“I can’t do it. I just can’t walk away.”
“I’m not strong enough. I’m so weak.”
“As soon as he contacts me I know I’ll cave.”
These are some pretty common statements I hear from people trying to wean themselves off of a Narcissist. I get it. Battling all these volatile emotions is really hard. Been there-done-that, got-a-blog-about-it.
The issue is that your life has become all about someone else and you’re so wrapped up in them that you’ve twisted yourself into knots. You don’t know what to do about anything. Your mind isn’t functioning properly. You’re in complete panic mode, the heartbreak is so bad it’s practically choking you and on top of that you’re beating yourself up, because you know you’re being treated like garbage and yet all you want is to have them back again.
Understand that this, while seeming anything but normal, – is normal – in this instance at least. You’re not weak and pathetic. What you are is someone who is very likely codependent, someone who puts the needs of others first, who doesn’t recognize their own worth, is used to being treated poorly, is caught up in a trauma bond, who mistakes intensity for intimacy, is addicted to the crashing and the soaring and has been manipulated by a seasoned predator.
What you’re doing and all these feelings you’re experiencing, is how someone in your circumstances, who has been exposed to the things that you have, has learned how to cope. You are doing the best, that someone with your current understanding, can do. The trick now, is to get yourself to a place where you learn healthier ways to cope and to start you thinking about you differently.
But before we can do that we’ve got to deal with this dilemma we’re right in the middle of. If you’re one of the unlucky ones, you’ve got yourself a boomerang Narcissist and he or she keeps bouncing in and out of your life. I say unlucky, because even though you’re dying for them to come back, when they do you get caught up in their perpetual toxic cycle over and over again. When they discard you and they don’t come back, it’s easier because you’ve got no choice, but to deal with it and their continued absence forces you to get over them.
So what do you do when they won’t go away? You’ve tried no contact, but they keep calling, keep texting, keep showing up at your house or your work. You know that eventually you’ll cave if they keep putting themselves in your field of vision, even though you know you need to be rid of them. So what are you to do?
Burn All Your Bridges
Books like Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude by W. Clement Stone and Napoleon Hill and everything by Anthony Robins, talk about how the way to success is through burning your bridges behind you and leaving yourself with only two options – succeed or perish.
In Stone and Hill’s book, they illustrated the story about how Vikings came to raid the Saxon kingdom, and once they had departed their ships, they burned them all, leaving themselves with no ability to retreat. The Vikings had two choices, they either had to defeat the Saxon’s or die. When you take away an individual’s safety net, or any other option, you create in them an intense desire to succeed. When you have only one option, life gets a whole lot simpler.
Los Angeles Kings coach Barry Melrose had asked renowned motivational speaker Anthony Robbins to motivate his hockey team. They were playing a deciding game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto back in1993. The winner would advance to the Stanley Cup finals against the Montreal Canadiens. The loser would go home empty handed. So just what did Robbins instruct the team to do? He told them to book a flight after the game to Montreal only. There was no back up flight back home to Los Angeles, no hotels booked in Toronto – so if they lost they’d be stranded. So what happened? LA moved on to the Stanley Cup finals of course.
It turns something that you have a mild hope for into something that you must do. Your focus is greater, your determination to succeed at all costs is greater – when your will is greater than your enemy’s – you will almost assuredly will be the one that comes out ahead. When you have no other option but to move forward, you’d be surprised by the amount of extra commitment and effort you will put into the success of your task.
So what do you do when you’re still on the fence, when your head is telling you to get the hell away from this toxic relationship and your heart is telling you nonsense like, they need you, you have to help them and it will get better, no one else will want you….? Quite simply – you stop thinking and you just act. There are little things you can do to help you psyche yourself up, some people suggest writing every horrible thing your narcissist has ever done onto a sticky note and post them all over the place to keep reminding yourself, but what I’m talking about are burning your bridges – creating no way back behaviors that will take the decision to flounder back and forth, out of your hands.
Do not initiate any contact what-so-ever. No, “Hey just wanted to see how you were doing,” texts. Nada-nothing-no way – no signals, no taking ads out on billboards – no carrier pigeons, no nothing. Not for any reason. Let your emotions waver all they want, but you control your behavior, don’t allow that little person in your head to talk you into anything. Nope. Just don’t do it.
Get a new phone number. They can’t call or text anymore if they don’t have your number. You would be surprised by how much this frees up your mind. You’re no longer sitting there pining, waiting for any sign of contact. After my boomerang would disappear I’d be ok for about a week, but after than I’d get antsy and I’d be checking my phone every two minutes – when you change your number you take control and rid yourself of all that anxiety and when your narcissist does come a-calling, they will get a very clear message that you are serious and you have moved on.
Move. If they don’t know where you live then they can’t keep showing up. This may not be possible for some, but if you’re a renter and this is a big problem, this may be the way to go. If it’s not possible and they keep showing up, don’t answer your door, even if they keep pounding. Your continued silence will speak volumes – if they don’t get the hint and this becomes a problem give them one warning, with the message that if they come back one more time, you will call the police and charge them with stalking, or harassment and if it happens a second time, slap them with a restraining order.
Get a new email account and cancel the old one. Why not just block them you might ask? – Because it still gives you the option to unblock them. What you’re striving for here, is to take the decision out of your hands and besides If their email keeps coming back to them as undeliverable, they’ll stop sending them. If you only block them the emails will go to your junk file and you will still have access to it.
Cut ties with their family and friends and don’t give them your new contact information, even if you like them. This is hard especially if you’ve developed close ties with people he’s close to, but those ties keep you invested and leave you with some form of contact. This was a hard one for me, because I was involved in my long-term Narcissist’s family. I really liked some of his friends, but their presence in my life was a constant reminder and attachment to him and I needed to wean myself off of him and heal. In time, I picked a girlfriend or two of some of his friends and continued a relationship with them, but not right away. Funny thing is, the girlfriends I’d gained have since broken up with their men, so we always joke that we met because of our boyfriends and now the men are gone, but the sisterhood remains.
Stop going where you used to hang out together. This should be a no brainer, but when we’re feeling vulnerable and we want him to see us looking fabulous, you just might start hanging at your local haunts hoping for a not so accidental encounter. Give your friends a warning that you are trying to stay away from those places and if you suggest going there, they are to remind you of your goal and to advise you that you’re not to go there. It helps to have someone keep us on track and accountable.
Blow up the relationship. By this I don’t mean blow up anything with explosives devices, what I mean is, make it so unpleasant to have any contact with you that you actually change their desire to get you back into a desire to have nothing to do with you. After making every effort to be rid of her Narcissist, my friend Angela had an instant reply to everything her Narcissist said. He got ahold of her and kept calling her. Her only response was, “You’re a piece of sh*t.” Over and over again – to anything he would say, any plea, any attempt to engage her romantically was met with – “You’re a piece of sh*t.” That was it, those were the only words she spoke to him. Blowing it up is about being unpleasant.
When a Narcissist does initiate contact again, they are a little nervous, they know they’ve acted like a##holes and they’ll test the waters to see how easy it’s going to be to slide back into your life. What they really want to hear is how much you’ve missed them and how awful your life was without them. Do not under any circumstances give them that, even if it’s true. When you put up resistance, like my friend did, they know it won’t be easy and they’ll go away. They may try again after some more time has passed, hoping you’ll miss them this time, but if they keep getting the same message they will stop trying. This is just one example, but the term blowing it up means creating conditions so egregious, that it robs the Narcissist of any supply, so that they will be forced to leave you alone and look elsewhere.
When you know your relationship is over you don’t want to be spending every second wondering, ‘is he going to call me,’ or wondering ‘what she’s up to?’ Burning your bridges is all about finality. And finality is a place that exists only in your mind. It isn’t about closure. You don’t need to wrap up a relationship nicely in a bow, where everyone has become best friends. Your relationship is over for you, when you decide when it’s over. Burning our bridges behind us is how we get to that place when our will falters.
It’s the lack of finality that keeps us stuck. When you’re at a place of weakness, do everything you can to take the decision out of your hands, so that you aren’t tempted to respond. It doesn’t mean you won’t have your moments, but when you give yourself no way back – you have no choice, but to move forward.
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If you really want to nuke the bridge I’ve found the most effective way is to completely turn the tables on them. Call them constantly, tell them you miss them, beg for them back, try as hard as you can to get them to honour the commitment they made to you in the idealization phase. Remind them off all the promises they made. Tell everyone they know (family and friends) how devastated you are, and how you don’t understand what happened, why they promised you things and never delivered, don’t smear them. Just be honest and open with mutual friends and family about what they said they wanted and how they never delivered. In the words of my latest narc “my family doesn’t need to know what an asshole I am.” Removing their mask, shaming them, and then forgiving them and trying to work things out actually serves to drive them away. The shame is too much and they will do a final discard, telling you never to contact them again. They will of course think this is their idea, and that you are missing them and wallowing over them (which for them is as good as having you). When you get the final discard you simply stop all contact, and move on!
My N never broke up with me. He was a classic boomerang but I could always have him back when I wanted. He never wanted to take the responsibility for a breakup. Way too final for him. Doors open for his game to come back. Well my story ended with a restraining order and my left eye distorted. Whatever it takes I guess.. or how you said it Savannah “if you don’t like the carrot, take the stick”. That stuck with me. Thank you so much for your blogs.
*my left eye destroyed (we warned of the N rage!)
I found you all and I got something all the times over the last 15 years couldn’t give me. An answer for his behavior. And I became resolved to make a change but after a week he said some not mean words and we laughed and I went there. It is the hardest part admitting that I aloud this horrific treatment. If a friend came to me with even one of the things hes done i would be begging them to leave. I need to be my own friend. I had a home, savings, a well respected job in my community retirement annuities a great relationship with my family all gone. It hurts to admit but I’ve lost everything material and mentally but emotionally I’m a child being beaten for no reason that I can think of. There is something wrong when you can never be good and not be able to figure out what you did wrong so you won’t do it again. I mentally understand that NO child could do anything to deserve what I got so that’s on her. I had no idea that my reactions stayed the same. I’m suicidal I’m depressed I do fine for a while then think I’m strong enough and go back for more. I’m ashamed, embarrassed and keep allowing it. I’ve changed my number and moved before with no contact for over 6 months three separate times. I start to live again and then there he is out of nowhere. And I allow myself to be sucked in even though I know the last six or seven months without him I had fun and with him back there will be no kindness no laughter no anything I like is want. But I go? If I don’t do it this time I might not get another chance. Thanks all I can do for now is keep reading every word on these pages
Wow. When you put it that way, burning bridges- to the extent of changing email and phone number, never talking to them again- it really drives home how much this is literally a DECISION from US. WE decide when it is over. Wow. I don’t want to suffer from this anymore, I want it to be over, I feel better thinking that it is over, though it hurts …But I feel resistance to taking those steps of burning bridges – feels drastic and harsh. My feelings show me how I’m still attached- to hope, to fantasy, to the idea of him. And how I’m vulnerable and uncertain about standing in my power or accessing my rage- I don’t want to be a bitch or be unfair…though he was the one who was psychologically abusive, a liar, and most likely seeing other women at the same time (no proof just instinct). Im the one who broke it off after he changed and let the mask drop. I’m on Day 4 of no contact and while I’ve been bone deep sad and depressed, I’ve also been pretty damn good, considering I’m grappling with learning the person I thought was my soul mate was not at all who I thought he was. These past 4 days I’ve been focusing on me, on what I want, on how I want to grow from all of this and create the life I imagine. I’m taking back my power and getting vitality and strength back because of it. I feel like shit, but certainly better than I did when I was still with him and worrying and wondering why he was being so mean to me, why he seemed to dislike me so much after being so into me before. Today he messaged me for the first time since I broke up with him, “How are you doin ?!”… I felt a teinge of hope and who stroke/ maybe he missed me and really did care?! Then I remembered I had just deleted him an hour earlier from Skype. I’m pretty sure he noticed and was just checking in. Later on he liked one of my business pages on FB… months after he had already had a chance to do so but didn’t. I didn’t respond to back to his message- told myself hour by hour throughout the day that I had a right to not respond if I didn’t want to, like he hadn’t responded to my messages in the past. A voice in my head repeated, “He doesn’t love you! He never did! He is incapable of love!” I went over in my mind the mean things he said and did, how it didn’t feel good when we were together, how he told me he was with me bc he saw potential and wanted to see what Id be like when I blossomed. But that I took too long to process and if we were to marry he’d have to spend months away from me when I was going through anything to preserve his energy, though he’d support me through distance prayer and healing. I’ve been thinking about and getting angry about how he didn’t say he loved me for how I am NOW. That’s how I got through the day without responding. But it hurt. I contemplated sending a dry message, a thumbs up and “Hope all is well”, but I am adhering to the advice for now and the day passed by pretty quickly because I made sure I was busy. I don’t know how it’ll be when he ups the anty, or when I see him in our common social circles. Do I just avoid going out in those circles altogether?? Do I really just never talk to him ever again?? I’d be crushed if he did that to me. But I trust everything I am hearing about NC, and all the stories ppl are sharing are helping. If I respond, he’s got a foot in the door and that’s all he needs. And I don’t want this misery. Each day of NC has its ups and downs, going through withdrawal and grief, and I know if I slip I’d have to start all over again and go through this heartache but only worse. No contact… No contact….
I posted over a year ago about wishing I could burn my bridges with my boomerang (married, co-worker) N. After breaking things off after I posted and going NC for 5 months, he wormed his way back into a very short lived reconciliation in August, but I finally burned my bridge last September.
I told my N that I was completely done with him and meant it, but just as a way to seal the deal, I texted his wife and told her that I had told HIM to leave me alone and apologized for any pain that our affair had caused her. She KNEW about me, had texted me several times over the years telling me to leave her husband alone. I never responded because my N always warned me NEVER to talk to his wife and I thought it was just because he was afraid of any wrath she would deliver. He told me it was his way to protect me.
She responded to my text and was understandably stand-offish at first because she thought I was the pursuer. Within a few hours we had texts flying back and forth comparing notes. We learned (no shocker here) that he had lied to both of us pretty much about everything. The reason he didn’t want us to talk was because we both would know the truth about what he was doing to us. His wife was actually really nice and we both felt very played and angered by his actions.
Of course my N was FURIOUS and lashed out at me for talking to her. He made all sorts of threats towards me as well, but within a couple of days, she stopped texting and he stopped talking to me. It’s been 6 months and with the exception of a few instances of him contacting me for work purposes only, it’s been absolutely no contact. No random texts or emails saying he misses me or is thinking about me, no chats just to say hi or ask how I am doing, etc. I don’t even have his number blocked on my phone because I don’t have to. I am NOT tempted to talk to him–EVER. I truly have never hated anyone as much I do him.
I know my method of burning bridges may not be for everyone and I know it could have gone very badly had she been a psycho, but she wasn’t. She appreciated knowing the truth although it hurt and shocked her as well.
I have no idea if they are repairing their marriage, but I don’t care either. He could have saved himself a lot of grief had he just given up trying to acquire a new supply (me) 4 years ago!! All I do care about is that now he knows the gig is up and although it was never spoken, I’m sure he knows if he contacts me for non-work related issues, I won’t hesitate to tell his wife. He can’t play his game any longer.
I’m still angry at myself for falling for his repeated advances and promises that he had indeed changed. They NEVER change because they are incapable of it. I feel bad for his wife and what I ended up participating in, but I lost a marriage over him so I didn’t go unscathed either. Definitely a no-win situation all the way around.
“You’re a piece of sh*t….you’re a piece of sh*t….you’re a piece of sh*t” BRILLIANT!!!
Well after 7 days NC I caved. I replied to one of his many stupid empty I miss you texts saying:
“Where do you find the nerve to even try? There is just no taking back what you said. Those were well thought out and revealing things. You said what you really think of me…that my best bet is to be your concubine. I hope you never have a daughter someday and have some @sshole dehumanize her. And I know everything I’m saying is way over your head.”
Let me tell you something. Don’t waste your time tearing a new one into your Narcissist. It falls on deaf ears, it doesn’t register, it does not make a dent. And what will most likely happen is that you’ll re-establish communication and he or she will start to believe it’s open season again.
Just last night after I sent him that text telling him about himself…we got into a marathon back and forth of “no I didn’t yes you did” exchanges that lasted all night and spilled into the morning and afternoon, which was probably my subconscious binging off not talking to him for a whole week! Grah I was making such strides! But I’m glad I did because after all that, he ends up admitting that he has a new girlfriend and how he prefers me because I live 3 blocks away – by the way this is a Narcissist’s way of complimenting me. I asked him who gave better bj’s and he had the gall to answer “I like your little mouth better” I said “Oh cool” and re replies with a smiley face 🙂
I could’ve ripped his fkng throat out right through the phone, but instead I switched it up and said
“I already told you my deal and you don’t give a shit. So we have nothing to talk about because I don’t even like you anymore. I am now going to block you from receiving texts and emails so I don’t have to see your BS anymore. Goodbye”
Reading it back it sounds like a 4th grader, but hey that’s exactly what his emotional maturity level is so I had to go down that route. And a part of me feels like that little girl inside of me got to say it out loud her own way. Anyway that was my way of saying I am no longer going to go digging in the bottom of the garbage looking for stuff that’s rotten.
But after I announced it, he called once and left a message calling me crazy and I haven’t received another text. It may have worked!!!
Ms. N. You know what works even better? No contact.
Desire – Don’t Call #Lyrics
And babe that’s a good thing
I’m still here
And looking for something
To come along, to come along
I know, I know
We both say the same things
I don’t care, I don’t care
So don’t call, don’t call
To talk about nothing
So many times
I waited for you
I figured it out
And now we’re through
I wont give up, I wont give in
I know, I know
We both say the same things
I don’t care, I don’t care
So don’t call, don’t call
To talk about nothing
And babe that’s a good thing
I’ve spent my days working for something
We don’t give up, we don’t give in
I know, I know
We both say the same things
I don’t care, I don’t care
So don’t call, don’t call
To talk about nothing
Hi there…I just found this blog. Odd, given the likely hundreds of hours I have spent researching and education around my own little N. 4 years….3.5 were great…last 6 months were the worst D&D….the humiliation I allowed myself to go through….I cannot believe. Who was that person anyway ? textbook insecurity…..anxious, lost, lifeless because I was drained, conditioned and abused by my N. Yes..I know…..I allowed it. Day 30 something of solid NC…glad I have lost count. It truly works. I have perspective and thinking, clarity and peace. Bad days to be sure….where all I can do is remember the good times….the honeymoon or “love bombing” phase. Wow…it seemed perfect. Too good to be true. In hindsight, she sucked all of the professional benefits out of me she could (co workers), and also took over and projected all of my good qualities onto herself. Leaving me in a heap. Empty. and feeling worthless and unlovable. 30 something days later I am crawling out of that hole….a day at a time. but I am climbing. Stay strong my friends…NC works. If you ever want to cave…read the post above again. You MUST burn the bridges…leave no plan or ability to go back. its the only way. When you get overwhelmed by ” its over forever”…..fool yourself….and just understand ” its over for today”…..and then tomorrow…and then the next day. But know this….IT HAS TO BE OVER. I am speaking to myself as well. Thank you all for your support and posts. We’re in this together.
I’ll love him forever and will probably never be able to go a day without thinking about him…I just know that I don’t want to be called names anymore, I don’t want anything I’ve shared with him used against me anymore and I fantasize that he knows how much I really love him- I’ve been concentrating on mundane things, hoping that I will someday be okay …
Thanks for the blog and for the supportive community. I can not survive without you guys. I thought my ex lover is a narcissist. He gave me silent treatment after we became intimate. He contacted me two months afterwards and we got back together. He dumped me twice ever since and I begged and kept in contact and he took me back twice. He dumped me for the third time 3+ weeks ago. I haven’t contacted him since the day he dumped me after sending him three texts about how I felt and how it hurt me. My question is, am I a boomerang narcissist since I am the one that couldn’t stop contacting him and refused to let go for the previous two break ups???
Met my narc 15 months ago . He went between over evaluation & devaluation several times. But at that time I didn’t know what was going on. 9 months later the word narcissist popped in my head. The search brought me here to this website. It helped me greatly . He started rehabbing my home (I paid him) and it’s been an ongoing thing since last July. We were nearing completion when he started acting “crazy” one day. He drank a lot and was goading me then announced he can’t take this anymore .He was raging at me. He will come get his things tomorrow. He got his things I collected his key and my gate remote and haven’t heard from him . It’s been 2.weeks. I’m having difficulty because I want to email him and ask him
“why” what did I do.? I know I’m better off without him. I’m just really having difficulty with no contact. I know it won’t resolve anything because he’s always right. I know he’s waiting for me to contact him . I have to be strong. I read and re read the posts in here for strength.
I have been broken up with my N for about 4 years now After he found his new and current supply. I had regular contact with him until 3 years ago when I went NC. Or at least I tried NC. For the last 3 years he has continued to contact me constantly. Every few months I would break and talk to him but it was brief. Anyways I haven’t talked to him for about 6 months and I recently gave in about 1 month ago. The usual ‘I miss you’. ‘I was wrong’ ‘give me another chance’. All this even though he has married in the last year! I also found out he texted me within 6 days of getting both
Prior to and after.
It’s been a month now that I agreed to talk. Honestly he is worse than ever. He has rewritten the past to the point that I question what I know was true. And he has pushed the boundaries farther and faster then ever before! I am sick with myself. He jokes that he is stalking me. And that he will never leave me alone. But I think it’s true.
I am going to go NC but I am worried he will get worse this time when I do.
I know he is going out of town in 3 days soon and I doubt he will contact me since he is with her. And I am going to take that as my chance to go NC. I have to do this because never before have I seen him so clearly for what he is. And how damaging this is to me.
I appreciate everyone’s sharing because I see that I am not alone. Take care all.
Well, I didn’t mean to blow up the relationship but what I did sure worked.
After a year long relationship that involved a lot of pain for me, I had finally figured out he was a narcissist. I went no contact but left an email address open and he contacted me and we got back together again. I thought maybe I could still handle being with him now that at least I knew I was being played.
I ended up meeting another of his women accidentally and she seemed so broken down and with such low self esteem. I recognized her pain and decided to tell her what I had discovered about him, that I thought he was a narcissist. That even though he told us both he loved us that he was incapable of doing so. She couldn’t stop crying. I was really trying to help her.
I know now that it was stupid to try to warn anybody. Anyway, she went to him right away and spilled everything I said. He texted me immediately and said I betrayed him and stabbed him in the back. Which I guess I did do, but I wasn’t trying to hurt him or our relationship, I was trying to help her, as weird as that sounds.
So I knew the jig was up and broke up with him. I committed the ultimate narcissist sin – not only did I uncover him but tried to mess with his supply. Needless to say he has not tried to contact me again in these 3 weeks. I expect to not hear from him ever again.
I think I am in need of professional help. After 6 years on and off, a secret baby and the constant on going never misses a beat social media findings of him and others within the supply why do I still want validation? I have blocked and sadly unblocked a dozen times. NC has been in effect for almost a month now, but my issue is I find myself stalking, looking for his activity online, and it never fails and when I find it and there is ALWAYS something to find, I feel the same gut punch as if it is all new to me. Why do I keep torturing myself in this way, why cant I stop my self from looking for this pain?!
Smith you keep doing this to yourself because that behavior has become habitual. You’re always looking, expecting to find something that’s going to hurt you and low and behold you always do. You want that punch in the gut, as strange as this may sound, it’s what you know, what you expect and where you’re most uncomfortably comfortable. You are more used to feeling hurt so you seek out behaviors that will hurt you. I have an upcoming blog on this.
Just finally blocked him for the third time around. Had enough of his hateful and accusing text messages. The mind games have gotten too crazy and have messed with me for far too long. I know if I dot block him I will let him in again and my heart will shatter again. It is so sad how these people work and how badly it hurts us good people. I am sure he has got new supply and that’s why I was nastily told to move on. Before it was him begging to see me and tell me has changed, just to spit me out but now he wants me to move on. And that’s exactly what I’ll do and I’m going to do it for real this time. I will be nothing more than dead to him and he will never have to worry about speaking to me again. On the flip side I will never have to endure such abuse, hatred, lies, cheating and games again. I pray to God I can keep the no contact going for good this time. It’s a hard and long process trying to find my own self worth but I know that it’s now or never. Spring is a time for renewal and this will be the spring where I find MY renewal. The bridge is slowly burning and one day I will stomp on the ashes.
To Jewels: Same situation here. My N is not even with me now, he is in Israel on this never ending trip from which he doesnt seem to want to come back. You would think this would be the perfect opportunity to let this go but no, I am completely unable to do that. I also support him over there and have been for the two years that we have been together and also before, when we were just friends. I cannot get him out of my mind, he is there when i wake up, he is there when I go to bed. They say the person who you think about when you fall asleep is the person who has your heart. Well, he certainly does have it, on the palm of his hand and he squeezes and hurts it whenever he feels like it. Maybe we should just get used to this inability to let go and just live with it? You know, like people who live in chronic physical pain, at some point, they get used to it always being there. Maybe this is the same situation and we should just learn that this feeling of wanting to be with this person will always be there and just learn to ignore it….
I have to say all though I read about the lingering draw toward the ex narc, I haven’t had one ounce of desire to go back to mine. In fact the thought repulses me.
I rationalize that to the last few years I stayed. I slowly realized I never wanted to be treated so horribly and I knew I had to get out. It took a couple more years after that to feel strong enough to take care of myself and two kids on my own. I worked hard on myself and by the time I left I was completely done with him.
I do have the nagging need for closure though. I picture having this deep feeling conversation where we both respectfully come to terms with what went wrong and accepting this outcome. I want him to finally apologize for his wrongs and move on. I also picture myself telling him details of all the ways he hurt me, our kids, the lies, cheating, raging. I want to let it all out so he knows how horrible he made my life. How much time I wasted on trying. How angry I am, etc…..
That is the bridge I need to burn. With kids it’s not so easy, but I know I need to keep the limit to only very basic info.
Thank you for this!
Oh boy this was so well timed.
I burnt my bridge only a few weeks ago after a fifteen year stretch of a boomerang narc, married in between the fifteen years but that latest 3 months and he had his running shoes on again. I decided that enough was enough and drew a line on everything where he was concerned and gradually over the weeks I have felt so much better and tonight I went to the gym and when I came out I saw his car, I froze in horror. My old co dependent ways clicked in and I wanted to run straight back into the gym, I resisted that one and the next was a text message, resisted that and then I managed to drive home and then it was phone checking to see if he had text me. Crazy crazy behavious and all indications that I need to stay away as he is just bad for my recovery. This article literally saved me today from making another big mistake. Thank you Savanah.
Breaking the connection with my abusive narcissist was probably the hardest thing I have ever done. I am not finished yet but I am making good progress after six months of no contact.
Why is it so hard? Three reasons I think. First, the early days are magical; the overvaluation stage with a narcissist is (to quote Joni Mitchell) “when every fairy tale comes true.” That makes a deep imprint on us. Second, many of us have childhood issues from being neglected and abandoned. I know for me I have a deep HUNGER for outside approval and affirmation. This leads me to neglect myself, to not value myself fully. So I put up with bad behavior that less “needy” people would not put up with. It is hard for me to leave people because I believe no one else will love me again. Third, the devaluation stage with a narcissist creates the PERFECT conditions that set up a craving for positive messages from the N. During devaluation, the N usually ignores us or condescends to us — but every once in a while they throw us a bone. In experiments with lab animals, this pattern is called “intermittent rewards.” It makes lab animals quivering ghosts, pathetically waiting for the next positive reinforcement and meanwhile enduring deprivation and negative signals of all kinds. It is far more debilitating than being cut off completely. I do not believe most narcissist are smart enough to create these conditions on purpose. It is just a side effect of their boredom and occasional awareness that they are “losing us.” But it is incredibly effective in making us slaves to their occasional positive feedback.
That is why we have to take drastic measures to break the connection to the N. We must tap into our rational, wise minds, and use them to set up conditions that will slowly reprogram our emotional/instinctual minds. We must re-set the conditions of our emotional lives. If we do not, we will revert to the narcissist because that is what our deep programming forces us to do.
What works for me? A combination of things. Reading blogs like Savannah’s, which keep me mindful of what I have been through. Therapy, to talk through the painful feelings; work through nostalgia and stay on track, keeping in perspective “the good times” with N, being reminded how much she hurts me when I let her. Al-Anon meetings, because there people share tools and experiences dealing with their codependency. Then, positive “substitutes”: things that I enjoy that keep me busy and keep my mind off the N. Exercise, meals with friends, engaging work activities, long walks in nature, service at my church, etc.
I will not lie, some days are still hard. I will probably see the ex N on a work related trip in a few months, and various revenge fantasies and imaginary conversations where I show her how much I hate her guts and how much better I am without her – they still run through my mind. But more and more I am getting my mind and my life back. And I am extremely grateful for that.
The first steps are the hardest. Burn the boats, burn the bridges, take the steps. All you have to lose is the greatest pain any of us will ever know. All you have to gain is to get your life back.
I feel so overwhelmed! Yes, I am codependent..I know this from previous counceling, but how much am I supposed to take??? Dated him for 10 months…one breakup about six months in..due to gut feeling felt something was not right..found pics of women from dating sites in a file..in plain view in his home office..when questioned?? Of course he printed those out for activities for us to do..What?? How could he be so cunning?? Yes..He is a Narc..and I am fighting with every ounce of my being to do NC…Blocked phone, Blocked email, now letters have started arriving…and emails from his family members..Do I respond?? I haven’t at this point…really out of fear..I feel this man is dangerous…Preditor eyes..After the last breakup..went back for a few weeks, and ultimately all the abuse returned….The last two weekends we were together…I was very sick to my stomach..thought I had virus..but now believe it actually was my gut instinct (God) signaling that something was very wrong..Its been 6 weeks NC…I am fighting tooth and nail to not respond..Oh, and by the way, my dad was a Narc, followered by relationship after relationship with a Narc…(I didn’t know)..even women so called friends were Narcs…What the hell?? Just want to know…Never met any of his family members but he met every one of mine..and now they are laying the shame card on me for breaking it off with him..(felt I was dying) through emails…Please Help!!!
It has been 6 months since I forced my ex Narc out of my life for good. He was hell bent on ruining my life because I went No Contact. He was stalking me and harrassing me incessantly and it was terrifying. I ended up getting a Civil Stalking Injunction against him. He even tried to get it over-turned by requesting a hearing. The judge laughed him out of the court room. I know without a shadow of a doubt, asking for that Injunction saved my life and most of all, my sanity. It was a gift I gave myself to FINALLY rid my life of a soul sucking parasite. I thank the Lord everyday that I had the courage to stand up to him and by law FORCE him to leave me alone. I torched that bridge in a BIG way.
It has been 2 1/2 years since my divorce from my Narc. My relationship with him was on again off again for nine years.
What I want to tell you is that after a domestic violence trial where my Narc convinced the judge he was not guilty, I had a very hard time. He could have killed me that night. You see he raged…for no reason. He had never done this physical abuse thing before…usually it was all just emotional abuse, but not this night. And usually his raging caused him to get so angry he would leave. Sometimes for days. I knew he was crazy and there was something very wrong but I didn’t know about these Narcissists. And I didnt want another failed marriage. So I continued in it too long…and I don’t want you too do as I did!
Well I too had such a hard time getting him out of my head and secretly wanting his arms around me…until I prayed a couple of weeks ago for God to help me know it was over, not to think he would be back again and make it al all right….you know…I am sure you all know what I mean, but mainly I wanted to stop thinking about him! Well God answered me …I watched an episode of 48 hrs…I tell you all Google it! Watch it!! It is about a guy named Mark Castellano. He killed his former girlfriend, broke her neck! He didn’t admit it at first, in fact he called Dr. Phil and wanted to be interviewed on TV regarding the investigation that had pursued to tell his side. D.r Phil walked out of the interview and said…he is a liar, a Narcissist and he murdered her and he was right on all three. Castellano claimed to be innocent and but later in a police interrogation he broke down and told the truth. If you watch it, you will see a true Narcissist! He even turned his story around at the trial and blamed her! sound familiar? he said she was the abusive one and she was attacking him and he fell on her and accidentally broke her neck. It is never their fault! right? He was in so many ways like my ex…and I realized I could be dead! Praise God for getting it through my head finally.
I am so sorry for those of you who have children by these “men”. I cannot imagine how hard that must be. These people are scarey and they can be very dangerous! So RUN dont walk. Get away from them. They can destroy you and your life.
I am very content to live out the rest of my life alone if that’s the plan. I am happy doing the things I enjoy and spending time w my girls and grandsons. So BURN THE BRIDGES…like Savannnah says. Do it now! Don’t make any more excuses! Life is too short and there are many positive things for you to do without these crazy destructive evil people in your life!
I hope that sharing this might help someone out there be able to shut off their head like I was finally able to I went back and forth for so long…I know your pain. My long chapter is closed now for good. I hope yours can be too.
I wanted to thank you. I’ve been reading your column, on and off, for about two years. I recognized that my ex-husband is my long-term narcissist and as the marriage was ending I immediately fell into a relationship with a former university friend, who turned out to have a major anxiety disorder and at the very least narcissistic tendencies. This was a long-distance thing that was kept up for almost two years. I went from trying to end my marriage to bolstering this guy as he went through his struggle. It was appalling and very damaging to me. I’m still dealing with it.
I should add at some point that my father is a narcissist and made our lives hell when I was growing up. I’m the only family member with limited contact with him now.
I was able to step back. No contact with the “friend” and very limited with my ex. We share a son and everything seems to be as ok as it can be.
I spent 18 months pulling myself together. I am pretty sure I have PTSD (undiagnosed) and I was no longer yearning for the friend and enjoying my own life again.
Enter Man #3. Another long distance relationship. Yes, I broke the promise I’d made myself — but I had known him as a friend for years. We got very intimate very quickly. I was under the impression he had been separated for months, he had but his wife had only finally told him that it was over just over a month before he entered my life. He had been waiting for her, despite abuse and infidelity on her part. I knew none of this until I was hooked.
In that relationship I believe her to be the narcissist.
I fell into it so easily and everything I was building fell by the wayside. I shock myself by my co-dependency.
It finally ended last week and was mercifully short, four months. He is not over her and I am happy to report that at least he is in the middle of counselling. They had a sexual encounter with her and that is it for me.
There was much that was lovely about him for a short while, hence my addiction, but the toxicity of that relationship was terrible. And beyond me, there are teenage children suffering, too.
I have to protect myself. This blog entry came as I ended my Facebook contact with #3. I’ve had a really bad day on top of a terrible month with my PTSD symptoms running rampant. But I am trying.
I just wanted to share my story. I never have. I really need to be living my life healthily. I’ve been taking steps.
Just what I needed today! No lie! Said and felt some of these very things today and decided to check to see if a new blog was out and “bam” there it was! Amazing ! Thank you !
What if he has moved on? He is not contacting and moved to another state with the new love of his life. We share a child. He gets parenting rights. I see him every other weekend. It feels like the wound gets re ooen again every two weeks. I have to hear back from my child all the mean things they say about me. I also get to hear how fun daddy and his fiance is while I am putting back the pieces to my life. It has been 14 months since we broke up. He is living the life with another woman that I wanted to live with him. I wanted the happy family. I feel like he completely shut me off just like you are recommending we do.
I have read your blogs which has been helpful. I started getting in shape, secured a new job and worked on my self. It still hurts. I even go to therapy. I feel all this self work is good but I still yearn for love. I have spotted some narcissistic behavior in pontential loves and ran in the opposite direction.
I know in my heart that his toxic love wasn’t good for. I don’t miss the name calling, the disappearing acts or the lies. I just wish this lonjging and yearning goes away.
To those who wonder if they will ever get over the narc in their mind: It can happen. He has been out of the house for almost a year and a half now, and I no longer pine for him. I really have given up the HOPE that he would change and we would have “one happy life.” It took a long time. I think a part of my healing was in the realization from my childhood–how I learned with a lot of help from my therapist–that there were wounds in my childhood that had never been grieved for, that and all those unloved feelings that led to my codependency. When those were uncovered and recognized, then healing of those old wounds could start and I could let go of the narcissist. Sounds weird, but it happened. I no longer am co-dependent or enmeshed. I am a firm believer that going no-contact is a very important step, but that there is also work to do done within ourselves to truly free ourselves of him. And it is very likely that the work has something to do with our childhood and not him at all. It is what finally freed me from being obsessed with him. That is the difference. I am not obsessed with him anymore. At all. And THAT is free.
Why is it that after I’ve identified my ex was a Narc, learned all about narcissism and found the strength to leave him, Narcs seem to be everywhere?
It’s been almost 11 months since I’ve left my N, and 10 months of No Contact. I am very well healed, but I’ve discovered that a friend of mine has been dating a Narc, and it put me in a strange position.
It didn’t take long for me to discern that she was a Narc once he told me what their relationship was like. Everything is his fault, check. She refuses to let go of exes and has a harem of admirers, check. She lies constantly, doesn’t have a job, and he’s always in a state of angst and chaos over their relationship. Check, check and check!
I found that listening to this friend and trying to give him advice (when he asked) brought back some traumatic moments for me. It was also incredibly frustrating to try to talk to someone that was so deep in their codependency that they could not see the light. I kept thinking “if I can do it, you can do it!” and I think that’s why I got so upset.
Long story short, I admit that I had to step away from this friend and can no longer engage with him since he is actively choosing to hurt himself with this woman. He’s in even worse than I was and does not believe he is a codependent. For my own mental health, I can’t talk to him anymore.
And this leads to my question: When we survivors come across a situation with a Narc, can and should we help others who are dealing with them?
NarcRepellent you can help someone in so far as your helping them does not impede your own healing. By all means make some suggestions to your friend, but don’t get invested in their relationship or their recovery (This is difficult for recovering fixers). If you need to take a break from them that’s perfectly fine – nothing is more important than your growth and healing. Feel no guilt, no responsibility – you have to let people have their own experiences – otherwise you might be robbing them of a life lesson and harming yourself in the process. Get in the habit of putting yourself first.
Thank you Savannah for your wise words. You’re right, the old fixer in me nearly got too invested in his problems.
He sought out my assistance because several of our male mutual friends (who don’t know anything about narcissism or codependency) simply brushed him off, because like most Narcs, this man’s girlfriend has above-average good looks. They could not see that this was an issue of self-respect. As a recovering co-dependent I could easily spot that he was one, too. So I tried to listen and help a bit, without armchairing too much.
But I did notice that once I opened that door for him, he kept running to me with his problems about her. It got to the point where that would be the only reason he called me anymore: He caught her at a bar with another man. She lied for the third time in one week saying she was hours late to meet up with him because she was putting groceries away (really, that was her lie). She started a fight with him, again, and drove away from him, most likely to meet another man. The story line was worse than any trashy reality show or soap opera.
I must say though, I’m proud of how I handled it when I stopped engaging. He got to that point where he was leaving her repeatedly, yet was obsessing over everything she said and he was hellbent on verifying her lies. (Oh lord, how we’ve all been there). He then began that dignity-losing process of shouting from the rooftops about what a horrible person she is, to anyone who would listen.
That’s when I knew he was gone. I stepped back, and said that he was wasting my energy and that I was no longer going to participate in this — that if he wants to be with a broken person who cheats on him all the time, go ahead, but leave me out of it.
He felt abandoned and called me a bad friend, but you know what? I felt and still feel absolutely no guilt about it — I guess that means I’ve made progress, too. We all have a different path to having our awakening and healing. I do hope that one day, he will actually read your blog and finally wake up and walk away.
I did want to add that this man is very successful, has it together and could easily find someone else. I think one of the best things about your blog is it draws attention to the fact that victims of Narcs could really and literally be any one of us – it crosses all cultural and socioeconomic boundaries.
I understand your feelings EXACTLY. After 8 months no contact with my narcissist, I still feel this incredible, indescribable PULL toward him. Like you, I KNOW the relationship was toxic, I KNOW I had to cut him out of my life. Still everyday, it takes every ounce of will I have not to check my phone, not to check his Facebook, all of it, and just keep maintaining no contact. I have undergone some psychotherapy which has helped me with no contact. This is a question I have never asked my therapist but I seriously question whether we are brainwashed somehow by the narcissist. Brainwashed or under a spell, or whatever, I don’t know how to call it. I just know how it feels, that it’s so incredibly difficult to just let go of the narc. But WHY??! I am like you, I think about him every freakin day, I don’t want to, but it’s beyond me, he’s just THERE, in my brain. I read all I can on this subject and on the no-win situation that we live in with these narcs, but nothing seems to help me. I want piece of mind, I want to let go, move on, get him outta my mind!!’. But nothing seems to work. I read this article over and over, and I completely agree with savannah about burning those bridges and why we must do it in order to free ourselves from the narc. But like you K, I feel if I could just see him one last time to be able to forgive him just to relieve that tension inside, yes!! That is exactly how I feel. I am with you totally on that one. But he treated me badly, no consideration, no respect, and I also gave him thousands of dollars, he lied and manipulated me emotionally withempty promises…so why o why do we cling on to these men?! I literally can not get him out of my mind even if I have maintained strict no contact. K maybe we should go out for coffee and debate this! :).
Love the support for burning bridges. I just told my violent gun loving brother I would get a restraining order if he harassed me again. I live a block from the cops and they are my friends; I told him to contact them if he is “worried” about me. What he really wants is to get into my medical care; I am handicapped and am doing well on genetic meds with a psych and a nurtitionist.
My bro made the last few years of my sister’s life miserable.
I FEEL SO MUCH SAFER when I burnt this bridge. I reminded him that if he contacted me and I had a restraining order, he would lose all rights to guns and he has tons.
Any way when I ACTED I felt incredibly liberated. Still I had to delete a flaming email from his wife but I didn’t even read it. Bravo, for ACTING and BURNING BRIDGES.
A piece of grace to read this post today. Many thanks.
Great stuff! I’ve been reading your blog since October when my ex narc had an affair with an underage when I was six months pregnant with his son. He left me stranded in Washington state with no money and just an unborn child to keep me warm in the rain. It was tough. Your articles helped me understand and move on. Thank you for the continual encouragement! I’d like to get your opinion about my situation. I am now safe and sound with my bouncing baby boy, a thousand miles away from the ex. He had the added bonus of being heavily addicted to drugs and physically abusive. I’ve burned those bridges as much as possible with having a mutual child in the mix. He never ever has direct contact with me. I’ve enlisted my sister (she’s tough as nails) to be his liason in communication IF he has something vitally important to say about my son, otherwise she doesn’t even tell me and I get to live a narc-free life! His family though…yeeesh…how can I cut ties with the grandmother of my 2 month old?
That’s a tough one Marlea. Obviously your first priority is the safety of your beautiful son. I’m guessing your ex-Narc doesn’t pay child support and doesn’t even see the baby and that is sometimes the best way. As far as grandparents go…I would let her see the baby. Grandmothers can be pretty extraordinary when it comes to their grandchildren. You would not want to deprive your child of someone who would provide love and support. If she’s stable and you can trust her I would let her see the baby, but right now he is far too young and vulnerable (I think) to be out of your sight. You can tell her straight up you don’t want to hear about her son and that she needs to respect that boundary and if she can’t then forget about it.
Thank you Savannah. I found your website and have read EVERYTHING!!! My life has been spent with one Narcissist after another. But it tokk the last one with reuniting with my HS sweetheart to finally get it wasn’t me!!! Now I am sharing with my friends who are going through similar situations and they are getting on with their lives. We are supporting each other to be strong and NOT GO BACK to the Narcissist. I have read other’s stories here on your blog and am grateful I always chose to leave rather than stay but I couldn’t understand it was them that there was something wrong with, not me. Well I am codependent and I am working on setting up my boundaries. I feel more empowered than I have ever been. Thank you for sharing and educating us.My sincere thanks!!!
I need advise on what to do if you work with him. You see him 2-4 times everyday in passing. He doesn’t bother me or contact me, but I still have that lingering hope because I have to see him every day. Help.
To “sigh” YES!!! I am in the same situation. I went 5 months with either NC or limited contact. Just seeing his name in chat has both calmed me down AND irritated me!
He has been boomeranging the entire time or tried to by reaching out first (he admitted he would periodically send me texts just to see if he was blocked or not). End of January, I fell off the wagon & we ended up spending the night together while he was away on business. It was blissful..and I thought..maybe..just maybe he’s changed. Of course, like an idiot I admitted I missed him so much and wasn’t even remotely over him. I bawled like a baby in his arms. That’s ALL his ego needed.. 🙁
Well honest to God, two days later he found out I was on a dating site (I told him I had dated, but after I set up a profile, I did nothing on the site and forgot about it. One of our co-workers saw me on there and forwarded it to him.) He gave me the silent treatment for an entire weekend. Since that time I’ve gotten the silent treatment 3 times for various “infractions”. He’s MARRIED (which in this situation makes me an EXTRA EXTRA co-dependent with even lower self-esteem cause I’m not even dating someone available). Since I dated (unsuccessfully) when we broke things off, he can’t understand why I did that when I admitted I wasn’t over him. I told him that’s an insane comment coming from someone who is MARRIED, but he even went so far as to say he didn’t even consider dating during our breakup, so why did I? (Seriously crazy, right)? He’s point blank asked me if I slept with anyone and I refuse to talk to him about it. He’s ‘sad’ now and doesn’t know if he can handle the fact that I might have done that. (So we’re back to MOSTLY silent treatment) I’m sure in his mind that counts as cheating somehow? Anyway, I know that is my bridge to burn…All I have to do is admit I did sleep with someone and I think he will go away. I JUST CANNOT do it yet..
I know he’s holding me back from trying to MOVE on and find someone more worthy of my love. I felt so empowered and RELIEVED when I broke up in September. I’m just mad at myself for falling for it again. 🙁
Excellent again! I am still amazed at how breaking contact works. I want in the worst way to talk with him, but if I don’t, those feelings pass and I get just one little step further away. On the other hand, re-initiating contact opens the door for him to push his way back in–one little thing after one little thing until he is all the way back in–and then he can start telling me I’m not good enough anymore. Yep, I finally know and believe the whole story and know that he will not change (this is why I was hanging onto hope for so long). Face forward; burn the last bridge and start a new life. 🙂