A lot has been written about the difficulties involved in leaving a narcissist, especially if there are children involved.
A lot has also been written about going “no contact” or involving a third party to minimise contact if there are children.
What I haven’t seen a lot about is the business of how to move on after after. That is, after you have left the narcissist or the narcissist has left you,
and you finally know that you don’t want him or her back again.
After the assets and possessions have been dealt with or the custody issues resolved (and yes, I realise that if there are children, there are likely always going to be problems with the narcissist, but I’m referring to finding a situation that’s perhaps as good as it’s going to get) and the dust has settled.
You have your life back.
You might feel deflated.
I’m not kidding.
For example, in my case, it only took four months from the time I separated from my ex-narcissist to the time that my divorce became final. I had a good lawyer who fast-tracked my case on the grounds of cruelty. She was concerned (needless to say, as was I) about his unstable behaviour, the death threats he had made and the continued stalking. The police were involved. He had threatened some of my friends and had written a letter to my employer accusing me of unprofessional behaviour. My employer had turned the letter over to me, unopened.
I also made the difficult decision to buy him off. I’m not wealthy, not by any stretch, but I felt that if money could allow me to turn the corner on this, could secure me some measure of security, then it was worth it.
And all this concerted effort and financial incentive worked.
I was granted a very timely and efficient divorce, without opposition.
The ex-narcissist continued to pursue me for some time afterward, but that tapered off and then eventually stopped. I haven’t heard from him for a couple of years now.
I had gone into counselling to deal with my feelings and sense of inadequacy about this situation, but that, too, stopped. One day, my counsellor told me that I didn’t really need him any more.
So there I was, with my life back. Suddenly.
It was what I had desperately wanted. But it felt strange. Odd.
It felt like something was missing.
And really, something was missing: all that adrenaline, all that worry, all the quick changes to the house with new locks, new doors, a new alarm system. Attempts at measured calls to friends, to the police. But they could tell anyway that I was frantic. Meetings and e-mails. Trips to the bank. Forms and papers. The not sleeping.
And before that, there had been my decision to divorce him. And before that, there had been that terrible life with him. A life of constant stress, of constant hectoring and confusion and volatility. A life in the land of the narcissist. And that is a strange place.
After all that, just being with my real life was no longer familiar. I had to learn it again. And I had to incorporate all the stuff I had learned.
So, I wasn’t really going back to my old life. That was forever gone.
I had a new thing. It was sort of my old life, but also not. I had the same job, the same house, the same friends and the same family. But I was a lot wiser and happier and yes, sadder, especially about how I was also partly responsible for putting myself in this situation. I found myself processing for a long time afterward.
I am still processing, and will likely always be processing.
Because to close the book on an experience like this is to move on before the full set of lessons can become clear.
And that’s dangerous. It might invite false confidence. To think that we know everything we need to know, well, isn’t that kind of narcissistic? There’s always more to learn.
So, once you have finally dumped that narcissist and gotten your life back, allow yourself to explore this new reality.
Take your time, and value the positives that have come from it.
Let yourself be okay with having gotten mixed up with a narcissist.
Incorporate what you have learned into your new/old life.
Realize that you might feel deflated. That’s okay, too.
Remember that a new beginning is a good thing, and don’t forget to be forgiving of yourself.
Over to you. 🙂