Do you miss your narcissist? I’m going to go out on a limb and say your initial knee-jerk response is probably going to be, “No!” Perhaps even a resounding, “Hell, no!” However, if the wounds are still fresh and tender, I suspect, if we’re being honest with ourselves, tucked neatly away in the darkest recesses of our minds and hearts, there’s going to be a completely different answer. A whisper that silently echoes, “Yes.” And it’s that little, “yes,” that gives the narcissist the doorway through which to return after the latest discard phase, wherein we once again find ourselves dazzled with the superfluously hollow hoovering phase that invariably draws us back in. But why? Why do we miss someone who, quite literally, is as a poison to our souls?
The short answer is trauma bonding. Trauma bonding is where the abuser, albeit via mental, emotional, physical or sexual abuse, or any combination thereof, knowingly fosters and nurtures a co-dependent relationship with the abused. Trauma bonding is akin to Stockholm Syndrome wherein a person who is held captive, develops a rapport, or relationship, with their captor/s. In this instance, the differences betwixt captor and captive, abuser and abused, narcissist and empath, run remarkably eerie parallels to each other.
With a captor/captive scenario, there is a person or persons – the captor/s – who is/are in control of other people who are, in essence, at the mercy of their captor/s – these are our captives. When we look at an abusive relationship, albeit physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, or any combination thereof, we have a person, or persons, the abused, who are under control of their abuser. When we address the narcissist and empath dichotomy, we once again see a person, the narcissist, who is in control of another person, the empath, and the relationship. I believe we can see, regardless of the underlying interrelational dynamics that exist within these three very different microcosms, just how similar they all three are, one to the other, at their very cores – someone is in a position of power whilst someone else is dependent, possibly even subservient, and under their control.
So, why? Why, if we are finally free of a relationship that was unhealthy, even destructive, do we begin to miss our abuser? Are we romanticizing what we once shared with that person? Possibly. In some cases, that may indeed be so; however, I suspect the more plausible answer is that we, unlike the narcissist, actually committed wholeheartedly to the relationship. We genuinely cared about them, the relationship, its health and success. As a result, we, unlike the narcissist, invested untold emotional, financial, sexual, and physical resources in an effort to give this flawed and broken relationship any and every fighting chance. What we have to remember, above all else, is that we are not so much romanticizing this flawed and broken relationship, or the flawed and broken person for whom we cared – perhaps even still love – on the contrary, what we miss is the person we fell in love with – the side of the narcissist that was kind, affectionate, vulnerable, caring, available, and, yes, even loving. While this is not who, or what, the narcissist truly is, we can see that they are capable of functioning in the capacity of a healthy person engrossed in a healthy and loving relationship. And that is who we love and miss.
We must understand and accept that there is a monumental difference between missing the narcissist and missing who we thought the narcissist was. While one is a cold, calculating, selfish and abysmally self-absorbed person who is broken and beyond redemption, the other is an almost perfect person for whom we had longed, prayed for, perhaps even dreamed about, and to whom we quite literally gave ourselves without reserve or restraint. And that, dear, beautiful friend, is who we love and miss, even after all of the abuse and mistreatment – yes, that’s how pure and unconditional your love was – being able to look past the abundance of atrocities they perpetrated against you but still finding kindness and compassion in your heart for someone deserving of neither. Someone who is most assuredly deserving of pity, but nothing more. We miss the person who was the reflection of ourselves that we saw at the beginning of the relationship. What we have to remind ourselves, perhaps repeatedly, even ad nauseum, is that the seemingly perfect person with whom we once shared a paradisical love is not who they pretended to be. It is who you genuinely are, but there is no true goodness, no sincere love, kindness, or selflessness at the core of our narcissist – or any narcissist. Yes, the narcissist can generate an amazing falsehood of kindness; of loving, caring, intimacy, dedication, devotion, but in the end, it is simply that – a falsehood, a lie, a deception that has been honed and perfected to a pristinely fine and sharp edge that the narcissist will, at some point, use to sever the very ties that once bound you together.
As painful as it is, we must accept that the narcissist is not the wonderfully amazing person we fell in love with. As much as we long for this fantasy to be reality, the fact of the matter is that the person we fell in love with, the person we imagined spending the rest of our lives with, the person we imagined being there holding our hand as we drew our final breath, they are nowhere inside the person we love(d) – they never were. And no amount of self-sacrifice or effort on your part will ever bring about their return. Yes, during a hoovering phase, we might see that beautiful and amazing person temporarily resurface and think to ourselves, “There you are! I’ve been looking for you. I’ve missed you so much.” Don’t be deceived. This is simply the narcissist reflecting the love you are giving them, back to and on you. They are merely mimicking a healthy loving exchange of emotion and intimacy. It will not last because it is not genuine. And anything that is not genuine can never endure. This, my beautiful soul, is why you miss someone who doesn’t miss you. This is why you lament tearfully over someone who has already very quickly, easily, and remorselessly moved on – your heart is good and the love it gives is unconditionally pure and boundless.