Leaving a relationship, no matter how toxic, abusive, and terrible it may have been, is never an easy thing to do. Even if you’re ultimately happy to be single again, there is still a recovery period that comes along with it. In a relationship, you give so much of yourself to the other person. Changing that can be a huge emotional strain.
The decision to end a relationship with a narcissist is no easy task.
If you’ve recently freed yourself from the grips of a narcissistic partner, I admire your strength and courage. But there is a road ahead that will at times be incredibly tough.
When you leave a narcissist, you learn (at least) 10 things about yourself:
1. Recovery isn’t easy.
This is maybe the most important thing to know going into your newly single life after leaving a relationship. It isn’t easy to get over the emotional trauma of being with a narcissist, especially if they were regularly abusive. It is a long path, but you can count on yourself and others to help you through.
2. It takes time to rebuild self-esteem.
Some narcissists seek to destroy your self esteem in an attempt to mold you into the kind of person that gives in to their wants without question. You may find yourself feeling stupid, unattractive, and unwanted after a relationship with a narcissist. I could tell you that those things aren’t true, but it’s more important for you to decide that for yourself.
3. You don’t have to hide your feelings.
Narcissists simply don’t care about your feelings at all, and in the off chance you’ve met a narcissist who seems to care how you feel, your feelings are a distant second to their own. Narcissists sometimes react negatively to you expressing your feelings, which can leave you feeling afraid to tell people what you think and feel. But now that you’ve left the narcissist behind, your emotional life can begin again. You don’t have to be afraid to share your feelings.
4. You’ve been apologizing too much.
The words “I’m sorry” are like candy to the ears of a narcissist. They want you to be afraid to stand up for yourself which probably means you’ve been apologizing too often and saying yes to things that you’d rather not do. Now that the narcissist is in your rear-view mirror, you don’t have to keep apologizing for things that you’re not sorry about. Leave those words for times that you truly mean them.
5. You need a break.
Leaving a narcissist can feel like running a marathon. It’s exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Give yourself a break from the game of love. You may feel uncomfortable being alone – chances are that the narcissist made you as reliant on them as possible – but spend a little time on your own. Take a little bit of a break. Not to say that you shouldn’t have a little bit of a rebound if you want, but guard your emotions and give yourself the time you need to heal.
6. Trust may not come easy.
The aftermath of dating a narcissist may make it difficult to trust others. Narcissists are often two-faced, saying one thing and doing another, or filling your head with lies to alter your behavior. But there are many people out there who you can trust. It may take time, but trust in humanity can be restored.
7. You’ll need good people.
Narcissists are not always bad people. With a lot of internal effort, a narcissist can change and become better. But chances are, if you’ve just left a narcissist, they aren’t trying to change for the better. So ditch the narcissist and surround yourself by good people, like friends, family, coworkers, and members of your religious affiliation. Just being with good people helps.
8. It’s not easy to talk about.
It can be extraordinarily difficult to talk to your friends, family, and other loved ones about what a relationship with a narcissist is like. But here’s a truth to carry with you: you don’t have to tell anyone anything until you’re ready to talk about it.
9. Smiles won’t come easy.
Leaving any relationship can be devastating, even if you’re ultimately happy with the decision. It may take a while, but your smile will come back. And don’t be afraid to smile when you feel the corners of your mouth starting to creep upward. It will feel great, even if it takes a while to get there.
10. There’s a path forward.
Leaving a narcissist is like finding a new path ahead of you. But it’s one where the end probably isn’t visible. It will take time to walk this path, but you can do it. Believe in yourself, lean on good people, and take it one step at a time.