You’re amazing to have stayed this long but enough is enough , you can’t take anymore. You’ve given it your best shot , more than would be expected but you’re at breaking point. You feel its time to act but you’re not sure how.
Let me be clear….there’s nothing easy about this process so I’m putting together my best advice on “How to Leave a Narcissist” in the hope it may be of some help.
I’m keeping it simple in dot points because the last thing you need at this stage is to be wading through a novel on the subject of leaving your narcissist.
Of course everyone’s circumstances are different but there are some things that remain the same for everyone once they have decided to leave an intimate narcissistic relationship.
You’ve reached this point but…..
- you’re terrified to act.
- you don’t know who you can count on among friends and family.
- you’re confused, one minute you think you can leave, the next minute, you’re frozen with fear.
- you’re strength is lessened because you’ve been under duress for such a long time .
- you still hold a small glimmer of hope that if you stay it might work out.
- you’re scared of what might happen if the narcissist finds out you’re planning to leave.
- you feel a sense of hopelessness and think it might be easier if you stay.
- you’re worried about what you’ll do once you leave (more so if you have children)
- you’re worried about finances, housing, supporting yourself /kids.
- you’re concerned that she/he may come looking for you.
When in doubt trust that you….
- have done nothing wrong.
- have the right to make your own decisions free from control by another human being.
- do not deserve to be degraded, mocked, belittled, shamed, isolated or physically hurt.
- are not to blame.
- have the right to feel safe.
- have the right to feel happy.
- are NOT the crazy one.
- will recover.
- will not allow yourself to look back…you’re not going that way.
- will be able to access available help and assistance.
If he/she pressures you to stay ASK YOURSELF HONESTLY if he/she……
- willingly admits he needs to change and is voluntarily taking steps to do so ?
- is taking complete responsibility for her decisions instead of blaming you and everyone else?
- has completely stopped criticizing/berating/emotionally/psychologically and or physically abusing you?
- has completely stopped controlling you ?
- willingly admits that he was perpetrating Domestic Violence upon you ?
- has completely stopped telling you its all your fault ?
- has apologised for repeatedly having told you that you were ungrateful?
- has apologised for telling your family and friends that you are the crazy one ?
- has told your friends and family that it was HIS/HER fault.
Even IF YOU ANSWERED YES TO ALL THE ABOVE be aware that the Narcissist will stop at nothing to keep his source of supply…..ie. you and/or the scapegoat .
Therefore he make seemingly genuine promises and a steadfast commitment to do all the above to keep you onside. The promises will be almost certainly be HOLLOW and the commitment FALSE .
How can you be sure that it wont all start again once he has CHARMED you back.
If you have tried to leave before and ended up being persuaded to stay only to have it start all over again you cannot afford to go down that track again for the sake of your SANITY and SAFETY.
Be HONEST with yourself….. as hard as that will be .
During this process you will see the nice Dr Jekylll ….. but BEWARE the nasty Mr Hyde is just there lurking right under that mask . He needs you to stay but only as his source of supply.
Planning…once you’ve decided to leave…
To a certain extent this depends on whether or not you have to make a dash for it once he/she is not around or whether you are able to tell the narcissist that you are leaving beforehand without risking physical abuse . Hopefully its the latter but as we know it is not always possible nor is it desirable to tell the narcissist in case it incites a violent reaction .
In this blog I will assume that you need to get out while the narcissist is not around ie. worse case scenario . Even if it is possible for you to leave in relative peace there are still things on this list that you need to do prior to leaving.
Be as prepared as you can AS FAR IN ADVANCE AS POSSIBLE in case you have to go earlier than you were planning to…….
- Firstly remember YOU ARE AMAZING …PUT ON YOUR POSITIVE PANTS…..and remember..
- Have an “escape bag/s” ready for yourself and your child/ren. Take it to friend’s place if possible.
- Place as many of your personal documents (or copies of them ) in the bag, spare keys, clothing and any cash you may have been able to stash prior to leaving.
- Change passwords and usernames on digital devices (make them impossible to guess but you also need to be able to remember them !! )Delete browsing history on tablets, laptops and P.C’s . Don’t leave your laptop open unattended at any stage. Try to do any searching for resources which may be useful after you’ve left, while at work or on a friend’s computer .
- Be very careful what you say and to whom when inside your home. Sounds bizarre I know but recording devices and cameras can be hidden in the tiniest of spaces. I know! Better not to do anything remotely suspicious or have any conversations about the narcissist OR your intention to leave with anyone else whilst inside your home.
- Mix up your routine if you can so your abuser doesn’t know exactly where you should be on what day of the week ie. at work/gym/meetings/kids daycare pick up etc.
- Have a list of contacts that you can call in an emergency. Hide it in the bottom of your shoe under the insole , inside any novelty key ring attachment that will hold a small piece of paper, in between the back of your phone and the phone cover or anywhere that you believe cant be easily accessed by anyone else.
- Know where you can go in an emergency at any time of day or night whether a shelter or to a friend or family member. Phone numbers are on your list !
- Have a secret signal/text message/phrase or word that makes no sense to anyone else but alerts your family to the fact that you are in trouble and need their help immediately .ALWAYS make sure you have enough petrol to get to where you need to go. Its wise to have a spare car key hidden outside in case you find yourself fleeing outside doors but have no car keys to escape.
- If you have children make sure you have told them (age appropriately) that you may need to leave the house quickly if Daddy/Mummy gets angry so that they are aware and not completely shocked when you tell them its time to leave and go to your “special safe place”.
- If you don’t have a friend or family member that you can SAFELY stay with without living in fear of being found , make yourself known at the closest Domestic Violence Shelter or Women’s Shelter. Inform them that you may have to leave your house at short notice and ask them what the procedure is if you need emergency accommodation .
What to expect once you’ve left? Get ready for the roller coaster…..
In the first days and weeks you will experience any or all of the feelings and emotions listed below …….. sometimes within minutes/hours of each other… ranging from hysteria to terror:
- confusion/ clarity
- pride/ shame
- a sense of loss/new beginnings
- Settled /unsettled
Because you have been in a state of toxic stress for a long time before coming to the point of leaving. You haven’t known what its like to get up and be free from anxiety about what may unfold on any given day. Its all your body has known for a very long time . You may well be suffering from Narcissistic Victim Syndrome.
Its how you’ve been functioning every day for months or years.Therefore when you are out of immediate danger and your body is suddenly not on “high alert ” 24/7 , it doesn’t know how to cope .
Your nervous system is in free fall it shows up in your physical body as the levels of the stress hormones , cortisol and adrenaline , slowly drop .
This may show up as tremor, loss of short term memory, exhaustion, aches and pains, headache, anxiety , depression or any of a number of other symptoms .
Be aware of this and seek medical advice if the symptoms persist for too long or if you feel you may harm yourself.
You are experiencing what could be described as an emotional hangover ….you stopped “drinking ” in the abuse but just as when you have to much alcohol , you need time to recover from your hangover .
For now… and because I will cover the benefits of mindfulness in more depth in another post….. just try being with your feelings when they arise , allow them to be there , recognize them and let them go . Don’t push them away or try to bury them because they will come back to haunt you later on. Mindfulness is a wonderful to tool but needs more explanation than what I have given it here……or you can research the many sites about it to find out more !
Once again if you have children to attend to this wont be as easy as as I may be making it sound . Do try though , to find yourself some quiet time during your day, to just sit with your feelings and allow yourself to acknowledge them and let then go.
This is a vital part of recovery . I know ! I didn’t realize how important this was until I started to practice it everyday . I find doing ten minutes of mindfulness each morning as soon as I wake up the best way to grab a bit of time to sit with my feelings .It will make a difference if you can stick with it . I hope you can!
Until next time remember……….
Be kind to yourself .
The worst is over and the best is yet to come…… but it will take time. Please leave me a message below if you would like more advice or if you have a story to tell . I’d love to hear from you !