My Story

Laura C photo

A few years ago, I met this magnetic guy —the kind you couldn’t keep away from. 

It was a passionate start, like I’d found my soulmate. 

I’d met him just after a pretty intense romance with a devoted Christian. (Turns out relationships don’t go very far when one of you can’t have sex because of God)! 

So I wasn’t exactly on the lookout for a new relationship and I was happy being single.

But that didn’t stop him competing with his best friend for my attention (should’ve noticed the lack of empathy there and then)!

It was all home cooked meals, compliments and attention. And oh so many questions and interest in who I was.

Only weeks in to dating and he’d already shouted he loved me in a noisy sports bar. Romantic, huh? 

Well I put it down to a few too many drinks. Until he repeated it the next day, insinuating he really meant it. 

“Marry her, mate”. 

Texted his friend, confirming he’d already gushed about me to a mate back home!

Weeks into dating and he casually drops marriage into the conversation too! And despite his average looks, I really felt like I’d landed the jackpot with him.

We had EVERYTHING in common too. 

From music and mutual friends, to snow sports and travelling. And get this:

Both met in New Zealand even though we came from the same area in England —how’s that for “meant to be”?

Early into our relationship, he began working away which I was hesitant about. Especially because he knew I wasn’t down for a long distance relationship. And I’d been super clear about that too.

I started to notice his behaviour shifted when he was away; he became aloof and couldn’t be arsed calling or texting me. 

And it created a lot of friction when I’d bring it up. Like I was asking too much of him and that staying in contact with me was an inconvenience he didn’t need. 

When he was home he’d then act physically distant with me as well. So no affection, or jumping into bed together to catch up on lost time!

Things gradually got worse every time he left and came back. And the more I questioned the change in our dynamic, the harder it felt to stay close to him.

I’d ask: “Are you cheating on me?”, “Do you still fancy me?”, or “Have I done something?”

And I’d be met with either rage, blame, (what I now know to be) gaslighting, or lots of silent treatment.

And as soon as I got close to giving up and walking away, he’d swoop back in again and beg me back.

But in big, romantic ways that you couldn’t ignore. Like tearful, can’t-live-without-you speeches, or a weekend away together, or even a random helicopter ride (true story).

Whatever he needed to win back my love and distract me from the hurt he’d caused.

I spent a lot of the relationship hoping he’d come home and pull me into his arms with excitement to see me. 

But it never went like that. 

Instead, our short time together was filled with toxic arguments or disappearing acts. Or me waiting for my turn to see him – after he’d got round to prioritising all his other needs first. 

He’d also ruin every birthday, Christmas or New Years plans. And I’d try to be the ‘cool girl’ and let things go. But it was impossible to stay quiet when he’d walk through the door, pretending he hadn’t just ignored me all night.

Opening up to our friends never helped me either, it only made me minimise and distrust my own feelings. I always felt like the problem and like it was on me to fix things.

Bit by bit, the strong, independent woman I was, faded away, so I could keep the relationship going.

Always finding ways to excuse or rationalise his behaviour away. Because I hopelessly wanted to hold out for the future he’d promised us.

The bouts of silent treatment got more frequent and longer too. Whilst I clung onto the scraps of his communication, desperate for his attention.

Towards the end of our relationship, he was working away again. And he was emotionally distant, ignoring my messages even though he was online type of thing, the usual treatment.

But this time I’d accidentally found some messages on his laptop. All by chance, they popped up out of nowhere and flashed onto his screen. 

And I knew it was bad because I remembered him telling me he went for a meal on his own that night. Plus our Whatsapp chat history confirmed he lied about it too.

So I called him to confront him.

The silence on the end of the line was excruciating. I begged him for an explanation, pushed him to come clean. But his answers were robotic and cold, like he just didn’t care. 

I hung up, and left him stewing for a few days (at least I thought that’s what would happen)!

But still nothing. 

I felt sick, I didn’t sleep or eat. I was just hanging on for him to explain, or at least beg for forgiveness. 

But he just continued to ignore me, while I kept pushing for answers.

And after days of silent torture, he finally…

Sent me a WhatsApp message; dumping me the day before our holiday to Bali.

WTF?

I hadn’t been dumped via text since Nokia 3310s! So it was a bit of shock for my partner, of more than two years, to end things like that!

I’ve honestly never been so dumbfounded. I didn’t cry or tell anyone about it for days. 

I just wondered around Bali confused AF, analysing our relationship, looking for any hints to understand how this happened. 

And luckily for me, I didn’t have too many days alone. I was meeting my bestie in the Philippines for a trip we’d already planned a few months before.

(I sound like a right jet setter! But I’d really recommend a holiday in paradise after being dumped, way better being sad by the sea)!

“Whys he still texting you? He’s the one who broke up with you” Courtney asked me. 

And it made me realise how everyday on holiday he’d found ways to communicate with me. Whether it was responding to Instagram stories or messaging me, he still dictated my mood from afar. 

But I let him because I didn’t stop it either. I needed the hope that he might want me back again.

Fast forward a few weeks, and I’m back in Oz (here I go again, holidaying the pain away)!

But this time I decided to make a fresh start. I moved to the East coast, the opposite side to where my ex lived. 

And despite the 4000km of distance between us, he somehow finds out I’m on Tinder – which he was fuming about. The fucking cheek, how dare he!

But his outrage finally fuelled me to take control. And I politely cut him off for good and blocked him from gaining access to me.

That’s the thing that still gets under my skin —the way I handled it all so nicely. Especially because a few months later, I learnt some new information about him…

Turns out during his work-away trips, he was living a double life: 

Indulging in secret affairs, whilst his steady, naive, girlfriend waited for him to come home.    

I’d been living a complete lie, fabricated by his version of events.

My mind replayed a montage of memories that felt like light bulbs going off.

Oh, that’s why he missed his flight. 

Oh, that explains the cum I found on his camper van sheets. 

Oh, that’s why he didn’t come home that night.

“He sounds like a narcissist”, was the last bit of information that helped me realise my toxic relationship (thanks Rach).

I’ve never felt so sick and relieved at the same. It was like the betrayal paved the way for clarity. Because now my paranoia and doubt had proof and validation. 

I wasn’t crazy. I’d been gaslighted, lied to, ignored and cheated on, over and over again.

It was the hard truth I needed to face and accept to let go and get my life back. 

So the nerd in me researched and learned EVERYTHING there was to know about narcissism. 

And I started talking about it and writing about it to anyone who’d listen. Because if I didn’t know I was being abused, chances are, you didn’t (or don’t) know either.

Which is why I had to do something about it and why Sallt Sisters now exists.

Because I know how difficult it is when you don’t understand why you can’t just ‘get over’ the relationship. 

And why your friends and family telling you ‘to move on’, doesn’t help you either.

It’s complex trauma, which means it’s complicated to talk about and complicated to process.

So you need the right support to help you deal with it, someone who can say ‘OMG your ex did that too’? And who empathises with you and knows ‘why you didn’t just leave’. 

Because the more you open up and hear other survivors stories, the more you’ll realise that you’re not alone.

Narc abuse is actually quite common, it’s just that we’re not aware of what it looks like or how it feels. So we don’t realise we’re in abusive relationships until the damage has already been done. 

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