So I had a moment the week of Maya 11th which is when most of this was written. This moment took me to a place of needing to dig deeper within. I was only able to finally get to this point because I was dealing with with someone I consider a friend, a person I care about, who is very patient. I realized my communication issues with this person came from a deeper place which still needed a bit of attention.
It’s important to take a moment to check yourself and come to an understanding of why you react certain ways in certain situations. I had to dig deeper into my need to control situations when it comes to the matter of the heart. For me, a specific traumatic incident left me changed. I’ll jump into this and share some things I think you need to do if you end up in this position, know someone, or are potentially the person creating the traumatic experience.
WHY SHARE THIS
I’m going to share my story for three reasons.
- Reason one: I’ve learned writing things down and talking about them releases that bad energy. Click here for blog relating to this.
- Reason two: I know there are other women who have encountered my situation in one form or another. I know the mind can put you in a place that changes your reality. The hardest part of fixing the problem is first knowing you have an issue.
- Reason three: My ideas on how to break the cycle and/or hopefully prevent the cycle can help you or help you help someone else. I’ve heard many speak on this subject (both professionals and others who have lived through it) and your friend circle generally gets it wrong because they have never experienced it and have no real understanding of what really goes on.
PHASE 1: UNBROKEN
Before I speak about my trauma which took me, a very confident woman, to a place of darkness and deep depression, I’ll speak to how I was prior to this. I would consider myself to have been a fun and carefree woman. My mother was a great example of what it was to be a strong, independent woman with goals. It was always easy to get to a point of expressing myself without ever taking reactions personally. This was easy for me to also express to men who peeked my interest especially if my mind moved faster in that direction prior to him getting there. At times, I met men when they weren’t in the space for dating seriously. We would get to a point of having deep conversations, respecting each others place in that time, and going our separate ways if need be. I’m grateful to those who respected me enough to be honest, and respected themselves enough to maintain integrity with themselves. Speaking your truth puts you at risk for potentially losing your chance with that person, but in all honesty, I think it really puts you much closer. Knowing yourself, where you are at the time, and being very comfortable in that space is of great importance. Only this week did I notice a funny thing in common when I stood in my truth with comfort. hen I brought conversations up, I was nervous but never did I lash out or have it end up in an argument. Every man I had these discussions with came back around when they were ready. Once they came back around, I had already moved onto something new and ended up with someone who never put me in a place of questioning their intent of wanting to be with me exclusively. I say this not from a place of trying to play games to get a person to come back, but to say when you live in your truth with comfort, you’re more likely to get what you want. I won’t jump too much into the laws of attraction, but there is something to it.
PHASE 2: THE SHATTERING OF A SOUL
It’s weird how the telling of this story still kind of makes me tear up a bit. I’m over the person, but I think the mistrust of myself and the forgetting of my value is what triggers my emotions. Much like a man, I learned crying is a no, no growing up, but I’ve found that letting it out can lead to great joy. This might be a female thing though. Sometimes I cry for the weirdest things now; I consider that years of holding back bursting out freely. Meanwhile, I’m like WTF make it stop!
Anyhow…back in college, I met a guy while strolling through Walmart of all places. He patiently waited for me to finish the conversation with my mother, and he was super charming. We actually hung out the same night at a party I was going to. This man was easy to be around, a bit of romantic, and seemed to be a man’s man with the testosterone popping. He lived in Arlington, TX but was in Waco, TX doing work with other co-workers. He was verbose in making sure I knew how he felt about me, and the list goes on. I was wooed y’all! We became exclusive fairly soon, and he rose up my priority list. I will say school and graduating was number one most days. He was able to capture the number one spot on several occasions.
Fun fact, he actually stumbled upon me about a month after voicing my interest in pursuing something more with a different fella I was seeing on campus. We had a ton in common, he was talk dark and handsome even when he wore his smedium shirt…LORD help me, and he was super respectful. He wasn’t in the relationship mindset at the time I discovered I liked him more than just a friend, so we agreed to keep things as they were with no ill feelings. I respected that and didn’t take it personally.
So getting back the the boyfriend, there got to a point where he asked me to marry him; the second time I said yes. The first time I said it was too soon; see below insights for my own analysis on this. Grand gestures seem great, but this one wasn’t earned in a way. This was a red flag.
In 2007, I made the decision to choose an internship in Dallas rather than the one I got in Houston because I was all in with him and wanted to start building a career in the city where my almost husband was going to be. Dallas also had more job prospects for my career path. This was the first person I trusted on many levels. At this time, I didn’t have any foundation in Dallas; it was like moving to another country in a way. I was in essence isolated; he was my person before I could gain roots there. Many of my Dallas friends were still in school; my core group was in Houston. Houston is about a four hour drive from Dallas. Being the easygoing person I am, I knew whatever was in store for our future we could always resolve it via conversation and compromise. My decision to move seemed sound. About a month into me moving all of my belongings and getting an apartment lease in Dallas, I came to a discovery that my fiance of two years was stepping out on me. As a confident woman, I always let him be him and do his own thing without questioning his whereabouts. Prior to making the move, I focused on graduating with good grades, creating a club for Caribbean students to know others who relate to them, being in the Army Reserves, working, and also volunteering in the community. I was busy, but I made time for him because I grew to love him. I was in a position to miss a ton of signs.
Now, something came up before but it was surreal, but I couldn’t prove it. I dreamed about a woman then stumbled upon the exact woman’s picture on his computer. He had an excuse, albeit foolish, so I just moved on. To be honest, I still had a full life, so I didn’t get engulfed in that story. I was good at leaving the past in the past. Later I discovered I he was a master manipulator; today I would describe him as a narcissist. When I made this discovery in Dallas, I was able to prove it. In a way, I found comfort in that in not seeming nuts. I had spoken to several woman; my intuition and detective skills are insane. My friends this list was a very long list of women my friends. After making this discovery and being in a state of shock, I called who was a really good friend of mine to only find out she knew he was no good…more shock and disappointment! I found out he approached her inappropriately, and also made moves to other women on campus. This seems to have been a known thing that I wasn’t clued in on yet some within my circle were. These discoveries caused a few things the loss of trust in a lover and the loss of trust in a friend; I was also embarrassed. For me, I would have taken her word prior to leaving for Dallas and just chosen Houston. What happened here was the removal of my ability to have a real choice in the situations. Everyone assumed secrecy was best, yet it only led to me being stuck and alone with no one. At that point in time, I fell into a deep depression. I became detached when going into my two internships and stopped eating due to the stress. I loss about 30 pounds in the course of about a month. I’m not sure why eating a sugar cookie at the kitchen bar staring out the terrace window is the only food I remember eating. What isolation did to me was leave me in a place where I couldn’t get the much needed hugs and encouragement of people who cared about me. As humans we need this in times of need. Over the phone, I got a lack of understanding and a lack of empathy. I think this was due to people not ever going through this on this sort of level. Many of us have gone through bad breakups, but I think isolation and the losing of not only the trust of a lover but also a friend just throws gas onto the flames. I think what I needed most was a therapist. In communities of color, therapy is something often not considered.
Anyhow, I confronted my fiance only to be blamed for everything. I initially started with where did we go wrong and how do we fix it, but it was far too late. I discovered he was already working on a new relationship. This new one met his family and a whole long list of other things. He made it clear why he was choosing her over me. At that point, we did get into a long list of altercations both verbal and physical when I wanted to see his phone. This altercation was the thing that actually allowed me to file a police report for restraining order and essentially break the apartment lease. I don’t recall when I let the restraining order end, but we needed to get our belongings out of the apartment. One phase included him bringing his new chic to my home while I was there. The other phase was me getting help to get the hell out of Dallas after my internship was over. Loyalty and working through issues is of importance to me, but knowing when to leave is importance. In the middle of all of this, I still had a love for him and still wanted to figure out how to fix it. To those that say they would just leave if someone did certain things, I don’t think you have experienced what dating a narcissist is like; there is a level of sucking you in and gaining your trust and many levels of manipulation. I don’t think this is intentional; I think it just comes from a place of being broken. Have you ever wondered why victims of physical abuse go back to abusers? What I dealt with was emotional abuse. With all that said, I expected him to at least come to the apartment to help me pack this Uhaul with my belongings, so I could drive back home to Houston. He actually sent a stranger he worked with. The guy he sent was kind, but this was just another blow. A stranger was entering my space when I was in a mental state of not wanting people to see me so low. I do care about image and keeping my mess out of the public eye, and this did just the opposite. This felt like someone spinning a knife in a wound.
Anyhow, I finally was on my way home to a safe place. I still felt soulless. I had a strong feeling of emptiness. I will say there were many points where I just wanted to not be among the living. I dealt with infidelity before but never on this level. I would say this person dragged me and stole my ability to connect on a deeper level with love. After being in Houston for about 8 months, I moved to New York to allow myself more options in my career. Throughout these months, I stayed in contact with this man. A part of me still missed the connection despite the trauma. I think a part of this was pride. At some point, I did end up changing phone numbers and completely losing contact with this man. With social media, he eventually reached out with apologies, but we only spoke through Facebook messenger. I had reached the point of truly getting over the man himself, then I reached out to respond to the past messages and to talk about what was done. I clearly saw he was the same even though he said “all the right things”. The one thing I do now realize is that I didn’t get over the trauma. I didn’t see this whole affair as a trauma at the time; I saw it like a normal breakup. That fear of isolation and getting to the dark place in my mind lived on in the depths of my mind.
PHASE 3: MISSING PIECES
From my arrival to New York City 2008 to 2018, I dated several people. I met quite a few amazing men. Some were nice but were not for me, while some I would categorize as having potential. Nothing ever led to a committed relationship except for one in 2012. This man was super duper smart, super duper respectful, and did a fantastic job making sure I felt loved. He talked about the future and having kids with me. He traveled a ton and lived outside of Philadelphia, but he always found a way to come visit me. I also did weekend trips away from New York, which was much needed. I gained that ability to really trust again. I never realized I was having this thing called “emotional flashbacks” all the times I froze up after he said the things my ex-fiance said that implied permanence. The idea of reliving what I went through before scared the living daylights out of me, so I was often present yet detached enough. I dated with a wall up, and this left me with regrets after this relationship ended. I feared isolation, but I also helped to create it in a way.
- Beware of anyone who moves too fast. I’m not speaking about a person who shares that they’re interested in getting to know you on a deeper level and wants to know if you feel the same but a person who tries to lock you down well before you both had a chance to get to know each other. The rush to take people off the market and leading with the future instead of living in the present is a bit of a recipe for disaster.
- Don’t get lost in the fantasy we learn of Prince Charming and happily ever after. Take a step back and ensure both you and the potential partner have the opportunity to get to know each other on a deep level. Sometimes our fear of loneliness pushes us into the wrong relationships. I would say my ex-fiance probably has a fear of being alone. I say this because I got to a point a few years ago to talking to him, and he was pursuing me while engaged to someone else. I hold no grudges; I just see a broken person seeking comfort in the wrong places (externally rather than internally). I came to discover this particular man didn’t know how to be single, but this discovery was only made many years later. Before ending one relationship, he was already working on the next one.
- We often punish people for their wrongs without pushing them towards the proper tools to heal the pain that is causing the pattern. Learn to listen deeply to what people have to say. Hear them, and think critically. Notice patterns. Are outburst driven by triggers such as fear? Do they push you away prior to you pushing them away? Have you given them signs that you are fleeing but maybe you aren’t trying to? Consider over communicating if you care for this person?
Have any questions or additional insight to add to this, please add it to the comments for additional dialogue. My goal is to improve dialogue around narcissism and how it can affect a person’s well being both during and after a relationship. Many say just leave, but by the time someone needs to leave, it’s so much harder to escape. It takes a village to make this happen. You have to see that the person is a narcissist or has those tendencies in the early stages of the relationship. If the friend is well within the relationship, they need mental support to escape the situation successfully. “She/He is stupid for staying” is a statement made out of ignorance to what it means to deal with narcissists. I’m happy to say I am in a fantastic place mentally. I know my triggers, and protect my circle of energy by keeping great people around me. I’ve learned to identify people who have narcissistic tendencies and keep the distance where I can. As we talk about this issue, the world will likely become a better place. Please note this video from an expert on narcissism. She goes into depth on characteristics and the impact.