Boundaries – The Great Wall

Image of the Great Wall

One of the best way to hold your boundaries with the narcissist in your life is to go No Contact. However, when you have children with the this beast, as I do, No Contact is not really an option. I have found that establishing boundaries with the Narcissist is not building one great wall; like the Chinese states used to protect themselves from the nomads. But rather it is more like building a fortification, with multiple smaller defenses.

Before I went to get counselling specialized in narcissist recovery, which I highly recommend, I was working tirelessly on keeping the Narcissist out. I did everything I could to keep everything in my life from my X-wife, and I would go out of my way to avoid her. When she would break a boundary, whether it was via email, via text, or in person, I would crumble. I found myself completely reverting back to the day she walked out on me. Asking myself why I was not good enough, what did I do wrong. Moments later I would become angry with myself for letting my boundary be broken. Each time it happened the depression afterwards was shorter than the time before. However, it was still there each time.

This went on for the first couple years, until I finally got tired of it and said something has to change. I sought out a therapist specializing in working with those with N.P.D. and victims of narcissistic abuse. At my first meeting I told him my goal was to no longer be emotionally effected by this person. I was determined to not let the narcissist enter my world anymore. To build a great boundary wall that was impenetrable to her ways. Over the coarse of many sessions the therapist helped me realize that the very want to hold my boundaries was causing the majority of my angst. It was something I had to work at so hard, that I would loose myself when it was broken. 

The result of that discovery was to build little boundary walls, instead of one great one. Let the narcissist past one or two boundaries, but maybe not the third. I had to define boundaries in my mind that are absolutely not to be crossed and then surround those with ones that are not as important and could be ignored now and then. In doing so the Narc gets supply from crossing a boundary, but I was able to stay indifferent, knowing my most prized boundary was secure. For instance, I am holding a boundary of no contact while I have my children, because there is no need for her to contact me. If I get contact from her, I do not read it at that moment. I wait until a time I feel I want to review the contact, and maybe respond to it. If no response is warranted,  I file it away, and provide no response. My minor boundary of no contact may have been broken, but my major boundary of not interacting, or returning contact stays maintained. This little exercise has prevented most, if not all, of my episodes of depression after an encounter with my X-wife. 

Build little walls, not grand ones. Let the minor things be, protect the major boundaries! This little epiphany, along with setting the stage, which I will get to in another article, has done wonders for me. 

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What If I’m Wrong

1+1=3 (Wrong Answer)

What if your wrong? What if this person that hurt you, or is hurting you, is not a narcissist? What if he/she is correct and you are the one with a problem? What if your the narcissist? What if?

It does not matter! Your feelings are all that matters. Own them. Whether you were with this person for a long time, as I was, or this was a short encounter; whether they left you, or you walked out, all that matters are your feelings. If you are here reading this, you are feeling something that brought you here. Some confusion that you can’t make sense of. How can this person I loved be so harsh? I don’t recognize them. Where is the person I loved? You are asking these questions because your partner built up this false image of themselves. An image you believed in, and fell in love with. Suddenly that person you loved is gone. I not speaking in the physical sense, but rather psychologically. You have been discarded in the narc’s mind like a used tissue. So now you are going to be treated differently by them, but he/she will continue to use the same tools that made you fall in love with him/her.

The narcissist always told you what to believe, correct? Think about it for a moment. Is he/she trying to do that now? Is the narc telling you what to believe again, but this time in a directly negative and derogatory manner. Are you still believing what the narc is telling you? You want to understand, and since that person won’t explain to you what honestly went wrong in the relationship, you begin to blame yourself as the narc has trained you to do. There is no one else left to blame.

Stop. Stop blaming yourself. You would not feel this way if this person was honest throughout your relationship. You are dealing with someone who will never give you the answers you are looking for. That lack of closure is causing you to doubt yourself. This is normal and healthy. You are not the narcissist. A narcissist would not try to understand. Because he/she is superior, he/she does not need to understand someone’s feelings. The narc has none. If you were the Narcissist you would not be doubting yourself. You would not have the ability to look in on yourself, you would not possess the empathy needed to truly love someone. The want to understand why is normal. 

You are not wrong. If you feel a certain way, no one can tell you your wrong to feel that way. These are your feelings. You also can not make a person feel a certain way. How someone feels is completely controlled by that person. Everything the Narcissist tells you about how you ‘make him/her feel’ is just another level of inability to own their feelings; therefore he/she attempts to control yours. In doing so, they make you doubt yourself. It works. It worked on me for a long time. Until one day the masked was removed and I saw her true colors. Those colors scared me.

The narc will tell you that you are wrong, they will continue to slander you to others, gaslight you, and hoover back at times professing the want to speak with you. It is all part of the game they play. They play it day in and day out. It really doesn’t matter if he/she is actually diagnosed as someone with Narcissistic Personalty Disorder. If you want to label this person that so you can find tools to deal with them, that is your free will. You are not wrong.

At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter who is right or wrong. It matters to choose to live a happy life, to rise above the pain and the past. The sooner you can realize that, the sooner you can begin to heal. You may not do it overnight, but it will come. Don’t hate yourself with doubt. Love yourself by embracing your feelings. Trust yourself.

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Lucy Rising

One of the best resources I found early on to my path to recovery was LucyRising.com. If your just finding out that you were with a Narcissist or want to know more about your confusion with your partner, this is an great place to start. It stabilized me and guided me when I was completely lost.

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Secure Me

Locked Gate

When I was finally discarded, I instantly felt threatened. I remember waking that following morning (OK, I did not really sleep at all that first night), I feared I was about to loose everything, I feared she would do anything to destroy me; actually kill me. Instantly, I was in self preservation mode, protect me at all costs. Almost as if I was dropped into a war zone. I instantly felt like a soldier that had zero knowledge of what he was about to face. It was such a strange feeling. Hours before, I was in bed, crying. I just lost the love of my life; she left me for another man. Left me with children, to raise on my own. What was I going to do? That following morning, that all disappeared. All that was present was this fear of danger. Her mask fell off. I was now seeing the real her; and it was like looking the devil in the eye.

While this was my first marriage, this was not the first break up I had ever experienced; I had many before being married. I can tell you, this felt very different from any breakup I had with anyone before. In fact the feelings I was having were completely confusing to me at the time. I was experiencing an awakening. While I was not conscious to it while I was with my narcissistic partner, my mind always knew she was bad for me. When she left, all these repressed feeling and thoughts came rushing forward. I didn’t sleep for a long time. Now that my heart was broken it was no longer clouding what my mind was trying to tell me all along. My mind wanted it’s turn to speak. Speak it did, 24-7, there was no time for sleep. I processed a lot in those sleepless nights. Very hard things; things I did not understand, things that were causing me great fear. 

That feeling of fear grew and subsided throughout years of recovery. The path of recovery was never linear and consistently confused me as the feeling of fear would build within me and then fade away. I would have tremendous days of confidence and happiness, and then one word or email from the Narc would send me in a tailspin. Years later it is still there sometimes; much less than it ever was. It is there so infrequent now that it has allowed my mind to travel in a eye opening direction. In the direction of true introspection, and very clear retrospection. After a traumatic experience like the Narcissist discarding you there will always be triggers that take you back to moments in the experience. Moments that you will begin to relive and try to understand. I have learned to channel what I am feeling about the memories into real healing. The healing is coming from reflecting on what I was really feeling in those moments. Let me explain…

One evening I was talking to my current girlfriend about day to day life. She also was married before. We talked about what we handled in the household, what our partner did, and so on. During one of my explanations I was triggered. I was explaining I did most of the grocery shopping, and thoughts came rushing back in a way I never saw before. I started reliving those evenings in my head. Leaving the house to go grocery shopping late at night, after a long day. I started to remember it was one of my most peaceful moments in my life. Getting out of the house, away from her, was peaceful. That recollection got my gears turning and all sorts of memories started to come back. Memories of how all my anxiety attacks would happen when heading home to her, never while heading out. All the times I would collect the kids, run home, and get dinner ready, being on edge as I tried to have everything ready for her arrival. The dreams I would have as I slept, about how much simpler life would be single again. The constant uncomfortable feeling I had in a social situations involving her, but I was completely at ease in social environments that did not include her. The list goes on. I came to realize I was always on edge around her. 

The need to protect myself at all costs was there, but buried deep within me. My mind was constantly trying to tell me to get away. It was causing me physical pain and fear to try to snap me out of it. Panic attacks, numbness in my limbs, tension in my jaw, grinding teeth at night, headaches. I would not listen to my mind and body though. All I could remember was all the happiness this person brings me. I was waiting for that next great loving moment with her. My heart was blinding me from the truth, while the rest of me was slowly dying. Deep down, buried in my subconscious, I always knew how bad she was for me. They say listen to your heart. Well guess what, your heart can be fooled. Listen to it all, your mind, your heart, your body, your soul. Love yourself, protect yourself, feel your emotions; then love another. 

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Best Worst Experience

Burnt Forest

I was lucky, my relationship with the narcissist ended the day I found out she was cheating on me with another man. When I confronted her about it, she walked out. She barely looked back, other than to blame me for everything. I can hear you saying to yourself as your reading this, lucky, how is that lucky.

I would have never been able to make that decision; to leave her. So I find myself lucky that she removed her mask and showed who she truly was and walked out, if just for a brief moment. In hind-sight that was not the first she cheated, just the first time she was caught. Consequently, I find it fortunate that she made the decision easy by walking out. A week after she disappeared and was not heard from at all, she tried to come back. I said no. I wanted to say yes at the time, but something in me said no, not until we are good again. She gave me a confused look, I held my ground, and she walked out again. Little did I know, that moment was the beginning of something great.

I view the experience of being discarded by the narcissist as the best worst experience in my life. It hurt, was deeply confusing, and caused my health to fall to nearly fatal results. It is something I would never wish it on anyone. However, it turned into most mentally, emotionally, and physically transforming event in my life. Anything the world throws in my path can be faced, I am no longer afraid. What I lived through could destroy a person. I chose not to let it; I survived and I am recovering. I deeply feel that I can accomplish anything and don’t fear the unknown or bad people anymore. I am now invincible.

Situations in my life since have tested me. I pull from this experience and everything I am learning during recovery to face these situations head on. Laughter replaces anger in some cases. Laughter, because I feel I know what the person is thinking, what they are trying to do. Therefore, it has little effect on my emotions and I approach it logically, almost business like. That’s not to say that I don’t feel anymore. Feeling is natural and should not be suppressed. Surpressing feelings can cause greater long term problems. The road to healing is through those feelings. I just listen to them with a different mindset and heed caution that the person causing the feelings may be doing so to knock me off my feet logically. It’s a delicate balance, but one I understand now.

I never would have gained this useful insight, this ability to be in touch with my thoughts and emotions, if not for the hell the narcissist put me through. So, in a weird way, I am thankful. Thankful for this terrible low in my life, that I could grow from. Sometimes you need to burn down the forest to let new growth flourish. The narcissist burned down what I thought was life, and from it came new personal growth.

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Where to Start

Confused Man

As I write this first blog entry, I take the years of experience in my life and reflect back to where I was the day my wife left me and our kids. It has been years since I was discarded but I will always remember how those first endless days after felt. The total confusion, the terrible pain, and the relentless anxiety that filled my days and nights. It was almost too intense to function in day to day life; it consumed me. It was not until someone suggested my partner may be a Narcissist that I begin to discover answers. The road to full recovery was long and I did not know where to start. In fact I am not completely there, but I can see the finish line. I offer 5 key elements to recovery that worked for me; that I wish to share with you as I start this blog to help everyone out there dealing with Narcissism.

Read

Read everything you can find on the subject of Cluster B Personality Disorders, specifically, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Knowledge is the key to understanding what you are feeling and what your partner is not feeling. I have read more books and articles since the narcissist left me than in the entire two decades I was with her. I have opened up a part of my mind that I did not know was there.

Support

Find a NPD victim support group. This could be through social media, forums, or in person. Conversing with others who are dealing with similar issues can be very helpful. Talking to a friend who does not understand what you are dealing with can only take you so far. In fact those who love you and care for you will tell you it’s time to move on too early in your recovery. Further, keep what you discuss with this group quite, as depending on the level of NPD your former partner has, the information shared could be detrimental to your recovery. The member’s of these groups understand the need for anonymity.

Exercise

Working on your physical health is not only good in dealing with the anxiety and depression you will face, it boosts your self-image. Anything you can do to give yourself a boost of confidence will help you tremendously in dealing with everything you will face on this long road to ultimate recovery. I did not choose to begin working out; I had a family member drag me into it. It was the best change to me after I was discarded, and one you will never regret.

Seek Help

Seek professional help. Don’t just find a therapist or a doctor, find one who specializes in working with victims of abuse from persons with cluster B disorders such as NPD. While my first year in therapy was grounding and helped me deal with anxiety issues, it did not address the root cause. It was not until I found a specialist working with persons with NPD and victims of NPD that I started making real prog

Love Yourself

Loving yourself does not mean that you choose not to love others. Loving yourself is about finding out what you want in life. You did not have that option when you were with the Narcissist. Get back to what makes you happy. Do not worry about what others think of your choices. Live how you want to. Don’t judge yourself. Live in the moment a bit, until you find yourself again. Personally, I turned to sex after I was discarded. It was withheld from me for so much during my marriage that I thought that was what was missing. (More on that for another post.) While it was missing, I quickly learned it was not the end game. But none the less I lived that; it was part of learning me and loving me. Don’t doubt, just do, keeping your physical and mental safety in mind as you do.

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