When I recently wrote a Facebook post about hoovering, a few people wondered what I was on about.
Well, today I’m going to explain what that term means and how it relates to the phenomenon of narcissistic abuse.
In the autumn of 2016, I put a powerful call out to the Universe to meet my Beloved.
The very next day, I met the man I believed was my Twin Flame.
We met online – on Facebook in fact.
He had just come out of a 3-year relationship. I had just ended a 1 month affair.
It never occurred to me at the time to question the prudence or timing of this.
Having been a devotee of Divine Love for over a decade, I was convinced my prayers had been answered.
And, in some very uncanny ways, they had.
All the very specific qualities and attributes I had cast out for were delivered right into my lap. Right down to the fact that my Beloved lived in Australia, was a film-maker and offered to put me up, while I finished writing my book.
Within a few days of our online meeting, we were talking for hours every day. On Skype, on Whatsapp, on my way to teach yoga, as soon as I’d finished.
I found his insistence on being in touch with me every minute of the day a bit overwhelming (and possibly needy), but put it down to the first flush of love.
I was bowled over by his romanticism and devotion. He quoted Rumi, called me his Goddess, his Shakti and we frequently communed in deep presence together. It was mystical and electrifying, as I felt him embodying the energy of his teacher Osho, to my Sacred Sexual Priestess Self.
Within a few weeks of our online meeting, he had flown to London to meet me in person.
It really did feel like the union with my Beloved of all time. There was so much love, so much passion and so much profound connection.
The day he arrived, we walked in a nearby park and he went down on one knee and pledged his life and heart to me.
I recall feeling not quite ready to fully receive this, but when I shared that with him, he offered all the right answers to appease me.
We enjoyed a delightful week together. He was attentive and ueber-generous. We saw eye to eye on everything. And there was such a deep intimacy and openness between us.
The only time I ever questioned anything about him, was when I took him to a concert and he shamelessly barged right to the front of a very long queue to buy the artist’s CD. I was mortified and told him so. Yet his contrition seemed real enough.
Soon after, I headed to Australia to join him.
We had a joyous reunion and I was touched to the core, when I got into his car and saw the foot-well strewn with fragrant frangipani flowers… a trail that continued from his garage all the way up the stairs of his house and into the bedroom, where it ended in a beautiful heart of flowers on the bed.
It was the very Paradise and Divine Union I had been visioning and invoking for years. And I honestly believed all my prayers had come true.
He continued to overwhelm me with his generosity, attentiveness and kindness: buying me gifts, cooking me meals, making beautiful love, supporting my writing process and praising me to the heavens.
I opened myself fully and completely to this man. I had not a shadow of a doubt in my heart that we were Twin Flames and the Universe was delivering to me all that I had so passionately requested and worked for through years of self-development.
On Christmas Day, we exchanged gifts (his, once again, on such a grand scale of generosity, I was gob-smacked!) and then over our slap-up Christmas lunch at a fancy restaurant, he took out a box and offered me a very expensive “friendship ring.”
Although I’ve been married twice, I’ve never been given a “proper” ring with real gemstones. This touched me on so many levels and even though the ring was too big and not really to my taste, I wore it with pride and immense gratitude.
Could things get any better?!
Well, despite all the bliss, love and out of this world amazingness, there had been a few little hiccups in our time together.
I found aspects of his way of interacting with me controlling. And aspects of his communication frustratingly obtuse and passive-aggressive.
He seemed to want me to live life on his terms, in his rhythm and in his way. He seemed to want to mould me into his ideal, rather than accept me for who I was.
And, at first, I didn’t notice too much, because I was jet-lagged and simply overjoyed and grateful to be in such a beautiful place, with so much love and attention and the gift of being able to write without interruption.
But when I did gently voice my feeling of being controlled or pushed, or ask him to communicate more clearly, he became frustrated.
Nothing came to a head right away. We would both slide back into the love-vibe and I would make allowances, telling myself that we were all different and I just had to learn how to interact more effectively with this person, whom, truth be told, I barely knew.
Yet somehow, over the weeks, these behaviours grew. He would make derogratory comments on my dress-sense or hair. Urge me to style myself differently, even though I kept insisting that I was totally at peace and happy with who and how I was.
He said his input was only love. I felt it as interference and control.
He would poke fun at me, say something really nasty that made my heart hurt and tears fill my eyes, and then when I pointed this out, tell me to lighten up, stop being so serious – he was only joking.
And then he began to react to my communication in a stronger way. Whenever I voiced an opinion that differed to his, asked him to respect a boundary of mine or was upset by his behaviour, he grew angry.
And in his anger, he was nasty. Cutting, demeaning, undermining. Using personal details I'd shared with him in trust against me. Undoing all the praise with words designed to make me feel worthless and self-doubting.
He stopped listening too. Whereas at the outset, he had been able to hold space with pure presence, now I found myself growing increasingly frustrated at his inability to hear me without putting my words through a distorting filter, which often seemed to make my words sound like blame to him.
It was becoming increasingly impossible to communicate.
I blamed myself. As someone, who has studied and taught authentic relating and conscious communication for years, I thought there must be something wrong with me for evoking this reaction. And in his angry outbursts, he would hit on exactly that button, jeering at me for supposedly being a teacher, yet being utterly unable to resolve our differences.
I kept going back to how I could improve my communication skills, how I could change something within and how I could love him more, so as to avoid the increasing tensions between us.
We argued. I tried to reason, cajole, listen, inspire. I suggested counselling, meditation, tantric practice. He refused and evaded it all. I tried all the conscious communication techniques I knew, but they only seemed to make things worse.
He dumped me. Several times. Almost every time we were in conflict in fact.
The first time, I was mortified, because I have never ever been with anyone, who has dumped me as a purely dramatic gesture. For me, if it’s over, it’s over. So I took it literally and felt the awful impact of that.
But just as I was dealing with the emotional shock and pain of having to accept the ending of our beautiful divine union, he would apologise and take me in his arms.
It was bewildering and discombobulating.
This was added to by the times he swore he’d told me something and I had no memory of it. Or the way he changed what he’d said previously. Or tell other people things I knew weren’t true.
He seemed to have no problem lying or embellishing the truth in order to maintain face with the outside world and this went against my own principles and those I thought we’d agreed upon together: truth as the basis for everything.
On the other side of the world and immersed in this love-bubble and focussed writing, I lost touch with my friends and family, and, although I didn’t realise it at the time, I can see now, how he added to this, making subtly critical comments about my loved ones and practically forbidding me from turning to them in my distress.
We barely interacted with anybody else, but when we did, I began to notice once again, the distinction between his private and public persona. They weren’t aligned. Filming interviews with the most amazing lightworkers, he would be full of charm to their faces, and then slag them off behind their backs.
But when I questioned this, he would make me out to be petty and uptight.
By the time we had been together for two months, things had radically changed.
I had had outbursts of rage on a scale that stunned me. Rage at not being heard, at being cruelly taunted, manipulated and put down. I had told him I felt abused and unsafe. That I was afraid of his violent anger and aggression. I had felt traumatised to the point of madness – literally - and suicidal thoughts. My sense of glowing self-fulfillment, had been replaced with an edgy insecurity.
And let me be clear: I have no history of mental illness or any behaviour of this nature at all.
Not once did this make him question his own behaviour or part in this. Instead, he would deny it, get angry and turn it back around on me, telling me I was the saddest person he has ever known. (For anyone, who knows me, that’s pretty hilarious!).
Yet somehow, I stayed in it. It’s easy to see things clearly now. But at the time, there was still so much good when things were good and we were creating the most amazing lightworker interview show.
I really and truly believed we had been brought together for this Divine Purpose.
I couldn’t believe the Universe would have answered my prayers so perfectly otherwise.
And so I kept on taking responsibility for it all and wondering what else I could do to create the conscious relationship I craved and he’d said he wanted too.
I used all my New Age thinking in a distorted way against myself: the inner creates the outer; if you love enough, you can change anything; relationship brings up our shadow, so this must be happening for us to resolve it.
There is so much more I could say, but let’s just say this dynamic grew worse and worse with, on my part, further episodes of feeling traumatised and broken down completely.
The pits came, when we were out in Bali and I had been triggered into deepest trauma and his response was not to offer care or concern, but to be angry with me. I was alone, clinging on to existence and had no-one to turn to. It was a very dark moment.
He, meanwhile, began to reel back his affection and attention, talk about being in touch with his ex and say he didn’t really feel he could be in a committed relationship.
Already out of touch with my core Self by now, this only served to undermine my self-confidence further.
After almost a year of it, and his increasing pulling away from me, including connecting both with his ex and at least one other woman, I found the power within myself to end it and mean it.
It took months for me to disentangle myself emotionally and practically, but with the help of some amazing friends and online resources I did.
Only then did I realise that I had been in relationship with a narcissist. I hadn’t even known there was such a thing until that point. But as I read up about it, suddenly things made sense.
His ex, he’d told me, had left him, blocked him on all social media and called him a cunt. When he’d first told me this, I’d felt shocked and sympathetic. Now I understood.
I kept the lines of communication open with him for a while longer, because of our professional collaboration. But then, one day, he made one cruel taunt too many and I blocked him.
This is what all sites that offer support for post-narcissistic abuse recovery recommend: you must block him/her completely on all media. No contact. Basta.
This went against my open-hearted grain so much. But I did it.
And all was quiet.
But then, last week, suddenly I started getting emails, phone calls and texts. I’d left some holes in the blockade.
His messages, none of which I’ve responded to, covered a whole gamut of emotions and strategies.
Angry. Blaming. Pleading.
Declaring undying soul-mate love and a desire to be together forever.
Declaring his knowing I can “sense” him still in my heart, as he feels me.
Saying he has now healed his shadow and wants to grow spiritually.
Offering me to do an interview with Deva Premal and Miten and at all the sexy festivals we worked at last year. (Now THAT was a giant manipulative hook !!)
Then angry again.
Attempting to push all my buttons.
Telling me I lack integrity.
Telling me my karma will come back to bite me.
Asking if I hate him. Asking if I ever really loved him.
Calling me a petulant teenager. Questioning my spiritual maturity.
And – here’s the one that really turned me on to the delusion of it all – using a whole paragraph from one of my own blogs on conscious relationship and passing them off as his!!!
It’s been full-on. And it’s left me cold.
And, for the uninitiated, THIS is what is referred to as hoovering: the attempt by a narcissist to get a reaction from you and tempt you back into connection, so they can suck up your energy once again, since this is what they need to survive.
And that is why the hoovering can get pretty desperate. Without what is called narcissistic supply, ie. the energy, emotional reaction and attention of another (good or bad) they feel worthless and pointless.
And while we’re at it, here are another few words it’s good to know:
Love-bombing – when they shower you with attention, love, devotion, gifts, praise and make you feel as if you are a shining Goddess/God on a pedestal.
Gas-lighting – when they make you doubt your reality by questioning you, subtly undermining you, teasing you and changing their story, then denying it.
I am writing this now to put the word out, since, as I shared my experience with friends, it turned out they, too, had been experiencing (or previously experienced) something very similar.
I am not seeking to demonise him or any abuser. I don’t want sympathy. Or advice.
What I want is for anyone who is experiencing this, to wise up and get out.
And for anyone who has experienced it, to own it and see what they have to learn from it.
As I’ve had to acknowledge, I could not have been in this situation, did not a piece of my inner jigsaw fit his. My research has taught me that narcissists match with co-dependents and empaths. They pick the smart, bright, overly caring ones.
Often, in fact, narcissists and their partners, have similar wounding. Only in the one case, it’s created an energy vampire with a False Self, in the other, an empath, who loves too much.
If anyone is telling themselves the story of Twin Flame or Soul Mate, yet experiencing the kind of angst and trauma I’ve described, please recognise this is NOT love – it is enmeshment and abuse.
You cannot change, fix, heal or love this person enough. They are not capable of having a healthy, harmonious relationship. But what you can change is the parts of you that fell for all the narcissistic tricks and allowed the abuse. This will empower you.
There is a ton of information and advice out there on this dynamic. So go ahead and google it and search on youtube. It’s a relief to find so many incredible resources and communities. For what it’s worth, I’ve found Melanie Tonia Evans work especially great and how very apt that she is based in Australia!
Thank you for reading this. Remember - you are not alone. And on the other side of your recovery, you will find the gifts of this trauma. I shall be writing more on this next time. Take care and much love xxxx