Toxic Relationships: Recovering From A Narcissist

Narcissists look cute on the outside, but they're all predator on the inside.
Narcissists look cute on the outside, but they're all predator on the inside. | Source

There is Nothing More Toxic Than a Narcissist

My relationship with a narcissist changed me for the better. I’ve come a long way in the two years since that relationship ended. My wish is to offer hope to others who are in a relationship, or trying to end a relationship with a narcissist. It is undoubtedly one of the hardest toxic bonds to break. However, it can be done, and I’m living proof.

There is nothing quite so humiliating and hurtful as an intimate relationship with a narcissist. I dug around online in the aftermath of my breakup. I wanted to see if other people had recovered from the psychological fallout of this type of toxic relationship. I was surprised to find very little about actual recovery.

What I did discover online was a wealth of forums and articles about how to get away from the narcissist. There were plenty of tearful stories about the wreckage and psychological ruin. Unfortunately, there was very little about how people actually recovered successfully.

So I came up with my own plan to recover and move on from being psychologically mangled. The person I was with was incapable of treating me with dignity and respect – a typical narcissist trait.

I determined to rebuild my self-esteem from the inside out, so that I would never again be susceptible to an abusive relationship. I also wanted to reach a place where I was narcissist proof. I needed to appreciate my real value so that I could turn away toxic people and not look back.

Narcissists Have No Remorse

Waiting for a narcissist to change in to a decent human being is like waiting to spot a unicorn. It won’t happen - and your time and energy could be better spent on other things.

I spent two years hoping she would change. Two long years enduring someone who couldn’t really appreciate me, and who emotionally abused me on a regular basis. My self-esteem was in tatters.

At the time, I was unable to disconnect from this soul-crushing relationship. I just couldn’t find any detachment, even while things were getting worse. I knew I wanted out, but I couldn’t reach the exit.

The End of a Toxic Relationship is Like an Atomic Blast

The night of her holiday party was my wake-up call. Her behavior was so horrifying that I vowed to sever my connection to a person who didn’t seem human. I think everyone has a defining moment when they’re involved with a narcissist. In truth, there are usually many defining moments, but we tune them out. There’s usually a horrific event that alerts us, once and for all, that we need to go and never look back.

We were in the process of a breakup. The problem with a narcissist is that making a clean break is almost impossible. There a are a lucky few that are strong enough to do it - but mostly, by the time a break up is on the horizon, the partner of a narcissist is has been so beaten down psychologically they are unable to move.

Around the time we were attempting to break up, my ex narcissist decided to have a holiday party and invite a circle of acquaintances we both knew. She had invited me to spend New Year’s Eve with her, and I thought she extended an invitation to the Christmas Party. It never even occurred to me that I wouldn’t be welcome.

Even though I was tired from a long school year, I decided to surprise my ex -narcissist by putting in a surprise appearance at the party. It was a two-hour trip by train in sub-zero cold, but I was ready for a fun night and was willing to brave public transportation and the elements. I bought a nice bottle of liquor and a box of cookies and embarked on the trek.

I arrived with my gifts and a big smile on my face, ready for a good time. When I arrived, my ex took one look at me, and I knew immediately that something was wrong. My stomach knotted up. She looked at me like I was a homeless drunk who had just crashed her party. She clearly didn’t know what to do and was appalled that I was there. She ran into the other room to hide behind her guests.

I spent the next half hour milling around trying to figure out what to do with myself. The other guests could tell that my ex didn’t want me there, and they didn’t know what to do either – they were friends with both of us. I could not remember when I felt more uncomfortable, or awkward. I had been part of her life and welcome in her home for two years. Suddenly, I was an unwelcome intruder.

She actually stood in her living room with her back to me the entire time I was there. My time at the party didn’t last long – I lasted one half hour to be exact. It finally occurred to me that another partygoer was a person of interest to my ex. Before our relationship was even over, she had already picked out my replacement.

It's all about the narcissist.
It's all about the narcissist. | Source

Narcissists Don’t Understand Love

This is a common, and disturbing, phenomenon amongst narcissists: They are unable to form healthy attachments with other human beings. So even though they may say they are in love, they always have their eye out for the next best thing. And there is always a next best thing.

The narcissist is incapable of settling down with one partner. Even if they are in what appears to be a committed marriage - rest assured they are dabbling on the side. They are consummate entertainers looking for devoted groupies. They are always on stage performing their one man, or one woman, show – because it really is all about them.

If there is the opportunity to get more attention and adoration from a potential love interest, the narcissist will take it. Anyone who thinks that their narcissist is capable of being faithful is fooling himself, or herself. They are always on the lookout for something better no matter what they say to the contrary.

When I realized I was not welcome at the party, I remember grabbing my coat, calling a cab to the train station and standing outside in the freezing cold. My emotions kept cycling through numb, horrified and heartbroken.

I felt like I was in a bad soap opera – standing in the freezing cold, sobbing over someone who had never been worth my time or energy from the very beginning. In that moment, I felt like the biggest fool on the planet. I vowed, in that moment, that this was really the last time. I would never attract, or be attracted to, someone this disturbed again.

She came running outside before my cab pulled up. She kept hugging me and she told me everything would be ok, that I shouldn’t have shown up to her party. She wasn’t expecting me, and she had wanted to spend the evening mingling as a single woman – never mind that our relationship wasn’t actually over. She was already in the market for her next conquest. She assured me that since we were spending New Year’s Eve together she would make it up to me then.

I stared at her in disbelief through my tears. I couldn’t believe this woman actually thought I would ever go near her, or her home, again. I knew that was the last time I would ever set foot in her house.

She gave one last big hug, handed me a tissue to dry my tears and put me in the cab. It never occurred to her that her behavior was abnormal. In her world, my part in her little play had ended. I was merely an extra who was no longer needed on the scene.

She called and emailed for three days. I refused to respond. She finally realized I was not returning for New Year’s Eve and gave up. What disturbed me the most was the fact that she actually thought I would return to spend time with her after my private, and public, humiliation.

We continued to stay sporadically in touch after the nightmarish party scene. She kept trying to explain behavior that was unexplainable. I still harbored a slim hope that she would somehow miraculously change into a caring, compassionate person. On my end I believe that’s referred to as magical thinking.

I spend a lot of time during our relationship hoping that would happen. However, waiting for someone to change is a sure sign of danger. They won’t, and I wasted a lot of time waiting, wishing and hoping.

As time went on, I noticed that she was repeating the same sad excuses over and over in her emails. I finally realized that she was never truly sorry to begin with and that she would never be sorry. I finally had to accept the truth.

The refusal to let go of the emotional connection was part of my own emotional fixation. I had the choice to walk away. I continued to hang on despite all evidence that I was better off shutting her out and moving on.

I wish I could say it ended there, but with a pathological narcissist it never ends right away – they like to leave a trail, and an opening, in case they need you in the future. Our communication continued off and on for a year, before I discovered that she was actually in a couple of relationships with other people while she was still communicating with me. So I would get emails about getting back together some day, while she was sleeping with other people. The reality of her manipulation finally set me free. I ended communication with her completely.

Even though I’d like to believe that my self-esteem was in fairly good shape, my relationship with the narcissist taught me that there were holes in my self-esteem that I was unaware of. Patching up the holes became my primary concern over the following year. At long last, taking care of me became my priority.

There were places in my psyche that needed healing, and the toxic relationship brought my most painful issues right up to the surface where they could get some air. I was able see what I was doing to myself by allowing such toxicity into my life. Anyone who’s with a narcissist is suffering from similar issues.

Sometimes, Contact Helps You See What You Need to See

The constant email and Facebook reminders that she really believed her aberrant behavior was out of character, and that she really believed herself to be a kind, caring soul became tiresome after awhile. I was listening to the same prepared speech over and over.

While no contact is ultimately the way to go…for some of us staying in contact almost builds our emotional immunity. The more you hear, the less you want to hear as time goes on. In my case, by the time I cut off contact it was just a relief. There was no longer sadness about the loss.

You’ve heard the same thing with your narcissist. Whether parent, friend or romantic interest, you’ve heard the speeches that rarely change except for a rearranged word or two. The speeches are designed around the same themes and each narcissist has their own special theme based around their unique brand of delusion and insanity:

*No one appreciates them or how wonderful they are.

*No one appreciates how much he or she suffers at the hands of others.

*Everyone else has a problem - they are perfect.

*They are just trying to do some good in a world where everyone is out to get them.

*Because they are special, other people must understand when they get upset and shut down or lash out.

*They don’t remember that they got upset then shut down and lashed out, and you must be crazy for accusing them of such behavior.

If you’ve experienced any of these scenarios with a narcissist, then you understand the how empty and desolate it feels when you finally realize who, and what, you’re dealing with. You have to come to terms that you’re dealing with a monster, but with that realization comes true freedom – because you can never go back, only forward.

You’ve Been Trained to Throw Yourself in Front of the Bus

You may have been raised in a home with an alcoholic, an addict or a narcissist. In those homes the parent and their issues come first. The spouse of the damaged parent spends a lot of time worrying and trying to change their spouse. With everyone putting the narcissistic parent first, there is little energy left over for the children.

There is little positive emotional energy in homes like these. What is being modeled in these families are unhealthy, unsafe relationships. The children suffer the most, because the scars from childhood repeat for them in adulthood through an attraction to abusive relationships.

It is impossible for an adult child of an addict, or narcissist, to enter adulthood without serious emotional problems, including codependence. The pathological narcissist thrives on a steady diet of adults who have trouble believing they deserve to be treated well.

I understood that a childhood devoid of genuine emotion or caring from narcissistic parents created a need in me to fix a childhood that could no longer be fixed. Intellectually I understood what I was doing, but until I could emotionally accept the harsh reality that my parents were just not great parents - I would stay stuck in a pattern of attracting the same type of narcissistic people over and over. My trying to rescue and change each new partner was a lifelong pattern that caused me tremendous distress.

The relationship with a malignant narcissist forced me to face the real issue: Did I really believe I deserved to be in a healthy, loving, reciprocal relationship, or did I, deep down, believe I was doomed to unsatisfying relationships that were destructive, toxic and unsatisfying?

A Toxic Person Will Remain Toxic

If your survival as a child required you focus on every nuance of a parent’s mood – then you probably have a tendency to be over vigilant in your relationships. Growing up with a narcissist is literally growing up in an emotional minefield.

In other words, your primary love relationship takes up an extraordinary amount of your mental and emotional energy. Your brain is hard-wired to be so tuned in to someone else that you can’t take care of your own emotional needs and safety. It’s one of the primary symptoms of co-dependence.

You expend so much mental energy on the narcissist that your other relationships, interests and goals go on the back burner. When everything else takes a back seat, your life becomes unbalanced, and that’s when true misery settles over your soul.

This is what was happening to me during my time in my toxic relationship. The narcissist in my life was draining me to a point that it took all my strength to function at my job and other areas of my life - never mind a social life. My ex made sure that I was so busy attending to all of her emotional needs that there wasn’t much room to maintain healthy friendships with other people. I didn’t know how to disconnect from her drama. I wasn’t able to set good boundaries.

This a common problem for people who grow up to be codependent – an inability to set healthy boundaries with other people. I had spent most of my life not knowing where I end and someone else begins. It started to dawn on me that I was not responsible for anyone else’s feelings or problems.

The Beginning of the End: How do You Really Feel?

It was not my job to repair another human being. My new mantra became “I didn’t break it. I can’t fix it.” By continuing to accept responsibility for things that were beyond my control – I was actually the co-creator in my miserable relationships.

Learning how to feel my feelings became imperative, because I realized my ex-narcissist was slowly destroying me emotionally. I started tuning in to how I really felt when I heard from her. The knot in my stomach was a sure sign that I was uncomfortable, but I was mixing up discomfort with love.

I realized that feeling nauseous when dealing with her was a sure sign I shouldn’t be dealing with her at all. Once I got the feelings and thoughts straight in my head – I realized that what I had felt towards this person wasn’t love, it was more like pity and fear, but it wasn’t love.

Anyone who’s spent a lot of time with a narcissist knows, deep down, that the person causes them pain – especially if it’s a love relationship. If you’re still in a relationship with your narcissist, you may be thinking there is some hope. Maybe you’ve given up years of your life trying to keep your sinking ship afloat.

Until you release your need to make it work with someone who is pathologically focused on themselves, you will stay stuck. The breakup forced me to decide: Save myself, or stay in something that would eventually destroy me. I chose me.

The minute you become willing to acknowledge that you’re in a toxic relationship, and you don’t feel good about it, is the first stepping-stone to regaining emotional freedom and peace. Feeling my own feelings and taking responsibility for them was painful but necessary. I was truly serious about forming healthier attachments and attracting a relationship that was actually good for me.

If only the inside showed on the outside, we'd never go near them.
If only the inside showed on the outside, we'd never go near them. | Source

The Healing Begins: Seeing The Narcissist For Who They Really Are

Sometimes it’s easier to idealize people and look the other way when their behavior is less than stellar. Everyone deserves a second chance. In a healthy relationship we sometimes accept certain qualities in our partner that we may not love – but aren’t serious enough to end a relationship.

I had to open my eyes to what I was really dealing with, before I could make peace with the fact that there was no future with her. The selfish, self-absorbed, entitled behavior made a reciprocal, healthy relationship impossible.

She would feign flashes of insight about her behavior. She would cry and apologize – then she would quickly turn it around and blame me for her bad behavior. Then she’d wait a few days and do it all again, an exhausting cycle with no respite. This is what narcissists do; they are incapable of true empathy or insight.

Where Can You Turn When You’re Climbing Out of Hell?

My Buddhist practice has saved me on many occasions. The type of Buddhism I practice requires chanting – an excellent form of active mediation. While I was still suffering the after effects of my toxic relationship, and harboring fantasies that she would show up at my door and apologize, I turned to my spiritual practice. I reached out to other Buddhist friends, went to meetings and participated to the best of my ability.

Whether you’re Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, or Buddhist - your religion is there to help. Prayer works if you’re willing to admit you need healing. You just have to ask. Even if you haven’t participated in your religion for a long time, you will find a welcoming community that’s willing to support you. It certainly helped me in during my darkest hours.

Accepting Responsibility For The Choices You Make

There’s a famous spiritual quote that circulates on Facebook. It says: “Let go or be dragged.” It sums up the connection to a narcissist or any other personality-disordered individual. You have to be the one to disconnect because they won’t. They will mingle on the outskirts of your life for as long as you’re willing to communicate or leave the door cracked open. The door has to be completely shut.

It’s easy to blame the narcissist, but the truth is we’re choosing to engage. We are making a conscious choice to take on an impossible relationship with an impossible person. As adults we always have the choice to let go.

Once I had assumed responsibility for throwing myself under that particular bus, my angst began to lessen. I reminded myself regularly that what I participated in was always my choice, and that each new moment of each new day presented a fresh opportunity to make better choices.

Taking Responsibility: A Toxic Relationship Takes Two

People who are not codependent do not get involved with narcissists. The reason for this is that a person who’s used to a healthy dynamic would be unable to tolerate the constant abuse.

Codependence is a reliance on relationships that hurt. It is an inability to trust our own feelings and get out of our own way. When you’re codependent, you hang on to bad relationships for dear life – not acknowledging that you’re causing your own pain.

Reading some books on the subject helped me deal with my codependent nature and the pain it was causing me. I was picking the very people who would hurt me the most, and I was unable to set healthy boundaries with the narcissists in my family.

Melody Beattie’s book “Codependent No More” is a classic for a reason. Keeping this book handy and referring back to it when I felt myself slipping into wanting and needing my ex was a tremendous help during the healing process.

I also read several books on Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Between reading and attending Codependent’s Anonymous meetings for a while, I slowly began to heal. Once we understand ourselves, and our codependence better, the less we are willing to tolerate toxic behavior.

Redirecting Your Energy and Focus

When a relationship with a narcissist ends it creates a vacuum. So much of the relationship revolved around you and the narcissist obsessing over the narcissists needs, that you forget how to focus on other things, including your own needs.

Focusing on other things helped me work through the healing process. Renewing some of my personal commitments to myself, such as doing my writing and daily hiking, helped me feel that I was accomplishing something. This helped boost my self-esteem back to normal levels.

Rediscovering what you’re good at and devoting some time and energy to doing what you love will help you through the breakup with the narcissist. It will also make room for people in your life who share your interests and passion. I naturally started to attract quality people.

I made a lot of new friends during the healing process. Reaching out to make new friends and reconnecting with old friends was a welcome diversion during my narcissist recovery program. Before I knew it, I no longer had any desire or secret fantasies about rekindling a relationship with the narcissist. I was too busy and having too much fun.

You Can Change What You’re Attracting and What You’re Attracted to

Getting out and pursuing my own interests, rediscovering my spiritual practice and making new friends helped me get a better handle on what healthy connections looked like. As soon as I started “doing me,” everything else fell into place. I was able to be more discriminating about the type of people that I wanted around me. I did run across another narcissist in my new circle of friends. It took about a month to realize I was dealing with another toxic person, and I ended the friendship immediately.

The universe or God, or whatever you believe in, will provide you with exactly what you think you deserve. Changing a mindset takes some time, but it’s not as hard as you might think. It is well worth it to spend time alone getting in touch with what you want and need.

It has now been two years since the relationship with the narcissist ended, and I can honestly say I’ve never felt stronger, happier or more at ease with myself. I am dating and socializing and keeping an eye out for the healthy person who’s worthy of my time and energy. Next time, I’m no longer accepting crumbs.

© 2014 Macteacher

Comments 41 comments

Attikos profile image

Attikos 2 years ago from East Cackalacky

Indeed. It will require years for us to recover from our relationship with the narcissist, especially if PPACA survives.

Adam Lee Andersen profile image

Adam Lee Andersen 2 years ago from Overland Park, Kansas

I read your entire article and it does speak words to a situation that I liberated myself last year; but I'm still in healing process. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship, and I would have to say she was quite the narcissist that you describe her. While she didn't many friends, her mentality of I'm always right, you're always wrong was a constancy. After 2 years of feeling battered I finally gave up. But today, I'm still dealing with the pain.

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Dear Adam,

I feel your pain. The only thing I can suggest is getting out there and meeting new people. New friendships can do a lot of good. I've had a lot of success with They have groups for every interest all across the country. I've made a lot of my new friends through that site.

Good luck. Some things just take time. Just remember you deserve to be with someone who treats you with respect. You will find that person.

CrisSp profile image

CrisSp 2 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

What if that person is your next of kin? How do you detach yourself from someone you've loved since birth? Letting go is easier said than done and no matter what, it is (very) painful and traumatizing. But then again, we have to let go and set ourselves free.

Thank you for sharing your experience on a much sensitive subject. Well written, interesting and very useful hub.

Best wishes to you.

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Dear CriSp,

I grew up with three narcissists. It's not easy to deteach, but I had to for my own sanity. I've managed to maintain a decent relationship with my mother. A cordial relationship with my father. My grandmother passed a while back, so I no longer have to worry about her. She was a nightmare, may she RIP. Letting go is not easy, but it can be done. It just takes time and determination to be happy. Thanks for stopping by and offering feedback. :-) I'm sending you some good energy.

FreezeFrame34 profile image

FreezeFrame34 2 years ago from Charleston SC

Interesting read, indeed.

I've experienced a lot of the emotions and situations you have described.

The icing on the cake was when a person who claimed they "loved me more than I loved them" physically attacked me and then was mad at me for telling others about the event. He was mad because "I didn't give people the whole story." And actually told me that I shouldn't talk about it at all because "I am not a victim-just a really great story-teller".

The hardest scenario is when you have a child who loves their narcissist parent. While a single person may break ties and move on from a narcissist, when a child is involved, it complicates matters even worse.

To help me try to move on, I had to decide to to focus on the healing of myself. I knew the narcissist is going to call me "selfish", but they are always going to try to bring you down in order to make themselves feel better. Once you realize that no matter what you say or do to "try to make things better", things will never be "perfect" until you leave,and you can truly focus on yourself and rise up!

Thanks for sharing your story; it does comfort to know that others have experienced it, lived through it, and can motivate others to do the same~

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author


Thanks for visiting. I'm glad my story helped. As an adult child raised by narcissists - I know how hard it is for the children. But you're right, your happiness has to come first. Your child will figure it out eventually. Good for you standing up to the madness. :-)

Pretty Mommy Cop profile image

Pretty Mommy Cop 2 years ago from Georgia

Your story reminds me of a relationship I was unloved in for many years. Funny how I was going to write involved in but the word unloved somehow appeared. Those types of people love to play victims and take advantage of those that love them. They seem to have a sense of entitlement. They are masterminds of manipulation and illusions for their own personal gain. I am new to begin with my hub and when I broach this topic I'd like to reference you. ...?

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Pretty Mommy Cap,

You are right, unloved is exactly the right word. You are welcome to reference me. I'm flattered. The more we talk about narcissists, the less power they'll have. Thanks for stopping by. :-)

grand old lady profile image

grand old lady 2 years ago from Philippines

I have come across a few narcissists in my life. They are very difficult people especially when they are determined to dislike someone. I was told that it's important to establish boundaries when these unhealthy relationships exist in your life. It's sad, but being the victim of a narcissist's instability is even sadder.

To my surprise however, I discovered that some narcissists can actually have good marriages. There was a YouTube video documentary on it, and the speaker was the highest level narcisisst. But his wife grew up with narcissists and she understood him. Guess there is hope for happiness for everyone.

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Grand Old Lady,

If you ever find a link to that video, please send it my way. She may understand him, but it is a relationship that revolves around him. I haven't seen it, but I'm guessing her needs go on the back burner. There can only be one star in a relationship with a narcissist. Thank you for visiting. :-)

JadaFedUp 2 years ago

Ive been in love with an arrogant, pompous, toxic, egotistical, pathological, lying narcissistic ass for nearly 16 years. We were together for 15 years of miserable hell before we decided to get married. We are coming upon our 1st year anniversary & the best anniversary gift that my husband could possibly give to me is a DIVORCE!

Eve 2 years ago

Your experiences seem very similar to mine.

I've been free from the ex narc for a year now. Life is more joyful these days, I'm taking care of myself and choosing who i give my energy and time to.

It seems like narcissistic relationships have many common traits. They seem to have an 'on and off' nature that makes things unsettling and at the same time addictive. My ex narc initially pursued me intensely for a couple of months then I was hooked. As time went on, she seemed to become more self-absorbed and I became more addicted to her. I also envied her 'independence', she seemed to be content at times to watch tv and be on her own. In the second year of the relationship, i was practically living at her place, cooking for her and feeding my addiction. I completely lost my sense of self. I was focussed on her and saving her and the relationship, i became a hollow empty shell as she also exposed her hollow shell. After i was discarded for the final time, i still tried to hold on briefly by keeping up the contact.

After discovering what a narcissist was and realising what i was dealing with, i started no contact a few months after the relationship ended. It gave me the path back to healing myself.

There are times i have flashbacks, places we went together etc, but on the whole i feel i have my self back.

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Hi Eve,

I"m glad you recovered. A relationship with a narc is very destructive, and yes it does trigger certain issues, like being needed, rescuing, etc. I feel into a very bad place, but it was worth the experience because I will never get involved with someone like that again.

I'm glad you've recouped your sanity. Thanks for sharing your experience. :-)

jules 2 years ago

I read yr blog and related to very much all of it one way or another. I'm healing ftom a narcissist. Baby steps are what I'm taking. But I'm hopeful. Thank you for sharing.

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Hi Jules,

It does indeed take baby steps, but you will heal. Thanks for dropping in.

Kelly 2 years ago

Wow! Thank you for giving me hope. 23 years with him, left me with suicidal tendencies for almost a year. Finally, see the truth, and very sad that at this point in my life, I now have to realize I loved someone with my entire being, was all based on lies. I will probably never get the opportunity to know what love really is, that is very hard to accept.

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Hi Kelly,

Thanks for stopping by. You're never too old for real love. Sometimes it takes years of dealing with what you don't want to reach what you do want. If you haven't read "In The Meantime" by Iyanla Van Zant - I highly recommend it. It's my personal bible and I read it whenever I'm having a hard time. You'll get through it and you'll meet the right person. Don't worry. :-)

Claire 2 years ago

Thank you so much for this story. Its true - there are next to no stories of recovery or help regarding Narcs on the web. I have recently (3 weeks) left my ex-narc of 9 years. He put me in hospital a few times, once with broken ribs and a punctured lung, another girl who was over at the time is now dead. Narcs will do anything to stop people finding out who they really are or what they are truly like. Humiliation to them is unbearable and they will do anything to avoid that happening. After years of this horrible relationship, I am left with no self esteem or sense of self and the worst part is my daughter is displaying similar behaviours to the ex-narcs. This scares the hell out of my and brings tears to my eyes to think what damage this has done to my beautiful little girl. And how stupid and naïve I was to allow this to go on for so long. It was only a few months ago that I was looking on the internet about "impossible people" ; after resorting to psychology type sites for information on how to deal with this kind of 'person'. I never realised there was a name for it... "Toxic sociopathic histrionic narcissist ". As soon as I became aware of this things started to make a little more sense and made it easier (probably not the right word) - less extremely difficult- to deal with the daily onslaughts of abuse. Eventually it helped become slightly immune to the degree of damage each blow would offer. I must note, after years of mental, emotional, financial and physical abuse and police being called on numerous occasions where he was the one calling them to get his story in first, convincing them that I had attacked him and that he simply acted in self defense. At at least 40-60cm shorter than him and a tenth of the weight...finally there was a police officer who realised it was all horseshit and put a domestic violence order against him on my behalf. After all this, I finally began to believe that there was some hope on earth that not everyone would be sucked into his lies. It did not stop there - all the other abuse continued except physical for the most part; although there were a couple of occasions where he would threaten with violence to get his way, but mostly it was all the other forms of abuse. The worst part was that I did not even realise that that is what it was. Coming from an abusive alcoholic home as a child, being molested at a young age and then raped by 18 - I had trust issues as it was. Meeting a narc in that state; I was instantly sucked into his "I will protect you from the world" attitude he had in the beginning. Soon found out that meant I would be completely isolated from m family and friends. He hated anyone who looked as though they would not agree with the way he treated me. Anyway, I am on narcs was the biggest help to me out of everything. It helped me see what I was looking at and I began to see things for what they truly were. It even got to the point where I could predict his behaviour in situations sometimes almost to the point where I think I could have manipulated him. This is not what I am, so I began to plan to leave him. Planning was no good once I was aware of every situation and his made me sick. I had had enough. That's how it was for me - I just left one night after one of his tantrums of rage where I am usually expected to bow to him and apologise -for paying bills without permission this time- sorry was no good to him unless you had tears pouring down your face - and he even said that in those words to me many times. I have not gone back, and although it felt that no contact was the best idea; I still had most of my stuff in the home. I can definitely recommend that to anyone leaving a narc - don't wait for one of the worst moments to leave just do it and NEVER look back. Not sure exactly where to go from here and it is hard when you're in a fragile state not to convince yourself that you were in the wrong - that's not even my own conscience talking anymore - I know that much..its just echoes of his bullshit drowning out my soul..What still suprises me though is how quickly they can jump straight into a new relationship OMG. Please give me some advice on where to go from here. Thank you again.

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macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Hi Claire,

Thanks for stopping by. Honestly, everyone's process of recovery is different. I highly recommend CoDA meetings (Codependent's Anonymous), you can look online for a meeting near you. I also recommend therapy.

I'm going to therapy as we speak, and talking about my narcissistic parents and understanding why I'm drawn to narcissists has helped me build some armor against them and avoid attracting them. I'm glad you have no contact. It's very smart. But getting some help for yourself will help you avoid toxic relationships in the future. Good luck!

Southerngirl66 2 years ago

Thanks Macteacher for this article, this is so true, you can find many articles on the subject but nothing on anyone ever surviving it. I know I'm needing HOPE.

I'm currently going through therapy to help me overcome my issues with my Narc. Was involved with him for one and 1/2 years and I tell you this has been in the most devastating relationship. I WANT to recover and be back to myself again, but I'm having a hard time accepting that this person was a fraud. More than anything I'm having to look at my part in this and how it happened, because I DO NOT want to attract this type of person in my life again.

I'm kinda tired of talking about my experience, but I felt your site was so positive I wanted to respond. I'm going to read some of the books you suggested and I'm also going to see if there is a Codependency Anonymous in my area.

Thanks again for sharing your story and for the advice!

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macteacher 2 years ago from New York Author

Thanks Southerngirl66! I'm glad my article helped a little. These relationships really do destroy your soul. Putting the pieces back together again can make you stronger and make you narcissist proof. Good luck in your recovery and definitely get as much support as you can. :-)

Rod 15 months ago

This article is spot on. There really isn't a lot of how to heal info out there. The healing part is a torturous process. The big moment comes when you realize that all the clues were always there and you knew something was off... if you knew that, then why did you allow it to continue? Co-dependent- look it up because something in you didn't take notice when you should have. Also see co-morbidity. Most NPDs have other traits like HPD or passive aggressiveness. But, you will heal, all of you, in time. It takes time. There are many books on Amazon that can help. I was seconds from suicide due my narc ex-wife. If I can get through it, you can too. You don't need external love, its already inside of you. Peace.

macteacher profile image

macteacher 15 months ago from New York Author

Hi Rod,

Thanks for your words of wisdom. It's taken a couple of excruciating relationships with narcissists to make the vow: Never again. Unfortunately some of us have to get in harm's way to learn the lesson. The last relationship with a narc lasted 6 weeks. I knew what I was dealing with almost immediately, and I've learned to head for the door asap. :-) Thanks for stopping by.

DeterminedToWin 15 months ago

Thank you for this article. It gives me hope. I was engaged to be married to my Ex Narc when I discarded him..I couldn't take the verbal, physical & emotional abuse anymore. It's been almost a year since the breakup & he won't leave me alone. He moved in with someone a week after we split & has already married her. I'm at the point where I'm over that & really trying to move on but he keeps interfering in my life. I block him & he calls my job or emails me...he stated that I belong to him forever & he's never going anywhere. He pops up at my residence unannounced...Do you have any tips or stratiges on what I can do...I'm really trying to move on from this & his continued presence & lack of respect for my wishes & boundaries is keeping these wounds open, when I want to close this chapter for good!

macteacher profile image

macteacher 14 months ago from New York Author

If you feel that you are physically in danger, then you need to file a police report. You might want to speak to the cops about how to get a restraining order.

If he's just being a pest, then the very best way to get him off your trail is to ignore him completely. Narcissists will only go away when they realize they're getting no reaction.

If he pops up and tries to talk to you, just ignore him and keep walking. If he sends an email - delete it without responding. He's counting on getting your attention, whether positive or negative, he craves that. Don't give it to him. Good luck, be patient, stick to your guns, and he will eventually go away. Keep me posted.

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LaughingRain 11 months ago from Arizona

good article and thank you much. have had much the same type of relationship. I realized I attracted it too. the sadness is gone I'm happy to say, we can get over it with the activities you've mentioned. I might add after my own narc displayed some outrageous behavior in public, he almost roped me back in with this one: "you can hurt someone and not even know you're hurting them." I was supposed to take that bait and I almost did as co dependency is like always wanting to give the benefit of the doubt over, thinking this is kind of us. however, I've read a lot about the subject and they don't change. we wait for an apology but if it comes, it's just lip service as they can say what you want to hear. You're only job at that point is to take care of yourself by withdrawing from a draining and dangerous situation, as persons who lack empathy have been called vampires on your emotional energy. so take care of number one and I'm proud of you for even writing this down.

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macteacher 11 months ago from New York Author

Hi LaughingRain,

Thanks for stopping by. They are very draining, and very toxic. They don't change because they think everyone else is the problem. It's much more productive to get the hell away from them and not look back. Glad you didn't get sucked in, because each episode ends the same way - badly. Take care of yourself.

Caittait28 6 months ago

Thank you so much for this, it's given me so much hope.

broken soil 2 months ago

Literally cried while reading this....m 19 and i have narcissist who also happens to be my crush....

LaughingRain profile image

LaughingRain 2 months ago from Arizona

it's difficult to get over the self blame, that guilty feeling for becoming involved within an abusive relationship. we must get around to accepting self responsibility for your part of the attraction however it is even more healthy when you can stop blaming yourself; it's not your fault when you get run over by a speeding train, it's your fault however for standing on the tracks and not moving out of the way fast enough. this is a fine and thoughtful blog of a person who is becoming more aware of who he is and what his boundaries are to being treated respectfully. the way I see it from here, his ex is not a #10 narcissist, or she would have stalked him and eventually even ended his life, if her narcissism had turned into psychotic behavior, which it does happen in our society. used to be called in the court system a crime of passion. don't wanna go there!!! I would put his ex at a 5 level, but then I wasn't there. I was however involved with I believe a number 10, because he was on the stage and entertainers can be very overt narcissists, simply because they feel entitled to constant attention. but not all entertainers are narcissists, just some. so in my case, I knew the end of our relationship, for me, came when in a very real dream, like out of body experience, he pulled out a knife and began to over and over to stab me. luckily, I was just getting the msg to stop loving this man, stop believing anything was possible for us, indeed he had given warning he would never change. the reason, at the moment for the knife attack was that I had eastern beliefs and I was explaining to him I would not give up my path, nor my beliefs, just to be with him, no matter how famous and rich he was. He was expecting me to do that, because most women were trying to please him all the time. Narcissist do not have empathy towards others, although they will deny this if you confront them. since they are sometimes schitzo at the same time, they are often unaware of their dark side which can kill their own fans and lovers and feel fully justified, and in this case I think he is unconscious of what took place and has his self work cut out for him. I can see where macteacher's ex may have picked up a few tips from him on how to treat another respectfully even if you are breaking up with them, most especially at that time there should be gentleness practiced, until we can get to the forgiveness part. which we do need help learning how to forgive, so we are not prisoners of the past. again, thank you for your blog, I believe it helps us all.

Brandie 7 weeks ago

Hi there, this was an incredibly helpful story to read. I have been out of the relationship with my N for about a year now, but we had "re-kindled" things = a few months after the break-up, but at this point I have not seen or spoken to him in about six months. I feel better and better now that I have no contact with him. However, like you, there are significant holes in my self-esteem that I know I need to deal with. I also have issues with codependency (which is obvious since I was involved with a narcissist) self-worth, boundaries, self-blame, accepting mistreatment, etc. Although I am eager to work on these issues, I worry that I will never be able to trust a person again. Did you feel this way after the break up/after realizing what your ex was? I really hope I will be able to move on from this feeling because lately I have been thinking that I might just have to be alone for the rest of my life...

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macteacher 6 weeks ago from New York Author

Hi Brandie,

I'm sorry it took so long to write back, it's the beginning of the school year. You might want to read "Help! I'm In Love With A Narcissist." It might help give you some clarity about why you fell into such a hole.

Yes, I had some very serious trust issues for a long time after this relationship. However, once I did some reading and went to CoDA meetings - Codependents Anonymous, I started to regain my equilibrium. I also went on Meetup and found some activity groups I liked and met some new people.

You are right it is about setting better boundaries. I also did a couple of years in therapy to help me understand my tendencies to fall in with toxic people. My family background contributed a lot to my attraction to dysfunctional relationships - I was raised by narcissists and untangling the emotional turmoil has taken a lifetime - but it can be done with a little determination.

I would also like to suggest my personal bible - "In The Meantime" by Iyanla Van Zant. I've probably read it at least 20 times over the last 15 years. She is very spiritual and the book brings me tremendous peace when I'm dealing with difficult people and difficult feelings. Keep me posted on how you're doing. I'll write back quicker next time. Glad my experience helped a little. It really does get a lot better. :-)

Aysha 5 weeks ago

Hi Wendy,

I read your full article and could relate to everything you said. I've been married to a narcissist for almost 16 years. We have 3 children together. He was my first lover and I could never imagine a future without him. I started to have big problems back in 2009. That's the first time we separated. I thought my world had come to an end. He had been at fault and yet he had managed to turn things on me. He had returned to university as a mature student and was having a double life. I was at home looking after 3 young kids and running the whole household singlehandedly. He was out all the time coming home late. Sometimes 3am or 4am! In the end I got so fed up I rang a girl on his contact list and found out no one at uni knew he was married with 3 kids. He was pretending to be younger than he was, single and made up professions for his parents. He turned it on me and said I had spied on him. An argument led to me throwing his clothes out. He in turn left and we were separated for 9 months. Those were such dark times for me. You are so right when you say that we ignore the warning signs. We talk ourselves out of it. I was literally like an addict. I needed him. For what? I never even asked the question. During those dark days I reached out and volunteered in my children's school. It was a way to keep myself sane. I found myself loving my time at the school. Whilst I struggled with what had happened he had managed to fully exploit my vulnerabilities. He emotionally battered me through first going no contact with me. Then when I somehow managed to open communications he let out emotional abuse like an atomic bomb. Years later, I realised it was pent up anger towards his mother who had run away with him from his abusive father. She however, neglected him (leaving him to go on holidays when he was young) and busy leading a full social life. The truth is he blamed her for the decision which meant he grew up without a father. He grew up without love from both parents. Then I came along- the do Gooder. The person who loves to help others with my belief that love conquers all. A toxic relationship was born.

Much has happened since then. There has been rivers of tears and pain felt so deep that becoming numb and immune to his ways was the only survival option. I learnt to live with lies. I learnt to live with omissions (which are still lies). I lowered my expectations of a normal relationship to the point where he was like a guest in my house. I had the patience of a saint. I did everything. And yet still I was never good enough.

The turning point came when I found out he had gone to his graduation ceremony without telling me. Stupid me had this fantasy that he would want me there on that day because I'd been his rock. I'd supported him through uni. I'd lived on next to nothing for 4 years so he could achieve his dream. I'd helped him with his assignments (typing them up whilst breastfeeding my youngest child). I taken his mood swings when he was stresses with deadlines. Why? Because I lover him and wanted him to be happy and put his troubled childhood memories to rest. Finding out that all this meant nothing (because he was a narcissist who felt entitled to all this and could never appreciate my loving gestures) was like a knife through my heart. We'd been working on rebuilding our relationship and were at a really good stage. Or so I'd thought. Another explosive argument this time with full blessings from his mum. She blamed me. This time his rage was so intense (I realised it was a pattern everytime his secret plans were revealed) that he pushed me. I fell on my back and blacked out for a few seconds. A couple of weeks later I bled a huge clot and had continual heavy bleeding for over a week. My doctor said it was an early miscarriage. I never mourned nor dealt with it. I can't explain how hurt and betrayed I felt. It just went over and over in my mind. How could he? I couldnt imagine how anyone could be so u ungrateful and inconsiderate. He's a narcissist! That's the only answer. Anyone would think that would be the last straw. But it wasn't. He broken his ankle in three places a few weeks later (he'd been living with his mum since the argument) and I put my anger to a side. I buried it. I looked after him during his long recover process. What helped me deal with my pain was somehow there was justice (or karma or whatever you want to call it) because only weeks earlier he had used his strength on me. Yet here he was vulnerable and in pain and I was the only one around for him. Not his friends nor his mother who had gone off to Morocco for a holiday.

It was a soul searching time. I realised I'd put him first. His dreams became my dreams. His happiness was my happiness. I was living to fulfil his needs. No one was there to fulfil mine. So slowly I started dreaming. I loved being at school and decided to take mysrlf to uni. I trained to become a teacher. It took me 3 years and huge financial sacrifice. I lived on next to nothing. We tried to rebuild again. But I'd changed. Two years into my degree we separated again. Another lie discovered. He of course turned it on me. He slept in a different room for 3 months. I asked him to leave if he couldn't commit to a normal marriage. I laugh as I write this. 'Normal marriage'...I'll never truly know what that looks or feels like. This time we separated for over two years. This time I didn't beg or cry for him. I focused on living day to day. Not worrying about the future and finally getting a sense of worth and regaining my self respect. I did extremely well at uni. I left with a first. The ngot the job at the school of my choice in my first interview. People started seeing me as a great teacher and this helped a lot to rebuild my self esteem. I say rebuild because prior to marrying him I was a hugely confident and strong woman who took no nonsense. Even at work this is the picture they have of me. For whatever reason, I couldn't be that person in my most intimate relationship. I still need to discover why. Had the Aysha who was known by everyone to be strong, opinionated and hugely confident (a fighter for social justice and the one who spoke up for vulnerable people) been the same in my marriage, I would have been able to put down boundaries. I am an example of how not all codependent women are submissive, passive women.

From the ashes of burnt out dreams, I rose. It was a gradual change, but it snowballed.

He came back into my life and this time promised he'd changed. I had seen some positive changes. But he had me hooked in. I had never wanted to divorce. I hoped in time he would see his mistakes. Neither of us had been with other people. I'd been a part of his life since he was 20. So that played a huge part in keeping us together and the fact that we are both Muslims so adultery could never be an option...

This time, it was different. I was a very independent person who was hugely successful in my job. I was singlehandedly bringing up 3 children and doing it well. I was also not ready to take rubbish from him. The dynamics had changed. He tried to exert control. But I withstood it each time. There were moments when things were great, but that unsettling uneasiness that things could change never left. There would always be some storm ahead. And there was. This time not an explosive one. He had an argument with the kids and eventually I got drawn in. He slept in another room for a few weeks. Stopped talking to me. Then went on holiday to Morocco. He came back and has now moved out. Last time he came to see the kids, he said he wanted to move on. He wanted kids. Of course I find myself asking what I an going to do now. When will it be enough to fully walk away. The thought has entered my mind that it is time now. Clearly he wants to move on to another life. I'd be lying if I didn't say I felt betrayed. Angry. I'm angry at myself too for just not bring able to do the final act. To get divorced. I had some counselling years ago after we separated where I expressed my frustrations of loving someone who did not deserve my love..

Aysha 5 weeks ago


My reply to that was 'it would feel like killing my own child'. It was a spontaneous response that surprised even me.

So that's pretty much what I'm dealing with. I wish I had time to seek counselling now. I have a hugely demanding job and work schedule and being the sole provider for my family, I am financially not in a position. So I take time to read articles and work through things. The progress is much slower.

I feel I have been on a long journey where I've climbed many mountains. I've also taken some nasty falls! But I am more happy and fulfilled through creating a life that does not require him to make me happy. I am just waiting for the day to come when I can close the chapter. I've lost hope he'll ever change. The last few years I've taken full responsibility for where I've been. I've seen my own mistakes and although this message may seem itis all about what he has done to me, the truth is I ALLOWED him to do this to me. I have chosen to stay in this relationship. At one point, I was so full of self hate because I couldn't understand why someone like me would stand for so much abuse that was thrown my way. I was angry at not being able to walk away because many people would.

However, through learning self love I now embrace the fact that I am a loving person- I am kind and forgiving. These are endearing qualities in a person. It was just with the wrong person. In my last message to him I said I was a beautiful wife who loved him deeply. He was enough for me even with his imperfections. I told him the fact that I was never enough for him was his loss. There's nothing else left to say. I've asked for a divorce.

I waited so long for him to love the imperfect parts of me only to realise he didn't even love the perfect parts. He taught me to see myself as a beautiful human being- a phrase I would never associate with myself. In the words of the song lyrics by Tamia called 'Me'...

"And her name is me

She loves me more than you'll ever know

I finally see that

Loving you and loving me just don't seem to work at all

So patiently

She's waiting on me to tell you that she needs love

And to choose between you two

Boy you know if I have to choose,

I choose me..."

It's such a beautiful song and one that is apt for those walking away from a toxic relationship.

This message (messages!) was never meant to be this long. I came here searching to see how to recover from a toxic relationship. I've had almost 16 years in it so the break won't be easy. I am predicting some tough emotional times. I wish there was a forum for pole like us.

Inner strength, the willingness to search for answers, my faith in God (hugely important in those lonely dark times and for living in the moment) and having wonderful friends who tried their best to be non judgemental have allowed me to find my way.

Thank you for your great and honest article. It gives me hope and also a semblance of comfort that there are others who understand the devastation of being in a toxic relationship. Hugs to all those who are struggling to find themselves and for every person whose heart has been broken. Xxx


Aysha 5 weeks ago

Goodness...So many typos and mistakes in my message! Questions without question marks. Lol.

I was so busy spilling out my emotions. The teacher in me can't help but be critical.

macteacher profile image

macteacher 5 weeks ago from New York Author

Hello Aysha,

Thank you for sharing your story. Getting your degree and starting a teaching career while raising three kids is a superhuman feat - you're an impressive woman. If you're looking for online forums, most of them have moved to Facebook. There are plenty of groups for people recovering from narcissists. You may also want to read "In The Meantime" by Iyanla Van Zant. It's my personal favorite, I've read it many times over the years, especially when I'm dealing with toxic people.

I was raised not to believe what is in front of me, and to give people the benefit of the doubt till it hurts. It's a problem for a lot of people. It may have something to do with not wanting to admit we're wrong, and the situation is more than we can handle. It's called Codpendence. If you can find an hour or two on a weekend, I highly recommend going online and finding CoDA meetings in your area. They are free and meeting with other people who are struggling with the same issues is invaluable. Good luck! You're on the right path. Divorcing him was the first step, it's a've survived and thrived. :-)

TinaCrocker 4 weeks ago

I wrote the following poem to bring closure to a 5 yr relationship with a narcissist boyfriend:


You almost succeded in accomplishing what you set out to do...destroy me!

Snipping away one fine thread at a time...of my sanity!

Posing as innocent, naive, saint, trustworthy the deceiver!

Delivering lies carried on arrows dripping with honey...upon that which you hate! (accountability)

Void of soul's conscience and spirit's life egg without a yolk...true self revoked!

Cloaked in goodness you fed freely in your delusion...which you deny!

Until confusion summonded the savior and left you naked in the truth...of your disguise!

What life I've left...though dimmed in heartache...will always loves respect

As for you...I have compassion...the true spent a lifetime to forget

Tina Maurine Crocker - January 2016

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macteacher 4 weeks ago from New York Author

Hi Tina,

Great poem! Thanks for sharing, and I'm glad you got away. :-)

Gardenfrock profile image

Gardenfrock 2 weeks ago

"...Next time, I'm no longer accepting crumbs." "Crumbs" - visceral cord raises welts raw in resonance. Uncomfortable notes pick fleshy fibres off guttural being too damn human.

Thank you for this hard crafted work, you've articulated beautifully. Bless all those here who are valuing themselves listening owning healing growing giving.

macteacher profile image

macteacher 2 weeks ago from New York Author

Thank you for stopping by Gardenfrock. You certainly have a way with words. ;-) It ultimately is about healing, and forgiving ourselves for getting caught up with someone who wasn't worth our time and energy from the very beginning.

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