The hardest events in our life can make us the strongest if we choose to learn from them.
When I was younger I entered into a relationship that completely changed my life.
While dating a narcissist I endured abuse, invalidation, gaslighting, projecting, blaming, and shaming. I left that relationship a shell of my former self. I was completely broken and lost.
For a moment I wanted to sink into the depths of despair. But I didn’t.
I ended up getting back up and although the aftermath was crushing, I learned so much from it that shaped the woman I am today.
Here are the five lessons I learned from dating a narcissist.
#1. Love doesn’t happen in an instant
Growing up I was a hopeless romantic. For as long as I can remember I believed that my life would be complete once I met my “soulmate.”
When I met the narcissist I was swept off my feet. My fantasies were coming true with someone that was proclaiming their love for me within a couple of weeks and telling me that I was everything he had ever wanted.
The reality is that love doesn’t happen in an instant and what you think is love during the love-bombing at the beginning of a relationship is really just infatuation.
It wasn’t until much later in life that I learned a healthy relationship doesn’t start with someone declaring you their soulmate right away.
#2. I had no personal boundaries
Now, I am certainly not to blame for someone emotionally and physically abusing me. That falls entirely on my abuser.
However, I do have to take responsibility for the people and behaviors that I allow in my life.
For a long time, I allowed very toxic people into my life. Friendships would be one-sided with people who would emotionally drain me and relationships would start out great and end up being extremely harmful because I didn’t pay attention to the red flags.
Because I didn’t have boundaries the narcissist was able to waltz into my life extremely easy because he knew he had full control over me.
#3. I had struggled with codependency since childhood
I have come to learn that almost everything that we bring into our adult lives can be traced back to our childhood.
I grew up feeling unsupported and unseen so I became dependent on my romantic relationships.
My codependency wasn’t obvious because I wasn’t needy or clingy. Instead, I needed other people to feel valued, and I needed someone else to validate me because I didn’t provide that for myself.
It wasn’t until the end of my relationship with the narcissist that I realized how detrimental my codependency was to myself and my relationships.
#4. There are people who truly lack any empathy
Before dating the narcissist I had always managed to find the good/kindness in people even when there seemed to be hardly any.
That experience taught me that there truly is a subset of the population who lack any empathy.
From the time we are young we are taught to “find the good” in everyone we meet. However, this prevents us from recognizing that some people truly only have their interests at heart and don’t feel anything for anyone else.
We are often told that there can be kindness found in everyone.
I beg to differ because I have been with someone that truly didn’t have any empathy or remorse for anyone else. Also… Ted Bundy anyone?
#5. The only person who could give me the life I wanted… was me
After I was discarded by the narcissist I realized that I really only had one two choices.
I could continue living for everyone else and prioritizing my relationships and continuing the same destructive patterns.
Or I could go on a self-journey that involved looking within and dealing with years of built-up baggage and trauma.
I decided to go with the second option.
I would be lying if I said it was easy but I don’t recognize that girl anymore… in the best of ways.
For the first time in my life, I can say that I truly know myself. I know who I am and what I want. I know the kind of people and behaviors that I want in my life and the things that I will not tolerate.
And you know what?
The moment I set out on that journey was the moment that my life began finally trending in a positive direction.
I could have gone down the route of anger, resentment, and self-pity.
Instead, I decided to go down the path of love, letting go, and self-discovery.
Oh… and one last bonus lesson.
I learned that I will never accept anything less than what I deserve ever again.