Good Morning, Kim:
How long do you think it takes to feel whole again? I feel like very strange and empty now after this last discard and dump. I go out with people and do things but don’t feel totally connected to what I’m doing and saying. Is this common to feel like this? I’ve just gone through so much this last year with this N and his games. It has left a toll on me.
Can you talk a little about what you feel like in the end after they leave us for good? How long did it take you to reconnect with life, a man and marriage?
Thank you kindly,
Those are very good questions and ones I receive very often from readers.
Each person’s recovery is different. It will take some time and some “fake it til you make it”. Healing consists of several elements, some of which people either don’t think of or perhaps don’t have the energy to follow through with. However, they’re all necessary. With that being said, I will recap my own journey.
When I made the decision to leave my Ex, I was still very much in love. The last thing I wanted to do was make the conscious choice to leave him, but I knew he would never change and I’d had enough heartache. Plus, I wanted a better future for my kids. So, against what every fiber in my being wanted (which was to stay), I went out and put a deposit on my own apartment.
At first, it was difficult because I still had to deal with my Ex stalking me when he was in town and calling/texting endlessly. I was still under his influence. Back then, I didn’t know about No Contact and how important it is. I didn’t even know about Narcissism… not the real kind, anyway. So, there was a crack through which he could slip and slide one of his tentacles into my mind.
Everywhere I turned, he was there. Often it was an email, a text, or a voicemail. Sometimes I’d be driving down the highway and he’d appear beside or behind me. Other times, I’d be teaching and look up and my students would be pointing at the window and there he stood. I literally could not get away from him.
Three months later, I had a nervous breakdown and was forced to leave my teaching job a month early.
After a couple of months, I’d smartened up. I blocked him from my phone and from email. I decided to start dating again (big mistake). I read everything I could get my hands on about dating and relationships. At one point, I considered myself a connoisseur of sorts, that’s how many books, eBooks, and articles I read. I knew what to say, how to act, what perfume to wear. I knew what men were looking for.
And it worked…for a while, anyway. I went out on a few dates and made some connections. I felt confident, but deep down, I still grieved over my Ex. Even after I’d met someone and it started to get serious, I still had feelings for him.
That’s when I started to research toxic relationships and mental cruelty. I came across NPD and Narcissism. I could barely believe it. Women all over the world were having the same exact experience as me, right down to the words that were spewed at them and the Silent Treatments. I spent months researching my ordeal and Narcissistic behaviors. I went to see a few counselors, but none of them could really help. They were highly inexperienced in treating victims of Narcissistic abuse. The best I was given was to “begin setting boundaries”. No duh.
During all of this, I was trying my hardest to maintain the approval of the new man in my life. I adjusted my behaviors, my moods. I fixed the food he liked. I put on a smile. I stuffed all my emotions down until I couldn’t eat. I fixed myself up seven days a week. I wore makeup and dressed to the nine. I was a walking, talking doll.
And still highly co-dependent and seeking others’ approval.
As soon as I realized what was happening, I put a stop to it almost overnight. I told myself I would never, ever again work to gain someone else’s approval. It was great for me, but not so great for my new relationship because I stopped all the acting and decided to be myself, which included not being so submissive and not holding my feelings in…I was a whole new, empowered woman.
In a short time, I started meditations (both guided and binaural), I began trying to eat healthier, I furthered my knowledge about metaphysics and signs from the Universe. I learned I’m intuitive and an Empath…there are just so many positive things that happened simultaneously once I opened myself up to them and let go of the past.
For everyone else out there going through it, the three most important things I would suggest are:
1) Go No Contact. There’s no chance of healing until you do. If you have modified contact because of custody, don’t give them one, tiny chance to boulder their way in. Stick to the court order. Force them to contact you through email or snail mail, especially if they’re the psycho-stalker type. If I’d known about NC in the beginning, I don’t think my recovery would have taken as long.
2) Find a way to control your thoughts. This is why I promote guided meditations. They give you something to focus on besides your evil Ex, and they heal your subconscious at the same time.
3) Love yourself. Treat yourself. Take yourself out on dates. Do for yourself what you’d like a romantic partner to do for you. Tell yourself in the mirror how you are so good enough just the way you are…
Lastly, you will not get closure from your Ex. You must do that for yourself. And while it seems he still holds your self-esteem in a rusty, molded, rickety box, it’s just an illusion. As I like to tell my clients, it’s still within you…waiting like a diamond in the earth’s mantle for you to uncover it…
As far as dating goes, don’t do it until you’ve fallen in love with yourself first. Otherwise, you’ll be setting yourself up for failure.
Do you have a burning question about your partner’s dubious behaviors? Submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org and your question will be entered into our database and possibly included in a future publication.
© Kim Saeed and Let Me Reach, 2014