Love is like war: very easy to begin but very hard to stop. H.L. Menken
When we are recovering from Narcissistic Abuse, we are not just healing from a broken toxic relationship, we are recovering from warfare. We will display the same symptoms as a war veteran: physical and mental stress, isolation and detachment from life after coming back from the battle front that was the relationship. Indeed, many survivors of Narcissistic Abuse suffer from anxiety, depression as well as PTSD and we find it hard to find our place in the normal world.
I know many people sneer at this idea and think that survivors are just weaklings feeling sorry for themselves because in their mind, no breakup can be that bad. I have never fought in a military war, it is true, but I became an unsuspecting participant in a war against myself which left me emotionally battered, bruised and broken.
When I started my relationship, everything was calm and peaceful and the world was full of hope. However, things changed suddenly and my soulmate and best ally turned into my worst enemy. I thought I was engaging in a loving partnership but I was unwittingly engaging in a full out war against love and intimacy. My love story ended up in a bloody battlefield, a Waterloo of the heart and soul.
People with Narcissistic Personality Behaviour are so afraid of intimacy that, as soon as the relationship seems to be moving towards something more meaningful, they will immediately put up defences and their best line of defence is to attack. They will launch into a major offensive against what they perceive as a threat against them and their false self and the main culprit is their intimate partner. They know that they cannot keep their fake façade for long, therefore when their megalomaniac world becomes at risk of collapse, they will stop at nothing to avoid being exposed as phoneys.
They will use every weapon in their arsenal to destroy us before we destroy them. There are no boundaries. In the mind of the pathological narcissist all is fair in love and war. Love and war are the same in their twisted world. They will begin their attrition warfare. They will wear us down to the point of breakdown, while we are deploying every tactic to make them feel better. We consequently suffer many losses in our personal and material assets. We lose everything that we were and everything that we had. We become a casualty of their war against the world and their war against themselves.
Strangely enough, their attacks are so underhand that we are not aware of what is happening until it is too late and we are left fighting for survival. “All warfare is based on deception” according to Sun Tzu in his book the Art of War and this is very true for pathological narcissists. They lie continuously. We are never quite sure where we stand. Are we the ally or the enemy? Do they love us or loathe us? All the lines are blurred.
How do they do it? Well, they employ the same belligerent tactics that people use in conflict.
- Surprise attack: Everything seems to be going well in the relationship when suddenly they hit us with a Pearl Harbor style strike. After the love bombing comes the hate bombing. We are completely unprepared for the attack, so unable to defend ourselves. That way they are able to inflict major harm.
- Strategical alliances: They make allies with anyone who can serve their purpose. They recruit exes, friends, colleagues and acquaintances to join their battle against the common enemy that we become. They triangulate people to make them fight each other. They deploy the flying monkey squad to do their dirty work. Most of these people have no idea what they are being used for but they are loyal to the narcissists, whereas narcissists are only loyal to themselves and will discard them when they become obsolete.
- Divide and conquer: They isolate us from all sources of support, including our own instinct. They create cognitive dissonance, so we cannot even rely on our own support. The whole world becomes hostile to us and we have nowhere to run except back to them.
- Tactical withdrawal: if they know they are being outsmarted, that we have finally seen through them and that they are at a risk of losing, they will change their tactic, maybe even engaging in a temporary truce in order to gather further strength to strike harder later on. They lull us into a sense of peace and we think the war is finally over. They may disappear or go silent but they are still lurking in the background, waiting for the right moment to strike again.
- The final strike: When they know that they cannot win with their regular weapons, they pull out their most powerful missile on us in the aim of total destruction. They push the red button on the relationship so they appear the victors.
We wanted love but all we got was war. Love became a battlefield of emotions. Now we need to rebuild our world. It is not easy to recover from such an assault on our lives. It is hard to re-adapt to normal life after Narcissistic Abuse and not see any potential partner as a potential opponent but it can happen with time.
After war comes peace.
That is what we need to look forward to.