We’ve all gone through breakups. None are ever nice, and all are difficult. But the split from a Narcopath is like no other – a variety of factors combine to make it extremely complex and difficult indeed. This is all very difficult for the rejected partner to understand. It is even more complicated for the victim’s support group of friends and family.
In a normal breakup, you would expect closure. Sitting down with the partner, discussing why it’s just not working, demonstrating that one has explored options to resolve issues, apologising for the necessity of the split, wishing each other well etc. Being sympathetic to the pain and anguish. Instead of doing this, narcissists part ways by ghosting. This is a policy to deliberately impede closure, to keep their victim guessing, and to leave the door open to Hoovering subsequently.
Narcopaths do not enter romantic relationships for love, but to derive narcissistic supply (or fuel). Hoovering is the process by which a narcissist returns to an ex to derive more fuel. It is presented under the guise of making a mistake, wishing to give the relationship another go etc – but it is carried out for entirely selfish reasons and with no care for their victim. The constant mixed messages received by a discarded victim plays havoc with the process of breakup and healing.
Mission to Destroy
Not only does the narc care enough for their discarded victim to wish them well in their ongoing lives, but in many cases the narc wishes to psychologically and financially destroy their exes. Unconstrained by feelings such as love, guilt or remorse, it is important to the narc feel that they were seen as blameless in the split. To this end, they seek to undermine their victim’s recovery and ongoing success and happiness – neither of which reflect well on the narc.
Smear Campaign & Isolation
Part of the Mission to Destroy includes isolating and smearing the victim. Discrediting an ex as crazy and abusive makes the narc feel better about themselves. It also weakens any criticism of the narc who must remain above reproach and the victim in it all. All of these are vital to the uninterrupted narcissistic supply on which the narc depends. So just when victims are at their weakest and in need of the love and support of friends and family, they find that much of this has inexplicably disappeared and sided instead with the narc. With their reputations shattered.
Recovering from something traumatic always requires a degree of validation and understanding of what happened. Invariably this includes answers to a variety of questions – why, what to do about it, how to prevent it in the future, vindication of who was right and who was wrong, apologies etc. But the narc denies their victim closure, giving them instead ghosting. The narc is on a mission to play the victim, so as to hog any sympathy and deny their ex the same. Friends and family give the victim the cold shoulder as part of the campaign of isolation orchestrated by the narc. No-one understands what the victim is going through or is positioned to offer the right advice. Given all these, it is nigh-on impossible for a victim to get that validation externally.
No-one Gets It
Unless someone has been through the relationship with a narc, and the pain and anguish of a discard, it is impossible to understand it. This includes professional therapists. Supporters try and provide the victim with comfort, support and advice in the best way they know – but based on the situation of normal-range players in the saga. And whilst comfort and support is very welcome indeed, their advice somehow grates. It just doesn’t seem helpful. And the reason is that very often it is not. Narcs are not normal-range, and all of society’s customs for dealing with people not only don’t work, they are counter-productive.
Worn Down by years of Abuse
Discard generally happens at the end of a long Devaluation Phase, during which the victim has bled dry of narcissistic supply. This process entails insidious and systematic abuse, the result of which the victims loses their own sense of self, identity and confidence. The Discard therefore happens when they are the lowest ebb they are likely to have experienced in their lives.
In a process also known as trauma bonding, victims become addicted to their abusers. Getting over their ex also requires kicking a habit. Just like recovering from any addiction, victims go cold turkey and whilst battling carvings for further ill treatment at the hands of their abusers.
Abuse rarely stops at the point of discard. Victims are on the receiving end of ghosting, hoovering, smear campaign and isolation – not to mention others such as financial abuse, dramas over managing the kids and the like. It is impossible to start healing whilst still in under a campaign of abuse – hardly surprising therefore that getting over a breakup with a narc takes some considerable time.
Mourning not just the loss of a loved one, but ourselves
Throughout the Devaluation Phase of the relationship, the narcopath has slowing being eroding the self-confidence and identity of their victim. These have been replaced with a need to being needed by the narc.
So when the discard happens and the victim is left to pick up the pieces, it is not the loss of the narc themselves that is so difficult to come to terms with. It’s that the loss of themselves. It is the prospect of having to rebuilt shattered lives, starting from scratch again with things such as self-confidence, trust, identity, self-esteem. And all this must be achieved without a full set of tools – love, support, clarity, finances, reputation and the like.
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