It was the week before my 30th birthday and I was IN. LOVE.
We’d only been dating eight months but had known each other a few years.
Everything in me said, “HE’S TROUBLE” when we first met, but his charm and kindness towards my weak, broke, vulnerable self upon returning to NYC after a brief stint in LA, was everything I “needed” at the time.
I had just come off the heels of heartbreak from a previous toxic relationship, (are you sensing a pattern here?!) and thanks to the recession, my financial independence as a commercial actress had come to a screeching halt.
I was terrified to embark on plan B to support my plan A by becoming a yoga teacher, but this guy made it ALL BETTER by sweeping me off my feet and taking me into his home after only a month of dating.
I finally felt like “THIS IS WHAT LOVE IS SUPPOSED TO FEEL LIKE!” The passion, the laughs, the deep conversations, waking up to breakfast before teacher training, and arriving home to flowers because of how proud he was of me. He told me about the diamond he had that he couldn’t wait to put on my finger. The excitement he felt knowing that I was going to be the mother of his children…
The romantic gestures and grandiose words of affirmation, as well as his friends and family confirming that he’d been in love with me for so long, gave me the green light to dive right in, despite observing and hearing stories of mistreatment towards other women, and my initial hunch.
So when my body started sensing things weren’t right a few months into the relationship, my trusted intelligent sister-friends assured me that he was head over heels for me—I just must be projecting past heartbreaks on to him.
But this was different.
I never felt purposefully separated from previous boyfriends’ female friends. I never felt like I was being lied to about minute things like their whereabouts or who they were with…
Heartbreak was familiar territory, but cheating and deceit were never a part of the equation.
My paranoia escalated over his suspicious behavior as the months unfolded, leading to ugly fights where I was repeatedly told I needed help dealing with my “demons,” and that there was no “conspiracy theory” to hurt me.
The guilt and shame I’d feel for creating such “crazy” scenarios about the man I loved frightened me, and I felt I didn’t deserve his love for being so mistrusting…
So I continued on, driving my friends insane about even more red flags unfolding, and proceeded to over-post love-dovey pictures on social media as a sad attempt to convince both myself and the world that everything was great!
And on that freezing Monday night in 2010, a week before my 30th, everything WAS great. He had just kissed me goodbye, told me how much he loved me, and I was at ease knowing he was exactly where he said he was going for once.
It was a rare moment of relief, cozying up with a glass of red and looking over the invite for my birthday party…on his computer.
You’ll have to take my word, (or don’t) when I say that never in my 30 years had I invaded a boyfriend’s privacy. And when he left that night I had ZERO intention of snooping because after all, I was feeling relieved and loved.
Looking back, I now see it as divine intervention when I “innocently” clicked on the little white envelope at the bottom of his screen and found multiple racy emails to his ex.
Your voice message made me want to have phone sex with you… Sorry I missed you—I was at a wedding, which of course made me think of you the whole time. (A wedding we were at together, and where I had taken care of his puking, hung-over ass the next morning)
My stomach dropped. My breath was gone. And my clothes that I’d been trying to keep warm in, immediately drenched in sweat. This was the first piece of evidence I found that confirmed my instincts were accurate, despite his efforts to convince me how damaged I was to believe he’d go astray.
He came up with the most cockamamie excuses I so desperately wanted to believe. Got down on his knees, cried actual tears and begged me to forgive him, reiterating how much he wanted to put that diamond on my finger.
It took everything in me to leave, but then in true form of the classic dance between a narcissist and an empath, I allowed myself to quickly get sucked back in.
Without him, I felt like what I imagine a drug addict would feel going through withdrawal. He had been my external source of love that I wasn’t able to give myself. I was so desperate to get things back to the way it was in the beginning, that I did my best to accept and forgive his laughable explanations in order to move forward.
But I’m sure it won’t shock you to hear that things continued to get worse…
He surprised me with the most precious puppy one night—it wasn’t for me, but it was for US to bring us closer together.
Again, my body said BS! but I rolled with it, disturbed that I wasn’t consulted about it, considering we were working on our relationship to last, um, a lifetime.
Then I found a pair of underwear that wasn’t mine. More excuses and I let it go.
Then I discovered he got the dog with another woman…More excuses and I let it go.
Then a second pair of underwear appeared in the hamper…
The Universe was repeatedly serving the ugly truth on a silver platter, but I kept pushing it away-- I was so far gone to the point that I’d much rather believe I was the crazy paranoid insecure woman he painted me to be, than have him be the textbook description of a narcissistic sociopath that I felt incapable of NOT loving.
I had already been convinced by him and trusted loved ones that it was me who was the problem, so if they were all wrong this whole time, I thought I’d be certifiable.
So I became a shell of a person—ten pounds under weight, clumps of hair falling out in the shower, and red welts developed on my face. My physical appearance got so bad that a casting director told my agent he wouldn’t audition me until I got better. And I felt so much shame preaching peace and love to my yoga students while I literally felt like I was dying inside…
Another blowout on the street finally culminated the relationship in June after more shady behavior unfolded. He texted my best friend to say, “Take care of Claire. She’s crazy.”
I collapsed in her apartment and said, “For once the man is telling the truth--I have gone absolutely crazy.”
And as I embarked on a challenging road to recovery, desperately searching for who I was again, his tangled web of lies unraveled through more acts of divine intervention, confirming that all my hunches and fears over the previous year were 100% valid.
He was indeed keeping me separate from the woman he got the dog with (different woman from the emails) because he’d been dating her for over four months while he’d been dating me.
Please note, I do not claim to be a psychiatrist who can officially diagnose a Narcissistic Sociopath, but my tireless research reveals that his behavior demonstrates a majority of characteristics that fall under both of these personality disorder categories, going way beyond the description of a mere cheater or liar.
NS’s idealize you, devalue you, discard you, and suck you back in until they can’t get what they need/want from you anymore, get caught, or have a new victim to prey on.
The layers upon layers of lies and manipulation he pulled on myself and the other woman (who I knew) would inspire a Lifetime Movie script.
When he found the puppy, he sent me a picture from the rescue. A few weeks later, the lady detective I’d become had a hunch to go back and look at it. It turned out he didn’t do a good enough job cutting his other girlfriend’s face out of the picture.
He vehemently denied it was her, claiming it was someone who worked at the rescue, but then flipped on me, questioning if he can be with someone who constantly doubts his commitment to her...
The insidious layers of deceit and self-assuredness of his innocence were beyond measure—even with all the hard evidence that proved his guilt after it all came out in the wash.
Not only do Narcissistic Sociopaths go to great lengths to gaslight you, hooking into all of your weaknesses, convincing you you’re the crazy one, but then they defame you to mutual friends, co-workers—anyone you both know-- making sure they all learn how “insane” you are, as a protective measure to preserve their image—the most priceless and precious asset they own.
Six years later, I’d be lying if I said that every time I enter a new relationship, Kelly Clarkson’s BECAUSE OF YOU isn’t playing in my head on repeat… (I can’t believe it took me this long to crack a freakin’ joke!)
BUT, I can safely say that I’ve gotten to a place where I’m actually GRATEFUL THIS NIGHTMARE HAPPENED.
During that horrific time, I tried multiple crappy therapists and would leave sessions feeling worse. I remember saying to a friend, “I just need someone a little older and wiser who gets all of me and understands what I’ve been through.”
Little did I know I WAS GOING TO BE THAT PERSON FOR OTHER WOMEN LIKE MY LOST 30 y/o SELF TODAY!
My Godsend of a therapist I finally found in LA, calls this the cosmic referral system—when the universe sends clients who struggle with what you suffered through, and got to the other side of.
My life shifted in profound ways thanks to the Martha Beck Life Coach Training program, and continues to as I further my studies under master coach Brooke Castillo’s Life Coach School teachings. Both programs offer monumental tools that take my healing through meditation and yoga off of my mat and into a more conscious and proactive way of BEING into my life.
I now have the ability to say “NO” without apology, creating more room for my yes’s. (Stolen from Elizabeth Gilbert) I ask for what I need in all of my close relationships, without shaming and labeling myself as too needy or unworthy. And I’m so obsessed with my boundaries that have allowed me to get to know and authentically love who I am, regardless of who does or doesn’t in my external world.
Thank you for reading my story. I’m beyond honored (and mildly terrified!) to share it, and am proud to say that I’m a stronger, healthier, and happier woman because of it.
Perhaps your heartbreak story isn’t about the loss of yourself in an emotionally abusive relationship—it could be struggles with family relationships, friendships, or even career mishaps…
If you find yourself asking: Why does this keep happening to me? Why am I still in this relationship or job that doesn’t serve me? or Why can’t I get over this? while waiting for some external factor to fix things, I hope you’ll connect with me so that we can WORK ON YOU making that internal change for yourself.