Hello everyone and thank you for being here. After a relationship with a narcissist, there are a few tried and true steps to take that will allow our recovery and healing to progress in the best possible way. During the narcissistic abusive relationship, we have suffered mightily, and the abuse has taken a toll on our minds, hearts, brains, souls, spirits, and perhaps even caused significant physical health issues. There is just no denying that being in an abusive relationship (family relationship, friendship, romantic relationship, etc.) DAMAGES the victim. Healing is a MARATHON event, not a sprint. It is painful. Acutely so. There is nothing most of us have been through that can compare to the emotional pain we suffer at the END of the relationship. Yes, what we experience throughout the relationship is chaotic, stressful, harmful, and abusive with lasting negative effects. The END of the relationship is a different ‘thing’ altogether and often is wrought with unimaginable distress, emotional turmoil, and heartbreaking pain. Having said that however there ARE things we can and SHOULD do to help our recovery and healing from abuse that will assist us in the process. One of these strategies is “No Contact”. We will discuss what it is, why it is important, and why it works. There are other topics to be discussed for our recovery and healing of course but No Contact is supremely important, so we’ll start here. (‘No Contact’ will be capitalized throughout this article for clarification and ease of reading).
Simply stated: No Contact is the ABSOLUTE (100 %) cessation of ANY AND ALL CONTACT with a narcissist through any means, any platform, any venue whatsoever (this will need to be altered for the sake of parallel parenting with the narcissist regarding children, a topic for a different day). No Contact is the NEVER AGAIN speaking to the narcissist (narc), acknowledging the narc, texting, calling, emailing, driving by, and on and on…. No Contact is complete, concrete, steadfast, and absolute – with NO EXCEPTIONS, nor any excuses or alterations.
“A narcissist will keep the ‘game’ of contact going for as long as YOU allow it. A narcissist will ALWAYS come back in some form or fashion either to punish you further for ending the relationship, or to get their much-needed hit of attention (which can be positive or negative, it does not matter to the narcissist as they thrive in chaos). WE must be the ones to end ALL contact via No Contact and Blocking. THE NARCISSIST WILL LOVE THE POWER AND SUPERIORITY THEY FEEL WITH EVERY SINGLE CONTACT, whether initiated directly or through other sources (a narc will use friends and family members to reach out to victims).” L.A. Gilliam
Throw out the window ANY PREVIOUS notions and preconceived ideas you may have had about what the ‘end of a relationship’ should, could, or can look like. These will NOT apply with a narcissist and we MUST adjust our normal expectations for a healthy, communicative, ‘normal’ end to this abusive relationship. WE MUST adjust our own thoughts, behaviors, actions, reactions, and beliefs at the end of a narcissist relationship as everything we ever thought, even in a difficult breakup, just will NOT apply here. This is important to ACCEPT and acceptance of this fact will allow the ability to adjust your own actions and reactions. The ‘normal and healthy’ conclusion to an ending relationship is not possible with a narcissist, so don’t expect it. The emotional distance, physical distance, and detachment one normally experiences in a relationship breakup will NOT be honored by the narcissist; it must BE YOU THAT TAKES CONTROL here.
It may be helpful to think of the end of the narcissist / abusive relationship as a deep physical wound that is in the process of healing. The wound will need time, possible treatment by a professional, and to be LEFT ALONE to heal. Every single time we pick at the wound, or uncover the bandage to ‘see how it is doing’, prompts the REOPENING of the wound and HALTS HEALING. Most Moms, Dads, and Doctors will advise their children and patients to leave their wounds alone with statements such as, “Stop picking at it!”, and “I know it itches, but you have to leave it alone!”. In very much the same way ending the narcissist relationship, full of emotional, mental, and sometimes physical abuse requires this same ‘hands off’ approach.
No Contact is the complete and TOTAL 100% stopping of any action, REACTION, response, or behavior that puts you either in direct or INDIRECT contact with the narcissist (and may need to be extended to mutual friends and family). Here are some reasons why No Contact is necessary:
- During the abusive / narcissist relationship, our thoughts, emotions, processing of our environment, ability to concentrate, and perceptions CHANGE. It should scare the living daylights out of all of us to know this is a fact, and these changes can be measured and quantified via medical and psychiatric health professionals. Over time, we exist in a FOG where things are no longer clear, we lose track of time, our memories may be affected, we have difficulty in making even simple decisions, we can’t concentrate, we doubt ourselves and others, stability is lost. No contact allows a gradual return to clarity, stability, and assurance of our OWN thoughts, emotions, a return to increased concentration and decision making, as well as returning to solid, accurate, and reliable perceptions, ideas, and opinions. Remember, during the abusive relationship, we were punished for having our OWN perceptions, opinions, ideas, and thoughts and over time this conditioning literally changes our thought and emotional stability, thought processes, and patterns. We must have A COMPLETE CESSATION to the very person who created in us these very disturbing changes and this CANNOT be a part-time, sometimes, ‘with exceptions’ endeavor. It must be 100% all the time, solid, steadfast, secure, resolute, absolute, and CONCRETE.
- During the abusive narcissist relationship, our biological / anatomical / autonomic / sympathetic / parasympathetic systems CAN CHANGE. Let that sink in for a minute, or two, or ten. Sit with that knowledge for a bit, and realize the devastation of this fact. OUR BODIES SUCCUMB TO EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL ABUSE, and devastating physical abnormalities can develop allowing opportunity to create long-standing health difficulties. Headaches? You bet. Intestinal issues? Of course. Facial / body / muscular tics that were never present before? Yes. Neck and back pain? You bet. Not getting enough sleep and/or rest? Obviously. And so so much more. While in my relationship, I developed a very strange and never-before experienced abdominal rumbling that sounded like thunder. No pain necessarily, but the sounds coming from my upper and lower intestines were unlike anything I’d ever heard before, OR SINCE. Do you know, as soon as I was OUT of the relationship and STAYED OUT, I never again – not even ONE TIME – experienced this same abnormality? I also had developed a tic in my left eyebrow. Now since resolved, it has never returned. My body was reacting to the ever-present state of emotional distress, the heightened state of ‘fight or flight’ that was always near. My body was TELLING me things were not right. My body was telling me to GET OUT of this relationship. My physical health was being negatively affected by the EMOTIONAL abuse. No Contact allows the adjustment, the healing of the bodily systems that have lived under duress. The body needs FULL and complete healing, which CANNOT be achieved with continued contact with the narcissist. Any contact keeps us IN THE ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP CYCLE, and our bodies will NOT have the chance to HEAL. Just like with any other recoverable illness or sickness, our bodies must have TIME, distance, and treatment away from that which made us ill in the first place. In THIS case, time, distance and treatment (in the form of counseling in many cases) AWAY from the narc is required. No Contact will allow this process to happen.
- ANY contact, no matter how benign it may SEEM, has a negative affect. ANY CONTACT. Remember, the narcissist will invest time, money, effort and energy to WIN YOU BACK through hoovering (shown through ongoing sporadic OR consistent contact, the continuation of trying to reach out to you, attempts to connect with you, etc.) and love bombing (false promises, gifts, flowers, dates, attention, flattery, etc.). YOU MUST DENY ALL OF THESE ATTEMPTS and the way to do that IS TO BLOCK THE NARCISSIST ON YOUR PHONE, CELL PHONE, EMAIL, SOCIAL MEDIA, and everything else you can possibly think of the narc may use to contact you. Any contact you ALLOW (and if you are NOT blocking the ex narc, you ARE allowing contact; no need to sugar coat the truth) gives the narc opportunity to WEASEL their way back into your life, heart, head, and soul. DO NOT ALLOW THIS. You simply MUST protect yourself through Blocking and No Contact. Do NOT think you are ‘strong enough’ to ‘handle it’. All it takes is ONE bad moment, one moment of vulnerability or weakness, and ALL OF YOUR HEALING AND RECOVERY and resolve flies out the window. Your life will again return to the chaos, harm, and abuse if you allow this. NEVER underestimate the lengths a narcissist will go to in order to once again CAPTURE your attention (positive or negative), invite a chance to reconcile, or even a chance to PUNISH YOU FURTHER through blame, manipulation, shame, projection and deflection. Do you want to know what I was PROMISED if I reconciled? A BOAT! And helicopter rides! A BOAT! I had never even expressed an interest in a boat, yet – the narc was hopeful THIS would make a difference. Nope. ** Again, I understand with children Blocking and No Contact is not possible. Please research ONLINE EMAIL PARENTING APPS that will allow ANY AND ALL contact related to the children (and ONLY the children) via this platform. Online emailing eliminates the ‘he said / she said’ issue, and can be used in a court of law as documentation, evidence, and proof. Using a parenting email app should be NON-NEGOTIABLE. Please, look into this with your attorney if you have children with the narcissist.
- Time, space, distance emotionally and physically, and detachment ARE REQUIRED for recovery and healing. There is NO doing this part time or halfway. If you choose to continue to engage with the narcissist, your healing will be delayed, complicated, messy, and MUCH WORSE than if you had employed Blocking and No Contact. Why continue the abusive cycle? Why do this to yourself? This is actually considered a form of SELF-ABUSE by some in therapeutic counseling circles. I will reserve my judgment on this point as self-abuse is far too complicated to handle via this forum. It does pay to think about and analyze however, the REASONS behind the choice to continue contact, if you do. CONTINUED CONTACT IS ALWAYS A CHOICE, and THERE ARE REASONS you choose to continue involvement and contact with an abuser. Those reasons should be addressed with a qualified therapist, skilled in the area of narcissistic abuse.
Here are some examples of what NO CONTACT DOES NOT LOOK LIKE:
- Checking social media for what the narcissist is doing.
- Checking social media for where the narcissist has been.
- Checking social media for who the narcissist is with.
- Checking social media of the friends of the narc (for the purpose of trying to find a picture or post about or by the narc).
- Checking social media of the family members of the narc (for the purpose of trying to find a picture or post about or by the narc).
- Checking social media for ANY reason related to the narc.
- Looking up old posts / pictures of the narc on social media.
- Driving by the narcissist’s home.
- Driving by the narcissist’s place of employment.
- Driving by restaurants, malls, shopping centers, and other venues on the off chance the narc’s car (or they themselves) will be there.
- Driving by mutual friends’ homes, friends of the narcs, family members of the narcs, etc.
- Allowing (or initiating) text messages from the narc to come through.
- Allowing (or initiating) emails from the narc to come through.
- Allowing (or initiating) phone calls from the narc to come through.
- Allowing (or initiating) social media interaction by the narc to come through.
- Allowing ANY INCOMING communication attempts via any platform.
- Looking up police records, public records, official records related to the narcissist (in some cases, an attorney may need to do this for court purposes). In some cases, research may be necessary to solidify court proceedings; these are best left to you attorney.
- ANYTHING that keeps the narcissist IN your life on ANY level, under any circumstance (see above notes on issues relative to children).
I must state that many of these above items are TEMPTING, and we may in fact not be able to deny every single urge, every single time, every single moment of every single day or night. WE ARE HUMAN BEINGS, not robots, and I FULLY understand that. Having said this however, we MUST accept our OWN responsibility, and the resulting NEGATIVE consequences, should we continue to engage in any of the above.
Everyone, I know how hard this is. I know there may be very REAL relationship ADDICTION factors at play that need attention. Don’t forget, I too was involved with a narcissist. I too, have gone through this very LONG and arduous recovery and healing process. I get it, I do. The intention here is to allow knowledge and understanding to motivate and perpetuate healthy and solid, productive decisions, allowing abuse recovery and healing to progress as smoothly as possible. This IS a marathon everyone, not a sprint. It in fact, may be the most difficult recovery and healing journey you ever take. You are so WORTH any quality decision that will HELP you heal. Every decision we make moves us CLOSER into healing, or further away. Please, please take advantage of the benefits (even through the devastating pain) of Blocking and No Contact. The last and very important point here is that YOU RECLAIM YOUR POWER and strength through these very difficult strategies. Over time, YOU WILL HEAL. Blocking and No Contact can help you along this journey. Remember, the END of a narcissistic abusive relationship is a different ‘thing’ altogether and often is wrought with unimaginable distress, emotional turmoil, and heartbreaking pain. PLEASE take steps that will lessen these things in your life. Blocking and No Contact CAN AND DO HELP. Best, L.A.