"Ever wonder 'bout what he's doing,
How it's all turned to lies,
Sometimes I think that it's better,
To never ask why..."
~~ Pink, "Try"
*** TRIGGER WARNING ***
Addiction is a Bitch.
Dealing with an abusive partner is one thing. Dealing with an abusive partner who is an addict is a whole 'nother Monster. The boogeyman's got NOTHING on a narc addict.
Prior to the drugs, yeah, he was abusive. BUT the difference was, his patterns of behavior were Predictable. After the drugs, well... it was a whirlwind of mood swings and abuse on a whole new level.
Anytime you throw drugs in the mix of an already volatile situation things become MUCH MORE complex and dangerous.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), substance abuse is a "suggested cause" of intimate partner violence. There is no substantiated correlation b/t domestic violence and substance abuse, but a "significant" number of abusers "misuse alcohol and drugs."
In an American Society of Addiction Medicine report published in October 2014:
** Substance abuse has been "found to co-occur in 40 to 60 percent of intimate partner violence [IPV] incidents across various studies."
** More than 20 percent of male perpetrators of IPV "report using alcohol and/or illicit drugs prior to the most recent and severe acts of violence."
** Evidence suggests that "substance abuse/use plays a facilitative role in IPV by precipitating or exacerbating violence."
In my situation, what added insult to injury was his CONSTANT denial that anything was amiss. It was all ME. I was too sensitive. I wasn't trusting enough. HOW DARE I question the mysterious appearance of what were clearly track marks splattered over his arms and legs. HOW DARE I question the unmarked pill bottles strewn around. The roaches in the ashtray. The loaded handgun that suddenly took up residence on the bottom shelf of the coffee table.
He would fly off the deep end if I questioned ANYTHING. He made it clear he believed it was none of my business.
Sure, that would have been easy enough if I didn't have to deal with the repercussions of his highs and inevitable crashes. But the fact of the matter is, it WAS my business b/c I was on the receiving end. But he used my concern and questions as further fuel for his tirades and attacks.
Admittedly, I lived under a rock most of my adolescent and young adult years -- hell, even into my 20s. I'd never been truly exposed to drugs, or that subculture, but I'd read enough and seen enough while away at college I KNEW something wasn't right.
And then there was the hideous game of cat and mouse I'd have to play when even "attempting" to maintain a semblance of any kind of relationship due to the New Friends who came out of the wood work like goddamned cockroaches.
Sadly, what I endured is much more common than I realized.
According to a Psychology Today, more than half of individuals with NPD have a substance abuse disorder.
Narcs and substance abuse is a dangerous, yet perfect, example of how one's inflated self-esteem and sense of power can get his/her ass in a sling QUICK.
Unlike other addicts, the narc believes he/she has it all under control -- yeah, yeah, I know, EVERY addict thinks he/she can quit whenever he/she wants -- but this false sense of control is MORE prominent in the narc. After all, he/she controls everything and everyone else, so why not the drug, too? It is simply the way the narc's mind works. I know, I witnessed it firsthand.
Now, not only was I desperately trying to change a situation that was unchangeable, I was watching the person I loved kill himself and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it. I was fighting two battles.
Sadly, I was on the wrong side.
I watched as he systematically shut down EVERY opportunity myself, family and his TRUE friends offered to help. He had it ALL under control. And we were all delusional, he wasn't using drugs -- he just wasn't "getting enough sleep."
The degree of malice with which he would attack me grew tenfold. His paranoia bordered on insanity and his projecting and accusations became more outlandish than ever.
Everything came to a screeching halt in a matter of hours one afternoon. Still bearing the bruises from not two days before, I offered one last attempt to reason with him. I never should have tried.
The conversation -- or as narcs view it, the confrontation -- disintegrated into an argument. I waved the white flag to get him to calm down. Admitted fault for even trying to talk to him. Then he immediately demanded sex -- as a way of "making up."
Watching Hyde turn into Jekyll before my eyes was disgusting enough -- now he was upping the ante by demanding another piece of me that I wasn't willing to give. Suffice to say things escalated yet again.
As he throttled me, his eyes were void of any trace of the man I once knew. There was NOTHING there. It was at that moment I knew I had to get out.
During my first visit with my advocate at the DV shelter, I had to take an assessment -- used to gauge the degree of abuse present in the relationship -- and it wasn't until that moment that I realized exactly how dangerous my situation had become.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states "non-fatal strangulation of women" by an intimate partner "is an important risk factor for homicide of women." Numerous studies have been conducted about IPV, especially the role of manual strangulation (a.k.a. throttling). According to one study,
"Strangulation occurs late in the abusive relationship; thus, women presenting with complaints consistent with strangulation probably represent women at a higher risk for morbidity or mortality."
Now, the question becomes, would he have done it had he NOT had drugs in his system? Maybe. Maybe not. I wouldn't want to venture a guess.
What I am certain of is, it happened. And he KNEW what he'd done.
But, in his mind, IT DID NOT MATTER.
I "asked for it." It was MY FAULT. If I had only stayed on the straight and narrow and not "run my mouth" and did "my job" he wouldn't have had to do it. So, long as I didn't "provoke" him again, everything would be fine.
When you are in the midst of the storm it is VERY difficult to see the fallacy in such an argument. You are so broken down that you believe it. But I am here to tell you NO ONE deserves to be abused. As I've stated before, I don't care if you burnt his supper, shrunk his favorite t-shirt by accident or even if you DID do it on purpose, that DOES NOT give someone the right to abuse another. NO EXCUSES.
Adding substance abuse into the equation makes it a bit trickier when trying to cope and survive domestic abuse and IPV.
ABSOLUTELY NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE, can tell you when to leave. That falls to you. Only YOU know when you are ready to take the leap into the waters and start swimming to the other shore. "But what if I don't know how to swim?" you may ask. Believe me, YOU CAN SWIM. And YOU WILL.
As terrifying and difficult as it is, you MUST take that proverbial step back to view your situation as objectively as possible. Has he/she promised to change? Of course. Has he/she? No. Do you hold out hope one day he/she will? Of course. What's the probability it will happen? Zilch.
It is essential that you educate yourself about the cycle of domestic violence, NPD, and if alcohol and/or drugs are part of the equation, it won't hurt to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of addiction, too.
Utilize as many resources as you possibly can. And if you are in a situation where you do not feel safe possessing these materials or perusing the Internet -- due to the watchful eye of your abuser -- employ the help of family and/or friends.
Once you are able to identify the patterns you start to take back the Power.
In "No Mud, No Lotus" Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh writes,
"If we can recognize suffering, and if we embrace it and look deeply into its roots, then we'll be able to let go of the habits that feed it and, at the same time, find a way to happiness. Suffering has its beneficial aspects. It can be an excellent teacher."
Indeed it can. And it is. And it can be as merciless as a ruler-wielding Catholic nun.
Now, Hanh wasn't explicitly addressing domestic abuse, but I feel the passage is VERY fitting.
As soon as I was able to see the roots of suffering in my relationship, it empowered me to see it for what it was. I had to swallow the bitter pill that it was a cycle of violence buoyed on illusion.
There was NOTHING stable about it what-so-EVER and it would NEVER change. Accepting that fucking HURT. But it was also Liberating.
I said it before and I'll say it again. Addiction is a BITCH. Watching someone you love battle their demons is torture. Losing them to their addiction, as I and my family lost Brian, is devastating and beyond heartbreaking.
But when the addict is your abuser, it makes the situation more perverse. You are now going to battle on TWO fronts. Continuing to try to save him/her from his/her addiction with the hope you will make a difference in the relationship and fix his/her underlying needs/issues is Suicide.
There comes a point where you must view yourself with compassion. It is up to you to garner the strength to know you can make it on your own and that you do not deserve to be abused.
You lived before your abuser, and you will THRIVE after he/she is long gone.
We must not allow our circumstances and impermanent situations to force our hand and make decisions that can be detrimental in the long-term. Understand, there must be suffering in order for there to be happiness. The trick is what you do with both. The key is to find and maintain that delicate balance. And I have all the confidence in the world that you will regain your equilibrium.
It's kind of like getting off one of those stomach-churning roller coasters. You feel like you're gonna puke -- and you may, I know I did -- but once you are off the ride and feel the solid ground under your feet there's nothing that can compare.
Odds are, you will look back and think, "What a helluva ride... Not gonna do THAT again."
And you will confidently place one foot in front of the other and walk away... Like a Boss.
In Peace and Love,