real life

'For 5 years, I dated a narcissist. It was like being in prison.'

I fell into my first relationship with a narcissist when I was 24.

I say fell because, quite literally, that’s what it felt like - one moment I was standing looking out at the view and the next I was mid-air praying for any form of a parachute.

I had just re-emerged into the world after two major surgeries and seven years of suffering from Ulcerative Colitis, a disease that almost took my life. After a chapter of intense sickness at such a young age, I had no strong sense of self yet. 

Inevitably, I was the perfect candidate for someone like him because I was pliable and easy to manipulate. I was also well conditioned to pain thanks to my journey with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. I was well trained for what my future held (unbeknown to me at the time).

Let’s just say, he chose well. 

But first, know the common sign you are dating a narcissist by watching the video below. Story continues after video.

Video via Psych2Go.

What followed were three of the worst years of my life.

With hindsight and understanding, however, I now consider them the most transformative.


Typical of toxic relationships, I plummeted hook, line and sinker into his arms like a bewitched baited woman. After the initial love-bombing phase subsided and the real him started baring his fangs, I was too far gone; too in love with the idea of him to see the reality of the situation I was now drowning in. 

I spent the following two and a half years in what I can only describe as prison.

He tracked my phone, monitored my text messages to friends and social media platforms, wouldn’t let me attend my gym, or spend time with friends he deemed a ‘bad influence’ on me. There wasn’t a day that went by that I wasn’t defending myself or justifying my actions. Simple things like why I was wearing make-up to leave the house or why I chose the pink bikini over the black one spiralled him into demonic behaviour that had me fearing for my life.

With the immense stress on my emotional body during this time my Inflammatory Bowel Disease flared, and I started pooing myself again, which provided him even more ammunition with which to degrade me. I was repeatedly told that I wasn’t good enough, and that I had to change to be loved. 

Leaving wasn’t easy, and it took all the strength I could muster from my battered self-confidence.

How was I ever going to let another man in after having all my vulnerabilities exposed and used to manipulate me from the one person who was meant to love me the most?

If you’ve been here, you know what I’m talking about all too well.


What I realise in retrospect was that my relationship with “him” was a deep initiation to myself, inviting me to develop a strong sense of identity, set firm boundaries and cultivate my own values in life.

And then without even realising it, my new partner came along. 

He came in quietly and calmly, but with enough presence and energy to move mountains. He was a force I had never felt. Boldly self-assured and emanating a grounded and attentive presence I quickly found myself in unchartered territory.

There was no feeling of hook, line and sinker. No bewitched crazy version of me ready to jump out of my skin and cling to his love like a lifeboat.  

It was a slow and gradual burn. 

Old stories from “him” crept in and played on my subconscious.

The closer we got, the more I felt I might need to protect myself. 

“Is he manipulating me?” I’d wonder, “If I tell him this will he use it against me?”

Every part of my body wanted to trust him, but the last person I put my faith in had destroyed me. 

“All men are the same,” was a circulating statement among the women in my life.

But I knew I had to burn these ideas and abandon the victim mindset that I had found safety in for so long.

It required me to completely re-structure and re-write the stories about men I had shaped my narrative around. 


I quickly found myself with no-where to hide and although I didn’t want to run, I felt trapped in past trauma which regenerated a deep-seated, familiar feeling of fear.

“Give me more,” my new partner would say to me when he felt my walls coming up.

He welcomed it all in and he unravelled me. I no longer needed to suppress or hide the parts of me I thought were unlovable. 

He leaned into my roughest edges, exposed my deepest vulnerabilities, and gave me safety. 

There’s only so much healing you can do on your own before stepping into a new relationship and entering the next phase of healing our relational wounds from the past.

What I’ve learned is that the relationship we have with ourselves is a direct reflection to the connection you will have with another person. We are all projections of one another, mirroring back the love we have fostered within who we are.

The reality is that healthy love requires radical ownership and responsibility. 

Don’t believe the “love is wildly chaotic” quotes we read.

It’s all a fallacy.

Love IS wild, but you should never lose yourself or your freedom in it.

It should however, allow you to free yourself from the stories we protect ourselves with. 

Feature Image: Getty.

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