We’ve covered the numerous heavy feelings that accompany a victim’s involvement with a narcissist. Since it’s well established that narcissists cannot maintain long-term relationships, chances are high that at some point, the narcissist will no longer be a significant part of your life. What can you expect to feel once that happens? While thoughts and feelings are personal and unique to the individual, it’s still possible to predict what a victim might experience once the narcissist is out of the picture. Andrew has shared his perspective on what his life was like once free of his ex, it is insightful enough to be worth sharing, and hopefully will offer an encouraging message to victims. If you’re currently involved with a narcissist or going through the process of eliminating him/her from your life, here’s an idea of what you might feel once that person is gone:
Being released from the grasp of a narcissist can induce a significant sense of relief. Imagine it like getting out of a jail you didn’t know you were in. There is a unique freedom that comes with realizing you no longer have to try to move mountains to please someone who will never truly be satisfied. In fact, when I asked my husband what he felt the moment he realized he was no longer bound to his ex-wife, his first word was “liberated.” He finally felt he could say no to her. He finally had control over his own life. He didn’t have to buy her everything she desired regardless of whether or not he could afford it, didn’t have to feed her insatiable emotional hunger, didn’t have to cater to her irrational moods and demands, could pursue his own hobbies and interests, and had to answer to no one. In other words, he was no longer servant to a dictator.
Over time, there was also a sense of vindication that a victim would understandably feel once they realize that they weren’t the one with a problem. You’ll restore some of your previously neglected relationships with others, and once you open up about your experience, chances are they will share their observations about the narcissist too. The whole picture will become a lot clearer as all the pieces start coming together. In Andrew’s case, he had many friends, family members, members of the community, and neighbors say that they always thought his ex was a little “off” but never said anything because they assumed he knew and was okay with it. Getting that support helped him understand that his divorce was, in many ways, a huge gift.
In addition to feeling liberated, free, and vindicated, you will also realize how much peace and serenity you have. You’re not walking on eggshells anymore, you don’t have to meet unreasonable expectations, and it’ll feel like you no longer have a monkey on your back. There is a newfound appreciation for this sense of peace as you realize how much chaos and calamity the narcissist brought into your life. You can finally relax.
It wouldn’t be fair to say that there aren’t any of the typical feelings of loss that accompany the end of a relationship. They are, however, generally short-lived and shadowed by the overwhelming sensation of relief which will continue to grow as the days pass. You may have some lingering internal battles with your self-esteem, which will also be temporary. Remember, you were involved with a highly skilled abuser, and it is a normal response to have moments of self-doubt as you move forward with your life. Once time helps you create distance between past and present, it should be simpler to truly understand that your self-worth is not measured by a person who willingly and deliberately exploited and abused your trust and commitment to them. The next blog post will be about dealing with a narcissist you cannot fully get rid of. It’s unfortunate, but it happens, and there are ways to do it while maintaining your sanity and autonomy.