(Read time 1-2 mins)
If you gaze at the above image, the heart and the green background appear to be moving. They’re not. In fact, it’s impossible. They are not moving. But it sure looks like they are. Even when your brain tells you that it is impossible, it still looks like they’re moving. It’s an illusion. So is the person you loved.
One of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, concepts to grasp in the aftermath of a narcissistic relationship, is that the person you fell truly, madly and deeply in love with; the person whom you believed was your soulmate, never existed, except for in your own heart and mind. This deeply rooted, emotional attachment feeds cognitive dissonance (a state of holding two contradictory beliefs at the same time), and makes it excruciatingly difficult to let go of your narcissist ex (Nex) and move on. This is a very challenging phase of recovery where you struggle to hold on, and you struggle to let go.
Because of the attachment to the illusion of the narcissist, many victims of narcissistic abuse are tormented by the nagging questions:
1) If I had given him one more chance, would he have changed and become the wonderful man I met? (No.)
2) Will he change for the next woman, and will she get the wonderful man I met, while I am left traumatized damaged, abused and suffering? (No.)
3) Is there something I could have done to change the outcome of this? (No.)
The narcissist can’t change into the wonderful man you met, because that man never existed. That “man” was a construct built by narcissistic mirroring and manipulation.
The narcissist will shapeshift for the next woman, mirror her, and become her dream. He will lovebomb her, he will do everything with her that he did with you. And he will also devalue, dehumanize and discard her (unless she manages to get away first).
Narcissistic personality disorder is pathological, deeply-rooted, ingrained and fixed. Sandra L. Brown, M.A., author of How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved,” states it clearly and simply, “Pathology is forever.” Brown cautions, “You will never change his physiology or his bad wiring. You will never love him into safety, sanity, or sanctity.”
Knowing all of this is helpful, but feelings are feelings, and despite the rational understanding, and even acceptance of the truth, the heart wants what it wants, and what it believed it had. It is normal to want the relationship you thought you had, with the man you thought existed. In order to keep healing, don’t fight your feelings, don’t criticize yourself for wanting the relationship and the man thought you had. Validate, respect and honor your feelings. Honor yourself for having the capacity to love someone deeply and authentically, and give the best of yourself to your relationship. Your feelings were real, and authentic, they just were not accurate based on the person you were with.
Remember that feelings are not facts, and illusions are not real. You can let go of the illusion without denying your feelings, or invalidating your heart. What you had with the Nex (pre-abuse stage) was real to you, was wonderful to you, meaningful to you. Mourn what you have lost, because you lost something you truly believed you had. You didn’t know that it wasn’t real. The good news is, that someday it can be real with someone who deserves you and who can be the loving, caring, empathic partner you deserve.
As far as the Nex goes, remember: “A mantra to repeat and understand: 1. He never loved me. 2. I loved an illusion. 3. He cannot be fixed, cured or redeemed. 4. He knew what he was doing and enjoyed doing it. 5. It was not real. 6. It was not real. 7. It was not real.” And, keep moving forward and celebrate your freedom and the wonderful opportunities it brings.
*Please note: All of my articles are written with the use of masculine pronouns to describe the narcissist. This is solely due to my own experience, and not meant to imply that men are not also victims of narcissistic abuse, as they are too.