Merry Christmas, beautiful! I hope you’re celebrating this wonderful holiday with friends and or family; loved ones whom you love and who genuinely love you. More than that, I hope you are celebrating this holiday narcissist-free. But it’s okay if you’re not. Even if you relented and went back to them, or took them back, it’s okay. Healing is a long journey, especially after the trauma you’ve been through and, many times, when one is on a long journey, we find ourselves revisiting places to which we thought we’d never again return.
It was August 2019, and my narcissist, Julia, had graced me with yet another discard a little over a month prior. I vividly recall debating whether or not I should embrace this latest discard, in what had become a long line of discards over our 4-½ years together, or if I should hold out hope that maybe, possibly, she might return. I still didn’t realize that I was caught up in an enabler/enabled, abuser/abused, narcissist/empath dynamic. To be perfectly honest with you, about the only thing I knew with any certainty was that I missed my narcissist.
“I never said that! Now you’re just making things up. Don’t you think I’d remember if I said something so horrible?” Sound familiar? If you’re still with your narcissist, or have ever been involved with a narcissist, you are probably all too familiar with this dynamic: toxic amnesia. In a nutshell, toxic amnesia is when someone says or does something incredibly hurtful/painful to someone else, and then “forgets” that they ever said/did it.
So, there I was, in my kitchen cooking something in the oven, watching the timer, waiting, singing horribly off-key and loud! And I mean 𝕃𝕆𝕌𝕌𝕌𝕌𝕌𝕌𝕌𝔻! Something my narcissist would have absolutely detested. And I began thinking about all the things I enjoy, and do now, that she always found distasteful or even downright contemptible. And I realized just how much more happiness and freedom I have in my life that I would have never known had I stayed with her.
When I first went public with my experiences and relationship with my narcissist, Julia, honestly, I was embarrassed. “But, why?” you might ask. In a nutshell, it was the ridiculous number of times I took her back or, on more than one occasion, I went back. At the time, I had only just begun learning about NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder) and the inner-workings of narcissistic people/relationships. I had absolutely no idea that this incessant and repetitive back-and-forth was par for the course, the status quo, 🅽🅾🆁🅼🅰🅻, as it were, when involved with a narcissist. So, just how many times did I take her back or return? Well over two dozen times.
How many times have you felt like giving up? As survivors of narcissistic abuse, for many of us, some days (actually, a majority of our days), are nothing short of exhaustingly draining. With the lingering effects of PTSD and C-PTSD from the time with our narcissist, it’s nothing short of a miracle that we can make it from sunup to sundown and just keep it together. We wake from yet another terrible night’s rest – let’s be honest, another night of tossing, turning, mind racing, heart aching, recollections of what happened, imagined scenarios of what could happen, repeatedly playing out ad infinitum – only to then greet our day with impotent enthusiasm.
Healing is a journey. We all know this. But what many people don’t realize is that healing is an inclusive journey comprised of an aggregate collection of several smaller journeys. Not sure what I mean? Well, think of it this way, just as a single piece of music (usually) has more than one acoustic component, or any single painting can have an untold number of brushstrokes, so does the journey of healing hold within its fragility an untold number of mini-journeys.
This succinct and powerful quote from Tennyson’s The Coming of Arthur, an excerpt from his epic work Idylls of the King, would often echo in my mind throughout the 4-½ years I was with Julia, my narcissist, summing up perfectly the hell that was missing her. If you’re still with your narcissist, or have recently experienced a(nother) discard phase at the hands of your narcissist, you’re all too familiar with that feeling of drowning in what seems to be an abyssal ocean of despair and forlorn longing. The narcissist has left you to suffer alone and appears to not be the least bit concerned with your pain or the fact that they are the only person who can calm these turbulent seas, ushering in a return of sunshine, calm breezes, and placid waters…or so we think.
“Many times I tried to tell you,
any times I cried alone.
Always I’m surprised how well you cut my feelings to the bone.
Don’t want to leave you, really.
I’ve invested too much time to give you up that easy
To the doubts that complicate your mind.”
How many times Pat Benetar’s classic song, We Belong, echoed in my mind as I contemplated whether or not to embrace Julia’s, my narcissist’s, latest discard as the final discard so I could begin the grieving process, thus ushering in the healing process of recovering from the hellish joys of loving a narcissist. How she could render me utterly defenseless is beyond me. She was undoubtedly my kryptonite. I don’t mind to share, I’m not a little guy. At 6′ 5″ and 220 lbs, I take up a little bit of real estate. In comparison, Julia is 5′ 6″ and about 105 lbs. And yet she had a way of bringing me to my knees. And you see, that’s the thing about loving a narcissist: no matter how big or strong you might be, a narcissist has this inalienable ability to render even the mightiest among us, completely incapacitated and at their nonexistent mercy.
Of the four primary phases comprising the Cycle of Abuse when loving a narcissist, the devaluation phase is probably the most destructive. In this phase, the narcissist has no qualms in sharing just how deeply disappointed they are in you and how vehemently they despise you. But here’s the thing: sometimes it’s overt, brutally honest contempt, and other times the narcissist so sweetly shares what it is about us they can’t stand, we almost feel sorry for them having to put up with us. No matter which approach the narcissist uses, the end result is always the same – we strive to be the one who changes when there’s actually nothing wrong with us.