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.