Whether you were discarded by your toxic partner, or left them due to manipulation and emotional / financial abuse, recovering from the relationship can seem next to impossible.
By the time the relationship is over, you’ve been made to feel that you’re unworthy of affection, faithfulness, or happiness. Everything they loved about you in the beginning became your flaws. You found yourself perpetually defending your every thought and action, including those made from innocent intent.
The pain you are feeling consists of: feeling rejected, discarded, not feeling good enough, feeling unattractive, that no one else would want you except for money or sex, and that even your own friends and family don’t love you. You obsess about your Ex night and day, just praying for the pain to stop, wondering what you could have done differently to keep their love and “save” the relationship. Some victims become so distraught that they accept their partner having other lovers, and allow themselves to become a back-up for the Narcissist’s whims.
I know how that pain feels. I endured it nearly every day for almost a year. I didn’t begin to feel relief until I implemented Extreme Modified Contact, and began to understand that none of the things my Ex wanted me to believe about myself were true. Further, I did a lot of self-work to change my thoughts when they reverted back to incidents that made me feel badly about myself based on things my Ex said to me.
Below, I offer some of the steps that I took to heal. You may find some of the suggestions helpful, and you may discover that you’d like to experiment with other methods. However, the first and only step towards healing is implementing No Contact or Extreme Modified Contact. I receive a lot of emails from victims who believe they’ve implemented No Contact, yet their Ex is still emailing, texting, or sending messages on social media platforms. That’s why they haven’t begun to heal. (If you’ve implemented NC in its true form, your Ex wouldn’t be able to call or text you). If you have implemented No Contact, you can skip down to “Behind The Curtains”.
Step #1 – No Contact
If you are still allowing your abuser to contact you, the first thing you need to do is implement No Contact. If you don’t have children together, there is no reason to keep a line of communication open for them. Victims often convince themselves they have a valid reason for maintaining contact, but if that’s a choice you make, you should do so with the understanding that healing absolutely will not begin as long as you still have contact with your abuser. Further, things will continue on in the same manner (Hoover, Devalue, Discard… infinity).
If you have Modified Contact (which is strictly for cases of shared custody or visitation), it’s very easy to slip back into discussing the past or other topics that don’t involve the children. Don’t do that. It’s only a form of Narcissistic supply, and also brings back the feelings of needing closure, which you will not get from the Narcissist. Closure is something you’ll need to give yourself. How? I offer suggestions in my article, Narc Recovery Boot Camp.
Is No Contact hard? Yes. Quite possibly the hardest thing you will do in your life because you’re likely still in love with the Narcissist. I was. But I later discovered that what I thought was love was really C-PTSD, trauma bonding, and codependency. Since my Ex had isolated me from friends and family, he became the center of my world. He’d give me small bits of “praise” and then snatch them away again. In turn, I became hypersensitive to needing his approval. In fact, I felt that if I didn’t gain it, my world would be over. Ironically, though I received validating statements from other people, they didn’t matter because the statements didn’t come from my N-Ex.
This is the place in which the Narcissist leaves their victims when the relationship is terminated, regardless of who ends it. There is no closure, and that’s partly why it’s so painful and excruciating. You’re stripped of all hope, confidence, and self-esteem and then thrown out into the world feeling like a leper…craving and dreaming of the Narcissist’s approval like a druggie needing their next hit.
That’s precisely why you will not heal until you initiate No Contact. As long as there is communication with the Narcissist, you will continue to feel like that unwanted leper.
Behind the Curtains
What you may not realize is that those feelings of unworthiness, unattractiveness, failure, and feeling like a familial and societal outcast aren’t factual. They only feel true because you believe them, based on things the Narcissist said to you, but it’s all an illusion.
The Narcissist wanted you to believe negative things about yourself because that’s the only way they could blame you for everything, and simultaneously have you believe everything was your fault, too! It’s also how they ensure you will be waiting for them in the event they decide to come back and cast down crumbs before you.
Some situations may seem to enhance these beliefs. Perhaps your family stopped communicating with you, but upon closer inspection, did you withdraw from them first? Did you get angry because they tried to tell you the Narcissist was bad news? Were they appalled because your children were forced to endure mistreatment at the hands of the Narcissist? I’d be willing to bet that as soon as you leave your abuser for good, your familial relationships will improve. It might take time and effort, but it can (and usually does) happen.
Or perhaps you’re overweight, so you feel that no one else would even look at you (in the Narcissist’s taunting words). Maybe you’ve put on a few pounds, but this is very common in victims of Narcissistic abuse. When your thyroids and adrenal glands are fried, you’ve developed insomnia from anxiety, and your cortisol levels are high due to constant stress, you naturally gain weight. Some people are also emotional eaters, adding more pounds. But these things can be corrected. The fact is that the biggest catalyst in your weight gain was the Narcissist. Take away the source, and you will eventually lose the weight.
It’s essential to remember who you were before you met the Narcissist. That is the real you. The person you believe yourself to be now is a false product of the Narcissist’s making. Have you ever heard of a person leaving or being discarded by a Narcissist and feeling attractive, successful, popular, and a wonderful parent? No, no one has…because the main goal of the Narcissist is to make their victims feel the opposite. Once you initiate No Contact and understand that the Narcissist’s goal is to tear you down, the FOG will begin to lift and healing will be in sight.
(*Don’t forget to check out How Breaking No Contact Can Hurt You in Court)
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.
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© Kim Saeed and Let Me Reach, 2014