"Don't tell me you're sorry cause you're not...
... I know you're only sorry you got caught..."
~~ Rihanna "Take a Bow"
I can't count how many times I heard the "I'm sorry..." routine.
Foolishly, I bought it for the first few hundred times. Yeah, hundreds. That's what happens when you want so desperately to believe. The hardest part is coming to terms with the FACT that your efforts and love are for naught.
Abusers are masters when it comes to manipulating your emotions. They KNOW that you genuinely love and care for them and they take advantage it. The forgiveness you offer in the wake of their "heartfelt" apologies only helps fuel their continued misbehavior. They KNOW that, no matter what, you will keep forgiving them. They've left you with no choice -- or so you believe. If you keep giving, love harder, put forth more effort you WILL change them. It'll be OK. You will continue to be there for them to take advantage of and fall back on. But there MUST come a Final Curtain that falls.
Once they realize you're hand is on the rope to bring the curtain down, the Beast comes out. And they don't hesitate to pull out ALL the stops.
HOWEVER, before you work up the courage to reach for the rope to close the curtain, you have been victimized beyond belief by the abuser's multifaceted approach to break you. Subtle at first, the abuse becomes more methodical and insidious with each passing day.
Among the most popular tools in the abusers box:
**GASLIGHTING: Essentially, mental abuse. The abuser takes anything you say or do and spins it in such a way as to favor him/herself making them the victim and YOU the abuser. When used consistently over time, you begin to doubt your own sanity. Seriously. It fucks with your head HARD.
**PROJECTION: All the issues your abuser suffers with I guarantee will be projected on you at some point if they haven't already. If they have issues with lying, YOU are the liar. If they cheat, YOU are the cheater. If the abuser feels guilty about something, he/she WILL do their damnedest to make you feel like the lowest of the low -- and you haven't done a thing.
**MANIPULATION AND COERCION: Abusers are master manipulators across the board --- they MUST get their way or there's hell to pay. If you are insecure about ANYTHING they will use it to their advantage. For example, if you fear your partner may cheat, he/she may surround themselves with what they portray as "competition." You better behave, if you don't they want you to KNOW they have "options." And, as though it couldn't get more insidious, there's coercion. This happens when they ask for something and your initial response is, "No." They will continue to pester, nag, etc... until you FINALLY give in. At times, they may even use threats or violence to make you comply.
**I'M THE VICTIM: This tactic is firmly rooted in the abuser's belief that the World is out to get him/her. NOTHING is his/her fault. If they get pulled over for doing 60 mph in a 30 mph zone, the cop pulled him/her over b/c the cop is out to get him/her. Anything negative that happens to them is SOMEONE ELSE'S FAULT. Abusers shun responsibility like a snake sheds it's skin -- only MUCH faster. When they speak about past relationships, jobs, etc... that didn't work out the reason ALWAYS falls on a third party. Period.
**TWISTY TIE: OK, so this isn't a textbook term, but it's what I call it when the abuser takes their actions/comments that land them in hot water and twist it to make it YOUR fault somehow. Doesn't matter what it is. In the end, you end up apologizing for something you didn't even do. You're left with no choice but to apologize otherwise they WON'T let it go until they believe they've been relieved of their responsibility.
**TRIANGULATION: Whether it was with family, friends (his, not mine -- I wasn't allowed to have many and even those were the ones of which he "approved."), or strangers, this is one my abuser kept in his pocket. Essentially, the abuser is the messenger. The idea is to keep EVERYONE isolated in independent circles and then the abuser shuffles from one circle to the next delivering different messages to influence others' views of the victim or how they see the abuser. The communication can be through action or words. The goal is to create chaos and/or further the abuser's "agenda." Another aspect of this is the employment of Flying Monkeys -- those individuals who believe the abuser's stories/lies and act on his/her behalf.
**RAGE (or as I call it, HULKING OUT): It doesn't matter what the trigger is, but the abuser flies into a rage. The abused is left bewildered and shocked as to what just happened. As a consequence, you find you are forced silent or to submit to whatever they say just to make the anger/rage/violence stop.
It took me quite a while to literally force myself to realize I'd been victimized by all the above tactics -- and then some.
Take, for example, his serial cheating. It was one of many rotting pieces of material on which our "relationship" was based. I didn't realize it when I began the relationship. Trust me, had I known I was dealing with damaged materials I would have walked away from the project completely. But, at first, he was good with coating over the holes and bad spots with (at the time) believable bullshit and secrecy.
Come to find out, I was one of many, many women. And, sadly, we had each been led to believe we were the only one. So what happens when you think you're in a monogamous relationship, you act like it, yes? You call. You text. You expect to spend time together. Unbeknownst to me, I was made out to be the stalker. (Projection at work here.) And when he would get caught with another woman, it was one of four staple excuses:
** I was stupid. I had a moment of weakness.
** "Well, if you would do your job I wouldn't have to go elsewhere."
** "She's just a friend."
**"It wasn't me. You are mistaken." (My personal favorite **sarcasm**)
When I finally figured out what was going on, I did something my abuser wasn't anticipating. I popped every last circle with which he'd surrounded himself. Well, actually "I" didn't pop them alone. There became too much "cross contamination" and those who had been confined to their own circles began to see the same cracks I was seeing. Once communication opened b/t the circles it was Game Over. And the mask was ripped off.
At this point the Beast will come unleashed OR it will find new supply (victims) to exploit b/c this scene is no longer fun. He/she isn't getting the expected applause to which he/she is accustomed.
There comes a point when "I'm sorry" doesn't cut it anymore. A reasonable person will apologize for wrong-doing and not repeat said action. When you're dealing with a narcissist the opposite is true. Yeah, they apologize. But the apology is not only hollow, it is coupled with one of the above tools. No exception. Then the responsibility falls on YOU. Are you going to continue to put up with the drama and deceit, or will you exit Stage Left?
I chose to exit Stage Left. I admit I watched from backstage for a few minutes to see how the act would end. True to form it was the same sorry routine, His begging for me to return to center stage -- it was my "Place." When I refused, the script turned to heckling, threats, etc... It took all I had not to run back to center stage just to make it stop. Then something miraculous happened.
Well, not necessarily miraculous -- it was no different from what he'd been doing for many months -- he chose a volunteer from the audience to take my place. New supply.
It was at that point the show was over. I pulled the rope and down went the curtain. And I walked away.
Mentally, I still walk past that theatre every now and again. Not to reminisce. But to remind myself about why I left.
It is sad how traumatic such a relationship can become. The scars you carry aren't always visible. And, believe me, you carry them. It affects ALL your relationships. There are now issues with Trust, Self-Doubt and Self-Esteem (all from prolonged exposure to the narc's toxic Triangulation, Gaslighting AND Twisty Tying).
I am a firm believer that narcs should be forced to come with a disclaimer, "I am dangerous to your well-being. I AM TOXIC."
But, alas, in its essence that would be wrong.
I pray that if you are still going through the motions of a tired script and dated show, may you exit the Stage soon and find your way to Truth, Light and Love. It takes time to recondition yourself. But it can be done. Truly. I know. I'm still in the process.
In Peace and Love,