How amazing was it when you first met your narcissist? If it was anything like my first moment with mine, it was an ineffable experience that words will miserably fail. But let’s be honest with ourselves – we had absolutely no idea that the person who was initially standing there so longingly and lovingly smiling at us would turn out to be one of the biggest regrets of our lives, if not the biggest regret. But not knowing this at the time, in that moment, didn’t it feel like your soul looked at their soul, smiled and said, “Oh, there you are! I’ve been looking everywhere for you!”?
I’ve already chronicled the story of how I met my narcissist, Julia, so I won’t regale you with an encore performance. Suffice it to say that had I known what lay before me, regardless of those very few euphoric and paradisical days and nights that would invariably be sparsely peppered in along the 4-½ year trek that would become my descent into and journey through narcissist hell, I would have quite happily turned and walked the other way with zero regrets. Much to my chagrin, I didn’t. I suspect, in hindsight, yours is a similar mindset. What we must remind ourselves is that we naively began this journey under the flawed premise that our narcissist and we were of one mind and one heart with a shared destination on the horizon. In other words, we honestly believed that they were the other half of ourselves we’d been fruitlessly seeking for so long, the other half who longed for that same amazing future with someone equally as amazing, and it was only after we were too far into that little ill-fated venture with our narcissist before we realized our narcissist was anything but who they pretended to be.
I honestly don’t recall the first time Julia began draining me, slowly suckling at my spirit and energy to feed her insatiable appetites. And that’s the appalling magic of gaslighting and trauma bonding – you have no idea someone is manipulating you because, when in the skilled hands of someone such as our narcissist, each cut and slice is flawlessly executed with surgical precision. But isn’t that the very purpose of surreptitious manipulation? To facilitate whatever asset or resource you’re seeking for whatever nefarious end-result? And, as empaths, that’s what we represented to our narcissist – a means to an end. I hope you are finally out of that parasitic narcissist/empath paradigm which has vexed you for so long. But don’t beat yourself up if you’re not. As we’ve touched on in a number of articles, if your heart and mind are not ready to leave, unfortunately, no amount of pushing or prodding will be sufficient for you to leave and stay truly gone. For as we have also observed, pushing yourself to make the move to leave prematurely will almost always backfire because you’re neither emotionally nor psychologically strong enough to permanently leave. As a result, all our narcissist has to utter is just one simple phrase, “I miss you,” to lure us into their tender, loveless embraces, and we’re back at their doorstep, heart in hand, all-too-eagerly ready to offer it up for our narcissist to shatter once again. I know that dynamic all too well because that was the cyclic, downward-spiraling life I lived with Julia for over 4 years. She would leave (the discard phase), I would waste an endless procession of days and nights, weeks and even months, lamenting her absence, and then finally, at my sanity’s end, I would text her a heartfelt and sincere farewell. Invariably, if not that night, the next day she would reply saying she missed me and wanted to see me. And thus would ensue our reconciliation, another hoovering phase, and the whole toxically destructive cycle would repeat all over again. This was my life for 4-½ years. And I suspect my romantic life with my narcissist ran eerie parallels to your romantic life with yours.
That’s the thing about being involved with a narcissist, when they realize that their tried-and-true punishment – the silent treatment – has gone too far and you’re ready to cut the ties that bind, and assuming the narcissist has not procured someone new whom they feel can replace you as their primary source of narcissistic supply, they will invariably return and renew the relationship for no other reason than to resume feeding off of you and your goodness. Therefore, pushing yourself to leave the relationship before you are truly ready will only result in a temporary absence that the narcissist can easily remedy by filling your heart with hollow promises of love and your ears with fabricated words of forlorn longing, making false assurances that things will be different and better this time. That being said, I feel the need to clarify a point: I’m, by no means, urging you to remain with your narcissist in any capacity, rather I am saying that the best time for you to leave is when you are ready to leave and not a moment before. While that may sound rather enigmatic and unabashedly vague, the truth is whatever the catalyst that would cause you to finally say, “Enough is enough,” and actually endow you the fortitude to not only leave but stay gone, will, in fact, be that one event that only you will know and only you will recognize when it manifests.
For me, it was when Julia and I finally decided to take a 4-day getaway to Tybee Island near Savannah, GA. After 4-½ years of struggling and sacrificing for my narcissist and the relationship, I knew we desperately needed time away from everything and everyone if we had any hope of reconnecting and remaining together. I was nothing short of shocked when she agreed to our first extended weekend away. I made the hotel reservations for an amazing spot right on the beach, took care of purchasing all the beach gear and goodies that she said she wanted, and even went so far as to locate a number of fantastic and highly recommended vegan and vegetarian-friendly restaurants (for her) that were within walking distance of our hotel and the surrounding Savannah-area. Even though something told me that I was spitting into the wind, that she would back out, I still held out hope. And hope is a wonderful, terrible thing that can kill. For the two weeks leading up to our departure date, everything seemed absolutely fine until the night before we were to leave, that’s when she texted me and said she didn’t want to go. I was more than understandably livid, but not the least bit surprised. And, for me, that was it. The proverbial straw that broke our relationship’s back. I left.
In the end, this toxic relationship with Julia took the heaviest and deepest toll on me more so than any other relationship in which I’d ever been involved, mainly because this was my first romantic endeavor with a narcissist. As such, I had unwittingly repeatedly and quietly allowed her to violate my trust, my self-respect and self-esteem, and to incessantly betray the bonds of trust of a once-great relationship as a result of ceaseless deception and manipulation. I had been unconditionally forgiving of multiple infidelities of both the heart and the body. To be honest, I don’t know why our canceled weekend excursion, versus her having slept with at least two other men (that I know of), lying to me and gaslighting me repeatedly over 4-½ years, didn’t illicit my exit sooner, but backing out of our weekend getaway was the catalyst of the resultant catalysis. Perhaps I had finally come to my rope’s end and I put all my hopes and expectations in that one weekend knowing that it would either make or break our relationship. So, when it failed to come to fruition, all of my hopes to salvage what (I envisioned) we shared, evaporated with those plans. Whatever the underlying fuel was that actually spurned the subdued implosion of our relationship, I am now so very happy to no longer be shackled to a person so reprehensibly vile. If you are still with your narcissist, perhaps it will be an equally liberating, albeit seemingly insignificant moment that finds your freedom. Regardless, for everything, there is a last time. And for your heart’s, mind’s, and soul’s sake, I sincerely hope that moment is yours.