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Life after the Narcissist

#4 Things I shouldn’t have tolerated, in no particular order

This one has a happy ending. We just have to navigate through the inbetween bit first.

In some ways, this is the hardest part of the whole process of being in a relationship with a narcissist. Finally being free. But what does freedom mean?

If, like me, you were trapped for many, many years, then you have probably come to believe that you cannot possibly live without him. I know that lots of women report that they loved him too much, he was their whole world and they couldn’t picture a life without him. Perhaps I am in the minority here, but I did not stay trapped by the pretence of love. For me it was a false sense of responsibility. I remember when I spoke to the police about some of the things he had done to me, the only way I could describe it was that it was like reporting my own child, that ache to protect him was so powerful.

It was not love that made me unable to see a life without him. It was simply that I had made a commitment to myself to tolerate him forever. In exactly those words. For some bizarre, twisted reason I felt like he was my responsibility, and his secrets were mine to keep. If you’ve read any of my previous posts on this topic I talk a bit about feeling complicit in his wrong doings.

Life after he is gone is about unraveling those dreadful misconceptions we’ve been living with for too long. It’s about discovering ourselves and our power once again.

In my experience you will only ever be free if you can remove him from your life entirely. I know that might sound impossible right now, especially if you are freshly free. Perhaps he still texts you, perhaps you have children together, maybe he just wants to be friends. He’s probably confessing his heartfelt apologies and expressing his eternal love one moment and then calling you awful names and screaming at you the next. He is trying to drag you back into the cycle.

For me, he forced my hand. Harassment and stalking, driving me insane and trying to impose new rules on me from a distance, tracking my whereabouts and turning up unannounced. Waiting on the street corner. Putting his foot in the door when I tried to shut him out. Screaming at me, shouting at me, stalking me at work. I found the strength to speak to the police. After that it was a snowball of activity to the courtroom where he was served with a non-molestation order. He could no longer come near me or my workplace.

I don’t consider that day the day I became free, although technically I was. If you’ve been with a narcissist then you know what I mean when I say they become woven into you. Into every part of you.

I would walk down the street watching the ground and avoiding the eyes of strangers, I would micromanage and stress about the housework and routines. I would obsess over finances, standing at my calendar and calculating my outgoings over and over and over again until I felt like my brain was going to dribble out of my ears. I would lie awake at night reliving the terrible things he had done and chasing my thoughts around. Someone would close a door too hard and I would flinch, recognising that as a sound of danger. Someone would innocently touch me in the workplace on my arm or offer a hug and I would freeze, wanting to recoil at the offer but unable to understand or enforce my own boundaries.

Freedom doesn’t come for a while. But I promise you it will come.

Out of his shadow you will tentatively step into the light. You will find joy in choosing your next meal, you will start to lift your head as you walk down the street and you won’t be afraid of those strangers unreadable faces. You will buy yourself a new pair of shoes and you won’t have to justify it or hide them until they don’t look new anymore. You will look at your calendar and know all the bills are taken care of. You will find yourself in all the million little things that used to be such a big deal, but really aren’t.

Freedom from the narcissist is a billion new beginnings, from the menial to the huge. From getting to choose what to watch on the TV to following your own career dreams.

I cannot advocate enough that you should cut all contact. Perhaps you can’t get a restraining order, but you can choose who you let destroy your peace. Block, rinse and repeat. Rip out every contact from your social media linked to him who could be spying for him. Post what you want to post, speak what you want to speak and live how you want to live.

You deserve the world, and the world is waiting for you.

© Emma Stead


5 responses to “Life after the Narcissist”

  1. I’ve been free from my narcissist for 12 years now, but so much of what you write, I felt. It wasn’t bad enough for a restraining order, but I did cut off all contact with him. He’s tried to contact me over the years, but I simply won’t go back to that 30 year marriage of emotional abuse. Being naive and co-dependent, I also made a commitment and kept his secrets for far too long. It was finally the realization that he would never change and probably drag me down into depression and darkness that gave me the courage to leave. Better late than never. It’s so easy to see now how much I should not have put up with, but that’s because I’m on the other side, never regretting for one second the path I took to happiness. I’m glad you took that path too and I hope your life going forward is nothing but joyous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love hearing from other empowered women who have found happiness after darkness, thank you for your comment. Every decision I make now is for myself (and obviously my children), I am still surprised by my own freedom sometimes, by the peace that everyday brings.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on My Blog and commented:
    Hi Emma

    Thanks for another follow(s) and/or the ‘likes’

    IF you want to go on a journey (destination unknown), you can follow me. Thanks and enjoy the trip.

    happy travelling
    “early bird (very) Sleepy-head” craig (here in “Sleepy Hollow”)
    “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”
    – Robert Louis Stevenson + my third book ‘Here, There and Everywhere’

    “Do not go where the path may lead. Go where there is no path and leave a trail”
    of CHAOS?? (at least in the “real world” and hopefully NOT cyberspace too)

    “Mr going nowhere (fast) man”


    Don’t worry about the world ending today…its already tomorrow in scenic and tranquil ‘little’ New Zealand

    Liked by 1 person

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