What drew a narcissistic abuser to you in the first place? According to the people spouting a pseudo-“positive” message of responsibility it was something that you did wrong.
As if you didn’t already have enough to cope with without that!
Not only do you have to rebuild your life from rock bottom but you have people telling you that the blame, ultimately, lies with you.
This week, I want to share with you a couple of eye-opening stories that totally put paid to that unjust blame narrative. That means focusing your attention appropriately on how abusers home in on vulnerability.
My gentle friend A.
Towards the end of my LONG marriage, I noticed that my temper got decidedly worse. At the time, I explained it in terms of my long exposure to my husband’s bad behaviour lowering my threshold of tolerance.
With the benefit of hindsight, I would say that I was half-way right, at any rate. Long exposure to abuse had needled me and reduced me, on occasion, to resorting to reactive abuse. Sometimes, anger felt like the best defence – in the short term, at least. Although it never left me feeling proud of myself.
All this to explain why I admired my friend A. so much. A. had an intolerable boyfriend. Just listening to her talk about him seriously made me want to punch him. He made my husband sound like a dreamboat.
To this day, many, many years later, I can still remember that said boyfriend used to order in pizza and leave boxes of half-eaten pizza all around his “living space” for my friend to clean up. Plus, he was arrogant, dismissive, cruel, exploitative and constantly on a crusade to make her jealous of every other woman that crossed his path.
Yet A. never said a bad word about him. She worshipped the ground he walked on.
All these vile details – and more – emerged, by stealth, from a picture in which she painted his alleged strong points.
I hated the harridan that I was becoming and admired A.’s saintly gentleness.
The Big V on her forehead
One day, A. happened to sit down to lunch with me and my husband. She was as gentle and enchanting as ever.
I felt certain that her gentle nature could only charm my husband as much as it did me.
After she left, I asked him what he thought of her. Without a moment’s hesitation, he replied,
“She has a Big V for Victim on her forehead.”
That was all that he said.
Sadly, he had a point. A. went on to marry a different kind of abuser before she found her path out of victimhood.
My then husband’s comment -although not wrong – was a vile throwaway remark that sprang from a vile mind-set.
That is the mind-set of abusers.
How to tell a “good” victim
In his wonderful book, “The Wisdom of Psychopaths”, Kevin Dutton notes,
“[Ted} Bundy, who staved in the skulls of thirty-five women during a four-year period in the mid-1970s, had claimed, with that boyish, all-American smile of his, that he could tell a ‘good’ victim simply from the way she walked.”
Psychologist Angela Book ran tests at Brock University that confirmed that people with psychopathic traits could indeed spot a likely victim from the way that they walked.
My husband probably does not qualify as a psychopath and he certainly was not violent. However, he was an astute observer of people. He had some kind of sixth sense for vulnerable people.
So, I believe do all toxic people.
Just as your intuition – or if you prefer sixth sense – tells you when someone is worth avoiding, abusers get a clear intimation of how it is worth their while to pursue.
That doesn’t fit with the narrative that you “attracted it” at all.
The coded story
The fact is, our story is coded into our body as much as our mind.
If you have learned to cower emotionally from abuse, your nervous system will take your entire body and facial muscles into a similar kind of cower. It could be as subtle as you please but it is there.
The person who is looking for it and attuned to it will see it.
So, what can you do about it, if you too have had that Big V on your forehead.
What you can do about that Big V on the forehead
First off, as ever, listen to your intuition. And, yes, you do have to accept that intuition plays The Long Game. So, when you met your abuser and your intuition said “No “, nothing may have happened for the first few months or longer. That could have led you to doubt intuition’s dire predictions.
But intuition sees the big picture and the long term. Further down the line you discover that intuition got it absolutely right.
Intuition is your great saviour – if you will just allow it to be.
The other piece is healing.
You likely know the phrase that “people glow differently when they’re loved and treated right”.
It makes a good point.
Happiness has puts a whole different gloss on your appearance.
So, too, do self-confidence and all the other good self- stuff like self-belief, self-worth, self-trust – all different ways of saying the same thing.
The point is you don’t have to – and certainly should not – wait around for a partner who will come along, validate you and raise your happiness quotient.
That is your job.
The more you work on your own healing, the more you come to believe in yourself. That will inevitably affect the way that you inhabit your body. It will also affect your habitual facial expressions.
It will remove that Big V from your forehead and change the way that you move through life.
As ever this comes back to understanding and mindfulness.
As ever this comes back to understanding and mindfulness. The more you release the old fear and anxiety reflexes, the more you will show up – both physically and emotionally – as someone who is fully in the driver’s seat of your life. Toxic people will notice that. And they will know that they would be best advised to move on and look for someone else to hijack.
Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.
The 5 Simple Steps to Healing from Narcissistic Abuse
Over the next 5 days, I'll send you some lessons and tips that I've found have really helped women to heal from narcissistic abuse. Starting with the basics.