Our meeting felt fated.
I felt him coming into my life, like a train arriving right on time. I anticipated his arrival. In the flesh, it felt as if he was created especially for me.
We met in a beautiful place, spent days playing under sunny skies on golden beaches, sharing pieces of ourselves, and basking in the glow of each other.
I had literally drawn this man to me, manifesting him on a piece of paper on the flight over—a day before I met him, so it had to be right. Right?
Months later, awash with every emotion, my heart attempted to unravel the pain he had so carefully placed in her chambers. The man who once held my heart so tenderly, gazing at me as though I held the key to the Universe, had slaughtered my heart with complete apathy, and then sauntered off.
Off he went to conquer and capture his new victim. His work here was done.
While I dealt with my own pain by fleeing the scene of the murder—he skipped off into the sunset with a new woman. I lay in a burning hell, and he was creating a new version of heaven with another willing target.
When it comes to loving a narcissist, there is no “normal” breakup. This is a breakdown, a breakaway, and a breakthrough.
Part One: The Midas Touch
In the beginning, he was the one who came to save me. He preyed on my gaping inner unresolved wounds of abandonment and my inner programs looping on repeat, screaming, “You’re not worthy!”
He lured me in quickly and deeply. Before I knew it, I was madly in love with someone I barely knew. Suddenly, the thought of living without him seemed inconceivable. However, I soon found that my soulmate did not exist inside this charming new love interest. It was all just a facade designed to bait, hook, and destroy me.
It disguises itself as love. But, looking back on the experience, you painfully realize how covert abuse insidiously creeps in and erodes your sense of “self.” The entire relationship is predicated on one giant lie. They are a facade—a fake. And, even after you leave, you’ll have to come to terms with the fact that none of it was real. This is not your Prince Charming, but rather your Prince Harming.
It is suggested by many that a psychopath does not possess a soul. They are empty shells—soulless, yet they walk around pretending to be just like us. They are programmed to seek out prey, fill up their bottomless egos, and discard.
My narcissist showered me with non-stop flattery, gifts, and praise. I believed I was special and swiftly trusted my abuser, handing over my deepest insecurities, wounds, and scars. Of course, he later used this information against me, reopening the internal wounds of his prey and rendering me helpless.
He wrote me poems nearly every day, sent me flowers, exclaimed how grateful he was to have me in his life. He showed me off to important people in his life. He called me his soulmate the very day we met, asked me where I had been all his life, all within hours of meeting me.
Our bond felt surreal, magical, and unbreakable. There were moments where I truly felt as though the heavens had opened for me—finally letting love in. He mirrored my deepest desires—not yet projecting all his fears onto me—that would happen much later. For the first few months, our love felt meant to be, and he wrapped me in love and adoration.
During the devaluing phase my fall from grace began.
What we don’t realize when this happens is that this fall was inevitable from the start.
We can’t win with a narcissist. They constantly switch up the goal they require us to reach to fill them up. We’re left jumping, but—never high enough.
Those of us who allow narcissists into our lives often have wounds of abandonment, worthiness, and shame. So, the narcissist will leave us at our most vulnerable. Can you see yet how they’re here to wake us up?
Not everyone is capable of loving you at your most. Forgive them for their trespassing, for they simply wandered into your heart, seeking all the love they couldn’t give. Can you blame them? Your heart is a minefield of diamonds. They thought they’d come home.
I remember standing on top of a mountain in a foreign country a few months before it all fell apart—my love a few feet away. I sensed the inevitable was coming. One of my feet slipped, nature mirroring what I already knew: I was on shaky ground in this love.
I knew deep down in my soul something was amiss in our relationship. When we got back home things continued falling apart. They were actually coming into clarity, but this would take many tears and months to realize, and my heart grew ever more weary.
I died a little inside each passing day as I watched my dreams fade into the mist. I was so mad and sad at the same time. I hated him for who he’d become, but I also still loved him for who he was.
We walked through miles of mist that day until we found a clearing and these incredible natural hot springs. It’s only now that I realize the metaphor nature was quietly delivering to me: the rose-colored misty glasses had fallen off, and everything I thought I knew, was a lie. I was face-to-face with myself. I was raw. Through the fog I found the clearing, and through the clearing, I came home to myself.
It was myself I was seeking all along.
I glanced at him, so much love in my heart still, and I started to let him go.
Tears rolled down my cheeks…but he couldn’t see. He hadn’t been sent to love me unconditionally. He had been sent to me to teach me how to love myself unconditionally. His messages delivered through seeds of pain planted inside the love I felt for him.
When we got back home, our love further disintegrated. He grew ever more distant, and I fell quiet and subdued—silent acceptance of the fate befalling me.
Part Two: Phoenix Rising
“This fire will not burn you. It will only burn what you are not.” ~ Mooji
Every breath asked me to let go of the illusion and place myself firmly in reality. And, every step was painful. It was as if I was walking on my crumbling past and being forced to watch the pieces vanish into nothingness. Were the past six months even real?
During the second stage of narcissistic abuse, you will feel lifeless, detached from joy. This is the calculated result of the narcissist planting seeds of doubt and uncertainty—breeding copious amounts of anxiety.
All of this is part of the narcissist’s plan to get us exactly where they need us: reliant on them for love, adoration, and worthiness. We signed an invisible contract binding us to them and their sticky web leaves us feeling worthless and unloved.
Most victims blame themselves for the deterioration of the relationship, as the cunning actions of their disordered partner are so stealthy they are often times barely recognizable to even the most intuitive partner. Make no mistake about it, this relationship never had a chance in hell, but the abuser will have us believe it was all our fault.
Your abuser will fill your wounds with rocks and sand. Mine wanted nothing more than to see me in as much pain as possible. He will gladly empty you as he fills himself. Each drop strengthening him and weakening you and your resolve to leave for good. The pain is your addiction; the abuser your supplier.
The pain leaves us shell-shocked and comes in waves. It floods us with immense and intense periods of grief. Upon leaving a relationship with a narcissist, we grieve three separate deaths: the death of the person we fell in love with who never existed, the death of the dreams they sold us, and the loss of our innocence.
This grief is unlike typical heartache; it sinks deeper and insidiously poisons our outlook on the world. We go through a period where we don’t trust anyone, including ourselves. Especially ourselves. Hold tight, you’re right where you need to be.
“How did I allow myself to become enmeshed in such a soul-crushing experience?” will come up over and over.
It will feel as though your skin is on fire. Memories will bring physical sensations to the surface. Scream, let it all out. Take a stick and wail on the ground. Your primal body will rise to the occasion to help release stuck pain.
I left him abruptly. Inside my gut, I had a knowing there was another woman already, waiting to take my place. I was incapacitated with grief and confusion despite the physical strength I was displaying by leaving. Two weeks after I moved out, she was introduced onto his social media—the new love of his life had taken her spot front and center—and I was yesterday’s trash. Even my photos had been erased.
I was replaced just like that. The knife continued to cut even after his physical presence was removed from my life. Narcissistic abuse will do that.
The wildest truth in all this? I had done nothing but love and support this man. He was hurting me just to hurt me—not as an act of revenge. The dagger heavy from all the blood of the women he’d hurt before me, this final blow threatened to take me down…but, it didn’t.
Part Three: Coming Home to Yourself
It’s not that you were never enough. It’s that you were too much.
Too much for someone who lacks their own sense of self to handle. When you show up as your whole, true self, a narcissist cannot stand in your shadow—they cease to exist without constant adoration. A powerful being annihilates the narcissist who feels as though they’re literally dying.
Nevertheless, this recovery will ask for nothing less than your embodied attention, presence, and energy. Whatever doubts you have about your strength as a human to heal and rise will evaporate.
There is something I want you to know, however, and it will alter the course of your path forever: this pain has always been yours, you’ve just buried it deep in the cracks and crevices of your skin and bones. This heartbreak is a portal toward true self.
For me, the healing began when I decided it was time to own this pain—my pain.
You see, this soulless lover was brought to us so we could step fully into who we came here to be. A painful lesson indeed, but a crucial one. This pain, and the subsequent healing, will cause you to stretch and grow in ways you never would have had it not come and sat on your heart.
The heart expands with pain if we can just breathe into the space it creates. Bit by bit we will uncover the gift brought to us by this monster. Heartbreak softens us, cracks us wide open, revealing the most intimate expression of love: vulnerability.
What beauty there is in sitting in the darkness—dancing with our shadows. The treasures we find in pain far outweigh the pain itself. Pain is just a messenger.
But, how do we trust ourselves again? How do we trust others? More importantly even, how do we trust life itself not to smear our bloody, broken hearts on pathways lit by those hearts who’ve gone before us trying to love the unlovables?
We begin by trusting the emotional current that accompanies heartbreak: the anger, the sadness, the fear, the loneliness. And we sit in it. We don’t turn our face away from the pain, but rather we turn toward it.
In time, we come to terms with the fact that the experience was not real love, and that our lover, was in fact, our abuser. Take time to honor this stage, as it is a crucial part of acceptance and moving on. Being honest with myself about the abuse I experienced at the hands of someone I thought was the love of my life was hard. Really hard. Even harder was admitting to myself that he was never the person he portrayed himself to be—rather he was an illusion. It was never real. They all wear convincing masks.
I did lots of work on my inner wounds of abandonment and not being enough. I created boundaries to protect myself in relationships, and I began a dialogue with my inner child who had never felt like she was enough. As a child who had an emotionally absent father, I learned I sought love from men who could never give it, trying to replay my childhood to create a different outcome. All along, what I was seeking was my own validation and love. I needed to believe I was worthy of love.
I now know I am and was always enough. I seek fulfilment rather than happiness. Happiness is fleeting and comes from external sources. Fulfilment is lasting, and fills us up from deep within. Fulfilment says, “I am whole as I am.”
When the pain of this particular type of breakup hits us, we can no longer ignore our truths, for their volume increases. It gets deeply uncomfortable to stay where we were. This particular heartache was brought to us in order to awaken us to. This person is helping us break free from limiting beliefs of not being enough.
This ultimate deception invites us into a state of pure worthiness. Can we accept that we are worthy of love?
The true self will respond to any lingering doubts about our worthiness with a ferocity we’ve never heard. “I’m here,” she says, “I never left you. You buried me beneath fears about not being enough for this world. The truth is, you’ve always been enough.”
The true self asks you to trust that darkness is an intimate friend brought here to teach us how to love harder, feel more deeply, and most of all bring us back in touch with our innate capacity to feed ourselves the love we seek from others.
We are walking ever closer towards ourselves, planting roots in a safer place than before. Our internal GPS will guide us back home to the only home we ever had: ourselves. You, my dear star, are strength embodied.
Now, come home to you.
You are the strength of a hundred seas. You will surrender to the process of healing and let it wash over you, the salt from the ocean of tears gliding over your wounds and cleansing them. Welcome to your new life.
The view is stunning.
Author: Sarah Martin
Image: Kaan Oruc/Unsplash
Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Copy Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Social Editor: Khara Jade Warren