You had basked in the glory of the narcissist’s undying love during the pedestal phase. Then, as if out of the blue, you were thrust from the pedestal, devalued and degraded from the ‘love of my life’ serious partner material to someone in consideration with no rights to expect anything at all.
You stuck around, clinging to the memory of those days past. “Someone who loved me, adored me and worshipped me like he used to could not just have lost interest in me completely,” you thought. “This must be fixable, it will bounce back,” you were telling yourself, thinking that your perfect prince charming was just temporarily confused and all he needed was your compassion, understanding and a bit of time.
But the growing indifference of the person you not so long ago were one hundred per cent certain would be your future has eroded your confidence. You are constantly balancing on the brink of an emotional meltdown but trying to hold yourself together because oh, he doesn’t like when you are crying.
You are still clinging to the hope that it’s all just a temporary glitch but things are just getting worse. Kind of sneakily. It feels nothing like your previous break-ups. Something is seriously odd here but you have no idea what that is.
You are receiving less and less attention, less and less consideration. And then, one day, it’s over. You have been discarded. At this stage, you still don’t understand what has happened and are seeking answers with the one person that could provide them but doesn’t intend to do so – your narcissistic ex.
You have completed the full cycle – pedestal – devaluation – discard. You are now an old broken toy and the narcissist has absolutely no interest in you since he is busy grooming his new source (someone better and shinier, he thinks – until he gets bored again obviously.)
The time around and post discard is tough. If you are like I used to be, you still don’t know that you have been with a narcissist. That’s not a good place to be. I want you to figure that out fast.
I don’t claim my account to be comprehensive. It’s obviously based just on my experience with a higher functioning passive aggressive covert narcissist. But I believe that the more information out there, the better.
After you complete the entire learning cycle, you will see the narcissist as someone totally different from the person you used to think you knew.
The time post discard is the time of learning the truth. You will be forced to comprehend the fact that the dead serious relationship you thought you had was just a fraud and that the awesome person you used to know was just a false self.
So what are the behaviours that you can experience from a narcissist in this challenging period?
He wants you to continue believing in the lie
I at first received what HG Tudor describes as the Golden Wedge discard. The narcissist parted with me claiming that he would always love me, that he would always respect me and thanking me for ‘coming into his life and changing it for the best‘ (These are his exact words, please remember them when you reach the end of this article).
This sort of behaviour has one aim – to make you want to wait for him, to subtly persuade you to keep sitting on the back burner while he is running around chasing new sources of supply (read my article about narcissistic supply and how to stop handing it over).
It’s designed to make you think that he is just confused and needs time to sort himself out. He is not giving you any guarantees, he is not committing to you but he deliberately makes you feel that there is a future for you and him.
He is playing a part of an existentially confused hero. You don’t know that in reality, he is having a good time chasing his new sources and doesn’t struggle with anything really. But he doesn’t want you to know the truth. He wants you to only have the information that he chooses – the information that will make you see him as the good guy, the love of your life that you lost. He only wants you to have the information that will keep you under his spell.
If your instinct is at least a bit healthy, it will start kicking in and you will begin to ask some of the more uncomfortable questions. That would ultimately lead to harsher and harsher behaviours from the narc that would eventually completely negate his proclamations of love and respect for you.
(One of the biggest lessons from a narcissistic relationship is that you should always focus on a person’s actions rather than words. Words mean nothing. Integrity is what counts.)
Uses your deepest trigger against you
Prior to the discard, I remember telling the narc: “Please don’t ignore my messages, being ignored is my worst trigger. If you need some time to think, let’s just agree on a date when we would talk and I will give you the time.”
Guess what happened? Yes, he started ignoring my emails and messages and was never willing to agree on any time frame, in which we would reconnect to discuss what was going on in the relationship. He would always say that he would be in touch but never intended to do so. For the first few months, I would always resolve not to contact him but over and over again I would give in after a few weeks since the need to understand (and unfortunately my addiction to the illusion of the false self) was too intense and there were too many questions.
Now guess what happens when someone pushes your deepest trigger? Yeah, it causes you all sorts of extremely difficult emotions, it makes you act upon those emotions – and that’s exactly what the narc wants. He wants you to give him bullets to shoot you with later. (In this article I have described how a covert narcissist makes you look like the crazy person).
Starts accusing you of things that he is doing to you
During the pedestal phase you were probably constantly praising the narc, or better say his awesome creation – the false self – for being the best, brightest, most loving, perfect boyfriend you could have dreamed about. You praised him for being smart, mature, supportive.
But that’s not the person you are seeing now. You still believe that the kind reasonable man is there somewhere, buried underneath, and you are trying to make this reasonable man see that his current behaviour is hurtful and weird. Sure he is doing it just out of ignorance, you think.
But as you start providing the narcissist with negative feedback about his behaviour and its impact on you, the exact opposite of what you’d hoped for happens.
You don’t know it yet but you are now triggering the narcissistic injury and offending the narcissist’s giant ego. The narc can’t have it and will become extremely defensive. You try to bring this defensiveness to his attention but something really weird happens – he accuses you of being defensive.
You will be shocked and start scrutinising your behaviour. When that happened to me, I was confused. But I knew that throughout my relationship with the narc, I was always willingly accepting blame for everything, I saw myself as faulty and damaged and was willingly allowing him to make fun of some of my odd behaviours and reactions. In fact, I was always saying I needed to do something about myself. How could he tell me that I was defensive after every sentence then? That just wasn’t adding up.
Talking to you as if nothing has happened
For some reason, the narc expects that he can walk all over you but you will happily forget it and talk to him as if nothing has happened when he decides to give you his attention again.
I remember one time, about six months post discard. Some of my possessions were still in the narc’s house and I contacted him wanting some stuff back because I was moving into a new house. He was suddenly all friendly, even offering to help me with the move and telling me that he was there for me if I needed anything.
I was quite outraged. I remembered one night shortly after the discard. It was perhaps the worst night of my life. I was in turmoil. The rejection and abandonment fears of my childhood stirred by the sudden collapse of what I used to consider my future. I felt as if I had a knot in the middle of my abdomen that was radiating pain and weird vibrations throughout my body. I felt completely lost. At that time, I had no friends in the city where I had moved with the narc three years prior to that. I messaged him desperately in the middle of that night – “If something happens with me, can I rely on you as a friend?” He never responded. Later, he ignored me for Christmas and only sent me a pathetic New Year’s wish at six AM, telling me that he hopes that I will find happiness in the new year. This was a foretaste of things to come.
But at that time six months after the discard, he suddenly wanted to chat with me as if nothing had happened. He tried a similar trick later when I again contacted him about some of my possessions. It was a lovely summer day and he asked me whether I was enjoying the weather. I cut the conversation short. Later, he would throw into my face that he couldn’t be bothered to have conversations about weather with me and pretend that we were OK…. (???!!!???)
Attacking you if you try to discuss behaviours that hurt you
I was very slow establishing what I was dealing with. About a year after the discard, I still felt a lot of emotional tension around the way the relationship collapsed. I wanted to talk to the narc and clear things up. I figured it should be possible to have a positive closure. I was partly blaming myself for not having always handled the situation in the right way. I knew I had fired a few angry emails during the discard, some of them containing what would qualify as abusive language, and I thought I had hurt the narc.
I wanted to keep the positive memories but I needed him to understand that his abruptly cutting me off after four years of what I used to think was a serious relationship had been psychologically very difficult for me. I wanted him to understand that his refusal to communicate with me was what had indeed been making me angry and lash out.
I had done a lot of reading since the discard. I understood that what he did was called stonewalling and I was worried I caused him to act like this by too harshly confronting him with his behaviours.
I thought he didn’t know what he was doing. I thought he stonewalled me because he felt overwhelmed and confused. I wanted to clear that up.
But my intentions hit something I had not expected. The narc told me that I was unhealthily dwelling on it. That he had long moved on, had no regrets whatsoever and that he hoped that one day I would be happy too (this would become his trademark line during our final communication exchanges). He also told me he regretted that I was in pain and hoped that I would get better soon.
He added something along the lines that the relationship had never really been that hot, that it simply ran it’s course, and that he saw absolutely no benefit in talking about anything. In fact, there was no obligation for him to talk to an ex at all, he said, making it clear to me beyond any doubt that he was truly annoyed by my insistence.
As he said, he had always been the type that simply turns the page, burns the bridge and never looks back.
This was way different from the guy who had been originally reassuring me that he would always love me and respect me. More shocking was the fact that this change happened during a time when I had essentially no contact with him.
The cognitive dissonance was tearing me apart and I thought it was a matter of life and death to put this on a positive footing. I wasn’t getting it. I didn’t know how to reconcile the memory of the reasonable kind person and this vile creature I was interacting with now. I really wanted to move on in peace, without resentment and bitterness.
But here is how it works in the world of a narcissist – if you feel resentment and anger towards someone, it’s your fault. You are resentful and bitter, that’s the reason for your feelings, not the fact that the narc treated you in ways that are disrespectful and outright mean.
For this narcissist, me having these difficult emotions was the exact excuse for not talking to me. In fact, he would say that he would talk to me in the future when I stop being resentful. And he would add that I clearly needed more time to get over it.
Refusing to meet you until you beg him
I was still clinging to the memory of the false self, trying to reach the person I used to think I knew.
I thought that the whole thing was some giant misunderstanding and I attributed it to the fact that we were communicating via email. I thought that if we meet face to face, we would be able to resolve the conundrum. I had no intention of getting back into the relationship and I reassured the narc that all I wanted was to get a peaceful closure.
Since the discard, my life had improved tremendously. I achieved a lot of psychological healing, made new friends and was aware of the fact that the narc clearly wasn’t on the same life trajectory as myself.
But when I interrupted the weird exchange of emails with a request to talk face to face, the answer was no. He doesn’t want to meet me, there is nothing to talk about and I have to accept it.
I was still emotionally hooked. I felt I must have contributed to creating the conflict and I wanted to resolve it. I don’t like interpersonal mess. I grew up in a highly dysfunctional family. My parents’ divorce was as bad as it could have been. Moreover, in my heart I am a peace and love new age hippie and I don’t like the idea of having to be reincarnated again in my future life into the same toxic situation (I honestly hope my only future encounter with the narc will be him being reincarnated as my daughter’s hamster).
At that time, I still didn’t understand that creating conflict deliberately and resisting attempts to resolve it is a typical modus operandi of a narcissist (the only way to resolve a conflict with a narcissist is to accept the narcissist’s version of events).
I did virtually beg the narc to meet me. That’s how important it was for me to leave this chapter of my life behind in peace and on good terms. He reluctantly agreed.
During the meeting I was struggling with cognitive dissonance. On one hand there was relief that the person who presented wasn’t as hostile as the one I had been interacting with via email. But still, negativity was virtually radiating from this person. The narcissist was very patronising and passive aggressively attacking my interests and personality.
Later I realised that I had spent the whole meeting trying to dispel his negative energy and placate him. I wasn’t any closer to my closure.
The ultimate silent treatment (when you start asking uncomfortable questions)
I guess you think I must have been really dumb, not being able to leave it behind and just move on. But as every narc victim knows, the cognitive dissonance is powerful and out attachment to the illusion of the past propels us forward as we desperately try to hold on to the memories and the belief that the whole thing, even if it didn’t last, was at least real and that the person who so abruptly discarded us, actually cared.
I did continue attempting communication with the narc. And he was willing to engage with me – as long as I was getting emotional, as long as I was defending myself, arguing with him, explaining myself.
But then I stopped. At that time I learned non-violent communication. I thought it would be the best tool to resolve such a confusing struggle. I was blaming myself for not communicating properly. I was blaming myself for losing it and lashing out. I thought it was up to me to make it right.
With non-violent communication, I started basically reflecting to the narc his own words and highlighting the discrepancies in his statements. He couldn’t handle it.
During our final exchanges, I heard a whole record of things that I had said and done in the past, some dating from the earliest times of the relationship, twisted in a way that could be used as ammunition to assassinate my character. Innocent remarks I made about other people, things I said or did and for which I had apologised a thousand times. It was all still there in the narc’s mind, fresh and ready to be used against me.
The problem was that I still wasn’t ready to let go. The last thing he told me was that we will touch base in the future when I stop being resentful.
The hacked Skype account
At about the time this drama was unfolding, I discovered that my Skype account had been hacked. I wanted to install the application on my new phone and realised I had long forgotten the password. I had been logged into my account on my computer for the past two years, never needed to enter the password.
As I tried to reset the password, I was quite shocked to see that the recovery address was something starting with p on a yahoo.gr domain. The ex narc is Greek. I tried to use the Skype recovery form to regain control over the account but it came back as owned by another email address that wasn’t mine. I knew this email address. The narc showed it to me in the early days of that relationship and told me it was his secret identity. I had no clue why he did that.
I had noticed some other strange behaviours on my Skype account even before that and I informed the narc about it. No response. I figured he did this before he discarded me when he had access to my computer. I used to be very trusting around him with my passwords. Back then I wouldn’t imagine in my worst nightmare that he would abuse my trust in this way.
Microsoft wasn’t able to recover my account. The narc changed too much information.
The grand punishment
I was really upset. I was still trying to reach the narc. I was also getting frustrated and angry by the behaviour I was experiencing (silent treatment is known to be more psychologically damaging than being yelled at).
At some point I realised there was still some of my stuff left in the narc’s house and I was curious to see whether he would respond to my request to have it returned if I ask him not to meet me in person but to mail it to me.
No response came. I reached out to a common acquaintance – perhaps she could ask him why he can’t respond to my legitimate request to have my stuff returned. Perhaps he can explain to me what’s this thing about my Skype account.
Her response shocked me – the narc was blaming me for dragging other people into a problem between him and me. She commented on his unpleasant and irritated demeanour during the conversation.
I finally got it. He was no lost soul. He was doing it all deliberately. You probably wonder why it took me so long (I leave that for another article but it has to do with my childhood conditioning).
At that moment I flipped. I flipped big time and sent him quite a barrage of emails, telling him all I have learned about his disorder and his behaviour. I was crying writing those emails, realising that the man I used to care about so much in a certain period of my life, was in fact a complete stranger and a really vile one.
The narc reported me to police for harassment. The man who spent three years of my life telling me how much he loved me adored me and worshipped me reported me to police for harassment when I threatened to tear down his likeable mask and expose him to the world. The man who hacked my Skype account reported ME to police for harassment.
When I was at the police station, I felt like I was a character in a bad film.
At least, I decided to see whether I could prove that the email address owning my account was indeed his. I to track this email address to an online nick name, which I was able to link to a Twitter account.
Again, the Twitter account is not under his real name, but I recalled he owned this Twitter account.
The most telling thing was that I was blocked from following this account. I had never followed him in the first place. I unfriended the narc on Facebook shortly after the discard because I simply didn’t want to see his happy snaps with friends while I was trying to figure out what happened to that once perfect relationship.
But I realised that the official narrative he was spreading among his circles was that I was obsessed with him and that I was stalking him. That made me realise how seriously ill this man must be – he hacked my Skype account but in his deranged mind he persuaded himself that it’s actually me, who is stalking him.
Light at the end of the tunnel
I am seriously tempted to post here all the screenshots linking his social media profiles to my hacked Skype account but I do have serious concerns he could send someone to throw acid into my face.
For all of you that are still in the thick of it, I want you to know that there will come a time when it all leaves your system. I can say that while it still occupies my mind occasionally, there are no longer any emotions connected to this whole saga. Not even the disgust and disbelief I used to feel after all the pieces of the puzzle finally fell into place. I still feel the fear sometimes what sort of damage the narc might attempt to do to me. I know that there are no limits for narcissists. In their ill minds, all their behaviour is completely justified. It’s really hard to fathom. Narcissists are scared to death of having their Mr Nice Guy mask pulled off and because they have no compassion, empathy and no ethics, they are ready to pull the heaviest guns.
I hope this is the end of the story but I will share more of the lessons that I have learned from this experience. The important thing for every single one of us is to learn to understand how we got ourselves into such a situation and learn to spot narcs and avoid them in the future.