I‘m constantly amazed at all the motivational posts and inspirational memes I find which address life experiences, good or bad, proposing that there is an underlying lesson to be learned or a positive takeaway from what a person has experienced or weathered. While I’m by no means a pessimist or “negatarian,” I do believe one needs to be realistic when it comes to certain things. And being involved or in love with a narcissist is one of those things. The reality is that sometimes, suffering is just suffering. It doesn’t make you stronger. It doesn’t build character. It doesn’t teach you a lesson. It hurts, it’s toxic, and it’s destructive. Period.
While I can genuinely think of a few good things which did result from being involved with my narcissist, Julia – such as a monumental improvement in my diet – there is simply no amount of good that can effectively offset all the inherent bad that goes hand-in-hand when being romantically involved with a narcissist. The inescapable reality many people, even fellow survivors, do not fathom is that once the relationship has ended, the suffering is still not truly over. In my case, I was with Julia for just over 4-½ years. As much as I wish it were not so, the truth is it will probably take me at least a year, if not longer, simply to come to grips with the emotional and psychological damage that has been done and only then can I begin any true form of healing. As destructive as the repeated and relentless trauma bonding is that the narcissist subjects their victim(s) to over the course of their time together, the lingering after-effects are far, far worse. While there is admittedly some comfort in knowing that the narcissist will no longer be able to continue actively chipping away at our identity, our sense of self and self-esteem, the rebuilding process will take untold time to truly begin, let alone make any real progress, due to the nature of the lingering psychological and emotional damage suffered at the hands of the narcissist. Let’s try to visualize this metaphorical damage.
Consider for a moment that you have a single pane of glass which you drop and watch shatter. You pick all the pieces up, glue them together, and drop it once more. Again, you pick all the pieces up, glue them back together, and again you drop it. This process is repeated over and over and over again. It isn’t long before there comes a point where the pieces of glass become nothing more than fine silica dust intermixed with globs of adhesive – there is no more being pieced back together. That’s what happens when you are in love with a narcissist. As a survivor, merely trying to convey the hell that living with and loving a narcissist entails is exhausting! Words simply cannot even begin to express the depth of despair and feelings of hopelessness – explaining is draining. And if your audience has never been truly involved with a narcissist, more than likely the first words out of their mouth are going to be, “At least you’re no longer with them. They can’t hurt you, anymore.”
If only that were true. It’s been almost a year since Julia and I were last together and she’s still with me. Every single night as I turn in and turn on my white noise machine, I always, always, hear her words echoing in my head, “Sweetheart, can you turn it down?” When I am cooking, I still hear her critiquing my preference in using little-to-no salt in my dishes. Every time I sit down to enjoy any shrimp dish, I can still hear her chastising me for eating, “…the cockroaches of the sea.” When I’m doing laundry and I go to add chlorine bleach, I can hear her complaining that the scent is so strong and she prefers I not use it. There’s a veritable laundry list of all the do’s and don’ts that my narcissist had “lovingly” issued me over the course of our time together. Rules and regulations, edicts, commandments from on high, that, to this day, still resonate in my head. And, I’ll be honest with you, I wonder if they always will. The reality that all of her directives and mandates over the course of our 4-½ years together could literally reverberate in my mind – echoes of the past lasting a lifetime – is a prospect that is none too appealing. The fallout of a broken person’s broken love.
Believe me, I have wrestled with this dynamic, and how to best address and heal from it, for many, many months. And, honestly, I have no answer for you or for me on this one. What doesn’t kill you doesn’t necessarily make you stronger. Sometimes, it continues silently whittling away long after the knife’s blade ceases slicing slivers of your soul. And while we languish in the aftermath of the toxicity of this broken love, the narcissist has long since happily moved on to their next victim with nary a care for what they did to us. How it is fathomable to be even remotely acceptable for one human being to do this to another is honestly beyond me. And yet you and I are living proof not only of what was done to us, we are living and lasting testaments to the unforgiving ferocity of the repercussions when loving an unloveable person.