“I only get aggressive because I love you too much” Sounds ridiculous, right? It may be all to familiar to you if you have ever been in a relationship with a narcissist. A person who is deeply self-centred and blames you for everything, usually a dose of insecurity and controlling behaviour thrown in for good measure.
My relationship with my ex, who we shall call Nick just for the fun of it. Narc Nick, how’s that! was an emotional rollercoaster to say the least. I was absolutely blind sighted by this man. A warm, kind, selfless man for the first 6 months or so. Hidden underneath was an emotionally damaged and immature person; a man who would exercise control in ways so subtle it would seem invisible on the surface.
“No you won’t leave, you live here with me now, you deal with it”
Everything changed when we moved in together. It was easy to hide his frustrations when we lived separately and he was behind a phone. In our beautiful, bright house we shared he had no where to keep those dark ugly secrets. The demons were out on show. During one argument, 4 weeks after we moved in, things were becoming heated. Being the introvert that I am I decided I wanted this argument to end, and I asked him to leave the room. I said if he didn’t want to, I would go out for a drive because I couldn’t take any more of the argument. “No you wont, you live here with me now, you deal with it!” came the response. I was so shocked at this new situation unraveling around me, why wont he let me leave? Why wont he leave? Am I being unreasonable to want time away from him to calm down? He’s storming around now, shouting ‘fuck you, I’m done, I’m not having it, I don’t want to be with you’ Reacting to him also hasn’t worked; “OK then Nick how have I treated you badly? All I want is to end this conversation because I am angry, you are angry and we aren’t resolving anything’
This sentence has cost me dearly.
“Because it can never be you in the wrong Roxy can it! Innocent Roxy always in the right!” He’s loud and animated in his gestures. He continues; “So, what, it’s over then is it? That’s what you want for this to be over? Is that why you want to leave? Clearly that is what you want! It’s been obvious for weeks now, nothing I do is good enough and now you want to leave me!’
His anger has increased now. He’s pacing, he’s shouting. He’s slamming his beer bottle down. It makes me jump, it makes the dog jump. I do not like this. I am opinionated and strong but those qualities are not going to put this fire out. I have an overwhelming feeling that any more talk from me about leaving the room or the argument will fuel him. I plead with him; please leave me alone, please stop shouting at me. “No, fuck off why should I!” he shouts. I am sitting, rigid with some type of frozen adrenaline. He is standing in the doorway; his persistence is relentless. The fierceness inside me wants to stand up for myself, wants to break out and say, hey! Don’t do that, its not nice, I’m going for a drive to clear my head. But the rational side of me, who is beginning to feel frightened, knows that silence and submission are the water to the flames.
“I’m sorry; I think I had too much to drink”
The following day Nick and I are discussing this argument. He is now sorry, he is saying he regrets getting angry; but he thinks he had too much to drink. The conversation goes something like this. Me, “I didn’t like it when you slammed your beer bottle down on the table, when you shouted and demanded I listen to you, when you swear and pace around.” Nick replies, “It was hardly slamming it down was it! why do you have such a low tolerance for conflict? What, did your last boyfriend hit you or something?”
And right there we have the big red flag for emotional abuse. The ugly side is showing its true colours again, only the problem is I couldn’t see it at the time. Firstly he is downplaying the aggression he showed me. Secondly he is making me believe I have over reacted. These are very important factors to look out for, and near on impossible to spot from the inside. I have analysed this argument many times in the head, and I know now how important this type of comment is to a person who is slowly beginning to exercise control. For example:
- Downplaying the aggression he has shown. This one is beneficial to Nick because he needs me to think this wasn’t a big deal, mostly so I do not tell any one else but also so the behaviour can be repeated.
- Making me think I have overreacted. Again, vital to Nick because it plants the seed of doubt, self doubt. Making me think I have been over-sensitive.
Maybe I will share some more Nick stories soon. There are many more quite similar to this one. Sometimes only upon reflection do we realise what has taken place right before our eyes. Nick was never violent but I am beginning to understand how emotional abuse can be the road to that destination. Thankfully I got off a stop early and chose a different route; one without Nick.