Tangling with a narcopath leaves victims emotionally shattered, physically exhausted, financially depleted and often dealing with depression and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Healing takes time and needs to be a very deliberate objective. You don’t “just get over it”. If someone had given me a concise list of do’s and don’ts at discard, this would have been it.
If at all possible, get away. A very long way away. A different country if possible. Much easier said than done, but lean on friends and family if you can. Get somewhere safe – physically and emotionally. Go no contact. It’s essential. It’s also easier said then done (esp when there kids involved, house ownership, jointly owned businesses etc). But do all you can. If there are kids involved, remind yourself of airline safety briefings. Put you own oxygen mask on first. You have to save yourself before you are in a position to save the kids. Start the process of cutting all ties as quickly as you can. Get a very good divorce lawyer. Safeguard your finances and assets.
Have patience. Self-care is critical. Learn voraciously and regularly. Following FaceBook groups about narcissistic abuse -reading the posts every morning will be very useful to ground you, reassure you that you are not crazy, and start the process of self-validation. But it will take time. Count on about two years. So go easy on yourself, and put yourself first. Allow yourself to have awful days and don’t feel bad about it.
Bear in mind that very few people, including psychologists and counsellors, will really understand what you have been through. They may not be able to give you the validation that you need. Only other survivors will really understand it. Why? For the simple reason that the thought process and patterns of these disordered souls is completely counter-intuitive. They are driven by different desires and needs that are incomprehensible to anyone – and I mean anyone – who hasn’t been through the wringer first-hand. The person that you thought you knew was an actor – regurgitating the phrases and emotions they have learnt over the course of their lives. But it is an entirely false self – the real one is entirely Machiavellian and twisted. So reach out to other surviivors if you can. If you do want a counsellor / therapist, make absolutely sure that they are NPD specialists (for which they pretty much need to be NPD abuse survivors too).
Anticipate shit coming your way. It will be extensive and it will be ruthless. Narcopaths may be very charming to most – but behind that mask they are also extremely manipulative, cunning and believable. Bear in mind that in order for them to exit the relationship confident that it wasn’t their fault and that they are wonderful, they will try and destroy you in whatever way they can – emotionally, psychologically, financially etc. If you have them, they will even use your kids as weapons against you. No-one comprehends how extraordinarily toxic and warped they are. Sadly, you are about to find out.
Anticipate Widespread Betrayal
Count on losing all of your joint friends as the most extraordinary and unbelievable smear campaign gets fully underway. The foundations for this were laid a long time ago. Your ex-narc may not even be directly involved – but their harem of flying monkeys will be merciless. Nearly one in ten people have some form of Cluster B personality disorder – and there is a very good chance that your narcopath will be best buddies with the flying monkeys all cut from the same cloth. Anticipate widespread betrayal. History has been rewritten with you as the abuser, them as the victim. Don’t ask me how they do it – it’s incredulous, especially as you think that there is so much evidence in your favour. Don’t fight it, “friends” who aren’t exclusively on your side aren’t worth it. Make new friends instead.
Unlove the Narcopath
Understand that the person you loved was just a mirage. A complete illusion. It was entirely one-way. And yours wasn’t just love, but also a chemical addiction – the trauma bond. The reality is that person in whom you invested so much is actually highly toxic and highly manipulative. Do EVERYTHING you can to unwind that love and replace it with a rational understanding (and frankly the contempt they deserve).
Anticipate the Boomerang
Brace yourself for hoovering – because they will want to mess with you for years and years (it’s a twisted control thing), and they will do all they can to ultimately destroy you (their way of proving to themselves that they are the victor in order to protect their fragile ego).
And last but by no means least, have faith. You have a very long a difficult journey ahead, but you will make it. And what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. You will come out the other side. And you will find someone worthy of your love. Who will treat you how you deserve to be treated. And you will realise what a lucky escape you had. And that Karma will deal with the narc in the end. I feel sorry for them – contrary to their confident facades, deep down they live very unhappy and twisted lives.
By battling them, you’re giving them narcissistic supply. It’s negative, for sure, but it’s the vital narcissistic supply that they desperately need. It may well be that they have run off with someone who on the face of it is young and attractive, or moneyed etc. They may well be plastering happy pics all over social media. They may well be talking of dreams that you thought that you shared, now being lavished on someone else. But understand this – it’s an entirely false image. First off, all the lovebombing is extremely exhausting for them. Emotionally they are in give mode, and cannot yet be on the take. Underneath they are desperately insecure, their new supply has yet to prove themselves as able to withstand the abuse once the lovebombing stage is over, they are worried if the move was the right one. They have the stigma of the split from you to manage. They suspect that you are badmouthing them to their friends and the local community (which is what they are doing to you, I’m afraid). They are busy constructing a series of lies to cover their actions – and just trying to remember which lies they’ve told to who is quite a feat.
What they do want to feel comfortable about is that they can rely is on negative narcissistic supply from you. They need to feel important, and that you are devastated by the loss. They need to be reassured that you will still be available should they decide to come back. They need to confirm to themselves that they can still run circles around you in drama. They also need to ensure that they are being perceived as the wounded one by everyone else as part of their Victim Narrative – and so need you to look desperate, crazy, abusive and smothering.
So for goodness sake, don’t provide them the vital negative supply that they need. Go No Contact, shut them off, and pretend to both them and the rest of the world that you are not in the least bothered by their loss. It will save your sanity and peace of mind.
Something to Aim for
In order to find happiness, and to have properly healed ourselves, victims need to arrive at a point where they neither feel love or hate for their abusers. Zero Emotion.
Victims need to find a way of achieving this themselves – clearly every situation is different, and we all think differently. Here are a few ideas that may help:
You may wish to consider it this way – which may be somewhat counter-intuitive – but that abusers themselves also deserve a great deal of pity. If, as the general consensus amongst experts seems to be the case, it is very likely that’s NPD’s experienced something extremely traumatic between the ages of zero and five, that’s hardly something that can be deemed their fault. Moreover, victims have contact with them for a matter of months and years – but they must live with themselves their entire lives. Ponder that thought an instant.
The Android Image
Our default – something intrinsic to us as humans – is to treat other humans with a range of human emotions. Love, hate, compassion, disdain, admiration, jealousy, empathy etc.
The reality is that the emotion development of Narcopaths was arrested very early on in childhood. They cannot feel certain emotions – most notably love, empathy, compassion, and remorse. They simply can’t. Please pause to let this sink in. What we witness in lieu of these genuine emotions is an act – a regurgitation of what the narcopath has studied by the close observation of others over the course of their lives. And nothing more.
So it may help to consider them as androids. They look human, the sound human, they grow and age as humans do. But underneath, they are robots programmed with an entirely self-serving agenda, and who will never have the human emotions that are so vital to any healthy inter-personal relationship. You would be well-advised to allow yourself only those feelings towards a narcopath as you would a robot, sent into your life by an enemy, that is working to a programme that derives self-serving benefit from you, that will give you little in return, that is fuelled by your pain, but cares not one iota for your emotional wellbeing.
Third Person View
You can’t see the wood for the trees. As an NPD victim, this is a very common situation to be in. You are so close to the action, you are so emotionally bound in, and so confused and bewildered by events that are so counter-intuitive, that nothing makes sense.
In considering your situation, and especially when communicating with a narcopath in any form, it is highly advisable to try and adopt a “third person view”. It may help to physical picture someone you can relate to (be they a counsellor, a wise friend or well-respecte family member) sitting on your should who is doing two things:
- Actively spotting the tactics and traits of a narcopath;
- Whispering in your ear a warning whenever a narcopath tactic is spotted;
- Guiding you relentless towards a style of communication that is boring – grey, unemotional, concise, firm, giving little away.
Engaging with a narcopath in this way will do a number of very constructive things for you:
- Assist you with self-validation that your suspected narcopath is indeed what you fear;
- Rob the narcopath of the narcissistic supply – the drama, the tension, the sense of control over you. In time, they will be forced to seek supply from elsewhere.
- It will start to engender the very important sense of self-worth in yourself – you will feel calmer, in greater control, and things will make more sense.
- It will help you in switching your focus from dwelling on a negative past to increasingly focus on a positive future. You will start to feel more optimistic.
Our message to your support group
Thank you for reading this article. It’s important. What victims go through during an NPD-abusive relationship and the ensuing discard is unimaginable for onlookers for two reasons:
- The abuse, and the mentality of the abuser, is counter-intuitive. As a relative outsider, you will incur cognitive dissonance – where you just cannot hold two opposing beliefs in your conscience. Quite simply, whilst you might read the above and comprehend the text, it is so contrary to your understanding of human nature, that you simply will not be able to believe and accept it. How can someone be totally incapable of love, empathy and compassion? How could a parent possibly be incapable of loving their own children? How who could one person’s entire self of self-worth be built up on the control, manipulation and ultimate destruction of another’s? Please understand that some people, at least 5% of the general population weighted in the higher socio-economic groups, are just wired differently. Their entire self is one life-long act where their emotions and interactions are learnt from others and regurgitated in the most convincing manner to hide the most sinister and evil characters imaginable. Deemed to be pillars of society, “Jekyll & Hyde”, “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and “Machiavellian” all refer to these character types. The reasons why are contained in this website.
- The discarded victim needs a lot of time, space and support to come to terms with the turn of events. But most of all, they need validation. They won’t get closure from a narcopath. So please understand that comments or attitudes such as “just get over it”, “it takes two to tango”, “six of one, half a dozen of the other” are extremely damaging to their healing – phrases that will cut like a knife and merely constitute further victim abuse. A victim will already be concurrently battling depression, bewilderment, trauma bonding, withdrawal, C-PTSD, Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome. They will struggle to sleep and eat properly. This all takes time – making sense of it all is a process that they have to go through and must not skip. You can help make that process shorter with your understanding and constructive guidance.