I escaped life for a blissful 4-day getaway and found that when I had so much other stuff to focus on, the Narcissist was the last thing on my mind – and that was the absolute best feeling.
I had a realization over this weekend as I spent time reconnecting with an old friend, that part of the fear that kept me stuck in my relationship with the Narcissist was the fear that I would be alone without him. My narcissist did a bang-up job of slowly, over a long period of time, isolating me from every single person in my life that wasn’t there because of him. I felt that I had burned so many bridges that no one would accept me back into their lives or ever forgive me for how I had treated them.
In my story, the isolation started pretty quickly, because I moved to the other side of the globe to live with him (for the military). I’m sure that organically in this scenario I would have lost contact with many people that were in my life at that time, however, the Narcissist made sure to take care of that swiftly. He became obsessed with my past – the relationships that I had, the friends that I had, what my family knew about my past. It was the starting point of any unhappiness in our marriage, and it was the fuel that brought out his anger. He demanded that I cut off ties with anyone who had anything to do with my past. I deleted photos, sent emails demanding that people take photos of me off of social media, sent emails to old friends disapproving of their lifestyle and demanding that they never contact me again.
Whats crazy to me now is that I knew at the time that I didn’t feel those ways, and that I didn’t want to lose contact with all of those people… yet somehow I agreed to do all of it. I typed the emails, I agreed to every single action that I took, I was not held at gunpoint or forced to do those things… and at moments I really believed in what I was doing. Where I was in the cycle with him at that point, I viewed him as the most amazing thing that had ever happened to me. I was being spoiled rotten, I was showered in gifts and anything I wanted, I was treated like a queen and put up on a pedestal and that was something that I had never experienced before. I let the Narcissist slowly convince me that I was lucky to have him, that I had lived a lifestyle that was bad and immoral and that he was kind and forgiving to look past all of my ‘flaws’ to be with me. (My terrible-horrible-no-good lifestyle before him consisted of some former relationships, former hookups, and college party days.. I mean shoot – I was 23 when we met!) He guided me through this process of ‘changing my life for the better’ and I walked the path willingly.
With only my family left in my life, he slowly and manipulatively started turning me against them as well. He framed himself as the victim, and found all of these ways to make it so that my family didn’t love and appreciate him. He made the relationship so tense, and made me have to be so ‘perfect’ in my behavior when I was interacting with any of them… that I started to pull away because it was easier. It was easier to avoid my loved ones than it was to deal with his criticism of how I interacted with them, or with how they treated him. It was easier to stay at home than it was to pretend to be happy with my husband in front of all of them. He got what he wanted without having to force it, and he even tried to spin it in the end that he was encouraging me to rebuild my relationship with them.. that I was the one who chose this and he wanted to help me reconnect with them.
At the end of almost 8 years, I literally had almost no relationships in my life, and certainly no deep and meaningful relationships. I didn’t have any social media accounts, I didn’t speak to my parents or my sister, and I was barely able to keep up a texting friendship relationship with a few of the women I worked with at my past job with his constant scrutiny of how we interacted with each other. I was embarrassed and I was ashamed that I decided to choose my Narcissist over every single person who had ever loved me. It felt overwhelming to admit defeat, and to crawl back to those people and say “I was wrong… I didn’t mean it… I was crazy… I’m sorry!”
“What I have learned through my process is that they will forgive you. They will be so excited to have you back that they will welcome you… and some of them won’t even require an apology. For those that truly love you, it will feel like you didn’t skip a beat – it will feel like nothing ever changed. These people will come together and they will be your support system. They will be people that you can start to talk to about the things you are going through. They will be the people to hug you when you need to cry, and buy you a scorpion bowl and make you sing terrible karaoke when you need to forget.”
I was beyond shocked that everyone who I have brought back into my life has forgiven me, and I am so thankful for that. In all honesty, I’m still working on forgiving myself. I’ve missed 8 years of life with these beautiful people… I’ve missed weddings, the birth of babies, sickness, and even deaths. I chose to give all of my love and all of my energy and all of my focus to the Narcissist and not share that light and love with the people that really loved me… the people that loved me all along without having to change anything or be anyone else.
So if you are scared… scared to leave… scared to be alone in the rubble of the life you have created… scared to take ownership and accountability for the choices you made alongside your Narcissist… don’t be. Be brave, reach out to the people that you have cut off, take the steps to rebuild your life. It is so worth it.