Christine’s Chat Corner
A place where real questions get answered.
Question: “I am finally out of my narcissistic relationship, but I am finding it really hard to move on wondering if someone else is going to now make him happier than I did. Why is it all so hard? Should I go back into the relationship?”
Answer: When a victim finally makes their escape, they may find that they are dogged with all forms of doubt about leaving, this is very common. They find themselves ruminating about “how did it all go so wrong?”, “What if I am just over-reacting”.
The victim finds themselves remembering the good times they had with the narcissist, especially the Idealisation Phase when everything they did together was magical and golden. While in that phase, the victim was so sure that they had found their soul-mate.
But now, alone, and in their distress, they may temporally forget all the dark times, (i.e. the tears, frustration, anger, and especially the fear), and of course, the times when their narcissist thrust the deadly knife of devaluing into their heart. Every thrust grinding them down even further emotionally, to the point that they could not even trust their own memory or instinct. Just as the victim took on all the responsibility while in the relationship, they carry it on even when they leave the relationship. They wonder if they were too hasty, should they have stayed and insisted on going to therapy together to fix things.
Mary, when you look back (especially in anger), you will probably see how much you tried to nourish the relationship along. You believed that your selfless giving would finally open the heart of your narcissistic partner but to no avail. Instead, he only seemed to lose more and more respect for you the more you tried.
When it comes to love, you are an open book.
Of course, your narcissist took delight in reading every word of you, by knowing you (and your triggers) he could exploit you repeatedly, in a controlling way. I bet he tested your love, changing the goalposts as the relationship progressed, knowing full well that you would rise to his challenges of holding the relationship together.
That way he learned that your love was enduring, and would stand the endless scorching devaluation and abandonment he directed at you. How many times did he throw you under the bus, and then come back and sweet talk you into forgiveness?
If you cannot resist to let him back into your life, and he has not already filled the void, then you need to be prepared for what to expect next, because it is totally predictable. By the way, victims can make up to seven attempts of leaving before they finally do get out of the toxic relationship. If you do go back, then you can expect to be put back up on that pedestal and be love bombed and worshipped, and it will feel wonderful for as long as it lasts.
He will do all he can to bind you closer to him, to mesmerise you, so that you provide the oxygen that he craves to empower him. He will promise you that things will be different, that he has changed, and you will find him very believable, but it is only his way to manipulate you to come back.
However, just as you are enjoying the magical golden rush of new hope that has been ignited, you will be brutally brought down without any warning when you fail to comply with his selfish wishes. The Idealisation stage will only last as long as is necessary. That is, if you revere him, and keep him the centre of your attention, and don’t ask anything of him that makes him feel you are trying to control him. As soon as he knows that he has you hooked again, the Devaluing, and Discarding Stages will surely follow because these behaviours also give him access to oxygen, even when negative.
Then, with the speed of lightening, the lovely Dr Jekyll moves over to make room for the terrifying Mr Hyde, and the familiar cycle of abuse and head-games (i.e. insulting, belittling, mocking, silence, and Gaslighting), begins all over again.
The reason why this always happens again is because the narcissistic partner feels slighted by your abandoning them when you left, in effect, as far as they are concerned, you failed them. They need to take revenge for that slight, and in seeing your pain, anger, tears, they get the reward of negative oxygen from you again and again.
From time to time they will treat you well, making you grateful for this little kindness shown to you, and this too brings them positive oxygen for a while.
Negative or positive oxygen bring their own reward to the narcissist, both make them feel powerful while at the same time, sucking the energy out of their victims.
- Narcissistic Female Intimate Partner Violence Against Men Is No Joke - February 28, 2023
- Narcissists and Positions of Power and Influence - February 6, 2023
- Why Is It So Blooming Hard Leaving a Narcissist? - December 9, 2022
I have lived with my narcissist abuser husband for 44 years. I want to leave but mentally I dont know if I will ever be ready.
I dont know how to do this
I tried to leave many times and was conned back over and over. At one stage I thought my only way to escape was suicide. Although I feel incredibly sorry for his next victim, he actually did me a favour when he got to the discard stage. Thankfully I had gained enough insight by then I was grateful.
Hi, Suzy O and Lisa. I too have 30+ years, 28 in marriage and five in dating before marriage. My work is my life and I do love what I do but as I sit here at night I wonder if I will ever have the strength to trust anyone else. I spent the last three years looking to get out but because of finances, that he controlled through intimidation and put downs, I thought it was impossible. I am a lucky one because I was offered a position running a horse farm which came with an apartment. I didn’t think twice and jumped at the opportunity. It’s a ton of work but I live in a peaceful place with my two dogs, cat, and 20 horses under my control. My work is my life and I do love what I do but as I sit here at night I wonder if I will ever have the strength to trust anyone else or if I will always be alone because it is so much easier. Reading what has been written gives me the courage to continue. Thank you for what you have written.
It will effect her more negatively if you wait until she’s older!! I can’t stress t his enough!! Get out while she’s young and won’t have such vivid memories of seeing her mother abused and very possibly herself as well. They don’t stop. They don’t get better. Just save yourself and your child! The sooner the better! Best of luck!
Lisa..good on you. I wish I could get up the strength. 30+ years as well. I have 3 dogs that provide me sanity. If I leave my big worry is where would I go with dogs. Sounds crazy right! Not to say I’m not working on it. There is no talking to my spouse. I don’t live him and he knows it but doesn’t seem to care as long as life goes on. We live in the middle of nowhere now and my daughter is 4 hours away. I am so glad I found this chat room and Christine’s advise and books are sooo helpful. Stay strong and in touch ?
I am too involved with a narcissist man. I’ve tried walking away multiple times and only found myself back in square one. The biggest thing holding me on to him is our 1 yr old daughter. We are currently separated due to a physical altercation that happen and I was charged for battery. But it came from months of physical and emotional abuse from him. My surviving tactic was to go toe to toe with him. He belittle me I said things to hurt him he would physically assault me & I defended myself however I could. We were both in the wrong I should have walked away. But he would come back with a I’m sorry and then we would have a good day only to return to chaos because I did or said something he didn’t agree with. He would always accuse me of cheating when I found on a few occasions msgs from him to other woman. I should have walked away then. I analyze his disruptive repetitive behavior. He preys on single mothers and sells a dream of a family of providing support love protection etc. Only to then realize what a nightmare he will create. I wanna be able to get full custody and move to a different state. How would this affect my daughter???
Great points Carmella. You can’t escape a narcissist when you have a child/ children. My life has been ongoing chaos in the 11 years after I finally pulled myself together to get out the relationship. His entire life purpose seems to be to make my life a living hell. You cannot co-parent with a narcissist. They will never put the needs of the children first. They will undermine your parenting, do underhanded things like report you to child protection services, and evade paying child support. Sadly my younger son, who has a disability (always denied by the ex), has become collateral damage in the war the ex has been waging. The ex has successfully manipulated my son into thinking I’m a bad person and decided to flout the family court orders and has now gained 100% care for our son. For 11 years he constantly reduced child support. Now he has taken our son he will try and get every cent and reduce me to penury. It’s so bad I’m thinking of disappearing altogether for my own mental health and wellbeing.
Hi Karyn. My understanding is that switching relationships at lightning speed is one of the defining behaviours between those who displays narcissistic traits as opposed to the full blown disorder.
The reason a narcissist cannot (will not) be alone for alone for more than a few weeks is because human beings all self-reflect at some point, it’s self awareness and personal growth. Right? When the narcissist has discarded a victim there is no way they will allow themselves to be alone in case self-reflection happens and they will go to any length to prevent that because they cannot face themselves, hence the ‘replacement’ is either lined up before discard or is secured very soon after discard. My narc proved twice her max alone time was less than a month. I was future-faked and then replaced in 14 days. In my experience that speedy replacement was more damaging than any other aspect of the abuse doled out.
I believe they cannot be alone, te one I was with even told me he couldn’t be and in the 2 months we have been no contact he has attempted to cycle his ex wife through again, dating sites, and now working on an old girlfreind. He had a relationship with a women from a truck stop for about a week and stopped seeing her, they are not grade A sources like us long term ones are but a fix for a junkie because they are expending too much energy trying to find new Grade A sources. So they will recycle through old ones.
The one I left 2 months ago for 2 counts of domestic Violence on me and my son, Animal Cruelty. Has already attempted to process through an ex wife, several dating sites, couple lot lizards at truck stops and is now working on a girlfriend he had about 15 years ago he is love bombing her like crazy with things I never heard him say even to me in our relationship.. Just inside of 2 months. For 9 years I went through the abandonment, silent treatment and all the lists they do. I did not know these people even existed until I was ordered to Batterer counselling through the court and women’s shelters that my world shattered in realizing this guy I spent 9 years with –paid his bills and helped him buy a house he tossed me from was a personality B narcissists with flying monkeys an all to back him up. Destroyed my life placed blame on me for the hi going to jail, I stuck to my guns and after I finished my counseling I escaped as a survivor after attempting to take my own life when he proved every being said about how narcissists work true. I am in Full no contact and in hiding with family protecting me — I will not be found so he is cycling through old sources now since this grade A source for 9 years cannot be found.
I need to ask a question. I believe narcissistic individuals can not be alone. Is this true? I was tossed aside after 32 years for a younger model. As soon as it ended, he is knocking at my physical and emotional door. I have spent my time since we separated alone to heal.
I just tried to escape recently, left the home two weeks ago. But unfortunately my only option now is going back, as my wife cleared my current account. We have a daughter and that’s another reason, otherwise I doubt she would let me see her again. Not sure I will have another chance in the future if I go back now. Reading this article confirms my fear but what else can I do? All our friends are more on her side as she’s very good at selling the image that I’m mentally sick, and I don’t have other family members in Ireland. I arrived to call AMEN, Gardai and Tusla, and after my experience all are useless.
This post on leaving a narcissist feels like it has saved my life today. I left 10 weeks ago after 35 years of an emotional rollercoaster. Just reading this made my insides shudder….and yet the voice in my head still says “are you sure you’re not making it up”! Something is stopping me going back…..I am fearful of the future as I learn again to find out who I actually am now that there are no eggshells to wake up too….but…..I am not returning…..
Thank you for this today, thank you for the reminder
I agree that no contact is the only option that works. This is complicated though when children are involved. When there is little else left, the children can be used to cause further hurt, abuse and make life generally difficult. Its also not unusual to then turn the behaviours on the children, something that is often overlooked and not seen particularly in access hearings in Ireland. There doesnt seem to be any way of coparenting that works effectively as stability, consistency and doing whats best for children isnt at the top of their priority list. In fact if things were to become stable or flow, it would eliminate the much needed supply that the narcissist seeks and wouldnt be in his/her best interests. Leaving is just the beginning of the process but a much needed one and then the work begins to emotionally and psychologically detach from the individual. It helps enormously to have a therapist who understands the dynamics involved here and from experience I would suggest staying away from marriage counselling. It can end up being more damaging, because the emphasis in marriage counselling is on the problems being relationship problems when the reality is that the issues here are beyond relationship issues and resistant to change. Boundaries are very important and sticking to them rigorously and consistently. Working on yourself and focusing on yourself and healing your own wounds is a must. It takes time but its time well spent.
Hi Gill Marris
I was so fortunate to start seeing a theraphist in the aftermath that dared to call -a spade for a spade. To patiently teache me, give me words on the very hurtful and confusing relation. And I realize I was incredyble lucky that the couples councellor also did spreak up. I needed to hear what abuse is, every form of it, and I needed to learn what narcissism is.
I dont think I would manage to leave if not helped by the theraphists to get a bit awareness.
I will feel grateful for the rest of my life for them helping me.
Knowlegde, getting words and validation is the only way to get out.
Validation on: You have normal reactions to abnormal behaviour and tretment from a partner etc. Or – No, you are not crazy.
Then I found the forum called Psychopath Free, and to read there about thousands of describtions of my years with the emotional, mental and sexual abusive narcissistic partner was a real solver of the cognitive dissonance.
Any relationship with a narcissist is so similar that in the end while reading and sharing, you do develop both anger and then gallows humor too..very healing and it made it possible to keep NO Contact with the ex or grey rock the hoovers.
The therphist also explained that a relation like this – damage your self-worth and that can be worked on and ealed.
Narcissistic victim syndrome is real, the c-ptsd sympthoms are horrible and after such relation abuse one feel very very alone, noone can fully understand or take how long it takes to work threw this who has not experienced it themselves.
I felt so incredible lucky that my theraphist dared to give what I needed and paid for. Understanding.
I dont think it has to be difficult for theraphists to be helpful and not overstep the ethics.. You dont have to diagnose anyone, just point out when the client tell you things what the dynamic they experience is called. If it is abuse -it is. …When a person comes to theraphy after narcissistic abuse, they are so exhausted and in brain fog, nervous, insecure, total cognitive dissonanse after all the intermittent good-bad treatmentand and most likely been told -or subtile been suggested to that they are crazy -so I bet their thanfulness and relief for hearing something real, never will put you in ethical pitfalls.
You dont have to diagnose the other unseen, just make a point of saying that too that you cant do and dont do that -but you can point out what the dynamicks describes sounds like they are. .. after a while it will sink in to the client, and they go home and start reading and serching for answeres and to get knowlegde themselves.
A suvivor forum then can be life saving.
No contact, rest, reading and sharing over and over is needed to get all the illusion and lies out of you.
To wrap our heads around this experience is so uncredyble difficult, so it is nessesary too to learn about the pain centre in the brain, learn that emotional hurt and physical hurt comes from the same spot.
And how equally important it is to see and heal the emotional pain as the physical. Living with invisible wounds is living with the stress alarm on inside. That will make you sick also physical in the end.
Pleace give the clients words, so they can reserche and help themselves out of this hellish experience. I hope one day we are all taught about this kind of abuse/abusers early in school.
( Hope my english is readable, it is not my native languish )
My narcissist died also. It was very unexpected as he was just 38. I hoped all the time (for the last 8 years of our 19-year long relationship) to find a way out of my situation, but felt so trapped. I wasn’t very spiritual or religious at the time, so I wouldn’t call it praying, per se. I never asked for him to die, but that is how it worked out.
I was so angry when the shock of his death first wore off. He got to escape without paying his dues and without mortal consequence. I had strange dreams often, about him and about our circumstances.
As the last three-and-a-half years have passed, I realize through therapy, spiritual counseling, and much self-examination that I am indeed the lucky one. I still have the occasional dream as well. In them, the kids and I are happy, and he comes in like a bull in a china shop – demanding his wife and his life back, because he’s not really dead.
These dreams are still disturbing, but they’re just that – dreams. They are the manifestation of our unconscious, and in this case specifically, our fears.
Remember you are not alone in this. Your abuser is gone. We are here for you. I hope you find some comfort in knowing there are others having dreams of their abusers as well.
I wish you love, light, and all the peace you need in your soul, Gladys. Take care.
We finally disengage when we are forced to disengage. When he throws you out, when he makes it impossible for you to stay, or when he threatens your life, or your children’s life, when it is so bad you know you must leave. And, go…and don’t look back! Take all your stuff, all your furniture, everything – take it all so you can’t go back (because you will be tempted to go back). Leave, and don’t look back. You must go NO CONTACT – no phone, texts, emails, NOTHING. Let the attorney handle all communications (and get a good attorney who will work in your best interests). It is very difficult, and will not get better for a very long time. Be strong. YOU CHOOSE to leave. Don’t wait for him to throw you out! YOU CHOOSE! They don’t care, can’t feel – they are all fake, only self serving their own needs. Break away and you will survive. It took me over 2 years and I never thought I’d get better, feel normal again…but I am. I did survive! It was hell, he tried to break me, but I survived. It’s a battle…a very long battle. You need a good lawyer – seek out help and support! Be strong and bless you.
The truth behind the rosy glasses we see an emotional predator through is very basic. It’s in your DNA!
Humans are wired to bond. Bonding takes place as a chemical reaction to attraction. It is a form of addiction.
People don’t simply walk away from substance addictions with no longing. And they don’t walk away from emotional addictions with no longing either. They need to recognize that their “feelings” for the person are based on brain chemistry that causes them to feel a certain way…… emotionally connected.
The help the mental health professional should provide for the victim is education and support. The patient needs to recognize how their brain chemistry makes them “feel” so they can supply the will power to overcome its pull. Mother Nature gave us all that bonding chemistry in order to couple us and keep us coupled through the maturity of our offspring. It’s more powerful than drugs or alcohol.
Just like abstaining from drugs or alcohol is a must to battle substance addiction, having no contact with an emotional predator is a must for someone who recognizes they are tangled in their web. The brain chemistry will continue to tug them back toward the predator long after they are gone. They need to be brought back to the reality of what they experienced and recognize that the predator has simply moved on to another victim. They will not change….. only the cast of characters they victimize changes.
When I realized the sociopath who hijacked me had stolen from me and many other sick things, I told him I wanted him to leave. Once he finally left I instinctively – somehow – started to unwind the madness by looking at everything from the limited mind of a sociopath. This was key because even though I was fortunate in seeing hugely horrible things he’d done that took away any desire to stay with him: I had doubts and disbelief: that’s natural. It’s actually still the innate quality humans have of giving others the benefit of the doubt, and always thinking the best of people, and our optimism bent out of shape. While with either a Narcissist or a Sociopath we’re in trauma. And in what’s called “cognitive dissonance.” We have to shift what we believe is good and right within relationships as time goes by with them in order to keep harmony, and do what normal humans do:relationship build. When it’s all over this innate mechanism of finding balance and making things good between a couple is out of whack… the added wisdom of our actual circumstances is something we have to consciously incorporate to unwind the madness. – Though from what you’re asking it’s not clear if you’re in a situation with a Narcissist or a Sociopath – they are two different things… that’s the first thing to establish. Clearing up the lies of a sociopath happens quickly when we look at everything from their simple mind and each chunk of truth reduces trauma significantly and makes us definitely not want to talk to them or see them: it makes no contact easy. Sending you all good things…
Hi, this is for KATE…
Kate I actually have almost a FULL YEAR of audio recordings between my ex narc and myself – including the one where he beat me that severely I ended up needing surgery (and even with that particular recording given to police as evidence, he still got off the assault charges, unbelievable!!)…
I’ve also recorded every convo we’ve had since and it’s sickening to hear him morph from loving apologetic fiancé that will do anything as long as I drop the charges, to 100% victim, traumatised by what he went through and what his “bat-shit crazy needing meds ex psycho fiancé” did to him… ???
I’m actually in the process of cutting out the junk and putting them all together, so that I can share them for many reasons, including why you’re asking…
So please feel free to get in touch with me, and I’ll happily share with you…
Great article! Just surprised that No Contact wasn’t mentioned for recovery.
So what can we do to finally leave the situation and not feel the powerful tugs to return? Even when we know it’s awful and we don’t want to continually be belittled and devalued, we tend to come back with the “hope” that it will be better? How do we finally disengage and not feel anything more? How long does that take? Do you have any resources to help us finally be done?
Thank you for another helpful template that lets us see exactly here we stood with an NPD (alongside our fellow NAS peeps), and that we are not alone in our unwinding process either.
I’ve been scouring the internet looking for actual dialogues–transcribed or recorded conversation exchanges between Covert NPD’s and their objects, but haven’t found any long enough to elucidate the chain of NLP trickery to the end. Years ago I read a library book (was in the fog so no clue what book) that had pages of these exchanges. After months of frantic research it was the actual conversation examples that finally switched the light on about who my ex-husband was and what my unwitting participation in the dance had been. It had been all theoretical knowledge til then, because the confusion and disorientation from the mind control blocked most info from sinking in very deep, until I read the actual dialogues. The samples were so spot on repeats of my experience that I thought ‘was she recording this stuff in my house?”. So freeing to know that the bizarro disorienting exchanges I remembered were real and validated by others, and that there was a way out of the house of mirrors. Was great to sort of laugh for the first time too at how boilerplate and un-creative their collective modus operandi is, like ‘can’t he be diabolical with a little more style–like be more dashing vampire instead of the simpering menace’?
OK, rant over, thanks for hanging in. Back to the question: do you have a resource for actual conversations or examples of typical exchanges for how gaslighting, bait & switch, blame shifting, double bind etc. play out in day to day interactions with NPD in dialogue format? I have a friend who is just coming out of the fog (I remember feeling like a kitten who’s eyes were just starting to open), and this kind of simple, no theory, no study needed mirror would speed her healing process through this painful passage.
AND, if you don’t have a ready resource, would you please consider compiling one? Bet you’ve got some gems in your session notes?
Blessings on Your Head 🙂
This a very good read, however, My narcissistic spouse died. Sometime I feel guilty because I wanted him to leave. I prayed and prayed for freedom from him. He was very abusive emotionally and verbally. Now that he is gone I feel some remorse for praying and that he is dead. I am having a hard time dealing with these feelings and thoughts. Before he died he kept telling me that he loved me, knowing all the time that he was going to die. I am ready to move on, but his memory haunts me. I have dreams that he is coming back. What I will I do when he found out that I have moved everything from of his from his room. Fear racing through me in this dream, and I am trying to keep him from knowing that I have gotten ridden of this things. He pass on February 25, this year. The dreams started last month. What do I need to do to move on with my life, and not feel this remorse?
As a counsellor I sometimes recognize the possibility that a client has suffered at the hands of a narcissistic mother, for example.
How do you go about addressing this issue to help the client without demonizing the mother? There is always the possibility of a client going out of the session with the “My counsellor says you are narcissistic” kind of nightmare, opening the therapist up to comebacks or at worst, legal action.
I am very wary of naming the disorder to the client, but then you miss the obvious relief for them of being able to name and describe the disorder so they can recognize and engage with the diagnosis, thereby shedding some of the guilt and shame associated with the relationship. But even if we are pretty sure what we are dealing with, should we openly diagnose someone who isn’t in the room to our client? Is that professional?
Also we only have the description that our client gives us. But given that it is an abusive disorder, we can certainly name abuse in other settings to our clients.
So how do you tackle this? I’d be grateful to hear of any ethical issues and pitfalls.