Why Does It Take So Long To Recover From Narcissistic Abuse?

In order to be able to recover from the deep-seated feeling of worthlessness and humiliation resulting from narcissistic abuse, I often felt the need to connect with others sharing the same fate. In doing so, I found out that it generally takes victims of emotional abuse a very long time to get over all the horror. Sometimes, we have been in a relationship with a toxic person for only a very short amount of time – and still the experience continues to haunt and depress us long after the relationship has ended. I was involved with the narcissist for about five months, and even though it has already been more than two months since he left the country, I still find myself struggling and feeling the effects of having been continually treated with distance, ambiguity and dishonesty. The problem is that the people around us are often unable to understand why we are still stuck, why we are still trying to make sense of what has happened to us, why we are still struggling and feeling so much pain. After all, shouldn’t we be able to get over the narcissists pretty fast given the fact that they couldn’t give us what we wanted and only tortured us instead? Didn’t they expose us to so much drama, pain and disappointment that it should be very easy to move on? Shouldn’t we feel glad that we are finally out of that mess and that we can start to heal?

Unfortunately things are not that easy. When my relationship with the narcissist ended I indeed felt strangely relieved at first. I had suffered so immensely from all the ambiguity and drama that knowing that it was over felt liberating. I knew that from that moment on I no longer had to endure his lies, his detachment and inconsistency – I no longer had to rack my brain trying to find the rationale behind his behavior. I was emotionally and physically ill from having been with him for five months and therefore the end of our relationship was the best thing that could have happened to me. However, as I have already mentioned before, things are not that easy. The five months of being pushed aside, of having to beg for attention and of being continually disappointed have left a lasting impression on me – maybe even irreversibly changed me. I still feel the effects of having been caught in an exhausting emotional rollercoaster. There are countless moments in which I realize that I am no longer the same person than I was before the relationship. And there are also many moments in which I still find myself struggling, feeling the pain as if it was still fresh. Sometimes the pain is so overwhelming that I have to make an effort to compose myself.

Often it doesn’t matter that much whether one has been in a relationship with a narcissist over a longer period of time or only for a few weeks or months. It takes a very long time to heal from the pain and drama they exposed us to. We often get impatient with ourselves, and reproach ourselves for not possessing the strength to heal faster. We despise ourselves for not being able to let go of what happened and for grieving because of someone who didn’t treat us with the bare minimum of respect and consideration. Often we are not even struggling because we miss them so much or long to be with them again. What we are struggling with is the disprespectful and distanced treatment we received at their hands. We are despaired because we didn’t get what we wanted even though we fought so hard for it, and because we think of ourselves as undeserving of affection as a result of it.

When reflecting upon it more deeply, it shouldn’t really seem so odd that we need a very long time to heal and move on. First of all, being with a narcissist often causes us to completely lose touch with ourselves. We repeatedly endure their negligence and cold indifference and go out of our ways to adjust to their schedules, without paying attention to our own wishes and desires. The fact that we are falling apart while trying to make things work often escapes our notice. After the relationship has come to an end, we first and foremost need to reconnect with ourselves, assess our behavior and try to find the reasons for our willingness to cling to someone who couldn’t value our affection. It is a long, painful and eye-opening journey which often leaves us deeply changed. We realize that we cannot go on as if nothing had happened – and still we find it hard to change. It takes a very long time and a lot of reflection to arrive at the end of the tunnel and to emerge as a stronger and recovered self.

Another reason we find it so hard to move on and feel happy again is that we need to overcome and process a shitload of humiliation, cold indifference and disrespect. Being treated with neglect over a longer period of time and being exposed to drama, deceit and triangulation cannot just be accepted and forgotten. Our self-esteem has been severely damaged by the fact that we had to beg for attention and affection, and as a result we are often in doubt about our worthiness of love and care. We are sad and disappointed because we once more haven’t gotten what we wished for. The same questions keep revolving in our heads: Why can’t I be part of a loving, healthy and committed relationship? Why do I always end up with people who exploit my willingnes to give and sacrifice without giving anything back to me?

Last but not least, we tend to feel the pain long after the end of the relationship, because we will never get closure from the narcissists – and we will never get the answers that we are looking for. We are racking our brains trying to find out what went wrong and why we were treated the way we were treated. Not being able to get closure and find answers makes it harder to move on and let go. On top of that, the narcissists seem to handle everything very well and not give the matter much thought at all. Only if we finally learn to accept that we will never learn the truth and get the answers we are looking for can we start to heal and erase those nagging thoughts out of our minds. However, it often takes a long time to accept that we have to stop looking for answers in all the wrong places and that we are the ones responsible for our own recovery.

I have already come a long way since the end of my relationship with the narcissist – and I realize every single day how profoundly changed I am as a result of my brief interaction with him. There are days when I feel confident and strengthened, because I know that the relationship was an eye-opening experience that caused me to thoroughly engage with my own thoughts and attitudes. I don’t think I will ever again fall blindly and naively for a guy having nothing to offer but drama and ambiguity. I also don’t think I will ever again be able to ignore all the red flags staring directly at me. However, there are also still days when I feel extremely low and when I become aware of the fact that some of my wounds have not yet properly healed. Sometimes, when I hear a certain song, see a book on my shelf that reminds me of him or hear someone mentioning his name, I feel as if someone was sucking the air out of my lungs. I am immediately reminded of all the humiliation I had to endure for months and it makes me want to throw up.

Sometimes there are long strings of days on which I feel confident and healed –  a feeling which causes me to give in to the illusion that I have finally managed to reach the end of the road to recovery. However, my illusions are often violently destroyed by those days on which I feel extremely gloomy and sad, and on which every task seems like a huge burden. As I said before, I am past the point where I still miss him and idealize the time we spent together. I have learned to accept that I shouldn’t shed a tear for someone who used me and deliberately exposed me to pain and drama. However, I find it hard to rid myself of the feeling of emptiness and humiliation resulting from my time with him. Certain questions are still ever-present in my mind: Why was it so easy for him to discard me and be so detached? Am I so unlovable that he readily exposed me to pain and humiliation? Why did I hold on to him for so long? Why was I longing for him long after he had sufficiently proven that he was unwilling and unable to give me what I needed? Why was I so weak that I kept coming back for more of the drama and pain he manufactured?

Two kinds of negative feelings are basically still haunting me: Regret and self-reproach because of my weak and codependent behavior throughout my relationship to the narcissist. And sadness and disappointment as a result of being treated with neglect and indifference. It will still take time for me to fully recover, but I try to appreciate every single step of my way to recovery – partly because that journey also leads to increased self-awareness. I also try not to be too hard on myself for needing time to get better. I’ve learned from experience how important it is to be patient enough to thoroughly heal. If we don’t grant ourselves the time to deal with what happened we will likely end up in other abusive – or otherwise unhealthy – relationships. We also shouldn’t be unsettled by other people’s inability to understand the gradualness of our progress. We have to do what is best for ourselves, and while it certainly isn’t healthy to drown in self-pity, we should never be too hard on ourselves if we sometimes can’t find the strength to be a hundred percent optimistic and happy. I’ve learned to accept the darker days and not to reproach myself for still giving in to gloomy thoughts…I am still conviced I will eventually reach the point where I’m fully recovered – and I will just take the time it needs to get there.

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Losing Control Over Your Life As a Result of Emotional Abuse

Once the narcissist has drawn you into his drama-laden world of deceit, ambiguity, triangulation and inconsistency, you begin to gradually lose control over all areas of your life. They confuse, hurt and frustrate us to such an extent that we can no longer function properly in our daily lives. The ensuing feeling of inadequacy, weakness and powerlessness adds greatly to the general frustration until we reach the point where we think we cannot take it any longer. If the worst comes to the worst, we can lose the will to live and even catch ourselves thinking that it would be a great relief if a giant bottomless pit could just swallow us up whole. It takes a very long time to recover from the pain and despair we are left with as a result of being in a relationship with a narcissistic emotional abuser. In some cases, we can no longer manage to get back on track on our own and are dependent on emotional support. As it often takes so long to recover, we tend to be too hard on ourselves – thinking that it is another sign of our weakness and dependency that we cannot manage to regain our emotional well-being faster.

During the entire time I was involved with the narcissist I felt as if I was standing on the edge of a yawning abyss that I could fall into at any moment. I’ve never before felt so drained of energy and joy, and so close to completely going insane. The fact that my well-being and emotional health was so deeply intertwined with the narcissist’s behavior made me question my entire being. How could it be possible that someone else had gained so much control over me? Why was my happiness completely dependent on him? Why was I so deeply affected by someone who clearly wasn’t nearly as attached as I was? Why did I care so genuinely and deeply about someone who was exposing me to so much pain and who disappointed me over and over again?

All the drama and insecurity made it nearly impossible for me to get on with the daily concerns of my life. Both at work and at university, I found it incredibly hard to keep my focus. My thoughts kept revolving around his ambiguity and inconsistency as I was trying to make sense of his behavior. I sometimes felt so down and frustrated due to the many disappointments that came my way that I had to invest all my will power to keep me from bursting into tears. At the time I was involved with the narcissist, I was supposed to decide on what I wanted to work on in my Master’s Thesis. However, I found it completely impossible to find the energy and brain capacity to do so and consequently completely neglected my studies. As you can probably imagine, my inability to get ahead with the things I was supposed to do led to an enormous amount of self-doubt and self-loathing. I hated myself for being so weak and for not being able to get my priorities straight.

What also greatly contributed to the feeling of losing control was the fact that my physical and emotional well-being deteriorated so drastically as a result of being with the narcissist. I felt constantly on edge, drained of energy. I suffered from insomnia, stinging pains in the chest and a loss of appetite. It seemed as if he had completely sucked all joy and resolve out of me. I spent entire days on the couch, unable to move, shaking all over, agonizing over his thoughtlessness, his indifference and distance. Whenever I had worked myself into such an emotional state I was completely apathetic about all the other areas of my life. I was no longer interested in my studies, I no longer cared about reading books…I couldn’t have cared less about everything that was going on around me. My mind was completely occupied with his drama and the pain he caused me through his unavailability.

As a result of repeatedly being pushed aside and of having to deal with so much insecurity I got severely depressed. I felt as if I was a complete failure, absolutely powerless, dependent on the affection of someone who was incapable of giving it to me. Trivial matters could bring me to start crying, and often the only thing I longed for was falling into a dreamless sleep – something that had become almost impossible due to my insomnia. In addition to feeling frustrated and depressed, anger was heaping inside of me. The inconsideration, distance and indifference with which he treated me caused me to get extremely angry at times. However, since I never dared to give a voice to it out of a deep-seated fear of losing him, I swallowed and almost choked on it.

The narcissist’s strategy of keeping us in the dark and the deep feeling of insecurity that arises from it often drives us into a state in which we are tortured by obsessive thoughts. I spent a lot of my energy and brain capacity on trying to find answers and excuses for his behavior. I refused to accept that he just wasn’t as attached and that he enjoyed torturing me with his drama and ambiguity. In my obsessive mindset, I started to blame myself for what was going on – dwelling on the same questions over and over again: Why am I so damn weak and dependent? Why do I allow him to blow me off and disrespect me? Are my anger and frustration even justified or is he right when he says I’m overreacting? Am I expecting too much? Where is all of this headed? Why do I get so attached to someone who is unable to offer stability, security and committment?

In my case, what greatly contributed to the feeling of losing control was the humiliating experience of becoming a victim to triangulation. I was constantly pushed aside because he prioritized his exgirlfriends feelings. He often cancelled on me because his exgirlfriend didn’t allow him to meet with me and threatened to throw him out of her apartment. As if this hadn’t been enough to handle, I also was harrassed by her, as she constantly tried to call me and sent me text messages in which she reminded me of how much power she still had over him. Once she even had the indecency to point out to me that she would do everything in her power to keep him from spending the night at my place. It was nerve-racking, humiliating and just plain crazy. He repeatedly assured me that there was nothing romantic or physical about their relationship and that the only reason he still lived with her was that he felt responsible for her. In the end, I didn’t know what to believe anymore. The deceit, craziness and bullshit accusations that were a fixed part of the triangle, were sucking the life out of me. I couldn’t stop obsessing about the nature of their relationship, and I couldn’t stop loathing myself for allowing him to expose me to so much humiliation. Being consistently treated like a secondary option left lasting marks on my psyche. I was never really in control of what was going on and the resulting feeling of powerlessness was paralysing me.

Now that the relationship is over and all the drama and insecurity has finally evaporated, I need to work hard on regaining my inner balance. It will probably still take some time to regain the control over my life that he has so completely taken away from me. He left me so completely shattered – a shell of my former self – that it will be hard work to fully recover. I will never get back the time I lost due to the exposure to drama. I will probably hand in my Master’s Thesis later than I planned to, because I have been unable to focus on my studies for such a long time. I try to not put too much blame on myself for failing to get ahead in all areas of my life. I consistently need to remind myself that given the amount of stress and drama I was exposed to, it is only natural to not find the energy and mental capacity to function the way I was supposed to. However, I still find it hard not to loath myself for prioritizing an unavailable man over academic achievement.

I’ve already come a long way and am glad that I’ve learned a lot during my process of recovery. I am incredibly thankful for the emotional support given to me by my family and friends. They have always been patient and understanding with me, allowed me to talk to them about my worries, and therefore helped me regain my balance. I really don’t know where I would be without them. Knowing that there are people out there who genuinely care about you and want to see you get better really lessens the impact of the fall. He was almost successful at completely breaking my spirit and making me lose the will to live. In the end, however, I was strong enough to recover. He couldn’t break me in spite of the fact that he tried his hardest to do so – and it is thanks to my family and friends that he failed.

Dealing with the Disillusionment Caused by the Narcissist

One of the many reasons why narcissists can do so much damage to our well-being and sense of self worth is that their behavior is violating almost every maxim of decent human conduct. Prior to meeting a narcissist we often still hold on to the belief that humans are innately good and always try to avoid causing others pain and agony. After all that is one of the rules we try to stick to as good as we can. We tend to measure the narcissists by our own standards of good conduct and therefore – especially at the beginning – we give them the benefit of the doubt. It takes us far too long to realize that narcissists don’t abide by the rules of decent human conduct. They can overstep our boundaries hundreds of times, they can break promises, manipulate us, expose us to drama and break our hearts, and we still try to find the rationale behind their behavior. We never really lose faith in their innate goodness. We rack our brains trying to find an explanation for their disrespect and inconsideration – thinking that they have probably just temporarily gone astray and will soon treat us with the affection, commitment and stability we are looking for.

We refuse to let go of our belief in the innate goodness of humankind. We don’t want to stop measuring them by the standards of what we think constitutes decent behavior. Our refusal to let go and accept their cold indifference for what it is can become very harmful over time. In the end, we are only drawing out the inevitable through our willingness to rationalize their deceit and impudence. When the relationship is finally over we have to deal with the disillusionment that comes with having to say farewell to our belief that people try to avoid causing each other pain and stress. We are finally forced to realize that not all people are interested in being considerate of the feelings of others. I was greatly disillusioned after the end of my relationship with the narcissist. All the time I had been measuring him by the standards of good behavior I had set for myself. I somehow didn’t really believe that he didn’t act according to the same maxims. It took me a long time to realize that I was not capable of making sense of his behavior, because he was not sharing the same values and outlooks.

While I was still in a relationship with him I always gave him the benefit of the doubt and refused to see his distance, inconsistency, unavailability and deceit for what it was. After all, he occasionally showed me clear signs of affection, interest, care and dedication and I was convinced that he wouldn’t bother to do so if he wasn’t genuinely interested. I didn’t get my head around the idea that he wasn’t sticking to the rules of decent human conduct and that his signs of affection might just be part of his mind games and manipulation. Because of my naive belief in the genuiness of his conduct, I allowed the emotional abuse to go on for far too long. I always had nagging feelings of doubt and insecurity, I consistently feared that he might just abandon me. However, I always dispelled my doubts, telling myself that he wouldn’t have bothered doing this or saying that if he just planned on abandoning me. That prospect always seemed too cruel to me to even be a possibility. In the end, when the full scope of his shameful conduct had finally revealed itself to me, I had to pay dearly for my naivety. As my beliefs have been completely shattered, I was deeply disillusioned and had to adjust my views accordingly.

The narcissist I dated gave me reasons to hold on and to feel that there was indeed hope for a future. He spent an entire weekend with me and my family, he had inspiring conversations with my parents and my brother. He told my mother that he wanted her to teach him how to cook and how to knit (no kidding!). He leafed through old photo albums with me and my mother. After the end of the weekend, he hugged my mother goodbye and told her what a sweet lady she was. He not only met my parents but also my friends. He held my hand and kissed me in their presence. He behaved like a proud boyfriend who couldn’t keep his hands off me – a fact that let my best friend to remark that he was clearly “marking his territory”. He told me on several occasions that he cared about my feelings and respected me immensely and therefore wanted to make sure to treat me with the respect and consideration I deserved. He also assured me that he always wanted me to feel protected and to not have to worry about anything at all. He even urged me to stop my anxiety and worries, because he wouldn’t just leave or disregard me like the guy I dated before him did. Through some of his actions he signalled genuine interest and so I thought that I had every reason to hold on, in spite of my many doubts and the fact that I often felt disrespected, pushed aside and neglected. Judging from some of his actions I was convinced that after all he cared about my feelings, and that his signs of affections weren’t just fake. After he had met my family and friends and spent several days at my place, I never would have though that he could just leave without saying another word…

I don’t know if I could ever convey the depth of the disillusionment I felt after he had flown back to the U.S. without contacting me again, without saying another word (not even goodbye) and without giving an explanation for his sudden decision to leave Germany. The pain I felt was so intense that I had trouble breathing and thought that someone had stabbed a giant sword into my heart. I guess, in some sense, one could say that he really made me lose faith in humanity and completely destroyed my innocent belief system. Through his conduct he introduced me to the corruption, deceit and malignity of narcissism. He drew me into his world of lies, cold indifference and manipulation – a world in which you could just leave without saying goodbye, where you could obviously trample all over the people who had shown you nothing but care and affection.

After all, he didn’t just disrespect and damage me, but he also hurt my mother’s feelings. My mother was unbelievably hospitable towards him, did everything in her power to make him feel comfortable and at home, and she really grew to genuinely like him. Through his sudden and wordless departure and his disrespectful conduct he broke her heart as well. Just as it was the case for me, she also had a hard time accepting the fact that nothing about his conduct was genuine and that his signs of interest and affection were not heartfelt. We both had made the mistake of measuring his conduct against the standard of decent human behavior. I spent weeks trying to find an explanation for everything he had done – for all the drama, ambiguity and disappointments, for the triangulation and manipulation. In the end I had to admit defeat. I couldn’t figure him out because we were not playing by the same rules. Disrespect and cold indifference were not part of my innocent world view and consequently I found it hard to evaluate his behavior.

By now I have finally learned that there is no use in trying to find an explanation for the narcissist’s behavior. If we desperately cling to them, hoping that they will eventually follow the rules of decent behavior, we are only drawing out the inevitable. The only thing we as victims of narcissistic abuse can do is learn to deal with the disillusionment and try to get past it. We will never find satisfying answers, and investing our energy and time to figure them out will get us nowhere. There is nothing wrong with us; it is not because we are full of flaws and not worthy of love that they can just abandon us without showing consideration for our feelings. Some people just can’t behave in a decent way and they have no use for our love and consideration. They don’t know or care about what they are doing to the feelings of others. We have to accept it and no longer try to measure them by our standards or apply our rules of decent behavior to them. Instead we should try to come to terms with the lesson they taught us: Not every person is considerate and honest. There are people who show no respect and can’t value or handle genuine affection and care. It is not our fault that they can’t. Instead of trying to find the rationale behind their behavior, we should feel sorry for them. At least we have the chance to eventually work past the disillusionment they left us with. The narcissists will, however, always have a hard time reciprocating love and settling down in a healthy, committed relationship.

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.