What to do if you suspect that you are involved with a pathological narcissist
If you suspect that you are involved with a pathological narcissist, I believe that the following steps are absolutely paramount but do not necessarily have to be in this order:
In my experience, and in the experience of so many other survivors of narcissistic abuse, I had the feeling that something was so terribly wrong in the relationship. This intuitive feeling was my friend and my ally and no matter how much I tried to shrug it off, no matter how much I tried to squash it, to compress it and compartmentalise it, it would not stop talking to me, it was kindly and supportively relentless. It was not a definable feeling. In other words, I did not know that my last partner was a pathological narcissist, I did not know what I was involved with and how dangerous she was to me. This feeling kept on at me, sometimes whispering and other times calling out with a profound, anguished and distressed urgency, “Something is so very, very wrong here. This is not good for you, you are becoming more and more unhappy, you are becoming more and more estranged from yourself, you are getting physically and mentally ill, you are slowly going insane and you are losing all that is precious to you”.
The acknowledgement of these feelings was the first step for me.
Listen to your feelings, they are never wrong and they are not going to go away. Your intuition is your ally and always has your best interest at heart. Always.
I know now that the narcissist’s gaslighting, crazy making, lying, projection, false declarations of love for me, passive aggressive rage, fake empathy, verbal abuse, fake compassion and cruelty made sense and that my intuition was telling me to leave.
The next step is the research and the search for understanding, meaning and answers.
I devoured scores of books written by professionals and survivors on narcissistic abuse, I found hundreds of stories and comments from narcissistic survivors on Quora forums and I watched internationally acclaimed clinical psychotherapists give talks about narcissism on You Tube channels. One Sunday morning, everything snapped into place although I did not want it to. I so despairingly and hopelessly wanted to believe that my sweetheart did indeed have a sweet heart and that that heart pulsed to the beat of authenticity, humanity and compassion but it was not so. All that had made no sense to me about her and my relationship with her fitted and it resonated with unwelcome echoes of ghostly, ghastly terror and dread. One of the most overwhelming feelings was of relief when I realised that all of this was not my fault. I was not crazy, I was not the abusive monster that she had portrayed me as and that I had believed I was, all of my intuitive feelings were accurate and that all of her craziness made sense.
The shock, the horror, the feeling of her infamy, the violation, the paranoia, the rage, the distrust, the fear and the anxiety. The nightmares riddled with sweat where I would see her real eyes gleaming with a maniacal malevolence looking at me but somehow not seeing me. The absolute disbelief and incomprehension that people that like this actually exist.
This next step, and I cannot over emphasise this enough, is to find the right support.
The vast majority of counsellors, psychotherapists, coaches, attorneys, advocates and social workers are not trained at all in this very specialised field. I believe that it is absolutely imperative to find professionals that are highly skilled, versed and trained in narcissistic abuse in order to get the support, validation and sincere understanding of narcissistic victim syndrome. Untrained professionals will have little to no comprehension of this pervasive epidemic and will therefore often re-traumatise the victim. I have had this experience and I chose to move rapidly away from unsupportive people, narcissistic therapists and to find all the right support.
I found a clinical psychotherapist specialising in narcissism and narcissistic abuse. I made myself into a steel fortress of steadfastness and perseverance and I joined a narcissistic abuse support group in Johannesburg. I spoke with a member of the group every single day. I did this because I needed the support and the constant reminder of how bad it really was. I had to be reminded of how much I had been abused and that all of this was not my fault.
Realisation, disengagement or ongoing disengagement
If you feel that the person that you are involved with is a pathological narcissist, it is vital to remember the following:
It is a profoundly shocking and deeply traumatic realisation. No other realisation and experience in my life has come close to this.
There will tend to be the weaving in and out of the reality of it and the attempt to humanise the pathological narcissist. There will often be bargaining of the victim in the sense of trying to find ways to make the relationship work and even going to therapy with the narcissist. I have never read of any professionally trained clinical psychotherapists specialising in narcissistic abuse or any survivor of narcissistic abuse reporting a successful, loving, non-exploitative and genuinely empathic relationship with a pathological narcissist. Narcissists will not change. There is no hope for change in them at all. The sense of authentic empathy can never be created or re-created.
No empathy means no remorse and this leads to extremely devastating consequences for the victim. Remember that narcissists are in the same category as sociopaths and psychopaths for a reason. They have no humanity.
Should a pathological narcissist be taken to couples therapy, the narcissist will invariably manipulate the typically inexperienced therapist into turning against the real victim. Narcissists sometimes enter therapy with not the slightest intention of changing but rather as either a desperate attempt to hold on to a partner or to learn how to become even more manipulative. I have had this experience and I know of many other survivors who have reported the same thing. As the psychological, emotional and sometimes chemical trauma bond with the narcissist is so powerful, it is extremely difficult to end these horribly toxic and addictive relationships and it will take a lot of awareness, determination and support to do so. I broke up with my last partner a total of four times and it was only on the fourth break up, that I successfully got away from her.
Should you leave or be left by a pathological narcissist, you can most certainly expect to be hoovered by them. Hoovering is a well-documented tactic used by the narcissist to get victims back. It has nothing to do with with them loving their partners in any way. I need to stress this very, very seriously because it will feel as if they do care and are sincere. They will use fake apologies, pleading, rage, threats, poems, love letters, arriving at the house, phone calls, e-mails, using third parties and mutual friends to get to you and the promise of them changing amongst so many other manipulative ploys and decoys. Narcissists will triangulate you with other people and often turn them against you..
Narcissists cannot exist without their narcissistic supply and an intimate relationship is the primary source. When the narcissist loses this supply, vital to his or her very existence, they go into a state known as narcissistic decompensation. They fold inwards, collapse and become dangerously desperate. This is when they will hoover. It’s just about getting back their supply or their appliance. Narcissists believe that they own people and I believe that the only time that we can assured of not being hoovered by them is when we die or when they die.
I chose to go absolutely no contact after the end of the relationship as there were no children involved. I made sure that the person could not reach me at all in any way. I was prepared and armed and it worked. I became an invisible man and appeared only to those that I trusted.
I believe, and it is the opinion of professionals and narcissistic abuse survivors that, if there are no children involved, that no contact is the best and only option.
No contact means no phone calls, no texts, no e-mails, no looking at the narcissists’ social media, no talking to mutual friends, no meeting up with them and potentially putting any mutual friends on hold-become a ghost and exist only to yourself and those that you trust.
Should there be children involved, either low or minimum contact is recommended.
Should there be shared legal, financial or business concerns, either low or minimum contact is recommended. Should there be a fear of expected violence or a history of violence, please consult with a clinically trained psychotherapist specialising in this field.
I believe that the real healing occurs only when we have permanently disengaged from the narcissist. Please find the trained professionals and support to help you through what is going to be a very difficult process.
Narcissists will fight, and they will fight without any regard or conscience and they want to win. At any cost.
Please look at the resources page for more information on getting the help that you need to get through this.
The following are comments from survivors around the world published on Quora forums
‘Live your life. Be free of the demon. You will see who they truly are; a hunchback spineless shrivelled demon covered with darkness. You my friend, like me will continue to bask in the warmth of the sun, strive, live, and love.’
‘The bullshit never ends…it gets worse, not better…it boils down to fighting for your very existence from a soul sucking demon that will love/hate you for the rest of your life until he drives you insane. That he’ll rewrite your history. They will ultimately make this a winner takes all. This is a no-win situation. Take back your power while you still can.’
‘Narcissistic people are emotional vampires whose ultimate goal is to kill their host.’
‘These demonic creatures are dangerous to empaths.’
‘These walking dead are little adult children’
‘Blood suckers…I needed a transfusion after 12 years with one…. going on six years no contact…single by choice.’
‘She’s going to be waiting until eternity for me to cave. It’s not going to happen.’
‘Go no contact is the only option. There is no hope, they don’t change they are demons, monsters, predators, think of them as wanting to cause harm to you’.
‘So, while I know that deep, yearning desire to be remembered by the narcissist is so profound and all-consuming, just know that being remembered like an object to a parasitic walking corpse becomes meaningless’.