Ten Ways to Survive No Contact

Today is exactly one year since I cut off contact with Narc. Yahoo!

A year ago I couldn’t even imagine being at this point. I was drowning in darkness and pain and utter confusion, reviewing every moment of my 4.5 year relationship within the context of NPD.

Looking at it from this side now, I thought I’d take a moment to highlight the ten things that were most helpful for me in getting through the last year, in the hopes that they may help someone who is just starting out on their journey of recovery.

1) Online Support. People in real life generally don’t understand NPD, people online understand it all too well. Wherever you ‘live’ online, build your support group. Survivors are everywhere – twitter, facebook, here, everywhere. Don’t be shy to reach out and write about whatever you’re going through – there is always someone there to listen and offer support.

2) Education. I spent countless hours reading about NPD, sociopathy, psychopathy, watching videos about it, reading other people’s stories – matching up all the information to my own experiences, analyzing his hoovering tactics to spot all the techniques I was reading about. Like they say, knowledge is power, and practice makes perfect. If we learn it and practice spotting it, we’ll stand a much better chance of avoiding falling into it again.

3) No Dating. In those early days, we are so hurt and confused and we want someone to make the pain go away, but the only way to really heal ourselves is to work through the pain. We don’t know who or how to trust, we need to slowly make sense of our lives, of our selves, and that will not happen with the distraction and added confusion of adding new people into the mix. Plus, narcs can sniff out vulnerability a mile away so dating before we’re ready just makes us easy targets for them (I believe). Take a break from dating for a while and focus on yourself.

4) Feel Your Feelings. So what to do with yourself when you’re sitting at home, not dating? Ride the waves of feelings – cry when you need to, for as long as you need to. There will be little rhyme or reason for when or why you cry, but you need to get all that accumulated pain out of your body. Grieve the lies, the loss of the relationship, the loss of your belief that the world is a good and safe place. Feel the anger, feel the hate, every feeling is OK. You have spent too long suppressing your feelings to try to keep the peace in your relationship, it’s time now for all those feelings to come out. It probably feels like they will never end, but they will.

5) Take Your Time. There is no formula for this, no timetable for recovery. Don’t let other people pressure you or guilt you into doing anything you don’t feel ready for – dating, hanging out with friends, acting like you’re ok. This is your life, not theirs, and you need to live it your way. Give yourself permission to do whatever you need to do to get through each day. I ignored some friends, I cut off others. The ones that really matter understood that I needed to go through this in my own way and they are here on the other side, telling me how proud they are of me. They’re not mad that I was a hermit for months. So take your time and do things your way for as long as you need to.

6) Exercise. Yes I know sometimes all you want to do is lie in bed and either starve yourself or eat crap and drink wine, but make sure that once in a while you force yourself to exercise. Endorphins are hugely helpful for your mood, and exercise is great for self-esteem. Even if all you can do is go for a walk, it will make a difference. I always say to myself, ‘something is better than nothing’ and it’s true. Every little thing you do to take good care of yourself makes a difference.

7) Journal (or blog). When a memory hits you hard, when a tidal wave of feelings starts to drown you, when you feel tempted to break No Contact – write about it. Sometimes you have a lot more to say than you feel you want to say in a facebook group or you can fit into a tweet. Get all those thoughts and feelings out of your head and heart by writing about them. The more you can get out from inside of you, the less you will carry forward, and that’s a good thing.

8) Investigate Your Past. This is going to get messy, you may want a therapist/counsellor for this. We need to understand why we accepted being in a relationship with an NPD for any amount of time. Why we chose to set our needs and feelings aside to keep the peace with him (or her), and loved and supported him (or her) at our own expense. We need to look at family of origin, at past relationships, and work through unresolved pain. They say if we don’t do that, we’ll keep repeating patterns, and given my history I’m inclined to believe them. Two books that I found helpful: Dr. Phil’s Self Matters and Dr. Karyl McBride’s Will I Ever Be Good Enough?

9) Trust Your Gut. As you analyze your whole relationship, you’ll start to realize you had lots of red flags early on and throughout the relationship. There were lots of times your gut was telling you something was not ok, and you set it aside to try to make things better with narc. The good news is, your gut is in perfect working order! Now you just need to start trusting it. Stop talking yourself out of it and making excuses for other people. If you trust your gut, you will naturally have better and stronger boundaries and reject unhealthy people even if you can’t put your finger on why you need to reject them. Your gut doesn’t need labels for things, it just knows “safe” or “unsafe” and ultimately that’s what really matters.

10) Tell Yourself “I Love You” – A Lot. We’re pretty good at being hard on ourselves, and we’ve heard a lot of not nice things said to us throughout the relationship (and probably throughout our lives). Let’s start changing the soundtrack. When you wake up, tell yourself “good morning, I love you”. When you do something well, or make a healthy choice for yourself, tell yourself “good job, I love you.” When you’re going to bed, whisper “sweet dreams, I love you.” Even if you don’t really feel it right now, the more you say it to yourself, the more you will start to really feel it on the inside. And besides, isn’t it way nicer to hear that than all the other self-critical stuff you say to yourself? You’re an awesome person and super lovable, so you may as well tell yourself so!

I hope this has been at least a little bit helpful. Somehow, day by day, things do get better and eventually you find yourself celebrating an anniversary you never thought would come.

I wish you all love and strength in your journeys.  xo

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15 responses to “Ten Ways to Survive No Contact

  1. I, too, survived a relationship with a narcissist. This is very good advice for those who are recovering and quite similar to what I did myself. Good luck with your continued recovery. 🙂

  2. I have been reading your post for a while and wanted to let you know that I find them really spot-on and helpful!
    Right now, I am 5 month out of a 1-year relationship with a Narc; I broke no contact in month three, was involved with him again for about 6 weeks (although not sexually, thank God) regretted that… it felt terribly to deliberately trying to please someone I knew was unable to genuinely reciprocate love, care, trust and respect… to someone I knew would reject, triangulate, gaslight, abandon me and start hoovering again with no empathy, regrets, conscience, accountability or feelings whatsoever…! Luckily, I had researched enough about NPD and toxic relationships by then to not fully fall back into the same pattern. I re-established no contact again in mid-January and since then have gone through all the painful phases of the wirhdrawl: cravings, longing, denial, rationalization, self-avoidance, self-delusion, obsession, obsessive behaviour, deep sadness, hopelessness, feeling betrayed and deceited, objectified and manipulated, anger, anxiety, body aches, hating him and hating myself (for allowing him to treat me so poorly and not establishing and enforcing boundaries earlier)… right now I feel agression and the need for revenge and “bringing him to justice”, but I am aware that this would not be helpful for me, I would spiral down with him and possibly destroy all the good parts that are left of me, instead of reconstructing myself.

    I have joined a twelve-step-programme for Co-Dependants (CoDA Anonymous), and that has been auch a major step and it’s helping me so much!!! I am also adressing with my SLA-issues (sex and love addiction issues, esp. the fantasizing) by listening to SLAA-channels online on YouTube, and that too gives me big ‘A-HA Moments’. I think that it’ll be a loooong journey but I am finally in my way, and this gives me hope:-)

    Thanks again for this great place here, it feels so good to read your posts (I can relate to all of them!) and to know that there are others out there who ‘just know’ and understand what it’s like when you have experienced Narc abuse!

    Keep up the good work!
    Alice

    • Thanks so much Alice, I’m so glad to be of help. And congratulations to you for making the final cut with your Narc and doing all the learning for your own growth and healing. You’ve already taken some huge steps in such a short time! I had always wanted to go to CoDA but couldn’t work up the courage to go to a first meeting, I admire that you’ve been able to do that. And I remember the anger of the injustice phase, that’s a tough one to work through and, for me, brought about another wave of grief in realizing what an imperfect, unfair world we live in. It’s amazing how everything is so connected, once we tug at one string, so many others come out to be dealt with. It’s hard work, but so so worth it! All the best to you in your journey. xo

    • Hi I found your comment so helpful. I’m currently doing no contact and have been trying hard since 6/2/15. I’ve been doing well but his last stunt has really got to me. Triangulation I think it is called. He has now sent me messages of screen shots of messages between him and his new supply (who he cheated on me with) . My problem now is knowing whether to send all these messages to her so he no longer able to play this sick game which is hurting me and her. In the messages she is already showing signs of trauma bonding and he’s calling her names and telling her not to contact me. At the same time messaging me saying he loves me and doesn’t want her etc. I feel angry that he’s getting away with this. I’ve involved the police but find them so unsupportive. Do I forward the new girl the messages and ruin his game as the evidence I have is quite clear and I’m 100% sure he can’t wriggle out of this one. I know I need to focus on me but it’s really getting to me whether I should forward the messages or not. What to advise? I’d really appreciate your opinion.

      • Hi Emily, that is such a frustrating situation. I remember feeling angry for a long time about everything he had gotten away with and would continue to get away with, but at a certain point I had to decide whether I was going to invest my limited energy in him (bringing him to justice, warning others, etc) or in me (healing, moving forward). I’ve read lots of comments from other people who have given proof/warnings to the new supply only to have it turned against them – often the ex will say you’re trying to break them up because you’re still in love with him, or jealous, or crazy, or all of the above. You and I both know once the trauma bonding kicks in, it’s almost impossible for anyone else to break it, so it’s unlikely anything you say or show her will actually be able to help her at this point.
        My advice is to focus on yourself and your healing. Do you really want to get pulled back into his drama? That’s exactly what he’s trying to do by sending you those screen shots. He’s trying to manipulate you, the best thing for YOU is not to react. Don’t let him win (when it comes to you)! She’ll learn her lesson when her time comes, just as we have had to. Unfortunately we can’t save the new supplies from the heartache, as much as we want to, all we can do is save ourselves.
        By the way, how is he sending you these screen shots? Seems like there’s an opportunity to tighten up no contact, to protect yourself from future ploys from him. It’s so exhausting having to deal with all their tactics. The more you can block yourself from them, the faster you can get through your healing. I know it’s not easy though. Sending you much love and strength. xo

        • Thank you for the quick response. You are right I need to tighten up on the no contact which is hard to at this early stage. Once he realised I blocked his number and wasn’t replying to any emails, he has created numerous email addresses and messages from different numbers. I know I need to change my number and email account but I just feel like I’m giving in to him. But on the other hand it’s so hard to not read them. It’s really getting me down that I have so much evidence to I guess prove I’m not the mad one and make him stop hurting everyone apart from myself. Part of me feels surely she can’t be that naive to not see for herself what he is like from the evidence I have . I wished someone had saved me at the beginning stages so i didn’t go through all this pain for the past 2 years. How long will I feel sick about having all this evidence and stressing out with what I should do? I keep reading up about NPD to keep me going. I just hate the fact he has prob fed all these lies about me and prob making me look like the crazy one. I know eventually he will mess up his own game but I can’t stop stressing over what to do. 😦

          • I totally understand! You’ll tighten up no contact as you’re ready, and it definitely makes it harder that he’s creating new accounts etc – he’s a moving target. I read his messages for probably another month or two before I blocked him completely. And yes I also wished someone had saved me from the pain, but I also remember having all sorts of signs and evidence that he wasn’t a good guy and making excuses for him because I so badly wanted to believe he was the good guy, that poor misunderstood soul who needed my love and who wanted to love me. Remember that? That’s where she’s at. It’s not your job to stop him, to save her, or to make people understand who/what he is. Sadly, most people will never be able to understand unless they’ve been through it and I HATED that people believed I was the crazy one and he was this golden person everyone loved, but that ‘life is unfair’ crap is unfortunately part of the grief process we have to work through if we’re going to make it out the other side. It’s extremely frustrating, infuriating and unfair. I wish I had a secret tip to help you get through it faster. All I can tell you is that the first few months were the worst for me. Sick to my stomach every day, angry, crying, angry, crying every day but it WILL get better if you stick to it and focus as much of your energy as possible on yourself instead of him, or her, or what other people are thinking/believing about you or him. He would just love that he’s still managing to create this much chaos in your heart. How dare he! He’s stolen enough of your time. This time is all about YOU, and remember every time you have contact with him you’re going back to square one. That’s what kept me strong on the worst days – I never ever wanted to relive what I’d already been through. Every bad day you get through is one day less that you have left in your recovery. It’s great that you’re reading about NPD, reading other people’s stories, reaching out. One day at a time, you will get through this and the pain/stress will start to ease, as long as you don’t let him pull you back in to his drama.. xo

            • Thank you for the advise. I still want to make contact with the new supply but I will try to think rationally and focus on me. It’s so hard to explain to others who do not know about NPD and feels so reassuring that there are others to talk to and I’m not going mad. I’m trying to take each day as it comes but it takes over your life. Impacts your work (which he has kept on coming to and followed me) and your whole emotional state. I wish there was more out there to warn women about donestic violence and narcissism. I’m lucky I’m still here, if I hadn’t had found out about NPD and come to the conclusion it’s not me, it’s him , I don’t think I would be here right now. Only found out about it end of January and so glad I did. 🙂 thanks again for the advise x

  3. Reading this was really helpful. I’m now almost two weeks into NC and I’ve already started to feel how I benefit from it…In the beginning it was really painful, but I’m just glad I’ve been able to follow through with it

  4. This was very enlightening and I recently started educating myself about NPD when something I came across online really struck a nerve. I never let the guy in question become anything more than a text partner, because I knew he wasn’t right for me pretty early on. And perhaps I’m wrong about him being an NPD, but he presents many of the signs, especially the attempts to lure me back in (and when the charm didn’t work, he tried to get a rise out of me, just the other day messaging me, “hey a**hole”). I just felt like I had to get this out, even though I know my experience is not so bad in light of the abuse so many women suffer at the hands of their NPD. I count my blessings that things with my guy never had the chance to play out as I fear they very probably would have. Now I know, more than ever, how vital it is to maintain no contact. Thanks for the advice!

    • Wow good for you for catching the signs so early! And yes what you’re describing sounds/feels very familiar. No question you did the right thing cutting that guy off. Well done!

  5. Left an 11 year marriage to a N 7 months ago. Almost NC for 3 months now ( I caved and read two letters he wrote me….all poor me, I’ve changed etc.. and of course I felt guilty). This is painful and confusing and family doesn’t understand why I won’t talk to him…he is being nice, they think I am disrespectful, in weak moments I think so too I tell them I am afraid of him but they don’t get it because there was no physical abuse. i may go NC with them too 🙂 Loved your list but I have to say that I was surprised when I tried to tell myself I love you…the words stuck in my throat and I teared up… guess I have some work to do.

    • Aw, yes, the loving ourselves takes time and work. I hope you will soon be able to say those words to yourself and tear up feeling how much you really mean them. Congratulations on leaving the marriage and going NC. The first months are the hardest – so confusing, exhausting, painful – but now you’ve almost got the first 3 months of NC over with which is an important milestone! I hope you will do something special for yourself to celebrate/acknowledge it. And yeah, it’s so hard when other people don’t understand, I eventually just gave up on trying to explain or justify anything and just stayed focused on what I needed to do for myself. You’re in the fight of your life, to regain yourself, your happiness, hope – anyone that’s not helping you in the battle needs to get off the battlefield, family or not! Big hugs to you. One day at a time… xo

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