What you may not have realised was that you were living in a war zone; people sign up for that, you didn’t! You might have been bought to your knees, left in a state of mental confusion, physical exhaustion, emotionally shocked, with feelings of shame and perhaps humiliation, guilt and abandonment - this is regardless of your status, or your intellect (and I will address this in a different article) and your material wealth.
They are expert fishermen and women
The Narcissists and Emotional Abusers are experts at hooking their targets. They have an inbuilt radar system that can search out your childhood wounds. They have all the tools ready to bait you and to hook you and then to land you.
The Idealisation stage is their bait, they have never met anyone as special as you, or who has ever understood them the way you do. They may shower you with gifts, compliments, meals out and weekends away. They then use Devaluation and Discard (links for full description) you, creating invisible bonds.
Not everyone is suitable; they are visible to some people and when they realise they have been seen, they either walk away really quickly or the other person runs.
Perhaps you have experienced this behaviour before in another relationship, or as a child growing up, so what others see, you don’t.
You find it acceptable for them to treat you the way they do because for you it is safe and familiar, and the feeling of believing you have known them all your life comes from this. They reeled you in so gently, you were unaware it was happening.
Pick a card any card…
This was a game, think of COD (fisherman link to no 1. and a Call of Duty reference), as I said at the beginning you unwittingly walked into a war zone. This was not only an assault on you, it was also a game, something to amuse them and the more of a challenge you were the more they enjoy it. So, once the idealisation phase is over (and they do this as quickly as possible, particularly if they are multi-dating); they then start delving in their toolbox for the best fitting techniques for you.
One powerful technique they use is isolation. They start with belittling comments and questioning the role of a person in your life, a friend or family member, even your own children. ‘Can you trust this person’, ‘Why do you confide in them?’. ‘Can you not see the way they are manipulating you?’. Of course, it is them doing the manipulation.
There is a great example of this is in Dirty John on Netflix in the first episode John has stayed the night and Debbie’s daughter questioned what he was doing there and why. As she leaves the apartment she deliberately knocks the fruit bowl off the side in anger. John sees the opportunity to rush in and gush over Debbie telling her she shouldn’t put up with this behaviour and how amazing he is and he will take care of it and her… Once you see it you can't unsee it • if you watch the series with this in mind, you will start to notice him doing this a lot with the same daughter, little putdowns and challenging her behaviour. Now please don’t get me wrong the daughter's behaviour was childish but it was the way John used the situation to his advantage and then started to isolate Debbie from her children. Over a short period, she had moved out of that apartment and rented one with him. Neither of her daughters were talking to her and her son after hearing the stories about him didn’t want John near his children.
They leave you with no emotional support and they turn on you and bit by bit you start to fall apart, you have no idea who you are or what you have become. They attack you emotionally which effects you mentally, physically and spiritually.
Nothing is ever good enough…
Once you are in the cycle of abuse you are held like the elephant who is strong enough to break the chain around its foot but can’t.
The fairytale has turned into a nightmare and this was so insidious; like the frog in the pan of water it warmed up so very slowly you didn’t notice it was happening.
You might find yourself fighting for their attention. Once they were showering you with it, telling you how amazing you are, now the words are what you have done wrong and questioning why you aren’t like someone else… They triangulate you, some will be fake people but others are real, and they keep you just far enough apart so you aren't able to compare notes; but just near enough to create jealousy.
You might find your finances are depleting; you work more hours or find a second job whilst still looking after the children, do all the cooking and cleaning; washing and ironing and paying all the bills, gradually losing your self-esteem but still needing their attention. During the idealisation, they checked to make sure you were fully invested in the relationship and you would do anything to protect it, in fact, protecting the relationship became more important than protecting yourself.
They use coercive control to keep you in the in a place of needing them.
It is likely you are out of the relationship and are now realising what has been happening, but it takes time to fully untangle from yourself, having been left believing this was all your fault.
The relationship felt familiar because you may have wounds that haven’t been fully healed or you were not even aware of.
If you recognise these situations and you don’t want to repeat this type of relationship you can do 4 things.
4 things you can do out of the relationship
Create space in your life
Challenge your beliefs
Heal the wounds
But, it all requires detaching from the Emotional Abuser in your life. Once you’ve done that and created some distance from the relationship, you can move forward towards healing and you will see that black clouds often do have silver linings. Get started by grabbing your free Beginner’s Healing Roadmap below.
Maybe this happened so you could free yourself from your past and your wounds, and vow to never let another person mistreat you…