Love Yourself

Lindsay Levine
18 min readMar 3, 2020

The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself.

I barely even care to finish this anymore. But I’m sure she’s back on her bullshit, and there are likely more broken, innocent girls who will fall for her trap. I’m about as confident that she just got herself blocked by her current victim as I was two and a half months ago that she and her friends were lying to my face. I can only wonder what havoc she wreaked this time. I have so much clarity now that this person is nothing to me, and I finally feel immune to the abusive shit she will spew out at her leisure. I love myself, now.

The funniest part about calling a narcissist on their shit is their self-fulfilling response. Time and time again she’s proven to be exactly what she is by responding to criticism and exposure with incommunicable toxicity. And I’m sure if she reads this, it’ll only be the same.

Almost two and a half months ago, I posted a now-deleted piece titled I Hate Myself. It was a piece I wrote and published over the course of a few hours, during an intense psychological episode — and directly after I spoke to this person for the very last time. Even though I have the clarity now to see how fucked that post is, it’s valuable context, so I’m leaving it under this new piece (N in this piece == C in that one).

I want to start by saying I believe I’m an extremely, deeply compassionate and forgiving human being. My heart is big and my empathy bigger, especially with someone I once thought was similar to me. I had nothing but grace, patience, and sympathy for this person for the better part of a year. I did everything in my power to continue seeing her as an inherently good person doing her best, but even I have my limits.

It’s a tragic catch-22 that the most broken humans are also the most vulnerable humans to more pain. And if they run into a narcissist, they are most vulnerable to a narcissist’s games and gaslighting.

When N found me, I was still drowning in grief and trying to navigate two of the harshest betrayals in my recent life. I originally wrote a bunch of context about those betrayals and their impact on me, but the details don’t matter. Those people are soulless bodies to me now, and the important context is that I was as broken inside and as out of trust as a person could be.

Before my NYC relationship with P, I really truly had a pretty shameless life and sense of self. I felt no shame being absolutely 1000% me. But after that relationship — after I fucked up monumentally during my breakup with P — I had very good reasons to feel shame. Over the following months, I completely lost sense of what warrants shame and what doesn’t. And I felt so much guilt from my breakup with P that I vastly and mistakenly overcompensated with N.

I’ll first take ownership of my responsibility in the situation. My responsibility was to know better. To leave sooner. To not settle. To not need her. But those things are hard to do when you’re broken. Friends begged me to block her for so long, to drop her, to delete her. But I had forgotten my own worth, and I was so sickeningly hooked. That Perks quote holds too true — we accept the love we think we deserve. But we shouldn’t victim-blame; I remain vigilant in believing that any victim of another person’s shittiness should not be blamed for trying, or for staying. The main focus, the responsibility, the blame should be on the person who inflicts the damage. It is a true selfish, manipulative person who tries to spin the situation onto however the victim tries to cope.

This is about N, a then-20 now 21-year-old who, clear as day, took advantage of me at my weakest. I acknowledge she’s young — younger than I was when I finally became a less selfish person and learned some tough lessons about love and people. But I was never anything quite like N, and her age doesn’t make her any less guilty or make me any less of a victim to her bullshit.

This is about being in a relationship with someone who knows that you can be psychologically fucked with. They know they can treat you like shit, and that you’ll tolerate it, and so they do. They know you’ll take their words to heart because you hate yourself so much already — because you ache over your other exes’ hurtful words and actions. This is someone with an ego, with the tiniest bit of clout, who steamrolls through any girl broken or lonely enough to eat it up. Someone who convinced you to trust them with your pain only for them to take it and quadruple it. A person who spews vitriolic slander, who shames you for your emotions, who blames you for reacting the way you do, for asking for compassion, for asking for more — until you believe more than ever that you are the crazy one, the unreasonable one. You’re asking for too much. You’re psychotic. Someone who laughs in your face as you beg to be treated like a person.

I know now and fully believe now that I should’ve never been made to hate myself, by her. I let myself be manipulated by her for so long. Of course, I wish I’d found the strength to leave it behind sooner instead of trying to pull Dr. Jekyll out of a person too used to being Mr. Hyde. But again, her shittiness is not on me. I will not take any more blame or responsibility to absolve her from her narcissistic treatment.

I was attached to her attachment to me. She does an excellent job of making girls she targets on Twitch feel special. Somehow, N’s targets feel like they’re the exception to her long history of repeated swooning, manipulating and dropping — a classic narcissistic game for feeding her broken ego and nursing her deep-seated self hatred. I was one of like, what, eight girls in less than a year? Her strategy is flawless, really. She attaches obsessively; she talks to her current girl (or girls) literally 24/7 and makes them her total focus — until she’s taken what she needs from them, disappears, and leaves them hanging.

That was my situation, as well. I became dependent on her attachment and the special attention she gave to me — until she 1. basically cheated on me 2. secretly left me for a new girl 3. secretly dated the new girl, all the while lying to me and stringing me along for months, including calling me up about how she wished she was with me and invading the space I requested from her.

I vividly remember, sometime in the summer, showing N some long texts she’d written to me while we were dating — a bunch of well-cooked bullshit about finally wanting to change and knowing what love is because of me. At the time, she was in one of her Hyde states, and I was trying to use these texts from one of her rare Jekyll states to pull that version out of her, again. She replied “LMFAO”. Really, objectively, only a heartless individual would reply like that. N knew she was playing the fuck out of me, stringing me along, hiding her relationship from me and somehow had the audacity to mock me and laugh at me for trying to reach the more human version of her. Nah, no, fuck that. You admitted this in Hawaii, and it remains true — you made me “crazy”. It was you and always was, you.

In December, she managed to convince me for a moment that “just can’t” is an okay thing, a valid way for someone to act in trying times — for a person to just play the “I can’t” card and dip out of an adult resolution. I acknowledge it is a thing, a thing I said to P, but it is not an okay thing when you’re actively hurting another person and refusing to extend any effort. What I’ve learned is that there really never comes a time when you suddenly feel like you can. There simply comes the time when you decide that you have to, to be a better person. There is a stark difference between being truly unavailable and refusing to make yourself available.

My final stance is that I make almost no apologies for how I tried to manage N’s extensive and often unapologetic damage. I truly wouldn’t wish on anyone the madness she made me feel and painted me responsible for. When I was in Hawaii in September, after I finally learned the truth about her secret relationship, N told me she’d never be able to make it up to me — all the shit she did to me. Regardless of whether she’d still mean that, it was true then, and always will be true. Lord knows how many things she’s said and didn’t mean, or said and taken back — including the fake gesture she made about “always being here no matter what” after my pathetic grovel to her in December.

I wrote to her then, in December, that if I don’t want to be defined by my fatal flaws, I shouldn’t define her by hers. The thing is.. mine are my emotions, my trauma, my sometimes suffocating fear of abandonment, the void I have since learned to fill on my own. Hers are shitty, narcissistic, selfish and abusive tendencies. Now that I see the difference so clearly, I take back what I wrote. I showed this person way more grace and humanity than she deserved, with hardly any in return. Now that I’m clean from this horrible mistake of a mess, I will never again let a person steamroll me and gaslight me the way she did for the better part of 2019.

When I look at myself objectively, what I have to offer and have offered, the person I am publicly and privately, the things I’ve overcome, the talents I explore, the strength and patience I’ve shown, I am pretty fuckin’ dope. I am far and away out of this Hyde’s realm, especially when it comes to being a human to other humans.

I believe this person is a born-and-bred liar, a narcissist through and through. I truly wonder what will happen to her when her gaming career and Twitch clout die out — how she’ll cope without this fake foundation on which she deludes herself. I am not sorry, to you. And if you think that I’m still holding on to something, you should go and love yourself.

[This is the aforementioned piece from December. This is how N made me feel for most of the time I kept her in my life. It’s interesting to me how I included a Quora question about narcissists before fully accepting N as one and writing this new piece.]

I Hate Myself

** This piece was [intended to be] written in a very raw, fresh emotional state without any editing, instead of writing about how I felt after the fact. Therefore, it is darker and more emotional than average, and maybe’ll that resonate. **

I hate myself. Sometimes this wound rips open so violently that I almost bleed out again. The rest of the time it nags at me while I lay in bed and try to sleep. I am constantly putting in work to help it heal, to keep it from re-opening, to forget about it altogether.

I’m writing this, because, well, I’m certain there are some other people out there who feel something similar, and honestly, I’m crying out for help. I’m tired of my best never being enough. I’m tired of trying so desperately to get out of my own way and failing.

I don’t know what’s real anymore. A few people from my past have cut me out of their lives because of something along the lines of I am unbearable, and my feelings and needs are unbearable. Those individuals continue to dictate how I see myself.

When I was a kid, my father was physically and emotionally abusive. I was terrorized by this man, spat on, shoved against the wall, thrown out of my chair, chased around our kitchen island, bleeding and sobbing while he and the police I called laughed at my expense. He stole my self-worth as easily as he broke my trust. “Stupid bitch”. “Miserable piece of shit”. “No good worthless fool.” Another day, another tantrum, another night of wishing death on the man who gave me life.

I lived for years as a guest in my own home, creeping around corners, forever on guard, sprinting out of sight whenever I’d hear him approaching. For a long time, I ate dinner alone, separate from the family, and kept to myself. I was alone in every way. No one ever came to save me.

I’ve been through a lot, but everything always points back to that childhood trauma. It’s a big part of my BPD diagnosis.

Yesterday a friend talked to me about complex PTSD and “emotional flashbacks”. BPD is traditionally characterized foremost by an intolerable fear of abandonment. Emotional flashbacks, according to Pete Walker, “strand clients in the feelings of danger, helplessness and hopelessness of their original abandonment, when there was no safe parental figure to go to for comfort and support”. When Walker writes that “complex PTSD is now accurately being identified by many as an attachment disorder”, I can identify many similarities between CPTSD and BPD.

Regardless of what label you want to assign my experience, it is unbearable, for me.

The last 20 months have ripped me apart in every imaginable way. My 2018 breakup, and the aftermath, left me feeling so regretful, so shameful, so broken, so burdensome, so hopeless, so incurably horrible about myself. I fought for my mental health, I sought forgiveness time and time again, I went to hell and back to try to be (and see myself as) a good, forgivable, and lovable human being. I tried to forgive myself. I don’t know if I ever will. I hate myself.

Earlier this year, I found a girl who briefly stopped the bleeding. But eventually, she opened my wounds possibly more than they’d ever been before, and then dumped buckets of salt in them. This girl, C, cheated on me and lied to me for months to keep stringing me along. She only finally told me the truth when the “other girl”, S, left her for the same reasons my own relationship had suffered. From the moment I met C, I overcompensated for the pain I inflicted in my previous relationships; I put her feelings before mine at every turn. I was psychologically fucked with for months. After trying to kill myself in NYC, after how much I grew to hate myself, I simply did not have the strength to ward off the gaslighting I withstood from C. When S dumped her, I put all of that aside to console her. I showed her compassion despite being betrayed and treated like shit. I pacified her as she blew up at me time and time again and put all of the blame on me. She refused to mail me back an expensive item that was rightfully mine, and then she blocked me. We separated for three months.

This past week she briefly re-entered my life. In a low moment I extended an olive branch. She seemed to have changed — she was sorry, she was regretful, she seemed like the reasonable version of her I had originally grown attached to. I forgave her. The air was cleared, and I was really glad we talked.

Things got out of control. My feelings, specifically. I realized quickly that I was again leaning on C to help nurse my wounds. We texted constantly, and I started feeling attached, and I even mentioned that I might have feelings for this version of her. Weakness in a time of limbo in my life — I had clearly not yet fixed in myself the broken pieces that enabled my original attachment to her. C fueled the fire by telling me she missed me, had trouble not thinking about me, wanted to be in bed with me — but isn’t ready for a relationship and wouldn’t be “for a long time”. After not too long, our history started to creep into things. When she wouldn’t respond for even the tiniest bit, it reminded me of all the fear and anxiety I felt our first time around, when I’d ache over what she was doing and whether she was secretly with S. I started to question if she actually really cared, and so my wounds began bleeding again. I felt out of control. I communicated to her that we couldn’t be in each other’s lives, and she understood. She was patient at first, but because I felt her pulling away again, I was struggling. A lot. I was having emotional flashbacks, to the S betrayal, to my NYC breakup, to my childhood even, and I felt like I needed her help to get through that pain before she and I parted ways again. This is a key similarity between the C fallout and my NYC breakup — needing help to get through that agonizing pain. Help in the form of sympathy and support. The difference is that in my NYC relationship, I was 100% at fault. With C, I felt she owed me that effort after every sacrifice I’d made for her and every time I tried to help her through her pain. The reality is that in both situations neither person was able to give that to me.

I guess my emotional pain tolerance hasn’t improved at all because what happens with me happened again, and I became too much to handle. She told me that I need more from her than anyone ever in her life before and that she “just can’t”, inadvertently twisting the knife. To be told you’re too much when you’re in intense pain feels like you’re just being kicked while you’re already down. I asked to get on the phone before parting ways, and I told her that if she cared about me, she would. She wouldn’t. It always comes back to that with this fucking trauma. If you cared about me, you would. Thanks Dad. It’s the same old story. I always end up begging to be cared about. I hate myself because I need so much help, still. I hate being this fucking person.

About 24 hours ago I was venting about my pain to a friend, V, who knows of C and some of C’s friends. When I mentioned that C had expressed some of those non-friendship feelings to me, V was confused and revealed that C is actually in a relationship with someone right now (allegedly). Jesus christ, could this get any more familiar or shitty for me? I pressed V for proof; are you 100% sure? V confirmed, and I had no reason to doubt them or the reasons/proof they provided. Honestly, at first, I was relieved to have a reason why I’d felt so crazy the past few days and why it felt like C had gone from 0 to 100 to 0 all over again. It felt like a full repeat of what had happened over the summer. I spent the rest of the day deliberating whether I should confront her about the seed V planted in my head.

I unblocked her and accused her. How could you lie to me, again? How could you pretend you’re not in a relationship? In retrospect, I shouldn’t have come at her so hard, but V convinced me it was true, and I was angry. I didn’t know if I expected a confession or another attack on my character/my psychological state. I got the latter. As usual, I tried to pacify her anger and showed her compassion and patience. I explained myself and asked questions calmly and reasonably. She demanded the proof I claimed to have. She insisted it wasn’t true. I begged for humanity. And when I refused to betray V and share their identity, the conversation ended, and I was left with only more questions, more self-hatred, more trauma. Now I’m blocked.

To this moment I have no fucking clue who’s in the right or in the wrong, who’s crazier, if it’s both of us or how much, if I shouldn’t have accused her. I don’t know if I’m wrong for having expected what I did from this person, or from my NYC exes, or from anyone. No one has to care about me or tend to my feelings — especially the ones I’ve hurt beyond repair, but I suppose even the ones who have hurt me beyond repair. I don’t know how crazy I really am, or if I deserved to be treated the way I have, or if she should’ve just stepped up and been there for me after everything, or blah blah blah into eternity. The IDKs never end in my head.

For some reason, I tend to believe the more hurtful truth than what my closest friends and family try to convince me. And I think what my friend yesterday told me is extremely invaluable: there can be multiple conflicting truths. She can be toxic AND I can be too much. She is allowed to be unavailable to help me AND I can deserve help. I don’t know about these examples, but I tried to give some.

I don’t know the truth about whether C is in a relationship right now, and I’m not sure I’ll find out. Someone lied to me, and I’m so tired of being fucked with and then being punished for how I try (and fail) to navigate those resulting feelings.

Oddly enough, my daily Quora digest landed in my inbox this morning with this question (my digest is often full of questions related to borderline personality, bipolar, and narcissist personality disorders).

This is very close to how some people in my life view C. My best friend is certain C is lying to me, again. But I’m too weak for that. I’ve been gaslit for too long, and I was already broken as shit before her. And so I hate myself instead.

I hate myself because I don’t know if this will ever get better for me. I really don’t, and I’m so tormented. Despite my closest loved ones telling me otherwise, I can’t not believe that C is right — that people who get close to me and see my emotions in full force find out that I’m a batshit mess, and I’m lucky if any of those people decide to stick around and help me get through it.

I hate myself because I wonder if C would read this and feel compassion or sympathy towards me. Or if she’d still think I’m a crazy “cloud of bad vibes and stress” who she should’ve known to ignore last week because I’m “always like this”.

I re-read my conversation with her from yesterday — the one that caused me to spiral and reach out to V in the first place. You can palpably see my emotions and her genuinely trying to handle them. But my emotion was untouchable because I wasn’t getting what I maybe needed. Did I just so achingly want to still be loved by her in that way? Did I just need her to stop the bleeding despite our toxic history? Was I just holding so desperately onto our natural, fire-igniting chemistry and wishing our traumas and beliefs didn’t so perfectly clash? I don’t know. Maybe it’s all true. In this moment, I’m struggling to hate her the way friends of mine think I should. Are her nails just that deep in me? Someone please guide me.

You can see in that conversation that I felt entitled to (and in need of) that help and was in too much pain to accept anything else. I refused to listen to her saying that she just couldn’t. Maybe it’s the people in my life who are enabling me. Maybe some people just can’t. Maybe those people really do wish they could help me but still just can’t, and I have to fucking accept that before I hate myself to death. Maybe I, too, just can’t.

I don’t know how to do this alone. I’m desperate. I’m constantly desperate. I want to be free from all of this. There is no end to this story. This is my life and continues to be my life, and as much responsibility as I try to take, as much as I try not to play the victim, as much as I try to navigate my emotions without stepping over anyone’s boundaries or doing anything manipulative or pushing people away, I fail. And I don’t know how to see myself or what’s fair.

Usually pieces I write on here take months for me to edit and pick apart. I started this two hours ago, and I’m done. I’m sure readers will either feel bad for me or agree that I’m crazy. Or maybe those can be two conflicting truths. Honestly doesn’t matter to me. All I know is I don’t want to be this person anymore.