Why You Can’t Let Go Of That Narcissist

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I have lost count of the amount of times I have been asked by desperate clients why they cannot let go of an abuser and a narcissist. It seems that they have been injected by some form of drug that has formed an addiction and no amount of logic, common sense or realism will help them. They will go to all lengths to ensure that they remain in contact, however dysfunctional that may be for them. It is a hold that seemingly cannot be broken but truly has to be if recovery is to take place.

Clients who I have recently worked with cannot understand the hold these abusers have over them and of course, blame themselves for the fact that it happens. They really don’t understand how this could have happened to them. The breakup was quite likely traumatic and leaves an effect large enough to keep the victim hooked in. Hooked in is the key word and explains some of the process. This happens in the adulation stage. The initial attraction is often linked to some form of trauma or loss that lends the victim vulnerable to being  “helped”.

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The power a narcissist has over his victim is all encompassing in the adulation stage and the “hooks” created can make even the most intelligent, rational person doubt their own sanity. It is the kind of brainwashing power that, when transported onto a larger stage, powers dictatorships, sects and ideologies, like the Nazi party and Communism. For the victim, it is the start of a process that will leave them emotionally destroyed when the narcissist targets the next victim and invariably discards them.

Narcissists are very choosy. They choose their victims carefully and their choice is usually based on such things as status, wealth, influence or ability. The victims are usually attractive and popular. The more of this the victim has, the greater the value of the supply for the narcissist. Narcissists are great observers at this stage. They place their victims on a pedestal and make sure that they get everything they need in the way of care, loving and attention. They idolise, worship them and make the victim feel that they have been waiting all their life for this person to appear. The victim might actually believe that the narcissist is in love with them, but this is infatuation. The relationship moves quickly based on the promises that the narcissist makes. The victim, being so wrapped up in all the attention coming their way, happily moves along with it, not believing their luck that this person is in their life. They have fallen for the illusion created by the narcissist and it leaves them totally unprepared for what is to follow.

The adulation stage is very powerful and seductive. It is like a drug and can be described as the  “honeymoon period” times three or four. There is an old saying which is especially relevant here and one that codependents might do well to remember. That is “You learn more about a person at the end of the relationship than at the beginning” . With a narcissist, this is especially true. The adulation stage (the beginning), is an illusion, a mask, that convinces the victim that they are with someone who is capable of empathy, compassion, understanding and love. The world is totally in order and all of their needs are being catered for. Maybe for the first time in their life, they feel totally appreciated. There is more fun, sex, and connection than they have ever known before. The problem is, as they will soon find out, it is not real and reality will bite them. 

The honeymoon period under normal circumstances is difficult to navigate when it ends. It is normally driven by hormones, biology, hope and expectation. It will end (as it should) and then reality sets in. This is not necessarily negative if the couple can cope with the changes and keep level-headed about it. However, with a narcissist, it is very difficult to accept the end of such a “great” beginning where fantasy has been built.

Most of this is to do with what we term “cognitive dissonance”. This is a psychological term for when you hold two or more conflicting beliefs, attitudes or behaviour at the same time. It makes you feel uncomfortable and so you alter your behaviour to try to restore the balance. However things aren’t that easy when you’ve been involved with a narcissist. Their entire existence is fabricated around dissonance. They say one thing, do another. And so you can’t restore the balance. You loved them but now you hate what they did to you. You trusted them but know you can’t believe a word they say.

The truth that you must understand is:

It is an illusion that anyone or anything outside of you has power over you – the only reason they can have power over you is because you have unhealed parts that are allowing it.

This is the truth. Your pain and your mind attachment to the narcissist is energised and pounding because you haven’t realised that your healing is about you. It is not about the narcissist and that is the very reason you were attracted to them in the first place. The deeper parts of you that needed healing presented themselves fully to the narcissist and they took full advantage, promising you (or so you assumed) that they would finally heal you.

How can the narcissist be shut out? Firstly, understand that no-contact is essential, however painful. Close every door and don’t allow them to leave anything behind which might mean they can contact you later. Block social media (including their family and friends) and start the necessary work of healing the deeper parts of you. Realise that the narcissist is a symptom of this and not the cause and they were not the answer to your dreams but actually your worst nightmare!

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Dr. Nicholas Jenner, a therapist, coach, and speaker, has over 20 years of experience in the field of therapy and coaching. His specialty lies in treating codependency, a condition that is often characterized by a compulsive dependence on a partner, friend, or family member for emotional or psychological sustenance. Dr. Jenner's approach to treating codependency involves using Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, a treatment method that has gained widespread popularity in recent years. He identifies the underlying causes of codependent behavior by exploring his patients' internal "parts," or their different emotional states, to develop strategies to break free from it. Dr. Jenner has authored numerous works on the topic and offers online therapy services to assist individuals in developing healthy relationships and achieving emotional independence.

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