This post is written from the position of remaining free from your recently ended relationship with an NPD, but you can use these methods for healing yourself from almost any unhealthy relationship.
So you’re free. It may have been your choice, or you may have been permanently discarded. Either way, you’re FREE. Janis Joplin sang: “Freedom’s just another word for nuthin’ left to lose…”
The aftermath of a relationship with a narcissist leaves you in an emotional state where you might feel you really don’t have anything left to lose. Good. If you have nothing left to lose (because the narcissist took it all from you), then you can start rebuilding your emotional strength. Remember: there’s a silver lining everywhere. If you can do it, reach down and find that reserve of strength – think of your strength bank like your gas tank. When the gas light in your car comes on, it means you’re on empty, according to the vehicle’s sensors. You’re not on empty, though, because you can still drive at least far enough to get to a gas station and gas up, right?
It’s the same situation with your emotional strength. When you feel you’re on empty, there’s always a teeny bit left. There is just enough to get you to the strength bank so you can refill.
Narcissists attempt to totally destroy a person before discarding. It’s a torturous path because the devaluation begins with your first meeting. It’s insidious. You won’t recognize that you’re being devalued until you’ve spent a significant amount of time with this individual. One day it will all seem too much for you. You won’t know what this person wants. You’ll do something right today and tomorrow it will be wrong. You’ll be criticized for things you weren’t aware you did and you’ll turn yourself inside out attempting to right imaginary wrongs, because by the time the criticism escalates to this point, the N has brainwashed you into believing that there truly is something wrong with you.
1. Tell yourself, over and over, even if you don’t yet believe it that nothing is wrong with you.
2. Find some way to channel the negative emotional energy. For me, it’s writing. For others it may be exercise, therapy, cleaning, taking up a new hobby. Do whatever you can do to NOT sit around and castigate yourself for “screwing it up,” because the N will have quite definitively told you that the reason the two of you are no longer together is your fault.
3. If at all possible do not maintain any contact with this person. You may continue to receive phone calls and emails from the N, but those are simply attempts to either devalue you even more or entice you back into the pairing (it’s not a relationship), so the N can begin the cycle again. Ns hate to lose their narcissistic supply, even after they’ve used, abused and discarded you. They go looking for new supply, and if they can’t find it, they’ll come back to you.
4. In my case, writing emails THAT WERE NEVER SENT was incredible therapy for me. I would pull up a random email from my N, hit “reply” and remove his email address from the “to:” field. Then I’d begin deconstructing what he’d said in the email and I’d write my reply to his bullshit. I’d slam his ass against the wall, pick up my figurative steel pipe and bludgeon him until he was bleeding and crushed, slithering down the wall, like the squashed insect he is. Then, so I could track my healing progress, I’d save the email to my drafts. I never clicked “send.” Don’t ever send an N your emotions. You will find them being used against you with more brutality than you knew existed.
Below is an example of what I did with one of his emails to me. This never got sent:
On 7/30/2011 2:10 PM, Narcissistic Bastard wrote:
Your prior email and phone calls had and have elements of anger, damming analysis and insulting conjecture of my character. It is disturbing if you cannot see it.
I imagine it IS disturbing to you, asshole. Guess what? I “cannot see it.” I notice you say “it is disturbing” rather than “I am disturbed…” That’s quite telling. You’ve just projected on me again. Translation: “You’re a disturbed individual because you refuse to accept my indictment of you as your own reality.” Oh, btw, your selective memory is showing. My “prior phone calls” (which I’m assuming are calls you believe happened within the past week) consisted of ONE phone call that YOU made, while you were drunk, where you unleashed enormous amounts of vitriol on me in what you probably considered was a charming and light-hearted manner.
When I detect this type of anger and criticism, I retract rather than argue which is why I did not want to (and still do not) talk to you personally about it.
When I detect a control freak, I run like hell. I’m not going to talk about it. I dumped your controlling ass, or have you forgotten? Oh wait, it doesn’t count if I dump you. You have to dump me for the “relationship” to be over. Silly me. I pity the woman who falls for you and stays with you.
As far as I knew we were friends and I tried to make that clear repeatedly. Something is making you angry and it is now feeding on itself. The below said clearly that you were and are angry (insults are a pretty good indicator) and are very dissatisfied with me as a person in now many many cited ways both in your phone messages and email.
Insults? Phone messages? WTF kind of drugs are you ON, idiot? “Something” is making me very angry and it is feeding on itself? Snort. I told you what made me angry. It’s not feeding on itself. You can’t stand that I found you lacking in any way, and it makes you angry that I would dare to tell you about it. Sorry bub, that’s the way life goes. You’re gonna be one lonely man.
I do not care to have these things keep appearing from you.
What things? The drugs must be good. Are you like Alice, with the “drink me” bottles? Oh, I now I see. You have issues with math. One email telling you how I feel translates into several “things” onto which you project your own anger and lack of self. That’s right. You’re incapable of empathy. Even your rage and control are copies – you copied them from mommy. When you look in a mirror you see nothing, that’s why you need people. A static object reflects emptiness to you, but a warm-blooded, vital, confident and loving woman translates to feeding time for you.
I have tried now on several occasions to ask you to stop sending these angry things but you will not.
When? What things? Oh geez, I’m a stupid woman again, aren’t I? I’m such a bad mirror. I keep forgetting that YOUR reality is the only one that exists and you make it up as you go along. And look! There you go with multiplication again. I’m guessing you sucked at word problems in grade school, because the word problem: “if my human mirror sends me one email expressing emotions I don’t want to hear about, how many emails expressing these emotions have I received?” got answered in the plural. You failed, li’l buckaroo. Miserably. Wait. That’s what you do. You only appear successful because you’ve stolen that appearance from other people.
I will ask for one more email from you.
It will contain only one thing.
An agreement that you will take the next three weeks of quiet to cool.
And we can maybe try contact again if your anger has settled.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. OMG. You’re serious. Come to me pathetic insect, so I can squash you beneath my steel-toed boot, thus freeing your airspace for others, who are of worth, to breathe.
This is the last email from me that will have any content from me for at least three weeks or longer if you so desire.
You think this email had “content?” What, you’re going to send me MORE emails without “content?” Sweet bleeding Jesus, man, step away from the keyboard and shackle yourself to your crawlspace. Better yet, take your inflatable kayak out into some class 5 rapids. That way the stench of your decomposition won’t create issues for your neighbors. Oh darn, I forgot again. You only TALK about shooting class 5 rapids in your inflatable. You tried to convince me that information from one of the top kayakers in the world is all wrong, because you know everything.
I wrote this but did not send it. I have a million other replies to this particular email, because after spending much time deconstructing it, I realized it encapsulated the horror that is this monster. He showed himself to me; he showed his complete alignment with the DSM-IV criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Try it. It might just help you.
5. At first, you will still be on the rollercoaster and you’ll have to take it at your own pace. You might feel strong and empowered for 15 minutes and then feel like you’re the worst person on the planet for the next 3 hours. When this happens, force yourself to remember the horrible things this person did to you. Remember the kindness, love and compassion you gave this person and how those gifts were treated.
6. You’ll spend a bit of time checking your email and phone to see if your N has contacted you. If that person has contacted you, please, please, please heed this advice: DO NOT REPLY IN ANY FASHION if at all possible. If you are divorcing an N, and there are children involved, you may have to reply. Check with your attorney first and if you can, have your attorney reply. If you feel your children are in danger, do what you have to do to get them away from this person. Contact your attorney, first, to make certain that everything you do is legal, because if it’s not, your N will delight in using your actions against you.
7. Reach out to your support network. If you don’t have one, and you might not have one at this point, because Ns love to manipulate their victims into withdrawing from their support system, get one. Call all those people with whom you may have lost contact during your prison sentence with the N, explain the situation. Those who are truly friends will always be there for you.
8. Seek group counseling. If you can find a Co-Dependants Anonymous meeting near you, please do. Here’s the link to their home page: CoDA . I know they don’t have a lot of meetings, but they do have online groups.
Something I’ve noticed in my journey: Many of us who fall victim to Narcissists fall into a group I like to call Adult Children of Dysfunctional Parents. I’m an adult child of alcoholics, and if you are familiar with the behavioral issues inherent in alcoholism, you will recognize that they are crossover traits to NPD. Many alcoholics display Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Disorder traits. Regardless the category in which our parents or other authority figures in our lives are placed, the odds are excellent that we experienced such horrendous emotional (and sometimes physical) abuse at their hands that we left home emotionally paralyzed, with poor self-esteem, and we engage in self-sabotage by setting goals for ourselves that are well above our reach. This is typical, since our parents or authority figures did that for us – we were well-trained.
It’s going to be tough, but you will have to re-invent yourself. This is not a superficial process t that is grounded in image. This is a very deep and painful process that is grounded in SELF. If you’ve been involved with a narcissist, particularly for an extended period, you have been emotionally damaged. It’s now time to heal and deal. The first step is to acknowledge the abuse and allow yourself to FEEL your feelings, regardless how painful they are. Don’t dwell on them, simply allow them to come, feel them, cry, scream, go run a mile at top speed, punch pillows – do whatever you need to do to let them go. You cannot hold onto these feelings. They MUST go. Do something that will allow you to feel good about yourself. If your N said you were incapable of doing something, and you believed it, go DO that something. Whether you succeed or fail is of no importance because what the N was truly saying to you is that you don’t have the guts to TRY.
You may go through a period of deep depression. I did. I elected not to take anti-depressants. I’m very familiar with depression, and I know when I’m cycling too far down to be functional. I allowed myself to be depressed; I allowed myself to feel the feelings and then I’d say “enough. now DO something.” Then I’d get up and do whatever made me feel good about myself. That feeling would last until the next round of pain washed over me. I’d feel it, sometimes wallow in it, and for me, I’d write it. Writing is my therapy; it clears my head and releases pain I didn’t know I had. Do whatever allows you to release pain. If you don’t know how, just go take a brisk walk. That’s a great start – exercise releases “feel good” endorphins.
Whatever you choose to do to heal yourself, do NOT – I repeat – DO NOT – let your N know you’re doing these things. Do not send “I’m healing from you” emails. DO NOT make angry phone calls to that person just to make yourself feel better. You want this person out of your life for good. Treat them as though they do not exist. Regardless how close they may live to you, make that distance a universe.
You can do it. You’re free now. That means you have been given the gift of life. Being with a narcissist is the death of Self.
Three deep breaths. 1. 2. 3. GO!