I really wanted to write this article, even though I had done two previous articles on this topic … because lately so many people have been asking about this.
And I can only hope and pray this is because more people are realising that this is what they need to do – if they are going to generate a happy and healthy life free from abuse.
So it was my greatest desire in this article to create a compendium of information to help empower you to not only leave the narcissist but also deal with the aftermath of doing so – emotionally and practically.
During this article I am also providing resources for those people who are at high-risk when leaving, because of controlling, abusive partners.
As well as covering these very important questions: “How do I tell a narcissist it is over?” “Do I tell him / her, or do I say nothing?”
My Previous Articles
As a starting point if you have never read my two previous articles on this topic you can do so here:
From these articles you will gain greater insight into how our unhealed parts can keep us in the fray, as well as be used against us and render us feeling completely powerless to leave.
The Practical Issues
When I put a post up on Facebook this week, I asked people what they would like to know about “leaving a narcissist” and understandably many of the questions were along the practical lines.
Because people can be terrified of the future (gosh I remember that sooo distinctly myself) all of those feelings of “How am I going to cope?” “I know what is going to explode when I leave!!” And “How on earth am I going to have the energy or resources to rebuild my life when I feel so diminished, terrorised and sick?” And of course children, property, businesses and family could be all enmeshed and involved (because leaving a narcissist is rarely “simple”).
Many people understandably can’t even begin to fathom how they are going to get through all of that, with someone they know is ruthless and does not play fair, and naturally there are huge concerns about how co-parenting will go.
Even deciding to walk away from a narcissistic family member could incite a terror campaign of smearing and setting up people against you (triangulation).
Of course all of these very real fears can make people stay, because they don’t feel strong enough to face it. And when the terror of the future is worse than the terror of the present – we do stay. And sadly it is often only when it gets to a life and death situation that people do leave – and of course the emotional, mental and physical state they are in makes it very difficult to cope with what is coming.
This is when narcissists retain the upper hand and punish people mercilessly. You see the results of that everywhere through standard Abuse Forums.
That is not the orientation of this Community and not what it stands for.
This Community stands for facing the inevitable, and starting the inner healing processes to be in the most solid and whole emotional state possible to leave and stay away.
That way you can leave, survive, cope, overcome and then Thrive after abuse.
** Please know if you or your children are at High Risk then Safety Planning and leaving in the safest way is vital, and this may need to happen before doing the Inner Work.
I promise you there are many people in the Community who have done a lot of work on themselves, and who have healed many of their internal wounds and triggers, who HAVE come out the other side regarding co-parenting, settlements and generating their new lives.
Their lives are now clear and unaffected by what the narcissist tried / tries to do.
And totally that is when all the narcissist’s power dissolves and all of his or her antics with it – truly.
It takes effort, it takes work … but everything in our life that is worthwhile does. And there is nothing more worthwhile than our wellbeing, our life moving forward and the securing of a happy, peaceful, loving life for ourselves and our children that is non reliant on the narcissist.
Resources for Co-Parenting and Court Proceedings
Here are the list of my resources:
(These also pertain to co-parenting, joint parenting, anxiety over children spending time with a narcissist and court battles.)
The Fear of the Fallout With Others
Another huge fear is the smear campaigns and how narcissists will turn people against you and tear your reputation down. Many people know how awful this will be if they leave, or experience it when they do.
There is true solution for this also.
Here are the list of my resources:
Can He/She Change?
Many people stay in the relationship for such a long time because there may be times when the narcissist shows remorse and it may seem incredibly genuine at these times.
I and many people gave the narcissist opportunity after opportunity. I did it with both narcissists. We want to believe they can change, but what we find instead is that the cycles of violence intensify … the periods of everything is wonderful – tension builds – abusive event happens … get shorter and the events become more and more destructive.
It’s so important to understand that the only way anyone changes their behaviours is to change their beliefs. Everyone’s behaviour is in accordance to their version of the word – meaning the emotional belief systems they developed regarding themselves, others, love and life.
If someone is acting in maladapted and pathological ways it is because they have significant unresolved inner emotional traumas creating those pathologies. Unless those are addressed and worked through effectively – no matter what declarations the person makes – they CAN’T change.
They will always default back to their emotional triggers, unconsciousness and survival behaviour that their Inner Being takes over with at these times.
Please find my following articles about this topic:
When Guilt Stops Us Leaving
Many, many people can feel guilty about leaving their narcissistic partner, or initiating no contact with a narcissistic parent or family member.
This may be because we have been programmed from an early age, by original role models, to feel responsible for another person’s life even when they are being detrimental to our own life.
The sense of guilt, obligation, and the shame of not being able to live with ourselves or the fear of what other people may think, can be crippling.
I can’t count the amount of times I would be hoovered back in when the N-husband would break down and cry and seem like a little boy.
I would feel soooo bad for hurting him, and I’d think “Surely him hurting this much has to be my fault. I must be a terrible person, it’s up to me to make it better ..” and my whole sense of loyalty was completely skewered through guilt and granted to him, whereas it needed to be focused on myself and my son’s wellbeing, sanity and health.
So many of us went through this.
I remember also feeling mortified about “leaving him behind” to deal with himself and his constant disasters. He would say to me in the “good times”, “I always know life is okay when you are by my side.” The truth was I was constantly bailing him out, whilst I was not just drowning and losing resources, but getting battered mercilessly by him simultaneously as well.
I know many of you will relate to what I am saying, because this is a really common hook!
Maybe like me you can realise how many human interactions can be based on “Guilt”.
The guilt of not being seen as a good person, the guilt of not taking up our fair share, the guilt of putting other people out … and all the other co-dependency skirmishes we can play out unconsciously trying to be approved of, and NOT feel like a bad person … all because we had not as yet learnt to love and approve of ourselves.
This can also have a profound effect on how we parent.
I was a parent who could easily be “guilted” out of trying to lay boundaries. I was trying to earn my son’s love rather than making decisions that were much healthier for him that would cause him to healthily respect me and himself.
It wasn’t until I healed my “gaps” in this department that I stopped handing power over to him that was disempowering both of us.
I hope many of you are relating, because this is one of the greatest hooks that can keep us involved with a narcissist and stop us from leaving.
Because this is such a big hook I created an entire Module – Module 6 in the NARP Program Release and Heal the Need to Take Responsibility for the Narcissist – to address it.
If You are at High Risk
In this article I also want to link you up with the resources that are extremely important if you are in a high risk situation.
On Clare’s website is a danger assessment test created by Jacquelyn C. Campbell, PhD, RN, FAAN which is a valuable tool to assess the risk level you are at when leaving.
If you are in high risk category, these articles of Clare’s are very relevant:
What Do We Tell People When We Leave?
This can be tough – especially when people may have thought there was nothing wrong. Or maybe because of the narcissist’s smearing they think that you are the one to blame.
I know that when we are feeling misunderstood, battered, and deceived (victimised) we can be really angry and distressed when talking to people.
I remember running into a colleague who knew myself and the narcissistic husband – and bailing her up for half an hour telling her what a monster he was and what he did to me.
I never heard from her again.
At the time I believed I was totally justified in being soooo angry and telling her exactly who he was, whereas now I know just how toxic that would have sounded and how justified she was to step away from me.
Absolutely at the beginning of our journey we are raw, ragged, dishevelled emotionally and feeling terrorised. I always believe the sooner we get real relief (which means self-partnering and coming inside to start healing our wounds) the better. And until we get that under control it is best to vent with people who know what you have been through and who are there for you in that capacity – but of course this is just short term until you stop doing that and start focusing on your healing.
We have a tendency to want everyone else’s validation and for them to hear us when we are unhealed, and when we feel empty, broken and needy.
Yet, unfortunately, what happens is our actions cause more of feeling broken, empty and needy.
People, (like my colleague) turn away. And this is apt – it is right in as far as our own evolution goes … because that helps us realise that where we really need to turn is within … we need to self-partner and release the traumas out of our bodies and heal.
When we do that, a startling transformation starts to take place, and we are in a much better place to be real, calm and authentic when we talk to people.
We are not as needy for other people to comfort, see and hear us and validate us – and the irony is – when we are in a much more solid place that is exactly when they start to do that for us.
Just recently I went through a separation with someone dear to me that was significant – and it happened very suddenly. A differing of values meant our time connected needed to be over.
Initially I was in shock, but I did a lot of Quanta Freedom Healing shifts on it and as a result received the growth and gratitude of this temporary connection. I then extended into a place of even more expansion, joy and personal truth because of what happened.
People who knew me were surprised, it was not what they expected … and because I was able to humbly and honestly share my experience and how it was so “correct” for my growth … every single person accepted and supported me with open arms, love, and full faith and trust in me.
The outcome was glorious.
The real truth was I had done the work on supporting myself fully first.
Then all of Life in my experience supplied more of that.
So my suggestion to you would be to share the truth from a heart space of gratitude, growth and own your part in it – in other words what was the growth gift in it for you? Or what is the growth you have realised you need to do even if you haven’t done that yet?
People are very drawn to supporting us when we have chosen to not be victims (this is NOT in any way discounting what we are going through) and when we support our own healing and growth.
It is very hard to step in and want to support someone who is acting angry, toxic and victimised … yet the amount of support, love and co-journeys that are created when people support their own growth first is astounding.
When we do this from a heart center of authenticity rather than an angry ego center – there is no comparison in how we can be held and heard. This grants us wonderful opportunities to really connect with people.
I get to see this every day in this Thriver Community!
In order to do so we need to let go of the ego and hubris, and clean up our fears on being judged … thinking we are only acceptable because we have “a relationship”, a “model family” a “nice home” the “right career”, “the perfect life” or whatever we were basing our identity on.
Narcissistic abuse is one of the best lessons of giving up false values and learning the ultimate lesson of valuing our own souls.
When you became okay with your life and emotionally solid within it – no matter what it looks like – others will too.
This takes development, it takes doing the inner work.
Do We Try to Retain a Friendships With Them?
In all my time in this Community, being intimately connected with people before, during and after leaving narcissists, I would have to say I have never heard of anyone having a friendship with a narcissistic ex healthily.
The reason being is narcissists are always on the sniff for narcissistic supply from whoever they can extract it from. So if you are having a friendship it is likely you will be used for sympathy, energy, resources, acclaim or even sexual energy.
All in unwholesome ways which strip you of your integrity, energy and resources.
If you are genuinely shored up and moved on and up-levelled, why would you bother?
Yes, you may be co-parenting and maybe even seeing each other at different meetings or events for the children, and you may be civil, and maybe things feel totally emotionally benign (you are non-triggered because you have done the inner work) … but would you have this person in your house sharing cheese and biscuits having a chat?
And maybe because the relationship was so toxic, pathological and abusive you may never have anything to do with this person again. I have friends and colleagues in this Community who co-parent under strict No Contact or very defined Modified Contact for that reason.
Many of them only communicate through fully accountable communication portals like Our Family Wizard and I know for a fact that none of these people would be living the healthy lives free of abuse that they do, if they were trying to have a friendship with the narcissist.
And the children are much better with such a distinct separation, because the non-narcissistic parent has been able to become healthy, happy, free and empowered.
Now let’s explore this vital last question …
What is the Right Way to Leave a Narcissist?
I love what this member posted on my Facebook Page because it sums up SO MANY of the confusions about “how should we leave” that echoed all my previous struggles and so many other people’s that led us to go around and around and around … until we finally REALLY left.
I have broken this post up into section to highlight the main points … my notes are in italic …
“A question I had when leaving my ex-N was, ‘Is there any good way to leave a Narcissist?’The first time I started NC, it was by default. We’d both dropped off our communications with each other, and by doing so, I thought we’d finally mutually agreed it was over, only to get hoovered back in a month later.
Often when we do this even though we are assuming its over – we really don’t want it to be – and haven’t made up OUR mind that it is. Hence being susceptible to hoovering.
The second time I tried for NC, I thought I owed us some ‘closure’, and took the opportunity to write (after being asked) why things weren’t working out with us. While satisfying on some level, it only re-opened things with his promises to address all the reasons I’d shared.
When we try to create closure (getting the other person to understand – or thinking we owe the other person some understanding) this creates “something to work with” for the narcissist. Either a way to appeal to how they will change, or a way to throw back at us what we said, triggering us to hook in to “gain understanding” again.
The last and final time I went NC, I just literally walked away. Things had escalated once again, the old familiar verbal abuse was compounded with new material and I reached a point where it felt unhealthy and unsafe to continue. While there was no question at the time that this was the right thing to do, I was haunted afterwards with guilt of just dropping off.
Here is that old chestnut again – Guilt! (Working on that programming – and reprogramming it in our body with NARP means it just won’t be there!)
I didn’t reply to any of his further emails (which never mentioned the incident, just ‘let’s get together, I miss you’), I didn’t offer any explanation, I didn’t say simply, ‘it’s over’, and wondered for a long time if that would have been a better way.”
This is why it has been FINAL No Contact, because NO explanation, energy, time or answer has been given.
BINGO – right choice … (there’s just that guilt and “healing self thing” now to attend to and there will be NO regret in doing it this way!)
I’m feeling more acceptance with things now after 5 weeks NC, but that question lingered, “Is there a good way to leave an N?”
I hope that my commentary has helped here! The truth is this – yes there is good way to leave a narcissist …
DON’T say anything!
State through your actions that you are gone, there is no chance at conversation or reuniting. This means point blank there is no amends possible to be made, and everything about your life now is about your healing, your settlement, your directions and that is that.
Words are not necessary.
Silence speaks volumes.
And this is VITAL when dealing with a manipulator – who can twist things, turn things and hook you and bait you.
You are not dealing with someone who is “sober”, who plays fair and who can act with decency or conscience.
Don’t judge someone on how they have behaved when they hoover and pledge loyalty and commitment … assess them on their lowest possible act .. because THAT is what they are capable of.
I’m not talking about a one-off poor behaviour where someone is genuinely and fully remorseful, can name it and own exactly what they did and how it hurt you, and fully make amends and discuss how and why it will never happen again (Genuine remorse and reform).
Ask yourself … has the person you are leaving ever confronted their inner wounds and dealt with them directly and for real? And realise that takes huge commitment and effort …. NOT just a few counselling sessions that haven’t even gone directly into the emotional content of those EXACT wounds.
Because if they haven’t, they are today JUST as likely to commit it again.
VITALLY IMPORTANT: If you need safety planning make sure that takes place.
Then when you leave, create boundaries around yourself and set up No Contact or third-party Modified Contact if children involved, and focus fully on your own healing …
Then as you heal and transform, I promise you that you will start coming out the other side and you will understand how you don’t owe that person anything.
You owe your own soul your evolution, and that is the best deed you can ever do in this world and for others – narcissists included – because if everyone detached and stopped granting them energy they could not exist as narcissists.
So I really hope that this article has helped provide you with many answers at your fingertips … and please know I would love you to join me in my next Webinar where we can work together to grant you the empowerment to detach and stay away.
As always I look forward to answering your comments and questions.