At first there is shock and disbelief. There is also confusion. The truth is confusion has been there throughout the relationship with the narcissist. Living with one is like being entombed, it’s slow moving death. Everything about you is being erased, you are there for one purpose only, this is to serve the narcissist. When the relationship ends you don’t know who you are anymore. You will go over the entire relationship until you figure it out. Something was off and you knew it. You just did not know what it was.
After a few years of going over the entire relationship you begin to understand what happened to you. You feel angry someone could use you, abuse you, then dispose of you like you never existed. You also become angry at yourself for staying in an abusive relationship. Then you ask yourself what is wrong with me how did I, why did I stay in this? You realize you must examine your life as a whole and look back into your past, all the way back to childhood to understand yourself and why you would stay with an abuser.
Then you realize you sacrificed your own self in this relationship. You say to yourself no more. Never again. You know you need to make changes in your life moving forward so you begin to form boundaries. Forming boundaries is not as easy as people think. If you were a people pleaser, and a fixer, people are shocked and angry when you begin to take care of yourself. People are used to you saying yes to everything. They are upset when you say no. You must stick with your boundaries and caring for yourself no matter how upset others get.
You realize your toxic relationship with the narcissist needed to end. You are grateful it’s over, but you still suffer through a lot of pain. It’s a battle of the mind between the illusion the narcissist created, and the truth. Surely it could not have been all a lie. How could he fake those feelings for me for decades? So many questions you struggle to make sense of. While going through the pain of all the unanswered questions you must keep living, must keep moving forward because life doesn’t stop. You have duties and responsibilities. Coping can be very difficult especially when one is suffering from the after effects of a long and abusive relationship. You will have anxiety and fear. You may isolate yourself and build up walls to keep people out.
You may join support groups where you hear other stories like yours. This can be validating as people in your life who have not experienced this may not understand. You may hear statements like “why don’t you just move on.” “Get over it and move on with your life.” You begin to notice people in your life who use and invalidate you. You start removing toxic people from your life.
You work on yourself and your healing. Recovering from narcissistic abuse and from old childhood wounds. You look for ways to protect yourself in the future and moving forward. You read about narcissism, narcissistic personality disorder, cluster B disorders, and manipulators. You come to a full understanding of what happened and why you put up with it.
You become aware. You are aware of yourself, your own actions and the actions of toxic people. You come to acceptance. You realize your life is now peaceful without the chaos the narcissist brought into your life. You are grateful the relationship ended and for your freedom. You appreciate your life, your loved ones, and the meaning of small everyday things in life. You being to live again, and feel alive again.
Many years have passed without contact with the narcissist. You are doing well. He sees you and can see you have recovered. He tells you he is sorry for his past behavior and has reasons for why his behavior was so bizarre and abusive at discard. What would you do? Can you see through him?