“ The most devastating part of being with a narcissist is their ability to break down your sense of self.” 18:13– Ashlee Levitch
Breaking free from a manipulative narcissist is never easy but understanding why it takes longer to get out of a relationship can help you reach freedom faster.
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The Unseen Struggle With Escaping a Narcissist
Our guest today, Ashlee Levitch, @thenarcandme Host of the Narc & Me podcast, Ashlee is a 5 year survivor of narcissistic abuse. Escaping and then being a survivor of narcissistic abuse can be incredibly difficult. Today we discuss what it means to be a survivor and how you can protect yourself and make a successful escape.
Understand the Narcissist’s Manipulative Tactics.
A narcissist may use manipulation tactics such as gaslighting, guilt-tripping, or denial of their behavior to try and control their victims. They may also make false promises such as to seek help for their condition or change how they behave if you stay in the relationship. It is important to recognize these manipulative tactics and not be taken in by them so you can build your courage and make an escape.
Some tactics include: gaslighting, seeding insults and doubt, walking on eggshells, questioning your own reality, avoidant and neglect your existence, you have a hiding place, losing your voice,
Seek Professional Help When Needed
Seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor can be a great step to recovery when escaping an abusive relationship with a narcissist. Therapists can provide support and help you understand the psychology of the abuse and your feelings towards it. Having someone to talk to who is not personally involved in the situation and that has experience with recovering from narcissistic abuse can make a world of difference.
Establish Healthy Boundaries and Keep Them Firmly Intact.
Establishing and maintaining boundaries is an essential part of staying in control of the relationship with a narcissistic abuser. Boundaries are a way to define limits and give yourself the space needed to take care of your own needs. It’s important to be clear about what you will and will not tolerate when interacting with the narcissist. Setting these boundaries can help you keep your power in the relationship and create a healthy distance that makes it easier for you to escape when necessary.
Don’t Worry about What Others Think of You or Your Decision to Leave.
It can be very difficult to put yourself first in a narcissistic relationship. The abuser will often do whatever it takes to keep you from leaving, including convincing you that your decision isn’t respected by others. Remember, your mental and physical wellbeing should come first. Don’t let their attempts at guilt tripping control how you view yourself or the situation. After all, no one made this decision for you; it is solely up to you to decide when and how to leave.
Don’t Try to Change or Reform the Narcissist – You’ll Only Waste Time and Effort.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it is possible to “change” or “reform” a narcissist. This type of person will never fully reform and often react in unpredictable ways. It’s best not to waste time, effort, and energy trying to do something that is ultimately impossible. Focus on caring for your own wellbeing first and remember that you are the one who has control over your life and future.
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Our guest today shares the Unseen Struggle as a survivor With Escaping a Narcissist. Ashlee Levitch, @thenarcandme is the Host of the Narc & Me podcast, Ashlee is a 5 year survivor of narcissistic abuse. With an audience of 50,000+ followers on TikTok, she educates on what narcissistic abuse looks like, the relationship dynamic, the severity of the abuse and how to heal through story telling and real life scenarios.
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18.Escaping the Narcissist: Why we just don’t see the narcissist at first ashlee
Welcome to the Empath and the Narcissist podcast, where you regain your sparkle back after narcissistic abuse. I am your host Raven Scott,
a trauma informed spiritual mentor, certified meditation teacher, and human design expert. I’m empowering empaths three times a week in recovery and healing from narcissistic abuse, childhood trauma through human design, self-care, mindfulness advice, and expert interviews.
Ashlee L: we’re healing together. because I still have some really tough days. I have a lot of green days, but I’m also, I mean, it’s still so new one year the ex that they went no contact with everywhere, sent them a dollar on Venmo just so they could send them a note. it just radical acceptance about the fact that your circle is going to get smaller, and I think we need that too. We need to calm a lot of that noise to heal
Raven: breaking free from a manipulative narcissist is never easy. But understanding why it takes longer to get outta the relationship can help you reach freedom faster. Our guest today shares the unseen struggle as a survivor with escaping a narcissist. Ashley Levi. At the Narc and me is the host of the Narc and Me Podcast.
Ashley is survivor of narcissistic abuse with an audience of 50,000 plus followers On TikTok, she educates on what narcissistic abuse looks like, the relationship dynamic and the severity of the abuse and how to heal through the storytelling and her real life scenarios. escaping and then being a survivor of narcissistic abuse can be incredibly difficult. Today we discuss what it means to be a survivor and how you can protect yourself and make a successful escape. So let’s get to it.
Hey Ashley, thank you for being here. It’s so good to have you.
Ashlee L: You’re welcome. Thank you so much for asking me to join.
Raven: Yes, I interact with you and quite a few other people, a lot on Instagram. I think it’s really a valuable platform to spread the information and awareness. . And so of course I have to have you over here on the podcast just in case anyone’s missed you on Instagram
I really truly appreciate your transparency as well in sharing because. You still can have years afterwards, have some really difficult moments where things just trigger. So tell us before we dive in, what is your story? To give people reference cuz you can meet a narcissist anywhere and , your journey on exiting in a bit of that.
Ashlee L: Yeah, absolutely. , I was living in Los Angeles. And I, I mentioned I own a digital marketing agency and a couple of websites, and I wasn’t looking to meet a partner. I was looking for a web developer, , and he and I met, he worked for me, and it was clear that our conversations, , they weren’t about work at midnight or 1:00 AM we’re still on the phone for hours and he isn’t, he wasn’t at the time.
Now he’s much. I don’t know, personable and chatty, but at the time he was still actually very quiet, reserved, and my friends used to refer to him as cute Sheldon. Like he seemed very socially awkward, but for some reason he and I just clicked from the beginning. And so nothing happened for a while.
We worked together for a few months until the project launched, and then it was almost like we were an ad water couple. We knew each other so well, and we had what I had thought. Created some friendship or something, , some base for this relationship we were moving into.
And then after a little over a year, which the first year wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. There were definitely some pretty bumpy moments. And when it comes to narcissism, I knew nothing about it. I didn’t know what to look for. I didn’t know the signs, which is why I think I’ve been so outspoken about narcissistic abuse because.
, we can’t change the past, but do I wish I knew what to look for? Absolutely. Would it have changed the course of my life? Yes, it would’ve. I would’ve made different choices. But after about a year together, we ended up moving to Austin, Texas from Los Angeles. He’s from Texas. He wanted to move back here.
I was really on the fence about it. I mean, I’d lived in LA for 25 years and I wasn’t looking to move, but I was in love with him and so I gave up pretty much everything. I gave up my office. I eventually ended up selling my house in Los Angeles, left all my friends and family, and we moved here to Texas.
And then after about two years in Austin, we moved down to this very small town called McQueeney, which was beautiful and isolating , and I lived.
Raven: More isolation.
Ashlee L: isolating, which is a tactic. And I lived down in the country for two years while I was building this house during Covid. And we were together for five years, a little over five .
And we moved back into this house and then he ended up leaving one month after we moved into the new house.
Before we take our commercial break.
Raven: Here’s an audio of one of Ashley’s tos.
Ashlee L: I am a survivor of narcissistic abuse. I was asked in the comments if I could share how I’m doing now. And I think in the beginning when you leave a narcissist and you are completely broken and your sense of self has been decimated and you are coming to terms with what happened to you, it’s really all about when am I gonna feel better?
Because this is brutal. And it is. And we say all the time in the abuse community that it is not a normal breakup. It’s not narcissists have a playbook at the end, after a discard or a forced discard, then. Unfortunately there is Hoovering, reverse Hoovering. They text you, they wanna know how you’re doing, or they’re viewing your stories or coming to a place that you would be.
And this continues to happen until you can scrounge up the last bit of strength to go no contact. And my trauma therapist always says, that’s when the clock starts. You didn’t start two years ago. You started one year ago when you went no contact so how am I now? I’m better. I don’t cry every day anymore, which is a huge improvement. I don’t even think I cry every week anymore. And for me, a big one was dreams. I dreamt about him every single night for the first year it was just brutal. My subconscious was battling me to figure all of this out. So it’s been now about two, three months where I don’t dream about him every. and quite often my day, the tone of my day starts with did I have a dream about him or not? If I didn’t, then I can just have a normal morning.
Everything is fine. My day is great, and I don’t think about it. But on those other mornings when I wake up and it’s the first thing I think about, , those days can be a little bit tougher. I have noticed that I am less triggered. It was all the time. It was like being under fire in the beginning, and it is definitely slowed down.
I still have triggers. I do. And when they hit, they still hit hard, but they’re less. And I have learned to a degree how to manage that and how to manage my emotions and how to talk myself down off that ledge when I’m on it. And so it does improve. I can tell you. Hang in there. You’ve got this.
Raven: Thank you for your podcast and book. It has helping me through this dark period. Thank you for sharing your story. End. I have heard this countless of times and I’m so grateful. My guidebook is to serve you in your healing journey, and it weaves my story into lessons and is a must read on your self-discovery journey.
I’ve included 20 plus healing resources such as guided meditations, exercises, and journal prompts to heal and to understand your human design and some astrology concepts as. You can buy your copy of my book, EMBA and the Narcissist, how to Overcome Narcissistic Abuse and Recover from P T S D Codependency, gaslighting Manipulation, and learn how to live your true Self with Human Design 1 0 1 on Amazon and listen on Audible.
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So, yeah, that’s, that’s an interesting question. It’s always like, who left first? Cuz it’s always different for every single person. But the heartache is always the same. Did he just decide he was moved on? Up and went or,
Ashlee L: Well, I mean, we were together for five years and a relationship with a narcissist is not easy. And the average survivor, the attempts, they say it’s seven times or more. So there were multiple times that I packed up everything and said, we’re done. I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t be on the roller coaster.
I don’t know what’s going on. This is madness. Or, I love you and you treat me like shit. And like we, I had all the different reason. And there were many times that I said, you have to leave. Or I would catch him on Tinder and say, you can’t come home. And then of course he would love Bomb me and have a good reason for it, or there’s never a good reason, by the way.
in the moment,
Raven: Never a good reason.
Ashlee L: , in the moment when you’re in love with them and you’ve moved across country, you’ll rationalize all kinds of crazy shit in your head, unfortunately. So, I had packed everything up and I had said he had to leave and that I was done. And this was, two years ago at Christmas time, and the couple’s therapist we had gone to had actually reached out to me and we had an appointment, just the two of us.
And that was when he told me, you’re being abused by a narcissist. . I didn’t know what that meant, and I had to Google it, and he asked me if I knew what gaslighting was and all these different terms, and I didn’t know, and I Googled them all while sobbing hysterically. We were on the phone. I didn’t go to his office that day.
We were on the phone. And so I said, well, he left. He’s not here. He said he needed to make up his mind about what he wanted. , whether he was gonna marry me or not, because he’d asked my dad to propose three years before. It was always this constant elephant in the room. We would get in fights about it.
And so after that conversation, I decided I was done and I packed up all of his stuff while he was on a ski trip with his family, and he’d been gone for a couple of weeks figuring it out. Heavy quotes. and I said I was done. I was heartbroken. I was alone at the holidays in the middle of the country in the snow.
It was like a Hallmark movie, but in a horrible way
Ashlee L: and packed it all up. And then he came back and said, I wanna have a baby and I wanna marry you. And I was 44 and it was my last shot. and I loved him so deeply and I fell for it. And we started working with a fertility clinic. He came home and that was in December.
And then we moved into this house end of March and by then he’d started like ghosting me and the fertility clinic, whenever they had questions, he wasn’t answering like is was he gonna go do the test he was supposed to do? He just, Was distancing himself. And then there was a day at the end of April, a year and a half ago when we were going to a family event and we ended up getting into an argument because I knew I’d spend all day with the whole family saying, when are you getting married?
Are you still trying to conceive, you still trying to get pregnant? Like all the stuff they would always ask me, which never made any sense to me. Cause like, why don’t you ask him? Not me. and that turned into a fight. And accountability with a narcissist is never gonna happen. It’s always challenging to even try and gain accountability from them.
So that ended up in a fight. And at the family event, he ignored me all day, which was not. did not go unnoticed by everyone. And we got home and when the fight continued, he just blurted out like, I’m out, I’m done. And then he went to sleep actually on this couch like he was gonna sleep here. And I said, no, you’re not.
If you’re out, you’re out. So packed up his stuff. He left for good that night. However, it took nine months to go. No. He kept contacting me and then I would contact him and the typical unfortunate story with a narcissist. It took me changing my phone number, putting gates in front of my house, and basically in the end, I called him out as an abuser over email when he was emailing me, and that was the end, as soon as I used that word, which I knew was his trigger coming.
He came from an abusive household. , then that was it. I never heard from him again. And my Freedom Day is December 23rd,
Raven: Wow. That’s amazing. I think that’s so incredible that you are speaking out so soon. Like, I’m sorry, like I’m gonna sound like total like wimp over here, but it took me about 10 years. I remember when hashtag Me Too came out and I put one post. Didn’t mention his name, nothing, just. I’m with you. Hashtag me too.
This has happened to me too because I, you were sexually abused, so I was like, I’m in like totally hashtag me too. I’m ready to speak out. Like I legit, like, can say that I have a therapist who can affirm that. Right. And um, yeah, I got horrible blackmail threats, like just awful graphic pictures and videos that he took of us.
It’s like this is gonna be out into the world. If you even defame my name, I’m like, I didn’t mention your name, so obviously you feel guilty if you’re
Ashlee L: Great you’re
telling on yourself right now. Yeah, to your point, , not to sound boastful, but like it’s been a point of difference I guess I would say, because a lot of the people who do follow me on TikTok where I got started and then Instagram, first of all, I didn’t start telling my story because I wanted to.
I, like I said, I own a digital marketing agency and we have a not IT policy, and none of my team wanted to learn the algorithm. And I was like, wait, I’m 10 years older than everyone. It shouldn’t be me. And they’re like, oh, yes, it should be you. You’re the core demographic. So I started telling my story because I had no followers and I needed to put words to what happened to me.
And I was still in really in the thick of it. I mean, this was only a couple of months after I went, no.
And I was, I was a mess and I didn’t have any followers and nobody was seeing it. And I was just trying to learn best posting times, best practices, and thought I would take the videos down and instead one of ’em like skyrocketed, like a hundred thousand, 200,000, and people kept asking me to share.
So I think the point of difference for a lot of people who do follow me is that we’re healing together. because I still have some really tough days. I have a lot of green days, but I’m also, I mean, it’s still so new one year, no contact in a year and a half of him not being here is
it goes next .
Yeah. This is why I started the Empath Healing community because it really is important to have community to help survivors to gain their power back. And I’ve put the link for you to learn more about that in show notes.
It goes by fast, but it’s also very new and everything’s still very fresh.
It’s beautiful. So what does a survivor of a narcissist abuse look like to you?
Ashlee L: me. . , I think we have these preconceived notions of what an abuse survivor looks like, whether it be, , in a certain financial demographic or education demographic. And I think the most beautiful part about so many of us speaking out is that we are showing that those molds don’t exist.
right? The, it looks like anybody, it looks like, a girl who owns a business who is doing well enough, and it also looks like a man in a low income area. It, it’s everybody there. It’s not limited.
Raven: all across countries too. Like, I’ve connected with people in my audience who are in like Brazil or, , Sweden. I mean, it’s an,
it’s, um, just, it’s universal. Mm-hmm.
Ashlee L: it’s universal, which is so devastating to me. Like I didn’t want anybody to identify with my story. More or less, the 50,000 people who follow me on, like you said, I get messages from India, I got one from Dubai today, the UK all over, and it’s completely universal and that’s where I think there’s a bigger problem is for so long it’s been so quiet.
That it continues to happen because there’s no consequence and it’s behind closed doors and we protect our abusers and people are finally saying, I won’t do that anymore.
Raven: Yeah, and the tricky part with the narcissist is that everyone in their life publicly, even their family as adults, they’re not , living in the house with them.
they see them as this beautiful, of course, they probably enable them to even become this, but them and their coworkers and everyone sees them as this charming, good standing citizen, and then behind closed doors, they’re emotionally berating you, neglecting you, and doing all these things that are just emotionally devastating.
Ashlee L: absolutely. I mean, the most devastating part of being with a narcissist is their ability to break down your sense of self,
Ashlee L: and that’s not done in front of other people, at least not typically unless there’s dog whistling, which is still only between you and the narcissist. Nobody else gets. The comment they made is in reference to something else to put you down.
Everyone else just thinks it’s a comment.
Raven: Yep. Yep.
Ashlee L: The, the sense of self part is what’s so damaging because by the time you leave, you don’t know who you are anymore. And Ima, that can’t be done in any other way or any other part of life, , out publicly. , , it’s so insidious and quiet and at home, but it absolutely just destroys the person that they’re with.
Raven: and I also wanna address. You weren’t mourning anybody. You on the outside maybe didn’t have this sense of insecurity like you were a successful businesswoman. Where do you think any of those cracks , that he was able to put like a little hook into for you?
Ashlee L: Well, I think most narcissists do go after someone who is strong. and capable, because it’s a challenge to break them down. And I think, , it’s , that cliche phrase, if you hear it enough, eventually you’ll believe it. , , I manage 12 clients, five platforms for each client , and my team.
I don’t do it alone. I have a team of amazing, amazing women who work with me, but every day he would tell me how forgetful. , and I started to feel a little forgetful. And sometimes I would forget something we all do, right? But those moments were always called out really quickly, and he did it for so long and so frequently.
Anytime I would forget anything. And the one thing I’ve always been terrible with names, always. I’m terrible with names, so I don’t know why, it’s , a definite personality flaw for me. But if I would have a hard time remembering a name, you’d be like, , you forget everything. You’re losing your mind. And after five years of it, I made an appointment to be assessed for early onset Alzheimer’s because I thought I was losing my mind, the person I loved and trusted the most, convincing me every day that I was losing my mind.
Ashlee L: So , I think the thing is that, What we ha the, again, breaking the mold, is that we have to stop thinking that someone who’s abused has to be weak. They have to be easily manipulated. That’s not true. I’m actually not easily manipulated, , but I loved him, so I trusted him. So I was equally manipulated because of my level of trust, and he preyed upon that, which is what abusers.
Raven: Yeah, I really like that point. There’s definitely a unique story for everyone, and even thinking of my own personal, I was a leader, like I was a really strong, very mature teenager when I met him. , but I also had really horrible self-esteem. I thought that I was ugly and didn’t deserve much. , it just depends on everyone’s journey.
But it was such a calculated, perfectly covert situation where he just kept chipping away. Oh,
Another guest. Season four episode one 14, Monica Rogers. In how to deprogram yourself from narcissistic patriarchy.
Raven: she had said it’s like, a death by a thousand paper cuts.
You know, it’s just like,
Ashlee L: Oh yeah, it is. And I’ve said it’s like, it’s that, and then the healing process is like walking with cement, cement shoes.
Raven: Mm. Yes.
Ashlee L: It’s really tough.
Raven: Yes. And I think energetically what I found, even after I’ve been gone from mine, I guess almost 11 years, right? About 11 years, and just recently I had an emotion code session done, and she. Saw that there was a , heart chord connected still, so they can energetically, consciously, or subconsciously create these energetic chords to you where you may be totally fine and gone.
, for me, I’ve done all , this processing, but there was still that attachment.
Ashlee L: Yeah, absolutely.
Raven: like forever lasting. But thankfully we cut that off. So
Ashlee L: Yes.
Raven: There’s so many elements to it. There’s emotion, there’s psyche, there’s energy. There’s just the whole thing.
Ashlee L: Yeah. I think that’s why it makes it so difficult to heal is , it’s not singular. , it’s emotional. It makes you question yourself, question everything, . There’s just so many layers, and I did a great episode recently on the podcast with a neuroscientist who was talking about how we store trauma in different areas of our body, which makes sense because you think it’s all in your mind, but if it’s stored throughout your body, that makes sense.
Why different things like a temperature, a smell, a sound, all of these random things , can bring out a trigger. So it’s just really multifaceted in the most horrific way.
Raven: As is. It is horrific. And the ptsd, TS D is the hardest part. I think. I didn’t realize that I had ptsd, TS D until I learned about it and I was experiencing it. And you think that only vets, like war vets have ptsd, ts D, but when you, I mean you were in the trenches with the narcissist emotionally day in and day out.
Like you said, every time he could throw a bullet towards you emotionally with his. He would, and you just keep catching him. And so you have all this, emotional, whole riddled body and it, like she said, it absorbs. And then you smell something, you see something, you hear something, and then your body goes into that like shock again.
Ashlee L: yeah. , and the thing is, is it’s not always bad and that’s why we stay, , in five years we had a beautiful life together, but it wasn’t always that way. And the hard part is because of the time it was that way. and a lot of the triggers come from that, a memory of something that was good.
And then as a survivor, how do you miss the person who abused you? How do you miss the good times? It’s all very confusing. And like you, , of course my therapist is like, oh yeah, we checked that p t s box off. I mean, , I know approximately where he lives. And even, , for some time in Austin, I really didn’t leave the house much.
I don’t leave the house much at all, but I really, really didn’t leave the house at all then because I would break into a sweat and I would see him from time to time in a car or something. And , she’s like, it’s the C P T S D and I didn’t know what C P T S D was. Prior I like you thought, P T S D from a war vet, but there’s P T S D and then C P T S D, the complex because the traumas have continued to happen over and over and over, and carry memories with them through years.
, unfortunately, as much as it’s terrible, war vets can be at war for a couple of years. Right? But we talked to survivors who were in it for 30,
Ashlee L: so,
Raven: I feel like it’s at least. Well, I think you’re lucky if you get out under five, to be honest with the narcissist. Cuz , they’re so cunning, like you said, the times are so up and down. , can you remember , was there a percentage of time that was good versus bad? , have you analyzed that?
Ashlee L: I’d say we were definitely around 40, 60, where maybe 40% of it wasn’t great or was awful.
Ashlee L: and it may have been a little bit less even, but even a third of the time is not acceptable any of the time is not acceptable with the tactics that were used in the relationship and the fact that somebody else had to be the one to tell me because they could so clearly see it,
Raven: Yeah, that’s definitely the telltale sign when a professional can see it.
Ashlee L: Yeah, I mean, and we only went to therapy, I think six times together, and he was like, from the first meeting I was like, all my red flags went off. And then I spent the rest of them assessing him. I was listening to you, but I was listening to what was going on and assessing, like checking off my boxes to make sure my diagnosis was correct.
But yeah, it’s, , very, Mixed for me in terms of it wasn’t a hundred percent of the time awful. And that’s what why I stayed. , I stayed cuz it was amazing and I loved him so much of the time, but when it was bad, it was typically pretty bad.
Raven: Yeah. That’s something that may be confusing, especially if someone listening is still in the situation like. What is the difference? Like maybe abuse was normalized in their childhood, so they’d think that this is normal. Like what is the difference between normal conflict and abuse? Conflict
Ashlee L: there’s some big differences, , The first and most important is, gaslighting. So that word is really popular right now. It’s very buzzwordy, Miriam’s Webster’s Dictionary. They
it the word. Yeah, they just named it the Word of the Year because searches were up 1740%, so 1740 and and that really means when their words don’t match their.
So when someone’s constantly gaslighting you in a relationship, their words don’t match their actions. They’re constantly making promises. They’re not doing them, or they’re trying to make you question your own reality. Like with mine, I would, he would say something and later if I would reference it, he’d say, I didn’t say that.
You said that. See, you’re losing your mind. I didn’t say that. You’re always forgetting everything. And that was a big tactic in my relationship that gaslighting. toxic behavior. If you, if you always feel like you’re walking on eggshells and you can’t express anything without it being an argument, you’re never allowed to talk, like sit down and talk about how you feel, that’s a problem.
And for me, if I said once, I was like, I feel like I’m walking on eggshells. And he said, I feel like I’m walking on eggshells. I just wrote you an email about.
Raven: Of course he did.
Ashlee L: was like, where? No, you didn’t. And I grabbed my phone and he is like, it’s in my drafts. And I walked around him and sat down, like on his lap, on the computer and was like, where I don’t see it, where he’s like, I wrote it, I just haven’t sent it yet.
But like, I’m sitting literally looking at his email , and we’re in the middle of an argument and I’m like, it’s not here. So again, it, that was me saying eggshells. And yet then he’s gaslighting. , like they’re all of these different tactics. If you’re questioning your own reality, fights with a, a couple or in a couple in that scenario, whether it be same sex or , different sex, it doesn’t matter who you’re with.
Or even a family. Fights happen. People get mad, people storm out, but eventually they can calm down and have some conversation about it. A narcissist will never do. So it goes to level 10, and then they come down to like a level two. You’re still at a level 10. And then that’s when we have what’s called reactive abuse.
When you just are like a boiling pot and you boil over, they go back down to a level two. And then for us, it would result in a lot of different things either. . He liked to sleep in a separate bed. Sometimes he would say the dogs night would wake him up. So either he would just go sleep in another room or he would go to his office and sleep at his office in San Antonio where he lived for like a year and a half after we broke up.
There would be a separation or he would not wanna go anywhere and. , I didn’t really tell anyone this for a long time, but I used to take my three dogs, put them in the car when we were new to Austin, and I felt that gut feeling like I needed to run that fight or flight, like I wasn’t safe and not that this is safe, but I used to sleep in the car with my three dogs in the parking lot.
Ashlee L: That’s not normal.
Ashlee L: That’s an abusive situation. But I also know that that’s not uncommon. , I used to have this weird. bizarre thing when he would come home and granted, I love this man. I had a great time with this man. I plan to marry this man and have his children, but for some reason I would get these weird butterflies when he would , come home sometimes, and I had this strange reaction to that.
And it would typically be running to the. and I would like do laundry and like, or pretend to be doing the laundry. And he’d be like, babe, how often are you doing the fucking laundry? Like, what’s going on? You in the laundry? And I found out later that most survivors, whether they were cognizant of it or not, had a hiding place. And that was my hiding place. And I didn’t know that that’s what it was. But for some odd reason, I ran to the closet to feel.
Raven: Yeah. Wow. that’s incredible. Thank you for sharing that.
Ashlee L: Yeah. But those are all signs. , if, if any of those things ring true to you, then the scenario you are in, isn’t it? It’s not normal or safe.
Raven: Yeah. Yeah. And a normal cooling off period could be a few hours till the next, morning . And then the other person comes back. Let’s say you said sorry, but the other person didn’t. In a healthy relationship, that person who hadn’t said, sorry, yet if it’s healthy with good intentions, they’ll come back and they’ll say, I’m sorry, that was really.
Difficult. Yesterday I really struggled like when you said this, this made me feel and yada yada, I’ll do better. And Lance, I heard you like, this is what I’ll do
to move forward. And then you actually see the actions that they do
versus the narcissist will not even apologize at all. They will storm off, they’ll neglect you.
Like you said, he would go off wherever or you didn’t feel safe. And they stay and they like command the.
And then you left.
Ashlee L: Then the next day I would be emotionally hungover and wounded and he’d be like, what’s going on,
Come on, let’s go. Let’s go on the boat. It’s like they’re just fine. And they put that on the shelf. It’s done. It’s over, and we have to suck it up. Because if we go back to, no, I’m not okay, because this happened, then we’re starting a fight.
Then we’re the problem. It’s a.
Raven: Yeah. And I think the biggest, I’m gonna say a mistake in those situations when you’re in it as the victim is not saying something. because if you had said something, it could, yes, of course, blow up into something bigger, another fight, which would be necessary for possibly a breakup or some big aha moment to happen in your consciousness.
And yes, it could turn into something physical as well, which would be very unfortunate, but that would also be a very good, obvious sign to you that this needs to end sooner than later. Like, stop holding on your dear life to this sinking.
Ashlee L: Yeah. And that’s so hard when you’re trauma bonded.
Raven: It is cuz you don’t want it to sink and you want it, you wanna save it and to fix it. And to save them and
Ashlee L: Because you are the person on a massive ship with a solo cup.
Raven: Yeah. Yes. And the water’s just pouring in. Yeah. . Is there any other signs
Ashlee L: well I think when you start to feel like you’re losing your voice and you can’t say anything anymore, and I know that sounds a lot like walking on eggshells, but like literally can’t speak, , I think we talk a lot about the narcissist isolating, you, but I actually think we isolate ourselves.
because , we also hold up this false reality, right? It’s like this whole, our whole life is propped up on, , on toothpicks. And if we don’t pretend that everything is fine, not only do we have punishment from them, but then how will everyone else see us? And then they’ll try and push you into leaving before you’re ready.
So I think there’s a lot of isolation that happens on our part as well, and I definitely experience that. . There were people I was close to that I didn’t talk to as frequently, because there were days where I knew they would say, how are you? How are you guys? How, how is he? And I was expected to be like, oh, he’s great.
He’s starting this new company and he’s doing this and he’s doing that. But I didn’t feel emotionally up for it. And if you find that you’re not able to have. Those conversations openly with your friends or being able to talk to your family members openly, that’s a problem, , and, and you do get punished for being honest.
There was a time where I was telling a girlfriend about an argument we’d had, just cuz I needed someone to talk to and it was over and we were fine. I didn’t know he was listening from the other room and I didn’t say anything wrong. I really honestly didn’t, I didn’t say anything bad about him. I just talked about the fight and I also talked about my poor reaction and how I blew up and , I didn’t get why I was being so emotional.
Now I know why after all the years of abuse, but , I talked about both sides of it. And he got really angry with me and said it was my job to make him look good, that it wasn’t my job to, in his words, throw him under the bus to our friends.
Raven: Oh, I love how they use that phrase all the time. That or air our dirty laundry.
Ashlee L: Yeah. Well guess, guess who got it dirty.
Raven: But that’s normal emotional processing. A healthy, emotionally mature person. Processes it and you were processing it very healthy cuz you were taking responsibility. You weren’t blaming and throwing, you technically were not even throwing him under the bus. It’s like, oh, I reacted like this. But just that even happening is not okay in the public eye for the narcissist because they have to be perfect out everywhere.
Ashlee L: So when you can’t express what’s going on, and I’m not saying you need to tell all your friends and family about your personal relationships and every fight you have. No, you should not. But if you can’t tell them what’s happening behind closed doors, that’s where it’s a problem. ?
And, and the questioning your reality because they do gaslight you, you start to question. , did I see that? Did I like, you questioned what you saw. You questioned what you heard. You don’t trust yourself anymore. And when you get to a point where you can’t even trust yourself anymore, then that is, that’s your big red flag about what’s going on with you versus, , red flags with your partner.
But I think for me, that’s a really big one.
Raven: I mean, a healthy relationship is not gonna have you question your sanity. That is absolutely a sign of abuse, emotional abuse, narcissistic abuse. Yeah.
Ashlee L: absolutely.
Raven: We already went over the moment. You woke up. Yeah. You was there any other thoughts about your aha moment because you went to therapy?
Ashlee L: Yeah. I started therapy and then I wasn’t. Great with it. Like I just wasn’t ready to come to terms. I had a lot to unpack, right? I moved across country. I was in love with someone that I, for four of the five years planning our wedding, and then in the end, all of a sudden he suddenly wanted to have a baby, and I really wanted that.
So now I had to unpack my own infertility
he knew you wanted that because that was at a very crucial moment where you packed his stuff up and you really, really, truly were over it. And then he pulled out that silver ribbon and was like, I have one more stop. And this is the stop. She wants a baby. , and that’s why he kept putting it off, right?
Because he probably didn’t really want.
Ashlee L: Yeah, he pulled that one out for sure. For me, the moment when I couldn’t anymore. We had been talking on and off in the nine months after he left, and sometimes he would reach out to me, then we wouldn’t talk, or then I would miss him desperately and I’d reach out to him.
He did all kinds of terrible things. At one point we slept together. Like, I mean, this is normal for adults and he really made it seem. , there possibly was a future for us, and that he was thinking about that, and we were starting to talk about that, and we expressed how much we loved each other. And then he ghosted me and just vanished, and I lost it.
And I was like, I’m not just some girl, like I’m the one you were trying to have a baby with less than a year ago. And all of this, it’s like their behavior starts to unravel after the fact. Like even in the hoovering and all that stuff, their behavior gets worse. And it’s like the portrait of Dorian. , like they start to get uglier, their behavior gets uglier, and the back and forth just got really just so tough for me.
And when I looked in the mirror one day after about nine months of it, and I could have easily been looking at you, I just couldn’t anymore. Like there was nothing left of me. And so he emailed me. He went on the , family ski trip again, , the following year, the family
Raven: momentous family ski trips.
Ashlee L: already changed my phone number.
He couldn’t call me or text me now, so he sent me an email and it was an email with a link to TikTok. Where it was some product for the dogs to wash their feet. I lost it because why? And so I just
Raven: it was,
his way in, right? It was like, Him that was gonna come in. It was again, the care for the dogs that was gonna bring him
Ashlee L: anything, yeah, it was just a way to, it was just a way to talk to me. and I lost it and I was like, I know where you are. You’re on our, the family ski trip if you miss me. You could just say, you miss me.
Like, what are you doing? You don’t even have my phone number. Like now you’re emailing me and I keep asking you to leave me alone. Like, what the fuck? So we went back and forth a couple of times and I just couldn’t. And so that’s when I called out the abuse and was like, I have document. from the therapist that we saw.
You were my abuser. I’ve asked you to leave me alone and you won’t. And I just outlined everything about the type of abuse , and I told him, I was like, I can’t, , I’m a shell of myself, like, you broke me. I don’t know what you wanted out of this, but you got it. Like, , I’m barely functioning.
And at that point I would say I was definitely suicidal. Like a lot of survivors are.
Ashlee L: and he saw that and he knew, and he still kept pushing. And so that last email where I just unloaded, I had never heard from him again. And I knew those were the buttons to push, like I said before, because he grew up in an abusive household.
And once I did say I thought he was manipulative and he lost it, and I saw then that like, oh, I didn’t mean to push a button, but that’s a button.
Raven: I’m interesting. Interestingly enough, I’m surprised that. He did go quiet after you called him out on that versus sending you like a dissertation, , like five page email. But yeah, , you knew what to say.
Ashlee L: I have a tracker on my email just for clients. Sometimes our emails like, we’ll ask for assets and we don’t get them. And I don’t know why I looked at that at some point in the following days.
I think I wondered if he got it because to your point, I expected something.
Ashlee L: He didn’t respond. Fine and great. And after that I set up a rule that whatever he sent me would go to my trash, but he did read it 17 times in the first day.
Ashlee L: So it definitely, hit the mark and, and I’ve only been in person seeing like in the same spot with him once, and it was not pleasant and he definitely continued to try and get my attention.
but I was not going to engage because I think no contact includes not engaging when you find yourself in person with them,
Yeah. That would’ve just shot my nerves into something crazy. And they do always come back to her view, no matter how many, they just always do. Mine would a couple times, and then even just recently, ironic, I won’t reveal too much, but it was an email and it was like, Hey, in the subject line.
And I, and it was not from his name, and I was like, this seems like him, so I’m just gonna delete it. and I.
Ashlee L: they do come back over and over. I mean, little weird things happen where you’re like, you get an email confirmation from your utility company that your plan was changed and you’re like, I didn’t call them. Like, what was that? Things like that happen a lot. and No, , mine is, I don’t often hear details of his life.
My people, the few people that I know, know him, know, I don’t wanna know, but I, I do know that, or I have heard that he met someone within two months. They moved in together and, , jumped in very quickly and moved back to the same neighborhood we used to live in. And so he
Raven: They can’t be alone. They cannot be alone. They have to find supply immediately, and if that supply leaves, then they’ll try back with you and. . You just have to be really careful. Always, always no contact. Like you said, no engagement.
Ashlee L: And them knowing that you’re not an option, you’re not a good source of supply. Like he knows I’m not an option I’m, he knows about the videos. I’m sure, , he knows I’m no longer an option, so I will never hear from him again, which is unusual. But most people don’t go as far as I did in terms of in finding themselves on having their own podcast or being on other people’s podcasts like yours, or having lots of followers on TikTok, like, that’s not normal.
I don’t know how this even happened, but. , he knows I’m not an option, but normally you are correct. They, they don’t give up. They do show up for years. Yesterday, I’m in a group chat with some other survivors and one of them is coaching someone and the ex that they went no contact with everywhere, sent them a dollar on Venmo just so they could send them a note.
Raven: Gosh. Any way they can get in, absolutely they
Ashlee L: Yeah, I’ve heard about WhatsApp or Venmo. Any way they can’t. LinkedIn, like who messages anybody on LinkedIn, but apparently a narcissist will.
Raven: however they can
Ashlee L: yourself. Yeah. Protect yourself wherever you can.
Raven: Yeah. And I also would advise on your phones to protect your location. Like turn off your location. So whatever pictures you take that you post on social media, they can’t track where that is because they could just show up in person and be like, Hey.
Ashlee L: Yeah, you don’t tag your location on your photos, but you also should ,
have them blocked.
Raven: Yeah. At the very least, yes.
Ashlee L: At the very least. And what’s really tough
Raven: I would say delete the phone number altogether. Cuz then you’re not tempted to unblock them when you’re like drinking or something and you’re sad
Ashlee L: Delete it, delete the phone number. And the tough thing too is that you have to come to terms like my therapist all the time. I hate the phrase she uses like, well, today we need radical acceptance. And I’m like, listen, Tina but she’s right because one of the things that we have to come to radical acceptance about is that you’re not just losing the narcissist.
And that’s where it gets really. , for me, I lost this for the most part. Not all of them. Some of the people are still in my life, as complicated as that is, but I lost a big chunk of a really large family that I became very close with and I loved deeply. I would do anything for them. And so all my friends, for the most part were his friends. , your circle gets really small and sometimes , there are those mutual friends that you’re not super close with, but they’ll still hang out with your ex. And to me, if they still hang out with them when they know what happened or even have an inkling of what happened, they’re condoning the abuse.
And so I’ve gone on a blocking spree for all of them.
Raven: and they will bring information and they’ll spy on you for.
Ashlee L: Yeah, I mean, I just, I’ve blocked all of the mutual acquaintances and the only mutual friends we have left. I hate to say this, but have chosen, I have not asked anyone to, but they’ve made that choice on their own, that they’re on team Ashley , as they call it. And they don’t talk to him anymore. and I just can’t put myself, there’s very few people in my life I should say, who have contact with him and those who do, it’s only a couple and they know there is a major separation of church and state.
Some are his family and some see him for exactly who he is and are definitely on my side. And, , I hate that they have to navigate that complicated situation, but,
Raven: that is complicated. And it might still, maybe in the future not be like that. Like I thought I had a really close ally. And during hashtag Me too, she was like, you made a mess of this. And she defended him cuz obviously ultimately she’s his blood. So
Ashlee L: seem to be supporters and I love them and they’re my family and who knows, but I do think that. , it just radical acceptance about the fact that your circle is going to get smaller, and I think we need that too. We need to calm a lot of that noise to heal,
Ashlee L: , it needs to get quiet.
Raven: And it’ll shift and change. You’ll start to change , your circles and you’ll start meeting new friends and build another group that’s healthier and more supportive. And
Ashlee L: Yeah,
Raven: Change is inevitable, but especially as a survivor. narcissistic abuse. Abuse,
Ashlee L: So true. , it’s, it’s, it’s crazy how much change you’re faced with.
Raven: Yeah. I mean those are, I think we shared all of the essential survivor secrets,
Ashlee L: Yeah. I mean, learning boundaries is important. Self, that one’s a hard one. , self-discovery, someone said you need to, like, you don’t know who you are anymore after abuse. Like, who do you wanna be?
Ashlee L: , and, and you wanna gravitate back to the old you. Well, I wanna be old Ashley, who wasn’t ever exposed to.
who didn’t look at the world the way I look at it, who didn’t suffer through any of the trauma. I wanna be that girl. But that’s not possible. So how do you look forward and find who that new person is that you want to be? How do you carry on the lessons, but find your way to that person? I think for me, the only other thing that you have to do, a tip to heal is we all focus so much on.
breaking trauma bond, getting our independence, all of that. But you can’t do any of that until you resolve the cognitive dissonance, until you stop looking at them as a good person who does bad things, and you can embrace the really difficult reality that they are a bad person who does some good things, then you can’t heal.
that’s, that’s the first and most important step cuz everything else can fall in line behind that. But if you can’t get your head around that, you can’t heal.
Raven: Yeah. And it’s really hard cuz you’re like, oh, they did this and that. That was so nice. . It was all just a tactic to get what they wanted. Selfishly, that was all fake,
Ashlee L: Yeah.
Raven: which is really hard to accept. Radical acceptance is the phrase,
Ashlee L: Yeah, it is. It’s the worst. I don’t like it. I don’t like it. I don’t enjoy it. But it is, we just have to accept that these are people who are really willing to do incredibly damaging things to other people and feel absolutely no remorse about it. And we have to accept that this was actually done to us and that’s hard.
Ashlee L: Then move on and, and find ways to find a better. because we’re not gonna get justice. We’re not gonna get closure. We’re only going to get what’s in front of us, and that’s what we decide for it to be.
Raven: Yeah. And leave up the justice to Karma and let that be
taken care of over
Ashlee L: Oh that
work out on its own too. I think people are very fixated on revenge and karma, but like don’t, that’s just more of them and their energy. Like, look at what’s ahead of you and what do you want and how do you wanna get it? How do you wanna get there? The rest of it will all sort itself out.
Raven: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for your time. It’s been so amazing. Share with, the empaths, where can we stay connected to you
Ashlee L: I post one video a day on TikTok. I have tons of them. I also post on Instagram. My handle is the narc. and me and I have a podcast with incredible guests like you and it’s also called The Narc and Me, and it’s on Spotify, apple, and pretty much anywhere , you get your podcasts and you can connect with me there.
Raven: Thank you so much.
Ashlee L: You’re welcome. Thank you again for having me. I really appreciate it.
Raven: Oh yeah. Thank you so much for being here and bringing your story and sharing it vulnerably and so bravely. .
Ashlee L: You’re welcome and I really appreciate you , spreading the awareness about it. It’s a really important topic.
Raven: As we both confirmed, Ashley and I in this conversation, the unseen struggle in being a survivor of narcissistic abuse is real. So for all my note takers out there, number one, understand the narcissist manipulative tactics. Number two, seek professional. Number three, establish healthy boundaries and keep firm.
Number four, don’t worry about what others think. Number five, don’t try to change the narcissist. And number six, losing people is part of the process. And if they support the abuser, they weren’t really healthy for you.
don’t forget to grab your free 10 ways in How to Overcome Pain and Live Narc free audio series. The link is in the blog page in the bio. Meditation can end your suffering from narc abuse Practice daily. Meditations in the free Luvo app. Download the Google Play or Apple App store. Now I am honored to be hosting live guided meditations in March for Sanjeep on this app.
Learn more in episode 12. Five powerful techniques for increasing your vibration to repel the. Grab all the links to everything I’ve mentioned on the blog page in the show notes. If you enjoyed this episode, please take a screenshot and share it on your socials and tag me at Raven Scott Show And remember, always keep your unique light shining.