Do you hear that?
It’s the sound of distant sobbing.
Heart-wrenching, soulful sobbing that comes with the loss of everything one has toiled for over the course of years, maybe decades.
What if it that person sobbing were you, lamenting your misfortune after losing your job due to narcissistic abuse? Not only your job, but your professional reputation, the respect of your colleagues, and perhaps the ability to find similar employment in your field?
Even worse, could you lose everything that means the most to you? The very reasons you get up and go to work every day? Your children, home, car, finances, and self-respect?
That won’t happen to you, right? You’re probably thinking you can handle the heat…that you have what it takes to put on your company hat, go to work, pretend to have it all together, then return home and resume the nightmare that is your life.
After all, the sign of a strong person is their ability to keep it all together, leaving their troubles at the door, right?
That’s what a lot of people think. Until they’re called into HR and get a termination notice.
Things may seem manageable today, but that illusion can be shattered in the blink of an eye. It happens every day. Narcissistic abuse victims lose everything because they think they can continue their toxic relationships, yet keep it all together at work. In reality, many get fired, laid off, demoted, put on probation, and lose their licenses. Significant licenses, such as those required to perform as a medical doctor or licensed therapist.
Trying to maintain a toxic relationship while maintaining a career is counterproductive, if not impossible. First, there are the increased sick days due to the sheer overload on the body that comes with narcissistic abuse. Not only the physical symptoms, but also the psychological decline when depression and despair set in.
Then, there are the humiliating and perilous antics of the persistent narcissist who calls your office or cell phone fifty times a day, sending unrestrained text messages and buzzing you while you’re attending department meetings.
It doesn’t help that your disordered partner shows up in your employer’s parking lot to spy on you or to cause an embarrassing scene.
These things get noticed.
Your colleagues have tired of hearing you quarrel in your cubicle, slamming the phone down when the narcissist pushes your buttons. On top of that, your supervisor is noticing that you’re not meeting your goals and your productivity has been on a steady decline.
And did you know that every time you visit the doctor or your therapist, it’s possible that your HR department knows about it? Large corporations often have their own insurance claim representatives, and they’re taking note of your physical and mental deterioration.
The next thing you know, your department is being downsized and strangely, you’re the only one being let go.
Or, maybe you own your own business and you’ve lost clients due to your forgetting appointments or failure to follow through on deadlines. Word-of-mouth isn’t helping anymore, which is what you’ve relied on for your bottom line…until problems started manifesting in your relationship and your reputation began a downward spiral.
So, how do you end this crazy-making, losing battle? Perhaps you’re not in a position to leave the relationship immediately, but there are steps you can take to begin the preservation of your career and livelihood. It starts with applying these five basic steps of the No Contact Rule.
One: Re-establish your independence.
Be mindful that you don’t have to leave yourself at the mercy of the narcissist. Block him or her from being able to contact you via your cell phone. If they call you at the office and your office phone has caller ID, don’t answer the call. If your office phone doesn’t have caller ID and you pick up, don’t engage if you discover it’s the narcissist calling. Once you hear their voice, hang up the phone.
If you’re friends with anyone in IT, it might behoove you to see if they can block the narcissist’s ability to get through to you via your office line.
Two: If the narcissist shows up at your place of employment, ignore them and walk away. If the narcissist persists, inform them you’ll notify security and walk calmly into the building. Even if your company doesn’t have a true “security” team, make this statement anyway and pull out your phone, pretending that you’re dialing the department.
Three: Stay with a friend or family member if necessary. If you fear a nuclear fall-out from establishing new boundaries, it may be in your best interest to spend time away if you share a residence with your toxic partner. However, gather any heirlooms or sentimental items beforehand and store them somewhere safe. If you’re married to your disordered partner, consult an attorney regarding laws in your state related to how you can reside elsewhere without affecting property division.
Four: Don’t discuss the details of your relationship with coworkers. Not everyone is as genuinely concerned with your situation as it may appear. In fact, it’s entirely possible that someone in your office might arrange a secret meeting with HR to discuss your chaotic circumstances and how they’re affecting their morale and productivity. Save your troubles for a trusted friend or confidante, your therapist, or your coach.
Five: DO NOT make a lunch date with the narcissist to hash out the problems in your relationship. It doesn’t look too good when you’ve been triggered and mistreated, then return to work half-crazed and barely able to maintain your composure.
Besides, any appearance that the narcissist wants to work on the relationship is a scam. Save yourself the grief and frustration.
These actions may understandably instill feelings of fear and anxiety, but which is worse, making the narcissist angry or losing your job? Imagine being forced to parade yourself down the hallway in front of your colleagues carrying your office contents in a box. Or, what it would it feel like to have to pawn everything you own of value and sell plasma twice a week to make ends meet. I can tell you, it doesn’t feel good.
In addition to helping you save your job, these five steps will work in your favor if you find yourself in need of filing a restraining order.
They will also put you well on your way to No Contact and, eventually, your freedom and recovery.
A visual cheerleader for your first month of No Contact!
Kim Saeed is a recognized relationship and new life educator specializing in helping narcissistic abuse survivors to heal, rebuild, find purpose, and live joyfully after No Contact. In 2013, she founded Let Me Reach, a life transformation company that teaches people to flourish after toxic relationships.