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  • Writer's pictureLoveday Funck

After Stage Two of Shame and Guilt comes Stage Three - Bargaining

Updated: Mar 24

The initial shock has subsided, leaving behind a raw vulnerability as I navigate the early stages of healing. The true impact of the situation is still unfolding, especially considering the covert narcissist's tendency to undermine and damage those who challenge them. While the details are still unclear, I suspect a smear campaign is already underway. However, I am fortunate to be at the beginning of a year-long no-contact order, offering a crucial space for self-discovery and emotional repair.

If you encounter any negative rumors about me, I urge you to approach them with a critical lens. I have meticulously documented the truth of the situation and am prepared to share my perspective if needed. But for now, let's turn our focus to Stage Three and begin the journey of reclaiming my narrative.

After Stage Two - Shame and Guilt comes Stage Three - Bargaining.

  • Understanding: During this stage, the victim might try to find ways to regain control of the situation, often hoping to change the narcissist or salvage the relationship.

  • Common Thoughts: "If I change this about myself, maybe they'll treat me better," "If I just explain it better, they'll understand and change," or "Maybe we can go to therapy and fix this."

The initial fog of betrayal had begun to clear, revealing a landscape of devastation. The remnants of our relationship, once a source of solace, now stood as stark reminders of the emotional manipulation I had endured. This was not my first encounter with narcissistic abuse, and with each experience, a sliver of understanding had been unearthed.

Now, at the precipice of Stage Three - the Bargaining stage - I found myself clinging to the vestiges of normalcy, searching for a path back to the life we'd once envisioned. This is not a tale of dramatic pronouncements or theatrical confrontations, but rather, a nuanced exploration of the insidious ways a narcissist can infiltrate your life, and the arduous journey of reclaiming your voice and rewriting your narrative.

This is a testament to the quiet strength discovered in the face of manipulation, and the unwavering hope that whispers promises of a future where I am not merely surviving, but thriving.

The storm had broken, its initial fury leaving behind a wreckage of their relationship. The revelation of his infidelity had been the first blow, sending the once sturdy vessel of their lives listing heavily. In the aftermath, Sarah tried desperately to right it, to patch the leaks and mend the sails.

But his emotional squalls kept them off balance. She spent her days managing his moods, a task that grew more exhausting by the hour. She felt trapped, once again prioritizing his well-being over her own. Years of playing the role of his emotional crutch had become second nature, a consequence of growing up under the shadow of a narcissistic father. Self-reliance and resilience were traits forged in that fire, yet he needed constant validation, an entourage to prop him up even for the simplest tasks.

In 2023, his grand pronouncements focused on a weekend retreat. Weeks were dedicated to dissecting his proposal, his anxieties needing constant soothing. Nights became a stage for his rehearsals, his ideas demanding endless validation. Months rolled by, filled with the drone of his impending presentation, his need for reassurance insatiable.

When Sarah submitted her own proposal for 2024, a quiet act of defiance, his confusion was palpable. The stark contrast between their approaches – hers a silent act of self-possession, his a drama-laden performance – hung heavy in the air.

His need for attention had a different shape now. He announced, with fanfare, the writing of a story. Days, then weeks, flowed into a sea of repetitive conversations, his "magnificent" premise dissected and debated by anyone willing to listen. Sarah, already weary, saw the inevitable truth – the story wouldn't be written. It was all about him being the center of the narrative, the hero of his own never-ending monologue.

Conversations became battlegrounds. Any topic dared to stray from his orbit was ruthlessly steered back to his favored subjects: religious trauma and the fantastical world of "Magick." His childhood, a weaponized shield against any criticism, was his most frequent theme, yet the irony was not lost on Sarah. His own brand of emotional manipulation, she realized, far outweighed any supposed trauma.

In a desperate attempt to regain control, he threatened eviction, playing on her fear of being adrift. His financial contributions, he constantly reminded her, were the lifeblood of their existence. Yet, Sarah silently counted her own monthly contributions, a stark contrast to his penny-pinching ways hidden behind the facade of public generosity.

His "gifts" were always performed for an audience. Sarah's casual mention of a desired item, a mere $40 on eBay, was met with a grand gesture - the purchase announced to anyone within earshot. His self-proclaimed six-figure income never translated to shared grocery bills, leaving Sarah to replace the food he devoured without concern.

The affair, though just one confirmed instance, exposed a pattern. His clumsy attempts at flirtation, once comical, were now viewed with chilling clarity. Sarah, however, held onto a core belief – her own worth. His success with his affair partner, a regional theater director in the northeast, she suspected, was a product of distance and deception. The woman never saw the true him, the man perpetually seeking the spotlight, the one who used his past as a weapon, and who demanded, but never gave, emotional support.

As Sarah navigated the wreckage, she knew the storm wasn't over. But amidst the debris, a fragile seed of hope had sprouted. The realization of her own strength, nurtured in the harshest of grounds, whispered the possibility of a future where she wouldn't be an extra in his self-made play, but the author of her own story.

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