Breaking Up With An Abusive Narcissist Isn't Easy — Even For America

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Breaking up with a narcissist can leave you with trauma that takes years to disappear. And that trauma can be triggered again when you least expect it.

As I watched America suffer a devastating attack on the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6th, live on T.V., a wave of my own traumatic memories returned.

I initiated the breakup from my ex after eight years of marriage. Yet, the signature narcissistic control and manipulation continued for years because of my fear.

Narcissistic abuse syndrome is a real thing.

More than two years after the divorce and numerous other upsetting incidents, I found myself driving down the interstate from my home to my parents' one peaceful Sunday afternoon when my ex's car appeared in my rearview mirror.

After an intense encounter on the road, I found myself, my child, my boyfriend, and my parents in a lockdown of our own. I tried to disguise my panic from my son while I hid him and called 911.

This would not be the first time my ex had become dangerously erratic. He had verbally threatened me before. He had left disturbing voicemails before and his rhetoric had been increasingly volatile over time.

He demanded that we were still a family, that I could not make it without him, and that if he couldn’t have me, no one could. Sounds familiar?

RELATED: America, You Need Therapy

Breaking up with a narcissist isn't easy.

Like all who deal with narcissists, the fear of their inability to accept and deal with consequences is what protects them from facing any of their own.

A narcissist's goal is always to keep or regain control over you. They use intimidation, coercion, lies, force, fear tactics, and even threats to harm themselves or others solely to create guilt and terror in you and keep you "in" the relationship.

You may then comply out of fear while they delight in confidence that they still "own" you.

A narcissist is an intelligent and strong-willed predator who seeks a vulnerable victim.

Narcissism knows no geographical, socio-economical, or political boundaries. It's a personality disorder observational in diagnosis and doesn’t take a Ph.D. to recognize in the most blatant of displays.

Even Lady Liberty was unable to escape falling prey to an intimate relationship with one, married him, and is now facing the aftermath of the breakup.

And while the victim may also be intelligent, they have an easily identified weakness and, therefore, are easily preyed upon.

In my case, I had an unhealed wound. My heart was still broken from a previous relationship — and the narcissist knew it. He knew that my broken heart had left me feeling "less than" in many ways.

My self-esteem and confidence had taken a huge blow and he knew what I "needed" to hear. And it's in the "needing" that a narcissist finds a target.

"He was an idiot to let you go."

"You're so much prettier than she is."

"You're my dream girl."

The emotional power of words, the whirlwind of attention and gifts, the rush to put a ring on it, and the push to the altar. The courtship matched the words — until it didn’t.

For America, her heartland was hurting for manufacturing jobs, her Southern border weak, and ignored populations found an attentive partner who said what she needed to hear.

"I’m going to be the greatest president God ever created."

"I’ll build a great, great wall on our Southern border… and have Mexico pay for that wall."

"I’ll make America great again — and strong again, as it has become too weak."

America became enamored with her narcissistic courter.

Although some warned her, she married him anyway. His words were so empowering, so fulfilling!

But, the honeymoon would end with broken promises, excuses, and a long list of hateful words and fall guys.

Like the spouse who has awakened to the emotionally abusive nature of the relationship and decides to end it, America made a decision by both popular and electoral vote last November to break up with its President of four years.

And, some elected officials have done the same.

However, there are some who seem to still excuse and enable just like the emotionally abused spouse of a narcissist.

The power of a narcissist to distort the truth.

Narcissists fight to have others believe everything is incredible looking in from the outside. When you're on the inside, you may question something, but somehow are always convinced you were wrong and he was always right.

Now that the impeachment trial has taken place and 43 Senators did not hold America’s narcissist ex accountable, you may wonder how they are being courted — or intimidated — to keep them loyal.

"I have to stay! I could lose my job."

"I have to stay! He has threatened to ruin my personal life with what he knows about me."

"I can’t handle his wrath as others have. It’s easier to be for him than against him."

I learned a lot through my experience in being in an intimate relationship with a narcissist and the perils in breaking it off.

"I have to stay! I could lose custody of my child."

"I have to stay! I don’t make enough money to keep the house."

"I can’t handle his threats; it’s better to stay than to worry about what he might do if I leave."

RELATED: How A Narcissist Thinks (Warning: It's Pretty Messed Up)

This is not a political essay.

This is a non-partisan behavioral observation parallel between what has happened in America and has triggered traumatic memories in myself and many who have been in intimate and even professional relationships with narcissists.

The Republicans chose a candidate described to have characteristics of narcissism whose behavior was excused. He spoke to the pain points of many hurting people, and America "married" him, though part of her was wary.

During America’s marriage, she saw the "love you today, hate you tomorrow" patterns of a narcissist. America experienced the "I was only kidding" coverup patterns of the narcissist.

She listened as careless words were spun as gold, and she was left in a cloud of confusion, questioning herself, her very values, her intelligence, and what she thought she knew before.

America saw many of the "promises" in the courtship not come to fruition. She heard "blame" when they did not and saw someone fall each and every time. So, it couldn’t be his fault, right?

She could continue to defend him as he always gave her reason to do so. She would fight his fights, destroy his enemies, cross her own lines, do his crime and serve his time.

After all, she was loyal to him, right? He was hers, and she, his — to the end, right?

Until, enough of America said, enough. America broke up with him, spinning textbook narcissistic responses.

Blame. Entitlement. Rage. Stalking. Flattery. Criticism. Demanding. Patronizing. Threats. Love. Hate. Aggression. Punish. Control. Betrayal. Oppression. Pressure, pressure, pressure.

It takes courage — action despite fear — and being very clear on who you are and what you stand for. If not, you will indeed fall for anything or anyone and succumb to their power plays.

What do you do if you're in a relationship with a narcissist?

First, admit it. Recognize it. Nothing changes without having awareness. Then, it becomes a choice to no longer be led astray from your thoughts, values, feelings, truth, beliefs, and freedom.

That choice takes courage, determination, and tough skin as you may be confronted and confused again.

Like America who broke up with her narcissist, you may find you are at times still charmed and courted, while at other times you are disregarded and condemned.

It’s your life. Take ownership of it. God gave you the deed to your mind, heart, body, and soul. Don’t give it away to anyone. And, certainly, guard it against an abuser.

Get professional help to guide you through the overwhelm, fear, and self-doubt that has prevailed in the relationship and is certain to try to sabotage your effort to leave it now.

RELATED: 3 Disturbing PTSD Symptoms That Surface In Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

Ann Papayoti, PCC, is a life, leadership, and relationship coach, speaker, and co-author of The Gift of Shift, dedicated to waking people up to living their best life now. Learn more about and connect with Ann at SkyView Coaching.​