Join counselor Melanie Vann and host Kristin Sunanta Walker to discuss the emotional and physical aftermath of implementing no or low contact with a toxic person. Several listeners of the show asked for us to cover this topic and give the “for real” account of what survivors go through once they’ve disconnected from a narcissist.
Listen to the show: http://tobtr.com/9411271
Empowered Empaths: What Happens After No Contact with a Narcissist?
Download the Transcript: Jennifer Larson – Empowered Empaths After No Contact 9.8.16
Intro Music and Voiceover
KRISTIN: Welcome to Mental Health News Radio, your source for information about mental health providers and the work they do in the world, the organizations that support their work, volunteers, and mental health consumers. This show is brought to you by ZenCharts.com, the intelligent EHR for addiction treatment providers; and also EverythingEHR, devoted to helping organizations find the best electronic health records software in behavioral health. Thank you for joining us.
KRISTIN: Hey everyone. This is Kristin Sunanta-Walker, host of Mental Health News Radio, and I am on with Counselor Melanie Vann. Thanks, Melanie, for jumping on and joining us, or joining me.
MELISSA: Thank you, Kristin. We’re so used to having Melissa on, but we’re missing her this evening. She’s preparing for a conference.
KRISTIN: Yes, Melissa is traveling but she’ll be back. Tonight we were going to talk about what are some of the physical, mental, physiological and emotional changes that you go through once you go No Contact (NC) or Low Contact (LC.) Or if you’ve gone NC and you’ve moved completely away from someone that you were in a toxic unhealthy relationship with, what are some of the things that you experience? The first thing, of course, I’m always going to come at this from the patient perspective because I’m not a clinician. I do have to say that when I moved out of the area where the original narcissist, meaning there were many but the one that brought this awareness because it was so awful, it was really important to move and live in a completely different town so I could go where I needed to go without worrying about who I was going to run into for all kinds of reasons. But there is also a lot of healing that happens when you get out of that situation, and I don’t think what people go through is talked about enough. So Melanie, can you talk about some of the stages of what happens to you after you go NC or LC?
MELISSA: Yes, first you would go through the normal grieving process that you would go through with any relationship, even bad relationships and healthy breakups – there’s always a grieving process. What you’re dealing with when you’ve been in an abusive relationship with a narcissist is that you’ve been in fight-or-flight for so long, that once you get away from the narcissist and are actually able to have a healthy, emotionally safe environment to grieve in, many times it comes on like a tidal wave. It is powerful. You can feel sick. You can feel weak. It literally can make you sick; and I think the largest part of this is that you’ve been on emotional overload for so long, that when you finally get away from this person and your mind starts going into some type of normalcy, or not having that fight-or-flight or adrenaline going all the time, you literally crave the relationship like a drug. I truly believe so many survivors confuse the grief that they are feeling for themselves and for all of the trauma that they’ve dealt with in the relationship – they think they are missing the narcissist. They’re not missing the narcissist. They are grieving, for however many years they’ve been in the relationship with the narcissist, that’s going to be how long it takes you to grieve. It can be incredibly overwhelming because you’ve finally removed yourself from this situation and you are finally able to heal. It’s just like a wound. That’s the perfect analogy. If you have a wound, it scabs over. As soon as it scabs over a little, the narcissist tears it off again. You are constantly getting this wound. Maybe it’s gotten infected and things have gotten really bad. It’s just this constant scar the whole time you are in the relationship. Then you finally get out, and this wound finally starts to heal. It has an environment where no one is picking at it anymore, no one is shooting darts at you anymore, so you finally start healing and you have space to let go of all of these emotions. I think everyone that’s been in a relationship knows that there’s no room for your emotions in the relationship.
KRISTIN: Oh no, it’s all about theirs.
MELISSA: Yes, it’s all about theirs, so yours don’t even have anywhere to go. Do not be surprised, when you finally get away from them, if you feel like you are going to explode or die, because that is very common. Again, I think people confuse that with wanting to be back with the toxic person and that’s not what’s going on. You may want relief from the symptoms that you are feeling, and in your mind the only relief is going to be getting back with this person; but if you can just ride it out, get through it, and embrace what you are going through knowing that you are doing something that is healthy, then you can make sense of what is going on.
KRISTIN: Yeah, I can’t emphasize enough – do the work! Go to therapy! Go to acupuncture; go to yoga; do physical things. Do therapy with a therapist that understands what this kind of abuse is: they have to know trauma, they have to know PTSD, and they have to know narcissistic abuse. Talk therapy is imperative – it’s a requirement! But also doing other things that help release trauma from your body because you’re an addict just like the narcissist is. I mean, you are addicted to each other. We humanize that by saying, “I’m addicted to that person.” But it’s really not. You’re addicted to the drug of what being around that person is – that’s really what it’s about. So when you leave the drug, you’re dry. A narcissist will keep looking for supply because they cannot sustain emotional connection on their own; they have to vampire it off of other people. That’s why they do what they do and go find other people and you are so easily replaced. The reason why you implement NC is so that you can stop being an addict. You have the grand ability to stop having someone feed off of you, which allows you to raise your emotional capital (which you probably already have an overabundance of which is why you were so attractive to the narcissist in the first place) and replenish them. Just like any addiction, it requires steps. You’ve got to do these self-care things to get through this. You don’t just go NC and then everything is just shits and giggles – that’s not how it works!
MELISSA: No, definitely not. That’s where the searching begins. You were going to talk about some of the physiological things.
KRISTIN: Yes, you and I have talked about this. I had so much anxiety and cycling through emotions. I wondered if I would be diagnosed as bipolar. I was constantly going to other people to check in with them and see what they thought about what I was doing. There are all these different stages; but physiologically you are going through withdrawal. Even in narcissistic relationships I get into now that are very short lived – thank God because I am actually evolving even if it may not seem like it. It’s interesting to have all of this awareness and know what the stages are because I’ve been through it and still realize that I need to honor my body, my soul, and my emotional self by recognizing that I am going to have some pain and cannot just write it off. This person came in. They got in through a wound that I need to heal. Just because I do this show or talk to these experts doesn’t mean I get off scott-free. I still have to go through all that painful physiological stuff that you go through when you exit one of these relationships, regardless of if it was a twenty year relationship or it was a two month relationship.
MELISSA: Yeah, and I tell you, these long term relationships that people are in, part of what happens when you are in these relationship is that you stop making decisions for yourself. Every decision in your life – from how you do your laundry and how you do your dishes to what you eat and what you cook for dinner – everything in your life revolves around keeping the narcissist happy or doing what it is the narcissist wants. So oftentimes when you get out of these relationships, you don’t even know how to make decisions anymore. That’s why it is so imperative that you have some type of support system. I don’t care if every family member you have or every friend you’ve ever had has turned their back on you and is siding with the narcissist – so what! Go out and find you own group – find someone else, get the help of a clinician, join a church group, join a support group – do something to get some type of support somewhere. There are people out there that can help you, because a lot of times you come out of it almost like an infant. You are just lost! I remember that was one of the things where I had so many a-ha moments. I would go do something and I would realize just how many things, and how I based my decisions, revolved around this person that I was in a relationship with. I didn’t even know who I was any more. It was difficult for me to make simple decisions. Simple decisions become extremely difficult because you’ve been managed down, because you don’t want to get your feelings hurt, and because you don’t want to re-experience the pain that they put you through when they go into a rage, make sarcastic comments, or wince or make faces at you. You’re constantly adjusting walking on eggshells to figure out a way to keep peace in the home. That’s no way to live! You are not living in reality. You’re not living in the moment. You’re checked out in some unreality somewhere.
KRISTIN: Well, they live in that land of delusion so in order for you to…
MELISSA: They do! And you’re living it with them! So do not be surprised when you’re overwhelmed because you are stepping back into truth and reality and that’s why it’s like a tidal wave.
KRISTIN: And I tell you, one of the things that my mom would say to me was, “Kris, it’s just so much better in reality. I hope you get to that place where you realize that reality is so much better.” Just like any addiction, when you are in the throes of that addiction and your body chemistry is also dumping dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline, and oxytocin – chemically you are a volatile soup as well. Man, you want to run back to Fantasy Island – you absolutely do. You have to realize that Fantasy Island is where the narcissist lives and breathes. They can’t live anywhere else, and no matter how yummy or how much you think it’s going to give you even temporary relief, it’s always worse the next time around. When people break NC it’s always worse after, especially if you were the one that did the discarding. They don’t like to be discarded, so if you go back after that it is 100% about how they are going to discard you, and in a vial way, because you dared to leave them. So you don’t want to go back to that. Sit with your feelings and feel like crap for as long as you need to, like I did for four months and walked from my bed to the couch and from the couch to my bed getting up only to go to therapy once a week to deal with the stuff, because that is what I needed to do in order to heal. At that time, I thought, “I’m such a loser. I can’t even function. What’s wrong with me?” I can look back and remember what I felt like while I was doing that, and now I wish I could go back to that woman and say, “Good for you, Kristin! Damn, you sure took care of yourself. Look at what you did. You took four months out of your long life to just be a lump and take care of you and emotionally heal and deal with your stuff. Halleluiah!” But at the time that it was happening I was telling myself, “You’re never going to get out of this. You are nothing.” So if I can convey any words of wisdom to anybody if you’re in that place or you’ve visited that place quite a few times – because it doesn’t just happen in one shot and then it’s done – you feel awful for a bit, and then you feel okay for a bit, and then you have to go back in for a bit, and then you go back out for a bit – every time you do that if you could sit on your shoulder and tell yourself every single thing that’s going on is exactly as it should be and you’re doing everything exactly right – if you could do that for yourself that would help speed up your healing.
MELISSA: Yeah, I think it would. I have a couple of thoughts about what you are saying. So many times we hear the word “forgiveness” and talk about that with respect to the narcissist, and at some point something along those lines does have to happen. You just let it go or you leave it in the past. I don’t know if you want to call it forgiveness – whatever feels best for you. But one of the most important things, and the hardest thing for me to sit in, was forgiving me for abandoning myself. That’s what hurt the most – that I had betrayed myself; that I had betrayed my soul; that I had betrayed my morals and my integrity. I lived in a way that was nothing like what I had grown up in and nothing like what my heart knew was right. I had compromised myself over and over again; and if you can work through that, then forgiveness of this person in the relationship somehow comes in a different way. You don’t even really have to forgive; you just move on. You let it go in a way that’s comfortable for you, and you work through the “forgiveness” in however is healthy for you. I feel like that is important to be able to turn around and look yourself in a mirror and give yourself some grace – give yourself grace for not having it together, give yourself grace for looking like crap, give yourself grace for whatever it is that you are going through because if you’ve been in a relationship with a narcissist then you probably had your life together before you got in the relationship because that’s what they look for. Forgive yourself for all those things that you left by the wayside, and then give yourself grace for where you are at the moment. You have been emotionally and psychologically abused at the deepest, deepest level. You’re not even supposed to understand what just happened to you – because you don’t. You can’t understand what they have done to your brain. It is so foreign and so sick that you can’t explain it. You have to just live on faith that wherever you are you are going to get to a different place. I’ll tell you a couple of things that I did when I was recovering, and then there are a couple of things that people said to me that I really held on to. One of them was six months from now you are not even going to remember this. Six months from now you will not even believe that you were at this point. I remember there were so many times that were so incredibly painful, where I would lay in bed at night and think I was just going to sink into it because I was in so much pain, and not even a cry would get the pain out. I didn’t know what to do, but I had to just let it out. The other thing was that my life won’t be like this always. I would tell myself that – I won’t feel like this always. Things are going to get better. I continuously told myself that. The thing is, it’s the truth this time, because I know if you were in a relationship with a narcissist you used to tell yourself that when you were in the relationship but it never got better. Things never changed. But it will when you stay away from them and you stay NC and you don’t engage with them if you don’t have to, then things will get better because you are in control. You may think it feels like it’s not going to, but it will. Physically, some things you can do for yourself when you’re going through that excruciating period – get a pillow or blanket or anything that makes you feel comforted; anything that makes you feel safe. Do things that are good for you – paint your toenails, get your hair done, whatever it is that makes you feel good – go do it. I worked out; I spent time with my horses. Physically getting through those moments, sometimes you just need to count to ten – or sometimes you count to ten more than once. Sometimes you just need to cry for a really long time. You have to do physical things to get out of physical uncomfortableness. Learn some meditation techniques; learn mindfulness; learn how to read a book that’s mindless – don’t sit around and read about narcissism (yes it is good to learn about narcissism) but go buy a trash book or a good novel of sci-fi or whatever it is that you are into and just read mindless material so that you can get your brain into something other than thinking about this person.
KRISTIN: A different groove. I read the same books, just because I could get lost in the story – Memoirs of a Geisha and The Color Purple. I had read those before, but for whatever reason, those stories were so different from my life that I could get lost I those two books. I read those again, and again, and again. Every time I felt like I couldn’t get out of bed or deal with a day or racing thoughts, I just read those books. That was huge for me.
MELISSA: Yes, I read Gone with the Wind, which is a huge book, and it was my mom’s copy that she had in high school and it was super old, but it put my mind in a different place. It gave me something to focus on.
KRISTIN: What do you mean “super old?”
MELISSA: It is, but that’s okay because I think I was born into the wrong era. I don’t think I really belong in this era – but whatever – that’s a discussion for another show. But just making the point that self-care, anything that gets you out of the moment, you need a break from those emotions. Take a walk. Go outside. Look at something beautiful. Call a friend. Whatever it is that you need to do to work it through – do it – because it’s hard. But you and I both know, Kristin, that when you get to the other side and you get to that light, your life is changed forever. It’s changed forever for the better and you understand yourself, you know yourself better than you ever thought you would have. You really do get to that point. Educate yourself on the stages of grief. You get to that point where you get healthy again and you think to yourself, “What did I ever even see in this person?” Of course there is a lot of regret; I’ve definitely had regret because I was in the relationship a long time, so I felt like there were some of the best years of my life that I wasted pouring into the relationship. So there were some times that I grieved the time that I lost. But when you get past that you’ve got a whole new world to live in. It’s possible.
KRISTIN: Very, very true. Yeah, and friendships help. But when we’re raw and in that wounded place it’s highly likely that other toxic relationships will be a part of your experience. I don’t subscribe to the whole idea that, “Once you’re evolved enough they don’t come into your life anymore.” I just don’t. I think that’s hogwash. There are toxic people all over the place that are going to walk into everybody’s life, and education is really the only thing that is going to keep you safe. It’s really about how long do you stay in the next relationship – whether that be a friendship, a family thing, or a love relationship. How long did you stay in it before you recognized the signs and how damaging was it for you to get out? I can’t emphasize enough to people who support people who’ve been through this kind of trauma – repeat yourself a hundred times if you have to, because the person is in trauma. Their brain is working under some voodoo-panany and they need to hear again and again about reality, reality, reality. As much as it doesn’t make sense to you and you think, “Why don’t they get this yet? Come on! I can’t keep talking about this person! Why do they keep talking about this person? Can’t they just get over it already?” If they are still talking about it then they are still processing. As long as they are still in therapy and doing other things to try and get out of it – give them some leeway. If they’re not doing anything else but just sitting around and talking about it – that’s a problem. But if they are in therapy, they are reading, they are going to support groups, they are actively in the healing of this aftermath; if they need to process and talk about this person – let them – but keep throwing in reality. My mom is real good about saying, “Let him crawl back under the rock from whence he came.”
MELISSA: That is so your mom!
KRISTIN: Yeah, my ex-husband, Michael, is just like, “Ugh, if I don’t have to hear that name again. Please!” He was over it after two seconds of talking to him. But hearing reality like that, they see; and maybe you as the friend of someone going through this, could see who this person was clearly. But for whatever reason you got bedazzled and you got pulled in. So you have to keep hearing reality about that person. It doesn’t mean you need to go on a festival of talking about how horrible they are and picking them apart (well there’s a little bit of that – enjoy it) but you don’t stay there forever. It’s a needed phase. But feeding you back in to look at the person and their behavior; look at the things they said that they wanted you to do, how many times they called you or texted you or whatever. Look at all of that unhealthy, toxic behavior. You are so lucky that you got out of it. That’s the kind of stuff that you need to hear – reality!
MELISSA: Yes, I mean there’s definitely a need for someone to be reminding you of who this other person is because it’s so easy to fall back into. When you’re in La La Land then you don’t have to deal with the painful feelings that you are experiencing. For a lot of people, maybe their life before they met the narcissist was miserable, so living in this La La Land that they lived in with the narcissist that felt so wonderful and was so much better than normal life that they don’t want to go back to their normal life. Well you know what – create a better life. Create a better life! Get yourself well. We are here as humans to love each other and to be in relationship, so start building relationships with others. There’s always a place to start. Sometimes you just have to be a hermit. Sometimes you have to go into the little hole, and Kristin you and I have talked about that. We have both been in a little hole before where you just have to go in and not let anyone in. You can’t even be an empath anymore. You just have to not let anyone in and protect your space and just go there and do what you need to do to work through these things. Then you can just slowly baby-feed yourself, reintroducing yourself into society, friendships and trusting. That can be extremely hard too, and unfortunately I think a lot of people that have been in these relationships get stuck in that place. They stay isolated; they’re too scared; they’re paranoid because of what’s been done to them – and rightly so; and they stay stuck in this place of isolation. It’s no way to live.
KRISTIN: Oh the paranoia is terrible!
MELISSA: Yeah, the paranoia is tough on a lot of people, second guessing everything – it’s that cognitive dissonance. It changes the way that you think about the world, about reality, and it’s really scary.
KRISTIN: Yeah, and the reason why you block them on social media is first because you don’t want them looking at your stuff, but really it’s more about when you block them, then you can’t go look at what’s going on with them. We get in these modes where we want to see what’s going on, over and over, and it’s just more pain. So you block them so they don’t show up on your feed, or be suggested to friend them when you were just almost suicidal over them. You don’t need that, so block them, block family, block friends of friends – it’s for you. You need a break, not a drip, drip, drip.
MELISSA: It’s for your safety. That is the worst thing you can do – stalking. You really just need to focus all of your energy on yourself. There’s no room for any of what they are doing except for getting over what they did to you. I had no interest in knowing anything; in fact I was totally annoyed when I had to hear his name, even if it wasn’t him but someone with his same name. It just annoyed me, so I had no interest at all at seeing what this person was doing, and I think that got me on the right track of not being re-wounded.
KRISTIN: They become like Voldemort. You do not want to say their name. The other thing too, I never go look at social media anyway because I don’t look at anything other than what comes up in my feed and I control that. Some people are blocked because they’ve been weird, and others are blocked because I don’t want that energy, or a connection with them, in any way. I’ll give an example. Today I was asked about someone that I used to work with. This is a person who is notorious for starting businesses, defrauding a whole bunch of people, getting sued, and then shutting that business down in order to avoid having to pay people back. Then they start up a business under a new name. This is how they live their life; this is the hell that they live. There are all kinds of dysfunction. Somebody asked what’s going on with that person and I did two seconds of digging (because they are concerned about doing business with them,) and I pointed them to the lawsuits and the new name (because they think they are being sneaky.) I said, “Nothing has changed, why are you even thinking about going into business with them?” All that anger, energy and unhealthy toxicity that came from being in a relationship with that person came back to me for about ten minutes today, and that was ten minutes too much of my valuable precious time. How I feel about my life now, I don’t want to open a connection to that. I don’t want that stuff. I don’t like the stuff that happened in my life because I was so drained by having my energy focused on that person. So I gave it ten minutes, and gave it time now in a different place in order to teach other people, but in my personal space I don’t want to be connected to that person because I don’t want the reminder of the emotional energy wasted in a hill of toxic waste.
MELISSA: Yes, you definitely don’t need to remind yourself. That energy just needs to be put elsewhere. You are still trying to quench something in you that is longing for the narcissist, and as long as you are still doing that, the abuse is going to continue. All you are doing is opening yourself up to more pain. So it’s best just to quit cold turkey. It’s like quitting smoking and then going in the grocery store and asking to hold a pack of cigarettes but not buying it. Why would you do that to yourself? Or would you quit drinking and then go in the liquor store and stare at the beer all night? It’s no way to get past your addiction to this person.
KRISTIN: I remember saying to someone very emphatically, “I am not a drug; I am a human being.” I was saying that to a person with high narcissistic tendencies, but I was saying it to both of us. Being in that energy field around them is a soup of toxicity that I didn’t want to be a part of because it left me open to a whole bunch of unhealthy things. I could not even take a sip of that poison. Like an alcoholic can’t have any alcohol, you cannot take a sip of it. Any reaching back to them, an email, text – any of the millions of excuses people make for why they had to go back and contact again – BS! Just picture yourself with a bottle with skull and crossbones on it and toxic waste in it and you are taking a sip. Is that healthy for you?
MELISSA: Definitely not! One thing you can think about is having contact with this person in your life is not going to do anything to move you forward. It’s not going to do anything to work towards healing. Nothing about seeing this person is going to help you resolve the problem. You are not going to find any resolution by trying to contact this person. You’re not going to have closure with a narcissist. It’s never going to happen. You have to learn how to find closure on your own without this other person in the relationship, because if they are a true narcissist it just won’t happen. That’s really difficult to do. Having closure on something is like trying to forgive someone that has already passed, or telling someone something you didn’t get to tell them before they passed. You are not going to have resolution with them. You can only find resolution as closure is within yourself, because you already know what they are going to do – twist and turn, twist and turn. And that’s a natural feeling – everyone wants to have a resolution at the end of the relationship. That’s a human need. But you’re just not going to have it. There is no talking them into some kind of nice splitting.
KRISTIN: They’re just going to lie. They’re just going to continue on and believe me, as much as you’re hurting and you’re healing, they are not sitting there pining away for you. They’re out doing this with somebody else – whether it’s another friendship, another business relationship, or another lover – whatever! They see you as pathetic and weak because you have feelings. We want to reason with them and make them see – no they can’t! So just stop trying to make insanity sanity and focus on you. Put all of that energy on you; because I guarantee that any of that guilt that you feel for going NC (which I’ve certainly done myself thinking that I hurt that person by doing that) – no you didn’t! They are like Teflon. They’ve told me in the relationship that they’ve got rhino skin. Do you know why they have rhino skin? They hurt people all the time! So they are not pining away over you and the demise of the relationship because they are out doing it to someone else.
MELISSA: Well, they may show some pain or some remorse, but it’s just because their light has been taken away – their supply, their food, and their candy has been taken away from them. They’re not mourning you because they never knew who you were in the first place. There’s our meme for this show. I love what you said, Kristin – stop trying to make insanity sanity, because it’s just not going to happen. It really isn’t. I remember trying to do that so many times. I have visions of duct taping this person to a chair and making them listen to me, but there was nothing that I could do, and he would probably enjoy it. If you find yourself in your relationship having to describe basic human emotions to someone – get out! Get out; get out; get out! You should not have to explain basic human interacting with anyone.
KRISTIN: And they tell you who they are – they tell you. They enjoy telling you. I can go back in so many of these relationships and see that they told me that they lie. They told me that they enjoy messing with people’s heads. They told me a lot of stuff that I just didn’t hear or didn’t want to hear, and I thought I could help heal them. Well, that was not going to happen. I can see that I have a little bit of that martyr/savior/enabler complex going on yet again and I need to get over myself, because the only person I need to care about saving is me – and my son – I’ll put my son under my responsibility as I am his parent. I told this to a couple of narcissistic men that I got involved with, “You know I am really tired of teaching you to behave like a grown ass man! The only man that I care about doing that with is my son.” But I got into some pain until I got to that place, and they didn’t have any real respect or love for me. I was just another piece of supply – I was an object. So I think we’ve covered it.
MELISSA: Yes, it’s difficult. We can just reiterate that it is extremely difficult going NC. It’s so emotionally difficult to do that when you are getting out of a relationship with someone who has treated you like this, and don’t expect it to be easy. If you are expecting it to be easy then you just need to not leave, not that I’m saying that seriously, but you just have to learn to expect the worst. I remember thinking this too – the worst is over. The worst is over. You are away from them. They are never going to hurt you again like that. You are never going to feel rejected. You are never going to feel lonely again, not from them anyway. The worst is over…
KRISTIN: … as long as you stay away from them.
MELISSA: Yes. So remind yourself of that – the worst is over and you just have to get through this fog. The sun does eventually begin to shine in your life again, and when it does you really do see things differently, so it’s worth all of the work.
KRISTIN: It is! I look at it like this. They’re not going to dig deep because they don’t have the capacity to, but that’s your job as a human being. That’s why we’re here – to dig deep, evolve and grow. Growth can be painful. So get to work on you and screw whatever that other person is doing. If that means that you need to move out of the vicinity, this is your life. You are allowed to take care of you in whatever way makes you feel safe and healthy. I run a company, and I created work out of town and out of nowhere so that I could be in a healthier space. I know you can do it; I know it can be done. I did what seemed impossible. I made those things happen because I care about my health and my growth. You can too. You just have to force yourself to put you first and to do the things that keep you out of harm’s way as much as possible. You are also proving to yourself that you can and you will stand up for yourself, because you didn’t in that relationship. Or at least you tried to but you were manipulated by mind games or whatever. This is your chance to really prove yourself to you by going NC or LC and putting all of that emotional capital back into you and not that person or that relationship.
MELISSA: Yes, I agree, because that’s where it needs to go. Every time that you think that you want to reach out to the narcissist; every time you think you want to do something for someone else; give to yourself instead. Every time you have that feeling of co-dependency in many ways, give back to yourself because that is really your soul yearning for something it needs. You have to start feeding and giving back to yourself every time you want to reach out like that – do that instead of stalking on Facebook or texting. Give back to yourself. If you have problems giving to yourself, that is something you need to discuss in therapy because many, many people, especially empaths, have difficulty accepting love from others. That is kind of rooted into your work. It doesn’t mean that you’re incredibly dysfunctional, you’re just more of a giver and it’s difficult to accept anything back, and that’s really about personality. It doesn’t make you bad or dysfunctional. But you have to understand that that way of life doesn’t work in these types of relationships. That way of life works in a reciprocal relationship with another healthy human being. That doesn’t work with a narcissist. It never will; they are just going to keep taking.
KRISTIN: Exactly! That’s exactly right. So let’s end on that note because I think we covered this one, at least I hope our listeners think so. We got a few emails, and we were asked to not do the “la dee dah” version of life after NC. We were asked to do the “for real, be serious” version of it. Hopefully this didn’t disempower anyone from doing the journey. Trust me, the way I feel about myself now, the way Melanie feels about herself, the other survivors that we talk to – if you do the freaking work and go through the pain, it is so worth every single moment. You will have happiness like you have never experienced in your life if you will just do this horrible work!
MELISSA: Yeah, your life really can just open up, and it’s amazing and incredibly peaceful most of the time.
KRISTIN: Most of the time – not all of the time – you still have these people come in and out and you ask what you needed to learn from that. But it’s not as devastating as the first time. I’ve never gone back to feeling suicidal; I’ve never gone back as far or been in it as long. So as long as you are continuing to evolve, you’re doing okay. Give yourself a pat on the back and say something nice to yourself in the mirror, darn it!
MELISSA: Yeah, those are all good things to do. Maybe we can have someone on the show that’s a neuropsychologist or a neuropsychiatrist that can, in layman’s terms, talk about what happens in the brain. We talk about that, but I’m certainly not educated enough to know in depth physiologically what happens. That might be really interesting, because I know some other people that are nerds like me, when you understand what is going on in your brain or in your body, when you can understand what’s driving your emotions, then somehow it makes more sense. I’ve always been that type of person. I’ll have to search for someone.
KRISTIN: Yes, try Dr. Rhonda Freeman again. I think that’s what she does, and see if she will come on and talk about it. Well, thank you, Melanie.
MELISSA: Thank you, Kristin.
KRISTIN: And thank you to our listeners for another edition of Mental Health News Radio.
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