I Suffered Narcissistic Abuse From My Family for Over 20 Years

Jennifer March, MS

The story of how I'm coping with years of abuse from a narcissist.

Narcissism is a popular topic in today’s current society.

Where are the narcissists?

Who are the narcissists?

What do the narcissists want from us?

These are all questions that stream through our minds when we are first exposed to a narcissist. They seem like big scary beasts that would be hard to miss!

But in reality, narcissists are regular-looking people — and they can be hidden in plain sight.

Narcissism is a culmination of various negative behaviors, manipulation tactics, and overall emotional abuse. Although the list of what makes a narcissist is far greater than what is listed in this short article.

At some point in everyone’s life, they have encountered a narcissist or someone who is pretty freaking close to being a narcissist themselves.

The narcissist I once had in my life is no longer there. As I reflect on the past 20 years, I realize how much this person messed with me through my childhood and budding adulthood.

I was just a chess piece to them — but I saw through their lies.

Although I am away from them, their abuse has scarred me for a lifetime.

Narcissistic abuse is hurtful, manipulative, and overall vile to someone’s self-esteem.

Through all of the pain and struggle, was there ever a moment when I realized this wasn’t right? Yes, there were many, to be quite frank!

You don’t notice a change in someone that drastically. It’s a steady incline of multiple instances, all leaving us with the same feeling.

When did things change?

Things never changed. The narcissist in my life was not a romantic partner but a family member. And they lied and cheated to get what they wanted. I stood in the way of that, which upset them.

So there was never a time when there was a sudden shift. This is the only person I ever knew: someone you always had to watch your back around. Nothing was safe with them. But as I recount my time, I realize that I had to survive around the narcissist — I wasn’t allowed to be me.

Everyone should know the signs of a narcissist to avoid falling into a potentially toxic relationship. No one should be left to fend for themselves when faced with a narcissist. I had always known life with them to be scary and unnerving.

I knew that being around them didn’t make me feel good, but I never pointed my bad feelings at them. I always reflected my negative feelings towards myself — I needed to be better.

But in the end, I was never good enough. But on that note, the narcissist was not good enough for me.

I expected more out of a family member than this; I expected honesty, my faith in them to be pure, and that I wouldn’t be afraid of them. But I didn’t have much choice in the matter.

They constantly were butting into parts of my life that they had no business in.

On top of their invasive behavior, they were dominating every part of our family life.

The narcissist always needed everyone to know that they were in charge — no one else. The constant abuse played a number in my personal life. I still feel the effects of their abuse to this day.

Long term effects

I spent a lot of my time hidden away from others. I was sure that I was the problem.

The abuse I had gone through had warped my perception of the role I played in life. I was annoying, loud, angry, and overall stupid. Those were the words that were ingrained into my self-belief of who I was.

I was never called by those names growing up, but when someone treats you a certain way, you tend to feel the words they want to say displayed through their actions.

I am wanted to be free and happy. Still, it was hard when I didn’t know how to achieve that until I began questioning the narcissist’s lies. From there, I was able to rewrite the narrative of who I was.

Every day, I face the lies, deception, and overall manipulation I lived with for many years. Now that the narcissist is out of my life, I am still left with the impact of their actions. I am forever altered with their image behind much of my negative self-talk.

Every aspect of my life is up for scrutiny at this point. Since the pain inflicted by the narcissist runs so deep, it makes me wonder just how much of my life was held under their thumb?

Thankfully, as each day passes, I feel the pain slowly dissipate.

Each day is a new beginning

Once you are free from a toxic relationship or narcissist, you start to question yourself. It’s so odd because I constantly worry about what I am doing, saying, and even feeling around other people.

When you have a close family member who constantly belittles, lies, cheats, and steals from you and others, it really messes with you. In a way, you have a permanent sour taste in relationships. I always find myself on high alert, looking for those subtle red flags.

Many times, I stopped talking to friends because I saw a part of the narcissist in them. Of course, I was inflating my friend’s behavior because I was still constantly under the reign of terror that the narcissistic family member brought.

I do not ever want to be in the same spot with a narcissist ever again. I’m afraid to truly interact with others because I don’t ever want to meet a person like them. It’s hard for me to feel safe and comfortable at times. I want to trust people, but it is so hard for me — it’s a mess that I am slowly untangling.

Through these challenging moments, I have gained wisdom and strength — this is what I choose to focus on.

How can I move on to a field of flowers when I’m stuck in the weeds?

How to handle the future

I take it one moment at a time. I can’t go much faster than that.

Through the years, I have sought help. I’ve gained a clearer perspective on where I want my life to go and who will be in it. Life is too short to sit in pain when you are supposed to rejoice at seeing someone.

That’s the part that makes all of this a bit more clearer — knowing that my feelings and desires matter.

No one should ever make you feel like what you want isn’t right. What you want is essential, and your feelings are important. If someone makes you feel wrong about who you are, they need to be cut out of your life; they are not worth it.

You deserve so much better than to have someone in your life making you feel terrible about yourself.

If you find yourself in my position (which I genuinely hope you are not), continue to focus on getting them out of your life if you are able. Most certainly do not listen to what they have to say — It’s not important.

Overall, narcissistic abuse is hidden in plain sight. It’s so obvious how the narcissist’s behavior was negatively impacting me, but I couldn’t see that. It’s hard to see the fog when you’re standing in it.

With distance and time, the wounds of a narcissist can be healed — hang in there.

It is terrifying to think back and wonder if my life would have been different if I hadn’t had the narcissist in my life. But with familial relationships, we aren’t always in control of who we can’t and cannot have in our life. But through this, I have learned many valuable lessons that have made me who I am today.

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Psych nerd turned freelance writer | MS in Psychology | Mom of two cats and some house plants | #MentalHealthAdvocate #BeKind

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