From a young age, I’ve always wanted to have a fairy tale ending. The one where you just so happened to meet someone who relates to you a little too well, he sweeps you off your feet, you get married and grow old together. I wanted it so bad, in fact, that I allowed myself to fall in one of the most destructive and toxic situationships I’ve ever experienced in my life.

What made matters worse was that this entire experience only lasted 7-8 months but impacted my life for six more years after it was over. The man I was involved with was manipulative and preyed on my innocence. There were many times I found myself looking in the mirror and not recognizing the woman staring back at me. Why would I allow myself to be controlled this way? What makes him so special that he deserves to flip my world upside down? After doing some research, I realized that this was bigger than me.

Empaths Attract Narcissits

I didn’t realize until years later that I could be considered an empath. Once I understood the relationship between empaths and narcissists, I was able to feel a sense of clarity.

The relationship between an empath and a narcissist is parasitic. One is a giver while the other takes as much as they can, leaving them with nothing in their cup to pour from. If you think about it, an empath is a narcissist’s dream partner. They thrive off of people who will fulfill their needs selflessly, which the empath does to their detriment.

In an article by therapist, Silvi Saxena, she beautifully draws the picture of the attraction narcissists have to empaths. In some cases this unbalanced relationship stems from childhood. The empath may have had a narcissistic parent or encountered emotional neglect in their lives which taught them that love is conditional. This then creates a fire inside them to be validated and work (hard) to get that love from a narcissist.

When [empaths] meet a narcissist, the energy they sense triggers something in them that ignites their need to comfort the narcissist, beginning the cycle of narcissistic supply.”

-Silvi Saxena, MBA, MSW, LSW, CCTP, OSW-C

At the time that I started dating this person, I had never been to a single therapy session in my life. I never addressed any of the traumas I’ve endured throughout my childhood and he could just sense that on me. The lack of power and control I had over my life was a pungent smell that I reeked of, that was intoxicating to him.

I Allowed So Much And Set No Boundaries

The year was 2016. I just graduated college and completely uprooted the life I lived at my illustrious HBCU for years. I was facing post-grad depression, student loans, leaving all of my friends and trying to find who I was now that I am officially an adult. Then I met him.

At first, it seemed like a dream come true. He and I had similar upbringings; his father was a retired veteran like mine, we shared the same birthday (a big red flag in itself but we can talk astrology later) and our family dynamics were so similar. He was the only man I have had interest in whose parents were still together, like mine. This indicated to me that he knew what it meant to have a healthy family dynamic, which I wanted.

Then everything turned sour. I was often gaslighted for issues I brought up with the way he treated me, as if it was directly the cause of something I did. He would be inconsistent with showing me attention; some days giving me all the love and affection and other days he’d barely text me. There were countless times where he would show me off to his friends, as if I were a trophy and then dismiss me when we’d leave that setting. All in an effort to string me along and “keep me on my toes.” 

What’s most embarrassing about the treatment was that I fell for it all. I thought that I was doing something wrong every step of the way and if I couldn’t get my act together, I’d lose out on the best thing that has happened to me. He would dangle the idea of making me his official girlfriend in my face as much as he could. It made me want to put in overtime to make him happy so I could get the “prize” of being his girlfriend. I yearned for his attention. Stockholm Syndrome at its finest. He was my abuser and all I wanted to do was work hard for his validation, I wanted him to love me solely because he showed me time and time again that he didn’t.

I was manipulated, used and exploited and I finally decided enough was enough.

It Was Time I Lived For Me

After many months of being dragged along I finally released myself from his grip but it didn’t come easy. After an episode where he publicly embarrassed me, I acted out of character. I drove over an hour to where he was in the middle of the night. When I didn’t find him where he said he was going to be, I left voicemails on his phone cursing at him and wishing death on him (which is something I was ashamed of because I know how powerful the tongue is.) The next morning I woke up and realized that this has gotten out of hand. I was disgusted with myself and couldn’t recognize who I was anymore. I called him and apologized to him then told him this would be the last time we spoke.

At that moment I decided to take my life back. I have never looked back. I started to look inward and reflect on my life’s choices. Finding the peace and joy in life’s littlest pleasures would often remind me that there is more to this world than the issues I have in the moment. I began making decisions that benefitted me. I started to go to therapy, I began reading more, I started to do yoga and meditate more often. I also decided to get back in the gym and really focus on rounding myself out to be a better human inside and out.

After six years, I still find myself reacting to unsolved traumas that he sparked in me that I never know I have until the opportunity presents itself. But overall, I am in a better space. I know the signs of a narcissist and refuse to engage with lovers who have those traits. I am stronger now, I am smarter now and I am in control of myself.

I am grateful for his influence in my life. Although I wish I didn’t have to go through hell, I think I’ve found my peace in knowing that I am better because of it.