How I Overcame Narcissistic Abuse, Found My Voice, and Changed My Life

by Amy Anne

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links. If you purchase a linked item, I will make a commission, at no extra charge to you.  Updated February, 2021

This was a very difficult post for me to write. The more I look into the research and all the literature on narcissistic and emotional abuse, I feel myself reliving past trauma. It’s healthy to get past it, but it hurts to knowingly and willingly put myself through it all again. The pain is a reminder of how fucking badass I am to survive what I’ve been through and who I am now for it. I am a super hero with Wonder Woman levels of amazing.

I definitely have made giant-ass defcon level 1 over the top mistakes. I have been thoroughly and deeply embarrassed and I am still struggling to come to terms with the choices and situations I’ve put myself in – choices and situations that have affected my friends and family members. I know people have and do love me and have been there for me so much and I am indebted to each and every one of them. 

This post is my attempt to put the energy that I have received over the years back into the universe. I know that I am not the only one who has experienced situations that I have, and that helped me move away from it and transform my entire life into what I had always dreamed of, but have been too timid and brainwashed to even ask.

This post is about narcissistic abuse. I am writing it because through my own healing and transformation, I have come into contact with other individuals, men and women, who have been helped by my story, and I have grown and healed more from learning about them.

What is Narcissistic Abuse?

If you don’t think that everything is right then it isn’t. Recognize the abuse even though it is difficult to recognize: there are many signs and many ways you can be a victim and never even realize it. There are many articles and many books about the different types of abuse, but that is exactly what it is – abuse. ABUSE

National Domestic Violence Hotline can help victims, survivors of domestic violence. Call 1-800-799-7233.

How To Spot Narcissistic Abuse

Here is a shortened list of the signs and terms of narcissistic abuse – *reminder* – THESE ARE ALL FORMS OF ABUSE!

The below list is from

Gaslighting – one of the most talked about sign attributed to narcissistic abuse. Gaslighting is intentionally making you distrust yourself and your own thoughts. I was very worried about schizophrenia at this point in my life because I was brainwashed that everything I ever thought was wrong or dumb

Manipulation – this is where your partner gets mad if you voice your opinion if you disagree or get upset. It’s them getting upset at your upset and making you feel bad about it. “You’re overreacting…”

Verbal abuse – belittling, threats, ordering, criticizing, sarcasm, name-calling, blaming and many more. Consider the frequency and context before labeling abuse. But if it doesn’t feel right – then it probably isn’t. 

“Emotional blackmail” – threats, anger, aggression, punishment. 

Competition – cheating in everyday tasks or one-upping. 

Negative comparisons & objectification – My experience was “my mom’s food is better”, “that girl’s skinnier than you”. 

Sabotage, Slander, & Character Assassination – cutting you down in front of others or behind your back. Keeping you from interviewing for that dream job to keep you where they’re comfortable.  

Lying – to you, about you, to others, in front of you or others. And a good rule to follow is that if they’re lying to others, they’re probably lying to you too

Withholding – affection, praise, money, or communication

Neglect – emotionally neglecting you or a child

Financial domination – controlling the money in the relationship, not being open with where the money goes. Even though I was the main wage-earner in the relationship while he went for his masters, I was only allowed $70 per month for anything including haircuts, shoes, gas to commute to work.

Isolation – keeping you from friends and or family.

National Domestic Violence Hotline can help victims, survivors of domestic violence. Call 1-800-799-7233.

My Journey

I met my ex in high school the signs didn’t appear much until we went away to college. In college I was very shy and didn’t think I was worthy of having fun. I had always been told my life didn’t start until after college and in many many ways the life that I wanted did not start until long after my undergraduate years. 

I had developed severe depression and anxiety in trying to fit into the norms that were set before me. Every day was a struggle. I would cry before work during my commute, during work hours, and after work on the way home. I assumed that this was normal for over 8 years. I masked my true feelings by telling myself that I was supposed to be doing the things that were expected of me and every young married woman for some reason. I would hide my pain with my smile so it seemed like I was happy to be forced into a mold. I don’t blame anyone for not seeing my unhappiness and hearing my cries for help because I was really just whispering for help. I wanted help, but didn’t know why so asking for help seemed “crazy” or “dumb”. 

I finally got permission to apply for another job, so I did and that was the beginning of my life with myself. My new job, even with a pay cut made me more happy and I had a path for growth and finally I wanted a career, not just to work to support a family. I was beginning to find myself and realize my own independence. I liked books, movies, and so many other things that I had never really thought about because my “partner” thought they were “dumb” (there’s a theme here).

Rock Bottom and Then the Climb to the Top

My employer at the time was a part of the EAP (Employee Assistance Program). It offered 6 counseling sessions per year and a discounted price on any subsequent sessions beyond that. Counseling was a lifesaver. It was my ex’s idea to go to counseling. He had suggested it before, but only for myself because it was always me that was the problem. But this time he wanted to go with me so I had a glimmer of hope that he would change even though I had no idea how far out the door I was already because our first session I wasn’t able to say anything. He did all the talking for both of us. He told the counselor that I wasn’t happy in our relationship because of my own parent’s bad divorce and they never had a good relationship to coparent me. That was the last straw for me. 

The counselor suggested we have individual sessions so she could hear me. By my session, I had already left my house and went to stay with my mother. I was so angry but also in a very bad place with my depression. I still believed I was wrong for doing what I wanted. I felt guilty for leaving and upending everyone’s lives connected to mine. I felt deeply embarrassed as well. I wanted to curl up and die. BUT my counselor told me things that helped me so much. I don’t even know where to start, but she asked me to read the Goddesses in Everywoman which took me SO long to even pick up because why would anything in a book help me right now? But it did. SO MUCH. The message was people change, needs change, what we want to identify with changes – AND THAT’S OKAY. It’s more than okay – it is enough. YOU ARE ENOUGH. You are good enough. I mean I got a lot more out of the sessions than just that message, but that message alone was what opened my eyes and I was able to see light in life again. 

I was able to identify my wants and needs for my life after that. I definitely made MANY HUGE mistakes along the way that I am still being gentle with myself for and growing from. I still battle with depression, anxiety, ptsd, and navigating a healthy relationship, but it’s okay to make my own decisions and my own mistakes and have it be okay. This is my life so I’m treating it like mine, no one else’s. 

If you think you are unhappy for any reason, then speak up to anyone. Start with your partner if you’re not in immediate danger. Ask a family member or a friend what it looks like from the outside. People around you and close to you might not say anything if they notice anything because it takes the person INSIDE the relationship to WANT to see it to be helpful. Please say something and get help. It’s okay to get help.

Resources That Helped Me:

Goddesses in Everywoman by Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD

The Gaslighting Recovery Workbook: Healing From Emotional Abuse

The Complex PTSD Workbook:A Mind-Body Approach to Regaining Emotional Control and Becoming Whole

National Domestic Violence Hotline can help victims, survivors of domestic violence. Call 1-800-799-7233.

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