I had always been a good communicator. I was a business professional and a musician for more than 30 years.

I attended classes that taught fair fighting techniques. Methods of parent to child and adult to adult communication. I studied client body language and as a musician, I had to know how to read a crowd.

All of this would fall by the wayside when dealing with my narcissist boyfriend.

Shortly after he moved in I recall one of our first disagreements. It felt like he was slinging mud with shrapnel in it.

As I think back on the situation now, I realize this was part of his abusive nature. These people are at war with every inch of who you are. They need to contain and control you immediately.

As I tried to explain to him that he had no need to use such hurtful words he continued to escalate until I removed myself from the room. I remember my brain just spinning, not understanding what had just happened. His hateful response hadn’t made sense at all. I struggled to understand why.

This scenario would play out repeatedly until I finally learned not to “poke the bear”.

He was never culpable for his behavior but I was held accountable for mine either real or imaginary every moment of every day. I was taught quickly to never question him (because he knew everything) and never hold him responsible for any of his indiscretions.

As my concern grew he would tell me how much he loved me and would become attentive for about a week. Then the cycle would repeat itself.

Towards the last year of our relationship, there was no cooling off period. It was constant banter. I isolated like a child in my office. There was no one to talk to. I had no friends and my family lived out of state.

When going through an ordeal such as this you live in your head.

It’s safe there.

You self-examine continually trying to figure out what you have done wrong. You go through all the things he says is wrong with you and try desperately to make sense of it.

It wasn’t until I was in recovery that I learned the phrase “Gaslighting”. This is a form of psychological abuse in which they feed you false information with the intent of making you doubt your own memory and perception. It may simply be the denial by an abuser that the abusive incidents ever occurred, or it could be the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

I also learned what emotional starvation was. I was so isolated and he had total control of every aspect of my being (not to mention my property and bank account). I had no voice in anything that was happening around me.

It is only now that I can explain what was going on.

He was cold and calculating and he was armed to the teeth with an arsenal of weapons I had never seen before!

A small voice inside me said run!

I ran…….and I screamed for help!