There is no shame if you just want answers.
Today I have insight for a reader who's hurting after her breakup with her toxic, narcissistic ex.
I had a real bummer of a 4 year relationship with my narcissistic ex-husband. He did all of the things that you listed in your article. Our relationship started out with a lot of charisma on his part, but ended with him trying to destroy my reputation with our mutual friends and family behind my back while planning on leaving me.
I knew things were bad but I was blind-sided when he left. He divorced me fast for a woman much younger than I am and I hear through the grapevine that he's blissfully happy with her. I'm still struggling to understand what happened. I can't help but to wonder a few things that I know he'll never give me answers to.
I wonder did he ever really, truly love me like I was sure I felt in the beginning? Does he really love his new girlfriend? Will he be happier with her in the long run? From the outside looking in, it sure seems like he was able to mend his ways.
-A reader who wishes to remain anonymous (I'm going to call her Sally).
Wow Sally, I'm so sorry that you're going through that. I wish I had a magic wand to make your pain go away.
First I have to mention something that I think a lot of people miss when they're thinking back about an ex that really hurt them and comparing their relationship to their exes new flame. Whether he's truly got a personality disorder or he's a garden variety malignant jerk, what matters is how he treated YOU.
It matters how your relationship went off the rails. And from your message, it sounds like your relationship with him was horrible. It might have been decent to even amazing in the beginning, but isn't that true for 99% of all relationships?
Isn't that what gets us hooked in the first place? That feeling of buoyant happiness, lust and excitement where we can't think of anything else? Yup. Otherwise we wouldn't find ourselves so deliciously entangled in someone else's world. No one would wake up one day and wonder WTF happened for them to get there.
And therein lies the rub. You're seeing that fresh beginning that graces a relationship with someone new and every bit of it reminds you of what it was like when it was actually good between you and him.
The idea that someone else is getting that instead of you— it's gut wrenching. It doesn't help that in order to get through the bad times, you likely went through the memories of the good times over and over in your head like a talisman that you wished would protect you from the danger of the true realization that this situation was not at all how you pictured it would turn out to be.
You see, questions about new flames after abuse are really questions about whether or not there is something flawed about YOU and whether you could have gotten a different result by changing your behavior somehow.
Real, raw questions like:
- If I was someone else (like this new girlfriend of his), would this still have happened?
- Was it my fault that he abused me?
- What's wrong with me that he treated me this way?
- Did he just throw me away because I'm not ____(young, pretty, thin, enough of something...else)?
- If he's a narcissist, can we just get him therapy and cure him, and maybe turn back the clock to the good 'ole days?
And more like the ones that you asked me...you get the point. Being on the receiving end of narcissistic abuse doesn't say anything about YOUR character, but it says a lot about the abuser. Whether he really loved you or not is not the final word on whether or not you are lovable.
The bottom line is, the fact that he's moved on with someone else just means that he's chosen someone else to unleash his lackluster relationship skills on. You and I have no idea what is going on there, and frankly, it's none of our business.
Analyzing what he's doing with the new woman just keeps you stuck and thinking potentially ugly thoughts about yourself. He could be doing all sorts of bizarre behavior with her or he could be a perfect angel (for right now). It doesn't matter.
Believing that you did something to bring all of this on is simple victim blaming. It's a fruitless quest for control over what happened. Unfortunately this control isn't coming. All you can control is your choice to heal, move on, try to pick better next time and cherish the people in your life who truly treat you well.
Allow what he's doing now to remain deeply, completely, 100% irrelevant as long as he continues to stay far away from you. If you're feeling generous, toss out the occasional prayer that he isn't hurting anyone else.
Feel happy and safe with the simple knowledge that now you're free.
If you're suffering from a lot of crash and burn when it comes to your relationships, get it sorted out with a free copy of my book, Why Men Lose Interest and daily email series. It'll help you iron out the kinks and have that great relationship you've always wanted. Click here to get your copy now.
Elizabeth Stone is an author interested in detangling your biggest relationship issues.
This article was originally published at Digital Romance Inc. Reprinted with permission from the author.