If you still believe you love your narcissistic, borderline or psychopathic ex, practicing and maintaining No Contact can be very difficult initially. Excruciatingly, painfully difficult. Many of my clients compare it to withdrawing from a drug. Neuro-chemically speaking, there are similarities.
You’re hurting, and you want the pain to stop. To ease the pain you engage in wishful thinking. You believe that maybe, just maybe, things will be different if you try again. If you “love harder” (sorry, I just threw up a little in my mouth). So you call, email, text or stage an “accidental” run in.
You probably feel a sense of elation and exhilaration at the first contact. Like standing in front of a warm fire after feeling all alone in despair and desolation. There she or he is [cue harp strings sound effect]. Maybe it’ll be different this time.
Within a matter of weeks, days, hours, minutes or seconds the Lizard Queen or Lizard King once again removes their human suit and the bullying, tantrums, lying and general craziness begin anew. Wash, rinse, repeat.
But you feel special and amazing again, if only for a short while. It’s confusing. It feels like exquisite relief, until the abuse starts. The gaslighting, the projection, the blame shifting, the lying, the false accusations, the no-win situations or double binds, the self-absorption — the usual. Nothing has changed.
And nothing will change until you realize that the pain of being with this person is greater than the pain of ending the relationship with them. But know this, if you stay in the relationship the pain will be endless. If you walk away, it will likely hurt worse than anything you’ve heretofore experienced, but it will eventually pass.
Continued contact with a narcissist, borderline or psychopath is the poison. No Contact is the antidote.
If this describes you, No Contact will hurt for several weeks or maybe months, but you have to go through the pain in order to move past it and heal it. If these issues go back to your childhood, the longing and pain isn’t just about your current trainwreck ex, it’s the longing and wish for the love, acceptance and adoration you didn’t receive as a child. I call it archeological grief work because there are layers of grief.
If this doesn’t apply to you and you’re having difficulty practicing No Contact, perhaps it’s the childish insistence that life and people are supposed to be fair. That if you’re a good person and do everything right, your abuser will realize it and treat you better.
This simply will not happen.
Your abuser isn’t going to make things better. There won’t be any epiphanies or leaf turning. Riding out the pain of separation and whatever the core issues are will help you to feel better. No Contact gives you the time and distance to come out of the FOG — the feelings of fear, obligation and guilt engendered by abusers — to see and think more clearly. To see that not only can you live without Ms. or Mr. Crazypants, but that you will do much, much better without them.
If you’re living in a house with a gas leak, it will eventually make you sick. Naturally, you feel better when you leave the house to go to work or to do errands. Each time you return to the house, you inhale more toxic fumes that make you feel nauseated, dizzy and confused all over again. Being in a relationship with Crazy has the same effect. You won’t be able to think clearly and feel better until you get away from the toxic gasbag. Permanently.
Perhaps No Contact is difficult not because you still believe your sociopathic ex is your one true “soul mate,” but because you find it difficult to resist The Bait™. What is The Bait™?
The Bait™ are the provocative and ridiculous emails, texts and voicemails designed to push your buttons. You think you’re setting the record straight when you break No Contact to JADE (justify, argue, defend and explain), but you’re not. What you’re really doing is taking The Bait™, which is exactly what your nasty/pitiful/crazy ex wants you to do. She or he wants your attention. Positive or negative — it doesn’t matter.
And really, when have you ever been able to reason with your crazy girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse or ex? To get them to be rational and concede your point in any lasting, meaningful way? Do you really think that’s going to happen now? The only thing crazier than Crazy is arguing with Crazy.
I get it. I know how hard it can be to resist the compulsion to have the last word in the face of the kind of extraordinary bullshit spewed by narcissists, borderlines, psychopaths and other garden variety bullies and UFCs (Unidentified Flying Crazies), especially when they routinely egregiously lie, twist and distort. You can have the last word. It is your silence.
Your silence is how you win. Not by making Crazy lose whatever is left of her or his mind, although, that will likely happen until she or he moves onto their next target. But because you are stepping out of that toxic dynamic and pattern. You will get your peace of mind back and see how silly it was to ever argue with that type of person in the first place. Go No Contact. It might take some time, but eventually you’ll probably want to kick yourself for not doing it sooner.
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Counseling, Consulting and Coaching with Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD provides services to help individuals work through their relationship issues via telephone or Skype, particularly men and women who trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. She combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for professional inquiries.