I get emails every day from people who are stuck in an obsessive cycle of feeling worthless, unattractive, and “no good”. This happens because the Narcissist in their life conditioned them to believe these things and then left them for another partner, which only enforced this false illusion.
Being rejected or abandoned by someone we love is already painful enough, but when it happens at the hands of a Narcissist, it’s felt much more deeply. The difference is that in a normal relationship, one partner may decide to leave because they’ve met someone else (which was never planned), they’ve decided they want a different lifestyle, they want to discover themselves, etc. On the other hand, a Narcissist conditions their partners to believe they’re nothing – often mere days after establishing a relationship.
It doesn’t always come off as character assassination in the beginning. To seem credible, the Narcissist starts off with little jabs here and there such as, “You used to dress so nicely. Is everything okay?”, “Physical appearance used to be so important to you. Are you depressed?”, “Your job was so essential to you. You must feel really worthless after getting laid off.”
These comments seem innocent at first. In fact, they might even give the impression that the Narcissist cares. But upon further inspection, he is planting seeds of self-doubt and worthlessness. In the first and second comments, he’s indirectly telling you that you look unacceptable, and then adding the hint that something is mentally wrong with you. The irony is that you may very well look the same, but the Narcissist wants you to believe that something about you has changed to the undesirable and that you might be suffering from mental deterioration. In the third comment, he is taking your professionalism to a low level by hinting that you’re not as successful as you thought you were. Now that you’re unemployed, you’re insignificant…as he would have you believe.
It’s crucial to understand that when a Narcissist leaves you, it’s not because you’ve gone through some awful transformation that’s left you unattractive, unsuccessful, or unacceptable. Though it feels that way because of how you’ve been conditioned, the truth is that in a Narcissist’s mind, relationships are doomed from the beginning. Therefore, they want you to believe all the problems are your entire fault, leaving them with zero accountability.
Narcissists almost always have a new target that they’ve secured and possibly moved in with; a new woman they want you to believe is better than you. Have you ever heard of a Narcissist leaving to go out on their own? I haven’t. They always follow the same patterns. One target is discarded while another is secured. And while it all feels real to you at the moment, when analyzed objectively, they have very specific and clear motives for everything they do which have nothing to do with you, other than perhaps making it clear that you’re unhappy with something they’ve said or done.
Dealing with rejection is one of humanity’s most difficult challenges. It brings all our fears and feelings of inadequacy to the surface at once. We internalize the feelings of shame and embarrassment, believing that we did something to deserve the rejection.
The way someone acts towards us really has nothing to do with us, but with who they are and the place they are coming from at the moment. This is true of Narcissists and those without disorders, as well. However, if you’re feeling especially low and unworthy after being abandoned by a Narcissist, it’s likely that you have previous issues of unresolved abandonment from another point in your lifetime. The Narcissist intentionally uncovers these primal wounds to the point that they are raw and bleeding. After learning about you and your hopes and fears, they initiated a crusade to play on them in order to bring you back to these wounds. You’re left nursing your broken heart while they ride off into the false sunset with their new target who will eventually end up tending their own wounds.
Abandonment comes in many forms. However, being rejected by the Narcissist is often debilitating. We have to overcome the shock and panic before we can begin to grieve the loss. Then, we grieve not only the loss, but our sense of self as we knew it before the Narcissist came along. And while it seems that life will never be the same, there is a whole new life waiting for us if we accept the responsibility to discover it. We only need to tap into our emotions, make the effort, and heal the wounds of abandonment. It’s not something that will happen overnight. It might take a few years, in fact. And it’s during this time that we need to avoid diving into another relationship that will again leave us feeling lonely and unworthy. The reason we feel that way is because we have feelings that haven’t been addressed or dealt with, and we will always feel lack inside of relationships until we do.
Recovery is a process which involves graduating through all the steps in order to come out healed and renewed. And while we shouldn’t be rushed through these steps, I feel it’s important to add that if we are stuck in one of the stages, it’s important to seek help.
I’ve read many blogs and Facebook posts that say “take as long as you need”, but there does come a point in time where it’s actually unhealthy to remain stuck in a step of recovery. If, for example, you’re still as shattered two to three years down the road as when you were first abandoned, it means you haven’t been able to advance to the next step and there are some issues that need to be dealt with. I’m not saying “Get over it”, but that unless you find a way to overcome the pain after the passage of considerable time, you risk not getting to the point of growth and renewal, which is what we are all designed for. Abandonment is a catalyst for profound personal growth, but we must make the conscious effort to regain our balance.
“Life is an ongoing process of choosing between safety (out of fear and need for defense) and risk (for the sake of progress and growth). Make the growth choice a dozen times a day.” ~ Abraham Maslow
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