It’s Narcissist Friday!
(Yes, there is life after the narcissist. This is the first in a series of posts designed to encourage and help those who have been released from a relationship with a narcissist. Because there are several forms of narcissistic relationships, I will be writing about each one separately. We will consider life after the narcissistic spouse (or intimate partner), the narcissistic parent, the narcissistic friend, the narcissistic co-worker, and the narcissistic organizational leader. Each of these is different. In fact, even if you are not in most of these relationships, you should find a little more insight and encouragement in yours. And, believe it or not, some people find themselves in more than one.)
So, it’s over. Now what? How do you feel?
You are probably worn out. You may be empty of emotion, but full of questions. All kinds of things going through your mind and heart. You probably feel:
Betrayed – you didn’t really see this coming.
Worthless – Narcissists drain the self-worth of their victims.
Beat up – Like someone punched you just about everywhere.
Confused – Did he/she ever really love you? If yes, then why this? If no, then what the heck was that?
Scared – Now what?
Sad – So much has been lost, and for what?
Tired – The tired you get after a long battle that shouldn’t have been necessary.
Angry – Really angry.
Hopeful – Maybe just a hint, but it’s there.
When multiple emotions are running through your heart, be patient with yourself. Hold off big decisions that you don’t have to make. Take some time for yourself, even if it is just starting that new hobby. You have been through a battle and you need some rest.
There are so many ways the marriage can end. And so many differences within every marriage. Some end suddenly and unexpectedly. Some end as a result of hard decisions and grim determination. Some have children. Most have mutual friends. Almost all are complicated.
The fact that the end of the relationship is complicated and leaves a mess should be expected. There may be anger on both sides, and pain, and confusion. You may have to see and interact with the narcissist from time to time. That can be hard. You may find yourself drawn back into the same arguments, the same feelings. But things have changed.
How long does it take to get over something like this? That’s a question I get often. The answer is that it takes as long as it takes. Some seem ready to go the moment the relationship ends. Others take years. Obviously the length of time the relationship lasted affects how long it will take to get through the pain and grief. And some parts just aren’t something you can set aside. You may have to deal with damage caused by the narcissist for a long time, perhaps years. And he/she may still be causing new damage. But there will be progress. You will grow stronger.
Will you find someone else? Do you want to? There are good people out there, people who know how to love. Trust that you are lovable and you have something to offer. Be careful, but don’t be afraid. Don’t commit quickly. Narcissists seem to sense people who have had previous narcissistic relationships. Watch for the signs.
Remember this: Healing doesn’t happen on the outside. It happens on the inside. Let the good things happen inside. Whatever changes happen in your outward circumstances, know that real change is happening in your heart. Believe the truth. Accept that you are accepted. You are loved.
Help me out here. What would you say to someone who is just starting to move past the narcissistic intimate relationship?