~ by Ether
The feeling of longing is an unpleasantly familiar feeling to those who have been involved in a relationship with a narcissist or similarly emotionally unavailable individual. Longing for your feelings to be reciprocated, your talents to be recognized, time to be allotted for you, gratitude for energy invested, that small ‘loan’ to be returned, approval, disapproval or… just a message on your phone would be a start…. there are never-ending ways that interactions with a narcissist leave us… wanting.
The problem is that we misinterpret this longing for love.
Longing is a powerful emotion that seems to emanate directly from the heart and reach out for something that it can’t connect with, and each time that it cannot connect with what it is searching for, the pain becomes more intense.
Although narcissists are aware that they bring about this feeling in others by their actions and use it to manipulate them, they can’t relate to it on a personal level. They have other emotions to manage that we don’t identify with, such as extreme entitlement and disdain and a never satisfied hunger for the next ego boost.
The feeling of longing has been represented as unrequited love in the theme of love poems for centuries, but no one is more familiar with this pain than those who didn’t see the red flags of a narcissist and fell in love, only to be left with feelings of longing and nothing substantial to hold on to.
It is a debilitating feeling and doesn’t allow you to see the worth in anything else until the feeling is reciprocated or settled in some way. When it is reciprocated, the sky is blue again, the birds are singing again, life stops being black and white and returns once again to glorious technicolor and you can move once more, at least for a short amount of time. Those who have studied narcissists note that the periods of reciprocation or recognition become strategically further and further apart to increase the suffering and to lower the expectation placed on the narcissist.
This longing can lead us to partake in addiction type behaviors in order to replace the feeling of a reciprocated connection, such as heavy smoking or drinking, under-eating, overeating and any way possible to try to satisfy a longing that can’t be satiated by a narcissist. This is just one of the reasons that people generally leave a relationship with a NPD person in worse conditions than when they started.
The refusal of narcissists to give healthy closure does nothing to improve this situation.
The profound feeling of longing that emerges isn’t only based upon emotional damage that we have sustained at some point. It also takes place on an energetic level. Energy in the form of love, time, effort, money. Energy cannot continue to flow in one direction over large periods of time, without negative consequences for the giver. Energy needs to be grounded, to find a healthy source to grow, to flow and to ebb or to be reciprocated. With a narcissist, it just disappears into a black hole, and such nutritious valuable energy is consumed without gratitude and with no appreciation of its value.
The continuous expenditure of energy that is not healthily received or used causes longing. We are proffering our energy for a purpose, for a reply, for a conclusion. When we reach out to a narcissist it does not connect correctly, it is wasted, which leads us into a cycle of sending out more energy looking for the ‘metaphysical’ plug socket, but when unable to find it, it increases the feeling of longing. It’s why we can’t let go – we just can’t – until the energy is dealt with constructively, until it is retrieved and sent into the direction it should go in.
Many people describe narcissists as black holes, who take people’s energy and give nothing in return. Then, they simply move to the next source with no idea of the value of what they were honored to receive. Food is food to a narcissist, whether it is junk food or caviar, it’s all the same to them. Get what you can, move on, rinse and repeat.
This is why closure, and the refusal of those with NPD to give healthy closure to relationships plays such a destructive force in NPD relationships, because at least with some form of closure, you begin to cease the energy being sent out, allowing you to recover.
Narcissist have a 6th sense to know when you are finding some sort of closure and are starting to recover. This is exactly the moment that they contact you, trigger your feelings of longing and the hope and joy that the misplaced energy will now be recognised or returned.
It also forms part of the problem of why others cannot understand why a person continues to want to be in a relationship with this person, and will go back time and time again…as once the energy has been invested, we need a return on it.
I don’t think narcissists have a choice, they are what they are. But you do.
You have a choice to recall your energy, without their permission or closure, and put it into a different direction starting today.
Giving something up is notoriously harder than starting something, so it is important to transmit the energy into another direction.
Some naturally redirect the energy, in time, into another healthier relationship. Others find the answer in sport and taking care of themselves, and others find it in work or study or pursuing their unique gift, which has been neglected while tending to the narcissist.
While at first it seems very difficult to refocus your heartfelt energy into a different area, once healthy reciprocation for energy spent in a worthwhile area starts to come back to you, the healing process progresses at a much faster rate, with a stronger ground to build upon – on an energetic level – and restores shaken confidence that was suffered during the course of the relationship.
Call your energy back in and channel it into another area, which will benefit you. You deserve to focus it onto your goals. Narcissists cannot change, but you can.
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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.