It’s true, breakups are hard, but anyone who is recovering from a relationship with a narcissist/sociopath (or other type of abuser) knows that this statement doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what we’re going through.
We’re not just heartbroken, we’re soul shattered. We’re not just sad, we’re completely lost. We’re not just grieving the loss of a partner, we’re grieving the loss of trust, hope, and the belief that people are fundamentally good.
We are stripped of every happy memory we thought we had as we slowly come to realize and accept that every moment was a calculated lie, a fabrication with the singular purpose of increasing our ‘loved one’s’ control over us.
When my best friend said to me on the weekend “yeah, breakups are hard,” I was stunned. It was such a trite, non-empathetic, borderline ignorant response to my telling her how much I still struggle some days. That one sentence confirmed for me that she just doesn’t get it.
I replied, “Yes, but this isn’t a regular breakup. This is so much more than just a breakup.”
I feel like we’ve had this conversation before, and I now give up. She is well-meaning, but she doesn’t understand and clearly never will.
One of the most frustrating things about recovering from narcissistic abuse is that people don’t really seem to be able to understand it unless they’ve lived it themselves. At best, they will try to offer sympathy and support but no matter how much they may love us and want the best for us, their failed attempts at empathy like “breakups are hard” are painfully minimizing and isolating in this recovery process.
I remember a therapist once asking me, “When did you realize your father was never going to be the father you wanted him to be?” She thought I would answer ‘When I was x years old.’ I answered, ‘Two weeks ago, in our last session’. She was surprised, then she laughed and said, “That’s cute.” I’m still learning.
I think that learning to really get through life on our own is part of the growth we experience in recovery – learning to love and comfort ourselves, and not rely too much on others to rebuild us. After all, isn’t that over-investment and reliance on others part of what made us vulnerable to the narc in the first place?
This weekend I finally learned that my best friend is never going to be the friend I want her to be, and maybe that’s actually a positive sign. I’m growing and healing. I’ve got this.