A breakup following a romantic relationship with a narcissist is unlike any other, and invariably no-one around you quite knows what it is that you are going through..
Losing Them, Losing You
Unbeknownst to you, the victim, the narcissist has been systematically eroding every single element of your self-identity – typically your looks, physique, the way you dress, your relationship with friends and family, your career, your faith and beliefs, your sporting prowess, your role as a parent/sibling/child/spouse, your hobbies, your skills & interests etc. When the discard comes, you find yourself an empty husk of who you used to be and, without any further fuel to give the narc or indeed mojo to support yourself, you are summarily tossed aside. Furhtermore, and to your horror and disbelief, you will very often find that the narc has already have found their next supply.
Throughout the latter stages of the relationship, the narc will have been deliberately smearing you in anticipation of the discard and to establish themselves as the wounded party in a classic, but bewildering, switch between villain and victim roles. Not only have you been oblivious to this, when the discard does happen you will be stunned at the level of betrayal from those you regarded as friends – and despite the clear evidence as to who the real perpetrator is. Sadly the smear campaign will be so effective that bystanders will have been brainwashed into believing that the narc is fleeing a reign of tyrannical but secret abuse at your hands, that they are nobly enabling the escape and supporting the recovery of this forlorn but brave soul.
As if to rub salt into the wound, the victim’s own family may also prove to be ineffective in their support. The reason that you were predisposed to narcissistic abuse in the first place is that very often NPD runs in the victim’s birth family, ie you have been conditioned into thinking that the dysfunction of the narcissistic family is normal, you have been taught to enable it, you are most comfortable amongst it, and have been deterred from protecting yourself against it. On discard, narcissistic family members may initially position themselves as loving and understanding supporters – but this is simply to offer them ringside seats from which to sadistically enjoy your pain and suffering. It has the additional purpose of making sure that you don’t work out NPD as the cause of the breakup – and so as you begin to make sense of the madness, they will very specifically gaslight you into discounting these newfound insights. As you work out the abuse you suffered at the hands of your partner, you run the risk of working out the abuse you suffered in your family – and they can’t abide that. Venture down that path and you will be swiftly ousted from the family, immediately castigated as the black sheep.
Mission to Destroy
Most normal breakups are sad, emotional but respectful. Not so with the narc’s discard whose toxicity now appears to slip into a new gear – could it really be that they are trying to push you into suicide? Amazingly, the answer to this is very often yes. The narc wants to silence the whistleblower, dine out on the victimhood (“you were always a very troubled soul, and it is something that they bravely endured for years” etc), all too often they may be financial incentives for this eventuality, and what more amazing validation of their supremacy and omnipotence that to have you take your own life because of losing them? Brace yourself therefore for the Mission to Destroy.
The Route to Recovery
Recovering from Narcissistic Abuse should be based around three main tenets:
Making Sense of the Madness
In order to overcome narcissistic abuse and the Complex-PTSD it results in you need to make sense of the disorder that is NPD. Imagine the Captain of an aircraft carrier when suddenly his radar technician is reporting that there are unidentified aircraft approaching fast, the Sonar technician is reporting an unidentified ping closeby, and his early warning aircraft is reporting a unidentified ship bearing down on the carrier at speed. Sirens sounds, lights flash and everyone adopts action stations – desperately trying to make sense of what it is that appears to be attacking them. And so too with your reaction to the narcissist, whose abuse is nothing like we have been taught or experienced. Like it or not, your autonomic system has put you into a state of high alert – hypervigilant, anxious, confused, weary – with insomnia and a near-constant pit in your stomach to compound your sense of unease. The first step is to make sense of NPD – the mindset behind it, the intent, the tactics, the warnings signs, your role in it etc. All those ruminations that are going round and round in your head – these are the very real indicators that your visceral defences are on a high state of alert and struggling to resolve the threat you face.
Just as the narc will have sought, and doubtless succeeded, in breaking down every little element that made up your self-esteem, self-confidence and self-identity so you now face the daunting task of rebuilding these from the ground up. It took our entire childhood to achieve that last time around, and we had both support and understanding at that time. Achieving this again, whilst appearing on the outside to be a fully together when you know yourself to be broken into a million pieces on the inside, is both disheartening and scary.
Strategies and Tactics
Forcing splits, dragging out divorces, brain-washing kids into parental alienation, trashing your career, turning your family against you, isolating you from friends, depriving you of support, starving you of money, suffocating you from the wherewithal to continue – anything that the narc can do to make your life hell, they will.
It is possible to turn the tables, defend yourself, safeguard your interests, even expose them to thus protect others from them – if you only knew how.
Help is at Hand
Very few people profoundly understand Narcissistic Personality Disorder – fewer still are positioned to help victims through the minefield. Whilst many therapists and counsellors profess to be able to assist, the reality is that one needs to have been a victim of it, for some considerable time, and then have worked hard to make sense of it, before one can be effective. Rest assured that there are some skilled and knowledgeable people are out there who are on hand to help you back to your former glory. To listen to your story and relate to it, to validate your experiences and help you understand that you haven’t gone mad. To help break the trauma bond. To shine a light into the darkness that now bewilders and torments you. To guide you through the brain fog and mindfuckery, and to walk alongside you on your journey. To ease the debilitating sense of panic, overwhelm and helplessness, and to instead replace it with hope. To champion you and help you build self-esteem once again, helping you become a stronger, happier, kinder, wiser, self-confident and more abundant version of you than you have ever been. To be the ally that joins with you in battle against your narc, drawing fire, offering support, and providing you with the best form of defence, that of attack.
Narcissistic Abuse doesn’t have to break you – it can also be the making of you. Diamonds are nothing more than carbon, but put under pressure for considerable time. You too can be a diamond.