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 thenelli01

PTSD from relationship with narcissistic person

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Hi,

I'm having a bit of trouble spiritually. I was in a relationship with someone who was narcissistic, which I'm learning about now post-leaving through education. I wasn't looking for a relationship when we met 4 years ago but it kind of just happened. Anyways, without going too much into specifics - he cheated on me for the whole 4 years straight, used me for money, wasn't productive etc. I constantly worked to try to fix the issues, but eventually I realized how bad the deceit was (I knew he was cheating, I just didn't know the extent, or I admittedly evaded/hoped he would change). FYI - any cheating/lying is bad regardless of degree, I'm not suggesting otherwise, whether it is a text or a physical encounter as this contradicted the understanding of our relationship. I admit my part in this by staying and not leaving at the first sign of deceit... I was constantly being told "I was the one he was gonna marry", "it's just bad habits that he was working to solve" and then just a constant pity party where he constantly had this "If I just get over this hump, everything will be great" mentality... but the overcoming of the hump never came. It was a way of life. I was constantly stressed, preoccupied with his cheating/problems that I couldn't ever focus on my life and my goals.

 

I finally had the strength to leave (we moved to Cali primarily to pursue his career dreams and just for the adventure) and moved back home. Now, 4 months later... I'm kind of in a bad spot mentally. I feel a bit of confusion about what happened... I'm having nightmares almost every night about cheating and such. It constantly preoccupies my mind. I'm struggling to open up to other people and form meaningful connections. Rationally I know that the proper response is "It's over, accept it. Move on with your life, take them as lessons" but it's not that easy. There is still a bunch of hurt and confusion and just pain in that I let myself get so treated so badly/low. 

 

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to move forward (besides seeing a therapist)? I took him out of my life completely last week... I try to stay positive - I have good and bad days. But, I really want to move on and have a meaningful, happy life and friendships, but I can't seem to do it. Some days I don't even want to leave the house or talk to anyone, mostly because when I do I'm constantly dealing with other people's issues/shortcomings that it just adds additional stress. When I do go out, I make it by way of principle to try to stay optimistic and positive to the people around me and not talk about what is bothering me or anything personal really. The hard part is also that I'm gay and no one really knows this so I only have 1 friend I can talk to about it - who introduced me to the topic of narcissism. Also, I don't really like talking badly about people, even if they deserve it, second handedly (i.e. gossip, etc.) so that is another difficulty trying to get over. Can someone please help me out?

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17 minutes ago, thenelli01 said:

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to move forward (besides seeing a therapist)?

Yes. Seek two or three therapists. And then settle on the one who insists on honesty the most, and catches you in lies and equivocations most often. That's who's gonna help you engage in the honest, painful self evaluation required for healing.

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2 hours ago, thenelli01 said:

Hi,

I'm having a bit of trouble spiritually. I was in a relationship with someone who was narcissistic, which I'm learning about now post-leaving through education. I wasn't looking for a relationship when we met 4 years ago but it kind of just happened. Anyways, without going too much into specifics - he cheated on me for the whole 4 years straight, used me for money, wasn't productive etc. I constantly worked to try to fix the issues, but eventually I realized how bad the deceit was (I knew he was cheating, I just didn't know the extent, or I admittedly evaded/hoped he would change). FYI - any cheating/lying is bad regardless of degree, I'm not suggesting otherwise, whether it is a text or a physical encounter as this contradicted the understanding of our relationship. I admit my part in this by staying and not leaving at the first sign of deceit... I was constantly being told "I was the one he was gonna marry", "it's just bad habits that he was working to solve" and then just a constant pity party where he constantly had this "If I just get over this hump, everything will be great" mentality... but the overcoming of the hump never came. It was a way of life. I was constantly stressed, preoccupied with his cheating/problems that I couldn't ever focus on my life and my goals.

 

I finally had the strength to leave (we moved to Cali primarily to pursue his career dreams and just for the adventure) and moved back home. Now, 4 months later... I'm kind of in a bad spot mentally. I feel a bit of confusion about what happened... I'm having nightmares almost every night about cheating and such. It constantly preoccupies my mind. I'm struggling to open up to other people and form meaningful connections. Rationally I know that the proper response is "It's over, accept it. Move on with your life, take them as lessons" but it's not that easy. There is still a bunch of hurt and confusion and just pain in that I let myself get so treated so badly/low. 

 

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to move forward (besides seeing a therapist)? I took him out of my life completely last week... I try to stay positive - I have good and bad days. But, I really want to move on and have a meaningful, happy life and friendships, but I can't seem to do it. Some days I don't even want to leave the house or talk to anyone, mostly because when I do I'm constantly dealing with other people's issues/shortcomings that it just adds additional stress. When I do go out, I make it by way of principle to try to stay optimistic and positive to the people around me and not talk about what is bothering me or anything personal really. The hard part is also that I'm gay and no one really knows this so I only have 1 friend I can talk to about it - who introduced me to the topic of narcissism. Also, I don't really like talking badly about people, even if they deserve it, second handedly (i.e. gossip, etc.) so that is another difficulty trying to get over. Can someone please help me out?

Most of the time, a narcissist has been that way for a long time.  They've built up to it their entire life, testing methods, refining, thinking about "how to get away with it," etc.  Their primary orientation toward other people are their narcissistic behavior and tactics, why?  Because it works.  It's rare for a narcissist to change, and promise of change is a lot of the time another tactic.  Going no-contact with this person took some courage by you, and it sounds like it was a good first step to a positive life.

As far as suggestions go, education will likely be a good endeavor.  A good book on manipulators and their tactics is In Sheep's Clothing, and you can watch a few interviews by the author online to get a better idea what the book is about.  I don't agree with everything in the book, but moreover I found it to be rational and helpful.  It would also suggest to study/continue to study philosophy and psychology as well.  It would be a more balanced approach this way, because taking a deep dive learning about manipulators and narcissists might cause someone to lose focus on themselves and the good.

There are a lot of Youtube channels out there that can be helpful, but most of them aren't actual psychologists.  Vital Mind Psychology is a Youtube channel that has many helpful videos and is a licensed and practicing psychologist, if you haven't found it already.  It will likely take some time.  I noticed you said you went no-contact just one week ago, so chances are you haven't heard the last of this person.

Edited by KorbenDallas

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15 hours ago, thenelli01 said:

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to move forward (besides seeing a therapist)? I took him out of my life completely last week... I try to stay positive - I have good and bad days. But, I really want to move on and have a meaningful, happy life and friendships, but I can't seem to do it.

I have a feeling this song might help, even though it's about a good relationship that's (evidently) not going south.

 

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21 hours ago, KorbenDallas said:

Most of the time, a narcissist has been that way for a long time.  They've built up to it their entire life, testing methods, refining, thinking about "how to get away with it," etc.  Their primary orientation toward other people are their narcissistic behavior and tactics, why?  Because it works.  It's rare for a narcissist to change, and promise of change is a lot of the time another tactic.  Going no-contact with this person took some courage by you, and it sounds like it was a good first step to a positive life.

As far as suggestions go, education will likely be a good endeavor.  A good book on manipulators and their tactics is In Sheep's Clothing, and you can watch a few interviews by the author online to get a better idea what the book is about.  I don't agree with everything in the book, but moreover I found it to be rational and helpful.  It would also suggest to study/continue to study philosophy and psychology as well.  It would be a more balanced approach this way, because taking a deep dive learning about manipulators and narcissists might cause someone to lose focus on themselves and the good.

There are a lot of Youtube channels out there that can be helpful, but most of them aren't actual psychologists.  Vital Mind Psychology is a Youtube channel that has many helpful videos and is a licensed and practicing psychologist, if you haven't found it already.  It will likely take some time.  I noticed you said you went no-contact just one week ago, so chances are you haven't heard the last of this person.

Thanks so much. I listened to the author of that book in a few interviews and was impressed with his rational approach, a nice change from the other psychologists I was listening to on the topic. Will definitely be getting the book you mentioned, as well as the other books he wrote on character and “how did we end up here”... Good suggestions.

 

Nicky, I also appreciate your response about seeing  therapists, which I’m a bit hesitant to do, simply because of the money factor. I agree that’s the best option, but I can imagine that it may take a few run throughs to find the appropriate one, which I’m not in a position to pay for right now... my parents offered to help but I’d rather save the money if possible... that’s why I’m looking for more “home remedies,” if possible? 

Edited by Theg_01

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8 hours ago, Ninth Doctor said:

I have a feeling this song might help, even though it's about a good relationship that's (evidently) not going south.

 

I think the song hasn’t any relevance to this post.

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5 minutes ago, Theg_01 said:

Do you think this is something that I can heal myself over time or is it your position that seeing the right therapist is necessary?

I'm only saying this from the perspective from just this thread, but nightmares and flashbacks are classic symptoms of PTSD. Dealing with those kind of symptoms is extremely difficult to do on your own, besides the fact trauma symptoms don't work anything like normal day to day stresses. Unfortunately, professional therapists really are the only option. "Home remedies" sometimes can make it worse, sometimes even reinforcing the really bad memories. At the same time, professionals who know all about PTSD know some really good techniques. And just so you know, the best PTSD treatments involve cognitive behavioral therapy, to focus your mind on different things. 

What you're doing on your own right now is already off to the right track. It's important to recognize that someone else traumatized you - you may wish you left sooner, but he's the one who decided to hurt you. It helps to go out with other people. It helps to do other things than just sit around and think about what you went through. One thing you can do now is not obsess over what he did to you - whatever he did, you don't need revenge and you don't need to get back at him. If anything, a narcissist feeds off of your interaction. Cutting off contact probably truly is the worst thing you can do to him. And more than that, it gets you on track for your own life. 

 

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On 12/31/2018 at 2:24 AM, thenelli01 said:

But, I really want to move on and have a meaningful, happy life and friendships, but I can't seem to do it. Some days I don't even want to leave the house or talk to anyone, mostly because when I do I'm constantly dealing with other people's issues/shortcomings that it just adds additional stress.

That sounds like your social anxiety, not anything caused by other people's shortcomings. That's one of many things a therapist will likely point out to you: it's not other people's job to alleviate your stress, it's your job to function in stressful situations.

Everybody feels anxiety, and it's perfectly normal. Anxiety is only bad if you let it paralyze you. If you are able to act despite feeling anxiety, it can actually help you (it can make you more focused than if you were entirely relaxed and comfortable with a given situation).

Obviously, there are degrees, and everyone needs to figure out what their threshold is for tolerating stress, but, in my opinion at least, a stress free life (never facing situations that make you anxious) is even worse than too much stress. You can always dial it back, if it gets too much. Getting into a habit of always seeking psychological comfort, on the other hand, is passive, isolating, and hard to snap out of. So it's better to push yourself, find out what your limit is, and then stay within your limits, than to shut yourself away from the world.

Edited by Nicky

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On 12/31/2018 at 6:54 PM, Theg_01 said:

I think the song hasn’t any relevance to this post.

It's the opposite of a torch song.  It conveys the kind of attitude that may help the OP move on.  Sorry if you didn't like it.

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On 12/31/2018 at 7:09 PM, Eiuol said:

And just so you know, the best PTSD treatments involve cognitive behavioral therapy, to focus your mind on different things. 

Agree with Eiuol on looking for a therapist that specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which will allow you to come to terms with what you're facing. The book "The Coddling of the American Mind" by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt has a chapter specifically dedicated to CBT in the book's annex and will give you a leg up on where you need to go from here as well as additional resources to consult. Best of luck on your recovery.

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