Woh... Staying? Yes, you read that right.
There is SO much information out there for why you should leave a narcissist... but there is almost nothing for staying.
"Why on earth would you stay?" you ask?
Honestly... the majority of people do stay... so I would be doing the masses a disservice not to talk about it. Thanks to the work and advice of Dr. Ramani, the world's leading Narcissism Expert, I have learned some really great tips for staying with your narcissist and we can talk about the different reasons why you would.
First of all, I am not advising anyone to stay in a toxic relationship or marriage by any means. This is strictly to speak to the people who feel as though they literally can't leave. They don't have a job, no place to go, no support system, they are scared of what he/she might do to them or someone else if they leave, they are scared that the kids would be with them 50% of the time without an advocate, or they just down-right love them and they can't imagine having to start over again in the dating world with kids, or maybe they don't have kids and they're afraid that everyone else would be divorced with their own kids and they just aren't ready for that. Whatever their reason is, it's probably a really good one.
For those of you that know what I'm talking about, don't let anyone tell you your reasons aren't very valid. They don't know how scary it is to leave something like this if they haven't lived it, and Post-Separation Abuse is NO JOKE! You know what is best for you deep in your gut, and when your gut gets LOUD enough... you'll leave no matter what! But until then, you have time. Feel it out and trust yourself and in the mean time, here are my 4 tips for staying.
You have to know that you will NOT have your needs met by your partner. It isn't going to happen because they are incapable of love or connection. Even if they wanted to love you and connect with you, they don't even know how. So you'll need to find friends, hobbies, and distractions that keep you fulfilled, connected and feeling loved. Your partner won't like you doing new things or hanging out with new people, so you'll need to love on them a Iot! Give them compliments and attention when they are around so they feel more validated. They will still be upset and as long as they aren't physical, you have to learn to just let them be mad. I chose that picture for a reason. There is "deadness" or "emptiness" all around her, but her dress and the warmth of her skin brings light and joy! Be your own beautiful artwork in the center of your own canvas! And it doesn't matter who appreciates it! Just you :)
You must be very solid in your own self value. Make sure you know exactly who you are, and do not take any of the criticism from the narcissist personal. Period. The narcissists view of you constantly changes to accommodate his/her lifestyle, needs and comfortability. None of it is true and most of it is a projection of their own fears and insecurities. A narcissists accusation is really a confession. That's why you never feel good enough. Because the bar keeps changing. You are expected to know what they need or want before they do! Impossible! So, you'll need a Reclaim Journal ;) This will help you get to know yourself again and find out exactly who you are on a deeper level, which will give you the confidence to brush off anything that is said by the narcissist, because you know the truth without a doubt. And it's important to be around others who know that truth as well, which is where the friends, hobbies and support group come in. And find someone to talk to that is going through the same thing. You'll need someone to speak to that won't judge you and tell you to leave. You have to stop talking about your struggles if you decide to stay or you will drive everyone away. Not because they don't love you, but because they do and they don't want to see you struggle. It hurts them too.
DO NOT STAY FOR THE KIDS! You have to stay for YOU! If you stay for your kids, they will know and see that, and they will carry the burden that it was their fault that you stayed for the rest of their lives. If you are staying it has to be for you and you alone. If you love the narcissistic person, have fun with them, laugh with them, or maybe enjoy intimacy with them, then you might be able to justify the good times as worth staying for. The bad times may be just a few here and there. But make sure you don't put this decision's weight on the kids at all. That's not fair to them and they will suffer from it. If you are worried about what will happen if your partner gets 50% custody, don't. Because although it will be hard at the narcissist's house, the kids will be completely safe and relieved at yours. They will go from tiptoeing all of the time at your house if you are together, to only half the time if you are apart. And when they are with you, they will be able to give their bodies a break from the constant anxiety and stress. I know it's hard, but this is so incredibly true. Again, I am not giving advice, just perspective, and this perspective was given by Dr. Ramani in her podcast and it is so genius! I've witnessed this myself and you can literally see the kids' spirits settling into safety.
Give it time. You don't have to decide right now. You will KNOW when or if it is time to go. I truly planned on staying until the kids were out of school. I had no plans to divorce before then because I knew that he would abuse me more emotionally and possibly physically if I left than if I stayed, and I wanted to be there to advocate for the kids. But I drew a HARD line in the sand and I always said if there was ever a bruise, it would be my train ticket out of there. I should have been more specific because the bruise did not end up on me, which is what I was imagining. It ended up on my baby. That was absolutely it for me and I couldn't stay another second. I got out of there within 5 days and started making arrangements (scared shitless) for how the hell I was going to take care of all of us AND afford to live in this Colorado mess of an economy. I'm still figuring that out to this day, but it was worth all of the chaos to get them and myself to safety. The nice thing about a narcissistic person is that their reputation is their most prized possession! Just the fact that I left has changed the discipline behavior immensely on both our parts! Now, the kids don't get spankings like that at all, because both of us know it takes one bruise, and one phone call and we will have them stripped away! Talk about accountability!
So basically I'm saying this... the key to living successfully with a narcissistic partner is to fall in love with YOURSELF! All you need them for is fun. Get financially, emotionally, physically and spiritually independent from them and basically just date them again, knowing that YOU are the catch ;)
If you do have questions about whether or not you are in an abusive relationship and you would like to start planning the next steps to leave, you can call the closest Womens shelter or the domestic abuse hotline and start making a plan.
I love you all, Sweet Sparkly Sisters.
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And check out the podcast if you want to listen to me talk about this real time in my own words. It's actually the best episode yet!
Shattered to Unbreakable podcast on Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart Radio and more! You can also listen to it here on the website. Just go to the homepage or the Podcast tab!
Check it out today!