By Kim Saeed
Whether it’s the first time you’ve been discarded – or you go through the discard and hoover cycle like the earth orbiting the sun – one thing’s for sure…
When I was discarded the first time, I made all the mistakes you can possibly make. I begged. I pleaded. I sent emails with pictures of me and our son. I sent religiously-toned messages about saving our marriage. I tried to remain friends with his sister who hated my guts, hoping there was a lifeline there…
And I continued making all the humiliating, self-defeating mistakes most of us make when trying to salvage a relationship with someone who exploits our emotions with the same indifference as blowing hot air into a pinwheel.
You see, I didn’t realize back then that discards are generally nothing more than a ploy to instill abandonment triggers which, in turn, foster compliance.
I was blind to the fact that narcissists’ new relationships are part of a system of manipulation.
Had I known back then what I know today, I wouldn’t have stayed in the dysfunction so long. I would’ve been able to take control of my life much earlier.
And as a result, I would’ve been doing what I am doing now much sooner, instead of playing small and searching for true love on online dating sites…which only plunged me right back into a swirling eddy of despair.
I’ve since learned that having your own back and taking control of your life is the true key to happiness.
Somehow, I missed that memo when I was younger.
When readers write in sharing stories they haven’t told anyone else…I try to help them see that ninety-five percent of us have made the same mistakes, as well.
But, the crippling reality of making these mistakes is they only make us appear low value to the narcissist – a mere puppet to be played at the narcissist’s whim – which leads to the progressive destruction of our self-esteem.
So, what’s a would-be survivor to do?
Develop empowering habits of self-worth
Let’s be honest, if your best friend, co-worker, or child were throwing themselves at the feet of someone who was hell-bent on rejecting them, what advice would you give them?
You’d tell them they deserve better, of course.
You’d try to get them to see their worth and encourage them to let go of the toxic relationship.
You’d go down the list of all they ways they are better than their toxic partner (or friend, co-worker, etc.)
And so it should be with you and your own situation.
Following are five breakup mistakes to avoid like the plague if you’ve recently been “discarded”, thus allowing you to maintain your dignity and self-worth:
#1 Trying to “stay friends”
You and your narcissistic partner have agreed things aren’t working out between the two of you. You’ve heard all the reasons why you could never be an ideal partner for them.
In the middle of the discussion, he or she turns, gives you a pensive look and says, “I know we can’t be together, but I care about you a lot and don’t want to lose you completely. Can we just be friends?”
If you hear this statement from your toxic partner, take a deep breath, clear your head and remember these words…
How can someone who’s mistreating you in such brutal ways ever make a good friend? More importantly, are you willing to keep someone like that in your life? Sure, they may have given you the impression they cared at some point in your history together, but would you treat your friends like they treat you? Would you want your son or daughter dating someone like that?
I doubt it.
And if you’re the one wondering if you can remain friends, think back to the lies, betrayal, and sucker-punches and then reanalyze what you believe being friends looks like.
#2 Believing things might improve if you hang in there longer
Do you think these thoughts to yourself?
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Love conquers all. Everyone has some good in them and deserves the benefit of the doubt. If you want to be forgiven, you must forgive. They don’t have any family or friends, and now I’m thinking of “abandoning” them, too. I’m not perfect, either. Maybe it IS me after all.
These nuggets of insight might apply to other areas of life, but not to toxic relationships. Why? Because it gives targets of abuse another way to torture themselves.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been with your partner for two, ten, or thirty years, it’s time to accept that you’ve done everything within your power to salvage the relationship.
Trust me on this. I work with people who stuck it out for 20 and 30 years. They tried couple’s therapy, forgiveness, compromise (including tolerating infidelity). Guess what? Nada!
Accept you’ve done everything you could. Even if you did or said things you aren’t proud of, they were in reaction to being mistreated. The misguided fear that you can do something more to save the relationship is based on your partner having changed the goal posts continuously– and yes, it was deliberate.
This explains why every single abuse survivor believes there is something else they could have done. It’s a result of conditioning — and overwriting this belief will be part of your healing journey.
#3 Trying to find another person to fill the hole in your heart
If you are still reeling from a recent breakup with a narcissist, the last thing you want to do is seek out another relationship. Why? Because it leads to ‘Same Person, Different Face’ syndrome.
When you’re discarded by a narcissist, you are left in a vulnerable state. Even with the best intentions, you will likely attract the same kind of individual because you haven’t done the inner work that’s crucial for showing up in the next relationship in a healthy way.
This typically manifests as having little to no boundaries, allowing a new date to maintain a questionable relationship with one or more of their exes, brushing aside inappropriate remarks, and complying with requests you’re uncomfortable with to keep the new person’s attention.
In other words, denying your own wants and needs to placate someone you barely know.
#4 Believing the Ex has changed for the new person
Have you read that Narcissists all learn from the same playbook? Or, maybe you came up with this discovery on your own?
It’s ironic how we can clearly see that almost all narcissists engage in the same abusive and manipulative tactics, but we often fail to realize that abuse survivors generally engage in some self-defeating and self-sabotaging behaviors of their own.
An example would be stalking the ex around town to see what they’re up to, “casually and coincidentally” showing up at their usual spots. Would-be abuse survivors often believe they’re justified in engaging in this behavior due to the following reasons:
“Oh, I need to know when he’s in town.”
“I need to know she’s a cheater because that’s what keeps me strong.”
“I need to stay on top of their moves so I can be prepared.”
“I want to see what they’re saying about me.”
All of these are manifestations of self-sabotage.
Did you know the subconscious mind literally cannot tell the difference between imagination and reality? This is the reason why visualization and meditations have been scientifically proven to effect positive changes in the brain, as well as improve physical illnesses.
This same phenomenon goes for obsessively monitoring and cyber-snooping on your Ex. It keeps your subconscious mind in an environment of abuse and abandonment. It’s literally reenacting the abuse over and over, which keeps you in a state of fight-or-flight.
Are you following your Ex’s actions, believing they’ve changed for the new person? They haven’t. What you see is love-bombing. It’s an effective way for them to sweep the new person off their feet and encourage you to believe they’ve changed.
Generally, no matter how many times a would-be survivor reads this, they still believe their Ex has really and truly changed for the new person and that somehow, their situation is different from everyone else’s…making themselves mentally and physically sick in the process.
#5 Not working on your recovery
If you were recently discarded this bit may seem premature, but it should give you some good ideas about taking action regarding your recovery.
I frequently receive comments and emails from people telling me they’ve been out of their abusive relationship for five, ten, and twenty years, but still haven’t moved on. While healing and recovery is different for everyone, this generally means they never left the “Acceptance” phase of their recovery to graduate to “Letting Go”.
Find out if you’ve reached the process of letting go by answering these questions with True or False:
- I am still emotionally committed to my Ex, even though it’s been a long time since the breakup
- I think there’s still a chance my Ex and I will get back together
- I still do things to please my Ex, even though they’re in a relationship with someone else
- I still harbor anger and resentment towards my Ex, though much time has passed
- I still think about my Ex – a lot
- I still reminisce about the things my Ex and I used to do together
- I find excuses to talk to or “bump into” my Ex
- I still talk about my Ex to others, even though it’s been months since the official discard/breakup
If you answered True to two or more of the above statements, then you probably haven’t let go of your Ex. You are carrying around some emotional baggage that could prevent you from starting a new relationship and moving forward in a more affirming way.
Failure to relinquish a past relationship is typically a sign that you might be reluctant to give up because it would force you to deal directly with your buried feelings. These feelings may comprise of loneliness, guilt, rejection, low self-worth, and so forth. In this way, you abstain from feeling the sentiments by not letting go.
You will most likely need to confront the emotions specifically before you will have the ability to let go. Maybe your hesitance to give up is really concealing your inability to confront the core wounding underneath. If this describes you, please seek out a therapist or coach who can guide you through the process of letting go.