My Arguments with a Narcissist

If you’ve ever argued with a narcissist, you’ve probably noticed the conversation is a continuous circle that always comes back to how every thing is your fault. It doesn’t matter how hard to you try to steer it into a logical direction, it will always get derailed. Unfortunately, my ex-husband spent time as a police officer and part of his training involved something called Verbal Judo. It’s purpose is to de-esclate a situation and combat abusive verbal behavior. Now think about a narcissist with this “power” except it’s not being used to de-escalate. One technique used in verbal judo is Deflecting, changing topic or focus as a means of avoiding disagreement or negative reaction. Again, deflecting was always used to place blame back on me. This “skill” only inflated his ego and he thought of himself as an expert at aruging. He would often tell me so in the middle of arguements, “why don’t you just give up, you know i’m a better arguer than you”.

The times that I pushed through the verbal garbage only opened me up to the more agressive tactics on his part. Here is where the name calling would come in, the yelling, extreme emotions, threats, all in an effort to deflect from the argument. This is the tactic that would always hit me emotionally. I broke 90% of the time when we would reach this part of the argument. His go-to seemed to be a combo of name-calling and attacking my intelligence. If I didn’t understand his “logic” I’d often hear, “How do you not understand, college girl!?” (I’m a college graduate and he’s not.) This is also the time when anything that I shared with him that was related to a mistake I had made or bad thing I had done was used against me. It would be thrown in my face to emphasize how I’m not perfect and shouldn’t judge him for any faults. These past life mistakes I had made of course were in no way relevant to the argument, whatever it was about because at this point you’re totally lost. They were only used against me to break me emotionally. Every piece of your life that you have shared with this person will be used against you, every single piece.

The emotion that would pour out of me during these attacks seemed to spark a fire in his eyes. I almost felt like I could see it sometimes, a little flicker of a flame. My sobs and begging for him to stop would only feed the fire. I became aware of it at some point and that would only make me sob harder. I finally knew it was intentional on his part. The thought of that coupled with realizing this person didn’t really love me was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through.

The 10% of arguments where I held my emotions together, I would attempt to explain that his approach during arguments was the problem. (I was often bereated for reacting emotionally.) The name-calling, the yelling, the mocking, the insults all prevented from getting the “issue” resolved. Sadly, it took me a long time to figure out that the “issue” was total bullshit. He wasn’t capable of emphathizing with the emotional impact it had on me. These arguments are what fueled him. It’s like a parasite and a host, it feeds of the host, slowly sucking the life from it. And all I was doing was handing over a buffet on a regular basis.

All of this breeds self-censorship and you start to silence your own thoughts, feelings and opinions. Keeping it all inside makes the fights shorter and the emotional blows bounce off the surface a tad easier. Then you start to tailor your responses because you think it will make him stop sooner. Over time you don’t even know what your natural response or thought would be. You’ve conditioned yourself to think this way.

It the end, for him the purpose of arguing was not to resolve issues but rather to just win. It was his way of dominating the relationship, emphasizing the control he had and exhibiting his “intelligence.” It worked for a very long time, 13 years to be exact but one day I finally woke up and decided I needed to fight back. A year later and I’m still working on forming my natural responses and opinions. I sometimes still have a fear of rejection when expressing them but I do my best to push through. Now that I’ve surrounded myself with healthy minded people, I’m able to work throught it.

My Experience with Reactive Abuse

I recently realized that a large part of my relationship with my ex-husband involved reactive abuse. I think a lot of people in relationships argue and sometimes attempt to push each other’s buttons. For me, having my buttons pushed was constant. I would endure, endure, endure until it built up into an explosion. My ex-husband used this as the perfect opportunity to convince me I was the abusive one in the relationship. 

It’s important to share what I endured repeatedly before each explosion. It was a mountain of bullshit to be blunt about it. The name calling was at the forefront for many years. That was usually the first button to get pushed repeatedly. Crazy bitch was a very popular one but when he really wanted to kick it up a notch, it was cunt. For awhile there I contemplated having my driver’s license changed to my “official” name. (My sarcasm was never appreciated in this relationship.) Sometimes this would knock me out in the first round. Over time, I learned to endure the name calling. Unfortunately, this only caused more pushing on his part. He had to throw other things into the mix.

There were always complaints about how I did things, how I thought, my reaction to things. He would start picking at these things when I didn’t react to name calling. Often those complaints followed with a “what’s wrong with you?!?” His convinction during all this seemed so real.

The end result of all this usually ended in me sobbing, begging for him to please stop. I spent many evenings crawled up in a ball in my walk-in closet. But it’s like this only fueled his fire. Now enters the looks of disgust, shouting for me to grow up and get over it, or that I was weak. There were times that he would mimic my sobs, even try to mimic whatever agonized expression I had on my face. “Stop crying, it’s not like I’m beating you! You act like an abused wife!”

There were days where this would “beat me” into silence and other days where I would lash out. The pain was devastating and sometimes I would get this energy to throw back some hateful words or literally throw an object in his direction. You would think this would make him say, hey, wait, I went way too far, I’ve obviously hurt her badly, she doesn’t normally chuck a remote control at my head.  But, no. This is the part where I would be told that I was crazy. How dare I throw things at him, how dare I say horrible things to him, etc. It was a fucking nightmare. A sick game of reverse psychology that was CONSTANT. 

And when your soul is completly worn down and you’re told that you’re crazy for a long time, you start to believe it. I thought I needed therapy. (Granted I did but for completly different reasons.) I spent hours analyzing MY behavior in these situations and wondering if it was me that was mentally ill. It was always his expressions that would make me doubt myself. The “hurt” caused by my retaliating words always seemed so real. I would work ideas in my head on how to handle the next battle. I would tell myself well maybe if you do this differently, you won’t start this. I THOUGHT I WAS CAUSING ALL THIS DRAMA.

There were moments were I felt like my head was going to explode. I would try to run out of the house to my car to have the door blocked and my keys taken. Telling me to calm down and stop being crazy. That I would cause for the police to be called. When I was only running from the attack, just trying to find a moment’s peace. 

This abuse made me physically ill. I would sob so hard sometimes that my head would pound or I would vomit. It exhausted me, made my stomach ache and took away my ability to concentrate. The pain caused by this behavior is such a real thing that not only does it manifest itself emotionally and mentally but physically as well. 

It’s been over a year since I exited the relationship. I don’t get tension headaches 3 times a week, hey, or even sob anymore. I have yet to curl into a sobbing ball in my new closet. I’m pretty proud of that. Also, I sleep now. Real sleep! It’s pretty fucking magical.  

I would loveee to hear about other people’s experiences with reactive abuse. I’ve found that it’s healing to hear that others have experienced the same craziness. When you’re caught in a relationship like this, at least in my case, you are humiliated to tell anyone about the awful details. Please share and thank you for reading!!