Going No Contact does not Make You the Narcissist

By Kim Saeed | Contemplating No Contact

Feb 01

I’ll never forget the time when I finally meant business and went No Contact, blocking my Ex from being able to reach me by cell phone.  At first it felt empowering because it was the first in a series of steps to gain my freedom and power back.

But, after a few days, the debilitating guilt set in. Wasn’t going No Contact the same thing as when he gave me the Silent Treatment?  What if he’d finally seen the light and felt remorse for how he’d treated me?  Maybe he was trying frantically to get in touch with me to apologize, and here I was apathetically preventing him from offering his apology.

Didn’t all of these things make me just as heartless and cunning as when he’d ignored me?  What if the “hurt little boy” inside him was reaching out to be rescued?  After all, most of us are aware that ignoring another person can have lasting, detrimental effects on their mental well-being.

What I was doing seemed to portray the same lack of empathy as my Ex’s behaviors.  And, in keeping him blocked and unable to reach out to me, I was taking part in the same cruel tricks I’d wanted to avoid by blocking him in the first place!

And guess what?  It wasn’t long after having these thoughts that I unblocked him and opened the door to months of continued abuse.

The difference between the Silent Treatment and No Contact   

There is one word that sets the Silent Treatment apart from No Contact—intention.

There are very distinct, fundamental differences between the Silent Treatment and going No Contact.  One is used as a form of punishment and torture, while the other is a process of gaining freedom from abuse and manipulation.  Below, I dissect the differences between the two so you can punt your unwarranted guilt out the window and get on with the very important task of healing yourself and your life.

Silent Treatment

The Silent Treatment has many different names including: ostracism, shunning, cold shoulder, and social rejection and/or isolation.

It has been used for centuries by organizations, cults, churches, and communities as an effective way to punish or wreak vengeance for a perceived wrong.  It was used by the ancient Greeks as a way of neutralizing someone thought to be a threat to the municipal or a potential ruler.

In the context of the corporate environment, it is strategically carried out by co-workers, supervisors, and managers alike and is considered a form of workplace bullying.  It’s often used to punish a whistle-blower for exposing unethical behaviors.

In romantic (and familial) relationships, Narcissists use the silent treatment as an aggressive measure of control and punishment for something his or her partner did; a sadistic form of “time-out”, ostracizing the victim as motivation for them to “behave”.  It is the ultimate form of devaluation, causing its target to feel voiceless, alone, dismissed, negated as a person; invisible.

Every time the narcissist gives you the Silent Treatment, you are diminished in small increments.  Over time, your sense of self is eroded and your fear of abandonment gets worse.  If you weren’t aware of any abandonment wounds before meeting the narcissist, the insidious, yet progressive actions they carried out during the tearing down of your confidence brought any underlying abandonment wounds to the surface.

The intended result of the silent treatment is to put the narcissist in a position of power while conditioning its target (you) to keep silent and accept the unfair treatment doled out by the narcissist.  Its message is, “Compliance, or else”. This can last from a few days to several weeks with the Narcissist often leaving the communal home.

Takeaway:  The Silent Treatment is the narcissist’s favorite manipulative tool because it offers several advantages simultaneously, including 1) it conditions you to “shut up and take it”, 2) it frees them up for the important task of grooming other supply, and 3) it allows them to play the hurt victim.

No Contact

In contrast to the Silent Treatment, going No Contact is not intended to be a form of punishment.  Granted, some targets of narcissistic abuse may periodically block their toxic partners from being able to contact them, but this is often a vain attempt at teaching the narcissist a lesson.  Any of us who’ve blocked the narcissist (only to later unblock them) in hopes of their finally “getting it” can attest to the futility of such a tactic.

No Contact in its true form is a very specific system of self-protection.  Those who implement No Contact have realized that their abusive partner will not change and, therefore, neither will their partner’s abusive behaviors.  It is a very intentional approach for escaping abuse and ending the toxic effects of emotional and psychological manipulation.

However, the manipulative nature of narcissists, combined with their victim’s over-conscientious nature, results in the person who implements No Contact feeling like they’re a bad person.  They don’t want to make the narcissist mad or have him/her think they’re being punished.  By all accounts, going No Contact requires the abuse victim to behave in ways that are completely foreign to them.

This is the very vulnerability that narcissists exploit, enabling them to push their target’s emotional buttons in order for the narcissist to get what they want from the situation.

Takeaway:  In spite of what the narcissist would have you believe, you haven’t violated their “intimate” relationship rules.  You haven’t triggered old wounds or behaved in unacceptable ways.  Even if you lashed out under the pressure of ongoing abuse, you wouldn’t have done so if not for their constantly pushing the envelope and trampling your boundaries.

The narcissist would like to give the impression that you expect too much from the relationship and/or that you make their life miserable with your “constant demands”, and so their reaction is to give you the Silent Treatment, while having you accept and take the blame for their having done so.

The Bottom Line

There is nothing wrong with your taking a stand to detach from a toxic relationship to take care of yourself and heal.  You don’t have to prove to your Ex that you’re a nice person by leaving the lines of communication open for them to attack at will, because that’s all they really want when they accuse you of being mean or—gasp—a narcissist!  In fact, if they do accuse you of being a narcissist because you want to establish a safe space to disengage and rebuild, they are simply projecting their bad traits onto you, as they’ve been doing all along.

© Kim Saeed and Let Me Reach, 2016

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(37) comments

Cat June 14, 2016

He left boxes and boxes of his “stuff” here…much of it items that belonged to his grandparents and mom. I knew his mom…she and I got along really well…to the extent that she asked for me on her deathbed. Don’t think she knew what he was really like. He’s been gone 3 months and I have most of the stuff boxed up. I can take it to his sister’s house and drop it off since I’m no contact…but was holding off because I know she’ll go through it all and pilfer anything of value (kinda like she did with a good portion of their mom’s property). But….he left….I came home to a UHaul truck. If she goes through all the stuff he left here, that’s not really my problem, right? Or am I responsible for it’s safekeeping? I have 8 cartons packed so far, tons of sports equipment. I want it gone and I don’t want him here. I’ve managed almost 6 weeks NC so far and don’t want to take a chance of agreeing “sure, we can be friends”

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    Kaya50 June 14, 2016

    Going through the same with my ex husband I would give you this advice . Don’t contact him about his stuff. Just leave it packed, boxed , sitting. I put most of my ex husband stuff in boxes in a corner of the garage. When I sold the house I just left it. Not my problem anymore. The realtors could contact him or dispose of it. Contacting him about him about his stuff will only feed him “ego kibbles” , will give him control and will break no contact. Don’t do it. I am divorced now after being married for 20 years. No contact since over 3 years. Best decision I have ever made. The stuff is his problem. Not yours. This what my attorney told me and I am glad that I followed his advice. Nothing , absolutely nothing good will come out of you interacting with him. Staying friends is not option. A person who hurts you can never be your friend. Period.

    Reply
      Cat June 15, 2016

      Thanks for your answer, Kaya50. I’ll put it in a back corner of the basement shelves (a LARGE back corner since I’m at 8 cartons and counting, much of it pictures of his kids) because of the heat and humidity here. The sports stuff will stay out in the shed.

      I know I must cut contact with his sister, too. She isn’t someone I’d normally be friends with as we have/had nothing in common except him. She has a death grip on me, though, and keeps telling me I’m just like a sister to her. She’s as manipulative as her brother, so it’s got to happen asap. The things she says used to make me feel guilty, but now I just get annoyed. Seems like when you start taking your life back from one person, it makes you look at other friendships/acquaintences differently as well. I don’t want to be around people who make me feel less than myself.

      Finding this website has helped so much more than I’d have ever believed possible.

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        Kaya50 June 15, 2016

        This website is indeed very helpful. I wish I would have found it when going through this crazy drama with my ex husband. I cut off all contact with his family also. They might show you some support but in the end they will be on his side. Staying friends with an abusive, narcissistic sociopath is not an option. My ex inflicted so much pain and heartache on me and his only child . We were the ones he promised to love and protect. Instead he lied, betrayed , cheated, abondened us and in the end threw us away like garbage. He list any privilege to this family by his actions and choices. Cheating is a choice and there are consequences in life for making bad choices. My ex does not exist for me anymore other than providing my monthly alimony check to me. I don’t care who he dates , where he lives or what he does. It was pure hell to get to where I am today. I struggled the first year with the no contact but I stuck to it. Every day of no contact I put a smiley face sticker on a calendar and before I knew it I had a complete year of “happiness “. I had to sever all ties with him, his friends and his family. I had to quit this addiction of “loving” him. And it was painful and difficult. Once I removed myself from this crazy drama I was able to focus on me. And I realized my marriage was built on a foundation of “sand”. Nothing was real about it. One wave came and swept the entire sandcastle away. It was all an illusion. While being married to him it seemed like the normal to me, it wasn’t. Looking back I was a puppet on strings and those strings had to be cut. I had the help of an awesome lawyer and the support of a therapist and my family. In the end I won this battle but I came out with many wounds. They slowly healed and life is good now. Even after 3 years I am not ready for a new relationship and I am content with being single. I can be my own person now and it feels good not having to play detective anymore. It was an exhausting task to keep up with his lies. No one deserves this. And that is why I don’t ever regret divorcing him. I hope things work out well for you. I wish you strength and determination in your healing and one day you will look back and thank God for taking evil out of your life. Trials only make you stronger.

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P Martinez May 23, 2016

Thank you. You have no idea how much this article helped. I got tired of the verbal vomit as i like to call it. He always said “why cant i behave like an adult”! Or he would guilt me with I am so immature by my lack of responses. And yes i started to feel guilty for not responding or communicating. I have implemented no contact going on 1 month i have placed a protection order and i have filed for divorce. We have a daughter together and im going to do whatever it takes for her not to grow up with him. I was startinf to feel like maybe i was just like him for ignorning him but after the last texts i received im just at the receiving end of his angry probably drug induced tirade. Ty!!!

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    Tanja50 May 23, 2016

    You are doing the right thing. Ignoring a sociopath does not make you one. Instead you are protecting YOUR emotional welfare. Take care of YOURSELF and your daughter. Remember NOTHINH will change his behavior or traits. I recommend a book called “Husband, Liar , Sociopath “. Reading this book described my life with my ex. For over 2 decades I was lied to, I was betrayed and eventually discarded. Thrown in the trash like a mc Donald’s paper bag. I , his wife. , mother of his only child. Just like that. The divorce empowered me. My new life is awesome and I would never go back to this craziness. To this drama of manipulation and deceit. No one deserves this. My only regret is that I did not divorce him sooner. Good luck with everything. Stay strong and think of how much drama and tears you can save your daughter from. My only son witnessed the tears and pain my ex caused me until he was 18. And that way too long. He turned out to be nothing like his “father “. And that was my goal in life.

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Tanja50 April 9, 2016

No contact literally saved my life. I went no contact the day I filed for divorce from a cheater after 20 years of abuse. Best decision I ever made. It was my closure and it gave me control and power. Which I never had. I am 3 years of no contact now after an ugly divorce. I healed, I recovered and I am at peace with it. I know that any contact with him will put me back to the evil place. The evil place I lived at for so long. No more tears. No more lies and betrayals. No more drama brainwashing and manipulation. So done with it. I let my lawyer do all the talking. It was expensive but so worth it. I will never communicate with the devil again. What makes it so dangerous is that my ex husband is a police officer. I know he is looking for ways to have me arrested or put away somewhere. That is why I will never talk to him again as long as I am alive.

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broken763 April 2, 2016

I met my N at work. He said that he wanted me the moment he saw me. “Wanted me in every way.” He started to text me… he gave me beautiful compliments. He told me I was stunning. Drop dead gorgeous. I was perfect in every way. I was smart and sexy…had a huge heart. He said that I gave him feelings that he has never felt before. He said that he thought about me all the time. He would text me every day…many times during the day asking for pictures and giving me compliments. Although I liked the attention, I just wasn’t that into him. Honestly, I didn’t really like him. He was not my type. I was not physically attracted to him but I was kind and respectful to him. He is 16 years younger than me so I was very flattered. However, I kept my distance and told him that he shouldn’t feel that way about me. He complained that the relationship felt one-sided and that he hated that. I got lonely at times and started to look forward to his text messages. We would text for hours. My feelings started to change. We got to know each other very intimately very quickly. He treated me like a goddess. He would park his car right next to mine at work…snugged right up close to mine. I thought it was really sweet and cute. I resisted him for about 2 ½ months of constant, relentless pursuit and pressure. Then I caved. I started to send him pictures. He loved it. He told me how beautiful I was. That I was perfect. He said that he wished that he had the same effect on me as I had on him. He said that I made him melt. He said that he loved me. When we hugged, he told me that he got a huge adrenaline rush. I could feel his tremble. He said that never happened to him before with anyone but me. He made me feel special… exceptional. We would joke about running away together. We couldn’t get enough of each other. It was exciting… thrilling…I felt alive. Most people we worked with didn’t like him. He was arrogant. Overly confident. Rude at times. He thought he deserved more pay, more praise, and more credit than what he was getting. He thought everyone around him was stupid and incompetent. After about 3 months of pure bliss, he started to change. The texts became less. No more compliments. He would comment on my clothing…”Your pants are too baggy… Your coat is too long.” He would fix my necklace if it was turned. Move my hair a certain way. He started to “punish” me by withholding texts and attention. We could only talk when he wanted to. If I texted him he would respond with very short answers or it took hours for him to respond if at all. He would get upset over trivial things and be hurtful with his words. He would end the conversation with “bye” which meant we would not be talking for a while…maybe even days. I would have to wait for him to be ready to talk again. I was always the one to apologize. Take the blame. Make amends. He was inconsistent with his wants, his words, and his actions. He became very difficult to read. He asked me to buy him gifts. Things that he always wanted but could never afford himself. I complied. I thought that it would maybe snap him out of the weird funk he was in. He was appreciative to receive them, but never mentioned it again. He would not text me or acknowledge me on special occasions…my birthday, Christmas, or even Valentines Day. Not a word. The relationship became very one-sided again. Only this time it was me feeling that way. I waited for any type of attention he would give to me. I soaked up any crumb he sent my way. I kept waiting for the man I fell for to come back to me. Where is he? Did he really exist? Is it me? Was I not the woman he thought I was after all? Why doesn’t he just tell me what he is thinking? I got up the courage and asked him if there was anything he wanted to tell me. I was hoping he would open up to me. Maybe just end the relationship so that I could move on with my life and to get off of this roller coaster from hell. He said “no” and walked away. At one point I caught him flirting with a fellow co-worker. He said “Don’t be jealous.” He tells me he is a flirt. That it is “in his nature”. He started parking his car right next to hers… Just like he did with me. I knew that I couldn’t keep this relationship going. It was so exhausting. I felt my self-esteem crushing. I felt panicked all the time. Sad, tired, hopeless, lost. I cried every day. Felt horrible. What happened? Why??? One day I was having lunch with a coworker and she mentioned that he acted just like her ex-husband. She said “I’m sure he is a sociopath or narcissist.” The label scared me. I started researching everything on sociopath and narcissist. I was relieved to find that he did not fit perfectly into those labels. There were some similarities but it wasn’t totally him. I didn’t want it to be him. That would mean that everything that we had wasn’t true. That would be more than I could bear. I started seeing a therapist. I could not shake him. It shook me to my core. I couldn’t focus. I made mistakes at work. I cried all the time. I felt unsettled, insecure and nauseous. Broken. Got jumpy and would scare easily. I am not a smoker, but bought a pack of cigarettes and smoked the entire pack in one day. I started taking melatonin so that I could sleep at night. The therapist listened to my story. Right away she didn’t like what she was hearing about him. I got defensive. Protected him. Made excuses for him. She gave me a hand out on a Narcissist. Lol…She told me to research it. I told her that is not him. I already researched it. She looked surprised then asked me why I didn’t think so. I told her that he is not loud and flashy. He doesn’t pretend to be perfect. He does not brag. He’s actually quite the opposite. He points out his flaws. He’s quiet. He’s insecure and fragile at times. She then handed me a handout on a covert or vulnerable Narcissist. Wow. Bingo. I read it in total disbelief. It was like the story was written specifically about him. Spot on. Exactly him. I was devastated. Hurt. Angry. This cannot be true. I did more research on the subject. Found this website and here I am. I initiated NC last Friday. He texted me- I did not respond. He texted again and again. I could feel the panic in his words. I felt cruel. I felt like the monster that he could be when he didn’t respond to me. I know how it feels. The isolation…rejection. It killed me to cause him pain. I got absolutely no joy in his panic and pain. I would much rather hurt than cause hurt to him. What the heck am I doing? I bought every single essential oil for healing and inhaled them all weekend. I stuck with it. NC all weekend. I felt a little empowered by Sunday, but still hurt. This is not easy. I’m not sure if I can continue to do it. It is such a strong act to do when I feel so weak. On Monday he came in to work, found me and without warning or words wrapped his arms around me and whispered “I’m sorry”. .. I love him.

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[…] Going No Contact does not Make You the Narcissist […]

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Samuel February 16, 2016

What’s going on here?

We had huge fight with my girlfriend couple of months ago. She went silent and soon after I realized that she was narcissist, huge one. I didn’t see it before and I hate myself for it. I was so deeply in love. After few moths of silent treatment I found you blog and my eyes opened. Thank you for that.

Now about week ago I sent her text saying I was done. I was not going to wait her anymore or wait her to meet me half way and make reconciliation. My intention was to finally go no contact. Now suddenly she sends me a text basically saying “Ok, you made up your mind but I want to return that t-shirt you left at my apartment. I’m leaving out of town tonight so please hurry and tell me how you want it back. Thanks”

So I’m asking is this her way of trying to lure me back in or could she sincerely trying to return the shirt. Because she knows I like the shirt and it’s important to me. I don’t know.. I’m confused…

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    Kim Saeed February 16, 2016

    Hi Samuel! To answer your question, yes…it’s a lure. You could ask her to leave it in either of your mailboxes. Don’t be surprised if she tries to hang onto it as a bargaining and hoovering chip. Wishing you all the best!

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Anonymous February 8, 2016

This is exactly what I needed to read tonight. The N who was in my life pre-NC is spinning the whole thing around like SHE was the one abused by me, making me out to be the N. And man, she stirred up some passive-aggressive stuff from a distance, to boot… I’m not sure if she is BPD as well or not (I’m not a professional) but man all the signs were / are there. I’m sad. She was, I thought, a good friend and I learned a lot about myself (and, by proxy, my N dad and CoD mom I grew up with). Watch out folks. If you see the signs, get out and fast. Don’t let 3 years get past you.

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Pieces of Bipolar February 8, 2016

Thank you, just what I needed to hear. I am currently the recipient of the silent treatment

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Leopard13 February 6, 2016

Dear Kim, thank you so much; your posts help me keep on track when I’m about to fall into the NarcTrap again.
Four months No Contact, Yea!! Getting my life back, little by little..

Leopard13

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Loretta February 2, 2016

So helpful thank you! My mother has been trying to guilt and shame me over the fact that I needed to go NC with my sister (her other daughter) because I was the victim of 35+ years of sibling Narc abuse. Mother thinks I’m being “mean” and unforgiving. Nothing to do with forgiveness: I forgive! But, I’m tired of the verbal and emotional abuse by my sister; I am only “handy, extra supply” for her when her exes and ‘friends’ finally escape her abuse. I’m so worn down by my sister’s cycle of abuse, especially the crazy making, projection, and narc rage. : ( Thanks again! Loretta

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mychildwithin February 2, 2016

Reblogged this on my child within and commented:
Very useful post!

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Lynette d'Arty-Cross February 2, 2016

Oh yes – these two are very different. Thanks for a great post.

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mau February 1, 2016

I know you’re right Kim, but No Contact is not as easy as you make it sound. Its so hard, and thought we deny it, we miss the monster. We really do.

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    Joyce M. Short February 2, 2016

    Mau-

    That’s your brain chemistry drawing you back. romantic brain chemistry is just like any other form of addiction. You need to focus on reality and override the nueropeptides Mother Nature gave you to give you bonded with your mate.

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Lara February 2, 2016

 Dear Kim, Too bad your article was not written 1.5 years ago. It what I felt, the enormous guilt…. And now… now I have no power to get out and stop the madness… He never will love me, merry me, appreciate me…. I’m only a status that he is a man and has a woman to f… I’m for him an assurance to feel better about himself. I have no proof, but feel, maybe deductive reasoning, he trying to get other woman, but those woman smarter than me, and do not want him, because they know, those woman who he wants, that he is a book cover  with missing and non-recovering pages, and me- I make them up, those pages to complete his one person reading book – me…

Every time I want get out and done with him, leave him for good,  I feel an enormous pressure inside me, or maybe a God’s will, it what I want to be, to leave him. It makes me sick for days if I decided to leave him… I know , its all Pavlov dog’s reflexes, but I do not know how to get out of my addiction… My friend family hate him and feel no respect for my weekness

Sincerely, Lara

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joicelizsabeth February 1, 2016

Funny thing no contact makes me feel empowered. It was the second choice I made after my first; “asking for help”. I feel safe, peaceful and strong. My world, my choices, my life, everything is all about me, that’s how he acted. He was a narcissist, I’m not; I’m only happy, safe, stronger and smarter.?

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Sheryl February 1, 2016

This has been very helpful. Thank you.

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Joyce M. Short February 1, 2016

There’s vast difference between the Narcissistic behavior of “the silent treatment” and the protective behavior of a victim. The victim is conducting “adaptive” behavior.

Everyone under the sun has the ability to behave in many different ways. The behaviors we chose result from our moral code of conduct. People with emotional empathy chose to do no harm, but the need to protect oneself can override our interest in being supportive of another. A victim who recognizes the harm they are suffering will adapt their behavior in order to protect themselves.

Just like not everyone who kills a person is a psychopath; sometimes people kill others because the person was an eminent threat to their safety or the safety of others. That’s another example of “adaptive behavior.”

Narcissists like to enrage so they can point a finger of blame toward your “adaptive behavior,” and attempt to make you feel guilty about it. And because many people don’t think about how their emotional empathy is being misused, they fall headlong into that trap. In order to carry out “No Contact,” the person must reach the point of understanding at which they recognize that having contact will only put them at the mercy of a disordered mentality, and they must no longer give a damn what the other person thinks of them.

The narcissist does not deserve your guilt over their feelings. They have none. It’s all a game. But because you have emotional empathy, you project feelings into them that they simply don’t possess. Emotional empathy makes you feel what you believe “should” be their emotions. But your concept of how they feel is only in your imagination.

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    Kim Saeed February 2, 2016

    Excellent insight, Joyce. Thank you for stopping by and sharing this information! I hope many people will have the opportunity to read it…

    Reply
Anonymous February 1, 2016

Thank u for ur post.. It resonates through me… My ex narcissist called it a hiatus…because we weren’t getting along…lasting from 3 days to 2 weeks…and when it was over there i was immediately answering his texts.. Waiting all that time for scraps… Well I have been no contact for one week short of 9 months…in the beginning I felt the same as you did…guilt. Like I was bad….being hurtful…until u are away from the abuse and the blindness wears off its hard and yes out of my character to be sooo mean… But now I see it was and is sooooo important for my well being and healing. It was not mean…its loving…loving myself.

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    Kim Saeed February 2, 2016

    Indeed it is, Someone <3

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Catherine Moyet February 1, 2016

Keep writing. Your posts are classic!

On Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 6:22 PM, Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed wrote:

> Kim Saeed posted: “I’ll never forget the time when I finally meant > business and blocked my Ex from being able to reach me by cell phone. At > first it felt empowering because it was the first in a series of steps to > gain my freedom and power back. But, after a few days, t” >

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Heart Shaped Eyes February 1, 2016

Thank you, Kim. Perfect, just what I needed to read.

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    Kim Saeed February 2, 2016

    Thank you for stopping by and for commenting…I’m glad my article gave you a little boost <3

    Reply
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