Overwhelmed - realisation you're dating a narcissist.
I'm new to this, had my first therapy session regarding my hopefully permanent break up from a long term relationship that has had devastating emotional consequences for me. As suggested by my psychologist I have done some research into NPD and I am feeling shocked, used and abused. It hurts to know the facts but also helps to have some clarity on the confusion I have suffered in regards to this 6 year long on again off again relationship.
It has now been 2 weeks NC but on his terms and if history tells the story that won't last too much longer. I feel alone, and I know that when/if he contacts me I will find it hard to disconnect.
I too have recently separated from a narcissist (r'ship of 10 years and have 2 young children).
'Overwhelmed' is exactly where it is at in those early days. I found that when I first realised my reality I had to think about it in bits at a time or I felt I would not cope coming out of the fog entirely all at once. I felt as though I was living a pretend life and I was the only one who knew my own reality. It is just a sickening feeling. I took it a day at a time and ended up reminding myself to 'trust my gut' to get from moment to moment because relying on all those thoughts was far too confusing.
I refused any contact with him for about 2 months to try and regain some strength and strengthen my resolve. I knew if I was going to leave I only wanted to do it once. Once was nearly impossible as it is. If I had no children with him I would choose to go 'no contact' permanently but due to the circumstances we are now tied for life so I figure I need to set clear, firm boundaries and stick to them. I am opting for minimal contact and still find that after 6 months any contact increases confusion and self-doubt.
I read a book called 'psychopath free' that suggested identifying 'a constant' - a person with whom you feel completely at ease with, you trust, you feel understood and validated. Lean on them like a compass. It is a very hard journey to go alone.
I have also written a list of reminders to refer to if I ever feel the pull of returning to the relationship that I know in my gut is not healthy or loving. My reminders include my most powerful moments, memories, reminders, quotes or truths that help me to get that clarity back and stick to my resolve, to trust my decision.
I still rollercoaster between knowing with full confidence I have done the right thing for me and my children and that it is permanent to wondering what on earth happened and maybe he's right and I'm crazy. The power of this self-doubt can be dizzying and terrifying.
I think we have to accept that recovery and clarity is a long process in this situation. Usually for the person who leaves a long term relationship it takes 1-2 years to fully detach. Thats a long time. So when your ex has manipulated your thoughts, feelings, identity and beliefs it makes sense that we will need to be very patient and just keep trusting your gut to get from one moment to the next.
I can really relate to feeling like you are the only person in the entire world that knows your own reality. What it took me a long time to realise is that that was on purpose.
My therapist said that with the internet, and even websites like this one, serious conditions have lost all of their meaning. People use mental health terminology to describe just about every inner state now days and the people that suffer are the families, partners and children in prolonging their understanding and confusing them more. She encouraged me to not engage in banter in the locker room too much because all it was doing, was actually normalising it and making me question myself even more.
Another thing she said to me is that there is a perception that narcissistic people are %100 destructive, and that this is completely false. They can be incredibly resourceful people, especially in getting what they want, by living fake identities, and making up huge lies to do so. She said its also untrue that they completely lack empathy. They will often have a lot of empathy for animals or people that had similar experiences to them. But then they will become very angry if you ask for your needs to be met and they can put you down and call you all sorts of names for having needs or give you the silent treatment.
It will not be easy leaving a relationship and to be honest I think it would take you more like 2-5 years to fully adjust to being out of that position of manipulation and control and you will be tempted to go back. If it's family like in my case, I think I have it much easier than if love had come into the mix too. It's not until you start talking to friends about it that you realise a lot of ppl have been trapped too in similar places and situations. You need to get your self worth back. without any of that you can't move forward because you have really low self esteem right now. Try and just take one day at a time, in 2 years you will be able to breathe a lot easier. It sounds daunting that it is that slow, but it just seems to take a really long time.