The devil you know
Updated: Jan 22, 2020
My mum left when I was 15, on the outside it just looked like she had had an affair and left her family behind.
Father had told me about this affair months before it became ‘public’ knowledge. Because to a narcissist waking your 15-year-old daughter up in the middle of the night to tell her, her mum is having an affair is perfectly normal behaviour. And the thing is, I don't think he did it to hurt me. I was close to mum, he did it to use me as leverage in the hope of guilt my mum in to staying.
I knew about the turmoil for months.
My two younger sisters we’re blissfully unaware of what was going on, and each time they played up, miss-behaved and basically acted like the children that they we’re, I tried desperately to sort it out. Because in addition to father telling me about mum’s affair, he also insinuated that this was our fault, because we misbehaved so much.
When mum did finally leave, she stayed at her mum’s and father decided that I should pay her a visit. I should convince her to come home and that if I couldn’t convince her to come home, then I shouldn’t blame myself.
He dropped me off, I went in and saw her smile for the first time in months. She looked happy, and I couldn’t remember the last time I heard her laugh and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t ask her to come home.
When I told father that I couldn’t bring myself to ask her. He told me I should stop blaming myself.
I remember this like it was yesterday, because it was the exact moment that my life truly turned to survival mode. Looking back, I realise now that what I was dealing with was PTSD. I coped with the anxiety with anorexia, I coped with depression through binge eating, and then bulimia followed with my plummeting self esteem and expanding waist line. Alcohol joined the fray a few years later. By 19 I had been through counselling, and for all intense and purposes ran away to work for PGL. Desperate to be valued and loved, I stayed with my first narcissistic boyfriend.
Fast forward 19 years and I'm sat in my living room having hit rock bottom face first and nursing a broken heart from another failed relationship.
When my dad dropped me off, he said ‘if you couldn’t convince mum to come home with you, you shouldn’t blame yourself.’ When I told father, I couldn’t even bring myself to ask her to come home he said ‘you should stop blaming yourself.’
It sounds the same right?
But it’s not.
The second statement suggests I have already started blaming myself because of the word stop. But before that, I shouldn’t start blaming myself.
Up until that night, I hadn’t blamed anyone for anything, I was just very upset that mum had left. After that night, not only was blame on the table, but it was sat directly in front of me, and because of father’s gas-lighting, not only did I now blame myself, but I was grateful I had ‘his support’
Messed up right?
This is a narcissist.
They hate being criticised, nothing is ever their fault, they are vein, they always manage to make the conversation about themselves, no matter what story they are telling you they always come out on top and if they don't it's because they want you to think of the as the victim. Everything is personal, appearance is everything to them and they leave a trail of wreckage wherever they go. They will also make you think you can't live without them. This is how they control you.
It has taken me a long time to recognise this behaviour and it didn't actually start with father, but someone whom at one stage in my life I considered to be my best-friend. For the purposes of this post, we shall call him Dru
When I first moved to Brighton, I only knew my sister. I had a couple of different jobs before settling into the one sector that I have pretty much been in ever since. When I started there on level 7 Dru was the first person to really reach out and make me feel welcome. Which was lovely and I was appreciative of his kindness.
What really happened was a predator sniffed out vulnerability and went in for the kill.
Dru groomed me, I was exceptionally vulnerable, not least because I was new to the city but fresh from the breakup of a 9-year relationship with another narcissist.
Dru was in his own relationship when we became friends, but almost immediately started to moan about her. My gut twitched even then because that is not a sign of respect to be bitching about your girlfriend to an almost stranger, but in all honesty, I was too lonely to listen to my instinct. Because listening to his moaning, was better than sitting on my own.
Then I got pneumonia, Miss Vulnerable on over drive because now I’m sick and poor. Working zero hours, no sick pay I was suddenly in over my head with rent and bills to pay. I had to get loans to cover this (still something I’m paying off). Whilst I was in hospital Dru broke up with his girlfriend.
A little over a month after he split up with her, we ended up becoming friends with perks and the craziest part is he worked on me enough for it to be ‘my idea’.
I was being used and I knew I was. The sad thing about this entire situation is father’s behaviour taught me that I existed as a pawn for others to be used because that is exactly what father did. So, if someone at that point in my life was to have said, Dru is using you. I’d have said, yes….and?
Dru’s friends we’re all compartmentalised. He told his ex about sleeping with me, and let her think that this may or may not have been before he split up with her, and that it was completely my doing. He then told me that his ex was a drama queen and hated me because she believed I broke them up. Tied us both up in his lies. He was telling his ex-girlfriend details about what went on physically between myself and Dru, and allowing her to get angry at me as though this is my fault. At the same time, he was telling me lies about her, designed specifically for me to get angry about it. At one point he told me I shouldn’t fall in love with him. The grooming had been ‘good/bad’ enough for me not to find that statement or the entire situation totally messed up and weird.
After a couple of years of this weirdness, I gradually begun stepping back from it. Largely because I had made other friends, one of which was my now ex.
I started noticing the difference in my energy after hanging out with Dru and hanging out with my other friends.
When I hung out with Dru, I came away from it feeling shit about myself, bored out of my skull and exhausted all at the same time. Dru is a three-trick pony – he literally has three topics of conversation and when he has exhausted all three, he starts all over again. Whilst dropping in comments and remarks that are insults disguised as complements. Slowly chipping away at you as the days/weeks/months go on.
Whereas with my real friends we talked about everything from how the universe was created, to why sweetcorn isn’t called corn off the cob. I would come away feeling good about myself, respected and exhilarated.
I was still in touch with father at this point and had stumbled on an article about narcissism on social media. I read the bullet points and was sick to my core because this list of traits was father, through and through. I continued to read.
Three hours later I came away from my research feeling utterly sick but somewhat empowered because one of the articles I read was how to handle a narcissist. If you have one in your family.
A couple of days later I connected the dots with Dru when he was rambling on about women again, more and more I was finding my voice and would call him on his behaviour, he would always flip it, it was never his fault and he would say something hurtful towards me. Normally I would tell him, that he hurt my feelings and why and he would tell me not to be so sensitive.
This time I didn’t.
I had clocked the two women he had been peacocking since our arrival at the coffee shop (by the way this is the only reason he ever left the house, was to sit in a coffee shop and flex his muscles in the general direction of every person with a vagina.) and instead I said ‘oh Dru, those two girls just heard what you said to me, they don’t look very impressed in fact that look quite disgusted.’ He immediately apologised.
For the best part of two years, this man had never once just outwardly apologised for anything he ever did or said at best he would say ‘I’m sorry you took what I said that way’ which is not apologising. The article said that this would work because the only thing narcissist's care about is appearance and appearing like a good person.
I backed off almost entirely, until my boyfriend went away to Dubai and I was suddenly in a long-distance relationship for three months and it hurt.
That first week was just horrible, I don’t know how I kept my shit together enough to go in to work, or why I even bothered since I spent most of that first week crying in the toilets.
On the Friday I had agreed to meet up with Dru for lunch.
I stupidly hoped that he would be comforting, be my friend. This thought was doubly stupid because from the moment my ex and I had got together he was an utter shithead about it.
It started with Dru attempting to constantly refer to my ex as ‘him’ instead of by his name.
Then about a week into my new romance and Dru said ‘it won’t last, he will find someone better.’ A few weeks after this he tried to get me to compare dick sizes. (I wish I was kidding). A couple of months into my relationship and he insinuated that if I hadn’t talked to ‘him’ about us being exclusive then he would obviously sleep with other women and I would be upset but I couldn’t be angry because I hadn’t talked to him about being exclusive.’ Every single time he said this stuff, it just blew my mind so much that I didn’t say anything in response. Dru’s comments continued to escalate. And each one was more outrageous than the last, at first, I hadn’t said anything out of sheer astonishment. But as time went on, I came to realise that my silence was my power because by saying nothing it was not validating his bullshit.
Sadly, I believed some of it and one of my biggest regrets with my ex was not having the courage to talk. To say when things we’re upsetting me, but I was so worried about this idea of my not being good enough that he would have just dumped me on the spot.
It’s stupid, because my ex is not like that and he never thought that. Dru’s words poisoned me.
Back to that Friday, Dru and I were talking about hair for some reason and I mentioned that I was taking the opportunity of my boyfriend being away to grow me body hair over the winter and try waxing for the first time before he got home. Before I finished my sentence Dru interrupted me to say ‘don’t grow your body hair, you never know you might be out on a Saturday night, in a club having had some wine and meet the love of your life you won’t want to be hairy when you sleep with him.’ This was said literally moments after I nearly cried when Dru asked me if I missed my boyfriend.
It was the final straw. On my way back to work, I thought about what he said, at the time I was so stunned the only thing I could manage to say was ‘he is the love of my life’. At that point I 100% believed I was already with the love of my life, had already met and was with the man I was going to grow old with. To suggest that he wasn’t. To suggest that all it would take for me to have the capacity to cheat was a couple of glasses of wine.
I was done.
I cut ties with Dru that night.
He let rip on me and said some very horrible things. Arguing with a narcissist is like being arrested, everything you say will be used against you.
I blocked him. Six months later I cut father out too.
Blood or not, when you have someone in your life that instigates PTSD, you have the right to walk away.
They are poison and I have spent so many years being poisoned by them, never again.
Never again will allow anyone to take away my power.