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Christine’s Chat Corner

A place where real questions get answered.

Christine Louis de Canonville is a psychotherapist who worked for many years with victims of narcissistic abuse. The questions discussed in her “Chat Corner” are real questions, they have come from the many victims that write to her on her blog daily.

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.

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Christine is a Psychotherapist, Educator, Author and Supervisor of mental health professionals for over 28 years. She was part of a team in the Trauma Unit of St. Brendan’s Psychiatric Hospital, Dublin, and has worked specifically with victims of pathological narcissistic abuse in her private practice for many years.
Her books, “The Three Faces of Evil: Unmasking the Full Spectrum of Narcissistic Abuse” and “When Shame Begets Shame: How Narcissists hurt and shame their victims” set out to to help those who have been affected by a narcissist and also to address the shortfalls in a therapist’s education, so that they become better equipped to work with survivors of narcissistic abuse.Much of her knowledge has come from her post-grad studies in Criminology and Forensic Psychology, and it is through these disciplines that she has gained her understanding of “The Dark Triad”, (Narcissism, Machiavellianism and Psychopathy).
These three faces of evil are vital information for understanding the full spectrum of narcissistic abuse and the dire effects on the victims.It is her vision that narcissistic abuse becomes part of the curriculum of all Mental Health clinicians.
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