By Unzila Tariq
5 minute read
Trigger warning: this piece contains references to self-harm.
Life with my narcissistic boyfriend
“Receive my video call right now and show me what you’re wearing and who you’re with.” I read his text message.
I began shaking and quickly did what he asked because I didn’t want to create any more conflict. I didn’t want any more headaches. I just wanted to peacefully enjoy a night out with my friends, but he couldn’t handle it. My narcissistic boyfriend couldn’t handle the thought of me being happy without him.
When he was assured that I was with my girlfriends and not wearing anything too revealing, he asked me to leave the call on. So, I had to spend my entire evening terrified and watching what everybody said. One wrong word or a single mention of another guy and I would have been labeled a ‘cheater’ and a ‘liar’, and been put through mental torture by him.
This was the norm of my life with him.
I had forgotten all things yellow and sunny.
I didn’t know what ‘NORMAL’ was anymore.
Trying to find release from narcissistic abuse
I felt trapped. Sometimes I even felt trapped inside my own body. So, I tried to rip it apart to feel better. I dug my nails deep within my skin ‘til my nails had reached bare flesh, and then I peeled it away as the blood in my veins gushed to the surface.
Sometimes, I did this out of frustration and anger. But more often than not, it made me feel like I was back in control of my body. Like I had regained some of the power that he tried so hard to take from me.
I thought I loved myself, but for a time, I loved him even more.
Perhaps because I was never loved by a man, and I wanted him to love me like there’s no tomorrow. I guess I complied with all his demands because I didn’t want him to leave me like my father did when I was little. When I graduated high school, all my friends’ parents came with flower bouquets and cakes. But mine didn’t.
I had no father and my mother had to work. There was always an ache. A missing because of my father. It always felt like I was missing a piece of me, and I wanted to fill that hole with my boyfriend’s love. But I guess he only loved himself.
Having a narcissistic abusive relationship with him only threw me deeper in the rabbit hole of blue colours which triggered self-harm. Even though I didn’t want to hurt myself. Even though I thought I loved myself.
So how did I stop with the self-harm? Simple! I consciously decided to start loving myself more than I loved him.
I decided to put myself first and gave myself the unconditional love I had always deserved.
It took a lot of time and patience, but I grew and learnt. I had to, because I decided that I would never give up on myself.
My healing wasn’t a process, but rather a journey to get to a place where I truly gave love to myself. This is how I got from my ex and how I healed from the self-harm.
Even though I could never fill the gaps that my father left, I am stronger about it now because I am loving myself the way I’ve always needed to.
So, this is what I did…
How I released myself from narcissistic abuse & self-harm
I won’t lie. It wasn’t easy. I had lived with depression and anxiety for as long as I could remember. At the same time, I knew that no one else could change things for me. I knew that only I could help myself.
No one else but me. ME.
I started by looking for ways to distract myself. Ways that helped me feel better. Anything that pulled me away from thinking about all the pain.
I tried dancing, and watching comedy, and drawing, and writing.
I wrote down everything that I was feeling. Or I would draw. Every little detail. How I was feeling inside my body, in my nerves, in my head, my hands, everything.
I also had motivational pictures in my room that I had made for myself. I decorated them and put them up. I wrote little notes to myself. Not just on those pictures on the walls, but on literally everything Ii owned. Starting from my phone lock screen (a tiny scribble in the corner) to my books, things on my table, in my bag…
I needed to purge myself of the hurt. And I needed constant reminders of why I was purging.
I would think to myself: “This too shall pass”. Tomorrow I won’t have this pain. There’ll be a day when I’ll look back and have peace. I can do it.
I know that I still have work to do, but this is working. Doing all these things helped me help myself. Motivated me, kept me wanting to live another day.
My decision not to give up on myself has already made me stronger & hurt less. For the first time I know it is possible to live a different, healthier, fuller existence.
I know that it hurts right now. And that it feels like the pain is never ending. It’s always there in the back of your head, no matter how happy you are. It always goes away too soon.
Trust me as someone who has been through this. All you have to do is trust that you deserve better than this and that you do have the power to make that happen.
If you’re going through something, help yourself! Nobody can help you better than yourself.
For related pieces in the Survivor Series check out:
- Learning to love yourself again after narcissistic abuse
- How leaving narcissistic abuse behind changed my life
- Looking after your mental health during narcissistic abuse recovery