At what point can we stop and believe, ‘It isn’t me?’
I am referring to the aftermath of a relationship with a narcissist. Maybe you are wondering why you can’t “let go” and “move on.” Or why you want to salvage such an imbalanced and unhealthy relationship? The reason is because the narcissist will enter your life and consume your entire existence, all for selfish benefit. When dating a narcissist, we will quickly be encapsulated and then the table will turn so fast it will leave our head spinning.
Recovering from a relationship with a narcissist is a deeply confusing and very emotional process because intellectually, we thought we knew better. The narcissist will not show awareness or remorse for the hurt he/she caused, so we assume the downfall was our fault and we have become so intertwined in making this person happy that we will exhaust and lose ourselves in the process. But, this experience has not been in vain, and regardless of how painful the ending will be, it is a gift. This time of healing will build personal and emotional strength, and provide infinite wisdom.
We are told not to ignore those red flags that we see in the beginning. This isn’t possible when meeting a narcissist because he/she is too skilled to reveal any red flags in the beginning.
He/she is drawn to your beauty, kindness, and confidence because this will fulfill their personal void. The narcissist will be so attentive, generous, and honest, at first. Almost like he/she is trying to “sell” him/herself as the greatest catch. He/she will charmingly comment on our hair and clothing, intelligence, and interests; like we are the perfect “soul mate.”
Enchanting promises will be made that make us feel alive and invincible. Then almost instantaneously, the relationship will twist. We will now feel inconsequential, humiliated, and worthless. The partner we knew that once made us feel like royalty is now making us feel “needy,” as though the entire relationship was just a fantasy and never really existed. The partner who was so eager to know everything about us and encouraged us to share our most personal life aspects is now a stranger who insults and discourages our being.
We try to exercise our voice when we are upset, but the narcissist is so adept at projecting and leaves us feeling that whatever happened is our fault. The punishment for even questioning the narcissist is the silent treatment that feels so horrid we will believe it is our fault and begin to apologize to try and win forgiveness from a person that only preys on this kind of attention, and is incapable of recognizing any personal fault.
If any of these patterns sound familiar, the relationship was bound to end because we are no longer a conquest and cannot fill the emptiness the narcissist is constantly seeking. The ending of this relationship feels so awful because we unknowingly put all our energy and effort into pleasing someone who was never going to commit, and is too selfish and self-absorbed to acknowledge our pain. It is not our fault he/she started mistreating, ignoring, and lying to us; simply disregarding us as a human being. Perhaps we started to question our own morals and wondered if we deserved this abusive treatment. And many of us will even try harder to recapture the loving relationship we had in the beginning.
We start to feel obsessed with “fixing” what is broken in order to feel better, and the more our efforts are squashed, the more persistent we become.
We question who this person is that we are chasing and start to feel “crazy” because nothing is changing. This is because our efforts are toward a losing battle. The relationship is no longer an opportunity to be won for the narcissist. The reason we now feel like an object is because he/she no longer has any use for us after depleting all we could give. He/she will never open up emotionally no matter how hard we try because the person we thought we knew has completed the narcissistic cycle of abuse and needs to draw the energy and innocence from a new victim.
When we first met, he took me out and noticed everything about me. He made me feel as though everything I said was interesting and he was enthusiastic about spending time with me. It felt so exhilarating to be with him that I didn’t even notice the quick flip. It wasn’t long before the time we spent together dwindled and I would crave the limited time he gave me. I would take great pride to dress up and impress him, yet there were no more compliments. When I worked tirelessly on a project and felt great accomplishment, he minimized my efforts.
During the then rarity we went out on a date, he would walk in front of me without taking my hand. When we went to parties, he talked with other women while I was standing right there beside him. These were subtleties of the power he won over me that fed his warped ego. Toward the end, our intimate moments left me feeling used and insignificant. There was refusal to look into my eyes, as though I would see into his heartless and empty self. I allowed these experiences to make me feel like a subordinate because my self-esteem had plummeted and my self-respect diminished.
The narcissist will end the relationship just as quickly and smoothly as it began, and the coldness, harshness, and apathy leaves us feeling worthless. He/she will cut off contact so abruptly that we want to curl into ball and disappear. Being consumed under the narcissist’s spell is not our fault and recovering from this will take time.
Our body, mind, and soul will heal, and a stronger self will allow us to feel more attuned, perceptive, and emotionally intelligent. Understanding this whirlwind will show that we do possess tremendous value, and our desire to love deserves to be loved from a genuine and warmhearted partner. Take the time to define what is important, and let no one doubt these convictions.
Let’s keep our heart open and full of courage, and we will find our way to the fulfillment we deserve.