum in a grocery store once because I disagreed with a dinner she proposed – complete with crossed arms, stamping feet and scowling face.
It would seem that the feelings I was having (of going crazy and guilt) were the result of emotional abuse, serious gaslighting, immensely passive aggressive behaviors and the usual selfish immaturity of a relationship with a Narc. My anger was turned completely inward and directed at myself – creating self-loathing, insecurity, physical pain (built up toxins?) and incessant tears. I was very seriously going crazy with panic attacks including scratching myself in frustration, overwhelmed. I often said I felt I was feeling everything for both of us (her sadness, frustration, shame as well as mine). I kept trying to find ways to make us better, to make her happy, to do things to fix what was happening and most of all, planning/applying for jobs/seeking stability for our future.
I can now add near pathological lying and attention-seeking, excessive flirting and cultivating attention, as well as terrifying behavior under the influence of alcohol. On 3 prior occasions, her level of intoxication after 3 am resulted in her being physically violent or destructive (breaking lamps, punching walls/windows), verbally abusive and avoidant (literally running away and hiding) or projecting blame/guilt on me (‘if you were happy, I would be happy’). The last incident included what seems to have been a narcissistic rage: smashing glass bottles on my birthday (I was back in the UK) in our/her flat and shoving that resulted in me landing in glass with several cuts and her picking up shards, cutting her wrists and telling me that she’d never wanted to kill herself ‘until now’ (because of me and my inability to be happy) between swigs of whiskey.
Cuckoo was angry because she’d thrown me a party and I wasn’t ‘ever happy’ – while I cried as I had just had my phone stolen while we were out after and she’d spent the entire night cultivating the attention of a group of 20-25 year olds. She had not checked on or spoken to me besides once crudely trying to put her hand up my skirt in the middle of the party; I now also know she inappropriately nuzzled and lewdly discussed lesbian sex with (hit on) one of our mutual heterosexual friends who fairly promptly left the party. I believe Cuckoo’s behavior that night was the result of my ‘criticism’ and her anger at not being the center of attention and being unable to ‘control’ my demonstration of happiness.
Cuckoo is a 27 yr old graphic artist, videographer, lead singer in a marginally successful band (with her now married ex-boyfriend/best friend from whom she has unceasing NS), and for the last year, a power lifter (excellent source of new/different NS) – we are both very femme, p.s. (despite the lifting, of which I do a variant). She is in marketing and production and she has always been exceptionally good at persuasive techniques.
I am certainly an empath, have always been a ‘caretaker’/’fixer’ by nature, and have been in numerous sport and academic leadership positions. I have extremely high needs for inclusion but can usually process the ‘pangs’ of this feeling relatively quickly. I can detect patterns in my behavior that include seeking other people’s approval to validate my worth (which I have been working on for almost a year). I have been told by friends and family that I am perceived as attractive, confident, smart, kind, dedicated, and giving by others but all I can hear is Cuckoo’s critical voice in my head. I also believe I have had two short-term relationships with sociopaths (one self-described), as well as Cuckoo, and an NPD ‘best friend’ as well.
I thought that Cuckoo ‘loved me’ but I see that I was objectified as a source of sexual pleasure and social status (if that makes sense). I also now know that ‘actions speak louder than words.’ In public settings, she would announce details of our sexual activities to friends and strangers; I asked her to stop but this behavior continued throughout our relationship. She’d tell people things that weren’t true – that I wasn’t wearing panties or that I’d allowed her to pee on me during sex (which she asked often but I never agreed – pushing boundaries??).
Cuckoo presented herself as hypersexual and this theme reverberated in her band/music – where lyrics and marketing made her a sexual object. I believe this is one of the key ways in which she ‘relates’ to people (through sexual attraction or discussion of sexual activity). At the end of the relationship she told me our relationship was ‘platonic’ because it was being conducted long-distance and additionally that we only had sex when I wanted it – which was allegedly ‘70% initiated’ by me/30% by her. She is my first and only female sexual partner (so far). Much of this situation is colored by the fact that I have been processing and dealing with my sexuality as well. Also, I believe I was influenced by notions of gender roles… surely a woman that loved me could never treat me this way… YEAH RIGHT.
I can see now that our relationship was extremely immature, engulfing and essentially co-dependent but I believed it was love and I professed it for her almost as much as she did for me. She asked me daily to marry her and we very seriously discussed marriage and children, made plans for the future, discussed how we would mitigate my ability to remain in the UK after my degree, including long-distance considerations. She said we would make it, we would overcome all the obstacles, she would marry me to keep me there and that I was the love of her life (this last part over and over for 3.5 years).
-2006-2009 - Finished her degree, first few jobs (as she said ‘with my help,’ my sourcing the jobs and drafting/proofing her cover letters and CVs), she stayed with me in two different flats (mostly rent-free)
-2007- her mother diagnosed with terminal cancer about 6 months into relationship
-My PhD – bad relationship with supervisor, change in supervision, took me down to the last minute and I almost could not finish it (she later claimed her first D& D was good – that she did what was best because I would not have finished my degree if I was with her) – I barely made it through those months and have my family to thank for getting me through and pulling material from my nearly comatose body/brain.
-I did ALL of the dishes, laundry, housework (except for vacuuming which she enjoyed); quite often I was working from home and taking care of all of these tasks seriously affected my ability to actually ‘work’ on my research. I obviously can see now that this was a bad decision to work from home – and I can see I should have set boundaries. I take responsibility for this but I think I was really brainwashed into caring for/pleasing her.
-Several ups and downs with Cuckoo’s band – biggest ups came around time of first D&D (August 2010) like music being used in TV programmes, lots of gigs booked in
-Cuckoo had severe issues with growing older/ some sort of quarter-life identity crisis?? She stated she needed to be ‘happy’ because she was young, obsessed with controlling food/diet of self and family, freaked out about becoming property owner.
-Cheating (one confirmed case) 9 months into relationship but I wasn’t told until 5 months later – at the time I was devalued as ‘controlling’, ‘critical’ and ‘we fight all the time’ and pushed away but not completely dumped
-Circular arguments almost always regarding the same things: (flirting/sexual) attention Cuckoo received/cultivated/did not reject from others
-My first relationship with a woman; lack of open acknowledgement of each other; lack of acceptance from my family which worked really well into her isolating me from them. Cuckoo knew this lack of acceptance devastated me and had no empathy for me being in the middle and in the end, tried to convince me that I hated and didn’t get along with my family (anyone who knows me would vehemently disagree)
-Being a self-funded student, I got a part-time lecturer at a university 1.5 hours away… which caused a big strain on our rest, schedules, communication, etc.
In late 2009-2010 I also was in what seems to have been a serious depression, which I attributed to the PhD and stress about the future (the feasibility of it all). I cried all the time, every day at least once. She always comforted me, but I can also see that she was the partial cause. I had several large scale panic attacks that she had to deal with single-handedly. I was lying to most people about the relationship, including my parents, and especially myself. Here’s where I start to get caught up in the ‘but she’s not all bad, surely she loved me when she comforted me, etc, etc’ – until it became too much and she ‘just couldn’t do it anymore’ and ‘did what was best’ (for us to split up).
The first real D&D came a year ago in August 2010, she came home one day and said she wasn’t happy and we needed to split up. She said I always blamed our problems on circumstances but it was ‘just us’ and we weren’t ‘the right people for each other’ – this was exceedingly difficult to comprehend after 3.5 years of being told I was the love of her life, for her it was love at first sight. She said things were only going to get harder in the future and we couldn’t handle things now. She said she was worn out of everything. When I asked her to let me carry us while she was exhausted, she said ‘you can’t even take care of yourself.’ She said she cared too much about me to do what she did to her other exes (i.e. cheat and fight her way out of the relationship)… I still do not know to what extent she cheated but I’m beginning to believe it was much more than I knew.
I visited her in December, I thought we were almost completely resolved – we talked through a lot of ‘our issues,’ she admitted feeling extreme self-loathing about always being a ‘f*** up’ in her relationships/with her family, that felt she contributed things to the relationship/to me in the beginning but no longer and that she felt her opinions didn’t matter to me. It seemed as though she had done extensive reflection and was committed to making things work. (Was this a ‘Moment of Clarity?’ or perhaps she was just hoovering me, then working me into an idealized phase again). She knew exactly what buttons to push for maximum empathy from me. She later showed her hand in saying that I was ‘so strong’ when we weren’t together in Sept-Oct… I now believe she wanted to reel me in to absolutely destroy me with her final D&D.
I submitted my dissertation just after the new year and then helped my mother move across the country – then I moved in with my sister and job-hunted, scoring several interviews in the UK but no job offers. I was extremely anxious about our relationship, our future, whether I would pass my defense and what was going to happen with us (ie. Would she drop me in the blink of an eye again…) and of course, why this had all happened and why I wasn’t enough to sustain her love. The last 9 months (from end October to April 2011) conducted over long distance; at various points she argued that I needed to see someone else, stop seeing our relationship with rose-colored glasses (instead of the mess that it was), and that I would finish my PhD and realize I deserved better.
I was depressed and anxious but I tried many strategies to manage it, including journaling, affirmations and expressing it to Cuckoo without accusing. I also felt occasional rage about what she had done to me, about being powerless and even acquiescing so easily to her again, that she was not making sacrifices for me but I was jeopardizing everything including my family to be with her. She instead talked extensively about the kinds of things she planned to do with her money – all of which were personal things/plans that did not include me.
I articulated my jealousy of the level of stability in her life, with shame and guilt – trying to be honest to work through the ‘things that were wrong with me’. When I would explain how I felt and that it was hard, and I was worried or felt awful for feeling jealous, Cuckoo would respond with ‘you think everything is so perfect for everyone else. My life is a f*****g mess, I’m a mess. Everyone has problems, you just deal with them.’
I know that I was very very unhappy between January and March because I often drafted e-mail notes to myself or to Cuckoo and saved them in my drafts folder. They are so despairing – about what respect is in a relationship, what it means to be vulnerable and open, how a partner should ask you about yourself – that I was so unhappy and this was never going to work and that I was being lied to. This is one of the most frightening aspects of what happened to me – part of me was SCREAMING at the other parts of me: ‘GET OUT!!’ and I couldn’t hear it.
Just prior to my return to UK in March, we had a massive fallout over me asking her to tell me about her work/day. She exploded that she didn’t want to talk about it and that I was always trying to make the relationship the way I ‘thought’ a relationship should be - because I suggested partners support each other and talk about what’s going on in each others’ lives. That she just wanted to be happy and that I wasn’t happy with her and that all she feels is numb – that she likes her life the way it is and she likes being numb on the inside.
When I arrived in the UK in March, things quickly unraveled. I felt out of place and anxious for her to be ‘happy’ with me but internally rebelling from being what I was before: a love-blinded pet/caretaker/doormat. Things were never going to be the ‘same.’ In the end, she told me explicitly that I made her feel miserable and hopeless (because I was never happy) and want to kill herself (smash her head into a wall/throw herself out the window/step in front of a bus), that I was ‘a nightmare: demanding, critical, and suspicious,’ and that she felt nothing for me.
Ultimately, I KNOW I am VERY LUCKY as we were not married, do not have children, I have supportive family who immediately took me away (months before they knew the full truth of what was happening), I am thousands of miles and many time zones away from Cuckoo, and things ended before they could escalate to serious physical harm. I’m finishing my PhD corrections and jobhunting; as soon as I can afford therapy I will be there, working away. I am proud of my ability to be almost 4 months NC, to avoid social networking sites (and her 2 tiny hoover maneuvers), and ability to hold onto the tiniest seed of self-esteem. Time to water – and fertilize it with all her B***SH*T!
Thank you for listening.
Wishing all strength and happiness,