…. closure? And you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist (aka ‘narc’)? Oh my. Let’s sit and talk, shall we? We must talk about this impossibility so you can create your OWN closure, accept reality, stop looking for something that will never come to be, begin to move on and move forward, and start the healing process in earnest. WE create our own closure after a narc relationship, but we need to discuss why closure WITH a narc is an impossibility, so let’s start there.
“CLOSURE, the concept of a deep, respectful, quality, and a final conversation or interaction with a narcissist at the end of the relationship simply does not exist anywhere, at any time. It pays to remember who the narcissist IS; someone who will blame, shame, guilt, and cast doubt and project their problems onto YOU. Simply stated, there is NO closure that will come from a narc. WE create our own closure. We MUST, to move forward.” L.A. Gilliam
In a healthy relationship, even one coming to an end, two people may choose to sit down, and ‘hash out’ their feelings, perceptions, and explain to the other party the reasons for ending the relationship. Yes, there may be tears, there may be a tremble in the voice and a shaking of the knees. Ending any relationship tends to make us quake in our shoes a bit; these life situations are rarely pleasant, even when we know they are for the best. In a healthy relationship, each person would take turns talking, listening, sharing, explaining, and showing respect (even through disagreements) to reach at minimum, an understanding of why the relationship is not working and needs to be ended, and an understanding of where the other person is coming from. There may be genuine and authentic sharing of what went well in the relationship, what didn’t go well, what each person brought to the relationship, or even could have been done, each side taking responsibility for their part in the relationship and for the end of the relationship. This is one way ‘closure’ may occur in a healthy relationship. Each person might leave the conversation sad, or disappointed, perhaps even hurt, but the respect is there – the genuine positive regard for the other person was first and foremost through this conversation / interaction to end the relationship. Each person leaves this conversation feeling heard, validated, and at the very minimum, understood.
So, why can’t this type of interaction happen at the end of a narc relationship? Let’s break it down and take a look:
- Genuine closure at the end of a relationship between two people requires each party to be vulnerable and to take responsibility for one’s own part for the demise of the relationship. This will NEVER happen with a narcissist (narc). Because of the narc’s very fragile ego (for which they spend years and years overcompensating in a variety of ways), the narc is unable to be vulnerable, to show the very real and tangible intimacy required for such a conversation. EGO reigns supreme for a narc, and there is just no way a narc is able to humble themselves in order to have such an honest interaction. As an example, when I ended my relationship, through tears, through explanations of the reasons why, through tremulous voice and queasy stomach, I was told “Okay”, to be followed by the narc walking out of the room. No discussion. No conversation. No “OMG! I had no idea, can we try counseling, can we talk, can we do SOMETHING?” All I received was an “Okay”. This was followed several days later by message after message of everything I had done wrong, of course.
- Narcs BLAME, shame, and throw around guilt like nobody’s business. During your attempt at closure, a narc will bring out anything and everything you have ever done or said to upset them, and/or DISALLOW a quality conversation by DISCARDING / dismissing you altogether (as happened in my case). The reason the narc acts this way is because of their very fragile self-esteem and ego; they simply cannot ‘hear’ about who THEY are, what they have done or not done, they simply cannot HUMBLE themselves to welcome an honest reflection of themselves given back to them. They simply cannot handle it. Because of the lacking of this part of their core personality, one of their strategies is to blame you for everything, point out (and exaggerate) every single little thing you have ever done or said ‘wrong’, all in an effort to DEFLECT the real issue; their personality disorder. An authentic relationship requires genuine self-reflection, and honesty – both qualities a narc does not possess, and never will.
- Closure serves no purpose for the narc, and it does not matter at ALL that closure DOES serve a purpose for you. The narc doesn’t care if you need time to explain; that serves no purpose for them. The narc doesn’t care if you want to discuss and talk about the real reasons for the demise of the relationship; they have nothing to GAIN from this, thereby see no value in it. Remember, a narc is self-serving to excess; it does not matter that closure is important to you, because it is not important to THEM. Since an honest and open, genuine conversation serves no purpose for the narc, it is met with rage, a discard, blame, guilt, and all the rest. Unless the conversation SERVES the narc, it has no value, and a conversation outlining the difficulties in the relationship because of the narc is the LAST thing a narc will ever want to hear (of course, it is never easy to hear of our shortcomings, but healthy people will be able to discuss these things; a narc would rather break a leg than hear of their shortcomings).
- At the root of narcissism is a very frightened, fragile, lost child, totally in fear of abandonment. This is in contrast to what we see on the surface of course, because the narc is heavily invested at covering up their own shame, their own feelings of worthlessness. Because of this grand ‘cover up’ and where it comes from, the narc fears abandonment deeply, and when the conversation starts turning toward an explanation that the relationship is coming to an end, the worst fears of the narc are coming true. Because they cannot be real, honest, or authentic, this fear drives their reaction in response the the ‘break up’ conversation. Everything within the narc is rooted in deeply cutting and insurmountable shame; how many of us know / knew a narc who invested nearly everything they had to SHOW THE WORLD how worthy they are? This overcompensation is a cover up for the deep shame and feelings of worthlessness that is at the core of their personality disorder, which creates the fear of abandonment. Complex, isn’t it? Being driven by this fear of abandonment negates the possibility of a quality and resolute conversation; the fear of abandonment is at the forefront, and the conversation to end a relationship is this worst fear coming true for the narc.
- A narcissist cannot be alone, therefore will not accept your ending the relationship. Remember, the narc must have constant attention and admiration, and if that is not available, they will accept ANY attention, even negative. A narc will likely not genuinely accept the relationship is OVER, and will do everything within their power to keep it going, any way possible. I had to contact the police and file a report because of continuing contact online, email, texting, coming to my residence and all the rest, at the end of my relationship, and for several months thereafter. I am still being contacted, the most recent coming during the recent Royal Wedding, with an email, “I’m watching the Royal Wedding and wanted you to know I am thinking of you.” A narc will keep contact going for years, and years, and years, and YEARS. It does not matter if they are dating someone else; they will continue the contact.
So, what the ‘bleepity bleep’ do we do? WE CREATE OUR OWN CLOSURE. Take ZERO CALLS from the narc. DO NOT text back. Do NOT ATTEMPT to continue to explain (for all the reasons I listed above). DO NOT talk to, contact, email, text, call, FB, social media, smoke signal, carrier pigeon, code, CB, SOS, snail mail – DO NOT DO ONE MORE THING to gain understanding, after the initial explanation of the end of the relationship. Some people choose to not even HAVE that one initial conversation ending the relationship; they simply disappear from the narc’s life. This is a personal choice. One short, simple, to-the-point conversation that the relationship is ending is ALL you should do. No long explanations; that only gives the narc the opportunity to shame, blame, and guilt you – which they will do until you think you are the worst human on the planet.
If you are discarded, as I was, take it as the blessing it is (no lengthy discourse about being an awful human), and get the hell out, and stay the hell out. BLOCK ON ALL avenues of contact. My personal email which I’ve had for over 30 some odd years, will not block the narc’s email (as well as one online retailer from whom I’ve never ordered – the pleasure of tech ‘glitches’). This is okay, as I have reached a point in my healing that there is no emotional response (maybe laughter, actually) to any contact; I simply file the email away in case I choose at some point to press harassment charges.
Seek support in the form of counseling, preferably with a therapist skilled and knowledgeable in the area of narc / relationship trauma and abuse. Talk with trusted friends and family, but don’t expect them to truly ‘get it’. No one can truly understand the relationship dynamic and all the complexities unless they too, have been affected by a narcissist. READ books. Research narcissism, and other personality disorders. Journal; get those feelings OUT of your head and heart and onto paper. Walk. Spend time in nature. Volunteer time to a worthy cause. Go for drives. Go to local parks and spend time just people watching, sitting quietly, breathing deeply, and watching the sky, trees, plants, animals, and the environment.
Above all else, NEVER return to the narcissist in an effort to gain closure. YOU will be the one who suffers the after-affects. Just. DO. NOT. DO. IT.
So everyone, here we are. A narcissist cannot give you what they are INCAPABLE of being, doing, saying, etc. STOP expecting normalcy, stop expecting compassion, empathy, understanding, and stop expecting to be HEARD and even less, validated. It won’t happen with a narc. YOU create your own closure. End. Of. Story. Sending blessings to all, this fine day. Best, L.A.