Hi. I’m Karen…not like those other “Karens” you’ve probably heard about. I try my best to be understanding and empathetic to all situations. I have been blessed with the best husband and children; Cheston, Kinslee(9), and Cotton(3). They each remind me every day of my purpose in this life and I am forever grateful to the Lord for His goodness displayed through them.

This topic, that I’ve suppressed, is really hard to talk about. I am hashing through my personal experience in hopes that it can help someone recognize, understand or leave a toxic relationship. I’ll try my best to guide you, while not turning this into a testimony.

Just to give some background- I am 29. I have been married, divorced, been a single mom, and within the last 6 years, I have found myself and my true love. This experience goes back to a time when I was young, vulnerable and just desperate for attention.
My relationship started out as any does…blissful. It’s hard to remember those times now, but thinking back, that was the word we used to describe it. We were both young, living with our parents and eager to be on our own. So, head strong and fast…we grabbed up an apartment early into dating and learned the rest as we went along. Work and home were all I knew. I lived a sheltered life leading up to this, and he experienced and enjoyed more of a party lifestyle. Like any young relationship, I thought I could “change him”, not that I wanted to at the time, but I thought, he would settle down with me. We got married on our 1-year anniversary, and less than a month later, welcomed our daughter. I thought she was the only good that came from that relationship, but now I see that I am stronger and learned so much since. Becoming a mother changed me and forced me to grow up. Parenthood didn’t have the same effect on him. The drinking continued and the abuse got worse. Around this time, it turned physical. I started being the mama bear I was called to be and was learning to stand my ground; he didn’t like that. This went on for years: he would fill my cup, periodically, only to take away from it. This is typical narcissist behavior.

Let’s dive right in- Narcissism is a disease, and he isn’t diagnosed. I’m no doctor, but I lived with it long enough to tell you that it’s toxic; nonetheless.

 Nar.cis.cic.tic- having an excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance.
They will use the following tactics to control you for their own benefit.
>>Verbal abuse: This includes accusing, belittling, blaming, bullying, criticizing, demanding, ordering, raging, sarcasm, shaming, threatening. Verbal abuse alone does not mean that you are dealing with a narcissist as verbal abuse is a gateway for many toxic behaviors.
>>Manipulation: Manipulation is the skillful words or actions of a person to get what they want. Narcissist prey on your fears, guilt, and obligation to get their needs and supply met.
>>Emotional blackmail: Emotional blackmail is another form of manipulation to make you feel fear, guilt, or doubt. They may use anger, intimidation, threats, warnings, or punishment to keep you in line. You may feel fear, obligation, or guilt.
>>Gaslighting: Gaslighting or brainwashing is the intentional act of making you distrust your views of reality or believe that you’re mentally unstable. Here are a few signs you are being gaslighted:
1. You no longer feel like the person you used to be
2. You feel like everything you do is wrong
3. You always think it’s your fault when things go wrong
4. You feel more anxious and less confident than you used to be
5. You often wonder if you’re being too sensitive
6. You often question whether your response to your partner is appropriate
7. You’re apologizing often
8. You have a sense that something’s wrong, but aren’t able to identify what it is
9. You make excuses for your partner’s behavior
>>Competition: Competing and one-upping to always be on top, sometimes through unethical means, such as cheating in a game.
>>Negative contrasting: Unnecessarily making comparisons to negatively contrast you with the narcissist or other people.
>>Sabotage: Disruptive interference with your endeavors or relationships for the purpose of revenge or personal advantage.
>>Exploitation and objectification: Using or taking advantage of you for personal ends without regard for your feelings or needs.
>>Lying: Persistent deception to avoid responsibility or to achieve the narcissist’s own ends.
>>Withholding: Withholding such things as money, sex, communication or affection from you.
>>Neglect: Ignoring the needs of a child for whom the abuser is responsible. Includes child endangerment, i.e., placing or leaving a child in a dangerous situation.
>>Privacy invasion: Ignoring your boundaries by looking through your things, phone, mail; denying your physical privacy or stalking or following you; ignoring privacy you’ve requested.
>>Character assassination or slander: Spreading malicious gossip or lies about you to other people.
>>Financial abuse: Financial abuse might include controlling you through economic domination or draining your finances through extortion, theft, manipulation, or gambling, or by accruing debt in your name or selling your personal property.
>>The stare: This is an intense stare with no feeling behind it. It is designed to scare a victim into submission and is frequently mixed with the silent treatment.
>>Silent treatment: Narcissists punish by ignoring. Then they let their victim “off the hook” by demanding an apology even though she isn’t to blame. This is to modify her behavior. They also have a history of cutting others out of their life permanently over small things.
>>Projection: They dump their issues onto their victim as if she were the one doing it. For instance, narcissistic mental abusers may accuse their spouse of lying when they have lied. Or they make her feel guilty when he is really guilty. This creates confusion.
>>Twisting: When narcissistic spouses are confronted, they will twist it around to blame their victims for their actions. They will not accept responsibility for their behavior and insist that their victim apologize to them.
>>Playing the victim card: When all else fails, the narcissist resorts to playing the victim card. This is designed to gain sympathy and further control behavior.
>>Hoovering: This term is used to describe a narcissist “sucking” someone back into a relationship, usually after a round of silent treatment.
>>Triangulation: A manipulation tactic used to try to pull a third person into an argument to change its dynamic. The narcissist’s goal of triangulation is to divide people within the argument and tip the scales in their favor.

I know... it's alot..
With all that being said, I could think of at least 1 situation for every example. Not sure why it took me 5 years to realize that I deserved more.

I filed for divorce and that made things messy. Not that they weren’t already, it was just the first official step into taking my life back. After the back and forth, and not agreeing, we finally signed. A breath of fresh air, THAT was blissful. It only lasted a short while, because codependent people, they don’t let go easily. He reeled me in with promises of change. We moved to another town together after he said the environment was to blame for tearing us apart. That didn’t help. I worked all the time to keep the bills paid, while he jumped from job to job, as he always had done. I would come home from night serving shifts to find my daughter not fed, bathed, or taken care of and him out on the porch, drunk and on the phone. I was miles from any help, any family. I felt guilty for not “working” on the relationship, all while feeling guilt for having my child in this mess. I saved up extra money, talked with friends about staying with them, and built up the strength to leave, for good. I finally seen the light. I pulled myself out of the broken promises that filled my life for far too long.

It was time to work on me, for me. I worked 2-3 jobs when I could, around my parenting schedule. I prayed a lot and found comfort in friends and family. I became stronger, for me and my daughter. I knew that I was the only person that could give her a happy mom, and I was on the path to get there. I was becoming happy. I’m not saying that it was perfect overnight, I struggled with self-image, doubt, uncertainty, withdrawal, fear, etc. I could distance from the constant yo-yo of emotions that we both become accustom to and finally learn to be ourselves.

For a narcissist, no one is ever enough. You cannot make them happy because they are not happy with themselves. You cannot change a narcissist, so it is often best to just end the relationship for your own mental health. Exiting a relationship with a narcissist can be challenging. At the end of a relationship, they may beg, make promises to change, lavish you with expensive gifts, or profess their undying love for you. But know that a narcissist never changes—they only get better at their craft. Remind yourself that you deserve better and are worthy of love.

Build your support system with family and friends. Strengthen relationships with positive people. Above all, have an exit plan, and follow these five steps:

1. Develop an Exit Plan:
Let some trusted people know what has gone on in the relationship. Prepare your children and tell them the exit plan. Keep a bag packed with important documents, a change of clothes, and other necessary items. Save some money in a bank account with only your name on the account. Stay at a family member or friend’s house that your abuser does not know. There are also other options like women’s shelters available.

2. Experience the Fog Lifting:
Once you have left your partner, you will begin to think more clearly. The anxiety and confusion will melt away over a period of days and weeks as you are beginning the deprogramming stage from the toxic abuse.

3. Remove All Contact:
To remove a narcissist from your life, it is best to have no contact at all. This includes calls, texts, social media, and events. Involving the authorities may be necessary to obtain an order of protection.

4. Practice the Grey Rock Method:
If you have children together; no contact is not an option. Grey rock is a method that you can use. It involves only necessary contact and the removal of your emotions. Avoid small talk. You only provide the narcissist with information that is essential.

5. Find Closure Through Education:
In a normal relationship one may seek closure through answers, apologies, or good-byes. Do not expect this from a narcissist as they are incapable of admitting any wrongdoing. The partner of a narcissistic must seek closure by research and education. Understanding the nature of a narcissist and narcissistic abuse can help you find closure.

I hope this helps at least 1 person muster up the strength to believe in yourself and get out.

Do you boo! I’ll be praying for you the whole way.