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Divorcing a Narcissist

The first phase of divorcing a narcissist involves developing an exit strategy. This is an anxiety-provoking prospect. Many people feel as if the task is too daunting to undertake. Many wonder, “Where do I go?” “How do I start?” How can I survive financially?”

There are many unknowns at this phase of the process. There are many factors to consider prior to actually leaving the relationship. It is recommended that you take your time to consider your options and make a definite plan of action prior to your escape.

Here are some suggestions to help you with your plan:

  1. Hire a lawyer.
  2. Determine how you will have an income.
  3. Figure out where you and your children (if you have them) will live.
  4. Establish your boundaries – both physical and psychological.

Once the exit plan has been implemented then you, the newly liberated party, will feel extreme anxiety, fear, and panic. You will have no idea what to expect next because your “normal” involved all the drama and chaos created by life with a narcissist.

At first, the silence is deafening. Rest assured – the anxiety and fear will pass.  You will calm down and you will see that life is good.  In fact, it will be far better than you expect.

Hang in there through the anxious parts of the journey by using coping skills, such as deep breathing and positive self-talk.

The narcissist will not like the fact that you had the nerve to leave. Be prepared for backlash.

The narcissist has spent a good portion of your relationship devaluing you. Now it will get worse. Here are some initial things to expect:

  • He will try to get you back, but in the back of his head he will be enraged over the fact that you dared to leave. Expect payback. The manipulatively seductive behavior the narcissist uses to try and win you over is often called, “love bombing.” Realize that it is only temporary.
  • He will once again devalue you.
  • He will discard you.
  • The narcissist will smear your name. That is, he will slander your name to anyone who will listen, including your own family and children.
  • The narcissist will “play the victim.” Somehow he will sincerely believe that you are the villain and he is the innocent victim.
  • He will fight you in court and try to destroy you.

How will you feel during this process?  After feeling anxious and panic stricken you will feel hopeful that things may work out during the “love bombing” phase. You may get lulled back into denial, believing that everything is better now. Do not fall for this tactic. You will quickly be dumped. It is better for you to do the dumping first.  Remind yourself that your narcissist is a master manipulator and his only reason for trying to get you back is because he needs you for narcissistic supply.

Vow to yourself to see him for what he is and live in reality.

During the discard phase you will be triggered to feel abandoned and uncertain. Your sense of value will be challenged. You may fall in to the belief that you are not worth keeping around. Remind yourself that it is never wise to hand your sense of identity and value over to another human being; and it’s particularly foolish to hand these aspects of yourself over to a narcissist.

When your name is smeared you will be infuriated and defensive. You will want to get vengeance and prove yourself innocent to everyone. You will feel compelled to set the record straight. It is very hard to have your reputation slandered.

The narcissist will literally redefine away all your good qualities. It will be helpful for you to realize this; expect it.  No matter what the narcissist says about you, don’t listen to any of it. In order to heal from narcissistic abuse, always hold on to yourself.

Your narcissist will find a new victim. Yes, the narcissistic relationship was an emotional cesspool; but, that does not make it any easier on you as you are being replaced. This stage is very painful. As previously mentioned – hold on to yourself.

Grieve and move on.

He will act like you never existed; you never mattered. He will act as if you never were. It’s amazing how disengaged and indifferent a narcissist can be. This will trigger all of your insecurities. The best thing you can do, as in any stage of recovery is hold on to yourself. Yes, the narcissist abandons you; but, do not abandon yourself.

All throughout this process your narcissist will continue to believe that he is the victim. In fact, the more time passes, the more his delusional rendition of the relationship sets in. History is completely revised in his psyche, replaced by a complete fabrication of the entire relationship and who you are as a person. You will be blamed every step of the way. To add insult to injury others will believe him. It’s maddening.

Going to court is an entirely other painful ordeal. He will fight you for the kids, the assets, child support, and alimony. As was the case in the marriage, he will not cooperate or collaborate with you at all, ever.  Don’t expect anything other than a nasty (under statement) fight.

At the end of it all he will move on and act as if you never even lived.

Now, for the good news – you are able to live the rest of your life in freedom. While it was a hard fought difficult journey, you will realize that you are FAR better off than you could have ever imagined.

The gifts of divorcing a narcissist include: peace, contentment, freedom, your own personal identity, no more shame, happiness, joy, strength, and more. Yes, it’s hard to divorce a narcissist, but the end results make it worth every bit of the struggle.

 

Divorcing a Narcissist

Sharie Stines, Psy.D

Sharie Stines, Psy.D. is a recovery expert specializing in personality disorders, complex trauma and helping people overcome damage caused to their lives by addictions, abuse, trauma and dysfunctional relationships. Sharie is a counselor at LIfeline Counseling & Education Inc., in Southern California (www.lifelinecounselingservices.org). Lifeline Counseling is a non-profit organization 501(c)(3) corporation. Sharie is also an abusive relationship recovery coach - therecoveryexpert.com

 


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APA Reference
Stines, S. (2018). Divorcing a Narcissist. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 11, 2018, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/recovery-expert/2018/03/divorcing-a-narcissist/