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.