Recovering from a Narcissistic Relationship
Recovering from a Narcissistic Relationship
Recovering from a Narcissistic Relationship
Recovering from a Narcissistic relationship is no easy task. This is no normal break-up. Many report symptoms of C-PTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). While it is normal to feel grief, anger, overwhelming despair – it is important that you educate yourself, empower yourself and find support.
If you are reading this, more than likely, you have at minimum, a general understanding of what a Narcissist is. Like most of you, I have had a difficult time absorbing and processing what I’ve just experienced. Like many of you, I thought I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown; however, I have learned in a short time, there are things that I can do to try to get my emotions and understanding in perspective in order to incur minimal damage.
I am not going to tell you there is a secret formula I’m not a snake oil saleswoman selling “Happiness in a Jar,” although, I wish I could. One thing we all know is that there is no particular type of individual the Narcissists target…or is there?
From what I’ve read, there is no discrimination when it comes to whom the Narcissist targets. Victims are of every race, profession and socio-economic status. What seems to be universal is a certain level of low self-esteem. I personally don’t favor the label of “co-dependent” however; there are some traits I can personally identify with. Certainly, I cannot lump every victim into a nice neat little package; however, I can share what my insight has been on this journey and perhaps it may help someone else.
For a time, I was obsessed with my pain and in shell shock over how the NARC could so callously discard me and walk away without any closure or expression of remorse. I was hell bent on having the last word, venting, saying every vile thing I could. In jest, I can say perhaps the only thing I didn’t do was contract a banner flying airplane to spread word about what a creep he was. Yes, when wounded to the core, at times things can get irrational. It is all normal, and part of the process. Nonetheless, at a certain point, we have to make a conscious decision to stop the insanity – because as experience has probably shown you…he won’t.
I cannot pre-determine how many more ups and downs I will have in my recovery; however, I can report that improvement has been steady over the past three weeks. Today is my third week of NC. I will confess, he is still the first thing on my mind in the morning, the last thing on my mind when I go to sleep and he pretty much occupies my mind throughout the day. The thing is, I don’t miss him, I have accepted that I don’t love him anymore – they say love is a decision, a choice and I’d have to say that I just woke up one day and faced the facts…if my relationship was an illusion and the man I thought I loved was an illusion, then it is not possible to still love HIM. I was in love with an illusion and it would be equally insane to still cling to something that NEVER existed. What continues to linger is the pain from the lack of resolution…but because it was all an illusion that I created, only I can create the resolution and the closure.
Once I arrived at this notion, I reasoned that if in fact, this was an illusion that I created, it does not detract from the fact that the Narc is a sorry soul and I could then choose to harp on thousands of questions, pick at the scab a little deeper every day and continue the insanity, or I could make a conscious decision to attempt to detach my emotions to a certain extent…even if it’s just a little bit each time. I have no special technique for reversing the brainwashing, and I’ve read information on re-training your mind to think a certain way – and whatever helps I say go for it – but for me, what has worked was to see my Narc for what every document on Narcissism claims. This individual lacks empathy, and is centered on himself. The only feelings he has are for himself and I’ve seen the word DANGEROUS in a number of publications.
This forces me to think long and hard over the purpose of continuing to focus on the Narc, when I am the victim that needs the empathy, caring and compassion – NOT HIM. And since he has no feelings for me, the only one who can provide me with empathy, caring and compassion is me!
Everyone has some level of self-esteem. Some more than others; however, the focus needs to be on strengthening the self-esteem. I can’t focus on revenge because the revenge will have no effect. It won’t touch him, but will effect me because that would in turn make me no better than him. I can continue to hold the torch; however, I’ve already been discarded, so in essence what I am doing is giving him more time to steal my life and energy. I can question every day “Why? Why? Why?” or, “What does he mean when he says…” But, I won’t get an answer other than what is said in thousands of documents, and re-iterated from everyone who has been through such an experience. What has worked for me is to visualize the Narc as a walking dead soul. A zombie that looks presentable and possibly pleasing to the eye, but no less a zombie. DEAD.
I’ve used the analogy before about being devoured by a lion. Lions are predatory in nature – it’s what they are. No one judges a lion for doing what comes naturally. We may feel sorry for the victim who was mauled – but we really don’t sit there and ask: How could the lion do that? What kind of ANIMAL? We don’t ask those questions because we know what lions do.
Perhaps when in the relationship, we did not see certain things and as a result, suffered for our naivety; however, once we know the facts I think we are in a better position to fight the cognitive dissonance that takes place. We process a lot of information and facts on a daily basis. There is no cognitive dissonance with the concept of 2+2 equaling 4. There is no cognitive dissonance with understanding why when ships sail out to sea, no matter how far they travel, they don’t fall off the earth. We understand and accept certain FACTS. Unfortunately, when it comes to narcissism, especially given the vast amounts of information and the fact that there is no cure, it would be fair to surmise we are dealing with a freak of nature…there really isn’t much left to wonder about. The fact remains, you’ve been emotionally mauled by a predator and it is what it is – and there really isn’t much left to do in terms of resolution but recover.
I wholeheartedly believe that NC is a requirement if you want to heal. I am not a proponent for blaming the victim; however, I do believe that part of healing is taking control and while we cannot control the Narc, we can control ourselves. I think some very hard questions have to be asked. The Narc did not enter our lives without our permission. We allowed it. The signs may have been evident and we chose to ignore them, or perhaps it took us time to see the signs, but we did see signs and chose a course of action. A difficult concept to embrace because it makes us indirectly accountable for their despicable behavior; however, owning responsibility for some of our decisions in a sense TAKES HIS POWER AND CONTROL AWAY FROM HIM. How so? Well, if we sit there and say, “I’m a victim; look what the Narc did to me?” Then he had all the power. If you can see yourself as also having some hand in the experience – then you can address those weaknesses that caused you to be victimized and you will benefit because you will grow and learn from the mistake and hopefully be more conscious and aware next time around.
If you take the time to examine the patterns of past relationships, you may note certain things about yourself that you can control and change.
If there are unresolved issues in your childhood or even adult life – you can use this experience to learn more about what you are driven by and whether or not it’s conducive to a healthy relationship.
The last thing I think anyone needs during this time is another relationship!
Experiencing a narcissistic relationship is a life changing event; however, it does not have to scar you for life. They say when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. We never lost control or power over ourselves; we were just made to feel that way. It’s what a Narc does. That being the case, it is never too late to take back the reigns and charter your chariot in another direction. It can be the one experience that shakes you enough to be motivated to make radical changes. I hate to think of a Narc as my soul mate but perhaps Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray Love said it best:
"People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.
A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.
A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit (Or in the case of a NARC...A BIG BIT!), show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master..."
While painful, detox from a Narcissistic relationship, is probably one of the most soul ravaging experiences other than the death of a close one; however, we can and will survive and if we can keep things in perspective – come out of it even better than we were before. It’s what we make of the experience.