There was an interesting question asked in the new Alice in Wonderland movie.  As the uncertain Alice encountered the Mad Hatter, he was disappointed by her fear and said, “You used to be much more … you’ve lost your much-ness!”  The silly wording of the statement caused a smile but the profundity of the statement wasn’t lost on me.

Many of my readers talk of their own disbelief with themselves.  Every time I read a comment like that, it breaks my heart again.  There is not an adequate explanation for the things we have chosen to change about ourselves in order to maintain a relationship with a Narcissist and no way to describe the after effects to people who haven’t dealt with an NPD.  As many of us have learned through experience, the relationship we thought was love was not what it seemed. 

It isn’t inherently wrong to want to give anything to a partner.  Perhaps our overlooking the fact that the giving was so one-sided was our biggest fault.  In all relationships, there must be give and take or the giver gets worn out. 

When you are involved with a Narcissist, this equation is give … and give some more.  Eventually, we are drained from giving and unable to continue providing the level of supply that a Narcissist needs.  Then the game changes and our perfect lover becomes unrecognizable.  When the roller coaster stops, we come to realize that our sense-of-self has atrophied beyond recognition. 

What tactics can you use to recover from a narcissistic relationship?  Here are some things that seem to be working for me:

  1. Reach out to friends you know and trust.  Spending time them will help you to re-acquaint yourself with the person you were BEFORE you involved yourself with a Narcissist.  They can help you remember how you worked through difficulties without forfeiting all that you stood for and cared about.
  2. Stop blaming yourself.  Learn from the experience what love is not and don’t doubt that you are capable of sharing real love with a person who is capable of returning it to you.
  3. Get involved in your own life.  You’ve been isolated by the experience and it might seem awkward, at first, but your friends do care about you and they want you to be with them again.
  4. Don’t try to explain what you do not yet understand.  The process of learning from the experience you’ve just been through takes time to interpret.  If well-meaning friends pursue a course of conversation that causes you to feel panic, tell them you aren’t ready to talk about it yet.  They’ll understand.
  5. Fully experience all the emotions you are feeling as they present themselves.  Embrace them like you might embrace an injured child and hold them until you become calm again.  Each time you return to center, reward yourself for weathering the storm.
  6. Most importantly, do not reach out for contact with your former partner.  Every time you consider bringing them back into your life, follow it through.  If nothing worked last time, it is insane to believe that anything will be different next time.

You haven’t lost your much-ness.  You have been suppressed by a lunatic who couldn’t see past their nothing-ness.  External validation is a pointless pursuit.  You must believe in yourself before anyone else will.  The best way to get there is to do positive things for yourself that make you feel whole again.