Today we are going to address leaving a narcissist emotionally and physically. Many people feel they cannot leave physically because of logistical concerns (e.g. money, no support system, housing, etc.), so leaving emotionally becomes vitally important. Knowledge is the best weapon you have in this scenario.
The Components of Emotional Abuse
What do I mean to leave emotionally? For the purpose of this discussion, I mean work to NOT get caught in the emotional abuse trap of the Narcissist. Let’s look at a few key components of the emotional abuse.
- Gaslighting/circular conversations
Whether the lying occurs on Day 1 or Day 5981 of your time with the Narcissists, don’t question yourself when someone lies to you. If you are a person of integrity, someone who keep’s his/her word, don’t blame yourself when someone lies to you. Get out your journal (keeping a journal is a very good idea) and write down the date and the facts about the lie. Title this page “Lies I have been told by the Narcissist in my Life”. On Monday he/she told me we were going to my favorite basketball team’s game on Saturday. On Thursday he/she told me he never said we were going to the game.
The way you language the event (describing the person’s behavior in facts), then writing it all down, the reading and rereading, will help you not question yourself. I personally hope, if you need a page called Lies I have been Told, you will leave the relationship immediately. Remember in a new relationship with a Narcissist he/she will charm you while making fake promises to pull you in so notice this and act accordingly.
If you begin to feel or have been feeling for years, that you are responsible for everything that goes wrong in the relationship, you are the victim of Blaming. If you bring up an anger attack the narcissist had with you and he/she blames you, get out your journal and start another page called “Things I am Blamed for.” You are never responsible for the decibels the narcissist chooses for any conversation. If you make a mistake, the narcissist can say quietly “hey I am sure you didn’t mean to do this, and next time could you put the keys back in the drawer so I can find them, Thanks.” You are not responsible for someone else’s out of control anger! Keep looking at the page titled “All the things I am Blamed for” and ask yourself, “Really does this make any sense?” If you are new to the relationship and your partner can never be accountable for his/her actions, it might be time to reassess.
3: Criticizing and Devaluing
Keep a careful eye on how you feel when you are with the people in your network. If on one hand there is a lot of “seductive charming talk” and then there is constant devaluing, criticizing chatter about the essence of who you are, get out your journal. Start a page called “Words used to put me down”. List all the ways you are devalued verbally. Start another page called “Things I love about myself.” Compare the two pages and don’t believe anything that contradicts what you know is true about you. Narcissists work carefully to get you to lose your sense of yourself. Don’t let this happen. Pull the “What I love about myself” list out daily and use it to counter what the Narcissist is trying to get you to believe about yourself. So many family and friends comment on how the person in relationship with the Narcissist has changed. The change is always negative. The change includes a loss of confidence, loss of a sense of self, inability to see the Narcissist for who he/she is, a decline in health, absence of joy, increase in anxiety and depression for starters.
When you are with healthy people, you go home feeling good and you go back to your life. When you are with unhealthy people, you go home and ruminate about what you said, he or she said, should you call, what you did wrong, etc. If you are ruminating, it is probably time for relationship housecleaning.
Circular conversations and gaslighting are unhealthy; period! Gaslighting has its origins in a play about a husband dimming the lights in the house, the wife comments about the dimming lights and the husband denies the lights are being dimmed. If someone is telling you the dimmed lights you see are not dimmed, take out your journal and start a page “Yes the lights are dimmed”. Write down all the conversations where you are being told what is real is not real. If you see this and are new to the relationship Leave! If you have been in the relationship for some time fight to get your reality back. We will explore these breakdowns in-depth in the next article, “Healing from a relationship with a Narcissist.”
When you are able to physically leave an abusive relationship, I recommend using the local agencies set up for this purpose. You cannot assume it is safe to tell the narcissist you are leaving. You can never assume your leaving will be welcomed by the narcissist. And you must be prepared for the narcissist to do everything in his/her power to sabotage your leaving.
“Relationships with narcissists are held in place by the hope of a ‘someday better’ with little evidence to support it will ever arrive” ~Ramani Durvasula
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