How commonly have you attempted to please and appease the narcissist, only to be reminded that your best efforts are in vain?  

Narcissists can be quite persistent in their dysfunctions, and over time they prove to be stubbornly resistant to growth and maturation.  And in the meantime, your troubled emotions escalate. As you reflect upon your failed appeasement efforts, it becomes apparent that the relationship is never going to satisfy. Disappointments, lies, and problematic exchanges keep piling up.  Ugly arguments remain unresolved.  

So, at some point you finally conclude: “This relationship is a bust, it simply is not working.  I need to move on.  I need closure.” 

Good for you!  It would be unhealthy to continually participate in a narcissist’s mistreatment, so your desire to get away is not only reasonable, but necessary.

There is one primary tendency, though, that makes closure with a narcissist elusive.  That is…you can make the mistake of appealing too strongly to “us.”  Still wishing to find a meeting of the minds, you can use logic, appeal to your good values, and discuss proper standards.  You might also discuss strategies with the narcissist to discern if a win/win mindset can be found.  You may even seek counseling with that person, or perhaps you will join with supportive groups.  But in the end, the relationship remains as dysfunctional as ever.

Sure enough, if you are seeking relationship healing, it is reasonable to discuss “we” and “us.”  But once it becomes apparent that the relationship is irretrievably broken, you can only find personal healing as your efforts are individualized.  

By definition, emotional and personal closure is found as you are able to move positively forward in your life despite a lack of interpersonal resolution or agreement.  Narcissists are too self-enamored to care about harmonizing, and they are certainly not inclined to take responsibility for their negative contributions to personal problems.  Instead, they blame and they will utilize victim-shaming, meaning they will diminish you for the problems generated by them.

Knowing this, you can cling to specific thoughts that can reflect your willingness to move forward.  You may not necessarily say these comments out loud, but in your mind, you might think:

  • The evidence highlights that you cannot think normally, so I am going to pay attention to the facts.
  • Despite your rejection and belittlement, I choose me.
  • I trust myself.  I make sense.  And furthermore, I have no need to persuade you to think that way toward me.
  • I get it, you don’t have my back.  Therefore, I’ll no longer take my cues from you since you are so predictably unreliable.
  • You enjoy being in the power position, but guess what?  I will never again allow you to be a power source for me.
  • Dominance is your game, but being respectful is what I prefer.  And that begins with me offering respect toward myself.
  • You get to be as critical as you want, and that includes your propensity toward unsolicited advice.  But I now see how that speaks more about you than about me.
  • You are not a helpful resource.  We are not a good fit.  And I will not lose sleep when you blame me for not conforming to your demands.
  • Something bigger is going on inside me.  I am seeking meaning, and it is grounded in living with love as my #1 goal.  Clearly, we are not on the same page in that regard.
  • I release you and all the chaos that goes along with you.
  • If you are angered by my shift, so be it…you are an angry person and that is not something I can fix.
  • While I would like to know the answers to all my “why” questions, I will no longer be held down by the confusion you bring.  I’ll manage with or without perfect answers.

With each of the above comments, you can embrace the privilege, the necessity of self-determination. 

Your closure will not consist of having a wonderful sense of “us,” yet it can be grounded in something much greater.  You can recoup your self-worth.  You can vote “yes” for who you are.  You can embrace your distinctions.  You can recognize that you are good at your core.  You can choose self-respect.

And if (when) the narcissist protests your efforts to move on, you can conclude: “Be who you are, that is your right.  But I’ll be who I am, that is my right.  But beyond that, being who I am is my responsibility, it is my calling.”

~Les Carter, Ph.D.

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