Have you ever found yourself in the situation of deeply disliking a narcissistic partner but desperately wanting that partner to love you? Have you experienced that moment of knowing that, if they just say the right things, you could fall back into a relationship that you KNOW is bad for you? Call it a trauma bond or cognitive dissonance if you like; it is without doubt a massive inconvenience.
This week, a few clients asked me “How do you break that trauma bond?” “How do I make sure that I won’t be sucked back into the same old toxic relationship I had before? How can I keep from letting that person mess with my head and my heart all over again?”
It’s an important question because most of us don’t just leave a Narcissist once.
Most of us don’t just leave a Narcissist once
Rather, we leave, our mind reconstructs the relationship – with an extraordinary degree of selectivity – and then, given perhaps just a little encouragement – we fall straight back into it.
Sadly, when a narcissistic relationship ends, the person who has suffered all the abuse is not in their most resourceful mind.
The victim has been subjected (by the Narcissist) to so much blame and so many (ludicrous) accusations of being the Narcissist that she gets everything back to front. All the victim’s compassion goes out to the narcissistic abuser. All her condemnation seems to fall back onto herself.
You find you are blaming yourself for provoking their toxic behaviour – when you did no such thing – and seeing getting back with them as a return to paradise.
So, how do you prevent that from happening?
Based on my own experience and that of my clients, I would say that you have to be able to fall back on your own decisive deal-breaker moment, that watershed moment – that we all have – when we hit rock bottom.
My decisive deal-breaker moment
My own decisive deal-breaker moment came when the then husband threw a major temper tantrum and ruined my birthday celebration stay at one of the Great Hotels of the World. This is a fabulous, magical hotel where the wealthy go to enjoy themselves. The atmosphere of contentment in that place was as thick and luxuriant as the plushest carpet.
And there we sat, he in his self-righteous fury, me in pieces.
A little voice in my head told me that, if we couldn’t be happy there, we could never be happy anywhere.
That remained my one decisive deal-breaker moment.
Sure, there had been plenty of deplorable things that had happened before that. But that was the one that I could pull up whenever I needed to remind myself that I was well and truly done with that awful man. There could be no going back.
Different deal-breaker moments for different people
Those deal-breaker moments are, inevitably, for different people. For one client, that moment came when she discovered that her ex, who had cozied up to her all over again and even taken her on holiday, was now married to the woman he had cheated on her with.
For another, it was that moment when she suddenly realized that being anywhere near her husband was unsafe.
For another still, it was the brutal way that he taught their daughter to disrespect for her.
For every one of us, there is a watershed moment that we can hold onto when our mind takes us on a flight of fancy, back to the early days when our partner seemed to be just so perfect for us.
The tip of the iceberg
Correctly speaking, we may well experience that moment as just a moment but it is actually the tip of an iceberg.
It encapsulates so much deep hurt and humiliation that a narcissistic partner has put us through. It is that go-to moment we can go back to when we wonder whether we “overreacted” or whether we somehow “provoked” the abuse.
When I think about it, that deep-breaker moment has been the strategy that I have had to resort to a few times in my life – with my impossible parents, my impossible brothers and a person who I treated as a friend but who used me like a resource.
Because I cared deeply about all of these people, I needed that North Star to navigate my way through – not just my own difficult feelings – but the guilt trips and mind games that they came up with in order to suck me back in.
How about you?
If you had to think about it, what would your decisive deal-breaker moment be? What would be the one thing that you could use to bring your mind back to reality, back to your own control?
How you fall back into the Narcissist’s narrative
Narcissistic people are pretty cunning when it comes to safeguarding their own power over you. From relatively early on, they start feeding you a whole spiel about how wonderful they are and how lucky, needy and unlovable you are.
When you get overwhelmed by stress, anxiety and feelings of helplessness, it is all too easy for your mind to revert to their self-serving narrative.
Once a mind starts travelling along a well-worn groove, you have to react quickly. Otherwise, the momentum of that old thinking along the well-worn groove will swiftly take you into deep negativity. Plus, it could suck you back into that narcissistic relationship.
That is why it is so important for you to be absolutely clear about your decisive deal-breaker. Your healing from narcissistic abuse is too important to leave to chance. If you are struggling, chances are you need more help. I can help you either via 1 on 1 coaching or else through my ultra affordable Break Free Membership.
Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.
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8 thoughts on “What is your one decisive deal-breaker moment?”
I don’t need your individual services but I want you to know that your articles are profoundly helpful. Thank you for your wisdom and generosity.
It is always nice to hear that people appreciate what I put out there.:)
I had many moments over the years, but the one, decisive moment was on Christmas Eve. Our child was out of bed, excited for Santa Claus and that was unacceptable to the abusive person. He hit our child with an extension cord. Our child screamed, screamed, and and screamed some more as the huge welts raised on his legs. He cried himself to sleep that night, not thinking about Santa at all. And I realized I couldn’t even keep my kids physically safe anymore (later I found out I hadn’t been keeping them safe for quite some time, but they were keeping secrets from me out of fear).
How awful. What a dreadful man.
A young friend of ours was dealing with a difficult boyfriend, and I had just learned from my husband that she was about to move over 300 miles (482 km) to another state to be with him.
I told my husband that I was surprised by this, given how poorly the boyfriend had been treating our friend.
My husband said, “Well, you know how women are… they’ll put up with anything to make it work.”
His words fell on me like a ton of bricks. All of the nastiness I had been “putting up with” from my husband suddenly flashed before my eyes and I finally understood that he fully expected me to continue to “put up with” it.
I felt truly inspired in that moment. The very next day, I made the 3 most important phone calls in my life. 1. A therapist, 2. A real estate agent, and 3. A divorce lawyer.
The rest, as they say, is history!
Possibly the most heartwarming story of the week.
And on to your second, wonderful chance at life.
Thank you Annie always great advice!
So glad it resonates.:)