The constant criticism wore me down. My status in the home was less than one would treat a guest. Minor things from turning on the air conditioning to using the phone were used against me. The rage and verbal assaults could go on for hours leading into days. Nothing I did was good enough. Flowers and shrubs I planted would be mowed or shredded down by the weed eater. I apologized constantly and apologized for apologizing. In the end I was no longer functioning. I could barely get out of bed. Going to the grocery store was overwhelming. Living with a narcissist tears away at your self esteem. It can cause depression and post traumatic stress disorder. It can also affect your ability to concentrate. It can cause health and mental problems.
Once I left the marriage the fog began to lift. I began to piece together what happened to me. I still had problems. I could not concentrate long enough to watch a movie on television. For about 4 years I did not watch tv. I still do not watch the news but It has been 6 years since my divorce and I am able to watch a movie now. I also had fears about leaving my house or driving. These fears were new to me. I never suffered from agoraphobia or had a fear of driving in the past, and used to travel by myself all the time. My apologies to everyone continued with my family and finally my brother pointed this out to me. He saw how broken I was and wondered if I would recover. Recovery has been a long slow process and little by little I have improved. I have not been in therapy but have continually worked with myself over the years.
The struggle is real and recovery can be a long slow process especially for those who were in long marriages. Trauma Bonds are strong and hard to break free from. At first you will miss the very person who abused you. This is lessened with time away from the person and as reality sets in. In a relationship with a narcissist one can suffer from physical abuse, verbal abuse, spiritual abuse, and financial abuse. It feels like you are being systematically broken down with intent. The longer you stay in abuse it becomes harder to leave as cognitive dissonance sets in you find ways to excuse the behavior and it becomes normalized. Recovery is possible once you remove yourself. Each day brings new challenges and strength as you recover.