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.
“I can’t live without you. I’ve tried and I didn’t like it.” Those were my narcissist’s, Julia’s, words to me after yet another discard phase in an endless parade of discard phases, about two years into what would wind up being our 4-½ year toxic relationship. The thing is, at the time, I felt the same – life without her was simply existing, it wasn’t truly living. What I didn’t realize was, regardless of how sincere my feelings of longing and lamenting her absence were, she was simply saying what was necessary to hoover me back into her grasp for the sole purpose of continuing to feed off of me. So with the softly lilting lie that slid so effortlessly off her tongue, “I can’t live without you,” it was once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.
I wonder, when you first met your narcissist, how did they love you? Was it in a fashion that was foreign to you? Or was it exactly what you needed to be loved? What you needed to feel loved? Was it just what you had been longing to receive? I’d be willing to wager, not only was it exactly what you had been wishing for, even dreaming of, but they probably seemed to love you with the exact same depth and fervor in which you loved them, at least initially. Right? I know Julia, my narcissist, certainly did!
How many times did you sacrifice your sanity and happiness for a few pieces of peace with your narcissist? I lost count with my narcissist, Julia. You see, at the time, I had become convinced that those days, weeks, even months of misery with her were well worth those very few fleeting moments of joy and happiness together. The reality is, they weren’t. And I suspect you found yourself faced with a similar dynamic and mindset whether you realized this to be the case while with your narcissist or perhaps you only came to this epiphany after things had ended via the dreaded final discard phase.