Emotional Abuse, Mind Games


Narcissists build you up to bring you crashing down. You never know what you’re getting day-to-day.”

As the former spouse of a narcissist, I can tell you living life with him was living in perpetual limbo to his moods and emotional highs and lows. I learned to check all the boxes in trying to create the best outcome at the end of the day, but he still managed to make things horrible for us. Getting a toddler with Autism into a routine that worked with his demands was a challenge in itself. Getting an infant and everything else to fall into place was like Mission Impossible most days.

The steps I used to go through to ensure we would be on his “good side” after his work day was nothing short of exhausting:

✓ Take kids to park/zoo to play out all their energy an hour before he gets home.
✓ Set kids down with play dough while getting dinner ready.
✓ Toss in a load of laundry.
✓ Kids are clean.
✓ Dog is walked and fed.
✓ House is clean.
✓ I’m showered and look “presentable”
✓ Dinner is ready and on the table.
✓ House is quiet/calm.

Anticipating Landmines and Falling Into Them
Some days, I’d go through the routine with the kids and he’d never show up or he’d say he would be late and not come home until the kids were down (I never knew where he was of course). Yet, “home was my job” and the task was done perfectly every day if he bothered to show up or not. He loved nothing more than to call me at the end of the day to check in. Often adding another task to endless list of day-end chores. “I’m out of vitamins. Why don’t you run to get those for me.” I know now, this was the vicious side of him taking fuel from me while I struggled keeping up. He took pleasure adding more to my plate and watching me jump through multiple hoops to please him.

Life was entirely dictated by his whims, his schedule, his wants and his needs. When the demands of our son’s needs took priority or if the kids were sick-he behaved like a two-year old child: pouting, fussing and complaining how I spent too much time fussing over our kids.

This routine would continue day-after-day until I would reach the breaking point. He would never allow me to be angry at him and it was rare I ever had a day off without the kids. I managed countless therapy and doctor visits. Gave everything to care for my son’s needs and our family and he loved needling me to see how I would manage.

The Abuse Infinity Loop
I was almost always completely exhausted then. He loved shouting and bullying our young family into the things he wanted. Barking demands until we caved and gave him his way. The days I had enough–we’d argue. He’d storm out of the house, then return home that night, on time, with a rehearsed apology ready to go. I’d forgive him. He’d want make up sex, then if I was lucky, I’d get a week or two of his “best behavior”.
Life was spent waiting for the Good Days. Life was such a giant waiting game for the good husband to show up. The good days became so rare, the bad days just started to feel normal to us.

The Unhealthy Repeating Cycle
This cycle was repeated thousands of times during the 17 years we were married. Rinse and repeat. Repeat. Rewind. Until I caught my reflection in my master bathroom one afternoon. Laundry basket in hand, I caught a glimpse of the woman looking back and me. . .then stopped when I didn’t recognize her! I touched my face. It felt like me, but the woman looking back at me–wasn’t me. That woman looked 10 years older, had dark circles under her eyes, gained weight and let her hair go. She wasn’t the attractive business woman she once was, but a maid, nurse, sex kitten, therapist, chef, laundress, chauffeur, and personal secretary to an abusive man. And I was exhausted wearing all the hats to keep our life together while his one job to provide for us was failing, at best.

Making Sense of the Crazy
It’s hard to understand if you’ve not been there, but the narcissist will take from you whatever he/she can steal. They are content to deprive you of rest, relaxation, peace and time to yourself if it means seeing you suffer. Your pain brings them joy. It’s even harder to understand how someone you married and once loved can be so cruel and outright vicious when you’ve done nothing more than attempt to lasso the moon to please them. The constant raising you up to bring you crashing down is a rollercoaster ride no mortal human can stay on forever. It’s too draining and taps your emotions, energy and health.

The longer you choose to stay on the rollercoaster the narcissist controls the ride. They will make you sick and dizzy over and over again if it brings them pleasure from your pain.