My Repetitious Compulsive Quest for Love from Narcissistic Men

Discovering his engagement on her blog was my bottom, but it wasn’t the end. Naturally, I kept returning to those idyllic black and white portraits of them in nature laughing, kissing, prancing. She was beautiful. A photographer. I suspected she didn’t know about me. That would change.
Sadly, this woman who he eventually married did not heed my warnings. After they divorced, she and I talked. He was a nightmare. The quintessential snake. A covert malignant narcissist in every sense of the word. Funny how in hindsight I dodged a bullet, albeit it didn’t seem that way at the time.
Instead, what ensued was a torturous process of fixating over the lies and degradation.

It was from that place I commenced with gluing myself back together. Not that I was all there to begin with, prior to this farce of a relationship, and six months with a narcissist will certainly do you in. But, at least I was finally facing with trepidation the truth.
We either willingly see reality for what it is or life inevitably thrusts it upon us in the most brutal ways.
There is no escaping consequence. In lucid moments of hurt and outrage, I knew I was being used, that I was nothing but sexual supply. Still, I convinced myself that there was more. The snake was right in front of me, but like so many lonely women I traded in my instincts for a masochistic romantic fantasy.

I felt his distancing his hot and cold posturing, his seductive maneuvering coupled with his presentation of expressed interest and the feigned desire to know me. When I questioned him, I was stonewalled. Abandoned. Old fears of the dark and childhood reared their ugly head. I capitulated. It didn’t take much. The groveling ferrel child came out to play. She was desperate and he knew that. It fed his sadistic impulse to debase.
Being on the receiving end of not mattering kills the soul.

It’s an annihilating experience to be taunted with love, to have dependency needs exploited. To be reduced to nothing. It led to my compulsive relentless pursuit of love from treacherous men.
Repetition compulsion is a psychological phenomenon in which a person repeats an event or its circumstances over and over again. This includes reenacting the event or putting oneself in situations where the event is likely to happen again.
The repetition compulsion is a futile attempt to master an unbearable core injury. It doesn’t work. One cannot get water from a stone.
Nevertheless, I blamed myself, as all children do for their caretaker’s failings.

The rejected child became the rejected lover. Driven by the child’s desperation I sought to get the love I needed from those who didn’t have it to give. Intellectually, I knew this. It was excruciatingly painful to know what I knew, so I made myself wrong. I bought into the lies. I told myself I felt a heart connection with him. He conveyed he did as well. He was deceptive and insincere. I know that now. I knew it then, but I wasn’t ready to own it.
I got hooked on him giving me the respect I was challenged to give myself. I knew I needed to somehow muster up enough self-love and self-respect so as to forgive myself for partaking in this humiliation, to break out of this pattern. Hence, I took a five-year hiatus from dating and sex.

The prolonged retreat from amorous pursuits allowed me to dismantle this insidious tormenter-redeemer motif that always left me defenseless, broken and unprotected.
The lessons gleaned from this monastic withdrawal were invaluable.
It taught me that I am my only redeemer, and paradoxically, the ultimate truth is that there is no need for redemption. To think there is suggests punishment. That’s what I really needed to understand.
My need to believe in another can never be at the expense of repudiating myself.

It’s imperative to stand in my truth and to risk asserting my reality. I had let go of my willfulness and allow the chips to fall where they may.
The only way to weed out the undesirables in the world is by being completely genuine and strong in one’s intuitive knowing. Intuitive knowing is not pathological or over-sensitive or demanding. It knows what it sees and feels and perceives on a deep level.

When I stand in my authority I see the snake. Hold onto that sentiment. It was only by seeing the snake could I clearly see the man of heart who now stands before me. It was only by fully standing alone in my complete authentic powerful self that I could manifest the love I strove to create.


Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW
NYC Therapist & Author. Complex Trauma & Addiction. Dual citizen, traveler, lover of art and nature. I appreciate the absurd.

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Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW

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