In the aftermath of breaking free from a narcissist, it is imperative to adopt certain strategies to regain control of one’s life. The first and most effective tactic is establishing no contact, if possible. However, if complete separation is not feasible, limited contact and adopting the “grey rock” approach can be practised. By rising above the narcissist’s attempts to provoke a reaction and only responding when absolutely necessary, one can protect their well-being and energy. This entails avoiding engagement in arguments, observing rather than absorbing toxic behaviour, and focusing on personal growth and healing.
Unfortunately, the moment you break free from a narcissist, it may seem like chaos ensues. They initiate a relentless onslaught of mind games, constantly dragging you back into the past when all you desire is to move on. Throughout the relationship, the narcissist cunningly gathered knowledge about your vulnerabilities, insecurities, and strengths. Now, they seek to exploit these aspects in order to bring you down. They remember your emotional triggers, your pain, and your fears, and they will weaponise them against you.
When a narcissist seeks to regain control or take revenge, they will employ every tool at their disposal. As you have embarked upon a new, wiser, and stronger life without them, recognising the need to heal from trauma bonding, CPTSD, and anxiety, messages from the narcissist may start pouring in, even if you have blocked them through conventional means.
Initially, you might ponder whether you made a mistake by not meeting their expectations. It is important to understand that breaking free from a narcissist can be likened to the withdrawal from an extremely addictive drug. The more games they play, the more your mind becomes entangled in their web, wondering if they miss you or contemplating their next move.
If you have broken up with a narcissist in the past and attempted to maintain your freedom, you might notice a recurrent pattern of tantrums they resort to. The more you practice no contact and resist responding to their provocations, the more desperate and extreme their behaviour may become. Nevertheless, once they have exhausted all their tactics, they might circle back to the beginning.
Ultimately, the degree of harassment and torment one experiences after breaking free from a narcissist varies depending on the specific individual. Some narcissists may exhibit laziness and largely leave you alone, or those who have ample alternative sources, while others, may relentlessly seek to inflict harm. It is essential to remember that staying true to your commitment of moving forward and focusing on your own growth is crucial for maintaining a healthy and fulfilling life beyond the clutches of toxic individuals.
Strategies they employ to manipulate you:
1. Initiating a conversation by reminiscing about happy memories: They may send a message recalling a great time both of you shared together to evoke nostalgia and tug at your heartstrings. They may claim they miss you and emphasise how good you were together. It’s crucial to resist the urge to respond. However, if you do not reply, they might escalate their efforts by proclaiming that they’ve never felt such strong emotions for anyone else before. This might momentarily satisfy your desire for them to experience the same emotions you previously endured. Nonetheless, it also leads to confusion and makes you question if they genuinely care. Despite these tactics, it’s best to continue ignoring them. Eventually, you may decide to respond with a concise message stating that the relationship is over. Alternatively, you might explain why you haven’t responded, feeling compelled to be polite. At this point, the narcissist has achieved their goal of regaining contact with you, and they might use it as an opportunity to manipulate you further. They may start another round of pity plays by saying things like, “I can’t live without you,” “You promised to always love me,” or “I need you, let’s get back together.” These statements can trigger a greater emotional response from you, leading you to respond more extensively. By doing so, you unintentionally reveal that you still have feelings for them while acknowledging how much they have hurt you. The narcissist thrives on this information and will proceed to initiate a full-fledged conversation, pulling you right back into their toxic cycle. If nostalgic memories fail to have an impact, they may resort to pity plays or even fabricate illnesses, whether it’s about themselves, a family member, or the children. They will persistently try different tactics until they find one that captures your attention.
To fortify your resistance, document instances of abuse and negative experiences you endured during the relationship. Whenever you feel doubtful or tempted to respond, refer to this list and remind yourself of their manipulative nature. If you accidentally break the no-contact rule or respond, don’t dwell on the mistake. Instead, cease communication, resume no contact, and focus on your ability to succeed in maintaining distance this time.
2. The narcissist may claim to be the one who ended the relationship, which is likely not the first time you’ve broken up before. If you made the decision to end it this time, you might notice that the narcissist is spreading lies about how they left you and painting you as crazy. This can be hurtful, especially when you see their changing Facebook status and hear what others are saying. It can trigger your abandonment issues.
However, it’s important to stop and refocus instead of trying to prove your point. You know the truth, and there’s no need to engage in a tit-for-tat argument over who ended things. Though it may dent your pride and ego that you finally escaped, you need to concentrate on the fact that you’ve made it out and are now free. What others think or believe is not your concern; you must stay focused on your own truth. Remember that the most important thing is that you are out of that toxic relationship. Remember to block them on all social media.
3. Dealing with Emergencies and Narcissists
Beware of potential emergencies that narcissistic individuals may bring to you, as they often use crisis situations to exploit your empathy and willingness to help others. It’s important to be sceptical, as these emergencies might be entirely fabricated. Even if they are genuine, remember that you are not obligated to provide assistance, especially if you have already tried to help numerous times in the past without any positive results. It’s important to prioritise your own well-being.
Take a moment to reflect upon how many times this person has genuinely helped you with good intentions. Focus on personal growth and distance yourself from their manipulative games. When a narcissist promises to change, be cautious, as they are likely to only make temporary changes in order to draw you back into their control. Once you are back in their grip, they will blame you for their need to seek therapy, refusing to accept responsibility for their own actions. Narcissists rarely change themselves, instead altering their lies, manipulation tactics, or even their partners.
Remember, your own well-being is crucial. Focus on self-improvement and avoid getting entangled in the toxic dynamics of a narcissistic individual.
4. Abuse by proxy.
Abuse by proxy involves damaging your property, tarnishing your reputation, employing allies to target you, dragging you through court, changing your social media passwords, harming your loved ones, issuing threats, engaging in financial abuse or theft, stalking you, and attempting to destroy you in any possible way. These individuals seek to punish you for escaping their control. Additionally, they project their actions onto you and seek revenge because they believe that you have done the same to them. If you’ve had to cut off contact between the narcissist and your children for their safety, the narcissist will blame you to others. Furthermore, if you refuse to let the narcissist pick up the children when it suits them, and they subsequently ignore the children in favour of pursuing other sources of supply, they will blame you for their absence. They never take responsibility for their actions, always placing fault on others. They yearn for your attention and often relish the court system as it gives them a platform to shine and reminds them that they still exist in your world.
If you find yourself in court with the narcissist attempting to turn it into a circus, it’s important to prepare yourself and take on the role of the ringmaster. Focus on the desired outcome and gather as much support and backing as possible. Prioritise rest and self-care during this challenging time. When you feel yourself being drawn into their manipulations, step back and tend to any wounds they may have inflicted. Examine your reality and beliefs, seeking out opportunities for personal growth. For example, in a divorce situation, concentrate on what is rightfully yours and stand your ground. As for the children, if you previously believed they should always have contact with the other parent, remind yourself that this is only applicable if the other parent ensures their safety. Look for the positive aspects of how well the children are progressing without the narcissist, such as their improved anxiety levels and attachment. Consider this stage as the final chapter of closure. Remember, they are not interested in compromise; they solely want to win. Write down the outcome you desire and go all out to achieve it. If they attempt to smear your name, let them do so and focus on yourself. The truth will ultimately prevail. Keep a record of any triggers and work on healing them within yourself.
5. The new relationship. Narcissists often find a new partner quickly and make sure you are aware of it. Sometimes, they may even move in with someone in close proximity to you. Their intention is to maintain control over you by having backups waiting in the wings. They will go to great lengths to flaunt their new relationship in order to inflict pain and trauma on you. They may appear like the happiest couple you’ve ever seen, leaving you questioning yourself and feeling like you’ve lost your dream. They might even try to integrate the new partner into your home and play happy families with your children.
It’s important not to rush into a new relationship yourself, as it will only bring you more pain. Trying to warn the new partner is also futile because they are being sold the narcissist’s dream and will not listen to you. Only if they come to you when the relationship turns into a nightmare can you offer help. Otherwise, focus on healing yourself and developing a strong sense of self-love. Allow yourself to cry, scream, and express your emotions. Remember that the narcissist is repeating their manipulative patterns with the new partner, and your goal is to let go of their influence and cultivate inner strength.
6. Leaving belongings behind or keeping yours as a way of staying in touch with you.
If the narcissistic individual has kept your belongings, try to find someone else who can retrieve them for you. If that’s not an option, it’s best to let them go and focus on moving forward. If the belongings are actually theirs, return them promptly. Remove the items from your home and give them back directly, or leave them at their residence and send a photo as proof, or have a mutual friend deliver the items for you.
7. Engaging in casual conversation about trivial matters, inquiring about inconsequential random topics.
Ignore, ignore, ignore.
8. It is possible that they may claim they will change and even make promises to do so. They might suggest having meaningful conversations and seeking professional guidance to work on their issues. They may even express a desire for your support. However, it is important not to be swayed by their manipulation and deceit. Your priority should be to focus on your own healing.
Remember the numerous times they have made similar promises in the past, only to cause you more pain. It is crucial to recognise that you cannot fix or save them. Despite your previous attempts to help, it is essential to acknowledge that their journey towards improvement is not within your control. You must allow them to take responsibility for their own actions and seek help on their own.
Instead, invest your energy in yourself and your own well-being. Understand that the cycle of their behaviour did not originate with you, and it will not end with you.
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.