Understanding your partner is a narcissist – is similar to the feeling when you find the last piece in a million-piece jigsaw puzzle. Everything falls into place and the relief of finally understanding who your partner is – is life-changing. Divorce Coach Megan Holgate shares how ending your relationship with a narcissist is actually a new beginning for you.
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If you are in a relationship that is confusing, alternating between hot and cold, and one that has changed your life not for the better, you may be in a relationship with a narcissist. The following are a few personality traits of a Narcissist: –
– They are pathological
– They change – firstly appearing as the loving perfect partner, who evolve into a critical and unsupportive stranger.
– They are conceited, boastful or pretentious.
– They are controlling, needing to know where you are 24/7.
– Have a sense of entitlement.
– Unable to accept
When you are in a relationship with a Narcissist, they can make you feel:-
– Confused, from their never ending web of lies.
– If anything goes wrong it will always be your fault.
– Manipulated to ensure your partner gets their own way.
– Fearful to speak honestly, so as to avoid arguments.
– Exhausted from their unrealistic expectations.
When my relationship with my narcissist husband ended. I was just like you, feeling lost, confused and in shock, trying to comprehend how and why my marriage ended so cruelly and swiftly. I didn’t know what life after a relationship with a narcissist would be. But one important fact I was overlooking was… I was very lucky!
Sure, I missed the highs of being flown around the world at a moment’s notice, dining in Michelin star restaurants, staying in five-star hotels, and having my husband by my side. But none of it erased the other memories.
You know what I’m talking about. As you saw your relationship disintegrate slowly, as your partner transformed into another person? One whose constant stream of criticisms, left you feeling insecure, eroding your self-confidence and robbing you of your self-worth.
But the worst was their pathological lying that eventually killed your trust… and eventually the relationship.
So why should you be feeling lucky?
Because you are now FREE. The door has opened for you to move forward in your life after a narcissist. But where do you start?
There are 2 phases to move through in your life after a narcissist for your healing journey.
– Soothe and Heal
– Acceptance and Growth
Let’s begin with healing:
First, To Soothe & Heal
Life after a narcissist is not the time to be stoic. You must be gentle and kind to yourself. Indulging in as much self-care as possible. As a Divorce and Narcissistic Recovery Coach, I understand the enormity of healing from this experience. My top tips for Recovery are: –
1. Put the Wine Down
It’s a proven fact that alcohol fuels depression, which is not what you need during this vulnerable time. Don’t numb yourself with wine or any substances. Feel the pain, be proud, that you tried, and know with all your heart you are walking the right path. Spend a day or a weekend in bed with your favourite books, DVDs, herbal teas, even your favourite chocolates. If ever a time called for chocolate, I definitely think it’s now, regardless of what the health coaches advise. Just leave the wine for another day. Drinking alcohol will fuel
your low mood and make you feel far worse the follow day. Opt for tea for now!
2. Go Outside
When you are feeling low, the last thing you want to do is to emerge outside. Staying inside is much safer and hiding from the world feels easy. Don’t! Get your active wear on and go for a walk. If you are a fitness devotee, do what fills you up. Yoga, running, Pilates, whatever you love doing – DO IT. If you don’t practice any regular exercise, just being in nature will be beneficial for your health. Whether it’s the beach, the park or the country, just step outside and stop and listen. Listen to the birds, the wind swirling around the trees or the pounding of the ocean. Being still will slow your breathing and nervous system and eventually you will begin to feel calmer and more in control. After a spell of fresh air, finish the day with a beautiful long bath with your favourite oils or simple Epsom salts, as it’s the best remedy for a decent night’s sleep.
3. Be honest with trusted friends
As the “expert in shame” Brene Brown explains –“Shame is the fear of disconnection – it’s the fear that something we have done or failed to do, an ideal that we have not lived up to, or a goal that we have not accomplished makes us unworthy of connection”. No matter what has happened during your relationship, nothing is more shameful than not being frank and honest with your loved ones. At times, when your relationship has ended, you can still hear their voice in your heads, as you believed what they have told you. DON’T! Whatever has happened it’s in your past and it’s over. You need love, you need nurturing and you know who you trust in your life to give you that. Find that family member or friend and open up to them honestly. The minute you have spoken about what you experienced, you will be overcome with relief. Your friends and family will embrace you, support you with the love you need during this tumultuous time. If you don’t have anybody, please reach out to a Coach or Therapist, as you must have support during this time.
4. Grieve during your Life After a Narcissist
Give yourself permission to grieve, as you are mourning the death of your closest physical and emotional relationship. Don’t pretend it doesn’t hurt. Live it, feel it and release it. Grief can be overwhelming, allow it to be. Your partner may not have been perfect, yet the fact is you loved them and they loved you. The problem is narcissists are damaged human beings, unable to love you as you deserve to be. Don’t allow anybody to tell you they didn’t love you, as they did, as much as they are able to. Allow yourself time to process the grief, moving through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, ultimately, acceptance. Some days you may experience every emotion in a matter of minutes. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, but moving through these emotions will guide you towards acceptance of the end of your relationship.
5. Speak to a Specialist
Speaking with a trained Coach or Therapist, especially one who specialises in narcissism and understands what you’ve lived through, will give you immediate relief and answers to the millions of questions you may have swirling around in your head. It’s so imperative to verbalise what you have experienced and to understand it on a deeper level. If you can’t afford to hire a coach or a therapist, find a group such as my Secret FB Group or a self-help group where you can feel safe, secure and heard with like-minded women who have experienced exactly what you have.
Then it’s time to move towards acceptance as you evolve into a much more empathetic human.
Your Acceptance and Growth Pathway
‘The past has no power,
Over the present moment.’
1. Audit All Relationships
This experience will have changed you – for the better. You will be more aware in your judgement of the people in your life. This may come as a surprise to your friends and family, who may want the old you back. The pleaser, more subservient you. But the new you, the empowered, in-control, self-compassionate new you, is here to stay. If your friends and family don’t like the new you… tough! It’s their issue, not yours.
Since your break-up, you may also have discovered some of your family, friends and even work colleagues have narcissistic traits, which you could not see before. You can also see very clearly, where some had taken advantage of your kindness and pleasing nature. Not any more, that part of your life too is now over.
You found the courage to leave your relationship, which has made you feel stronger, empowered and in control of your life at last. Your friendship circle may diminish in the short-term as some find the new you not to their liking. This is good, as this will allow space for honest, decent loving true friends to replace those who never replenished what you gave to the relationships.
The inability to place boundaries would have to be the most common personality trait of most who have partnered with narcissists. It’s not a criticism, simply a fact that needs to be addressed. Most men and women who partner with narcissists are people pleasers, to the detriment of their own needs. Many are unable to say no as they are not aware of their own needs. Many value their partner’s and loved ones’ needs way above their own requirements. Please ensure if this is you that you admit to this fact and begin making changes now. When you want and need to say no to a request, say NO.
Your work colleagues, ones who previously were accustomed to you over-helping them, will take some adjusting to your new ground rules. Don’t waiver in your determination to finally stand your ground and acknowledge your self-worth, as your needs matter too. Once you begin implementing boundaries, the changes within your personal and professional life will be unrecognisable.
When anybody in your life gives you an unreasonable demand, you will no longer jump. You will stop, breathe and then decide if it fits in with your schedule or not. You will be free at last to live your life the way you truly deserve to.
3. Forgiveness – The Key to Your Future
If there is anybody on earth that should have found forgiveness impossible it is Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu, appointed to be The Chair of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission for South Africa once apartheid was abolished. The depths of depravity he had to oversee was unthinkable. However, he and Nelson Mandela both choose the path of forgiveness over hate, which is a lesson to us all. Tutu’s must read book – ‘The Book of Forgiving’ written by Desmond & Mpho Tutu – taught me how to forgive. He explains – ‘Forgiveness gives us the freedom to move into your future, letting go of your past.’ Desmond Tutu explains ‘The invitation to forgive, is an invitation to healing and peace.’