Emotionally abusive relationships, narcissists and their unsuspecting victims are being exposed left, right and center this year thanks to Netflix's newest installment of the scandalous docuseries. The first of these docuseries I have already covered; which would be the Tinder Swindler, you can read the full article here and yet again here I am covering another salacious breakup story that stars none other than the shameless narcissist Anthony Strangis and his unsuspecting victim, successful entrepreneur, Sarma Melngailis as the main characters. If you haven't watched the docuseries entitled Bad Vegan, which in my opinion, has nothing to do with being a vegan; but more to do with privilege (part two coming soon) and psychological abuse which Netflix completely missed the ball on, you can check out the trailer below.
Check out the full episode: Breakup Coach Reacts: The Bad Vegan
There is so much to cover from this 4-part docuseries... Where do I even begin? It is so frustrating when I hear about educated, high-achieving women losing their careers, income and ultimately being reduced to a shadow of the woman they used to be when they blindly enter into toxic, emotionally abusive relationships with a narcissist. I even found myself questioning how does an ivy league graduate of Wharton business school, top vegan restaurateur with a seemingly picture, perfect lifestyle to match fall into such a scandalous love affair with someone as lame as Anthony Strangis? But then I quickly remind myself that years ago, I too fell for the old okie doke when I dated a covert narcissist; you can read more about my backstory here. What most people don't understand about being in such an emotionally abusive relationship is that high-functioning narcissist, such as Strangis and Simon Leviv, feed off the life force of their carefully chosen victims who also happen to be accomplished, educated, powerful women, which most narcissist consider to be the ultimate supply source to boost their fragile ego. Being in proximity to power and success at any cost is the ultimate gratification a narcissist feigns. A narcissist mantra is - what's yours is mine.
Over a short period of time, Sarma, the owner of Pure Foods and Wine a celebrity hotspot for vegan food lovers was swindled by her then husband Anthony Strangis into giving him nearly 2 million dollars and in return, he convinced her that she and her beloved dog Leon would live an immortal life that would leave her wanting for nothing ever again in life both financially and emotionally; and that Anthony her husband was essentially her twin-flame and that they all knew each other, including Sarma's dog, from a past life. This people, is the twisted, sinister mind of a narcissist and what is also known as the strategic, love-bombing phase of a narcissistic relationship. But what's even worse, Anthony was setting Sarma up to take the ultimate fall from grace when she along with Anthony her husband was arrested and later found guilty for multiple, grand larceny charges, evading filing her taxes, falsely borrowing large sums of money under false pretenses and failing to pay her employees; as a result Sarma spent 3-months in Rikers Island - WTF!
I've spoken about the crucial phase of love-bombing for many narcissists in another article entitled Covert Narcissist Discard Signs - Dating 101. This tactic is used intensely at the beginning of a relationship with a narcissist to assert control over their victims. But it is also intermittently used throughout the relationship to reinforce that control when the abuser is setting up their victim for the eventual devalue and discard stage of the relationship.
This is a very important phase because it is when the narcissist is molding their target to become their puppet and the only way to do that is to gain their trust through excessive displays of adoration, possessiveness, future-faking, praise and excessive romantic gestures that are hollow.
This is how a narcissist extracts supply (energy, money, sex, material items) from their victims; ultimately sucking them dry like a vampire of all resources both financially and emotionally. The level of mind-games is beyond anything you may have ever experienced when you are in the presence of a high-functioning narcissist. I have always stated that the playground of any narcissist is in the mind of their victims.
So much of what Sarma and other women like her have gone through when dating a narcissist who is emotionally abusive, I have discussed at length in my podcast, which you can listen to previous episodes here. However, there are 10 troubling quotes that stuck out to me during this docuseries of Sarma's unfortunate experience of having dated and eventually marrying a toxic, emotionally abusive partner, and which I want you to pay close attention to because there is much to be learned from the below quotes.
10 Teachable Quotes from Bad Vegan
(1.) “Everything seemed to be right for that (the abuse) to be able to happen"
Narcissists know who to target. They are master manipulators; who study their targets every move. What are their likes and dislikes? What are their targets greatest fears in life? And, what are their weak spots? Anthony, overtime, had complete access to Sarma's emails, banking info and investors.
(2.) "I felt as though I had fallen in love with him before meeting him."
Sarma stated that in the beginning, when they were getting to know one another, he kept alluding to the fact that he was strong; he appeared to be charming, quick-witted and good-looking - Online. This is the setup before the love-bombing takes place. Narcissists are really good and getting you to focus on an idealized image of who they want you to believe they are. If they can hook you into the fantasy of who they want to be, they can take you much deeper down the rabbit's hole.
(3.) "He says he's been in love with me for a thousand years."
Let the love-bombing commence! The first step is to hook you. It's all about piling on excessive amounts of adulation and hollow, fake love with the hopes of sinking their claws deeper into your soul. The main goal is to make the narcissist the center of your world.
(4.) "He singled me out, like he finally found me."
Yes, this is what narcissists do; they single out the perfect target because they know that over time they will be able to extract a certain level of premium supply from them that will satisfy their twisted needs both intimately and materially.
(5.) "Will you put it all on the line for us. For the happily ever after?"
This is a classic move by a narcissist, what is also known as 'future faking.' Future faking is when the narcissist builds you up into believing that marriage is the next step in the relationship. They will take you ring shopping, house hunting for the perfect home to start a new family in and promise you the perfect happily ever after; when in reality what they really want is more of your attention, admiration and dependency on a fake dream so that they can extract more supply in the form of sex, money, material items etc. from you.
(6.) "He had me wire money to him, to prove that I could handle these task."
Jumping through hoops and moving the goalpost is the name of the game. How far are you willing to go for true love with the narcissist. This is a test. They will test your loyalty to them with small things, and every time you let down your guard, or weaken your boundaries they will push and test you some more, until eventually one day you look at your life and the woman you have become and realize you know longer recognize the woman staring back at you and what your life has become; as was the case with Sarma.
(7.) "I guess overtime as one thing got weird, the other things got less weird... until the weirdness started to feel normal"
This is what is known as narcissistic FOG (fear, obligation and guilt). This usually happens overtime, when the victim becomes familiar with 'the weirdness' of the relationship AKA the emotional abuse. They are unable to recognize what is normal from the abnormal because they are in the cycle of emotional abuse everyday. To get out of this FOG one has to be forced out of it through intervention or unfortunately being discarded by the abuser; this is when reality seeps in and guilt over takes the victim.
(8.) "I tell you to send a wire, send a wire... that's it!"
The true self and the false self AKA Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The two masks of narcissist. Over time as the narcissist depletes your energy, resources, self-esteem and self-worth, they will become increasingly intolerant of you and will eventually show you their true colors. They will belittle you, argue unnecessarily with you, and treat you as though you are disposable trash to them if you do perform the way you are expected to. Over time, Anthony treated Sarma the very same way, and as she states towards the end of the series, her life was unrecognizable.
(9.) "He was clearly selling me a fantasy, that I wanted to believe in."
The purpose of love-bombing at the beginning of any emotionally abusive relationship with a narcissist is to have you feigning for the good, sweet ol' days of when the two of you were once in love. This is why a narcissist will intermittently love-bomb you throughout the relationship to keep you in line and controlled within their reality of crazy-making. They know that if all they have to do is say I love you and future fake having a perfect life together with you, they can string you along for a little while longer.
(10.) "My name Sarma Melngailis I don't currently have a job officially or any sort of occupation and I'm going away to Rikers in a week - Why didn't I run..."
And that is the goal of a narcissist. Strip you of everything until you are left with nothing, but regret, shame and guilt. A complete shadow of the woman that you used to be.
The reality of dating an emotionally abusive narcissist is a hard lesson accomplished, successful, educated women such as Sarma and many others are unfortunately experiencing behind closed doors away from the public eye until it's too late. Many people in Sarma's life, including Sarma herself, have often asked "how did this happen to such a successful women?". "Why didn't I run?" or "why didn't I speak up?". But here's the thing; when you are in the intense crazy-making, emotionally abusive cycle of dating a narcissist, your perception and reality of what is normal vs. what is abnormal is distorted and making logical decisions for yourself are impeded because, most-likely, you have lost trust in your ability to make healthy decisions for yourself. Your self-esteem and self-worth are pretty much non-existent and unfortunately in most cases it takes a major breakup in the form of the devalue and discard stage of an emotionally abusive relationship for you to finally see the true manipulative nature of a high functioning narcissists.
However, over time, once the fog and confusion has cleared and you are better able to view the relationship for what it actually was - emotionally abusive, the journey of healing can finally begin, one step at a time. As a survivor of emotional abuse myself and also speaking from the lens of a certified breakup and wellness coach, I can confidently state that you can and will bounce back from such a relationship. But it will take a lot of courage, trust and inner conviction on your part to successfully recover and heal post-breakup after experiencing emotional abuse. I always say to my clients, this breakup is an opportunity for you to level-up in all areas of your life, and what if this breakup is just the Universe's way of giving you permission to recreate your life better than the one you anticipated having with your toxic ex?
I hope you enjoyed this week's article and have gained some valuable information to help you move forward with confidence! As a Breakup and Wellness Coach, my work in this world is dedicated to supporting and helping women such as yourself to HEAL, RECLAIM and TRANSFORM your life after leaving a toxic relationship. Do reach out if you would like to discuss how I can support you on your journey of recovery, healing, and transformation.
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