The Narcissist Used my Past Against Me

I received a comment / question from Jane Doe this morning which has inspired me to discuss this topic a bit further. So much of my passion around this blog is helping other people identify the abuse that they are living in and find the information and strength to get out.

Jane Doe indicated that she had been searching for “the past” as rationale for abuse and came across my blog. Here is the gist of her comment/question:

I just found your blog today and have been devouring all the posts one by one. I have a question. You mention that your Narcissist would get upset about your past. Can you elaborate on that? My husband (soon to be ex husband) started his physical violence based on his idea that my past was wrong and that I had “lied” to him about it and if he had known what a “terrible girl” I was in my past, he never would have married me etc. I’m still in the “it might have been my fault” phase. If you could elaborate, (either personally in an email or as a reply to this) on your thoughts about the past being a reason for abuse, it would mean the world and a half to me. Thank you in advance!

I have touched on this topic in my writing because it was a big theme with The Narcissist and his abuse, but here are the ways that The Narcissist used my past as rationale for abuse and a means to make me feel worthless.

When I first met The Narcissist he preached about being a good moral person. He bragged that he had only ever had sex with his high school girlfriend and one real relationship. He bragged that he had never tried any form of drugs and he had only ever been drunk once or twice. He told me endless stories about his life, his upbringing, and his decision making that made him appear to be a good, morally sound, and ethical person through and through.

I was 23 years old, and I had only known this person for a few weeks. I was in a little bit of a partying phase in my life. I drank regularly with my friends, I smoked pot occasionally, I had had a few sexual partners in the past but was really a relationship person and had several boyfriends of a few years each. I was not a bad person in any way, shape or form. I did what I think was a natural reaction for someone a bit immature and wasn’t completely forthright with all of the information. I shared the highlights but did not dive into all of the details. I learned a bit from his reactions to the information that I shared that he didn’t view things as good, and it made me feel insecure to tell him about them. At first, his story of his life actually inspired me a bit… it made me want to be a better person.I stopped going out, I stopped smoking pot, I drank very minimally… I changed my behavior because I was inspired to.

At some point before we were even married, The Narcissist hacked into my personal email account where he found some photos I had emailed to a girlfriend from a party a few months back. He also found the web link to my work email account within my personal email and hacked into that. He confronted me about the pictures, and also about some email exchanges that I had with a co-worker which he deemed “flirtatious” and “inappropriate.” Despite the fact that all of these things occurred before I ever even met him, The Narcissist accused me of being “someone that he didn’t know”, “someone that he couldn’t trust” and “a liar.” He began to subtly threaten me at that point that “I was not the girl he thought I was” and that “maybe we weren’t meant to be” (despite the fact that he had been drilling that into my head for the last several weeks.) This immediately threw me into a frenzy of panic. I felt like I was going to lose the best thing that I had ever experienced. I felt like I was not worthy of The Narcissist because I had done all of these “horrible” things in my past and he never did those things. I immediately felt like I had to prove to The Narcissist that I was worth his love and attention. These actions basically put me into a downward spiral that didn’t end for 8 years.

From that point on, The Narcissist became obsessed with knowing every single detail about my past, and he used my insecurities and my feelings of not being good enough for him to manipulate me. By that time he was deployed and we were managing a long-distance relationship. We spent hours and hours talking on the phone or video chatting through Skype. About 90% of what we talked about had to do with my past or about lying. The Narcissist would claim that all he cared about was the truth, that it was the single most valuable thing to him, and that the best gift I could give him was honesty. However, it became very clear that when I gave him a glimpse of honesty about something he didn’t like, he would react badly. One of the craziest examples I can recall of this was around the penis size of the guys I had been with in the past. At that point in time I had given him the exact numbers of partners I had been with before him (which was minimal) and my best estimate of the number of times I had had sex with each of them. Now, he wanted to know how his penis size compared to them. He literally wanted me to remember as precisely as possible how many inches in length and diameter each of them had been. I tried my best to give him numbers and sizes and compare them to objects that I could relate to the size… but seriously it was all guessing. There was one partner who had been significantly larger than the rest and larger than The Narcissist by far. When I expressed this as nicely as I could come up with The Narcissist flipped out. He told me that what I was describing was not possible, that the person had to be using a penis pump, and the worst part of it all… now he didn’t want to be with me any more because I had a stretched out vagina and he couldn’t continue having sex with me knowing that someone else had been deeper inside of me and stretched me out further than he could. The only way that I was able to get The Narcissist to “forgive me” on this topic was go visit a specialist and get information on Vaginal Rejuvenation… which was a bizarre and horrifying experience.

The topic of my past and the idea that I was a liar became a constant theme in the rest of our marriage. The crazy cycle went something like this…

  1. I would tell the complete truth because that was what The Narcissist told me he wanted.
  2. The Narcissist would react horribly, and I would back-track to a point where he was no longer mad at me.
  3. The Narcissist would intentionally try to “catch me” in a lie by saying something like… “So you told me that guy #3 was about 5 inches right??” when I would answer with “yep that’s what I said” he would say “No, that is not what you said… I clearly remember… you are lying and I knew it!” and that would launch into a lengthy conversation where I would have to convince him I was telling the truth.
  4. I literally had told so many truths and so many lies and so many white lies and left out so much information and was turned in so many directions that I could not even remember which way was up. I was in a constant state of panic and whenever he asked me a question about anything I braced for the worst.

When The Narcissist came home from his deployment and we were married and living together his focus on my past became the central reason and theme for his physical abuse. Everything would set him off (I think mainly from his PTSD) and it would all circle back to the fact that I was “a liar” “he couldn’t trust me” and that “he didn’t want to be with someone like me.” He would pin me down on the floor and ask me a question about something specific… I would answer him with the truth, and then he would slap me across the face over and over and over again until I gave him the answer he wanted to hear. We would be driving to do something fun and he would hear a song lyric that made him think of my past and he would start banging my head on the window because my past was so painful to him. We would watch a TV show together and seeing something on the show would make him think of my past and he would lock himself in the bedroom and make me sleep on the floor outside of the door.

Through this lengthy and exhausting process The Narcissist literally brainwashed me into believing that I was a bad person for the things that I had done in my past, that he was a good person because he had never done those things, that I didn’t deserve to have such a good person, and that I wasn’t worthy of his love. I literally spent 8 years trying to prove to The Narcissist that I was worthy by doing absolutely everything I could to be the best wife in the world… and none of it ever made a difference.

What I came to discover many years after I had married The Narcissist was that he lied about his past… pretty much in it’s entirety. The Narcissist was married when I met him… he lied about that. He did marry his high school sweetheart whom he lost his virginity to, but he cheated on her with 4 people that I was aware of ( and I bet that number is higher.) He was even sleeping with a girl in a different city a few weekends before I met him! He also slept with his wife several times after he met me (technically cheating on me I guess??) and there were several cases that I am aware of where he was lying to me about talking to his ex-wife while we were married, talking with other girls from his past while we married, etc. etc.

To the best of my ability… I think that The Narcissist was projecting his own shame and guilt for the decisions that he made in his past onto me. He found that he could use this method to control me… to constantly make me feel inferior, to constantly be the “better person,” to keep me in a constant state of panic and a constant state of vying for his approval and love and attention. It was a sick and twisted type of mind f*ckery that only a narcissist could conceive.

I am sure that there are a TON of stories I am forgetting on this topic because seriously it consumed my entire marriage… but as I think of more I promise to share.

I will say, one of the most healing aspects of spending time with someone new has been the ability to freely, openly and honestly share my past and not be shamed, accused, or tormented because of it.

Jane Doe, I hope this helps. ❤


16 thoughts on “The Narcissist Used my Past Against Me

  1. I continue to be amazed at all you went through with this guy. Reading this makes me want to set up a school for people in order to learn how to deal with this kind of disorder!

    STBX would get upset about my past but instead of being obsessed by it like The Narcissist, he didn’t want me to talk about it at all. I could tell you numerous stories about his high school and college life but I bet he couldn’t tell you anything about mine.

    The only quibble I have, and it’s really quite small, is this idea that he was projecting his shame and guilt about his own behavior onto you. Narcissists don’t have guilt or shame. People who lie and cheat figure that everyone does that exact same thing. They accuse you because they are doing it and decide you must be, too; after all, it’s not that bad of a thing to do if everyone is doing it. There’s nothing about shame or guilt. Simply trying to bring you down to their level.

    I’m so glad you got out and I hope your story is helpful to those people still in relationships like that. Maybe that will recognize themselves in your story.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. SpaghettiSam, Thank you! I definitely agree that most Narcissists don’t feel any shame… and maybe my Narcissist wasn’t feeling shame – but throughout our marriage he definitely had a habit of projecting all of his crap onto me in one way or another. It is a theme I have spent a great deal of time discussing in therapy! I think that for some reason he was fixated on my past because he was obsessed with coming across as perfect. Who ever really knows for sure what is going on in a crazy mind like that though! ❤


  2. I just read through your post 5 times. It could have honestly been written by me. This was, exactly how it was. He made me feel insane! And you’re right. I told so many truths and then got beaten black and blue so then I told so many lies and white lies which ended up leading to him “catching” me in a lie (he used to trick me EXACTLY like The Narcissist tricked you!) which resulted in more violence because he cared about the truth and couldn’t believe he had married such a liar. I have bookmarked this post and will be revisiting it anytime I feel like “if only I hadn’t had a past…”.

    My husband always portrayed himself as “pure” as well and would say that he has never been physical with a girl before me (even though he had been in 3 different relationships before me) and that he was a virgin till I came into his life and how could I not have saved myself for him. This is absolutely bizarre in retrospect because he had sex with me on our third date!!!! I now wonder if he was telling the truth…

    Regardless though, thank you for this. I see my story in your story and that helps me realize that he was the unhealthy one. Thank you ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Jane Doe, perhaps we were married to the same freak of nature??? I am so glad to hear that you are out of that situation, and fully understand the ups and downs of the healing process. There is still a lot that I am working on, but I can say that every single day away from the Narcissist has been worlds better than even the best moments with him. Stay strong! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have been reading your blog all day and cannot believe how similar my experience was. I have been reading about this for the past 2 years (way too much more than I’d like to admit) and until now, had not seen anyone else mention and obsession with the past. This was one of the key elements of his MO, as well as honesty. He even said the exact words to me once that honesty is the best gift. He Had to know every detail about my past relationships/dates, etc. and would repeatedly ask me the same questions. In the beginning I would leave out small details that I, and I would imagine any other normal human being, deemed unimportant ( i.e, I told him I slept with someone but did not tell him where, for how long, positions, etc). When he would ask me the same question down the road, as he always did, I would divulge the full story and therefore be caught in a lie. I remember That panicked feeling during the moment I would realize he had “caught me in a lie” and the unavoidable hell that was about to break loose… One of those fights that began with getting booted out of the car (just like you mentioned) and then talking in circles for four hours, possibly with some violence mixed in, on a Friday night instead of going out like we had planned. I also have plenty of experience with the “walk away”……From Costco to the airport to bourbon street after a friend’s wedding, that is all-too-familiar. And guess what detail from my past he was completely obsessed with and was the focus of most of these ridiculous fights? The penis size of my exes. Like I said, I cannot believe the similarities. I was so embarrassed to be in a situation like that… Not only staying in an abusive relationship, but staying in a relationship where I am abused because my boyfriend thinks I am lying about the penis size of my ex. Thank you so much, now I finally do not feel so alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My “walking on eggshells” consisted of doing everything I could to prevent him from thinking about my past and my lies. On my part this meant never talking about grad school, college, high school… basically anything before I met him because he could always somehow tie every one of my memories to an ex, even if it was completely unrelated. For example, one day I was talking about my dog, who passed away a year before I met the narc, and he said “and just think you were banging Brian the day before he died instead of being there with him” (Brian was a guy that I had dated prior to him- he had dug every detail about him out of me by then, including actual dates that I was with him).

    He was also often triggered by TV/movies, songs. Another big trigger for him was dreams. I remember days when he would wake up with a certain look on his face, the look l quickly learned meant he had a bad dream about me, usually involving one of my exes and lying, and I had a full day of pouting, screaming, interrogation, violence, crying, and who-knows-what-else ahead of me. The worst was when this occurred on day we were both off work (we are both in the medical field) because there was no acceptable excuse (i.e., work) to get away from him. Sometimes I wondered if he really even had those dreams, or if he just made it up because wanted to get his narcissistic supply through fighting on those occasions.

    I too remember the repeated questioning and the hits getting harder and harder, his grip
    getting stronger and stronger, each time I would give an answer that he did not want…

    You mentioned he was triggered by songs…
    Two years ago, just after they nightmare finally ended, I heard the song “love the way you lie” for the millionth time but it was not until then that I realized it was basically the soundtrack for the previous 3.5 years with him. Every time it was played I was so preoccupied with the possibility of him being triggered by it (since he Constantly accusing me of lying) that I was not able to actually listen to the whole song and realize it was describing my doomed situation….
    I feel so many other aspects of life played out in this manner during our relationship. It is amazing how much I was unable to see due to the preoccupation to keep the peace and avoid conflict, which became my number one priority

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I just want to say thank you for sharing your story on the internet. I stumbled across your blog and found myself in your story. Thank you again for the knowledge because I feel like I’m crazy and wrong. Reading this makes me realize I have stepped into a very unhealthy relationship. And also gives me the courage to do what’s the best for my future.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So I know this post is over three years old, but I am shocked. This is almost exactly what my ex narc did. He would deliberately set me up to “catch a lie” and under the guise of “trust”, but really it was all about control. I was degraded to only a sliver of self worth. Luckily I got out alive and never spoke to him again. That was ten years ago, and he still talks about me and blames me for his failures in life.

    Thank you for writing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. wow, thank you so much for sharing!

    Bar the intense abuse, I’m currently going through this right now and can’t seem to see a way out as I can’t financially afford to move out yet! Every detail, down the the asking of penis sizes..

    It helps to know I’m not alone

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dear God, thank you for bringing me to your blog.

    My situation was exactly exactly the same as yours. The nac ex was obsessed with the penis size my ex boyfriends had. He wanted to know the size, diameter, how many times we had intercourse, how hard and so on. Keep in mind these 2 people where over 14years ago( I dated one for 2 months the other for 6) and the interrogation the devil did was 2 years ago. And he insisted that I had a stretched out lady part and had to go get laser. I went to the doctor and she almost lost it when I told her because she said I was completely normal. I’m in my early 30s. He obsessed over this. And he was very abusive.

    He would keep me up at night to interrogate me, rape me, manipulate me, threaten me, not let me sleep and so much more I’ll need a book to write them all. He was insane. I have no idea how I survived to be honest. Nobody nlkne3 anything I had no support whatsoever. This went on more or less a few months and this circle was the 2nd time in 5 years we lived together (we were together for 14 almost, 8 of which he didn’t want people to know we were together) . Then covid came 1st lock down he was an angel with the occasional name calling and discussion what a *insert swear word here * I was. Oh God, I could go on and on. I can’t even handle it drives me crazy what he did to me. What I lethim do to me. It was horrible. I left him after a 3rd round of abuse started cos I was going to kill him or me.

    He treated me, kept changing the reality saying it was my own good and that he saved me, oh Jesus. I can’t even. I can’t.

    The bottom line is I left. And whoever is in an abusive relationship should leave. You will go through a tough time but anything else is better than abuse and I mean anything. I left everything I had almost because material things have no value in the face of self preservation and I do not regret it one bit because even its been a couple of months now that I left and broke up with him, and I’m struggling with depression and anxiety and ptsd and fear and anger but it’s still better than what I had to go through with him.

    Thank you for sharing.

    And I just want to say for anyone dealing with abuse, this thing is never love and will never will be. You deserve better. We all do.


  9. Every single male Narc seems to insecure about their size. There us definitely a correlation. You don’t even have to talk about size. They bring it up and probably because of porn maybe . They think that is the only thing we care about. Its not and we know that when we Loved them it didn’t matter. We cannot share anything with any partner . Opening up to someone you love and then it being used against you. It could be something beyond your control. Like a daughter being in the hospital. We cannot control the forces of thing that happened to us before we met the Narc for they are selfish people that expect people to be perfect. My ex Narc used the Bible to enforce his control and make feel bad about my past yet by his own confession omitted some of past. I dug further and did a background check. Sure enough he is not perfect either. These narcs go above and beyond with their illness to tell us we are sick. I hope and pray that God puts the ones judge us in their place. All this needs to be taught at a young age.
    I told my daughter not share certain things as I fear that some guy might do the same to her.
    I hope to one day join a live small group of people that have been through the same. There is no justification in Domestic Violence physical or verbal. I am tired of it. Isolated and not wanting to date because of ex narc.


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