By Arjun Awasthi:
He kicked me as I held on to his leg, begging him not to leave me. This was just within the first three months of our relationship. I ran after him on the street, pleading with him, wiping the tears streaming down from my eyes. He looked at me once – a steely glance – a look full of disgust, and walked away.
This was over a text conversation he read on my computer that I had with my friend, where I described how I felt like I should break up with him, my then-boyfriend. I didn’t want to tell her in the messages that I was scared of how attached he already was, and that I didn’t like the fact that he would lie to me, or convince me that my version of a story was not what actually happened. He was snooping.
He wanted to find something, anything, that would prove to him that I didn’t love him and I didn’t want to be with him. This was the extent of his paranoia surrounding me.
There were several instances and several signs that I should have paid attention to. I guess I did pay attention but chose to avoid them because I wanted to stay in love. When the times were good, they were beyond phenomenal. One time, after a fight, he came over to my house with a bouquet of my favourite flowers. Another time, he handmade a book with stickers representing 100 things that he loved about me, and then for birthdays, there were multiple gifts.
I asked him why he didn’t compliment me when we were happy, and why he only said things to me that made me feel wanted when we were fighting or upset. He was silent. I knew that I was in love with a narcissist, but I didn’t want to accept it. Because, honestly, I don’t think he knew consciously that he was one either.
We would fight constantly, over the pettiest and most ridiculous things. I remember getting upset at him once for saying ‘thanks’ instead of ‘thank you’ in a text message, and thinking that I had lost my mind. He was caught up in the semantics of it, whereas I had a deeper reason to feel upset – I was feeling dismissed. This was close to our breakup, and when I knew things were going downhill.
I figured out that he had an online dating profile, and he was seeing other men beside me. There were hundreds of messages. I confronted him regarding the messages. He hugged me, apologised, cried, and said that he only did this because he was afraid that I could walk out any moment. He told me that I get too angry at him. In hindsight, I realise that I got angry at moments when I felt like I was being distrusted, humiliated, or when I needed to defend myself. I felt fragile in the relationship, and I tried many times to walk out. He would always come back and apologise.
One day he told me that if I walked out this time, he wouldn’t come back for me. I knew that he wouldn’t come back, and I made peace with this thought and walked away. I knew that the only reason he was saying that was because he was over me. The flavour of the season was not his favourite anymore and he needed a new toy to hang on to his shoulder.
I’m not denying that his sadness or unhappiness with me was genuine. I’m just doubtful of the authenticity of the love he felt for me. I feel as though he convinced himself to love me.
In any case, I had already seen too much, experienced too much, and had been emotionally toyed with to the point where I couldn’t date anyone for the two years following our breakup. I am still trying to heal my wounds.
This is what abuse looks like. It can happen in any relationship. You could be gay, straight, bi, be siblings, or even have a relationship like this with a parent. You have to be aware of people who have narcissistic tendencies and try to stay away from them if you can. Be kind to yourself. If you are currently going through abuse, make a plan to get out, and finally forgive yourself after you extricate yourself from a situation like this. This was not your fault. You are worth so much more than what someone considered you to be. Love yourself, and love yourself deeply.
This post was first published here.