Moving on after the Narcissist

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,

Life is rich again.
Life is rich again.

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.

Now what?

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. πŸ™‚

18 thoughts on “Moving on after the Narcissist”

  1. I’m so sorry you had to endure this, Lynette. Obviously, it’s helped to make you who you are today…which is pretty terrific. You’ree helping others in similar situations by being open and honest about your experience. You rock!

  2. I love some of the lessons here. I think you’re right about deflation, and not just with narcissist relationships, but a lot of things that happen in our lives with disappointments. I agree with Kimberly. That last sentence is so important. I hope you’re doing well!

    1. Thank you. πŸ™‚

      Yes. We pour ourselves into dealing with whatever the problem is, and then we suddenly find ourselves twiddling our thumbs, with a whole pile of fight all dressed up but nowhere for it to go. It takes a bit to come down from that.

      I am doing well, thanks. πŸ™‚ Good to hear from you again. πŸ™‚

  3. Wow, you just nailed where I am right now. The dust has settled, for the most part as we have a daughter together, and I’m left wondering, “okay…… what?” Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful we are divorced and his reign of terror is over, but my life feels weird. I had been with him since college and I just turned 40 yrs old. It’s been so long since I had real control of my life.
    The hardest thing for me currently is never having any validation from him or his family. His family, whom I loved, have always blindly stood by him. I want an apology from him and validation that what I endured was horrible. I understand it’s something that will never come, but how do I get over that?

    1. Hi Cara, thanks for coming by. πŸ™‚

      Narcissists don’t do genuine apologies. They will apologise if they see it as necessary to aquiring something else that they want, but they don’t really understand what the point of it is.

      I understand your thinking. When I divorced my ex-narcissist, I legally required that he stop using my surname because of his many financial indiscretions. He kept using it anyway. I could have taken him to court over it but I walked away instead. This really upset me, but I felt that if I pursued him then he would revel in the continued attention. Sometimes, we just have to accept that where a narcissist is concerned, we’re never going to get a whole piece of pie. Your ex-narcissist would probably love to manipulate you over this, and all that will do is open up your old wounds.

      The idea that he owes you an apology might also trap you in the position of continuing to feel like a victim. You don’t need him to validate what he did or how he made you feel. You know what he did and how he made you feel, and that’s what matters. Your opinions and feelings are valuable and meaningful to you.

      Be good to yourself. πŸ™‚

  4. Just coming out the other side of this myself.. Later in life brief marriage. He wanted money. I’m learning to stop beating myself up too. Good article.

    1. Thank you. πŸ™‚

      Mine was also later in life and brief – just short of 20 months. It was money-driven (among other things) as well.

      Good to know that you’re coming out of it.

      Be good to yourself. πŸ™‚

  5. Has anyone had to leave a narcissistic partner in which the partner is threatening to keep the dog they never truly cared about anyway? My inclination is to just leave with my dog and my ex can take me to court over the dog, which I am hoping won’t happen. Everything is just so fear based. Hoping for some insight and perspective on this. Thank you!

    1. Hi Jane, oh yes, their behaviour can be very fear based, but can also stem from their belief that if they can’t have something, then you can’t, either. Your ex-partner just wants to make things difficult for you, to make you hurt. Narcissists, by definition, are hurting terribly and feel that if they’re hurting, others should hurt, too. Their resentment for what they interpret as the unjustified advantages of others knows no bounds.

      If I was in your position, I would take my dog. As you have already indicated, your ex-narcissist doesn’t really care about the dog; nevertheless, he may make threats about taking you to court anyway just to scare you or worry you. My guess is that your ex won’t follow through; many narcissists are full of hot air. They get a big charge out of trying to manipulate people’s emotions and seeing how far they can go. Most of them run out of steam when it comes to really carrying through, though. However, your knowledge of your ex has to take precedence over what I’ve written here. Hope this helps.

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