Being married to my narcissist for 16 years, deciding to leave was one, if not the toughest thing I ever had to do. Below are some of the things I wish someone would have told me when I left a narcissist:

#1: You will be okay

It may not seem like it now, but you will be okay. The further away you get from that toxic relationship the sooner you will get yourself back, you will begin to get your joy back, and you will learn so much about yourself that you never knew before.

#2: It is going to hurt

The first year after I left my husband (we were together for 16 years), it was some of the worst pain I’ve ever felt. But it goes away. And on the other side of that pain, there is purpose in the pain, there is immeasurable joy. I can tell you now that I am in my late 40’s, and I am the happiest I have ever been. Psychologists will tell you that leaving a codependent relationship, which is often what a narcissistic relationship is like, is more painful than leaving a normal or a healthy relationship. It won’t be your typical divorce, but you can do it. And the joy is even bigger and better than if you would have left a normal relationship.

#3: Take it one day at a time

There were some days that I took it a minute at a time. Getting my haircut one day I remember sitting in the chair and tears started and I couldn’t stop them. That is okay, you are grieving. You are grieving your dream; what you thought you were going to have with this person. I wanted the dogs, the white picket fence, the brick house, I wanted it all. I had to grieve that dream and realize that now my dream is different, and it’s actually even a better dream. It’s not going to be easy. When you leave a narcissist, give yourself some leeway and take it one day at a time.

#4: Stay NO CONTACT

No phone calls, no texts. When you leave a narcissist, it’s better to just use email, and if you have to communicate like I do with my ex, (we’ve used the app family wizard) we primarily we use email. It keeps the emotion out of the phone conversation or a face to face conversation. Anytime that there is an email that veers off track that may be criticizing to me or my son, I don’t read that email. I delete that email. I encourage you to use an app or communicate via email.

#5: Lean on friends

Don’t lean on just any friends. Lean on the friends who understand what you’ve been through, and if they don’t understand; friends who want to learn. Find the friends that are not critical and can be good listeners, and that supports you 100% OF THE WAY. There are going to be friends that fall off – friends you had when you were a couple, might not want to be a part of the end of a relationship or a divorce. But that’s okay, you will find better friends than you have ever had. This pain draws the true friends out of the woodwork and it will surprise you who ends up being those friends. I had a neighbor who I had grown close to when I was married for those 16 years, and when she heard that I had made the choice to divorce, she was devastated and upset. She came to my door begging me not to do it and I thought to myself “why is this person who hasn’t been that invested in my life now begging me to make a change that in the long run would hurt me worse than I am hurting now?” Once I thought for a while, I noticed that she was seeing a reflection in me of something she couldn’t do – she was in a marriage with a narcissist, he was extremely toxic, she couldn’t understand what I was doing because she couldn’t look in the mirror and admit she wasn’t strong enough to do it herself. Stay away from friends who aren’t lifting you up.

#6: Start to do what you want to do

Maybe it’s yoga, or you want to explore new places, or go to a restaurant your ex wouldn’t ever want to go to. When you leave a narcissist, you get to cherish spending time with yourself and not be ridiculed for it. You get to enjoy finding things that you love to do. This is a big step in healing and realizing that you are strong, and you will get through this.

#7: Every day start out with a plan

Have a plan of what you’re going to do, write it out, and stick to it. Find time to get out during your day, whether you’re working or not, try to take a walk and breathe fresh air. Take your time to grieve. I noticed that by Friday I would be extremely tired from the past week, and I would find myself especially sad on Friday nights. I would plan things for all day Saturday and Saturday night, but Friday nights I would take time to myself and I would give myself a couple of hours to cry and get it out and get better. You will find that the first few weeks after your breakup, you will cry 6 days that week. Then eventually it becomes 4 days a week, then 2, and then you forget the last time you cried. It does get better.

You have survived the stuff of nightmares and if you can get out of that, there is tremendous joy on the other side.

Laura Charanza

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when you leave a narcissist

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