“Why am I thinking about my narcissistic ex when they were horrible? I don’t want them back!”
“My narcissistic parent was draining, so why do I continue to wish we had a relationship?”
“I could not stand my narcissistic boss so why did I try so hard to make them happy?”
“Why did I waste so much time with a narcissistic friend?”
These are some of the questions I’ve been asked through the years and they almost are on repeat. Almost every victim of narcissistic abuse has a storyline like this. I rarely hear someone say that they had a narcissist in their past and never think of them. Sure, they are happy that they are not in their life or that there are boundaries but the narcissist still gets under their skin even though they are technically, on paper, “rid” of the narcissist.
So, what is happening?
Well, for one, you might feel some lingering self-blame and shame that you are not over. Often when we finally are free from a narcissist, we feel like a weight is off of us and we are so numb from the trauma that we just see the day in front of us, not the months in front of us that will take healing and focus. In other words, we forget that we have to heal from the abuse, not just the relationship breaking up.
Another issue is that there’s this horrific reality that we never healed at all. This isn’t uncommon. Just ridding yourself of the person doesn’t make the dynamic suddenly go away. Let me give you an example. Let’s look at a period of time where you might overeat. Maybe it’s six months. You gain ten or twenty pounds. Now you figure out why you were gaining, the emotional eating stops but the weight is still there tomorrow morning.
The weight is still there next month. You stopped the binging but the reason you started is still there. So you need to work out more and eat healthier not just stop one bad habit that got you there as it wasn’t just one facet but a series of situations that had to happen to get you there. Does that make sense to you? So the narcissist is gone but the collateral damage is still there; like a car that has been in an accident, the dents are there even though the accident might have happened a decade ago. It’s time to hit the emotional-body shop and start healing.
Maye you might secretly be pining for the narcissist. Chances are that they have discarded you. Often an argument or break up with a narcissist be it a parent or romantic partner looks a lot like this. You finally stand up for yourself or demand the respect that you deserve, and they twist it around; they don’t want you anymore. They discard you. That hurts. They only want someone in agreement with them. Being rejected always feels bad but being rejected by a psychopath or someone who acts like one often, sure as heck hurts. I mean, you were putting up with them, you gave them so much energy and your reward is being treated like garbage.
Sometimes you just remember the love-bombing. Those early days or in some cases, the “up days” after the abuse when the abuser, the narcissist, is trying to make sure you don’t leave so they give you compliments, gifts, and promises. If you were in love with those aspects that made you feel special, you might be missing that feeling of adoration and attention.
Also, the narcissist has a way of making you feel that you are invincible and the most amazing human on earth, early on. In those times you might break out of your norm and you miss who you were with the narcissist in those early days. There may be glimpses of that dotted throughout your time with them, which makes it even harder; but remember how the narcissist also cut you down and make you feel worthless?
So, when you miss the narcissist, it is rarely the narcissist themselves. I didn’t mention once here that you missed them as a person. Missing their lifestyle or the one that they projected, their gifts, their attention, their adoration is not the same as missing them. You are missing.. are you ready…
… the trauma bond. The trauma bond is created through a cycle of rewards and punishments. Think back… I bet you can name a few examples of this.
More on that soon… but for now, know that you are not sick or twisted for having memories of the narcissist haunt you; it is totally normal and we can absolutely work on this.
If you want to work together, check the “Work with me” link or, if you want to dive into some inner awareness exercises, then grab my book “How to Heal Financial Anxiety” which is about emotional and financial wellness. You’d be shocked at how similar they are.
Got a narcissist ex story? Tell me about it.