I am deeply sorry for what you are experiencing and processing to have led you to this page.
I am also optimistic for you ~ your being here reflects your self-love, self-respect, and desire to heal and feel better.
The emotional pain and psychological confusion caused by a person who is high on the narcissism spectrum, or who might have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), is excruciating ~ especially when this person is someone you love.
Letting go of the “dream” you shared with this person and accepting that they do not love, respect, and care about you in the way you were led to believe, could be one of the most difficult challenges you will face.
There is no set time-line for this layered and complicated grief; you are not only grieving the loss of a love you have invested in so deeply, but also the wonderful partner you believed this person to be. You might also be grieving the YOU who existed so brightly before the abuse began, as well as the kind and just world you believed you were living in.
You are likely struggling with both cognitive dissonance and a loss of innocence as you try to make sense of what has happened.
You Are Not Alone
You are not alone.
It was not your fault that you became entangled with someone like this.
You WILL feel better and the world WILL look beautiful again ~ in time.
Many incredible, intelligent, and highly capable people find themselves involved in these particular kinds of toxic relationships, often more than once. Perhaps you have also experienced narcissistic abuse from a family member, friend, spiritual leader, or employer. Until we take the time to embark on the process of fully understanding and healing from narcissistic abuse, we are vulnerable to repeating the pattern in subsequent relationships.
The pattern CAN be broken and you CAN truly thrive again.
You Are a Person of Great Value
You were not selected by this loved one for your flaws (and all humans do have flaws); you were selected for the positive qualities you possess that made you an attractive source of admiration, validation, sex, and/or service. You provided for them a mirror that reflected back a much more beautiful person than they are capable of seeing, believing, and portraying on their own. When your natural responses to their troubling behaviors began to alter this mirror and you could no longer offer a “reflection of perfection,” they began to de-value you and the abuse escalated.
While you may be struggling with heartbreaking beliefs that your loved one must perceive you as “worthless” to treat you so poorly, I assure you ~ that person knows your tremendous worth and value; that’s why they worked so hard to seduce and have you in the beginning. It is also why they have tried so hard to control you.
If you are feeling pressured by this loved one to stay in or return to the relationship, despite their constant abusive behaviors, this is because they still perceive you as malleable enough to continue giving them such a rich supply of emotional validation and service despite their toxic behaviors. In this case, the abuse will likely continue until you leave or until they wear you out and discard you.
If you are feeling discarded by this loved one, it is because they have pushed you too far for you to deny their abusive behaviors and you are, thus, no longer a rich supply that they can control and access at their leisure. In this case, they are finished with you (for now) and will seek a new supply, a new “reflection of perfection,” who isn’t yet aware of their toxicity.
Whether you are being chased or discarded, please know that both scenarios reflect your strengths and great value; in time, I wish you the enhanced self-awareness and understanding to know that your positive qualities brought you to this painful chapter, not your flaws.
It Was Not Your Fault
It is natural, when we love and trust someone, to be open to their suggestions for how we could improve ourselves. Allowing ourselves to be positively influenced by our loved ones is a beautiful quality that enhances personal growth, both individually and together. Being open to our partner’s influence can become harmful, however, when their “insight” is actually used to gain power and CONTROL under the guise of love and concern for our well-being.
Over time, repeated criticisms, disregard for our feelings and boundaries, and attempts to challenge our realities can wear down our self-esteem, making it difficult to trust our intuition.
Such pain and confusion can result in severe emotional and physical distress; you might be feeling emotionally “unhinged,” noticing changes in your sleep patterns, or perhaps you are experiencing abdominal issues. Listening to your body, to your gut (literally), is imperative for re-connecting to your intuition.
The body always feels what the heart won’t see.
You are not “broken.”
You are not “too sensitive.”
You are not “crazy.”
It is not “all your fault.”
You have been responding naturally to very unkind, unfair, and painful circumstances and behaviors.
Intimate relationships with highly narcissistic individuals follow a cycle of idealization, devaluing, and discard. The highly narcissistic person uses an array of different covert and/or overt forms of abuse to devalue you, depending on the individual, including: gaslighting (challenging your reality), stonewalling (refusing to engage with you), the silent treatment, name calling, threats, minimizing your feelings, ignoring your boundaries, withholding affection, projecting their shameful qualities onto you, blaming you for all the relationship problems, dismissing your thoughts and opinions, talking to you in a condescending tone as if you are a child, insulting you under the guise of humor, and even physical violence. When this person displays intermittent acts of kindness and love, there is often a natural impulse to minimize their abusive behaviors in an effort to hold onto the “dream” or to simply keep the peace.
Of course you want to believe the relationship will improve.
It is extremely rare that a person falls in love with someone who is mean and abusive from the start. They were likely extremely charming and attentive in the beginning, perhaps even with moments of what felt like genuine vulnerability. Of course you were/are doing whatever it takes to avoid the “mean” and to access the “sweet.”
This mean/sweet cycle, however, can repeat and last for months or years until you either choose to leave or you are discarded permanently.
Staying, Leaving, & the Discard
There are many valid reasons people choose to stay in such relationships: love, children, culture, financial issues, self-blame, or perhaps the dynamic is not yet understood as one that will not and cannot improve.
The choices to stay or leave both come with their own sets of risks and challenges:
To STAY could require drastically changing your expectations of your loved one and your relationship, and outsourcing many of your relationship needs to friends and family. Staying could also subject you to further and heightened levels of abuse.
To LEAVE could trigger your loved one’s “narcissistic wound,” causing them to escalate their idealization/devaluing cycle, possibly resulting in heightened abusive behaviors such as stalking, threats, and/or physical violence. Leaving will require going “no contact” with your loved one or “minimal contact,” if you share children, which can feel extremely difficult for quite some time.
In the event that the choice was not your own and you have been DISCARDED by a highly narcissistic loved one, you may be feeling empty, confused, afraid, “unhinged,” and “unrecognizable” as compared to who you were before you met this person.
This is a very natural response to the end of a relationship that offered no empathy, compassion, or explanation.
Healing, Recovery, & Moving Forward
Please know that healing from such a painful relationship is not only possible but it is an OPPORTUNITY to step into a YOU who is more self-aware, boundaried, and whole than the you who entered this relationship. Psychotherapy can help you to access this opportunity and to move forward towards new levels of confidence, self-love, independence, and empowerment.
If you are contemplating staying or leaving a relationship with a highly narcissistic loved one, or you are in the excruciating wake of being discarded, working with an informed therapist is crucial for your healing process, safety, and recovery.
I offer a safe, empathetic, and well-informed space for you to share your story, enhance your understanding of what you have been experiencing, and to heal.
I provide in-person and video therapy and coaching for narcissistic abuse recovery, designed collaboratively to meet your changing needs through this difficult process. I welcome you to contact me by phone or email to schedule a free consultation call.