We’ve all had cringe-worthy moments that we can shelve in the ‘not my finest hour’ section of our memory banks. These are the moments where we acted in a manner that was beneath us, where we didn’t stand up for ourselves, where we let ourselves be used.
When we are raised in environments where we had to ignore our own wants and needs, we never learned how to judge and rely on our feelings to guide us. Emotional manipulators taught us how to ignore these things, they instead instructed us to be passive, over-givers, and to seek outside validation, because we had learned that own feelings had no merit. We weren’t shown how to value and protect ourselves and because of that, we now find ourselves struggling in our adult relationships, still using the same dysfunctional beliefs and habits that we were taught by our dysfunctional caregivers.
The reason I started this blog was the hope that I could spare others what I had gone through and to pass on what I had learned from my relationship struggles. I have done most of the behaviors listed below, with painful and disastrous results. Many years and a lot of work later, I realized that the message I believed I was expressing, was in reality, the exact opposite. What I was not aware of was that everything that I had said and done, to attract a man and to keep a man, showed exactly how much I didn’t love myself. So take a look at the following behaviors and notice if you are making these same mistakes:
Begging and Pleading: Breaking up is painful and you’re going to be emotional, but there is a line here. If someone has made the decision that they don’t want to be with you, no amount of begging or pleading is going to change that. It makes you look weak and unstable and you’ve just affirmed for them that they made the right decision. You can’t express how hurt you are enough to get someone to come back to you. Put yourself in their position – if your ex came to you the next day, or the next week after you broke up with them and they are calling you, crying and begging to take them back – what would you be thinking? This person is coo coo right? And that they’re instability is starting to scare you. It’s humiliating and harmful to your self-esteem – don’t do it. If you’re in agony and need to talk – call your friends, go out – distract yourself until the initial sting wears off – but do not beg and plead with someone to take you back. There is no amount of hurting and sobbing that you can present to these types that will get them to change their mind. Narcissists feast off of your suffering – show them nothing, but how well you got over them.
Chasing: If someone has indicated by word or deed that they’re no longer interested in you, you don’t need to chase them down to get confirmation. You don’t need someone to say the words – you really don’t. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been involved for 10 months or 10 years – if your partner consistently treats you like gum on the bottom of their shoe, or you suspect that they’re cheating and you’re miserable, you don’t need to catch them in the act or a lie. You don’t need to be a detective and have definitive proof, you don’t need their permission or their admission – you have the right to leave if you’re unhappy and if their behavior is affecting your life in a negative way. Besides if you’re involved with someone shady and they blow hot and cold, they don’t want to give you closure. They like the door left open, even if it’s just a crack, so that they always have the option of walking through it again. Don’t act like a detective, don’t call their friends, family or place of employment trying to confirm where they are and where they’ve been – all that does is show that you’re unstable and when they tell the story of the break up – everyone will believe the part about you being nuts. If you’re with someone that is acting like you can’t trust them – then you can’t, all you can do is relieve yourself of the anxiety and walk away from it. The more you chase something the more it will elude you.
Acting in demeaning ways to get attention: If you’re taking and sending nude pics of yourself to someone, always wearing sleazing/ provocative clothing, sleeping with guys/girls on the first date, or acting in other ways that detract from you – you need to stop and ask yourself why you’re doing it. I’m not a prude – if someone wants to send their husband a boob shot – all the power to them, but if you’re behaving in harmful ways to keep someone or attract someone, or have them pick you – don’t do it.
I’ve sent some nude pics to a certain boomerang Narcissist – don’t judge. I remember getting asked for certain posses and as I was taking them I felt – what’s the right word? – a combination of stupid, foolish and slutty. Your true inner feelings always know what’s right for you. It’s just that most of us have been trained to ignore these feelings. I’m not talking about feelings that are guided by ego or a lack of self worth. I’m talking about that powerful inner knowing.
After that day I never took another nude pic. Thankfully I was at least smart enough not to include my face. At the time I hoped he would think that I was sexy – there is some power in getting someone to want you sexually, but really what I was saying was, look at how little I value and respect myself. Had I refused to take the picture as my intuition had guided me, he would have respected me more.
I got a call a few weeks back from Max, my local Narcissist and he told me that he went on a date with a girl he met on the dating site, Plenty of Fish. He was confused and disturbed by the date and said that she showed him a calendar with dates circled on it in red, “What are those dates?” He asked her. “Those are dates when I’m on my period,” she replied. He also noticed a lot of dates circled in blue and asked, “What are these dates?” “Those are days that I’ve slept with a guy,” she replied. He said, “That’s a lot of circles.” She was offended, he was grossed out, and so he suggested they end their date less than twenty minutes in.
When he got home she text him a nude picture of herself saying, “You probably live with your parents and don’t have a job.” He replied, “I’m sorry I don’t think it’s going to work out – please stop contacting me. I’m not interested.” She responded, “I have perfect breasts.”
What didn’t surprise me was that neurotic and narcissistic Max attracted an equally messed up individual, but what did was the level this poor girl was willing to go, to be wanted and desired by someone who rejected her. If she thought she was making him regret his decision – she couldn’t have been more wrong. This didn’t say, “I’m sexy and mysterious and you missed out,” it said, “I’m desperate, I need external validation, I can’t handle rejection, I act out inappropriately, I’m unstable, I have serious unresolved issues and I don’t love and respect myself.”
I’ve been to clubs where I’ve seen girls making out with other girls and they weren’t even slightly gay or bi, they were just trying to get attention. They think they look like Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, but what they really look like are desperate girls, who don’t value themselves enough to know that they don’t need to act this way to get attention. If you have to act in a demeaning manner to attract a mate – that mate isn’t worth having. Don’t do it – keep it classy – you’ll get more respect.
Giving gifts: If just being you isn’t enough to keep someone then that’s not the relationship for you. If they are only with you for what they can get, then are you prepared to give away all of your resources to keep them? And what happens when you have nothing left to give? People that have a deficiency in their self-worth tank believe that they can’t be loved just for who they are. They believe that they have to be perfect, be more, do more, give more than the next person, because all by themselves they just aren’t enough.
I remember one particular Valentine’s Day several years ago, I was out shopping for a Boomerang Narcissist, who had left me and come back at least 3 times, and here I am buying him presents. It wasn’t until I got home and looked at these gifts that my inner voice started speaking to me. I kept thinking, “This guy doesn’t deserve anything. What the hell am I doing? He’s not going to get me anything. He probably won’t even show up.” So I kept the gifts for myself. Even if you like to give, it sends the wrong message when you give to people who have used you in the past. It says, “I’m open for you to use and abuse me some more. I appreciate your scraps of attention.” When you reward bad behavior, it’s a green light for more bad behavior.
Keep taking them back: There is no better measurement of an individual’s self-esteem than the manner in which one deals with their ex. When someone has broken up with you, or just stopped talking to you, with no explanation, for the 100th time and you let them waltz back into your life, to pick up where they left off, that says a whole lot about where you are emotionally. The message you’re sending is, I value myself so little that I am willing to accept a faux relationship, all on your terms and being disrespected and treated like garbage is ok with me. There is no amount of pain or hurt that you could be in, that could ever make it ok to keep letting someone walk all over you. If the agony you feel is greater than your desire for self-respect, then this is your wake-up call and you need to realize that you’ve got a problem.
Never in the history of time has someone used and abused and then that abuser just suddenly changes their mind and thinks, ”You know that Suzy really is a nice girl. I should marry her.” And they trot and live happily ever after. It doesn’t happen.
The change has to come from you, for once you’ve entered doormat territory, the only way out is if you stop acting like a doormat – permanently – which means you don’t ask them politely to step off your mat – you shove them off and you don’t let them back on. If you don’t respect yourself you can’t expect anyone else to.
When someone is being a shit to you they know they’re being a shit. It’s not a surprise to them. They expect you to be angry – it’s part of why they blow cold – they don’t want to hear it, or take responsibility for what they’ve done and what you’re feeling. What does come as a surprise to them, at least initially is your capitulation – when you surrender your will and your self-esteem and take them back after they’ve treated you atrociously, but once you’ve done it they will expect your acquiescence every time thereafter. But think about how that looks, they’ve just finished kicking you and you are writhing around on the ground in agony and as they leave to walk away, you’re grabbing at their pant leg and they’re dragging you and you keep begging them to keep hurting you some more.
A lot of people ask me – Why doesn’t he just go away? – this is why – you’ve taught him that you aren’t serious and that you don’t have a back bone – all he has to do is try harder and eventually you’ll cave in, because you always do.
Being a doormat doesn’t prove how nice you are, or how big your heart is. It doesn’t show them that you are full of unconditional love, or that you are a safe place for them to come back to – the only message you’re sending out is that I don’t love and respect myself enough to tell you to hit the road– period.
A part of the healing process is learning the little things that you should have been taught as a child, but weren’t. So understand that it’s not ok for someone to hurt you. It’s not ok for someone to use you, or take advantage of you. You are good enough all by yourself, you don’t need to be perfect, or better than anyone else. You’re allowed to be yourself and still be loved. Getting angry and taking action is the appropriate response to someone that mistreats you – it’s the difference between being healthy and unhealthy.
The most important thing to remember is that your feelings matter. That inner knowing that you’ve been taught to ignore is the most important part of your defense system. It is your radar that something isn’t right and that appropriate action is neccessary. You’ve ignored your feelings your whole life – you’ve rationalized and minimized things you know you shouldn’t, but thankfully your feelings are still working – it’s time you started to pay attention to them and do right by you.
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Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at freedigitalphotos.net
I loved this article! My mother was a covert N to 5 children. She did have the “golden child”, who has narc tendencies as well. We all knew as far as my mother was concerned, GC could do no wrong, even when it was glaringly wrong. I’m starting to remember some things growing up that just weren’t right. Some of them I was old enough to remember all along but never really acknowledged as being “off”. Now, I know that neither me nor my brothers and sisters deserved some of the treatment we got. There were good memories as well. It’s easier now for me to realize that I’m okay and it was my mom’s issues that caused her to be the way she was. I was lucky that I had other people in my life who I knew loved me and I loved them.
Hi, Savannah, I am so grateful to have found your blog, and have been passing it around to friends. I love and get so much out of all your posts!!
“The most important thing to remember is that your feelings matter. That inner knowing that you’ve been taught to ignore is the most important part of your defense system. It is your radar that something isn’t right and that appropriate action is necessary. You’ve ignored your feelings your whole life – you’ve rationalized and minimized things you know you shouldn’t, but thankfully your feelings are still working – it’s time you started to pay attention to them and do right by you.”
Yes, yes, yes!! Right on!! I agree. You must ALWAYS honor your feelings, and what your gut is telling you! Out of denial!! Here is how I became to believe this, and also some information on a disorder that some may not know about – ROCD:
I had been dating a guy for 3 months. I met him in a 12-step group (Adult Child/Alanon), and found him to be quite different from the previous slew of non-committal charismatic bad-boy types I used to be attracted to. This guy had the ability to be introspective, and to share vulnerably. He told me he was enrolled to get his BA in Social Work in the fall. I hadn’t dated for over 8 years when I met him, I wasn’t looking for anyone, had been taking time to heal from finding myself in one too many relationships with the same non-committal type (ONE relationship with MANY persons – and the common denominator was ME!) I knew that I needed to be healthy & whole on my own and believe that I deserved to find a mutual healthy relationship with another healthy & whole person. Believed that it would then happen naturally, organically, Spiritually.
Over the first 2 months, we both took our time to get close, dipping first a toe in, then up to knee, etc. Week 9 we became intimate. Month 3 he asked if he could call me his girlfriend, had me meet his stepsister, some friends. Then his pattern changed a bit, I sensed a pulling away for a day or 2 after the weekend, on Monday & Tues. This happened twice, 2 weeks in a row. After the 2nd week, I had to honor myself & question him, picked up the phone & said, “Your pattern is to text me during the day, and call to check in with me every night. It is just what you do, and I like it. And when you don’t do that, I feel uncomfortable, and at the risk of sounding a tad needy or dramatic, I would like some reassurance”. He proceeds to admit that he really cares for me, is feeling scared, and tells me that he has OCD – “not the handwashing sort of thing, but I have obsessive thoughts, and they make me anxious, so I’m on medication for it”. I tried to make light of it, told him that anyone who knows me knows that blow-drying my hair is a religious experience! that I can really obsess about my hair (true, very true!), and need it to be cut a certain way to feel attractive. We got off the phone shortly thereafter, he texted me that I was beautiful in so many ways, not just my outsides, and that he was really looking forward to our date that Saturday. I was as well, asI hoped to hear more about his OCD, but primarily about his “fear” and need to pull back at times.
When I told my therapist of 2yrs that I planned to ask him about all this, she advised me not to question the guy. “No, you don’t ask him. He may not know himself how he feels. Keep the focus on yourself” When I said, “but I deserve to know, I’m uncomfortable with his pulling away, and fear that history is repeating itself. One relationship with many men!” She said, “No, not the same, feelings are not facts, and you are just dating , getting to know each other”.
Against what my gut was telling me, I didn’t question him that Saturday night, I let him take the lead. Enjoyed the date (movies, then my place), his affection, and what I perceived as feeling very close. He did not mention anything further about the OCD, I didn’t ask.
Sunday nite, no checkin. Monday, Tues, nothing. Wednesday morning, I text him, “Clearly you’re pulling away from me again. You mentioned that you were scared, and would love to hear more about it. I’m feeling very uncomfortable, and would like the chance to understand”. He calls me back and proceeds very coldly to say, “I cannot see you anymore, it’s not working for me”. I had to press him for more info, and it was dental work – pulling teeth! After telling him that leaving me in the dark with no further info is extremely hurtful, he finally says “we have nothing in common”. I got off the phone, shaking, shocked, feeling like the Universe was playing a very cruel joke on me, but looking up at God and telling myself that at least this time I questioned things rather than preferring to stay in denial, accepting less than I deserve.
I’ve since left that therapist of 2yrs, and found another one, who is all about the feelings, and about honoring oneself. She gave me information on OCD and told me that the obsessive thoughts can actually be violent! I researched the information she gave me, and found that there is a disorder called ROCD (Relationship OCD). The disease of doubt! The sufferer has continual obsessive and intrusive thoughts about his/her partner, specifically when things are going well. They start to obsess over their not being able to continually be attracted to their partner, or over some characteristic of their partner they find unattractive or even repulsive. They worry that they’ll never be satisfied with that partner. Talk about the epitome of non-committal choice for me!!! Live & learn, Savannah! Live & learn…..
This morning I cleaned up my social media accounts, and found a folder of saved Facebook messages between my ex Narc and I that I didn’t realize still existed. I went ahead and read the messages.
The old me is a woman I don’t like very much. The new me does not recognize the woman who wrote these messages two years ago.
The messages were basically an outline of me committing ALL of these behaviors.
My ex and I lived together and he went out of town for work a lot. There would be times where I’d only see him on weekends a month or two at a time. Here’s what our messages consisted of, and it ebbed and flowed:
-Love bombs from him
-He’d go silent, wouldn’t respond to any of my calls, texts and messages
-Me asking if I “did something wrong” and asking why he was MIA
-Me BEGGING and PLEADING for him to return my call
-Him blaming the absence on his phone dying or some other dumb excuse for being unreachable for a week or two
-Me losing my shit
-Him calling me irrational, insecure, threatening to end the relationship
Lather, rinse repeat.
He was cheating on me this entire time, I later found out.
I am so embarrassed that I lost my dignity my way. That my outlook on my day, my mood, my outlook on life was completely affected by the actions and whim of another person. That’s how hollow and empty I was back then. How much of a backbone I did not have.
The new me is rolling my eyes at the old me.
I’m sad to say that I’ve done all these behaviors. Having them in a list is wonderful, thank you.
I was married to an N from age 20 to 34. He was a covert N. I left him 3 years, each time he convinced me that he would change and he was so appreciative of me making him a better man than his father was.
It took me years to realize that all the problems we had, one after another, were not isolated, they were all based from the foundational issue of our toxic co-dependent/N dynamic. Once I realized this, that I didn’t need this cheating, lying, parasite in my life, I left him and never turned back.
Five years later, thinking I was healthy and ready, I ended up in a 14 month relationship with a full-blown N. Not even subtle. He fascinated me, and I thought I had finally met the one. It didn’t take too long for the phone outages to start happening, “falling asleep early”, forgetting plans, making vague plans, and gaslighting to occur. I got hooked fast, but my gut told me I was getting played. But this man was very good at covering up his true self and making me doubt myself. I considered that maybe my antenna was just bent from my ex-husband and this new N was actually a good man.
After 2 months, I broke it off with him, seeing that his life was actually a disaster and he was trolling for other women while making me feel like I was the one for him. It was obvious I was a back-up plan or something. But he then convinced me to stay. Months later, more lies, broke it off again.
I never did any of the behaviors in this article with my ex husband, but I did all of them with this last relationship and I feel so ridiculous. Even as his life was completely in the toilet, I saw his potential, as someone possessing greater qualities than I. A handsome, ex-reality star with oodles of charm and a bright future after he got past all his problems. I never saw or knew of him on his reality show, but recently learned that he was the “drama” in the show… the one they kept one to keep the show interesting. (lol)
So, I see I was conditioned for this relationship. I’m grateful for it as it uncovered so many blind spots for me.
**I will add that my gut told me IMMEDIATELY that something was off with this man. We met online and our first text conversation sent me blaring red flags which I chose to paint green after he left me a voicemail (sounding like a very decent man). LISTEN TO YOUR GUT, IT IS MORE EVOLVED THAN YOUR BRAIN! AND FOR GOOD REASON!
I’m striving for No Contact now, he’s trying to get me to let him move in to my house because he has no job and no money. He says his big pay day is right around the corner and then he will take care of me… the funny thing is, I’m doing an excellent job of caring for myself.
@Buenavista — I have GOT to know which reality show!!!
Reading about your story reminded me of how 2 Narc men that I dated behaved, once things got to the point where they were convinced that they “had” me. The vague plans/and “forgetting” plans totally killed me! I swear that is the worst!
One guy went out of his way to make plans with me to go hiking on a weekend afternoon. It sounded like a fun day — a hike up a trail I had been wanting to check out, and then brunch. Perfect! He made the plans with me a week in advance, and even reminded me a couple of days beforehand. He even invited another couple along, and they committed and agreed to go.
When the day came, he never called. I called and he didn’t answer his phone. When I heard from him next, a few days later he acted like nothing happened! Didn’t even acknowledge that he had stood me up! When I pointed it out to him and said he let me down, he gave me the lamest excuse and a half-assed apology. I still forgave him and continued to go out with him. Ugh!
This is huge! Now I have no tolerance for men who make non-committal vague plans or who flake. “Forget” to call me or our date and I’ll just “forget” their existence now. No more.
Savannah you’re so good and sharp.
Thank you. Thank you.
After a year of no contact he’s still with her. A common friend came to my birthday party telling me that she has “an allure” and now he understand why my ex narc is with her.
I felt devastated and I blocked this guy (gay)irom my contact list. Do you think that they can really be happy. After a year they ‘re not married and not babies. He’s 50 never married. But I’m so afraid he’s happier with her.
@narcrepelant, you are right, I have had no other relationships with any men, and I know I would find it difficult to be with someone else because I would always compare. He is either really good to me or really awful. He’s not physically abusive but he is emotianallay. He withdraws from me a lot which leaves me insecure. I though telationships were like this but having read up a lot on narcissm and abuse im starting to see they’re not. I pray everday that I find ease and a way out of this constant thinking of him. I’m looking into counselling.
@Sara — I’m so happy to see that you’re looking into counseling. Sounds like you’re taking the first steps toward walking into the light. You can do it! You will get over this. If I can, anyone can.
This post has literally been like a kick in the stomach.
I’ve done all those things, except the sexual and nude demeaning behaviors.
I’ve been split with my narcissist for just over 6 months. I’ve seen him twice in that time. Both times he’s fed me bull about still loving me and wanting me back. To Then reject me and go silent two days later.
I’ve done a lot of self healing and thought I was ready to be stronger the next time he got in touch. I asked the universe in January to give me a chance to prove to him I was stronger now and not the weak woman he rejected. The chance arrived in February and I was determined to show him I would not tolerate his crap any more.
I felt with my words I had spoken stronger. But reading this article of yours I have realized that although my words may have had more strength, my actions most certainly did not.
For one, I went to him. He had to put in no effort for me to see him. I did the traveling. He asked me to pick him up some beers on the way and said he would repay me the next week. (he rejected me again within 4 days so I never got the money back). He wanted to sleep with me. I stood firm for a few hours and then gave in and gave him Sex.
I feel so ashamed now. I asked the universe to prove myself to him. And I failed. Big time. He will still see me as that weak woman who tolerates any amount of bad behavior and who has no self respect.
We’ve had silence now for 6 weeks. Whether he will try again is yet to be seen. But I know now that if there is a next time I have to be different. I do not want his last impression of me to be a doormat.
Or I ignore attempts completely.
Still undecided which!
I hear you want him to see you as strong, to leave a final impression that you are not a doormat. Unfortunately unless he is an unusual narcissist (and all we know about it tells us there is no such thing), the only way to communicate strength is to go strict No Contact. And then, it is not as if he will “respect” you more. The awful hideous truth of it is that he will simply go on to the next victim with very little thought or feeling. It takes a long time to grasp how sick these people are; it helped me to do some research what says they are actually literally brain damaged sue to severe emotional deprivation during development. But the bottom line – which is vert painful to accept – is that they don’t have normal feelings. Or indeed in most ways no real feelings at all. So to expect “respect” is to just ask for more pain, I am afraid. It takes a long time to understand how deeply and profoundly they do not care for us. It still hurts me and I am over 7 months of no contact. The normal human, with a mind and real emotions, has immense trouble grasping what these people are really like. But in the end, I can tell you, the ONLY person you need respect from is yourself. And for most of us strict no contact is the only way to get there. The only closure we will ever really get in these relationships is to leave it behind and move on. I know that hurts and I so wish it were not true or that we could soften the impact. But it is a fact of dealing with these people. Accepting that fact takes time and healing, but it will come.
@Buttercup — Cowboy is 100 percent right. The only way for you to get closure is to go No Contact right now, and stick to it. You are already six weeks in. Make six weeks into 6 months. And then a year. Then forever.
This concept of getting “closure” in a break-up and caring about the last impression you leave with your ex — that stuff is for Nicholas Sparks romance movies and TV dramas. It is overrated, NEVER successfully happens or works, even in break-ups with normal human beings and non-Narcs.
Closure NEVER happens the way that we want to, never the way we envision it, especially with a Narc. And you know what? Even if you end it the way that you imagine and say all the right things, like how you wanted, with the perfect cadence and on cue, it will NOT change your Narc’s perception about you.
He will not listen to or absorb anything that you say. He will NOT say “Oh, she must be over me, she’s strong now” afterward. He will ONLY think how he can manipulate you again to get you back. He will ALWAYS think this about you. They will always think that we are weak, no matter what. They will always plot to get us back, if they THINK we will take them back.
The only closure you need is him not in your life, and the only way to get that closure is to go No Contact, mean it and not break it. Not responding to them is the only way to send a clear message to your Narc that you want nothing to do with them.
Thank you hurtin cowboy
I know what you say makes sense. I have read so much on this site and its really helping me heal.
It is very hard to get my head around the thought that he never cared. I know now he didn’t. His action proved it. But he played his game oh so well.
He left me and proposed to his new supply 3 weeks later. AND, he hasn’t been cheating. Apart from registering an online account and started chatting to this woman the day before he left me. He proposed marriage to this woman on their first date!!
He’s still with her now as far as I know, although he slept with me a month ago. Still spouting his bullshit about loving me still. As soon as I relent and let him know I still have feelings he disappears and carries on with her.
I suspect she is a narcissist too. What type of women accepts a marriage proposal to a stranger!
I SO need to get past this…
Your N sounds very much like mine. He too proposed to a woman on first meeting, she wasn’t the only, he has many women on the go all at once.
Thank you so much, for taking the time to respond to my post.
I have moments of strength, where I look forward to the future, and moments of weakness where I miss this man so much. Last time I saw him, he was a mess. I actually thought to myself, “what are you actually missing woman? His life hasn’t improved since he left you. It looks like it got worse!“
I got sucked back in with his words. I have to keep remembering that initial feeling when I laid eyes on him again. A mess!
I find the one thing I struggle with now is the thoughts of him in my head. They don’t go away. He’s always there. Everywhere I go, everywhere I look, it’s a reminder of a memory. I would estimate that 80% of my thoughts still revolve around him, bad memories, good memories, or just with trying to get an understanding of it all, and the working on myself. I tell him to go away when he pops in my head. But he’s always there. It’s getting better. It’s was 95%!
I wish there was a way to have him removed from my brain!
Savannah, your page has helped me immensely! Thank you.
What if they threaten litigation?
Overit try your best to defuse the situation – whether that means staying away from them entirely or having a calm rational conversation – whatever you think will help and then carefully extricate yourself from their lives.
@Overit — Can I ask what they are threatening litigation about? A general idea?
I also don’t know what type of Narc your ex is, but honestly, (at least in the case of my ex boyfriend), I’ve found that most Narcs are too stupid and lazy to really do anything, and their threats are nothing but empty, like their souls and personalities.
Also, you usually have to have legal standing to file a lawsuit to begin with — something your ex may not know and probably doesn’t have against you. And please consider there is a lot of detailed paperwork involved in filing one — are they really capable of following through with it?
When I kicked my ex out of MY home, he made up all kinds of legal lies and legal threats toward me as he lashed out. He was really lashing out because I had stopped answering my phone when he called, and I refused to tell him my whereabouts. He was having a panic attack, really, realizing that he was losing control over me.
Then he switched gears. He tried to scare me when I said it was taking him much too long to get his things out of my house. He made up laws and tried to threaten “legal action” against me. He claimed he didn’t have to return the keys to me for a certain number of days, that he’d call the police if I changed the locks, etc. And you know what? Everything he said was all bullshit.
I learned this because a good friend of mine just happens to be a licensed, practicing real estate litigator. I told him what was going on and he informed me of my rights. Once I let my ex know that I was aware of the law and had my own lawyer available, he then backed down suddenly, and magically found the time to get the rest of his things out of my house.
This whole situation has really had a massive affect on my self esteem. Your blogs are really motivating but for some reason I can’t stop thinking about him. I will be having a normal good day and then all of a sudden the thoughts will just hit me hard and the rest of the day will be ruined by unwanted thoughts. Thoughts of him having fun, moving on, ignoring me because he is having fun with someone else.
Hi savannah.ive been reading your blog for almost a year now.ive been in a relationship with an N for 15 years. I was 16 at the time and he was 24. he has messed around with women the entire length of our relationship. I know this is wrong but I don’t know how to stop these feelings of missing him and wanting him to want me. I feel rejected every time he has another woman to play with and he goes silent on me. But then when things don’t work out he comes back to me. He Is currently silent on me know which indicates he has another woman. What is wrong with me that I allow him to do this to me. We also have children together. Any comments or advise would be great. Desperately seeking answers.
Sara you are co-dependent – that is what is wrong. I suggest you read up on it. I have written several blogs on the topic and there have been many books written about it.
@Sara — I want to urge you to please seek counseling. You met your Narc when you were just a kid. You’ve spent HALF of your life with him. A LOT of your experiences have been shaped by this man.
I’m sorry, and I know this is unsolicited, but I am totally passing judgment on him right now because you said he was 24, and you were only 16 when you met. This was a very vulnerable time in your life and I feel like he was a predator. An eight-year age gap is a big deal at that age, not to mention illegal.
I remember what life was like when I was 24: You’re right out of college, trying to figure things out, what the real world is like, you’re looking for your first “real job.” There is something VERY wrong with someone who is a grown-ass adult at this stage of their life that wants to date someone who is still in high school. NONE of my male friends in college would have wanted to date someone that young, because they’re not creeps!
I look back on my own high school years and remember how flattering it felt when a senior asked me out when I was a freshmen. How the girls who had “cool” older boyfriends were thought to be “so cool.” Now that I’m older, I know there’s nothing cool about an adult dating a teenager.
I just worry that your ex may have groomed you to accept his abuse and to be co-dependent on him. I get the impression that you haven’t really dated around or had too many other life experiences outside of him. Am I right? If not, I apologize for making the assumption.
This was just a huge red flag to me and I couldn’t help but say something.
Sara, it sounds like you are still young, and can begin today to extract yourself from the clutches of what sounds like a very abusive relationship. I agree with what Narc Repellant said about your husband having groomed you for abuse and codependency. It appears he may have been predatory in nature from the beginning. Also sounds like he demonstrates current manipulation patterns that continue to effectively keep you hooked. No judgment. I don’t know what to recommend for you, other than seeking counseling and a strong, female support system. I would NOT start bouncing around to other dating prospects before doing a personal inventory and developing a strong relationship with self. Find out who YOU are apart from this relationship. Good luck.
I had a watershed moment about my own life, behavior and relationship with my Narc ex when a male friend of mine was having serious problems with his relationship. Even though I had just kicked my Narc out of my house, I did my best when I could to help my friend with his problems. I listened and gave advice when asked, and it also kept my mind off of things at times.
As time went on, and it didn’t take long, I was convinced my friend was dealing with the female version of my Narc ex, but one that was a lot more vicious and a lot less cunning.
Here is a short round up of the ridiculous things this woman did, and what my friend would cry to me about:
-She would constantly get texts at 2, 3 in the morning. When he asked about these texts (since they woke him up, many times), she’d scream, call him jealous, start a fight and then drive off from his apartment.
-He caught her at a bar having drinks with her ex boyfriend. Instead of leaving and then dumping her, he reacted by making a scene inside and right outside of the bar. She used him “making a scene” as a reason to disappear for a week.
-She did everything she could to conceal their relationship on Facebook (she’s a 35-year-old woman). They fought about it.
-She would tell him the most ridiculous lies. She was 4 hours late to his apartment once because she was helping her mom “put away groceries.” She told this lie more than once.
-She propositioned his FRIEND. She offered to perform a sex act on his friend for $10. That’s right. TEN U.S. DOLLARS.
You think he’d leave after the last offense, right? Nope. He stayed. He wanted to “make it work.”
In a short time frame, I watched my friend completely change.
-He spent all of his free time obsessing over her. Everything she said and did. He wasted many, many hours trying to play detective and verify her stories because he didn’t trust her.
-When she’d drive off from his apartment, he’d chase her in his car to the other side of town. He’d park in front of her house and sit there and cry until she agreed to talk to him.
I myself had enough of his behavior (and he had co-dependent issues with running to me all the time, I later learned). When he called crying again, I screamed at the top of my lungs. I completely exploded.
“You must hate yourself! Look at yourself! You have NO self-respect. You’ve become pathetic. And you are losing your dignity and threatening your career for a 35-year-old woman with a drug problem who lives at home with her parents and doesn’t want to work! What the f^&* is wrong with you?! Do you think any of my other guy friends that you’ve met would put up with this crap, with a woman like her?! No, they wouldn’t because they respect themselves!!!!”
I was hurtful, mean and cruel. But after I hung up the phone, I realized that I was really yelling at myself.
On my personal journey with this stuff I think it was a lot easier to realize I was being played for a fool and stand up to abusive people and harder to grow authentic, strong, self esteem.
Realizing dysfunctional people played me for a fool was about uncovering the delusion I’d had with knowledge about disorders. Growing up with people like this I just thought some people were complicated and confused – that one minute they could be cruel but that deep down they really loved me. I think this is partly because when they want to make up with you they can get really desperate and do lots of effusive, crazy things to express how much they love and need you back. It wasn’t until I learned about narcissism and personality disorders that I realized these people only were addicted to attention, for a brief period to my attention, they never cared for me, I was disposable, to be consumed like a powdery white drug- an object. People do desperate things for drugs and it can look like love. An ex traveled overseas to where I was working one fall (not on my invitation!) get a visa and a job with me and pursue me all season while he had a girlfriend he just couldn’t break up with. The great contradiction. Of course I was scratching my head. She and I had a discussion about it all later and laughed about it: He didn’t care about either of us- he was just feeding his desperate addiction, his vanity.
In my experience, developing strong self esteem has been harder than uncovering the delusion that I’d been played. Developing self esteem has been like learning a musical instrument or a foreign language. You have to actively practice it every day, minute by minute. The more you practice, the better you get but it’s work, it can be tedious and it takes time and the patience to see small improvements and build on them.
SU, you completely hit the nail on the head with “I just thought some people were complicated and confused – that one minute they could be cruel but that deep down they really loved me. I think this is partly because when they want to make up with you they can get really desperate and do lots of effusive, crazy things to express how much they love and need you back. It wasn’t until I learned about narcissism and personality disorders that I realized these people only were addicted to attention, for a brief period to my attention, they never cared for me, I was disposable, to be consumed like a powdery white drug- an object.”
I cannot begin to express my gratitude for this page and for all your weekly posts. I relate so much to all of them and todays just hit the spot and I needed to read this. As part of my own self care I am mediating more, and practicing gratitude and today I am grateful for you and for all that you share. You are helping me in ways I cannot even being to explain. Thank You!!
Savannah, your brave honesty is the vicarious stream that allows my hidden disappointments with self to flow, so they don’t remain stagnant, silently torturing my soul with regret. Thank you. I just don’t understand myself. I’m an absolute paradox that continues to do things against my higher intuitive comprehension. How many times must I do this? I found myself sending an email yesterday to my ex about how beautiful the lake was on a gorgeous spring day. The truth is that my intuition was right immediately, about the deceptive, manipulative nature of my ex, and her cold, ruthless ease of taunting me by provoking jealousy, and then calling me “crazy” for reacting with hurt feelings to her intentional actions. <—-That is "one" aspect to her. But where my situation (not her situation – my situation – as she has left me in the dust and moved on) gets unique is in the actions she demonstrated versus the words she declared to define the *then* situation. We met in Texas as traveling health care workers. We ended up immediately physically bonded, living together for 3 months. We parted to new destinations, within 4 hours driving, and maintained a long distance, physical relationship on weekends. Now…here's the kicker: Technically we were NOT in a relationship according to her disclaimer from the getgo of "This is not a relationship." Ok. That disclaimer was effective in keeping me on eggshells when it came to standing up for myself emotionally. So, it is, but it isn't laying myself as a doormat. I gambled on my ability to keep it shallow, and I couldn't. Here's the problem though. In private, she was committed to convincing me she loved me in words and physically. So I gave very little merit to the disclaimer. I was convinced she loved me based on the sex, the tenderness, the experiences shared, and the intimate conversations we had shared. So, she was reaping benefits of being in a relationship with no responsibility to meet my emotional needs. She operated according to a self proclaimed "selfish pursuit of life" and I played along…until I couldn't anymore. It was understood that we were ONLY seeing each other. When I began asserting myself as to the ways her jealousy-provoking behavior affected me, all of a sudden I was "nuts." One example was we worked with a guy, and she was kind of flirty. Well…"this is not a relationship" kept me from expressing my emotions of insecurity over observing this everyday. I didn't want to come across as needy, but at the same time I didn't understand how she could give this guy the front seat of her car when she asked me if I wanted to ride to the company Christmas lunch. I walked outside and I thought, WTF is he doing in the front seat? You see??? Our relationship was private. We weren't out. That was the first time I felt demeaned by her. "This isn't a relationship" kept me quiet for three weeks about this. Then I confronted it on a running track one day and said, "that hurt my feelings"…and "Why didn't you offer me the front seat?" She erupted in rage and chopped me off at the knees and wouldn't let me get a word in, shamed me, and I found myself fumbling my words and apologizing for expressing my feelings. Well…long story short. Two weeks later she didn't come home after work because she hung with him all night, came home buzzed, waited for me to react, and then lied and said "i told you we were going to hang out." Then she said "he told me he's gay" and proceeded to shame me for ever questioning her putting me in the backseat. Here's the real kicker. She NEVER mentioned our relationship to this guy, even AFTER we knew he was gay, though she and I were gay. Things finally worked out, but only because I forgave her. Then again on my last day of work, she does it again, hang out all night, doesn't respond when I ask if she's ok, and picks a fight when she comes home drunk. This time, she tells me how "mike mentioned that you would have loved the place we hung out tonight." Basically, she ostracized me the entire time from hanging out with the two of them, and completely "hid" me. And she never understood how I was hurt by this and turned it around on me and made me feel guilty. IN fact, she gave me her back in bed for 5 days to punish me for being hurt by her actions. WTF??? Well, I moved to my new location and she moved to hers, but we maintained. I"m going to nutshell this thing. One day after mountain biking, a guy comes up in the parking lot, and she and the guy talk for like 5 minutes as I'm standing there, invisible to them both, a few feet away. I walked away after 5 minutes of not even being given eye contact from my ex, or an introduction into the conversation. I sat on a rock in the sun, KNOWING I was done. My feelings were crushed, and it brought back the past "front seat" thing. When I returned, she said "what was that?" And she proceeded to chop me off at the knees again, saying I had no right to have my feelings hurt over that. I told her it reminded me of "Mike" all over again, and the feeling of being "hidden" from her public life, and that it wasn't matching up with who she was in private with me, and that it made me feel like shit, and had me questioning everything. That weekend was the last time I would see her. We got past the parking lot situation, ended up in bed as usual, and on my drive home, she texted me saying she missed me. Then, once home, I didn't hear from her for 10 days, and I called her to "bow out" of the "this is not a relationship"…and she panicked…so I left things "undetermined." Now, silence replaced our routine communication. The silence was only interrupted by hostile name calling from her and character assassinations resulting from me trying to have a conversation for closure. A couple weeks later I had a revealing dream and tried to confront the situation so I would know where we stood, and she said "nothing's changed"…so I had hope that maybe we'd work things out. One month later she tells me she's seeing someone else. Dream confirmed. I called to ask for my things back from her, and she continued to stonewall me. I called her aunt to get a message to her. This infuriated her. Now I was called stalker and she started using the word "harassment" and basically "shooting me down with her verbal artillery" and then ducking and hiding behind her stonewall as I flooded her with emails trying to be diplomatic, still pathetically in love. Ugh…And there you have it. She told people I was a "effing psycho" and that we were "never in a relationship"…
And, so, initially, I was intuitive and accepting of “letting go” of a person who in private convinced me she loved me, only to “hide” me in public, because that is unacceptable. But, THEN I became starved for closure from that person who so easily treated me like gum on her shoe on a dime, and began slandering me to her family and friends, denying the extent of our private involvement as a means to paint me as someone harassing her. THAT sent me into full blown “fight or flight” because of the perception of threat this suggested. Could this person who so tenderly cradled me every night do such a thing? And, I knew…my higher self KNEW…all along…that reaching out was only going to make me fit the description of crazy she was trying to paint me as, but I still did it. Why did I do that? I wanted to expose the truth so bad. That’s why. I wanted the truth of the injustice of the betrayal to be seen. But “I” betrayed myself by ever trying to be intimate with someone who was perfectly content to meet her needs with no understanding or desire to understand how her behavior was affecting me. And, now, I don’t know how to resolve this…because I AM better than that. And when I started asserting myself in such a fashion last April is when SHE started panicking, because SHE had made herself vulnerable with me in private, even though she didn’t define the context of our involvement with the word “relationship.”. And SHE knows damn well this is the truth. The whole thing is just ass backwards. Not being given a conversation for closure really messed my head up. The stonewalling hurt me in ways I didn’t realize I was capable of being hurt. And when I let her know how hurtful it was, she kept doing it. Not one good, kind word was ever given by her, except this past January where she said “I’m sorry if I said harsh things, but I’m sure you can understand my frustration.” That’s as close as an apology as I ever got from her. She recommended I stop contacting her and put my energy into a healthy place, myself. So, things started settling in my spirit, as that was the nicest she had been. And THEN one of her friends ended up in my inbox and called me “effing psycho” and the past pattern of emailing her again all resurrected for a few weeks. It was like an addiction relapse, that picked up where it left off, and served only self defeating outcomes, making me feel like shit about myself again.
Nashville I wanted to point out that right out of the gate she told you, ‘this isn’t a relationship.’ I’m sure at the time you were hurt and confused. It is clear that that wasn’t what you wanted, but you chose to ignore what she said – this is the pivotal part of the entire relationship. At this point you should have said what you wanted, what your needs were. You didn’t – why? That’s the question you need to answer. Because at that moment you had the option of either agreeing with her, telling her what you wanted or ending it – and those are really the only options. Being quiet about it and hoping she’ll change her mind, or that you can convince her otherwise is where you went wrong. She took your silence as agreement which always gave her that out of ‘this isn’t a relationship,’ whenever it suited her. You always had the choice to leave, but chose to stifle your feelings – understanding why you did this and learning to open up and trust your feelings and know that they are important is where you need to focus your work.
Savannah, thank you for the difficult truth. It’s hard to hear, it is. I resorted to really old behavior patterns that I thought I had outgrown. I guess my fear was that I’d lose her if I asserted myself immediately – but I lost her anyway. The continuum of pain results from the knowledge that a friendship was compromised here unnecessarily. Maybe it’s time to be my own best friend. Thanks for your constant stream of giving to those of us struggling with our stuff. It really helps, and hopefully we, too, can help others. Appreciate all that you do.
Savannah, it’s impossible to include all context in a couple of posts, and I recognize the significance of your insight in regards to my choices exercised. Do you believe though, that any responsibility was on my ex as well, or that her “actions” were misleading? I mean, we shared a bed, lived together and did life together and she told me she loved me in private, and the physical connection was the best I ever encountered, and she affirmed this for her. Surely, she must have known how her actions influenced my not taking her “words” completely seriously?? Honestly, I didn’t need the title of “relationship” to be content – I just needed goodness shown to me from the person I was doing life with, and so when her behavior literally switched on a dime from loving cold, demeaning and “burdened” by my need for closure and understanding. I knew we couldn’t sustain a relationship with the distance and different horizons, but I was NEVER prepared for the abrupt discard from her life, the stonewalling, and the character assassinations that followed. I was never prepared for her lies to her family and friends to who she downplayed the extent of our involvement, relationship of no relationship. It hurt like hell. I will stop rambling about that, but I had pondered more on your comment as I was driving home and thought I would just mention more context. 🙂
Yes Nashville she would have been tried and found guilty of heinous relationship crimes if such a court existed. Of course she did her best to mislead you. Of course she knew you wanted more and played on your feelings, all of that is obvious. Please don’t think for a second anyone would or could place all the ‘blame’ on you, in your relationship post mortem. My point was that you can’t control her, none of this is about her. She has issues – that’s a given. This is about you and how you need to learn how to protect yourself from manipulators. You indicated to me that you were afraid of losing her – the point I make is that you were willing to have a fantasy/faux relationship instead of being direct and saying what you wanted. A lot of people I counsel are afraid of conflict, so they keep quiet hoping not to rock the boat. Part of getting past this is learning how to communicate properly – speaking up even if it means conflict and not getting what you want. It’s about meaning what you say and saying what you mean. If you rewind your relationship to that moment that I spoke of and you had done that – said, “No I want a relationship. If we’re not on the same page then we shouldn’t proceed.” If you had done that none of the pain and drama she caused would have unfolded the way it did. That’s what I meant when I said you need to look at that point and that’s where you need to put your focus.
Thank you for your strong and gentle words, Savannah. I didn’t think you were blaming me. I read your articles and always return because you demonstrate great wisdom and compassion with your words. I’m glad you said what you said – I needed to hear it, and I’m working towards a healthier me. Next time I will most definitely vocalize my needs. It is very generous of you to take the time to comment as you have. I didn’t mean to derail from the subject, which is your fantastic article! Thanks again!
Hurtin’ cowboy wow I can totally identify!!! My ex P/N did the same things except with co-workers and friends. They always needed him or his advice and o what a great catch he was. Well they weren’t married to him for over 20 years!! I can not even believe the stuff I excused and believed. They never change, we are so much better away from them. Thank you Savannah so much for your site. I don’t ignore me anymore. I feel sorry for all the other targets and pray they save themselves. Hugs for everyone!!! We got this!!!!!
Oh yes, some of them beg for photos, when you finally do it they show other people. Really your wife???? They are truly disordered, its all about them and their addictions to self, porn etc.
Yesterday, I had to ask why? What would it take to walk away from the abusive narcissist.First answer was a million dollars….then I thought some more. No money would not solve a thing.. Then I realized,To finally HONOR THE KNOWING INSIDE ME,MY GUT,TO WALK AWAY KNOWING I WAS MANIPULATED IN A THOUSAND WAYS.
IF I COULD JUST DO THAT WITH OUT SECOND GUESSING, ,I could make this last. So here I go….
best post ever! healthy self-esteem is the key to keeping a narc at bay. if someone is treating you bad, it’s their fault, not yours. unfortunately, and for various reasons, a lot of us grow up not learning this. but it can be learned as an adult so that you no longer tolerate bad behavior, and realise that life is better without it. THANKS Savannah for always sharing your amazing insight.
Right on, as usual, Savannah. You were talking right to me when you said: “That inner knowing that you’ve been taught to ignore is the most important part of your defense system.” For me, the most common damaging behaviors I kept repeating in relationships were (1) pretending things that happened did not happen; and (2) ignoring my inner sense of dignity. The narcissistic woman I was with would often go out with “old friends” — always men. Part of me was deeply hurt by this, but I chose to ignore those feelings of pain, sadness and anxiety (fear of losing her, jealousy). Instead I would say to her “no problem, I know it’s important to keep up with old friends, etc.” This was a betrayal of my feelings. I now know I was right to be upset: she was maintaining long-term sources of secondary narcissistic supply, giving these men just enough encouragement to keep them “on the shelf,” and at the same time exercising power and control over me, manipulating me into feeling weak, inferior, and needy (so she could feel powerful and superior). I would often feel very angry about these “old friend dinners,” and anger is often an emotion of dignity. I can remember talking with the xN on Skype after some of these dinners, her telling me that her dinner companion had talked about how lonely he was, had not met the right woman etc., topics she knew damn well would be hurtful to me (a normal person with normal feelings who loved her at the time), because they were obvious invitations into relationship with the N; and I would be raging under the surface, sometimes even giving her “the finger” outside camera range of Skype, but a fake smile plastered on my face. I would even say “he is lucky to have a good friend like you,” etc. I can’t believe I did that but I did: so angry I could barely contain it yet a placid, “I’m cool with it” look on my face. These are painful memories but they force me to re-commit to NEVER ignoring those feelings ever again. The pain from this experience has motivated me to push hard to do the work to understand why I felt badly enough about myself to put up with that shit and ignore my own sense of dignity. I have cried many a tear over these instances of self-betrayal, when I abandoned and neglected my true self in the same way I was neglected as a child. True, the N was a manipulative, sadistic, brain damaged person with the morals of a slime mold. But it took exposure to her to force me to confront my own issues. May we all learn from our pain, and give ourselves the love and self-respect we deserve.
@Cowboy — I am noticing a theme. Triangulation seems to be another red flag of a Narc, another trick in their toolbox. Most people who cheat, have affairs or are attracted to someone else outside of their relationship do everything they can to cover it up. But Narcs love to let us know how many other people want them, how many people are in their harem or drop as many hints as they can that they are cheating.
My ex did the same thing to me. There were women constantly texting him, and he always had an excuse about who it was. He also enjoyed letting me know when an ex contacted him, especially if that women happened to be attractive. At the end of the relationship, I found out (through Facebook, of all things) that he was running back to a particular ex, nearly every time he and I had a fight.
My reaction was very different from yours. I showed my anger. Said it was not acceptable. Asked him point black why he was working so hard to rile me up and make me jealous. Many times, I even yelled. But it didn’t matter — I stayed. By staying, I said it was OK.
You’re right about the triangulation, that is a huge red flag. My problem was wanting to believe so badly that it was not really happening. And this comes back to fear: fear of losing her, of being alone, that no one else would want to be with me. It is a reprehensible part of the narc personality that they revel in our fear, cultivate it and exploit it; but it is a fact. And all we can do is turn toward that fear, address it, reduce it, soothe it, by going back over whatever happened in our past to cause it. And then building up self esteem as so many have said in their eloquent comments here. If I know I can take care of myself, and I know I am worthy of dignity, I will never again accept unacceptable behavior. If a gal tells me she needs to see a series of “old friends,” I will say “them or me. Period.” In the future I will know better. Any time a power element comes into a relationship, anything less than gentleness and true concern for me, and I will stop, feel those feelings, and take ACTION. I will never subject my self to this kind of pain again.This is the only possible silver lining to a relationship with a narc: learning to work on myself so it never happens again.
I have been reading your blog and just wish I had known all this many years ago. Since I split with my Narcissist after Christmas I have begun to heal myself. It will take time to make myself whole. I have been blaming myself all these years…I’m not pretty , nice or whatever enough… ENOUGH!!! I am enough but I have to heal from a overly critical mother and years of unhealthy relationships with men. Thank you so much for your blog. I have shared this others who might benefit from it.
I can’t tell you how much your posts help me. It’s so comforting to know that I’m not the only one going through this and I also hope that this is providing me with the black and white awareness to cut this destructive relationship pattern out of my life for good. I never want to go through this again and understanding more about the behaviour cycle and it’s triggers is giving me a fighting chance of that! Just THANK YOU. X
Your writing is like booster shots of vitamins and self-esteemology. You continue to help me. Thank you.
I’m 54. It has taken 14 years of counselling for me to stop hating myself and all the demeaning behaviour that went with it. Your article spoke volumes about the person I used to be. Thank you for it.
This is spot o but I personally still find it hard not to send the odd missing you text which she never replies to. Its been six months now since I was discarded and although I’m smiling again I still feel lost and I still pine for her.