How to Get Closure After Having Been in a Codependent Relationship with a Narcissist

Getting closure after having been in a codependent relationship with a narcissist is really hard to achieve for several different reasons. First of all, because his behavior has been so ambiguous, damaging and inconsistent, we are unable to make sense of it. However, we feel that in order to be able to get closure, we need to figure out why he treated us the way he did. Only if we find the rationale behind his conduct, will we finally find the capacity to let him go and move on – at least that is what we assume. As we are unable to find the answers to the questions that are still holding us back, and that still keep our minds focused on the narcissist, we cannot move on. Throughout the relationship the narcissist has been unable to provide us with satisfying explanations for his damaging way of treating us. Consequently, we still try to find the answers we are looking for ourselves – a very futile endeavor! Long after the relationship has ended we still rack our brains with agonizing thoughts and blame our own inadequacy for its failure. Even when our most trusted friends or our family members tell us that we are not to blame, but have simply been involved with an unavailable exploiter of our affection, we refuse to fully believe them and are still convinced that we are undeserving of love and affection.

Another reason why getting closure after narcissistic abuse is so difficult is that they often left us completely confused, shattered and on the brink of a nervous and emotional breakdown. Because they have been manipulating us for a long time, have treated us with disregard, neglect and distance, and nearly drove us insane with their mind games, ambiguity and inconsistency, we feel completely drained of energy after the end of the relationship. In our fragile state we are unable to assess what has happened to us with a clear and calm mind. Instead, in our confusion and exhaustion, we tend to downplay the damage they have done to us, idealize the “wonderful time” that we had with them, and nearly lose our minds longing for them. It takes a very long time to gain the ease of mind to finally be able to rationally assess the role that both we and the narcissists played in the relationship.

A third reason why getting closure is enormously hard to achieve is that they often abandon us very suddenly without offering a satisfying explanation for their conduct. After we have been struggling for months to keep the relationship alive, sacrificing everthing we had – including our own emotional well-being – we are shocked and paralysed when they just leave  without even having a comforting word to offer to us. Their sudden withdrawal and abandonment of us is the final proof of their cold indifference, and we are utterly devastated – feeling discarded, disrespected and lonely. The damage done to us by their sudden disappearance and apparent carelessness will keep our minds busy for weeks – and even months – to come, as we try to find the answer to the question of why we deserved to be treated so disrespectfully. After all, haven’t we endured their unavailability, ambiguity and deceit for months? And this is how they repay us and how they reward our patience and endurance? We just can’t deal with the pain coming from the realization that while we were prepared to give and love to the point of self-sacrifice, they don’t have a problem with abandoning us. We often don’t even get a proper goodbye or an apology (or explanation) for their unavailability and the endless pain they inflicted on us.

This is exactly what happened to me, and even though I have already come a long way on my journey to recovery, I still find myself struggling because of the careless way in which he abandoned me. It came so suddenly that it brought me to the brink of a complete breakdown. He had made plans to spend two days at my place with me and my family. However, just a few hours before he was supposed to arrive, he told me he couldn’t leave because his exgirlfriend was hysteric and freaking out due to the fact that he intended to spend time with me. He apologized and told me he would visit me the following weekend to make up for it, and that he would tell his exgirlfriend that he would be visiting his sister in Berlin (in order to avoid further confrontations). However, when the weekend finally arrived, he decided to actually go and visit his sister and cancelled his plans to come to my place again. He assured me he would really make up for it and visit me once he got back from Berlin. He promised that he finally wanted things between us to be relaxed, fun and easy-going, and that he valued and respected me, and genuinely cared about me and my feelings. However, once he got back from Berlin, he told me – without offering an explanation for it! – that he had decided to leave Germany for good and fly back to the U.S.

I can’t find the words to describe the pain I felt at that moment. I allowed him to cancel on me three times in a row. However, I still clung to the hope that he would finally follow through with his promise to come back for a visit to me and my family. Being so suddenly confronted with the fact that he intended to leave was completely paralysing and sucking the life out of me. He told me he wanted to keep an open mind about the future and that he would maybe be able to offer me a place to stay in the U.S. I communicated the wish to see him before he left in order to say goodbye. However, I would never hear from him or see him again. He just ignored my last message and left three weeks later without uttering one word of goodbye – without offering an apology for all the pain, disappointment and heartbreak he caused me.

His cold indifference and disgraceful abandonment of me completely ripped my heart apart. I spent weeks racking my brain, trying to find an answer or explanation for his wordless, sudden departure. Because of his disrespect and inconsideration, I was completely convinced that I was undeserving of affection. After a few weeks I was so hurt by his silence that I wrote him one final email, pointing out to him how disappointing, cowardly and disrespectful it had been of him to just leave without saying goodbye. I am not proud of writing that email, but considering how hurt, angry and despaired I was, it doesn’t come as a surprise that I couldn’t resist the urge to tell him. Of course it was a futile endeavor, because a narcissist will never give you the answers that you are looking for. He replied that it was wrong of me to accuse him, that I had hurt his feelings with my email, and that I was disgraceful for having forwarded his emails to others – something I had never done, and had never even considered for a moment. So as I could have expected beforehand: He didn’t provide me with explanations, he didn’t offer an apology – but instead, he accused me of things I hadn’t even done.

I had the final proof that a narcissist will never help you to finally get closure and move on. They cannot provide us with answers and explanations. All they ever do is deny their own responsibility, shifting blame to others, and feed us with lies and excuses. I held on for too long to the idea that I would get an explanation – maybe even an apology – from the narcissist I dated. However, even my final act of trying to get these things from him didn’t yield any satisfactory results – in fact I had to deal with the additional pain of being called disgraceful for something I hadn’t even done in the first place.

Consequently, you have to be the one providing closure and peace of mind to yourself. The narcissist will never help you get closure, as he is unwilling and unable to offer explanations for his behavior, or to provide you with an apology for turning you into an emotional wreck. It took me a long time to realize that it was the wrong strategy to hope to get closure by turning to the narcissist for an explanation or an apology. After receiving that final email I was completely assured that only I had the power to make me regain my strength and emotional well-being. As I was so completely shaken and despaired because of his cold indifference and my complicity in my own emotinal abuse, I decided to read a lot on the topics of codependency and narcissism. Finally being able to put a label on what had happened to me was the most important step on my way to recovery. While I was still in a relationship with him, the thought that he might be a narcissist never occurred to me. However, I was immediately willing to attach the label “codependent” to me after the breakup. Reading a lot on codependency, I learned that we often attract narcissistic men who regard us as perfect target group for their manipulations and ambiguity. Because I could finally assess the nature of my relationship rationally, I had completed an important step to getting closure.

Getting over a codependent relationship with a narcissist can be extremely difficult. As a result of all the ambiguity, disappointments, deceit, and manipulation, we are often completely confused and paralysed at the end of the relationship. We are desperately looking for answers, and in our despair, we think that the only one who can provide us with them is the narcissist. However, just as was the case during the relationship, the narcissist is unable and unwilling to provide us with a satisfying explanation for his shameful conduct and his sudden departure. We can therefore only get closure, if we finally realize that we are the ones responsible for our own well-being and emotional advancement. We have to let go of the misguided belief that only the narcissist can provide us with solutions. We also have to see that we will likely never get the answer for why we were treated with neglect and disrespect – more often than not, the narcissist doesn’t know the answer himself. We can only gain peace of mind if we manage to let go and focus all our energy on ourself. We have to try to find the rationale behind our own behavior and understand why we allowed others to abuse us so shamelessly without showing much resistance. The only persons we have the power to change is ourselves. Realizing that only we can provide ourselves with closure is pramount to our ability to heal.

Another important lesson we have to learn in order to be able to get closure is that there is nothing unlovable about us, and that we were not abandoned because we are essentially bad people who do not deserve to be cared for and respected. The only mistake we ever made was loving someone with all our hearts, who didn’t know how to reciprocate those feelings. The fact that we were abandoned in such an inconsiderate way does not reflect badly on us, but on the narcissist who was unable and unwilling to value the genuineness and purity of the love we had to give. Realizing this has, for me, been one of the most important steps to getting better.

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15 thoughts on “How to Get Closure After Having Been in a Codependent Relationship with a Narcissist

  1. I know about the need for answers and accountability. I know about that last email or message sent in search of clarity and accountability ~ don’t feel bad about it, we’ve all send that email/message… I know I have 🙂
    Sure, it didn’t get me the answers I needed or the clarity or the closure… If anything, I was pretty much accused of hurting and damaging him by both him and his most loyal enabler. It was a futile effort… Or was it?

    Sending that message, and the response I got, made me realize that I had to create my own closure, accept that I would never understand why he was the way he was, that I wasn’t responsible for it and he didn’t have to be my problem unless I made him my problem.

    I’m still patiently working on not making him my problem. It gets easier with time. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing. Great post.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You are right…I’ve never seen it that way actually. I always regretted sending that last email. But I guess I should be glad because – as you said – it made me realize that I was responsible for creating my own closure. It was the final step towards accepting that he would never provide me with satisfactory answers. Thank you again for your comment. I really appreciate it. It helps me so much to know that others have made similar experiences and that I am not alone with what happened to me.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Most of these post, it sounds like we almost dated the same crazy bastard! I hope you are better now. It’s like mourning a death, but just like me you are better off. He was dead weight holding you back!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great Post it describes what I went through myself. You are so right when you say we will never get the answers, or closure from them. We do have to find it for ourselves. We will never be able to understand a person with no feelings.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are right…we have to stop measuring them by our standards…because we are compassionate and capable of giving love…they are inconsiderate and don’t have any use for the love we give to them. Thank you so much for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I so love your conclusion I am taking it with me for today’s meditation. Thanks ! Your words are warming up my heart and God knows I need it. Hugs to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Amazing post. My awakening was exactly like yours in which I educated myself on what was happening and once I finally realized what was happening I made my own closure. My mission now is to help spread the word and help as many people as I can join us and leave the narcissist – However, I find this so difficult because a lot of people are in situations where it’s a bit more
    complicated to leave (kids, marriage, money, etc) and stay in victimization. And my heart just goes out to them because, like you, before I read up on this I was the same – family and friends tried to warn me but no one could help me. So I completely understand what they are going through, and I wish so much that I could provide an awakening for others because it hurts my heart for all these people to feel this way. No one should ever have to go through what we went through.

    Like

  6. This is just so accurate. They are all the same it seems, and from the research I’ve done, they actually get a kick (ego boost) from dicarding us in this way. How very cruel they are. My narc was female, and the relationship was very short, but everything is the same, exactly the same. I did argue with mine at every attempted devalue, but that would lead to a huge argument and then I would come back later apologising and trying to get us back together again. Luckily I think the arguments even got too much for her and she ended it on her birthday, half an hour before I was due to go over to her place and give her all the presents I’d got her. Nice timing!

    I found it was good to try and get closure from her via email, because the lack of understanding in their reply or indeed lack of reply shows what awful people they are with no empathy or guilt or remorse. No normal feelings at all.

    But life goes on and you can move on and once you find good wholesome people you can trust, you realise how lucky you are to be away from them.

    Like

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