Last weekend was my ex-Narcissist’s birthday and I’m the one that ended up with the present. Let me preface this by saying I have no interest in what my ex is doing. I don’t care where he is. I don’t follow him on social media. I have no clue what he’s up to and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have made it very clear to friends that I don’t want to hear about his endeavors and they have all respected my wishes, except for last weekend.
I got an email that said, “You’re welcome,” and it had 3 attachments. I opened the pictures and was staring at an old, haggard, woman, who looked slightly familiar. It took me a moment to realize I was looking at my ex’s wife. It was her new work picture. She was wearing a peach colored blazer, a black and white floral shirt and black pants. I could instantly hear my gay friend Phil screeching, “Oh honey who dressed you, Stevie Wonder?” But it was the rest of her that had me so dumfounded. Her jet black hair was now completely and I mean completely gray. She had huge bags under her eyes and she had put on at least 50 lbs. She was my age and she looked 20 years older.
I’m a little ashamed to admit that I laughed, then winced, when I realized who it was and my first thought was something like, “The years have not been kind. Karma has been served.” At that moment I felt vindicated and a little smug. This all from looking at her haggard appearance.
I’m usually the first in a room to jump up and interject that a woman is not her appearance, but hers really spoke to me. I could see myself in her. I knew the sorrowful, empty look in her eyes. I knew the tiredness and the stress, in the dark bags, from carrying the entire load all by herself. Her appearance screamed, “Nothing is ever about me. I don’t take care of myself, because no one cares, not even me. I don’t know who I am. I’m lost.”
I stopped feeling smug then and felt a little sad – well as sad as I could for the woman who thought it was okay to cheat on her spouse and steal mine, because it was, you know, true love. I got a little philosophical and I realized how very, very lucky I was. I had been given a gift. I had been to hell and back and along the way I figured out the answer to the riddle. Whereas she looked like she didn’t even know the question. I was so far ahead of her on the path to understanding and healing and she was still caught in the trap.
There are so many people that will go through the rest of their lives thinking this is how it’s supposed to be and they just accept the way things are. They live out the rest of their days in the fog of misery and despair never knowing that there was another way. I was overwhelmed with gratitude that the universe decided to intervene and shove me out of that life and shove it did because I had no intention of ever going on my own.
If you are reading this, you are one of the lucky ones. It doesn’t matter what stage you’re in, whether you’re still in it and looking for a way out, or you’ve been out for years, know that you were chosen for something better. This is one of the biggest life lessons you are ever going to be dealt and you got it. You figured it out.
For me it was like a rebirth. It was the start of a new chapter, where I was fully in control, fully independent and fully free. This was my time to figure out who I was. I spent the early part of my life trying to please my parents and be who my mother wanted me to be. I spent my teenage years aching for someone to love me and I tried to be whoever boys wanted me to be. In my twenties and early 30’s I was with my Narcissist and I had to shut down my personality. I had to give up who I was and what my dreams were, because I needed to take care of him. i needed to fix him because he was broken. I mistakenly believed I was whole and up to the challenge, but I wasn’t. I was broken too. The relationship drained the life out of me. It’s like I was being kept in a deep freeze – never growing or expanding, just staying still, so he could be free to move.
During a Wellness retreat a few years back, a very devout friend of mine said, “You know yourself very well,” and it almost brought me to tears. I had done so much self-work and spent so much time thinking and reading and traveling and searching, all in the name of figuring out who I was. It was a nice feeling that other people could recognize the achievement and its importance. It seems so silly doesn’t it? Shouldn’t we know who we are?
“It may have been his birthday, but I got the best present of all – I got me.”
For a Codependent it’s a really tough question. It’s tough because we’ve been taught that the us that we know, is so flawed and broken and we must be shameful of ourselves and hide our flaws away from the rest of the world. So we spend a good chunk of our lives, maybe even all our lives, if we haven’t woken up, pretending to be what we’re not and afraid to show our true selves. We end up being people pleasers and never knowing who we authentically are.
I spent a lot of time, early in my healing, with flamboyant gay men. I had become great friends with Phil during our University days. He was the editor of the university newspaper where I honed my writing skills. I didn’t want to be alone and I had few friends left, so I hung out with Phil a lot. It was interesting and funny to watch how a once repressed culture conducted itself. The “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it,” mantra is very empowering and it helped me to own who I was unabashedly. What it meant for me was, “Here I am – this is me and if you don’t like it, that’s your problem.”
These men shoved who they were down your throat. It might be too much for some people but for me, a student of human behavior, it was fascinating and hilarious. I truly believe that it helped me to just own my identity and that if I was different that was okay. I was allowed to be different. The differences made me – me. I also got a lot of, “Girl, look at you. You are fabulous. Don’t you forget that. If you were any sweeter you’d give me diabetes. Okaaaay.”
So who are you? What parts of you have you been taught to be ashamed of? Isn’t it time that you owned who you truly are? When you know who you are, you can’t be used against you. Be fiercely you. Be unapologetically, lemmie stick my flaws right in your face – you. Be – not gonna be afraid to show all of me – you. Start cultivating the mindset of, ‘this is me and if you don’t like it, don’t let the door hit you.’ Let’s all repeat our new mantra:
Get used to it
I’m in this place
I’m me, all up in your face
Get used to it
Somebody stop me quick!!!!!!!
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Before reading the comments.. Great post Thank you Happy 4th July.
Hi all…..I’m three years out of a 19 year relationship with a covert narc. Im at the stage where im not overly happy… nor am i sad …. I have reached a state of equanimity. I dont mind this state, but I kinda miss feeling full of energy and vibrant … if you know what I mean. My ex narc contacted me two days ago, and I still was in a ” zen like” state. I was able to remain detatched, it took no effort at all. Is there anyone else who is in this state of mind? Can someone tell me about their experiences?
In response to Carolyn… I’m familiar with that in-between state. It’s a feeling of numbness and it’s not fun. I suggest you keep living your life and going through the motions even if you don’t feel motivated. That’s what I’ve been doing and I’m finding that the numbness is slowly giving way to interest in life again. Every now and then I feel snippets of happiness and each time, they last a bit longer than the last time. It really takes discipline at times to keep going. I often have to push myself to go about my usual daily activities but I’m always, always glad I did. I really believe that those who find themselves on this painful journey will find happiness again eventually. It just takes time. Don’t give up and don’t give in. You will be enjoy life again.
Dear Savannah thank you for your post.
I agree with you on this with narc being a cathartic experience to find ourselves . However I’d like to hear somenthing regarding the “karma” hitting the narc and not the poor other victim who took our place.
What happen to him? She looks devasterà and him? I want to hear things like he lost his job, he gained 50 lbs, lost his money. I want to hear things like those regarding only him. This is the Karma to me
to Crista. Yes I too want this. Every waking moment my xN pops into my head. I want justice, I want revenge, justification. I know Savannah you tell us its wasted energy and time dwelling on him. Bad energy to the universe and in return bad energy, Karma back to me. When will this desire dissipate for me? I cant help but wish him ill and pain for what he did to me, the women in his past, and the future women he will also abuse. You say our healing will come within us. I am seeking so hard, praying, therapy to no avail. I know I am a codependent. working on this. Reading anything and everything. Not wanting to be like him in anyway. God help us all.And thanks to you Savannah and all my fellow victims
My narcissist, after an abrupt and unexpected discard, scolded me for calling him. “You need a hobby,” he said as I cried in confusion while he had to run for a mixed doubles tennis match.
The thing is, I had plenty of hobbies and interests before I met him and allowed him to slowly eroded my sense of self. I’m 7 weeks out of the relationship and one week no contact (thank you to Savannah and everyone on the site who got through to me with comments and stories) and I’m back out doing the things I love and being who I am. I still have the problem of thinking of him a lot (I think I was skillfully brainwashed) but I have no desire to ever go back to that life.
Thanks for the blog, needed it today.
You never cease to amaze me with your timing for me.
I agree with Jess, battling Codependancy is very hard.
It’s a struggle every day, learning to love yourself isn’t something that comes naturally to me.
Everyone I seem to meet I feel like I need to help them.
Getting there in a small way, it was a month of NC until last Wednesday.
When will the weak moments stop. I was even seeing someone and at their house and she didn’t stop till I answered her. And no nothing again. xxxxxx
This article makes a good point about what happens to the other woman when with a narc for a period of time. See, we never hear about ‘that period of time’ because too often we are deceived into thinking the narc has run off into the sunset with his new mistress and everything for this new couple is wonderful. Of course we think this because this is exactly the image they want to present.
The fact that you could see her haggard appearance is telling, and it should be noted that seeing the actual proof of the other woman’s misery (regardless if she recognizes it or not) isn’t always going to be as easy to see, but it is there.
She has probably had the soul sucked out of her and has been left selfless. Everything is about him and her kids.
I know a somatic who likes to portray he’s met the love of his life yet she is 15 yrs younger than he, no education, has 3 kids by multiple dads (one with him), no real ambitions or interests to speak of, and she’s given up her fun years of her 20s be with a truck driver who has a history of incarceration, a sex offense, and a pattern of playing women all to his game. She’s not even 25.
Would I want to be her? Would any of you want to be that haggard woman the narc has transformed her into? What will become of her ten years from now? Is she even capable of seeing all that she is missing out on in life due to being with such a loser?
Because for it to ‘work’ with a narcissist, you have to do what these women are so willing to do: give up your own sense of self, offer no real objection and make it all about him.
I do know that this somatic never liked that I was opinionated and often I would disagree and challenge him. He chalked it up in the idealization phase as a quality he liked, but I know this was not the case. Because if he did like that quality, he would not be with the timid little mouse he is with now.
They can claim anything. Their behavior is what counts. Look at who they are with and really ask yourself if you’d want to endure that crap all for the sake of claiming such a lousy prize in the end. Aren’t your lives worth more?
I’m still looking for myself lol when I say it out loud it sounds rediculous. I was and still kind am in a narcissistic relationship have been for my whole 46 years of life 1st my Dad than 28 yrs with my husband
The last 2 yrs I have realized how shamefully I have lived and I see my childern repeating it with there partners and childern and it makes my angry (sad) and ashamed for not seeing the truth of my own missery years ago. So know I am on this journey to find something I don’t think I have ever had and most days I feel lost not free scared confused and just dum founded on how all my dreams were just washed away.
But at the same time I feel like maybe there is a great adventure with my name on it lol I just need to figure out how to get there. SI I’ve been reading anything and everything I can get my hands on to help with locating this but I really don’t know who I’m suppose to be so I have for the now just been going with the flow of things and someone or something I feel is guiding me forward and some days it’s almost impossible to just get up but I do it cause I want to show my kids that life can be fantastic and there is better things out there.
Any who I’m venting and the whole point was to say thanks for the advice I look forward to reading your next bit
Savannah, this article is great for the stage of healing I am in to find a new me, free from the oppression of the xN. Also free from my lifelong bossy older sister.
You are so right that our own inner weaknesses let others bully control over us. We won’t maintain our new found freedom without building Strength. our self esteem has been so low, because we believed those who had strong influence over us.
It took a long time to actually cut the cord from N bc I had so much doubt still believing that he really loved me. Your topics gave facts to the contrary. They enabled me to Let Go of the fantasies that were so harmful. It wasn’t easy but was possible. Once we know the man doesn’t even love us except as a means of ego inflation, can’t express human empathy, & has no remorse, & may even get a high from his ability to cause our suffering; is an awakening. Plus our addiction under the spellbound feeling he gives us that we are, after all, worthy of love. Keep in mind the vulture who lures us into the net of captivity with that one which is all self serving. Thus it’s essential to build up that low self esteem to honor you because another narc can come along and others close to us can continue to harm us until we stand our ground.
My current healing stage is after facing the pain and going thru to the other side of it. I pictured a big narc room and began to clean it all out. I worked & worked sweeping out memories, disgust, deceit & pain of N always finding still some small piece of debris to still taunt me but once cleared out I have whitewashed it. It’s fresh new empty but ready to redecorate my way with things that are meaningful, truthful, wholesome and a new way of thinking.
The change in my life is amazing, thanks to Savannah’s techniques for strength & healing. I also had Gods help & I know He led me to Esteemology in answer to my prayers asking for clarity as to why I couldn’t let go cuz it always turned around to come back. Esteemology paved the way.
It feels a little strange to have the expectation of a contact from N but not receiving any. The pain of delusion of rejection no longer has its power over me. I also cut my sister out of my life until I might tolerate her again but there’s no rush on that either. I no longer even think of contacting N. I, too, do not care what he does or where bc he’s just a broken record not going anywhere.
I encourage others to find their way out of false hopes & dreams to a rich life with meaning, care, empathy & pass those traits down to your children to give them a wholesome life you all deserve because you are already worthy of love and healthy love for yourself attracts goodness.
Thank you for healing me.
Hello, I joined a 12 step codependency recovery group. It is helping alot especially after leaving a narcissist husband of 26 years.
I have done a lot of work in the past few years on believing in myself. Your blog always has something for me to learn from, continue to do or pat myself on the back. Yes my Ns do come to mind, but when they do, I count my blessing that I own my life and have many choices, including feeling good about myself and where I am today after so many years of being with the wrong men and losing parts of me along the way. I am who I am. I am a survivor and thank GOD I am where I am today!!! Thank you for your blog.
I love not only Savannah’s writing but I love to go through all the comments.
I did remove my ex from social media and blocked him from mine. I got him out of my heart but I can’t get him out of my head. I know one day I will and I will be like you Savannah: free, at last free.
I have been reading this blog for, I think, at least two years now and I read a lot of excellent books on self-work. When my ex moved out and all was said and done and legal, there was this great feeling of relief and I thought I was doing so great that I stopped reading and I stopped daily work on myself. Plus, I was tired of it all. It didn’t take me long to realize that I still have issues to fix. I was free from my ex-narc physical presence but I wasn’t and I still am not free of his mental presence. I know that it’s me who invites this mental presence of his but I just can’t stop playing this nagging old tape.
Part of it is that, honestly, I would love him to be lonely, unhappy, miserable and all and he is not. Quite the contrary, on the outside, he’s doing awesome now: new, beautiful house, new, younger woman and I’ve heard he is just thriving and extremely happy. Although, I don’t believe in his happiness – it still stings.
The truth is that I might look, on the outside, unhappy and in all kinds, particularly financial troubles. I am way happier inside and I will stay that way and even improve with the time and he will quite likely trip and disclose his true himself one day. I was his at least number 4 married or common law wife and it’s going to hard for my replacement, to beat my all time record oh him keeping the same partner for almost 20 years, but he will eventually trip and fail again. As far as I know, all the women so far, including me, dumped him eventually and although he might’ve smartened up a little bit each time, he will fail to make that woman fully happy,unless she herself is so codependent that she will just suffer and play, let’s pretend all is fine game. He can lie and fool a lot of people but not me, anymore.
By the way, Derb and other people of not so typical narcs, my narc was just like yours Derb. I have never ever heard any praise or even nice words other men would say to their women: like you look nice tonight or oh, I like that dress you’re wearing, or thank you for a wonderful supper, etc. But I sure knew which clothes I was wearing made him uneasy. I had these red, fleece pants that I loved to wear when walking my dog on cold days. Those pants, or probably the color of it drove him crazy although, he never dared to forbid me to wear them, he made many snippy comments. But sure enough I did often feel like this trophy prize he won. The same is true for our son. Our is nothing else but a great trophy to show off till this day.
Narcs are beyond a succesfull “repairs.” Period!
Savannah, it was a gift to confirm what you already knew deep down – that the woman you were replaced with was also a victim. Lucky for me I knew when the xN discarded me, a Transitional Target, for his old supply that he returned to her because she put up with his abuse. He would leave her every 2 years or so for a new Transitional Target and discard them after a few months and return to her. She was the woman who put up with his sadistic cruelty by his calling her while he was dating NS and extending the Friend Card to her. She put up with so much and would patiently wait for him to come back. I put all of this together while reading about narcissism. So I am lucky that he discarded me and set me on a journey to discover what went wrong and to begin to self reflect and realize it wasn’t me – it was him. Looking back, it was a gift and I am the lucky one that got away. Thank you for your articles, they have helped me so much.
I find that in some ways this article does speak to me. And yet I am still in a relationship with a narcissist. He may not be as maniacle or completely devoid of morality as many narcissists. He isn’t the type that would cheat. But, he clearly is only really interested in only himself. If it isnt about him or what he is doing or thinking about, it isn’t worthy of a response or a thought or investing his time. And it is frustrating. I feel like I am an afterthought.
Life has left me in a situation, that currently I do not think leaving would be best for me. My family, most have passed away. My network of people is small. I rely a great deal on my husband because it provides me family and a larger network of people to be around. However, I no longer find my value or worth, or rather no longer look for my value or worth from his praise or attention. Waiting for that would be like waiting for the sun to shine at night time. There isn’t any. My praises are generally something given amongst his peers or in groups of others he is impressing those for his own self worth. Like,”look at how great I am for picking someone of worth!”
Indeed I am quite frustrated for not being in a fulfilling relationship. And possibly one day I will find that I am strong enough to make it without his family or group of friends & go it alone. I am just not at that place yet in my life.
I am at the place where I am completely aware that he never at any point had any interest, intention or ability at being part of a relationship. I was always just a trophy, or should I say consolation prize. His trophy, she passed away years ago. I was what he chose as a suitable replacement, so he could continue to look like that “great guy” who was the “great dad” being a “outstanding man” in this community.
I wish when I was younger I had the eyes to see then what I see so clearly now, so I would not have put myself here. It might have been easier as I still had my family at that time.
Now, this challenge will be one I will completely have to work through alone. And that is the hardest and saddest part of the equation for me.
Now if his equally narcissistic wife would just follow the play book the ex &I wrote upon leaving each other 25 years ago. In other words leave me alone. She actually makes him look like a saint. ( a saint of what I can not imagine, but at least he tells her to leave me alone.)
If she is not in control of her kids life, she thinks she should be in control of mine. I have blocked everything I can from her teaching me and she still stalks through use of the internet.
As for a life motto: “Hell yeah I found myself, and I look good!”
Jess, I googled and googled my hearts questions like “Why can’t I get over my ex?” and “Why am I so scared?” I then read and read and read until I found this wonderful blog. I did not know that I am codependent. When I discovered that through this blog I got the work book codependency for dummies from amazon. It explained a lot.
I also do not care what my ex N is doing, who he’s with, nothing. I don’t pine for him, i don’t wonder if he’s with someone or if he’s with one of the members of the harem.
But, I’m struggling with being me, my purpose, etc. I’m working on it, very slowly. I’ve been a people pleaser all my life and still today, at 57 wise years old, i still feel that anxiety in my gut when i think someone’s mad at me. My sister and i had a spat yesterday and i could hardly function for the rest of the day i was so upset about it.
I’m so tired of being unhappy, of “having issues”. Sometimes i think my relationship with my sister keeps me stuck in that role of “something is wrong with me”. She’s so negative, so stuck. She let a man move in with her that was 5 months sober, not going to meetings. He began drinking the instant he moved in. He never worked a day while he lived there. He slept until noon every day while she worked. And she still states she loves him and will always love him. It is so hard to be around someone that thinks so lowly of herself. I’m trying to get out of that position and it’s hard when someone close to you is in it.
I barely have enough strength to deal with my own stuff, i can’t begin to support her. And honestly she doesn’t want support.
Sorry, venting and still reeling from our exchange of words yesterday. I had shared that after 2 years, he’s still in my head nearly every day. She said it took her a while to get over her ex husband and she pointed to her heart. I said oh i have no emotions for him, but nightmares. She said nightmares are emotions. But she pointed to her heart. He’s not in my heart, he’s in my head. That’s different to me.
I jusy want him out of my head. I think i need counseling to deal with PTSD because that feels like what I’m dealing with. I think i need to stop beating myself up over being duped. If I’m beating myself up, i can’t be me or take care of myself like i should.
This is definitely work and it doesn’t happen over night. But I’m not 30 years old. I’m moving on 60! I want to get this sooner than later!
Thank you Savannah, again! I realised that part of the sadness I am feeling, since my Narc left me after 37 years of what I thought was a good marriage, is the loss of who I am, who I became.to keep the peace. I need to work to find myself. What a turnaround I need to do. But even the smallest of change brings tenderness and love in my life. I need to love me. Others will love me but I have to be the first.
Thank you–you opened the window and let some fresh air in for an old gal who spent a long, long time being a people pleaser. You gave me much to think about. I am grateful for ‘your gift.’
You say you spent so much time doing self work and reading and searching. Where do we begin? Sure it’s not something that can be accomplished over night and it’s probably a lifelong journey. Especially battling codependency . but can you give some suggestions or steps to do or books to read? – I was just googling the other day how to be unapologetically yourself lol and there’s not much out there! Isn’t that cRazy though? As codependents we need help just trying to figure how to be ourselves?? Thanks Savannah hope to hear more on this !
Jess: The idea that “Being Me” isn’t good enough is an irrational fear and you treat it much the same as you would a fear or phobia. Little by little you move closer to your fear. Let’s say for instance you’re afraid of public speaking – you battle the critical parent voice (like I’ve written about 100 times) and you stand up in front of people (don’t say anything) Do that a few times (move closer to your fear) until you develop a tolerance and realize it’s not so bad. Then you get up in front of people and say your name. Do that a few time…. Or let’s say you’re ashamed of your body and you always cover up and don’t let anyone see. Little by little you start to expose those parts of you that you fear you’d be judged on. In the same way you expose a little more until you’re comfortable with that, then a little more, then a little more – to the point where you’re shoving someone’s face into your belly…lol maybe not that much but you know what I mean.