How many times have you almost called your narcissist? Or maybe it was something a little less overt, such as an e-Mail or maybe even an “accidental” text? “Oops! I meant to send that to someone else,” in the hopes that they might respond and, somehow, begin a dialogue with you? Believe it or not, you are in the throes of detoxing from your narcissist. But what do you do when the cravings become so overwhelming that you feel like you’re about to crawl out of your own skin?
Whether you’re aware of it or not, being involved with a narcissist is very, very similar to forming a chemical dependency. When you and the narcissist initially separate, there may be an initial feeling of freedom. And in the proceeding days, you may feel an unbelievable sense of relief and release. But, as the days wear on, you may begin to feel as though something is missing. There’s an emptiness, a hollowness to your days that becomes more pronounced and undeniable at nights as you crawl into bed alone. And in very short order, albeit days or weeks, you begin to miss your narcissist. And maybe one night, when you’re lying there in solitude, wishing they were there to talk to and with, you pick up your phone and think to yourself, “What could it hurt? Just one text. One e-Mail. One phone call.” So what happens? Do you dig deep and find the courage to reach out to them? Or do you remind yourself of the hell that was being with them and being “loved” by them?
Before we look into answering those questions, let’s first prequalify what’s going on here. It’s not the narcissist you’re missing. What you are experiencing is the very real detoxification of the narcissist’s hold over you that is resultant of trauma bonding. In a nutshell, trauma bonding is a vicious cycle of punishment-and-reward that the narcissist uses to do just what it sounds like – bond you to them. Take a second and look at that last part more closely – bond you to them. Notice, they are not using any of the Five Love Languages to strengthen the relationship. They are using abuse, manipulation, and the resultant and subsequent trauma coupled with a system of reward, to build a toxic dependency of you for them. Of all the things that love is, and can be, traumatizing is absolutely one thing that true love should never, under any circumstances, be.
While it’s true that love is not always going to be all rainbows and sunshine, it’s also not going to be destructive to you or your soul. If being with your partner does not leave you feeling loved, appreciated, respected; cherished, odds are you are in a codependent, possibly even an abusive and manipulative, relationship. Does being with your partner leave you feeling drained instead of recharged? Do you find yourself apologizing for things your partner did that resulted in strife and upheaval? Are phrases such as, “If you hadn’t made me angry, I wouldn’t have yelled at you!” Or, “If you had just let me read your e-Mails, we wouldn’t have wound up arguing,” sound familiar? If so, that is manipulation. And there comes a point where, after some time, you have finally had enough. Your soul is absolutely depleted and you are emotionally bankrupt. So you leave. And, perhaps, for a few days, or even weeks, you’re actually okay. In fact, you might even feel amazing! This is a common reaction when one has decided to no longer be a slave to what has controlled them for so long. You feel like you’ve come out of a long, dark tunnel and can finally see light for the first time in a long time.
The first thing you need to do, whether it’s your choice in leaving or because the narcissist is once again punishing you with their childish silent treatment for some farcically imagined slight, is to write yourself a letter. Nothing too lengthy or complicated. Your emotions are raw, you are hurting, you are in a very painful place – write these feelings and emotions down because, trust me, the intensity of these agonizing feelings will subside and you will begin to miss your narcissist. Don’t believe me? How many times have you gone back to your narcissist, thus far? Once? Twice? Five times? More? It’s nothing to be ashamed of. We all eat lies when our hearts are hungry. And what happened each and every time you went back? Perhaps things were good, even idyllic, for a little while – a few days, a week, a couple of weeks – but then slowly the beauty of being back together faded and you started to see the narcissist for all of their reprehensible qualities, yet again, just like you had every time before. This is who they truly are. Not the facade they project to win you back. Where seeing them once filled you with sheer joy at the mere anticipation of their presence, now you are filled with dread or even fear and anxiety as they draw near to you. My beautiful soul, you are caught in the cycle of dependency as established by trauma bonding. But how can you break this cycle? How can you finally be free from your narcissist? Not just for now? But once and for all?
When you find your thoughts becoming less realistic about your relationship with your narcissist, when you find yourself missing them more and more, pull out that letter you wrote this last time when it ended. Read it. This is what a narcissist’s “love” does to you. This is what your narcissist did to you. Read that letter. Remember all the tears you shed as you wrote out the agony you were experiencing in that moment. Remember that broken person who sat at that very desk, pen and paper in hand, recording their agony for the future you – the you who is now missing the person who hurt them, the person who never truly appreciated you, who never respected or cherished you – that broken and hurting person is who you will become if you go back. That is what your relationship will degrade and deteriorate into if you go back. As broken as that person was who wrote those savagely tormented words, there is wisdom in their pain. No matter how much you wish it were not the case, this is who you will become again if you go back.
And if you think going back, just one more time, might not be so bad. That maybe, this time, things will be different? Think back to the first time you went back, then the second, then the third. Each time you went back, were things any different? In fact, wasn’t it harder? Wasn’t it harder to trust them again not to hurt you as they did before? Not to betray your trust, as they did before? Not to leave you feeling absolutely drained and empty as they did before? And each time, did you notice how it took more and more out of you to give to a relationship that used to flow so naturally and beautifully, while the narcissist invested less and less of themselves? This is where you will find yourself, again, if you go back. This is who you will become, once again, if you go back. This is what will happen to the relationship if you go back.
How do I know? Because I went back. No, beautiful, I didn’t go back this time. But I did go back several times during the course of the 4 years I believed my narcissist could be a decent person if I just loved her more. If I just gave her that one more chance she asked for. How many times did I go back or try again? Over the course of our 4-½ years together, it was over a dozen times. Yes, I was foolish enough to believe that my narcissist could change more than twelve times. That’s over twelve second chances that she spat on and threw back in my face, each and every one of them. I was so foolish to believe that she could or would change, that she could be a better, more loving, more compassionate, more attentive and present partner. But each and every time, she proved my faith in her misplaced. So, yes. I do know your pain. I do know your struggle. I do know what you are going through because I was once there, too.
After about the second year of being involved with my narcissist, I began keeping a digital diary in the form of a gMail account. I simply made an account to which I sent an e-Mail in the form of a journal entry on an almost daily basis wherein I documented the entire process of being with my narcissist, going through tough times, the inevitable break-up with my narcissist, and even what I was experiencing post break-up. And whenever I felt myself slipping, whenever I felt myself starting to miss her, I would go back and read an entry, sometimes several entries, and remind myself it wasn’t my narcissist I was missing. I was actually missing the person whom I had met and fallen in love with that fateful day in February, 2015, who love bombed me and trauma bonded me into believing the lie that she was everything I had ever sought and more than I had ever wished for. And as amazing, and beautiful, and loving, and compassionate, and wonderful as she was for those first (almost) six months, the facade soon faded and over the course of the next four years, she was consistently who she truly is – a cold, unfeeling, manipulative, abusive, unfaithful, and self-absorbed person. That was my narcissist. And I suspect that is your narcissist, too, or you would not be reading these words.
But she was a master manipulator and deceiver and she very convincingly persuaded me to trust that, this time, she would change. That she would be different. That things between us would be different, better, like they used to be. That she would be kinder, more compassionate, more loving and a more present partner. I believed her lies that somewhere, inside of her, was the person I had first met and fallen in love with. I believed that she could be the amazing, loving and passionate girl I had missed so very deeply. And just to make sure she could keep me under her spell, she would pepper just enough promise, like this little birthday surprise I found waiting for me when I woke up one morning, into my life to give me hope that this time, things might actually be different and better. That she finally got it and realized what she had with me, what we had together, was indeed worth fighting for. That the girl I met and fell in love with was still inside of her and would return. But she never did. She was never anything but her true self. Does that sound familiar? Do all of those very realistic relationship expectations; the hoping, the waiting, all of that faith in someone who never did anything other than repeatedly crush your hopes and break your heart, sound familiar?
If there is anything that you remember from what you have read today, remember this, your narcissist will never change. They will forever be whom they have consistently shown you they truly are, at their darkest, at their core – this is the true them. And once they are done sucking as much life and love out of you as humanly possible, they will move on to another victim, to another source, and you will be summarily cast aside and forgotten about as the empty and insignificant husk you are to them. Do not wait until that happens. If you haven’t done so already, leave. Leave now. Leave while there is still some of you somewhere inside of you. And write your future self a letter. Believe it or not, the broken and hurting you will be an endless fount of strength and wisdom for future you. And future you will need that wisdom and support when the time comes. And it will.