“Alchemy doesn’t work like that. He’s under the influence of unbound principles. You can’t flush those out the way you’d try to get rid of mercury or ophalum.”—Sim, The Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss
In The Wise Man’s Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss, the main character, Kvothe, is dosed with something called a plum bob. It’s like a poison, but worse. The components of the plum bob stay in Kvothe’s body, slowly working through him, lingering, echoing. The echoes cause him moments of irrational anger and sometimes terrible grief.
If the plum bob were a poison, he could throw it up, pass it out of his system, or even clean it from his blood. But it’s not. It’s alchemy. It’s inside him, but separate from him. All he can do is wait for it dissipate of it’s own accord and deal with the echoes to the best of his ability.
I haven’t encountered a better description of how Narcissistic Abuse impacts me. It’s like a thing lurking in my body and then, all of sudden, it’s there in the form of hot tears or thoughts so terrible I want to hide from myself. A few weeks ago, I even had a full blown panic attack.
I’d gone on two dates with Number Four. I wasn’t feeling super great about the second date, but he said he wanted to go out again. The next day he flew home to visit his family. Not knowing the proper boundaries for the situation, I decided the best thing to do was to ask him what kind of communication he’d like to have while he was away. His answer was none. He would text me in five days when he was back in town.
That wasn’t the answer I was hoping for. The rational part of my brain could understand. The rest of me could not. Not at all.
My anxiety quickly ratcheted up and up and up. I couldn’t stop it or figure out why I was so upset, other than to blame trauma. By the next afternoon, I was hyperventilating in my car convinced that no man will ever love me because I am broken and used up and I have so so so much baggage.
After the panic attack, I continued to have less intense echoes of that feeling alternating with feelings of being almost okay. I blamed the anxiety on the nature of always being connected thanks to the internet. I blamed myself for using my past experiences of men to base my predictions of the current situation. I blamed myself for being unable to trust Number Four and take him at his word.
Ultimately, I think it was the silence. Silence was a weapon for my narcissist. Silence is punishment. Silence is censure and rebuke and withdrawal of affection. It hurts.
(Number Four did end up texting me when he got back in town. We even went on that third date. There was no fourth, but it was civil and mutual parting of ways.)