Leslie Morgan Steiner is a brave woman. It takes real courage to face choices you made and patterns you created that nearly cost you your life; it takes guts to get up in front of hundreds to be filmed admitting what you now know for media that will ultimately be seen by hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions.
Watch a clip of her Tedx Ranier ( originally found via Upworthy) :
Her book, Crazy Love, is amazingly, brutally honest about domestic violence, about getting caught up in truly crazy love with a narcissist.
At 22, Leslie Morgan Steiner seemed to have it all: good looks, a Harvard diploma, a glamorous job in New York City. Plus a handsome, funny boyfriend who adored her. But behind her façade of success, this golden girl hid a dark secret. She’d made a mistake shared by millions: she fell in love with the wrong person.
At first, Leslie and Conor seemed perfect together. Then came the fights she tried to ignore: he pushed her down the stairs, choked her during an argument, and threatened her with a gun. Several times, he came close to making good on his threat to kill her. With each attack, Leslie lost another piece of herself. Why didn’t she leave? She stayed because she loved him. Gripping and utterly compelling, Crazy Love takes you inside the violent, devastating world of abusive love and makes you feel the power and powerlessness of abuse that can take place anywhere and to anyone.
Here she shares some advice
There are a lot of jokes out there about narcissists, but the phenomena and the damage they can do is real. I sought out her book after I saw the Upworthy video a few months ago; I recognized what had happened to me in my last relationship and why.
It wasn’t easy to accept, but now I’m that much closer to getting completely clear about why I chose to get involved with someone who put himself above all others and meant me harm.
Of course, I didn’t know he was a dangerous narcissist when we met. In the honeymoon stage he was supportive, kind, attentive, and ever so present. He said all the right things. But I was missing all the red flags that were spinning towards my face. He needed to be in control, I was never to closely question him, I was never to express anger, he slowly began isolating me, demanding that I cut off from family and friends.
But at the same time, he was loving, kind, attentive, apologetic, tender, low-key.
He was also lying continually about—-Everything. I had something he wanted: my complete adoration. However, I couldn’t sustain that adoration when the truth came to light bit by bit. That’s when the violence started.
When I revealed myself to be like all the others who had their own opinions, put their children first, fought back, had a mouth. Then, I was not so valuable or able to meet his needs.
Suddenly like the proverbial flipped switch, he was demeaning, hypercritical, angry, unreachable emotionally, harsh, caustic, belittling, defensive, paranoid, mistrustful, at once jealous and indifferent, and violent.
In part, narcissists are attracted to caretakers, the ones who seem to have it together. Narcissists require total control in order to deal with their anxiety. They need to be convinced by their entourage that they really are OK.
Much like the naked Emperor in The Emperor’s New Clothes, they need the fawning voices of others to feel good about themselves. Once the illusion is broken, all hell can break loose.
Ironically, caretakers often become caretakers in order to win the love and acceptance they so painfully need. The convoluted logic is that if you are really good at keeping it all together for everybody, and solving everyone’s problems, maybe just maybe someone will let you know you are good enough.
The painful truth is that if you don’t believe you are good enough, based on your truth alone, nobody alive can truly make you feel good enough.
The cure is to learn to advocate for yourself, yes, love yourself, enough to recognize a poison pond and refuse to try to draw your sustenance from it. I’m not writing this to preach; I include myself here, as a reminder.
I also found information and opportunities for action at INCITE’s web site and blog, including a campaign to support Marissa Alexander who faces 60 years in prison for attempting to defend herself against her abuser. INCITE! is a “nation-wide network of radical feminists of color working to end violence against women, gender non-conforming, and trans people of color, and our communities. ”
I found my way out, and if you need to, I hope and pray you do too.
If you have doubts as to whether you are experiencing abuse, take a look at this list of ways people can be abusive:
- Telling you that you can never do anything right
- Showing jealousy of your friends and time spent away
- Keeping you or discouraging you from seeing friends or family members
- Embarrassing or shaming you with put-downs
- Controlling every penny spent in the household
- Taking your money or refusing to give you money for expenses
- Looking at you or acting in ways that scare you
- Controlling who you see, where you go, or what you do
- Preventing you from making your own decisions
- Telling you that you are a bad parent or threatening to harm or take away your children
- Preventing you from working or attending school
- Destroying your property or threatening to hurt or kill your pets
- Intimidating you with guns, knives or other weapons
- Pressuring you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with
- Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol
- Threatening to harm your children or take your children away
Next on my reading list:
More Information on Domestic Violence is available here.
Peace to you and yours,