Divorcing a narcissist isn’t easy. If you could rewind the clock and take a glimpse at me on the day I divorced the narcissist, you would find me curled up on the floor of my bedroom, crying and shaking. It felt like the worst day of my life. Little did I know it would turn out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. I just had to get through the pain to get to the other side.
It is not a normal breakup. Most healthy people part ways with some animosity, but over time, the hostility fades, and the divorced couple can at least be civil if they run into each other. With a narcissist, this isn’t the case.
- The narcissist will not get over the abandonment. If it was your choice to leave, and sometimes even if it wasn’t, the narcissist will have a narcissistic injury and inflict as much pain as possible on you in return. Narcissists also like to play the victim because it takes the focus off what they did to you.
- Divorcing a narcissist is as difficult as it gets. Doing that on top of dealing with your issues and agony while navigating your life just adds to the list. But when the narcissist is out to get you, it can make a divorce feel like a wound that just won’t heal.
- It hurts worse to divorce a narcissist due to the trauma bonds associated with toxic relationships. Trauma bonds are emotional ties we develop to our abusers. We live for the thrill we feel when the narcissist demonstrates kindness or perceived love. We hold on to that version of the narcissist, never losing hope, even when the abuse stretches out for long periods between the good times. It’s like drug addiction, but the drug is the narcissist. We stay for the high.
- The narcissist will bully you through the divorce process and beyond. Narcissists are like the kid who dropped their sucker in the sandbox when something doesn’t go their way. They throw a fit and try to make you repent.
- You face the unknown, yet you are still likely dealing with what the narcissist told you your new life would look. Narcissists like to plant seeds of doubt such as, “You can’t live without me,” and, “No one will love you like I love you.”
There are ways to make divorcing the narcissist the best decision you’ve ever made, and it starts long before you file any paperwork.
- First, start documenting the abuse as far back as you can remember. Assign the closet date possible to the incident and record it on paper or your computer. Make sure the narcissist does not have access to your documentation. This will help you, legally and emotionally. Legally, paperwork stands up in a court of law. Emotionally, you will romanticize the relationship, and your written account of the abuse can knock you back into reality.
- Secondly, meet with divorce attorneys to ask the questions you have about divorce in your state or country. This doesn’t mean you have to use that attorney or file for a divorce, but these steps will give you confidence in yourself. You gain some control back because you are handling important decisions on your own, regardless of what the narcissist has told you about your capabilities.
- Also, find a good therapist to help guide you through your emotions during the divorce process. A therapist can be a (confidential) rock for you to navigate new feelings and old hurt.
- When you are divorcing the narcissist, do your best to avoid being around them and speaking with them. Do not communicate except through your attorney. If you have children, share the necessary information only via email. Narcissists are inherent bullies, and they won’t back down until you make them. For example, Shane, my ex, told me what he would give me during the divorce and that I would be a failure without him. When I listened, I was terrified and hysterical. When I let the attorney handle the negotiations, I got what I needed and built a wonderful new life.
- Finally, face your grief head-on. Feel the emotions. Cry and scream if you need to. The heartache will be like a roller coaster, because one day you will feel relieved and empowered, and the next day you might feel you can’t survive. But you will. Ask yourself, “Am I mourning my dream or the person I thought they were?” Most likely, you are grieving what you wanted. That’s okay. New dreams are around the corner!
These are just a few of the points that I cover in my new book out this Fall called Girl, Get Out; How to Safely Leave a Narcissist and Keep Your Kids, Money, Sanity and Soul. What took me five years to learn is condensed into this manuscript. It is a roadmap to peace.
Survivors often ask me if I would marry Shane all over again. My answer is an emphatic no, unless it meant, hypothetically, that I wouldn’t have my son. However, I would divorce Shane again if my life could look like it does right now. I am the happiest I have ever been. I have found peace, joy, hope and yes, true love. You can, too.