Hi everyone, and thank you for stopping by today. After having gone through however many weeks, months, years, decades (in some cases) of a relationship with a toxic narcissist, it is important to carefully navigate our way through the recovery and healing ‘road map’. The issue here is that we don’t KNOW what we DON’T know. Many of the steps we take on our path to healing are by trial and error, and some of those ‘errors’ can in fact bring more pain, more frustration into our lives when we are already so so emotionally low. The abuse-cycle driven narcissistic relationship has taken so so much from you already, there is just NO doubt about that. I know, as I’ve been there. I have. I am now nearly three years of being out of my relationship, and there ARE things I’ve learned that I’d like to share here. We wish healing and recovery would just ‘happen already’ (!!), but alas it takes time, effort, using our heads instead of our hearts, and so much more.
“Accepting that healing after an abuse-cycle driven narcissistic relationship is NOT like any other healing / grief process we’ve been through before allows us to open our minds to new ways of handling our emotional pain. There are things you may wish you could do, however the end of THIS relationship is not like any other. It will help GREATLY to abide by the strategies here to minimize adding even more traumatic chaos during this already stressful, and emotionally difficult time.” L.A. Gilliam
Okay. Let’s take a look at some strategies of things TO NOT DO, after your breakup from the narcissist:
- Never ever, EVER talk to the narcissist to find closure. Everyone, this is SO SO IMPORTANT. Please, listen to me and countless narc-abuse survivors on this topic. You want closure, of course. You NEED VALIDATION of what you lived through, what you have suffered through, and that is human, understandable, and is your RIGHT. THESE THINGS CANNOT COME FROM THE NARCISSIST. Ultimately, your efforts at talking to the narcissist only gives them MORE time, more opportunity to abuse you further through blaming you for everything that went wrong, shaming you for all the things you could have done better, and opens up your already HURTING heart for more pain. Do not EVER return to the narc at the end of the relationship for closure. Talk with a counselor who is skilled in narcissistic abuse trauma. Talk with one or two close friends or family members who GET IT. The main point here is to NEVER go back to the narcissist (narc), not even ONE time, to try to explain your side, your feelings, your emotions, your pain. It will backfire and you will feel even WORSE. Don’t do that to yourself.
- As stated before, do not vent, or try to get support from people who are not able to understand what you have been through. This is awful – I know it is – when you are in touch with your best friends, trusted family members, and they say things like, “Oh, everything will be okay”, or “Isn’t there some way you can work this out?” Not everyone who is close to you WILL understand, so pick carefully who you vent to. The platitudes that well-meaning friends give you are NOT helpful, and can leave you feeling even lower – in that we so hope and sometimes expect the people we love can HELP US THROUGH this difficult time. If they themselves have not LIVED THROUGH a narcissistic abusive relationship, do not expect them to understand. BE CHOOSY with who you talk with, and by all means, find a counselor skilled in abuse / trauma therapy. Talking things out is so so helpful, makes us feel understood and supported, but this will likely not come from even some of your best friends and/or family. Please don’t expect everyone, even those closest to you to be able to understand. They just can’t. LET THEM LOVE YOU as best they can, and by all means, spend time with those who love you most. Just watch your own expectations at how much you ‘vent’ to those who haven’t been through emotional / narcissistic abuse.
- Do not look at ANY social media, ever. The narc will be moving on quickly, will be posting things to social media portraying that their lives are wonderful, they are out doing all these great things, having the time of their lives – without you. This accomplishes several things for the narc; shows the ‘world’ – their audience – that they are just fine, and better than ever, and since they are NOT hurting, everything that went wrong in the relationship MUST’VE been your fault. You will see pictures of new men or women, new victims who don’t know they are ‘replacements’ for you. You will see adventures, trips, vacations, and even PRESENTS and gifts that YOU were promised, but never received. DO NOT DO THIS TO YOURSELF. BLOCK your ex on every single platform of social media you have, and NEVER undo the block. You must devote EVERY SINGLE action to your healing and recovery, and I mean 100% of every ounce of energy, emotion, and effort you can muster. Looking at social media is allowing the ‘feeding’ of the relationship addiction, and you must BLOCK on everything in order to have the best (and fastest!!!) opportunity at a smoother transition into healing. Every single time you just want to take a small glance, is another opening of the emotional wounds. Don’t do that to yourself! Over time, living with these blocks become easier. You will thank me later for this, I know you will!! Trust me when I say that looking at pictures, social media, posts, and all the rest HURTS YOU each and every time, so just don’t do it! As an adjunct, you may need to block mutual friends or family members as these people are OFTEN asked to ‘report back’ to the narcissist from your social media. Friends and family members most likely do not realize the depth of the narcissist’s abuse, and may actually provide information about you without your knowing – gathered from your social media – and report back to your ex.
- Don’t explain yourself to the ex’s family nor friends. I can assure you the narc has already told a gazillion lies about you, how you let them down, how you are this and that, and how they are better off without you, and how ‘crazy and unstable’ you turned out to be. These are lies of course, you know they are lies, however family and friends of the narc will likely BELIEVE these lies. They have ties with the narc that likely go back years and years, decades, and they are invested in BELIEVING THE NARC. They may make a supportive statement here and there to you, but they are likely unwilling to take your side. Please, don’t even ‘go there’ with them. They will NEVER SEE the truth of the relationship that occurred behind closed doors; their relationship with the narc is a different relationship altogether. In the most extreme cases, of the narc abusing you by proxy (meaning, they use their friends and families to get back at you) you will need to COMPLETELY detach from these people. I know how hard it is to let go of people you have loved, people you continue to care about, but I assure you if they are still friends or family of the narc, they will side with the narc. Of course they will. And the lies being told, the smearing of your name and personal qualities, will only make it worse – for YOU.
- Do not hold onto any personal property of the narc. Get every single thing back to the narcissist as soon as you can. Keep records, take photos, send certified or return-receipt. Document everything. A narcissist will use material belongings against you – make sure you also get YOUR personal belongings back, and ask a friend of YOURS (not the narc’s) to pick up your personal items. (In the case of a shared household, this of course is much more complicated.) My Bible, yes, my Bible was ‘held hostage’ by my ex, now a practicing Pastor in a local Methodist church. I mailed belongings back to the ex within 48 hours, yet my Bible was held hostage for SIX WEEKS. A narcissist ENJOYS the sense of power they get from knowing they have something of YOURS that you want back. This is tricky territory. At times, a narcissist will destroy items or throw them out, later feigning innocence at not knowing what happened to the item(s). This is the power and control game of the narcissist. The ex-wife of my ex wasn’t even ALLOWED back into the house to reclaim her items, with threats of law enforcement being called if she tried to do so. Believe me, these games of the narcissist give them power, enjoyment, and they love the chaos. There may be a time when you have to say “my mental health is worth more than such and such item”. If it is something you can live without or replace, you may in fact be better off letting it go. When possible, have your friends/family take care of this task for you. NEVER GO TO THE NARCISSIST’S HOME TO GET YOUR THINGS. EVER. Some do not make it back out. If you MUST see the narc to make a property exchange, or go to their home for any reason, call law enforcement for a ‘citizen’s assist’ procedure. They can and will meet you there, and ‘keep the peace’ while things are exchanged, or while you collect your belongings.
- Do not put yourself in harm’s way, or in situations or places where you will have to interact with the narc. This will be particularly important in the very early weeks and months post-breakup. If the two of you are in the same city, stay away from local stores you know the narcissist frequents. Stay out of shopping plazas, movie theaters, gas stations, and all the rest if there is even the slightest possibility of running into the ex-narc. Just don’t take the risk when you are so emotionally fractured and fragile after the breakup. In time it won’t matter as much, but initially you will want to drive to your daily-life locations where you know the narc is UNLIKELY to be. Unfortunately, I’ve heard many stories of people being in the same work place as their ex, or somehow otherwise required to be in the same place at the same time. You will absolutely need to consider your overall well being and mental health in assessing whether you are able to work in the same environment, or for the same company. These are tough decisions of course, however NOTHING matters more than your mental and emotional well being and health.
- Do not do ‘drive bys’ of the ex’s home, place of work, friends’ homes, etc. This goes to ‘reopening the wounds’ as you are trying to heal. Keep in mind that ANY exposure to anything having to do with the narc will intensify the negative and hurtful emotions. There will be temptation of course, there usually is. We might want to know if they are home, who might be over at their house, if their car is parked there, if their car is at their place of employment, etc. Just do not do this to yourself! Each time you allow yourself to check up on what the narc is or is not doing, you are KEEPING YOURSELF IN THE ABUSE CYCLE. You may have to fight this impulse with everything you have, but fight it for as long as you have to, as hard as you have to. I’ve heard of stories of even months and months of healing being undone by someone doing one of these ‘drive bys’ – simply because the woman couldn’t help herself. I get it, I do. That temptation – that hit of knowing just a little something – is SO difficult to deny. But, deny you must. If you engage in these behaviors, you are placing yourself smack dab right at the VERY BEGINNING of healing. You will reopen that wound, healing will be lost, and you will feel even worse than before. You don’t NEED to know what the ex is or is not doing, and it is not your business.
- Do NOT consider a reconciliation. Ever. In the one and only reconciliation attempt with the narcissist, I was literally treated like a 2-year old. And you want to know why? Because by my going back, my attempt at a reconciliation, told the narc that everything that had already been DONE WAS OKAY, and here I was, BACK FOR MORE. You MUST believe me when I say that you have already received the BEST this person has to offer, and NONE of it was the REAL PERSON. Do not think that because time has passed, because he or she has been single for however long, that things will somehow magically be BETTER. A toxic narcissist IS WHO THEY ARE, and that will not change. Simply stated, do not give the narcissist even MORE opportunity to abuse your further. NO RECONCILIATION will work, nothing will be better, and you will find after an initial love-bombing / honeymoon phase, the abusive behavior has returned, only worse ‘this time’. By going back, we are essentially telling the narcissist everything that has already been done to us is acceptable, and we are back for more. DO NOT DO THIS to yourself!
Okay everyone, here we are. This is NOT an exhaustive list by any means, but these are the initial items that seem to come up for people who are just starting their healing and recovery journey post narcissistic abuse. We are human of course, we have our own failings and challenges, but BY NOT DOING THESE THINGS, you can ensure not adding to the already very complex healing process. You must do EVERYTHING in your power to keep on track, and DISALLOW anything that will compromise your healing. The ‘road map’ through to the destination of healing is winding, tricky, and full of ‘hits and misses’, but these few items here CAN help save your from additional pain, hurt, anger, and frustration. I KNOW you have had enough of all those things; give yourself, your heart, soul and spirit the break that is needed to further your HEALING. Best, L.A.