Like all moon phases, the ‘honeymoon’ phase that victims of narcissistic abuse experience at the hands of their tormentors, is predictable, cyclic, and inevitable. Like a waning gibbous moon, an abuser’s supply of adulation, dependence and fear, which they so desperately need from their victims, also dwindles according to an ancient rhythm. Their need to reassert control, continue to destroy the psyche of their victims, replenish their dopamine supply and ascend, like the planets (or the gods), to their most superior position, becomes their driving force.
Your feeling of safety, security, contentment and rising self esteem is an existential threat to the narcissist in your life. The last days of the honeymoon phase are fraught with danger; sadly, a danger that you can’t sidestep, no matter what you do.
So what, then, is this honeymoon phase? It’s certainly not what we normally perceive as a honeymoon – a time of intense bonding, the making of precious memories that sustain a partnership through hard times, a tender period in which we lay our vulnerable selves before our lovers, hopeful for a fulfilling future. Instead, it’s a period during which tensions escalate…the period following a particularly devastating experience of abuse, during which your tormentor is deeply, intensely sorry.
They will love bomb you…just as they did at the beginning of your relationship. They’re relying on that powerful initial ‘hook’ to draw you back in; make you remember the good times; give you hope; shower you with tenderness that soothes your hurting heart and soul. They conditioned you for this. They set you up for it.
The bastards. Yes, they will do this to you.
Beware the end of the honeymoon phase. And also be aware that there are indicators of the trouble ahead. Tensions will be escalating.
You’ll be aware of a sharp word here and there but be expected to just brush it off. After all, things have been so perfect between you lately, it must be your imagination. You’re too sensitive, of course. You’ve been told that so many times before, haven’t you? You also can’t trust your own perceptions or memories. You doubt yourself.
Understand that the reason you doubt yourself is because of the relentless gaslighting of the narcissist in your life.
Centre yourself. Remember when you felt like ‘you’. Remember the days when you trusted your own experience implicitly. Remember when you were sure of your truth. Remember when you stood strongly upon your convictions and knew who you really were.
You are still that person.
What happened after the last episode of violence? Please know that violence is just as real and damaging whether it is physical, verbal, psychological, emotional or sexual. Usually, it’s a messy combination. The last time you felt utterly destroyed by your abuser is the last episode of violence. As often as not, you bear no physical scars.
So what happened, then? Let me predict.
Your abuser was ashamed of himself. He’s so sorry he ever treated you that way? Did she blush all shades of red with her lashes lowered and her head bent?
Does she tell you she’s never acted like this before and doesn’t understand why she’s doing it now? But she’s never going to do it again.
He’ll change. You can count on that. Things will be different from now on.
They love you so very, very much, don’t they?
And that’s exactly what your wounded and starving heart wants and needs to hear.
And they know it. They invest only in themselves, and they know that to keep you in this relationship they need to give you what you most need. But they can’t give it to you. They don’t have those deep reserves of love within themselves.
And so, they pretend.
They’re good at it. They probably have most of the people in your joint lives convinced of their sincerity. If you doubt them, then it’s your own mental and emotional state that must be compromised. That’s what you’ve been conditioned to believe. That’s also what those in your tormentor’s circle of influence have been conditioned to believe.
Doubt them anyway.
Watch for the pattern and in time, you’ll see it form clearly in your mind’s eye. This is one of the biggest signs that you are in a psychologically and emotionally dangerous relationship with someone who is narcissistic, entitled and incapable of real love. I’d like to be able to say that these people can change but anecdotal evidence doesn’t support it. Scholarly research articles are few but those they exist remain far from optimistic about positive outcomes. It may depend on the degree of psychopathology. It definitely depends on the willingness of your abuser to admit and confront his deepest fears and be willing to challenge his strongest convictions (that of his own perfection and your inferiority).
Like most of us who have been in this position as the underdog, you’ll be holding out hope; wanting to believe that your partner is different; that she or he will be the one who turns their lives around, and hence your happy ending is just a matter of time. I can only say for certain, that if there’s to be the slightest chance of that momentous change taking place, you will need to leave first and completely withdraw all contact. No compromises. None.
Let go. As trite as that sounds, it’s not trite. Make a clean break. Get on with your purpose-filled, meaningful, valuable life. Love yourself the way your partner could not.
Above all, remember that every time you went through the honeymoon phase, you ended up more devastated than before. People like you and me have ended up dead by refusing to acknowledge the truth. Some suicide. Many more develop serious physical illness as a result of the relentless draining of our adrenals; the strain on our hearts; and the rapid depletion of our immune systems.
You are worth far more than that.