Something happened earlier this week that I won’t spend time on because I don’t want to give it any more attention than it deserves.
It reminds me, however, that this whole recovery thing is a process. Trauma doesn’t go away as if it never happened; it is something you absorb until one day you aren’t thinking about it in emotional terms anymore, until whatever caused it is just something that happened to you.
A few months ago, I wrote about how it is an emotional hell when you break up and go no-contact with a narcissist. Months later, I’m not in hell anymore, but there are residual emotions. Their intensity has faded to a slow burn, but it can flare occasionally when I am not expecting it. They include:
- anger and disgust when I think back about some of the things he did that I repressed or read some of those text messages from the past or just even think through the entirety of what happened
- sadness for everything that has been lost, from the love I had for him, the way I used to be, and the person I thought I knew
- relief that I am not all mixed up in that anymore
- fear because it’s a form of terrorism in a way knowing he thinks he has the right to show up in my life at any time
So though these old emotions are not completely gone yet, strangely, as they are fading, there are flip-sides, some new emotions too.
- pride in myself for being able to break away completely on my own with almost no support from anyone – I’ll write more about this in another post, as I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately
- amusement at some of the things that he did – which I am finding helps with the anger – not that the situation itself is funny, but some of his behaviors were so ridiculous and over-the-top that I can’t help but find some of them a little funny now with some distance
- joy and excitement at the new person I am becoming now because of all this, and in making new plans and thinking about what the future has in store for me
- empowerment and a fierce sense of protection – as I’ve gotten stronger, I feel a strong urge to protect my peace from negative energy and also protect other people from attacks by others or even just in general, but sometimes it’s hard to do both when you’re still recovering yourself so I end up with anxiety trying to figure this out
I don’t know what emotions will be long-lasting from this yet. You never get closure with your partner when you’re with a narcissist. They don’t leave us with a sense of peace and the relationship doesn’t fit into any pattern we recognize as logical.
Now here I am six months later. I have read over two hundred books and articles on narcissism, psychopathy, and sociopathy. I have talked to a couple of experts to ask questions on things I couldn’t find in books. I have been through Eye-Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy. I myself have written over 70 articles.
So… after all that, and given all that has happened, I’m declaring that I’m giving myself closure.
Here is what I would say to my ex if I were actually having this conversation and we were giving each other closure. The ironic thing, of course, is that if we were, the things in this conversation would never have to be said. Also, he would never understand or accept them for the very same reason. But that’s okay… it’s beside the point. They are not said for him. They are said for me.
- Just Knowing I Am the One Who Has to Give Myself Closure Is Everything. A relationship does not go from passionate one day to as if it never existed the next. If you are able to treat it that way, that means there was no relationship– I don’t care what you call it. To you, relationships are something you try to flit in and out of to get your needs met, not something with two people who both have ongoing needs and emotions. There is no closure with you because you either plan to try to come back for more or you’re pissed you aren’t getting it and tear off into the sunset temporarily to lick your wounds. So I’m in control now. I end this. It’s done.
- You Didn’t Win. I’ve had to claw my way back from hell, but I did it. Yeah, you hurt me a lot. It felt like swallowing broken glass, but I was here long before you came along and I’m still standing strong and thriving without you. I’ve not absorbed your unkind words about me to try to break me down. I don’t have a general distrust of other people. I haven’t sworn off relationships. I don’t sit in my bedroom crying all day. I haven’t given up my core sense of optimism and hope. I’m sorry, but you just don’t have that kind of power.
- But Still… Who Do You Think You Are? Now that my brain is clearing, and I step further away from this craziness that was our relationship, I can look back at some of the things you did and said to me. What goes through your mind that you think you have the right to go through your life treating people this way? Nevermind, I know the answer to that. Sad. It will always be a curiosity to me now that people like you exist.
- I Was Too Strong For You. You were never going to be able to keep me. But what this really means is that I’m not pliable and easy to control. I was for a long time. You knew just what buttons to press. Bravo! Nice work. But you wanted to control everything about me. I did things with my own life you didn’t like and that was just too much. You don’t have the same tools to control me that you have to control other women in your sphere, like money, gender roles, and religious doctrine. So you resorted to extreme verbal cruelty and sometimes other types of abuse to try to beat me down so I wouldn’t have any self-worth. You used to brag to everyone about how I was a “fighter,” because I’d been through so much, but relationships are all about domination to you and you started to figure out that survivors eventually rise up. So if I wouldn’t fall in line, I will wear that as a badge of honor because I know exactly what that means.
- I Feel Sorry For You. I have thought about what it must be like to be you, to have my mood so dependent on what other people think of me and to have to constantly seek out the most shallow of interactions or else I feel completely nonexistent. You can’t get by without other people and yet you despise other people for needing them so much. For some of us, our own solitude is a place of peace. For you, it’s a prison. You’re constantly on the lookout for imagined disrespect, and yet you drive people away and cause your own suffering by raining down chaos and misery on everyone around you. It just must be exhausting to run through all these mental gymnastics to avoid having to think about how empty you are and to be anxious all the time that people will look at you and see an imposter. Did I nail it?
- You’re Hollow. You stand on the backs of other people and then stab them where you were standing. You’ve got no honor or integrity– and worse, you know it and don’t care. You’re loyal only to yourself. I hope one day you’re able to look at yourself in the mirror and face that. It actually feels pretty good to go through life acting with honor and integrity, instead of what you can get away with. I guess before that could happen, honor and integrity would have to be things you value– in yourself. Like I said, I hope that day comes.
- It’s Your Loss. If you even bother thinking about me at all, it’s probably something about how disloyal I am, conveniently leaving out how things got this way. As if somehow the dynamic was ever under my control and I wanted things to turn out this way– not that I’d expect you to understand that. I was only valuable to you if I looked the other way while you did whatever you wanted, put myself in a box and ignored my own needs, and let you talk to and treat me however you wanted without speaking up. In other words– an object (see #3). No one can live like that– at least not happily and with good physical and mental health. So what, exactly, did I lose here? You, on the other hand, threw away with your actions someone who loved you with all of her heart, who really would have done anything for you. It’s not even a fair trade. I get my life back and you destroyed a perfectly good relationship and lost someone who loved and cared about you– again, not that I’d expect you to understand that. I doubt you care because you’re just thinking that you’ll get a new relationship, not realizing that since you’re the same person (the common denominator) the same pattern will repeat. But I guess if people are interchangeable and if you don’t care if you hurt them, how many times the pattern repeats and how many people get hurt is irrelevant to you too.
- The Next Guy I Fall In Love With Is Going to Be Glad I Was With You First. I once thought you were the love of my life. Now I know you weren’t, because the love of my life would never have treated me the way you did. The “love of your life” can’t be a one-sided relationship. That doesn’t even make sense. And yet, I learned a lot about love in my relationship with you. Sure, you exploited it, but now I know I’m capable of giving someone that much love. I learned a lot about myself as a person in love. I gained knowledge about myself about being in a relationship and becoming a better partner. I learned a lot of things about myself emotionally and physically, and I’m also becoming stronger and healthier. So I guess I have to thank you for showing me what was possible. My next boyfriend is going to benefit from that and I’ll be a better woman for that man, so I’m sure he thanks you too.
* * * * *
Today, the things I would say to him now are a lot different than the things I would have said to him six months ago. These are the things that foster “closure” in my relationship with a narcissist, things it takes a lot of work to get to because your ex-partner couldn’t care less if you ever have closure or not. Six months from now, maybe I won’t have anything left to say at all.
If you could talk to your narcissist ex, what would you say? Are those things different from what you would have said six months ago? What do you hope you will be able to say six months from now?
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