Creeping normality

Creeping normality is the way a major change can be accepted as the normal situation if it happens slowly, in unnoticed increments.  Wikipedia

I can’t recall how many times I have been asked why I didn’t leave him when he was abusing me but my answer is always the same: I DID NOT KNOW I WAS BEING ABUSED AND THAT IS WHY I DID NOT LEAVE!

Unlike physical or sexual abuse, psychological abuse such as Narcissistic Abuse is sometimes hard to identify. Very often because the abuse happens gradually and incrementally, so goes unnoticed until the victim is totally beaten and broken.

Have you ever heard of the Boiling Frog Fable? Apparently, if you put a frog in a pan of boiling water, it will immediately jump out. However, if you put the same frog in a pan of cold water and turn on the heat slowly, the frog will not realise the danger and will cook to death.

Although this story probably has no scientific truth, it is a good metaphor that can be applied to narcissistic abuse. Many victims of Narcissistic abuse are unaware that they are being abused, because the changes in their partner’s behaviour happens gradually and not suddenly.  Narcissists do not metamorphose abruptly. They slowly change from affectionate partner to inconsiderate brute luring their victims into a false sense of safety.

This was very true for me. I did not perceive the danger I was in and let myself almost be cooked to death. More than often, he was rationalising his conduct and so was I.

I felt sorry for him because of the abuse he had suffered during his childhood. I thought he was just insensitive because he had not been taught how to emotionally relate to people. I thought that he was not used to being in a long-term relationship and that he would learn in time.

As well as rationalising, I was normalising all the abusive occurences, because they appeared trivial and did not seem to be nefarious. The abuse was growing at an exponential rate, but I was completely unaware of the fact. I had slowly adapted to the abusive environment I was in and everything looked to be normal.

He constantly contacted his ex-girlfriends. That was normal. He locked himself in the toilet, to text people. That was normal. After being an open book, he appeared to be becoming more and more secretive. That was normal. After all, we need to respect each other’s privacy. He came back from work later and later, even though he had no clients and was not earning money. That was normal. I paid for everything. That was normal…. Abuse had become the normality. It had crept slowly into my life without me noticing.

Fortunately I did not actually boil to death, thanks to the people who opened my eyes and I am I still here to tell the tale.

10 comments

  1. I hate that people ask that question. It’s so crass. There is so much to consider when leaving someone, especially a narcissist. The frog metaphor is used quite often in explaining narcissistic abuse, and it’s so fitting. Often the narcissist plays the perfect catch, loving, caring, and compassionate. Until you have nothing left to give. My experience with a narcissist has taught me that they bait and switch quite often. For a while they may appear to have changed, and then things return to the narcissistic tendencies that once were. I think that’s got a lot to do with it… It has a way of leaving an individual second guessing their reality, and trying to understand the subtle abuse, becoming more and more confused.

    With my encounters of narcissists, one of the main characteristics and behaviors I’ve seen most is the act of finding someone who is exactly opposite of them, down and out, the narcissist plays the saving grace while simultaneously rooting feelings of expectation and grandiose appriciation. Once the target of the narcissist is back on their feet or stable, no longer requiring the “assistance” that the narcissist has convinced the target they needed – often this is due to the target realizing that they are in debt to the narcissist. This is the Narcissist’s plan. From then on, even when the targeted individual has become aware of the abuse, the narcissist continues to remind the target of how indebted they are to them for “all they’ve done”.
    The mental games are unbearable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The mental games are indeed runbearable and very destructive. You are right about opposites. I don’t think that we had anything in common. It seemed that he only helped me get better, only to tear me town afterwards. It took me a long time to realise that. Thankfully it’s all in the past now.

      Liked by 1 person

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