“If you have never experienced the negative force of narcissistic abuse, you will not understand how crippling the aftermath of their impact can be.”

Imagine you’re going out to dinner with your partner. They will be picking you up after work, on the way to the restaurant.

You take the time to get ready, fixing your long hair, putting some makeup on, and wearing that nice wraparound dress they bought you, even though you hate it.

The phone dings with a text message. He’s outside. After so many years together, you’re used to the logistics of date night.

You get in the car, sit down, and try to say hello, but you can’t. He’s staring at you.

“What’s wrong with your face?” he says. “Nothing, why? I just put a little makeup on,” you reply.

“Looks like you should’ve put a little more. And maybe cut that hair, you look like a redneck farmer’s wife,” he adds.

You sigh but don’t reply, knowing that anything you say will turn into an attack on you.

This is just one mild example of what life with a narcissist feels like. It can impact your emotional and physical state and make you feel as if your own life is drowning you.

Breaking free from a relationship with a narcissist can be very challenging, and long after you have released from their grip and control, the side effects of narcissistic abuse linger around. The effect that constant criticism of your every thought can have in your life will steal your ability to see and enjoy life from your own lens.

Narcissistic abusers are dangerous and they are everywhere, masked under the many disguises they are masters at wearing. Don’t be fooled and don’t fall trap to their command. Behind that thick layer of over confidence lies a deeply insecure person with a serious sense of entitlement that only manifests against others, in subtle ways, and never enough to give it away.

Whether you are stuck dealing with a narcissist without any chance of extricating yourself from the situation, or you have managed to free yourself from their sway, seeing or having to speak with this person can trigger negative responses of fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, and other rather difficult to deal emotions and feelings.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be direct contact with the narcissist. You could see a car similar to the one the narcissistic abuser drives and that could trigger a negative response. It could be that someone at the supermarket looks just like them and that could activate an unpleasant response.

Regardless, the impact of narcissistic abuse is dreadful because it makes you feel as if you should be punished for being yourself, long after they’re gone from your life.

Narcissistic abusers will make you feel as if you cannot live a full and meaningful life as long as you choose to be yourself, or unless you are in a relationship with them. After all, if you don’t act, think, and breathe like them, you’re not worthy.

A narcissistic abuser will have endless circular arguments with you, most of the time leaving your head spinning and attacking your self-esteem.

Arguments with a narcissist are always lost words because the narcissist will always expect to win and will get defensive if you try to make a point. After all, your point of view doesn’t matter to them, and it never will.

To everyone out there currently jailed by the physical and emotional hold of a narcissist, please learn to recognize behaviors and feelings that serve as red flags. Knowledge is power and knowing how they behave will help you understand that you are the victim of narcissistic abuse.

Red Flags: Indicators of Narcissistic Abuse

In the beginning of a relationship, narcissists will give the impression of being quite pleasant and magnetic. Their charisma is almost entrapping, and they always have the right answers and know what to say to make you feel “special.”

But as the relationship progresses and becomes more established, the victim may start to see strong indicators that something is just not right with this person.

So, how can you catch a narcissist before they completely absorb your life? Here are some things to consider.

· Their sense of entitlement is perfectly masked under a cloud of over-confidence.

· Their body language and tone of voice are contradicting to their seemingly innocent statements. Their words are nice, but their body looks mad.

· They possess a sense of superiority, always being highly critical and judgmental of what others do, wear, think, or where they live.

· They have serious boundary issues and frequently invade your privacy, personal space, and belongings, often taking things they have gifted you away as a form of control and punishment. As long as you are with them, material possessions you are given are yours, but if you leave them, they take everything away, as if nothing was ever yours.

· Their rule system can have double or triple standards. They have rules that only apply to them and nobody else, and rules that apply to others but they don’t have to follow. What they do is always right and others always act wrong.

· They lack empathy and can never see things from the perspective of others because, after all, everyone else is wrong.

· Their compliments sound more like a reprimand from your sports coach.

· They are highly sensitive to criticism or even suggestions and recommendations from others.

These are just a few warning signs. As your relationship moves forward, be on the lookout for a variety of indicators that you are involved with a narcissist.

It could be that you start spotting bigger lies than the ones told at the beginning of the relationship, or perhaps you realize they’re constantly lying to friends and acquaintances. Remember that confronting a narcissist about this can backfire. Chances are you won’t get a straight answer about their lies and you will instead be wrongfully accused of being the liar.

You could find yourself having to ask for permission to do basic things, such as go out with your friends or spend money on something. Or maybe you have to sit down and answer to every single charge on the credit card, as if you’re a child who has gone over their monthly allowance.

Narcissists need to control everything, from where you go to what you do, from who you are friends with to what you eat. They will find a way to constantly be breathing down your neck, always interrogating you about your whereabouts and company.

Some narcissists are so malignant that they will install cameras wherever possible so that they can control every aspect of your life from wherever they’re located.

Regardless of what you start to notice, remember not to argue or try to raise issues with them. Raising questions about their behavior can turn into circular arguments that will only make you feel as if you’re at fault for something you haven’t done, said, or even thought about.

Arguments with narcissists are emotionally battering and deeply confusing because there is never a resolution to the issue at hand. After all, the only issue is that you’re raising any questions about their behavior.

You will never win an argument with a narcissist because they always have the last word, the best and most logical answer, and you will only be the victim of more gaslighting.

A relationship with a narcissist will always be one sided, you will always be doing all the giving, what you do will never be enough, no matter what you are always wrong, and you will constantly feel as if you’re walking barefooted on broken glass.

Narcissists will use every opportunity they have and use manipulation techniques to exploit your faults and weaknesses against you. As the relationship progresses, you will feel inadequate, always at fault, and just all around broken. They make you feel as if nobody else could love you. Only them.

Eventually, you will realize that you have been separated from your family and friends because of their control. They will lie about everything and prevent you from contacting your loved ones using guilt trips, threats, more gaslighting, or simply make you feel bad about wanting to spend time with others.

Life After Narcissistic Grip

It’s important to know and understand the impact that living with a narcissist can have on your overall well-being. Staying in a relationship with this type of person can have serious negative psychological effects on the way you view yourself.

Long after I broke free from my prison of control, I still found myself doubting everything. I didn’t know who I was or who I was supposed to be without their constant and vigilant eye.

I doubted my thoughts, my actions, and even my love for others. I distrusted my friends and choices, and even my ability to live a normal life.

But the biggest impact this type of relationship had on me was feeling as if everything I did was wrong, all the time.

· I frequently questioned whether I could have a second glass of wine, because this had been an issue for him.

· I wondered if I was dressed properly, or if my haircut and makeup were sufficient.

· I often wondered if the intentions of others were good and whether they could be trusted.

· I worried (a lot) about what others thought about me and how I was perceived.

· I even had a difficult time buying towels for my house because I worried they wouldn’t be liked.

· I had a difficult time forming genuine and lasting relationships with others because I constantly doubted my worthiness.

My life with a narcissist left deep scars in my life. It took some time and lots of work for me to come to terms with the fact that not everything I thought was bad, that not everything I did or said was wrong, and that being able to be myself was all I ever wanted.

From the heart I tell you, a relationship with a narcissist will never work. Their attitude will always show that they know best, that their way is the right way, that their life is the correct one to live, and that their family is the only one worthy of attention.

If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, find a way to escape before you lose your sense of individuality or get lost in their reality.

The aftermath of narcissistic abuse can be quite challenging to deal with, and it will take you a long time to realize that being you is not bad after all.

Remember, there are millions of other people out there who would love and accept you just the way you are. You don’t have to change who you are to be loved and you definitely don’t have to be like someone else to be accepted.

Knowledge is power.

Diana Giorgetti
Diana Giorgetti

Diana Giorgetti is a multiple trauma survivor, author, idea brewer, problem solver, professional freelancer, and web-designer. A graduate of the University of Miami and Nova Southeastern University with degrees in Psychology and Education Law, she is passionate about helping others, scuba diving, and writing (though not necessarily in that order). She lives in Miami, Florida with her two children and three dogs. She is the author of "The Fundamentals of PTSD: A Guide to Disemboweling the Disorder and Reclaiming Your Life," "PTSD & Relationships: A Survival Guide to Love and Be Loved," and "The PTSD Warrior Healing Mindset: Changes in Habits and Routines to Help Retrain the Brain After Trauma," and she's working on her fourth self-help book. You can find Diana's books on Amazon: amazon.com/author/dianahelps