We all reach a stage with divorce from a Narcissist when we think like this: What is wrong with me? Was I just stupid not to see this? Why did I stay? I even know a man who expressed this to me while in a state of shock over his wife's narcissism that, "I just feel stupid." You are still struggling to overcome what he did to you. Years of being controlled will not simply disappear because he has. You have been gaslighted, and it's still at work in your head. It is corrosive both in and after the marriage.
After my husband left, I was still afraid to hang a picture on the wall, lest he not like it. I would stand in the closet thinking: what should I wear? He always liked those blue pants. It's an awful thing. It's hard to heal. He chose you, and groomed you. Had you ever known about narcissists before? How could you see what you didn't know existed? How to have a defense against the 'dark arts' when you don't even see them?
Why did he choose you? Not because you are in any way broken; far from it. He chose you because you are the sort of person capable of writing that essay. You have all the emotional depth he lacks. You are one of the 'perfect sources.' That's a wonderful thing--to be kind, loving, forgiving. But it is an exploitable thing as well. And he DID himself try to break you. (And failed.) I started to fall in love with my husband on our first date: I couldn't believe how much we saw eye-to-eye on things, had so much in common.
He was wonderful, and charming. And I now know, explicitly, from other women, horrifically manipulative. He has used the same techniques: oh, I love dogs too! You grew up in the country? I lived with my aunt on the farm every summer - lies, every single thing. Grooming. He simply held up a mirror. That nonsense of "it takes two to tango," implies that the victims of a narcissist are to blame for what happened to them. They are NOT. It is NOT codependency. It is abuse, pure and simple.
We don't suggest that abused children are codependent. Neither are abused women. Only people who have never been victims can think like that. If he'd broken your leg would they say that? Emotional abuse is just as bad, worse, it takes longer to heal, and always, always leaves big scars. But, since they will blame us, and we are trained to believe what they tell us we think or feel, or to believe their version of reality, we will question ourselves, feel guilty, find fault with ourselves. It's a habit. If you train your dog to shake hands, even if you die, he will remember how to shake hands, especially if he loved you and wanted to please you.
To survive, we may develop coping mechanisms and thought processes. That's creative, not pathological. "Well, that was mean of him to say. But he is taking me out to dinner tonight." "He gave me this bracelet! He loves me! So forgetting my birthday was just a glitch." Some of us develop PTSD: this is also a hard-wired defense mechanism. Whatever it is, just remember, you will pass through this painful stage. As Churchill said: When you are going through Hell, keep going. You are all doing great. You really are. BIG hug.
(originally posted by a member of our community)