I had never been so deeply in love as with my narcissistic ex. I had never felt so one and so connected in my life with anybody else before. I felt like there would be no greater love than this. I even thought he was my ‘twin flame’ (which I now think is just the spiritual explanation for a narcissist actually).
So when we broke up, I felt like I totally lost myself. He had taken all my inner strength and the love I had inside of me, I was left behind like an empty shell. Desperately trying to find the pieces he had taken away from me. Trying to understand how a free-spirited person like myself could fall so hard for a narcissist like him.
How did I miss the red flags? Why didn’t I recognise the manipulation and gaslighting earlier? Why did I not take my friends’ advices to be careful with him?
After the initial shock of the break-up, I thought I would never love anyone like I loved him ever again. I wanted to get back together with him, thought I could handle his narcissism as long as I got to be with him again. Surely it must be better to be with a narcissist than feeling so utterly alone and lost?!
I blamed myself for ruining our ‘perfect’ relationship, thought that if I loved him more or better it would have worked out. But narcissistic relationships never work out. They just cause pain and heartbreak. You can never heal a narcissist, you can only heal yourself. And they can only heal themselves.
First you need to recognise a few things
The more I read/watched/consumed media about narcissists, the more I realised that they more or less all follow the same path. And most of the advice is ‘Zero Contact’ and ‘Get as far as you can from your narcissistic ex’. And although this surely helps, there was a reason why you fell for a narcissist, (and didn’t leave). And as long as you don’t recognise that, you will probably fall for another one again.
1. Your relationship was an addiction
Treat your relationship like an addiction. It caused serotonins and oxytocin to rise to top-levels. This is what makes a narcissistic relationship so toxic. You start on a super-high after the love-bombing phase and are constantly craving that feeling again. You will do everything to reach that point again, even letting all your boundaries getting crossed. When you break up, it’s like a come-down. The drug you were addicted to is suddenly gone, so you will have to kick-off from it. This will make you feel completely empty and lost, but remember it’s just like dealing with the side-effects as you would in rehab. It’s not easy to overcome an addiction, and a narcissistic relationship is just that.
2. You were trauma-bonded
If you feel like you can’t live without your narcissistic ex, but yet know that it’s not good for you, you might be trauma-bonded. Trauma bonding develops when there are cycles of (emotional) abuse and affection. The affection seems so loving and caring, so you forget the other side of it. You try to hold on to the good days, anxiously pushing away the bad memories. Narcissists are masters in these type of cycles, so don’t blame yourself for getting into a trauma bond. And it takes time and effort to heal from it.
3. You are probably also narcissistic
Two types of people usually get involved with a narcissist: highly empathic people, and narcissists. This is a very controversial one and many people wouldn’t agree with me here, but if you’ve felt somewhat equal in your narcissistic relationship and recognise yourself in the whole ‘twin flame’ concept, you probably also have narcissistic tendencies yourself. If you feel that your ex really loved you (despite the media saying narcissists are not able to love) and the relationship went deeper than a regular one, it was probably true. Your ex was also trauma-bonded to you. If you’re doubting whether you’re also a narcissist, find some articles about covert narcissism and see if you recognise yourself. I am not saying you have the full-blown disorder, but there is a deeper reason why you got so connected to your narcissist (or twin flame). Recognising this is a doorway to healing. Acknowledging my own narcissism after my break-up gave me so much more tools to really heal myself.
4. Your ex is just a damaged person
I read it again, and again, and again:
Narcissists are not able to love. They fake it to keep you as a supply.
I really tried to believe this, and I thought I would give me the ability to hate him and get over him. But the harder I tried to believe our relationship wasn’t real, the more I knew it wasn’t the right approach. Our love wasn’t fake, it wasn’t because I was just a supply. We really loved each other, but the narcissistic masks ruined it all. Narcissists actually just want to be loved deeply, and love deeply in return. But they are so damaged and insecure that they can’t truly receive that love. And once they think they don’t receive it, the narcissist comes out. They are so afraid of abandonment and rejection that they will try everything to keep things in control, including you. Their narcissism is a self-protection tool they developed since children. It’s no excuse to treat you like they did, but seeing this can give more closure to a break-up. Remember though that you can never heal them, they can only heal themselves.
How to really let go of your narcissistic twin flame
My break-up with my narcissistic ex was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through, not only because I lost him, but I had lost myself too in the process. But I lost myself so deeply because I never had a healthy amount of self-love in the first place. It accelerated me into a spiritual awakening that made me see things completely differently. We all want love, and we all want to feel connected to somebody. A narcissist isn’t any different from this. I took the spiritual and holistic approach to getting over him, and now I can just feel grateful for the biggest gift he could have ever given me: myself.
So what does a holistic approach mean?
1. Zero Contact does work
We need solitude to get to know ourselves. We need to be able to be alone without anxiety to love our inner being. That’s why Zero Contact works. If you can take a break from being in touch with your ex, do it. The loneliness and desperation you are probably going to feel are necessary to give you strength to face your fears. Don’t let your ex be able to contact you in any way in the beginning, and don’t contact him/her either. It doesn’t have to be forever but it is really going to help in the first stages of healing.
2. Don’t fall for the narcissists hate media
If you are aware that your ex is a narcissist, you are probably constantly looking for information about narcissists anywhere. I did this too in the beginning and I must admit it helped me with the Zero Contact phase. But all this info has one thing in common: you should basically hate your ex, because ‘he/she is evil and never loved you and might even be close to a psychopath’. I have to say that it felt good to hate my ex too, I finally found allies in my unprocessed emotions and didn’t want anything to do with him anymore. But it didn’t help me with healing, I just got more anxious to walk into him and didn’t feel I was doing our relationship justice by constantly hating on him. My advice is to read/watch these type of articles if it helps you to let go in the beginning, but don’t assume it’s right to hate your ex forever.
3. Find out why you fell for a narcissistic person
Here’s the thing: an emotionally healthy person doesn’t stay with a narcissist. They might fall for them, but their inner voice tells them it’s not right and they walk away. Find out why your inner voice was numb when you first got together with your ex. Maybe you did hear it whisper (like me), but pushed it away. Or maybe it wasn’t there at all. Your intuition is normally always right when it comes to choosing the right thing for you, why didn’t you feel it? You are probably conditioned into not listening to your inner voice. Find out what your parents taught you about relationships, or maybe how you got traumatised by somebody that made you lose trust in yourself. Maybe one of your parents was also a narcissist (like mine), and you subconsciously wanted to find love in a similar figure. Whatever it is why you fell for a narcissist, it will help you get to know yourself so much more.
4. Heal your inner child
Once you figured out why you fell for a narcissist, it’s time to heal that part of yourself. There is a big chance your childhood conditioning was the main reason for it. So you will have to go back to that inner child to give it the love it deserved but never got. You can re-parent yourself with inner-child work and shadow work. Forgive yourself for making bad choices, and promise yourself you will take care of anything your inner child needs. Which means walking away from your narcissistic relationship.
5. Trust the process
Trusting the process gave me so much more peace, I can’t even begin to explain the benefits of just going with the flow. The Universe always has the right plan for you, even though it feels like your world is completely falling apart. Once I learned to completely surrender to the natural flow of things, I lost almost all of my anxiety. I knew what had happened between us had to happen for me in order to grow. It taught me to be patient with myself even on my bad days when I was so close to giving him another call. Trusting the process and living in the moment is a wonderful way to ground yourself. You will realise every new day will bring you closer to healing, and further from your ex.
6. Be grateful and forgive
Many ‘victims’ of narcissists are angry about what has been done to them by their ex. How they were de-valued, manipulated and discarded. And even though this was probably true, it made you into the strong person you are today. And that is something to be grateful for! If it wasn’t for your ex, you might have never reached this version of yourself that can handle anything and make good decisions. Be grateful for being able to get out of the relationship and forgive yourself and your ex. He/she is on their own path and that’s probably not an easy journey for them either. Don’t get back together, but don’t underestimate the liberation that forgiveness will bring you.
7. Act out of love. Always
Love should always be the answer. It doesn’t help you to spread bad stories around or tell everyone how much you hate your ex and all the terrible things they have done to you. Of course you can talk with friends about your experience, and I even encourage that to give you perspective. But spreading hate around another person is never going to heal you. You can still love your ex for the version you thought he/she would be. You can still love the damaged person inside of them. Don’t blame or shame yourself for staying so long, you tried to make the relationship work and that’s something to love. You can still love someone even though the only thing that’s right for both of you is letting them go.
That is an act out of love.
Previously Published on medium
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