Setting You Free: Stage 3 Narcissistic Abuse

So he left, now what?

The Discard Phase feels like the most painful while you’re going through it.  You’ll wonder how he could suddenly leave and hurt you in such a destructive way after it seemed he was so deeply in love with you.  But once you get through it, and you will because he chose you for your emotional strength, you’ll realize this is the phase where he set you free.

I don’t know how to write about this phase without sharing my personal story. I still find myself shocked over the suddenness and cruel nature of my husband’s departure from our vows, our girls, and our home.  He had a beautiful life and threw it all away… To make it worse, he left on our anniversary week, just before Christmas and our family vacation.  He left directly into the arms of another woman.  How could he be so cruel?  How did this happen?

The Beginning of The End

Sometimes a narcissist will ghost you, soon after the love bombing phase is over. Depending on how long you’ve been together, he may not need to strategize an exit plan that involves devaluing you to family and friends. He will just stop answering calls or texts and leave. If you allow it, he will come and go as he pleases which is why the professionals recommend “no contact” after a narcissist leaves your life.  While this is extremely painful because of how fast he made you fall for him, consider yourself lucky that it didn’t go any further.

For those of us who have been in a long term relationship with a narcissist, the Discard phase is a much longer process. In these cases, it’s likely he has been strategically preparing his departure for a long time.  Since he has to maintain a caring/rescuing outer shell, he will take advantage of every opportunity to destroy your character to his family and friends. 

“She’s so controlling”

Being in a relationship with a Narcissist is like being caught in a storm with no control of the outcome. He is the storm, and you are the collateral damage.  One minute his love is showering you like a warm summer rain, and the next he’s recklessly tearing through your heart.  No matter how many precautions you take, you cannot control the storm, and he knows it.  

“He’s the most generous, caring man I’ve ever known, but when he drinks, he becomes rude, belligerent, sloppy, mean… He completely changes.  I have spent the last few years trying to keep him safe, but I’m failing.  I’m trying to keep him from turning into this other person and from hurting himself.  He’s been hiding pills, steroids, chewing tobacco, alcohol consumption and he is having major health problems as a result. I don’t want to lose him and will do anything to save him.”

No matter how hard you try, you will never control the storm and he will destroy you for trying.

“She’s never happy”  

The narcissist will use the “Prince Charming” image you created of him during the love bombing phase to destroy you to his friends and family.  

“All most people see is what he does for the girls and I so they don’t understand why I can’t just be happy with him. Most of the time, he is a good man.  Other times, he says and does terrible things to me.  People who have seen him do this have justified it, telling me he loves me, which only makes me feel worse for acknowledging this other side of him.  One time, he raged at a football game throwing things, flipping tables, and screaming in my face in front of his dad. Another time, he dragged me down a hallway in front of his best friend.  Both times they told me to let it pass and reminded me how much he loved me. While his friends and family excused it, mine knew nothing about the abuse.  I was not only unhappy, but alone.

He will tell others how unhappy you are, while projecting a perfect image, and they will believe him.

“She doesn’t love me”

He targeted you because you have an abundance of love for others and you have poured out everything you have in order to fill his tank… yet, he’s still empty and he blames you.

“There must have been a hundred times where I kept my mouth shut and succeeded in getting my husband home safely.  While drunk, he’d sling insults and berate me, sometimes for hours at a time, and most of the time, I’d take it.  I’d cry silently into my pillow as he touched me, making sure I wouldn’t leave.  If I did, I’d feel the wrath of all 6’4” 275lbs.  He’d corner me, poking my forehead as he’d yell in my face. He’d slam doors, throw things, punch holes in the wall, and repeatedly say I don’t love him and am ungrateful for all he does for me.  I’d wonder if I was making him feel loved enough and try harder.”

By the end of this relationship, you will stop loving yourself, not him.

“She’s abusive”

After you have endured more abuse than you ever thought you could, he will turn the tables making you look like the abusive one to his close family and friends.  

“One drunken night after repeatedly asking him to leave the bar, he proceeded to drink.  Knowing where this was going, I told him I was leaving and went to the car.  Not wanting to leave him there, I waited, crying and praying I could get him home safely. When he finally came out, 45 minutes later, he was so angry he ripped me out of the car, emptied my entire purse taking everything, my ID, credit cards, phone, and left me alone in the parking lot at 2am.  The next day, he attended a friend’s birthday party without me, showing off the scratches on his arm that resulted in the struggle of pulling me out of the car and taking away everything I needed to get back home.”

Months later, and numerous drunken nights in between, I caught him in a sexual act with one of my best friends in our home. I was so angry, I threw a cologne bottle at him, chipping his tooth. My reaction to his cheating was all he needed to paint me as an abuser.”

No matter how much you try, he will always make his actions, your fault.

It’s Not Your Fault

Whatever your personal story of abuse is, you will probably come out of it feeling responsible.  If you just said less. Controlled less.  Cared less.  Tried harder.  

It’s not your fault.  

A Narcissit’s goal is to make you feel this way about yourself so their actions are justified.  They have already successfully completed the devaluation phase, making you feel like you are the one to blame for their actions, behavior and “unmet needs”.  You will feel like the empty shell that is them, because in showing them unconditional love, they have drained you of your love for yourself.

The END

Over time, some of his friends and family started to distance themselves and I couldn’t understand why.  I’d ask and he’d blame them, saying they were selfish or pointed out their poor life choices. He made it an “us against the world” type of scenario and would remind me often that I was “the best” and how much he loved me. I didn’t realize that he was manipulating us and that it would eventually be his ticket out the door.   

A narcissist will discard you when he feels he can still maintain his outward image, after successfully destroying yours. 

He left suddenly and without concern for anyone else’s feelings. He said he cared, but his actions after leaving were cruel and unusual.  He not only left me, but the girls and never came back for them.  He asked for divorce via text a week after leaving and a day after our wedding anniversary.  He sold our boat to pay his attorney and demanded I not only pay all our bills, but alimony.  He immediately started another relationship, declaring his love for her 2 months after leaving his marriage.  He was a 33 year old man, who went from living in a big, beautiful home with 3 kids, and a devoted wife, to sleeping on an air mattress in his girlfriend’s mother’s home.  

“Choose Me”

When you’re so used to living in chaos, peace doesn’t feel right. I was addicted to his love, that even after everything he did, I tried to get him to come back.  

He gave me hope by “hoovering”, a common narcissist act of saying things that keep you on the line, while doing the complete opposite.  He’d send texts saying things like, “I’ll always love you.  You’ll always be the one.  My life is a mess right now.  I miss you.”  He belittled the new girl by calling her “trash”, “crazy”, “disloyal.”  Finally, I asked him to “choose me” and he did.  He came home and we spent the weekend reconnecting with each other. When he left for football camp, I felt like I had betrayed myself. I had not spent 8 months regaining my sense of safety, security and sanity just to let him take it with him again. 

Setting You Free

After 8 months of peace, I learned that I was not mourning him, I was mourning the dream that he sold me. My Prince was only armor, underneath was an empty, lost soul and there was nothing I could do to fix that. There was no fairy tale.  Only a survival story that started with him and ended with me taking my life back.  

He returned to her and within a month they were pregnant.  I’m sure she’s head over heals in love with him, as I was.   I learned so much about my experience with him, by watching him love bomb and devalue someone else.  It was so painful, but necessary in my healing process.  I am 19 months past the day he discarded me, and thankful now that he set me free. 

  

If you think you are suffering from trauma caused by Narcissistic Abuse, one-on-one therapy is best.  Although shared stories and books help, nothing helped me more than those biweekly appointments which gave me a safe space to share, listen, explore, and heal.  If you can’t get help right away, here are some resources to get you on the road to freedom:

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If you missed the first two post read them here:

Phase 1: https://expertlyflawed.com/2020/07/selling-fairy-tale-narcissistic-abuse/

Phase 2: https://expertlyflawed.com/2020/07/delivering-nightmare-stage-2-narcissism-abuse/

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