Once a narcissistic relationship finally ends and you find yourself ready to break the pattern of attracting addictive and dysfunctional relationships and put them behind you for good, there are a multitude of emotions to process that go back and forth in a relentless cycle. Hurt, anger, rejection, dejection, numbness, emptiness and detachment.
The anger can be extreme and shock us. We don’t want to believe we are even capable of feeling such fury towards someone we loved - anger that at times feels like it is bordering on hatred. How can we possibly feel such negative and destructive emotions? To a degree, the anger is a protection mechanism to help us cope – it gives us something to hold on to in order to stop us drowning in the grief. We clutch to the anger as if to a life-raft. All too often we can start directing the anger at ourselves for staying and putting up with the abuse for so long, even though addiction is a very real thing and until we are ready to break a cycle or dysfunctional pattern, we will continue to repeat the same patterns again and again. We must be gentle and patient with ourselves as we start to uncover the reasons we stayed and this is going to take time and a lot of processing. After a while the intensity of the seesaw between anger and grief becomes too much and we may switch off emotionally for a while, becoming numb and empty. The grief and hurt becomes too much and as a result of that we start to feel robotic and emotionless, as if we don’t care about anything. Part of feeling so detached during this ‘flat’ cycle is due to the sheer intensity of all the other emotions we are experiencing – it becomes necessary to shut down for a time.
Perhaps by experiencing this hurt, anger and subsequent empty, emotionless space, we can start to understand the narcissist’s lack of empathy and emotion a little better. Perhaps it can help us find compassion and understanding for the cold behavior, and give us an insight into how deeply hurt this person must have been at some point in his life to have become the way they are now. We are not excusing the narcissist’s hurtful behavior but considering that there may be an underlying cause behind it which is not too dissimilar to what we are now experiencing. And by understanding that, there may come a point in the future where we can start to forgive.
He behaved a certain way out of deep psychological damage and unhappiness, which was in turn projected onto everyone around him in order to cope. This then became an ongoing behavioral pattern and part of his psychological makeup. Be careful not to make the same mistake, shutting yourself down emotionally and becoming cold and unforgiving. Allow yourself to feel the grief and anger as it comes up. Acknowledge what you’re feeling so that you can witness it and release it. In time it will get better. You have a choice; you can choose bitterness, anger and blame which keeps you stuck in the past, or work on compassion and forgiveness, for yourself and your mistakes, as well as for his, which allows you to move forward in your life. This does not mean we need to compromise ourselves by putting up with unkind behavior any longer but simply that we send love, compassion and forgiveness to those who have harmed us. Then we take the lessons we have learned from this relationship about self-love, self-honor and setting strong boundaries and we move forward into a happier and healthier life.