Yesterday got away from me. Ever since I’d first fallen in love, they’ve tended to do that. Even at almost a week into this process, the grieving hadn’t gotten any easier. It was like a Groundhog Day nightmare, where the same oceans of emotions and grief cycles kept repeating themselves. During these, I cried, audibly, which I never otherwise do.
The pain is that real, and it is that strong, my angels. You know this. I know this. There’s no way around it but through it.
I tried hard to keep my distance, speaking only when spoken to and gray-rocking the f**k on through most of yesterday morning. My goals were never showing too much emotion, and never disclosing too much information. No matter how hard you try to make them understand your position and what they’ve done to you and how much they’ve hurt you, they never will. Or worse, they won’t even care.
They are incapable of doing so. I know that now.
It doesn’t make it hurt any less. Making a to-do list for the day helped keep me on track. It became my road map, my compass, my anchor, and my engine, all rolled into one. Every time my thoughts drifted to him, I’d pick up my phone where my list was kept, and I’d see if there was anything on that list I needed to (or could) do before replying to him.
It was still hard. I made progress, though. Yesterday consisted of a yoga routine, tidying up the fridge, spending time with our new kitty (inherited from the now-ex), and watching YouTube videos by Lisa Romano and Melanie Tonia Evans.
All of this was sandwiched in between moments of weakness, where I texted with the now-ex. Some moments of weakness were weaker than others, where I actually asked questions for the sake of getting closure on certain details. I know I shouldn’t; narcissists do not generally provide closure, and asking for it is, well…asking for it. That’s where the arts of managing expectations and practicing Stoicism become vital; you lower your expectations and brace yourself for impact, letting the debris roll off when it collides with you.
Because it will collide. The only question is how severely. They may not provide any answers. Or, if they do, they will talk around it, answering a question that is different from the one you asked. Or, they’ll give you answers that shock and hurt. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not.
I get it. You want to know that they’re grieving. That they finally realize what they’ve lost. That they mourn the loss of the relationship. That they’ve fallen apart without you. And you want them to admit it, to apologize, to realize they’ve hurt you and feel regret for it.
They don’t. They do mourn the loss of supply, but they actually get off on your grieving; it makes them feel powerful, better about themselves. They’re satisfied with that, which is why there is no closure.
And they can’t put themselves in our shoes. I did some research into narcissism and brain structure as seen on brain scans. I did find some valuable information, and what I found was interesting. Essentially, narcissists have a different structure in their brains; specifically, the left anterior insula, the part that researchers believe is responsible for being able to feel empathy, literally has less gray matter. Which is why they never actually cared about you, aside from what you could do for them. Which is why you feel used and abandoned, like the bottom of your world fell out.
There’s also a reason for the rage (unregulated emotions), uninhibited impulse, poor decision-making, failure to learn from past mistakes, and emotional immaturity: they have a thinner prefrontal cortex. Gorgeous ones, this is bad–very bad. The prefrontal cortex governs higher-level decision-making, imagination, logic, problem solving, executive function, personality, etc – all the things that make us adult and human.
Oh, they may look like adults, all right – they may engage in adult activities, hold down adult jobs (maybe–unless they flit from job to job or get fired/quit repeatedly and remain unemployed for a while), live independently (or not), and they’re certainly aging physically right alongside everybody else. However, they act, reason, and feel like small children or maybe teenagers at best. They may (or may not) even know they’re shooting themselves in the foot with a particular belief, behavior, habit, or pattern, but they simply accept that, rather than learn and change and grow. They’re stuck.
I did have a real win yesterday. I’m practicing a self-invented (that I know of) technique I call “whiteout” or “overwriting” – where you take the things you used to do with your narcissist that trigger you, and you face them directly, doing them anyway, even if it hurts, and reclaiming them as your own. This could be anything from movies you used to watch together, songs you used to listen to together (such as “our song”), places you used to go together, or activities you used to do together. Do them alone or with a friend, or even with a group of friends. If you’re with people, tell them what you’re doing, so that they understand the unstable emotions that might surface when you’re doing these things for the first time.
But the important key is to take those triggers, which “trigger” memories, and make new memories with those same things. When you do this, they become less triggering over time; it’s like applying White-Out to something and then writing something new over it. Turn the Old Sad into the New Happy, or at least a New Neutral.
So in my win yesterday, I applied that overwrite technique; I actually cooked the same salmon and rice pasta dinner that he had cooked for me. He’d never cooked before I entered the picture, discovered the joys of cooking once I had, and then dumped the cooking hobby the minute we broke apart, selling me his cookware in the process.
So I used his cookware. To make his salmon and pasta. And I’m not particularly adept in the kitchen at all. So when I made it perfectly, without forgetting a single step, without running into a single hiccup, I was epic-proud of myself. I poured my glass of wine (from a batch he’d gotten for me at the winery we used to visit every other Friday night together) and settled in to watch the TV series we’d been watching together each night before things had fallen apart.
Onto today. This morning started out like all the others, appearing hopeless, like I was going around in circles. Knowing that my ex’s cat had also been traumatized by the sudden move and change in environment only made it worse. My head and heart ached…for her and for me. I’d been so very attracted. I’d opened up to him, trusted him, so much. Everything seemed so perfect, and he’d seemed so perfect for me, save for a few idiosyncrasies I’d chocked up to normal differences between two different people. There is a such thing as too good to be true, I know that now. I felt a void, like a lost wanderer. I was crying by the time I left for my Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET) treatment, and I knew I really needed the NET.
NET is a must-do for anyone either in or recovering from a narcissistic relationship or narcissistic abuse. It works almost better than counseling/psychotherapy, which I am also doing. It’s efficient, breaking the connections between 1) past and present emotional traumas, and 2) past/present emotional trauma from physical/physiological dysfunction.
How does NET work? It seems like voodoo at first. Just go with it. The practitioner will be positioned in front of you, you’ll hold your arm straight out at shoulder level parallel with the floor, and they’ll try to gently push your arm down while saying different emotions or statements out loud. There will be times you can easily resist, holding your arm strong in place, and there will be times where you can’t resist the gentle push and your arm dips. Then they have you imagine that feeling or memory, while they gently click different areas of your spine (it doesn’t hurt, and there’s no known risk of injury), and that’s the release, the breakage of the connection.
From there, you might cry, laugh, get goosebumps, or any combination. If you shake, shiver, or twitch, that’s probably a sign that some emotion has surfaced but you’re bottling it up, suppressing it, preventing it from coming out. If this happens, try to force yourself to relax and let it come; the practitioner does not judge you.
I know this sounds very “wave the chicken bone and circle the fire 3 times”, but I promise you that it isn’t. This particular treatment drew out multiple emotions, the first one of which was “Disdain”, as in either me treating someone else badly, or someone else treating me badly. Needless to say, right on. So right on that I actually began releasing (crying) before the practitioner rendered the spinal clicking. And I proceeded to sob intensely, in frequent waves, for 15-20 minutes. My practitioner was silent, patient, and nonjudgmental, sitting off to the side while I did my thing.
Then he went to see if there were any other emotions that “wanted to come out today”. He hit on “Anger” first, and this revealed to me that yes, I did harbor some anger toward my ex for what he did to me. That emotional release was much shorter and milder. Then he checked me again, finding “Vulnerability/Feeling Lost” as a final emotion. Right on again. That release was more intense than the one for Anger, but not nearly as intense or long as the one for Disdain.
Afterward, my lovelies, I felt much different. Much. I can now say “he treated me badly” without tearing up. The grief, sadness, and “lost-ness” that had been raw and white-hot before lessened significantly, replaced only by a wistful sadness. I no longer felt so tethered. I no longer felt quite so lost. I’m still finding my way, but I stand a little more solid on my own two feet. I think NET is crucial for breaking the trauma bond and the literal brain-chemical addiction that comes with narcissistic relationships. I stood stronger after that, going about my day, even running an errand across town, without so much as a teardrop.
After that, I went forest bathing, walking in an expansive city park with my bestie. I told her that although I’m considering a platonic friendship with my ex (I’ve done it successfully before, even with someone I didn’t realize was also a narcissist at the time), because those good qualities–being fun to be around in public and sharing a lot of the same interests I don’t share with anyone else–are harder yet to let go of.
However, it’s about boundaries. Luckily, he’s apparently good at following them, at least so far. My boundaries are: meeting up in neutral third-party public places or mutual friends’ houses only, not either of our residences or workplaces; a two-drink maximum for each of us if there’s alcohol involved; limited to a couple/few hours; driving and paying separately, if there’s dinner/drinks involved; a hug upon meeting and another upon parting, but no kissing or nuzzling or anything more affectionate than a hug.
That’s not a given; I might decide there’s no room in my life for even the friendship. I think there probably will be; as I said, I’ve done it successfully before, and everybody has come out fine. I know that my ex does not want a relationship at this time, and his astrological chart proves that, so as gunshy as I am, I do trust his words on that.
It’s me I’m worried about, though. I’d been so deeply attracted to him, every facet of him–his sense of humor, his vitality, his fascinating old-fashioned interests, even every part of his body, from his hair and eyes to his feet, even his voice. That’s the hard part – breaking the addiction of the attraction.
Thus, I’m currently on a detox from him, breaking that part of the bond and letting that attraction fade, getting that out of my system. Letting my brain chemicals and my heart break free.
Only when I don’t feel I need him anymore, and I’m not constantly thinking about him or checking my phone to see what he’s up to or if he’s texted me, will I agree to see him again.
So, two big wins – the successful salmon dinner, and the profound emotional release from an NET treatment. Go me 🙂