How to Leave a Narcissist?

It is a terrifying yet defining moment when you discover that the person you have loved, trusted, and confided in, is actually a controlling, selfish, emotionally empty narcissist. Then you find yourself scouring the internet for answers. I know I did. I became obsessed with arming myself with as much information about narcissistic personality disorder as possible to better understand what I was up against. It was horrendous to realize that he never actually loved me, but just used me to serve up his narcissistic supply. Then, once I understood that he could never change, I braced myself for the upcoming fight.

Leaving any relationship is never easy, but leaving a narcissist is even harder. I used to believe it noble to end a relationship with someone to their face. However, leaving a narcissist can cause a tremendous backlash. Narcissists do not handle rejection well and cannot abide being challenged in any manor. They lash out at the slightest perceived insult or injury and are known for disproportionate reactions to events. Therefore, the act of leaving a narcissist triggers a huge wound to their ego, it is unthinkable to them that you would ever chose to leave them. If you feel that you are in danger, you must find a way to get out of the precarious situation as safely and as quickly as possible. For me, I boiled it to The Seven P’s.

1- Plan your escape carefully. I officially decided to leave my husband when he flipped on the lights at 6:30 am and hovered over me while I lay naked under the covers in bed, curled up in the fetal position. He then proceeded to give me the same “ultimatum” he had used in the past to get me to cower. In his booming and intimidating voice, he told me that he was tired of me be being sad about how he interacted with my parents over the Easter weekend, which also happened to be my birthday. He informed me that if I wanted to continue to act sad, that I can just leave with the kids and move in with my parents and he would file for divorce. (The incident that precipitated his reaction happened two days before, where my parents drove 3 hours to visit us for the holiday/birthday weekend and my narcissist picked a fight with them after a dinner that I had just spent 3 hours to cook. It was nonsense really, my parents thought it would be nice to take me to get Dairy Queen blizzards for all of us for an after dinner treat. But my narcissist did not want to stay home with the kids for the 20 minutes it would have taken to bring it back, and he flipped out! My parents were stymied by his overreaction and asked him why he was so upset? My dad tried to talk it out with him, but then my narcissist continued to say that they were bad grandparents and told them that I was “unaccomplished little girl.” My parents didn’t know what to do and knew that they did not want to argue in front of the children, so they decided to leave and drive 3 hours back to their home thus missing my birthday and Easter the following day.) I was devastated, horrified and embarrassed. I pleaded with my husband to apologize to them but he refused and claimed that they were picking a fight with him, which is insane. He was smug when they left, there was a glimpse of happiness on his face.

I knew that this interaction would change everything, the cat was out of the bag. My parents would see how he really was and I couldn’t cover it up anymore. I knew that if I stayed with him, it would not only kill me but kill my parents with sorrow over watching their daughter fade away. So, when he turned on those lights two mornings later and gave me that ultimatum that I was to either let go of my feelings of sadness and just be the “happy wife he wanted” or I could just take the children with me and go live with my parents and he would have papers drawn up for our divorce. You see, I had no choice but to leave that miserable, intimidating, despicable shell of a human being. I chose life. The next step is crucial in leaving a narcissist.

2- Prepare Make your preparations thoughtfully. Mental and as well as physical preparation are very important. First, you need to be in the right state of mind to be okay with the life changing decisions you are about to act on. Leaving an abusive relationship is one of the most difficult things you will have to do. But you can do it, I did. My preparations involved booking a moving truck to be picked up when he was out of town, and asking my parents and friends to help me with the move. I also had to meet in secret with a divorce attorney to understand the implications of taking our children with me and to initiate the divorce process. I had one month before his week long trip that I knew I could make my escape safely. I knew if I would have told him that day he gave me the ultimatum that I did want a divorce, he would have flipped out and who knows what would have happened. I did not want to find out. So I used that entire month to make lists of what I needed to do before I left. I was advised by my lawyer to photocopy important legal documents, mortgages, bank statements, car statements, retirement documents. Etc. I complied, but couldn’t help but feel terrible in doing so, with all of the terrible things he had done to me, I still felt vile to be sneaky, but then I realized that it was not just for me I was doing this, but to protect my children and I will not apologize for that.

3 & 4- Placate & Prevent arguments during the final stages- Before I made my escape, I had a month to co-exist with my narcissist. I intended to do so as cautiously and peacefully as possible because the events leading up to my deciding to leave him did not make the living situation very comfortable. He was quick to argue with me over anything he perceived a challenge to his authority. However, I suddenly realized that if I engaged in any more arguments with him, it could easily escalate into me needing to vacate that day and I knew that if I had to, all my planning would be for nothing. Therefore, I needed to go along with the program to please him and make him feel like he was the all mighty unchallenged one. I laid in wait for the moment when he would be gone on his trip and I could then safely make my move out of the house.

5- Patience I kept my eye on the end goal. Every time he made me feel bad, I would turn the other cheek. I felt that he was always trying to goad me into an argument, so I would pretend that I wasn’t bothered by what he was saying. I knew that I would be free from him if I could just stay calm and play my cards right. Patience is a very crucial element of the escape. You know what I am talking about if you have ever seen the movie “Sleeping with the Enemy.” That movie always makes me quiver when I see how her horrid husband abuses her and accuses her of cheating. This movie hits a little too close to home for me and was definitely of an inspiration for me when I was enduring that last month with my narcissistic husband. Each morning that came during that final month I was mentally counting down till I was far away from him. I felt like I was holding my breath for 30 days and nights.

6- Prioritize what you must take and what you must let go of. It is almost impossible to take everything with you, if you must leave the home. If you are lucky enough to own the house yourself, I guess you could change the locks and wait for the fireworks to begin. In my case, we shared the home, but I knew I needed to get as far away from him as possible for my safety and my children. So, I only took what was mine before the marriage, and anything that I knew he would not want or miss.

7- Pretend to be dominated- My narcissist had been trying to completely alienate me from my loving, giving family these past seven years and he really thought that he accomplished it that day. But what he didn’t know was that I was stronger and smarter than he took me for.  I knew that it was an asset and a strength to be underestimated.  He really believed that he had broken me, but I have something inside of me that he doesn’t: true love of myself, real empathy and a sturdy resilience.  But by me pretending to play the part of the obedient, doe-eyed devoted spouse, he felt secure in his dominance and it gave me more opportunities to accomplish my great escape.

So there you have it.  These seven P’s allowed me to make my way to freedom from my narcissist.  I know they could be helpful to your escape.  Everyone’s situation is different I know, in yet there are so many similarities in narcissistic relationships. When I saw how unreasonable and nasty he could be to my parents, who had given us their love and support since day one, it was as if the final veil had dropped and I saw him for the monster that he really was and always will be.  The bell had been tolling for a long time, I could no longer ignore it’s ringing.  It was the last straw, the definitive answer to the question that had been eating away at me. I could no longer see what I wanted to see in him, I had to see the awful truth of what was in front of me.

Half a year has passed since I packed up that truck and left. It has not been easy, but I am so thankful that I made the decision to make my escape.

How to Save Your Children from a Narcissistic Parent?

When you are involved with a narcissist, the effects on you are bad enough, but when you have children with one, it is truly a sad situation. This is the case because the children will eventually suffer the same abuse that you do as soon as they develop their own thoughts and opinions on life. So if you decide stay involved in a relationship or marriage with a narcissist, you must become aware of the harsh reality that your children will become the sacrificial lambs.

Whilst they are still young, the narcissist views the children as little extensions of him or herself and their image. The children are a grand source of narcissistic supply because whilst young, they idolize that parent. During this stage, there is no difference in views or clash of opinions. However, as soon as they grow and become little independent thinkers, all bets are off! The narcissist parent pushes his or her views onto them and expects the children think and behave exactly they way he or she does. If the narcissist does not value a particular sport or activity, the child will not get to play or engage in it. If the narcissist has certain beliefs of what job that child should have someday, he or she expects the child to pursue no other career.

The narcissistic parent will often try to have the children team up with them to abuse the other parent. They put false notions into the children’s impressionable minds that the other parent is lacking in some way. In my case, my narcissist would try to make me out to be “no fun” to the children, which couldn’t be further from the truth. He would repeatedly try to make me out to be the “bad guy” so that the children would see him as the “good guy.” The burden of the disciplinarian was always put upon my shoulders.  When I tried to have any kind of order, he found it hilarious to try to create chaos just to rattle me.  Then he would turn around and blame me for the very chaos he cheerfully created.  He hardly ever was on my side and usually let the kids get away with bad behavior because he wanted to be the “fun dad.”  Then when I would try to get the kids to behave, he would say that I was being too harsh.  He didn’t back me up, which is what good team parenting should always do.

The narcissist wants the children to “love them more” and to act as his or her minions. The narcissist is so insecure that s/he is desperate for validation and needs to feel like the children needs them more. However, the children frequently find themselves struggling to identify with that parent because of the strings-attached love.

I could see that my little ones often felt unheard and inconsequential, and tense in the presence of their narcissist father. My six-year-old son would try to tell his daddy something about his day and the narcissist would just say “Uh huh, that’s great” without actually hearing what my son was telling him. My narcissist would not even try to really listen to the children, then he would talk over them. He always interrupted them and me. I could never get a word in edge wise. It drove me to the brink daily. Finally, I just stopped trying to even talk anymore, because it was just easier not to.

While staying in a relationship with a narcissist, the children will inevitably pick up on the abuse you suffer even if they are not yet the targets. It is unavoidable that the children will notice subtle hints of your suffering, no matter how hard you attempt to hide it. They will witness you walking on eggshells, they will see how you strive to avoid conflicts with Daddy or Mommy. They will learn how to play the game. Those eager little learners will eventually observe how they have to “perform” in order to reduce the negative reactions of the narcissist parent. And even more tragically, they may also learn from the narcissist parent how to manipulate others to bow down to their will. Regardless, the result of staying in a narcissistic relationship has terrible consequences to the children. Either they will be taught how to become the perfect victim for narcissistic abuse or they will become narcissistic abusers themselves.

This was a big reason why I chose to leave. I had to save my children from being groomed to be future victims of narcissists, or becoming narcissists themselves. I realized that leaving my narcissist was the only option if I wanted to save my children. At least they will spend the majority of their time with healthy, unconditionally loving relationships, which will help make up for the little amount of time that they have to spend with their soul sucking, emotionally absent father.

How to go NO CONTACT with a Narcissist When You Have Children with One

It is a widely known rehabilitative step to go “no contact” with a narcissist partner. This means to stop all forms of communication. No phone calls, no visits, give back all gift attempts or mail, cut all ties with that person completely. It is truly the only solid way to break free from the narcissistic emotional abuse and begin on the long, twisty path to healing. I sure wish I could, but you see… I have children with my narcissist.

I have to abide by certain laws of the court, maintaining just the minimum amount of contact as possible. It is a difficult situation, definitely not for the weak and weary. However, coming out of a seven year roller coaster relationship with a narcissist, I am nothing but weak and weary. So what do I do? What does anyone do? I take it one day at a time while building up my defenses.

First, you must find a support system. I am so fortunate to have my amazing parents and my brother to look to. Also, I am so lucky to have good, true friends that were always there but on the sidelines just waiting for me to come back. I lean on them to listen to my tales of woe. Just talking and writing about it has helped me so much. I find that when I speak or write about what I have gone through, somehow it is released into the atmosphere and weights are lifted off of me. I know that I will get through this, and you will too. Daily I am unearthing shreds of hope and strength that simmer under the surface for my two beautiful children. I cannot afford to fall apart. They need me…I need me. We deserve to get through this and live a life that is good and pure and full of possibilities once again.

Second, cut as many ties with your narcissist as humanly possible while staying within the bounds of the court’s requirements. But because of the children, I cannot just change my phone number, or move away. I have a chain that still binds me to my narcissist. However, I have lengthened it as much as possible. It is ironic that when we were together and my narcissist was gone for a week at a time for his work, he would never ask to speak to the children on the phone. Even when I would try to put him on the phone with the children he would say “No, they don’t make any sense when they are put on the phone anyway.” However, now that we have left him, he INSISTS to talk to the children EVERY single day. Interesting that he never cared before, but now that he has lost his power over me, he struggles to hold onto any bit of control he can grasp. He knows that it puts a crimp in my day to have to be available to put the children on the phone. He never says anything different to them, it is always “I miss you, I want to hug and kiss you.” Same old sayings the conversations lasts about 30 seconds. Then when the children do try to speak, he just talks over the them and they get frustrated. They want to get away from him on the phone as fast as possible. It is sad and ridiculous.

Third, go through an intermediary as much as possible. Anyone who was once involved with a narcissist knows how disrupting their communications can be whether text, email or phone. So, it is greatly recommended that you use any means possible to limit these stressful interactions. One resource out there that is helpful regarding child visitation schedules is an online calendar. These are nice so that you don’t have to have gratuitous contact with your narcissist when setting up visitation. A few examples of online calendars include Custody Junction, and Our Family Wizard. In addition, it can be used as a tool to help keep track of your narcissists actions and in-actions.

Fourth, stop caring about what the narcissist says. Easier said than done, I know. But now that I am equipped with knowledge of how a narcissist operates, I am much more resilient to his disparaging comments. I don’t play into his petty, pathetic hands anymore. If he gets out of line when calling to talk to the children, I just say something cryptic like “I am not going to hear this, this doesn’t concern the children” and I hang up the phone. It is actually quite liberating!

In a nutshell, going no contact with your narcissist is not a luxury afforded to those who have children with one. However, there are numerous ways to limit that contact by elongating that chain that binds us to them. With a few changes, a cast iron spirit and a strong support system, facing our future free of emotional abuse is a beautiful prospect. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Top 13 Signs that you are in an Abusive Relationship with a Narcissist

1-You find yourself constantly making excuses to friends and family for him and his behavior. That is what I did. When my parents or friends would question me about my narcissist’s statements or actions, I would find myself always trying to explain away the reason behind it. He could never interact in a normal way with my dearest loved ones. He seemed distant, but would be overbearing and dominate the conversations if it was on a topic that he liked. My mom would try to be nice and ask him questions and his eyes would glaze over and he would act if he didn’t hear her and walk away. (If I was not present that is, otherwise he was on good behavior) I found myself saying things like, “Oh he is just sensitive about that topic.” or “He just loves me and wants to spend a lot of time with me.” or even “He works hard and he is worn out, he is stressed.”

2-You don’t see friends and family much anymore because it is easier not to, since he will ruin your time with them anyway. So you stop going to avoid his guilt trips, or he sucks the fun out of it if you do go. My narcissist would make if feel like he was sacrificing so much by going to visit my parents, a few times a year if that. He would give me glaring faces if he felt annoyed there. He would give me the silent treatment when we were alone in a room together when there, or he would accuse me or my family of making statements to “upset him.” He would ask me things like “Why did you mom say so many nice things about your cousin‘s husband? I think she likes him more than me, maybe your parents would rather you be with him instead.” Crazy talk!!! Then I would have to spend the rest of the trip there trying to reassure him that my parents did like him, and that he was reading into their statements too much. They were nothing but wonderful to him, my mom would even spend hours cooking fancy meals just because my narcissist liked particular dishes. But he still saw them as an enemy. They just wanted to spend some time with me, and he resented that. He wanted me all to himself.

3-You find that you are becoming a super sleuth. You are hungry for information on why your partner is behaving so erratically. You research online, go to the library for books on personality disorders, reading people’s blogs for clues that could help you understand what you are dealing with. In my case, I could not put my finger on it until one phone conversation with my mom. She said she thought my partner was a narcissist. I did not even know that that meant, besides loving oneself too much. Boy, the next thing I did was Google Narcissist Personality Disorder, and my life was changed forever. I finally discovered what it was that was so vile in my relationship. It saved my life.

4-You find yourself constantly questioning yourself “What did I do that offended him so badly? Am I really such a bad person?”

5-You are shocked and rendered tongue tied during arguments with your partner because he turns it around on you and he always ends up the victim and you apologizing to him. Narcissists are so good at this manipulation because they remember every little thing you tell them and store it in a mental tally and use it when they need to get one over you. It is not a way to play fair, but it is what they excel at.

6-Your “gut” doesn’t feel right. Something about him doesn’t set right with you but you cannot put your finger on it because he has too many other good traits that you weigh more heavily in his favor. This is because you are an “empath” a person with highly empathetic tendencies, you give people second chances or figure that he will “get better” the longer you are together. However, it never gets better, it just gets worse. Mistrust is embedded in the narcissists code. I swear, my narcissist also had the markers of Paranoid Personality Disorder.

7-You feel like maybe you are too “negative” or not “grateful” or that maybe the problem in your relationship is actually you! This is a hallmark of how narcissists make their victim feel. Because the narcissist honestly believes he is the superior, perfect mate, how could anything be his fault? Therefore, it must be yours. Don’t fall for it.

8-You keep thinking to yourself that things will get better if… you just move to a different house, state, job. These are all just distractions.

9-You hide (or lose) parts of yourself that they don’t approve of. Over time you find that you have lost so much of yourself that you don’t even recognize yourself and feel empty inside. You lose confidence to make even the smallest decision without their input.

10-You walk on eggshells (more like shards of glass) that are littered with landmines. No matter how carefully you tiptoe, you are bound to trigger an explosion sooner or later, usually when you least expect it.

11-You have been absorbed by your partner. Your partner wants you to be his family, his friend, his lover his everything, but does not want to share you with anyone. You have become so isolated from friends and family and hobbies and yourself that you cannot function happily. Even when we visited my family, if I did not sit next to him on the couch he became indignant and furious with me when we went to bed that night. He was so upset by it and couldn’t understand why my parents would want to sit next to me instead of him. I told him that he was crazy. I only see my parents a few times a year because my husband moved me so far away from them. He expects unreasonable closeness in all circumstances. It is suffocating.

12-You become anxious and nervous in the presence of others while around him. You don’t want other people to see him for what a vile person he is, so you overcompensate with attention towards him in the presence of others to keep him under control. Because if he feels like he is not the center of your attention, he will either act out, whether people are around or not. Or he will make your life a living hell with silent treatment or rages when you are finally alone together.

13-You can’t do anything right. You never win an argument. You are always the loser in the blame game. When he loses something, it is your fault, when anything does not go his way, it is your fault. Need I elaborate?

So, if you are experiencing any of these feelings, please open you eyes and trust your gut and leave your narcissist relationship. It is not healthy. It does kill you slowly, body and soul. Gather strength, knowledge and courage and save yourself. I am so thankful that I did. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, and I am still in the process of a divorce with children, but I have faith and hope that I will make it… one day at a time.