When I first started recovering from years of mental and verbal abuse, I loathed talking about it. Who wants to admit they were stupid enough to fall victim to an abuser? It’s humiliating to endure the voice in your own head condemning you for allowing it to continue to happen for so many years without doing anything to stop it. In fact, you encouraged it by apologizing for stuff that wasn’t your fault and going back again and again to beg the abuser to stay in your life. Who needs that as a legacy, right? So I didn’t talk about it and not talking about it meant the only help I was getting was whatever I could dig up in secret.
Then one day the right person encouraged me to start telling my story, and I did. Once I got started it was like a long dormant volcano erupting. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and I published all of it on a blog for public consumption. I figured that I wasn’t the only one suffering at the hands of a malignant narcissist, and boy was I right! There are millions of you guys out there and all of you have a story that reads almost exactly like mine did.
But I still kept the secrets, even while telling my story. I changed names in the story so I wouldn’t be identifying people and I was very vague about connections and relationships. I wasn’t interested in embarrassing anyone. Even though they had abused me in heinous ways, I still did not want to reveal them to my other friends. So I stayed silent about them.
That was the next hurdle I had to leap over. Along with the folks in recovery from abuse reading my accounts, there were also the narcissists; to be more precise about that…the narcissists that abused me. They were navigating the Internet to visit my blog and reading my stuff!
I watched as new stats lit up with their hometowns and then I watched as certain posts got hit over and over and over again, nasty comments were left and the abuse took a new and menacing twist. I suffered even more abuse when they took their agenda further with this new savvy tech.
In my writing I never used their names, so they were not directly identified, but the new blog visitors were so familiar with what they had done to me and how it had all played out that they owned every single word I wrote. They railed against me with mean comments and sent threatening emails. When I first discovered the sneaky bastards it was unsettling to know they were reading my words and taking great pains to try to silence me with bullying tactics that had always worked before. What they failed to see was how much stronger and well-informed I had become and the old ways they were accustomed to would no longer work. I didn’t have to react anymore and so I didn’t.
It was when one of them started publicly responding to my posts on Facebook that I realized I also had a legal leg to stand on. Some of their abusive online habits are now called cyberstalking and it’s illegal. Yes, the law is on our side now!
After being gaslighted by them for years, I realized they had validated me over and over again with their obsessive visits to read my posts and their vindictive and embittered reactions online. The abuse wasn’t something I had imagined. It happened and they owned it by reacting.
They say we are only as sick as the secrets we keep and I believe that. Once I found my own voice and sat down to start telling my side of the story, the bully lost their terrifying grip on my soul. Those people that stay in the shadows lurking around trying to find those few morsels they think might hurt us are simply cowards and there’s nothing secret about that anymore.
I don’t recommend keeping secrets about monsters and I definitely don’t recommend suffering in silence. With today’s technology you have all kinds of venues readily available to find your own voice and legally tell your story, find others that are going through the same thing or seek information and help that can help you move on and live your best life.
You can find this and many other entries about living with and recovering from narcissistic abuse in my book, Life After the Narcissist written by Katy Shultz. Available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com and all fine retailers.