“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth, breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.”
Every time I read that amazing, soulful sonnet of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, it honestly moves me more than I care to admit; to contemplate loving someone with such a pure and faultless ferocity. Odds are, if you’ve ever been involved with a narcissist, you actually did experience a love just as deep. And, odds are, if you felt it for them then, you still do. And guess what, you always will. I do. Yes, to this very day, I deeply and wholeheartedly still love my narcissist. “Even after what she did to you?!” Yes, even after what she did to me. Or, more accurately, in spite of what she did to me.
It seems, in today’s disposable world of throwaway items and replaceable people, that love is so haphazardly and freely tossed about, given and then taken back as effortlessly as a passing thought, where it’s more of a convenience than a truly binding force that should be revered. For many, it’s as though there’s a revolving door on their heart…and bedroom. Not too surprisingly, that’s apropos for the narcissist. Once they are through with their empath (that’s you), they’re on to the next conquest, their next source of narcissistic supply. But you? And me? We’re empaths. When an empath loves, we love hard, we love fiercely, we love with a searing passion and with wild abandon. And when we love, it is quite literally for a lifetime, regardless of season or storm. So, yes. I do still love my narcissist. However, I do not love what she did to me. That was unforgivable. And I do not love who she became, which is who she truly is. And that is why I will never go back.
Is it appropriate to feel remorse at the reality of losing a love that, let’s be honest, you will probably never find or experience again? Absolutely. Sadness is at the core of grief, the very fuel with which it is driven. And grieving is a healthy and necessary pitstop on the road to healing and recovery. But be joyful that you will also, hopefully, never be subjected to that level of psychological and emotional abuse again, either. It’s right about here where someone might say something trite, almost cliché, along the lines of, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Ummm, as much as I love the works of Tennyson, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree on that one. In fact, I’ll even go so far as to say it’s better to have never loved than to have savored the sweet nectar of love’s ambrosia, only to have it unapologetically and unceremoniously ripped away from you, knowing you will forever remember its taste, the feeling of its ethereal vapors resting gently upon your tongue, never again to feel its warm embrace within and around your heart.
So I’m not going to insult either of us with such complacently hollow words. The reality is you loved an unloveable person with a fervor that they will likely never again know and whose memory will, in reality and in time, forever leave an indelible bittersweet aftertaste upon their tongue and an emptiness within their heart. Please, I implore, do not allow that memory to do the same to your beautiful soul. The world is already such a cold, dark, and uninviting realm. Don’t let the pain of what the narcissist did to you pinch the wick of your light and extinguish the exquisite and heavenly flame that burns within your soul. Yes, the narcissist tried to blow that flame out, but don’t let them snuff your blindingly brilliant radiance. Rather let their attempts to quell your brilliance, instead, breathe new life into the fire that burns deep within you because, believe me, somewhere out there is someone stumbling blindly in the dark, in desperate need of your inexhaustible light. And your love.