Hi, my name is Tricia Lynn. I am a professionally diagnosed victim of Narcissistic Abuse. I am not a therapist or an expert on Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome (NAS). I’m simply a girl who fell in love with a narcissistic boy, now sharing my experiences through writing.
If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’ve experienced this type of abuse first hand, or maybe you know someone who has. You certainly can’t miss it on social media platforms. The whole world is asking if they have been abused by a narcissist. They are also asking if they are a narcissist.
Google Trends reports this topic to have an alarming search increase since 2004. It has psychologists questioning if we are having an epidemic of narcissism, fueled by social media, attention-seeking celebrities, and self-absorbed millennials.¹
I won’t get into great detail in this post about what a narcissist is or if you have been the victim of one. I’m pretty sure you already know this information. If you don’t, you can “google it” and learn quite a bit. Better yet, speak to a mental health professional if you think any of what you read sounds like something you are/have been experiencing.
The best defense to this epidemic is educating yourself so you can spot it before it’s too late.
Hearing the term: Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome
I began therapy in 2008, after the suicide of my little brother, Jamie. I sought professional help for coping with his death. I was a wreck. I was suffering from insomnia and using drugs to stay awake in an attempt to avoid the recurring nightmares. My therapist immediately diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and admitted to an inpatient mental health facility for three days.
It was during this time that I first heard the term Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome. It was a topic spoke about during group therapy sessions I attended during my 72-hour stay. I listened attentively but didn’t think it had anything to do with my issue of suicide, sleep problems, and PTSD. I did my three-day stay, continued therapy for PTSD for over a year, got back on my feet, and wouldn’t hear about NAS again until 2014.
Back to Therapy in 2014
Jump ahead to the year 2014, I’m back in the same therapist’s office. I had contacted him again after having a miscarriage in my third trimester. I knew this loss had triggered my PTSD. I was suffering from some of the same symptoms as I had when my brother died.
The difference this time was I hadn’t been successful with the coping skills I had learned in 2008. There was much more going on inside my mind this time. I couldn’t name it. I just knew it felt like I used to feel when I was a young girl. I wasn’t even sure what those feelings were called. I didn’t share those when I was in therapy before. Those unnamed feelings weren’t a part of me in 2008. I had chalked them up to something I’d outgrown long before then.
So, the therapy sessions began. I shared the story of the younger man I had met in 2013. I gave the embarrassing details of the failed relationship with this man and how I didn’t find out I was pregnant until after we had gone our separate ways.
I confessed how ashamed I felt at getting pregnant by accident in my forties. I cried when I told the therapist of the shame I felt when this man had called me a liar and how it felt to go through a pregnancy and miscarriage alone.
I told him how I was drowning in debt from the medical expenses not covered by my insurance for the pregnancy, miscarriage, and funeral.
I filled my therapy session with the story of how this man’s silence was justified and how this man didn’t have to help me financially with the child. I was messed up, I told the therapist. The man had told me all this. He had called me out on all my horrible personality traits and he was right. I shared how it was only my fault for getting pregnant and how terrible I had made this man feel while we were dating.
I begged the therapist to help me change all these wicked things about myself. I needed to be fixed for my own good, I cried.
Being Diagnosed with NAS and Learning the Effects
My therapist patiently listened, offering me tissue after tissue for the uncontrollable tears. And when I was done, he asked the strangest question. He asked, has anyone ever made you feel this way about yourself before this man.
When he asked me this, I remember feeling like my lungs would never work again. My heart was pounding and my vision began to blur. I tried to answer the question, but my voice had suddenly gone away from me.
The next thing I knew, I was laying on the floor of the therapist’s office with nurses calling my name over and over. I had fainted. His question had caused such panic that I had passed out without any warning.
When I came back to my senses, I was diagnosed with PTSD (again), Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Agoraphobia.
Getting Help for The Effects of Narcissistic Abuse
After the incident, my therapist and I began a deep regime of healing from Narcissistic Abuse. I discovered that the reason I was feeling the way I did as a kid was due to unconsciously remembering how family members, who were and still are narcissists, used to make me feel when I was growing up.
I learned how this man had triggered abandonment issues I didn’t even know I had. More importantly, I learned that this man was, in fact, a narcissist as well.
Pissing Away All That Help
Guess what I did with all that valuable therapy. I pissed it away and went back to sleeping with this narcissistic man in 2018. I continued to be involved with him until he broke me for good in April 2019.
During the time we were involved, I learned the narcissistic man had a 5-year-old child that he never told me about. Which, if you’ve done the math, means this was all going on while I was pregnant.
He told me how he never considered us a “couple” back then. He had even been sleeping with the mother of his child the entire time. He would make this woman get a babysitter for their child and he would go have sex with her without ever having to see or be a part of the child’s life. He didn’t get involved with that child until it was three years old.
I was in shock. But of course, when I tried to express how unbearable all of it made me feel, I was shut down and told: “it isn’t always about you.”
WTF?? This narcissistic man went as far as to say, “I will never want to see our child’s grave. I don’t want to see a picture and I don’t want to hear about it.”
He stopped speaking to me shortly thereafter without any explanation. He takes the silent treatment very seriously by blocking me from calling or texting and from all his social media accounts.
The Effect of Narcissistic Abuse I Haven’t Been Able to Cure
Since then, I haven’t been able to look at myself in a mirror. I avoid windows or glass doors that might show my reflection. I won’t even look at my own shadow if I can avoid it.
It’s been seven months since I’ve seen a full-body reflection of myself. I do use a compact mirror to apply my make-up and fix my hair on the rare occasions it’s needed. But I don’t look myself in the eye while doing these things.
I only leave my house to go to therapy and the yoga studio. But this is extremely difficult since a yoga studio has at least one full wall of mirrors. I get around that mirrored wall by waiting until the room is almost full, then ducking into the back row and positioning myself so I can’t see more than a sliver reflection of my arm or leg.
Will This Effect of Narcissistic Abuse Be Part of My Future?
As I mentioned, I am again in therapy for this debilitating effect. My therapist and I are discussing ways to get back to living fully. Which means, not avoiding my own reflection. At the time of this post, I am not there yet.
My therapist has recently been discussing Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as the Tapping Technique, as a tool we can use to reprogram my mind from the fear I feel of seeing my reflection and looking myself in the eye. We have concluded that the reason behind this fear is the self-hatred I feel for getting involved with the narcissistic man again.
Honestly, at this point, I’m willing to try ANYTHING.
This man’s behavior is so foreign to me that I can’t forgive myself for being involved with someone so cruel. The cruelty has literally changed my DNA in a way I might never completely heal from.
The effects of Narcissistic Abuse have been proven to do actual brain damage.
First, let me say thank you for reading this personal story. It was difficult to admit in such a public way why I can’t look at myself. But, if it touches just one person by sharing this, it will be worth it.
Secondly, if you or someone you know is a victim of Narcissistic Abuse seek professional help. I don’t want anyone to end up like me.