Last week I described how supressed memories of the great times with the narcissist in the early stage of the entanglement make you miss them and prevent you from moving on after the narcissist starts treating you like garbage during the devaluation and discard phase.
But what else is there that keeps you stuck? Why does this weird need to talk to them and reconcile with them keep coming back despite them showing you their total disdain for you?
Why do you keep thinking that it all must be a misunderstanding? Why do you keep thinking that you must explain yourself more, better, again…. Why do you keep thinking that if you just said it right they would get it? Why do you keep blaming yourself for getting angry, thinking that you need to apologise?
I will tell you why – you are still trying to reach the false self. That reasonable, kind, sensitive, awesome person you once knew. You think that he or she must be there somewhere, buried inside that horror freak you are interacting with right now. You believe that if you just say things right, do things right, you will be able to reach this person and all will make sense again.
The mistake that you make
At some point you will be forced to realise that you got it totally wrong. I am not blaming you for that. I made exactly the same mistake. The narcissist’s false self is a master creation. It does feel so real when we are a high-grade source of narcissistic supply during the pedestal phase.
But here is what you need to understand. It’s the other way round. The lovely, kind and sensible person never really existed. It was an Oscar-worthy act put on by the narcissist. The mean jerk you are seeing now – that’s the real deal.
I have to laugh remembering my own journey. I was desperately chasing a closure with the narcissistic ex. I thought that such a great relationship cannot possible end in this weird and bitter way. I still cared about him. I wanted to keep positive memories of our time together. I though it all was just some sort of a massive miscommunication.
But the more I tried to sort things out, the worst it was getting.
He was essentially laughing into my face, telling me that I was unhealthy and unreasonable for wanting to talk about what happened. He laughed into my face telling my how much he was over me and that in fact he never really cared that much about me. He was patronisingly telling me that he hoped that one day I would be happy too. He showed me the record of my transgressions – dating back to the earliest days of the relationship. I never realised he was keeping track not only of situations where I wronged him but also of all sorts of innocent comments I made about other people. It was all there, in his memory, ready to be used against me when the time arrived.
But despite all that, I was telling him – “I know you! We have been through so much together! I know that you are not like this!” To which I only received further condescending and invalidating abuse.
You know what was the problem? Yes, you do! I thought I knew him! I thought that the nice and kind one from the pedestal phase was the real one. I couldn’t comprehend that it was an act.
Eventually, I was shown beyond any doubt that I indeed was in a relationship with a complete stranger. With a completely deranged stranger with a very toxic mind.
It was a terrifying experience.
The horror of realising that you loved and were in a close relationship with a complete stranger
What a naïve little girl I used to be! Thinking that all people are essentially good. So trusting and then so upset to see people treating me poorly.
In my desperate chase for the closure, I bared my soul to the narc. I spoke from the heart and exposed my deepest feelings about the whole situation.
Today I can laugh about it. But realising that I exposed my heart and soul to this ruthless enemy, this freakish monster, really was a massive shock at first. Humiliating, terrifying.
I described all the mad revelations about the man I once considered the love of my life in this article about the discard phase.
At some point I discovered that he had hacked my Skype account when we were still in a relationship, using my own computer and the fact that I used to be so trusting around him with my passwords. He did a damn good job since I was unable to recover the account. The account is still there in the cyber space and he has control over it.
After my final push to break through his silent treatment, he 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 respected me.
He did a very good job portraying me like a nutcase.
But it finally made me realise beyond any doubt that I had spent four years of my life with a complete stranger, that I gave my trust and my affection to someone completely untrustworthy and possibly dangerous. It was a mad revelation.
No surprise that my mind was clinging to the hope that it was all a misunderstanding. What I had to learn was too surreal. I felt like a character in a bad movie. As if I was living a script written by someone else – the narcissist. There were elements of it that made it feel as if he planned it from the start (In the Discard article I describe how he hacked my Skype account using a cryptic email address he once showed me during the first months of the relationship. Back then he told me it was his secret identity and that I should remember it if I ever see it again…. how freaking crazy is that?)
It felt as if my reality was turned upside down.
Thinking that the narcissist is normal
The attachment to the false self is closely related to one basic mistake we do when dealing with narcissists. We think they are normal. We think they are like us. We use our own mental blue print to try to understand them. That’s a big mistake. I speak about this mistake in more detail in the video below.
We know that we are good people in essence but we also know that we have many issues and triggers and can sometimes act mean. We think that the narcissist is just like us. When he starts acting mean, we think that we can bring him back to his or her senses.
We don’t understand that most of the good that the narcissist ever displayed was only an act. We don’t understand that the way narcissists function is totally different.
And for this particular reason, we keep clinging to the hope that the good guy (the false self) will come back.
Hope is very important for people overcoming all sorts of challenges. There are stories of mothers whose children were kidnapped and those mothers never gave up hope and kept searching and searching. Eventually, they children were found alive. Sometimes after decades.
If you didn’t have hope and you were diagnosed with a serious potentially fatal disease, what motivation would you have to keep going, keep fighting, keep undergoing sometimes very unpleasant medical treatment?
If you are in a relationship in a normal, yet imperfect person, and the relationship hits a difficult patch – it’s hope that gives you the chance to salvage the relationship.
But treating a relationship with a narcissist with any sort of hope is a sure way to hell.
This hope is blindsiding us. We cling to the hope that the nightmare can be solved and refuse to accept the harsh reality. That this person never really cared about us.
As long as we keep hanging onto this hope, we won’t be able to understand that the narcissist is not a normal person and that the lovely false self was just that – a false self.
And sometimes it takes a very brutal blow to kill this hope.
How to break through the attachment to the false self?
I would like to make it easier for you to kill this hope so that you don’t need to experience such heavy blows. It is MY HOPE that you don’t need to go through all the madness that I had to go through.
If you still struggle with these urges to talk to the narcissist, if you are experiencing clear narcissistic behaviours but for some reason still think that maybe it’s all just a misunderstanding, you need to make some effort to liberate yourself
We need to do something about it. We will use your memories and the records of your communication with the narcissist that you might have kept to liberate you.
Many people have observed that in the devaluation and discard phases, narcissists stop communicating directly or via phone and if they are willing to communicate at all, they do so via text messages or emails. I believe they prefer texts and emails because it gives them more control. They can choose to what they will respond and what they will ignore. They generally ignore all your solid reasoning and only focus on the bits where you show weakness, a bit of passive aggression, sarcasm and they use it against you.
So, if you are communicating with the narcissist in a written form this is what you need to do:
I remember how painful it was reading the narcissist’s messages. The cruel demeaning bits, the way he was showing me how ridiculous I was for still trying to talk to him, how insignificant I was to him. It felt as if someone was stabbing me in the middle of my stomach.
Of course, I was trying to protect myself from this pain. But you need to do the exact opposite. You need to be totally willing to face this pain and use your cognitive powers to help you shift the understanding of the narcissist and his behaviour.
In this blog post about closure, I described how we desperately refuse to listen to and believe what the narcissist is telling us during the devaluation and discard phase. We keep fooling ourselves that he or she does not really mean it, that they are just being hurt and acting from that hurt place.
I want you to keep all those messages and emails. Print them out if you need and keep reading them. Rewrite them word by word in a journal. As you read them, keep observing the pain and emotions that the words of the narcissist stir. I know that the denial might be strong. Use these messages as a tool to liberate yourself.
On the emotional level, you might use those messages to bring your wounds to the surface. Underneath your attachment to the narc may still be some pain from your childhood – the rejection and abandonment fears of an unloved child (it is well know that love-deprived children of narcissist get enmeshed the worst. Also children of codependent people who did not teach them self-respect and self-love are vulnerable). Maybe you are subconsciously reliving a dynamic with your parent through the narcissist – it’s very common.
On the cognitive level you must keep putting the narcissist’s deliberately hurtful words against the memory of the reasonable kind loving person that you are still trying to desperately reach.
I know that some narcissists might try to fake closure but trust your feelings. The narcissist might be using your emotional reactions against you but your feelings – that’s your compass that the narcissist does not have. If it doesn’t feel right, it is not right.
Read those hurtful messages and emails. Meditate about their content. What is he saying about you? Do you feel like a worthless piece of shit reading all that?
Then remind yourself – “This is not me. The person he is talking to, that is not me. I am not a piece of garbage. He wants me to feel this way. But I am not that. I may have my flaws, but I am a good person. My friends think I am great.” Think about all your strengths. Think about all the people who know you well and who think that you are great. You know that you are real. You know that you are honest. Understand that the person that the narcissist is talking to is not you. It’s his projection. It’s a creation of his deranged mind. He doesn’t see you and to be honest, he never did. Not even in the pedestal phase – you were not a flawless goddess then and you are not a piece of garbage now.
Now read the narcissists words again and tell yourself: “He does mean all that. It’s not a misunderstanding. It’s been going on for a very long time. If he was like me, if he said all that when he was triggered, he would have already come back to his senses. He would have regretted it. He wouldn’t be laughing into my face telling me that he never really cared about me. He means everything he says. Meditate about this as long as you need as many times as necessary to start getting the shift.
If you don’t have texts and messages, just close your eyes and go inside. Go there into the most painful moments with the narcissist. Keep reliving them in your mind. Focus on every detail that you can recall. Don’t worry if not too much stuff is coming up at first. You will unlock the door and more and more will start coming as you continue inviting the painful memories and flashbacks in.
You might think it’s a weird thing to do. Why would you keep recalling those painful moments? The reason for that is that you were probably emotionally overwhelmed when it was happening and haven’t really paid proper attention to what the narcissist was saying and how he was behaving. You have to see it and hear it for what it was to liberate yourself. If you don’t do it voluntarily, you will have to go through some sort of a big massive shock that will bring it to you in such a clear way that there will not be room for doubt anymore. Do you remember what I told you about being reported for harassment? It was a horrible humiliating experience and I don’t want you to go through anything similar.
Some women, who are divorcing a narcissist lose custody of their children because they don’t get it. They don’t get that their ex is not normal.
Just use all that what has already happened and what is still stored in your subconscious and unconscious mind. The answers are all there and they will liberate you.
Keep challenging your memory of the great loving Mr. Perfect with those toxic images, with those deliberately hurtful words. Is that your Mr. Perfect? Is that how your Mr. Perfect would speak to you. Is that how he would treat you?
Remember, he has shown no regret. It’s not like you – when you snap, you regret it. He does not.
Working with memories and flashbacks will eventually help you to fully comprehend how the narcissist created the false self by mirroring you in the first place. You will be able to revisit the earliest days of the relationship – now more present in yourself and not emotionally overwhelmed, you will suddenly see the game for what it was. And yes, it was a game right from the start. Maybe he really was in love with you but still, it was his disorder that made him morph into your prince charming. He didn’t show you his real self because guess what? You would not have not liked him and at that stage, he really wanted you because you were such a great source of narcissistic supply.
It will all fall into place. But you have to be there and go there, into this painful territory of all those confusing memories. You have to dig it all out from your subconscious and challenge the notion of the love of your life with those toxic behaviours. You might need to do it many times but the more you keep doing it, the easier it will get.
Be open to all your feelings and emotions. You can use Inner Bonding or some of the resources of Melanie Tonia Evans to help you. But I think that especially if you were with a covert narcissist, the one that didn’t expose himself fully yet, you will need to combine these techniques with those cognitive approaches that I have just described.
After you fully comprehend the fact that you were attached to a false self and essentially fooled, the narcissist will have no more power over you. You may hate him, you might be disgusted by him, you might be afraid of him, most certainly you would feel like a character in a bad film. But you will deal with all those feelings – unhooked from the memory of the false self. Not clinging to any hope and not trying to reason with someone that has not no capacity to hear you, understand you an get you. He is what he is.
You can perform this exercise with any other narcissist in your life that you still can’t let go off. I think it works really well for family members – those we have the most intense need to keep excusing.
Anyway. Try it and let me know how it goes 🙂 We are going to beat them, I am sure of that 🙂