This is a follow up story documenting Cyndi Smith’s ongoing grief journey. To read Cyndi’s full back story, click here.
“Since having my whole life turned upside down by a predatory psychopath, I have learned a lot about narcissistic abusers. I have read every article and book, watched every video, and immersed myself into the sick world of these people to try to better understand what happened to me. What I have learned is both heartbreaking and eye-opening.
I’m mentally strong. I have seen a lot of trauma in my life. I walked through the fire with my husband as he fought for his life against stage 4 colon cancer, and then I watched him die a slow and painful death. I stand strong in the face of adversity, and not much breaks me. But this broke me.
That’s because it’s unnatural for one human to treat another human like their personal ATM and ego booster. Narcissists prey on empathetic people because it’s a quality they do not understand or possess. It’s not in my nature to ever use, abuse, and hurt another person the way he did me. I didn’t even understand I was in an abusive relationship until it was over. I draw strength from the stories others have shared with me about their own experiences with narcissistic abusers. It’s a club I wish I wasn’t a card-carrying member of, but if writing about it helps one person not suffer at the hands of these mentally disturbed people, I will type until my fingers bleed.
I was born and raised in the South, where we often brush uncomfortable situations under the rug in an effort to keep everyone involved comfortable. I will not stay silent so he can stay comfortable, much to his dismay. When my precious little 82-year-old grandmother hears the entire story, sees the proof, and tells me to give him hell, I’m giving him hell. No question.
The worst thing you can do to a narcissist is to expose them for what they are. You begin to unravel the lies they tell, and they spiral. Rest assured they are telling the same lies to your replacement and using you and your reaction to the abuse you suffered to play their sick games. You become the crazy ex. Just like the one before you and the one before that. None of you are crazy, you were just pushed to the edge and dared to push back to save yourselves from this man. Remember that.
I believe one of the greatest tests of my life will be how I handle someone who mishandled me, my child, my emotions, my bank account, my home, and my heart. I won’t pretend it didn’t happen. I won’t hide the truth. I won’t minimize myself or my feelings so that he can do this to someone else. I believe there is no bigger test of a person’s integrity than how they react when they have behaved poorly. He refuses to right the wrongs. I refuse to shut up about it. One of his biggest mistakes was going to war with someone who has walked through the hell of cancer and losing a man who had more integrity in his pinky toe than this monster has in his whole miserable body. I’ve been to war for 3 years. I won’t back down from a clown who destroyed my life in 6 months.
Integrity means doing the right thing even when no one is watching. Integrity means owning up to your mistakes and taking responsibility for your actions. Integrity does not mean preying on someone’s weaknesses for your own financial gain. Integrity does not mean lying and deceiving everyone involved to make yourself look like an upstanding human when your behavior says you’re a liar, cheater, gaslighter, thief, and an all-around bad person. Integrity does not involve manipulation of the person you are dating, and it does not involve manipulation of a child.
The man I dated forced his way into my child’s life. He picked up her order at Starbucks one day when we happened to be there at the same time, ran over to her, and said, ‘Here you go, Princess.’ He had her just as fast as he had me. When he spent the night at my house regularly he carried her to bed, tucked her in, told her he loved her. He played dad to a child who watched hers die months prior. He lay in bed with her and giggled, took her to buy special toys to woo her, curled up in my husband’s chair with her to watch movies — all things I should’ve never allowed. I wasn’t thinking clearly, but every boundary I set he crossed in such a way that was disarming and endearing. At the time, I thought my heart would explode. Now, it makes me feel physically sick to my stomach to know he involved her in his attempt to sink his teeth into my money and my life. He was love-bombing us. And we fell for it.
He talked to her about the importance of not telling people at church he spent the night with us. In an effort to make him comfortable and protect his ‘privacy’ he so badly wanted, we walked out and around and out the side door to avoid seeing him so she wouldn’t speak to him in front of his children. This is how he wanted it. She didn’t understand it at all, but he put it all on me. He said he was ‘protecting’ us from people judging me for dating too early after the death of my husband. He was protecting himself so no one would figure out he was dating multiple people at once. He was protecting his own lies. Everything he does is to benefit him and him only. Everything is calculated and planned out meticulously to serve his purpose, no matter how many bodies he leaves on the floor on his way through life. Even the youngest are victims of these animals.
The thing I learned about narcissists that has proven to be so true with this one is they are chameleons. They mirror the people they are with because they have no identity of their own. He looks like a totally different person now than he did when I met him. It’s shocking really. If you say you like something, they automatically love it, too. You share your dream car with them? Oh look, they want the same one. They adopt your likes and dislikes in an attempt to check all the boxes. It draws you in because you can’t believe there is someone out there that syncs so perfectly with everything you like. Except it’s all a lie. The very thing you loved together they will use to devalue you with throughout the relationship.
One particular morning when we woke up in our favorite hotel in Atlanta together, him lying in the bed with my favorite red lipstick all over his face, I was on cloud nine. I got in the shower, and when I got out we were getting close to check out time. He asked how much longer I was going to be, and I said I just needed to put makeup on, and I would be ready. He said something that made zero sense that day but caused me to have a lightbulb moment when I met his current girlfriend for a 2-hour face to face chat one day at her request. He told me he didn’t like women who wore makeup.
I laughed it off at the time because of course he did: he would even tell me ‘red lips’ before we went out. Throughout our relationship dressing up, makeup, hair done was not only encouraged, but it was also specifically requested by him. He would always tell me to ‘make him look good.’ I didn’t mind because that’s just who I’ve always been. Now, here he was, standing in front of me telling me he didn’t like any of that. When I met my replacement, she told me she never wears makeup, rarely dresses up, and wears her hair in a hat all the time. He was already mirroring her and her likes and dislikes to further devalue me and our relationship. It seems small and insignificant, but it’s a huge piece to the puzzle. Nothing is wrong with either way of looking or dressing. People are who they are. The devaluing phase is part of the game. But my life is not a game.
Narcissists are also opportunistic creatures. If you’ll notice they always position themselves around people who can serve them in some way. You have a boat and it’s summertime? They’re your best friend. You have a wealthy friend? They want them to ‘invest’ in something with them. My narcissist was way too interested in my husband’s estate and when it would be settled. I firmly believe that if it was settled already, he would be a permanent fixture in my life. At one point, he yelled at me because he didn’t think it was happening fast enough and I was being ‘jerked around’ by my husband’s attorney. He demanded he come sit in on a meeting because he didn’t think I was aggressive enough. I said no, he raged some more.
One of the last conversations I ever had with him — after I found out he cheated on me, took my money, sold me a car he had pawned the title to — he had the nerve to ask me if I had any good news from the lawyer yet. When I danced around the question to avoid sharing any more personal information with him he persisted further. My replacement has everything he values in life, and sadly it has nothing to do with her as a person. It’s almost as if he was keeping both of us as supply to see which of us would be the best cash cow, and she won based on timeline alone. All he cares about is status, money, homes, cars. He lacks depth. Take away everything he puts value in, and he would be gone on to the next person who can provide that for him. But it will never be enough.
Nothing will ever be enough to fill the black hole of his soul. Narcissists lack heart. There is something seriously wrong with someone who can leave such a path of destruction and move on to the next person like nothing happened. This was not a normal break up. This was not, ‘Hey this isn’t working for me anymore. I hope we can still be friends.’
‘I never told you I loved you,’
‘I never told her I loved her,’
‘We were just friends, Cyndi. You’re delusional,’
‘You’re obsessed with me,’
‘People are going to think you’re crazy,’
‘I had no feelings for you,’
‘You’re crazy like the rest of them. I hate women, and I hate you,’
‘You made it all up in your mind because that’s what you wanted,’
‘If you go to the police, I’ll tell them it was a generous gift from a friend,’
‘If you go to the police, I’ll tell people this is what you like in bed,’
‘If you tell anyone, I’ll tell everyone you’re a worthless mother,’
‘I’ll have your job,’
‘You tell anyone, and no one will want to date you ever again,’
‘Why can’t we just be friends?’
‘You’re an unfit mother, and I’ll make sure everyone knows that,’
‘I’ll have her taken away from you if you’re not careful,’
‘I will rage on you,’
‘Be careful out there, I know you don’t have her with you,’
‘Enjoy being home alone tonight, looks like you’ll be there by yourself,’
This was surveillance of my life. This was surveillance of my child’s life. This was the loss of my privacy and months of terror and stalking by a man who does not take no for an answer.
This was abuse. I was abused. I am a survivor of narcissistic rage and abuse. I was physically, mentally, emotionally, verbally, and financially abused.
And I survived. And you will, too. You just have to be strong enough to stand up and speak out.
Do it for the next one. Do it for the ones before you. I’m doing it for her, because she was his victim, too.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Cyndi Smith of Moody, Alabama. Follow her journey on her website here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories from Cyndi:
‘Unprompted by any of us, she began drawing in the sand. ‘I love you’. It took my breath away thinking about her leaving messages in the sand to her dad.’: Widow and young daughter visit Wales to spread husband’s ashes
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