Getting Over the Narcissist: A Game of Postpone & Pretend

Getting over a relationship with a narcissist is never easy and the pain can linger with us for many weeks, months, and even years after if we allow it. The key is to NOT allow it and a recovery game I created called Postpone & Pretend is one surefire tool for doing this…for helping us get past the initial shock of the narcissist’s Discard…for helping us to recover in a faster, more proficient way than we ever imagined possible.

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As we know, the first few days and weeks that follow a break-up with a narcissist are the worst and it is during this time that we are our most vulnerable. The narcissist knows this, of course, and this is why he/she usually leaves without saying a word, subjecting us to a God-awful silent treatment that basically cripples us. An N knows how much the silence hurts and uses it to keep us in a state of heightened anxiety so that we’ll actually wait for the narcissist’s return instead of doing the right thing and ending it once and for all. If we could only maintain our strength during those first days of a “break-up”, it might change everything relative to how we behave when he resurfaces. By wallowing in our misery, we inadvertently participate in the narcissist’s game instead of helping ourselves out of the mess.

In normal relationships, although a break-up is always sad, the devastation is just a fraction of what it is when the other partner has a narcissistic personality. When I look back on how sad I felt in relationships that ended in my life before the narcissist, I remember feeling that I would never recover and I can’t even believe that now. Those break-ups were a walk in the park! The pain of the break-up is so very different with an N because of the level of betrayal and the depth of the deception that occurred leading up to the separation. Unless a person has experienced it, they can never understand it and this fact alone can isolate us. It’s nothing less than a ferocious type of abuse that sometimes even we can’t describe!

Having said all that, the key to a speedy and meaningful recovery is to get back up and going as swiftly as possible after the narcissist leaves us and this is where the game of Postpone & Pretend comes in. Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to feel the pain but the truth is that the narcissist has left us so many times before that perhaps THIS time we should consider that pain-feeling time already complete and get up NOW. I mean, it makes sense, right? How many times have we wasted the first days, weeks, and months crying into a pillow day in and day out only to take him back yet again because we hadn’t even begun to heal. Perhaps if we had begun to heal, we wouldn’t be so quick to succumb to his/her bullshit. It’s time to postpone the pain and pretend life is wonderful. It’s time to get the fuck up and going!

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If you feel so sad that you find it hard to get through the day, do this the very first thing the next morning: when you open your eyes, promise yourself that you will postpone the pain for 24 hours. Just do it. Make the commitment before you even get out of bed. After all, there’s always tomorrow for being sad all day if that’s what you choose to do. For today, you’ve got too much to do and there’s simply no time to be sad over this jerk. I found that it’s much easier to snap out of a depression when you know that you have all day tomorrow to cater to it. So simply postpone it. That’s Step 1!

Next, since your sadness is postponed and life is going to go on for at least 24 hours, you might as well pretend that all is well. You don’t need to talk about what happened with anyone who’ll listen because it’s nobody’s business. Besides, its’ likely that family, friends, and co-workers have heard your story before and have tired of it. Act as if you’re doing just fine – pretend, pretend, pretend! Go about your business and when you feel the twinge of tears coming, push that thought out of your head because there’s always tomorrow. That’s Step 2! Now, when tomorrow comes, rinse and repeat – over and over and over. My little game of Postpone & Pretend helped to save my life. Not only did it save me from days and days of heartache, it allowed me the mental clarity to say “Fuck this!” to the narcissist’s tactics to control me. It eliminates the relationship amnesia we get right after the break-up when all we remember are the good things (which were fake anyway, don’t forget). It skips all that! When we postpone the sadness, we automatically eliminate all the junk that goes with it – the ruminating, the temptation to call or text or drive-by, the feeling of being distracted 24/7, the worry about what this person is doing now that they’re gone…all of that.

Playing the game boosts our confidence and puts a skip in our step. Each morning, when we wake up and commit ourselves to keeping it happy for the next 24, we get a big part of our power back. The goal is to keep the feeling going…to keep postponing and pretending until you don’t have to consciously do it anymore. I promise you that relief from that anxious feeling will happen faster than you think. Combine this game with a No Contact strategy and you’ll be a winner for sure.

Look, recovery from narcissist abuse isn’t easy which means that it’s going to take some concentrated effort on your part. My little game saved my ass because it forced me to take baby steps one day at a time. I didn’t have to think ahead a week or a month and wonder how the hell I was going to get through it. I only had to wait for 24 hours and then I did it again. Rinse and repeat, postpone and pretend and get your life back. I did it and so can you. Even if it sounds simple or silly, give it a shot…you have nothing to lose and lifetime to regain if it works.

Stay strong and stay the course, sisters and brothers!

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99 Comments

  • Louie

    October 26, 2016 at 11:06 am Reply

    This is GOOD. I am losing sleep and I am distracted from true living.
    I am afraid if I keep this up, I’m gonna mess up something important in my life.
    He was a no count lug. A sorry ass. Not worth my life.

    • Zari Ballard

      October 28, 2016 at 5:31 pm Reply

      Hi Louie,

      Yes, postpone and pretend. If you keep it up, one day you just wake up and go through your day and, later, realize you didn’t even have to remind yourself. It works!

      Zari xo

  • Rys

    August 24, 2016 at 4:40 pm Reply

    I have come to realization that I have been with an N. I feel silly that it took me so long to figure it out, after he had me exactly like my other ex did, the difference is im older now so I considered this relationship much more “serious”. We got together early last year and he was the sweetest guy ever, almost perfect, I wasn’t into him much in the beginning but he was so charming…….. i fell head over heels….. Later on in the year I heard a rumor about a girl he claimed to be his cousin, i even messaged her because at that point we were already living together, (ive never lived with anyone before so it felt special) she blocked me and never responded….. At that time he lived by me… I used to try and help out his living situation because his family treats him bad or whatever plus he complained how depressed he was about his living conditions as it was poor and in the countryside, but I don’t care about material things so i thought it would be beneficial for him to move into my house with me…..
    The girl he claimed was his cousin was not, she actually lived a street away from me and after digging up I found out he lied about where he went and he was going by her… Obvious reasons we broke up… but he let me go very easily, like I was nothing…

    not long after we broke up they got in a relationship and he posted pictures of her everywhere, he is a new photographer as well so he used to tell me I am too insecure when I also use cameras in my line of work and he deliberately kept me away from his shoots, that used to hurt, because I have been in this business longer than him.

    So about 2 months ago we ended up reconnecting, i was still in the process of grieving for this man……. I still loved him… so he told me how unhappy he was blah blah blah, parts of his house broke down etc so I invited him to move back with me………

    The arguments were always nasty, horrible name calling, cursing, physical fights, the arguments became too much and everything seemed like “my fault” so he left again….

    I found out he has been talking to some girl in Denmark who has “been around before me” according to her, they never met, but after i confronted her he showed up by my place to tell me i am evil and that she slit her wrists, apparently her mother called him cussing etc.. not like i give a damn but it hurt that he would defend the “other woman”…..

    I told him well go to f*king denmark and stitch it up for her since she was real and i was not… I feel emotionally drained, broken and discarded.

    Currently picked up working out and looking for ways to upgrade myself…

    Thanks for the advice, I will try because it has been hard….

  • Cindy

    August 22, 2016 at 10:48 am Reply

    Well Zari,
    I am 11 weeks NO CONTACT with him, his family and our friends. Honestly, the most difficult moments I have had are my thoughts of him, us and my life in the throws of many past Narcs including my mom. I have gone from crying for 12 hours nonstop for days to maybe 3 minute cries a few times a week.
    I finished the workbook in a week and have recently reread what I have written. Great reminders of the reality of the Great Lie, my life with him. I have come to the realization that it was I who brought all the love, understanding, compassion, empathy, compromise, physical intimacy and commitment to my six years with him.
    My friend recently ran into him trolling for new source at our local Starbucks…nothing changes if nothing changes.
    My cancer blood work is now stable however, it has seen fit to progress into blood, bone marrow, spleen, liver and now a lymph node. My cortisol levels are way to high and now I am recovering from the shingles. I’m so fatigued from the viral overload but sleep is good. The remainder of my hormonal system is on the mend and I feel pretty good most of the time.
    Please folks, the stress from being with an N does cause various illnesses. Protect yourselves. Breathe and meditate.
    Zara, thank you!
    Many Blessings,
    Cindy
    PS. I made a poster to hang in my home…Postpone Pretend Rinse Repeat Postpone Pretend.

    • Zari Ballard

      September 5, 2016 at 5:38 pm Reply

      Thank you, Cindy! I love the poster idea! You’re on the right track, girl. All you need are the reminders now to validate that you are on your way to complete freedom and physical recovery. Maybe now that you’ve removed the cancer HOST, the others will fad out. I’m putting white light all around you, sister….I hope you find all the happiness that you deserve:)

      Zari xoxox

  • Deanne

    June 21, 2016 at 6:41 am Reply

    I am currently in the Postpone & Pretend phase. It’s been about 2 weeks since we have seen each other. Our relationship was where sex was used to control and withheld for obedience and understanding to the fact he other women on the side. Everything I used to tell him about what he did to me or made me feel, he would flip it and tell it to me zs if he was the victim of these acts he hurt me so badly behind. It was so frustrating and I felt like nothing at times. I would feel weak and pathetic everytime I let him back in. I got to a point when he gave mew silent treatment because I went out of town for family reunion without him. I used that as my start to the No contact strategy seeing as how he wasn’t talking to me anyway, I had no way to contact lol!! I will say it hurt at first but not as bad as submitting and repeating again. To anyone going through this, believe me when I say, it gets better with each day. Today Im taking my daughter to the park, not his btw lol, just to get out of the house to keep this going. But never forget, the narcissist will try to get you back when you finally grow a pair and show him he can fuck off. He will text, call, pop up..when that doesn’t work he will email and leave notes in mailbox. I know, currently dealing with this. Be strong and don’t give in. I wanna do him so bad too..tmi i know..but that is what i miss the most which is how he used it against me. It gets better. And anyone that wants to talk feel free to email me since I am experiencing this at level 8 on scale of 1-10. And to the author, thank you so much for this and your book. You have helped me commit to this in ways I probably wouldn’t have. You have my undying appreciation!!!

    • Renee

      July 27, 2016 at 11:34 am Reply

      Deanne,
      I know, and understand. Me too. I’m so sorry this happened to you and everyone else who is out there hurting like us. but remember- we have the ability to have happy, healthy futures, while they do not. As Zari mentioned- they actually haven’t changed- and they have to live with themselves and the way they are, they are not actually ‘happy.” The knowledge of that fact, along with the postpone and pretend tactic, helps me alot. i think were meant to be loving, happy beings and for myself, when I feel anger, resentment and bitterness (normal reactions, btw!) it brings my energy vibration down, it’s like there is a dark cloud around me that my environment reacts to. I find that when I can be in a mood of compassion and love, it brings me to a happier, better state. it is so HARD to do, after the horrible ways we were treated- but it has nothing to do with whether my ex deserves forgiveness, I DO deserve to forgive and be compassionate because it helps me be happier, if that makes sense? But I have to do it several times a day still. We all deserve to be happy.

    • Erin

      November 6, 2016 at 7:35 pm Reply

      Curious to know how it’s going .. it’s been a day and I feel anxious for him to text me .. we broke up once before .. and I didn’t care then . He contacted me after 3 months . This Time around I do. I don’t know why .. my self esteem and health have gotten low probably ! So day one . ! Help ?

  • D

    June 2, 2016 at 2:30 am Reply

    Thank u so much for this ❤ good to know ur not alone..

  • Steph

    May 25, 2016 at 6:53 pm Reply

    Zari & all her website info has been my saving grace…I read it all & many times to just to keep my own self-worth & sanity…as she says, “a narissist break up is one of the worst…and all so true…if you’re researching & reading all the info available…you’ve met ur N match…it’s the most unbearable pain, but, we have to get through this…looking so forward to having my Zari consultation..I feel down deep in my gut & self, this will help me move forward & find some piece of mind

    • Zari Ballard

      May 29, 2016 at 1:36 am Reply

      Hi Steph,

      I look forward to talking with you on Tuesday:) Help is on the way…

      Zari xo

  • StephPI

    May 9, 2016 at 8:32 pm Reply

    Well, this could be a long story, but, will keep as short as i can…Little different than all, am a lesbian with a 17 yr relationship that was pretty damn good…were the butterflies a little lost, yes, but , the rest was good, until…the narcissist coworker moved in. Until, I started doing search on personality disorders did i realize, I had become involved with a narcissist. Heterosexual, blonde, blue eyes, continually seduced me until it finally happened, the idealization stage. I now know..Kept my distance, but, fell for it. Watch out, its just the beginning…The first 3 months, she was persistent, I tried leaving, but, she’d show up at my work, want to talk, blah, blah..that should have been my first warning sign. Oh, no, I fell for it..We went on the best rollercoaster ride after that for 3 yrs, she cheating, lying, u name it…I should have just bought annual passes for Disney World, the happiest place on the earth..the rollercoasters end after the ride in 5 minutes. ….I’m not your typical dyke, nor am i ur beautiful Miss USA, but, am attractive, have a lot going for me, decent job, own my own home, have a retirement plan & plans for retirement…she nothing, but,” I love my grandson, nothing makes me happy but him….Hello, that should have been my second clue…She chased me kept up a good front, then we got to devaluation, everything was mine or someone elses fault, the demeaning, belittling, insults started..Oh, no, gotta keep her happy & and admiring her all the time, building up her self-esteem,,,then she gets diagnosed with colon cancer, surgically removed, went through chemo, she’s doing fine….Oh, no, the narcissisum in her came out even worse. Was it all about her before, yes, is it worse now, yes. Now, we have to find someone that i can marry, get on their health insurance plan, stop working, now mind you, she is perfectly fine now, and become a snowbird, we live in Florida, “so I can come & go to NY to see my grandkids, “Don’t want a relationship, just a business deal so i can be with family” which she doesn’t get along with..I finally began to see through this smoke screen, said, “nope not giving you any more money”, now, don’t get me wrong, she has a good job & makes good money, but, another narcissist thing “my money is mine & yours is mine. Then discard stage started. So, all I can say, watch out you new victim, not only did she have cancer, she still has it, because she is a living cancer, that will suck every bit of life out of you & laugh all the way the Devils Den

    • Zari Ballard

      May 14, 2016 at 3:29 pm Reply

      Hi StephPL,

      So, did you leave your 17-year relationship for this person? I can’t tell but it seems like it and I’m so curious. And now you’re in Florida and still involved/living with this person? You know that the reality is that you’re NOT stuck, right? You don’t have to put up with her shit until the day that you die. Like you said, watch out new victim! Let her go be someone else’s problem. Gladly hand her over to the next target.

      As I’ve said, female narcs are the worst of the worse and when it’s a girl/girl relationship, the victim gets a double throttle. Who knows better how to push a girl’s buttons or gain control over a female than a female? It’s complicated.

      I hope that you’re breaking free….stay strong and send me an update if you have a minute. I’d love to know the outcome…

      Zari xo

      • StephPI

        May 15, 2016 at 8:34 pm Reply

        Hi Zari,
        I thank & appreciate your response more than you know. It’s people like you that keep us, I think I am, normal people from going insane. The 17 yr relationship, had its problems, but, honestly, nothing that terribly major. I was financially pulling all the weight, but, was somewhat at fault, for allowing it. My partner, kinda gotta a little lax, but, treated me very well, very loving, compassionate, caring, very good to my family, she’s, definitely not a narcissist. But, was getting a little frustrated, she not wanting to pursue a better work career to help relieve me of some financial burden. She, was fortunate enough to only work 6 months out of the year, in citrus marketing, as we are in the citrus belt here, but, I allowed her to. For the past 5 yrs, I had been asking her to look into getting a better, all year long job, as that was what I was doing. Wanted to be able to sock some more money away for our retirement… I’m an independent sonographer, so, I do ok, but not a six figure person. I just luckily, know how to manage my money, and can be comfortable. We did separate for 6 months, & no, I didn’t move the new one in…something just wasn’t right??? She sure as hell wanted to. She stayed in her own apartment, & thankfully, that 6 month break from my current relationship began to allow the true colors of the “New Love”, haha…come out…I spent alot of money, energy & time on her, but, now I realized, that only allowed her to spend her money, on her worthless piece of crap son, that supposedly makes $100,000, but, still mooching off of her because he has no gas money….but, then again, he is the father to the grandkids, & “that’s all that makes me happy”…She makes less than him, ok…see where I’m going…Now, his girlfriend, mother, to the grandbabbies, early 20’s, has no education, doesnt drive, & no job, & now up to 3 kids, WTF, anybody know about birthcontrol??? No, because who has to be responsible, grandma keeps enabling. Clothes for the kids, toys, parties, u name it, they get it…So, here sits me, kind hearted, loving, compassionate soul, that just wants to try to make her life better…mention anything about, “you have to let them stand on their own to feet & be responsible for what they’ve created”, & she agrees, but, then flies off the handle on me, in the next breath, all the while I’m paying for expensive dinners, trips, giving her money, etc. This is such a long convoluted story, I don’t want to waste your time. My ex & I are trying to repair & move forward with our relationship, which is hard for me, bcuz as everyone says, coming out of a narcissist relationship is extremely difficult..I’m trying to let myself heal, & not fall back & hurt my ex, anymore than I already have…But, the straw that broke the camel’s back, with the Narc, was, “She saying, I dont want a relationship, dont want the responsibilties of it, while steadfastly, looking for someone to marry, take care of me, not have to work, so, I can be a snowbird, go to NY & be with my family, now she is only 49..Hmmm, doesn’t that require something back in return??? Well, anyway, back to the straw….I texted, even as just your friend, I’m amazed & appalled at what ur doing…I hope you dont find someone who slits your throat…”I’m as docile as they come, never physically fight, maybe a little verbally, but, thats the extent…as my mother always said, you are so loving….WELL!!!! I get a text back, I’m taking your message to the police about slitting my throat. I said, I never threatened you, go right ahead…& then the barrage of texts came, “you’re a loser, pathetic, nuisance, dangerous dyke…And, none of that’s true….I’m the one who owns their own home, works hard, new car, retirement plan, investments.???…..She nothing, rents an apartments, pays her bills??? So, not sure, if you can make a judgement call, but, is this sounding like a narcissist??? And, it even gets deeper..

      • StephPI

        May 15, 2016 at 8:45 pm Reply

        Just an addedum…I got a text, last night, Goodnite…after her barrage of texts, she was getting a new phone….We always did text that every night…Was that for the new victim, or just to mess with me???..Havent talked in 3 weeks…I didnt respond, trying to stick with NO CONTACT

        • Zari Ballard

          May 16, 2016 at 6:42 am Reply

          Hi StephPL,

          Oh, I’m sure it was to mess with you. If you can, block the new number. She can’t be allowed to do that whenever she feels like it…

          Zari:)

          • Steph

            May 16, 2016 at 8:15 pm

            Thank you Zari…ur continued support has helped me stay stay strong..I would like to talk with you…have no problem with ur rates, just depends on my availability of time on my end…I just need the final closure of some1
            who knows narissists…and that I feel u now plenty about…

          • Steph

            May 17, 2016 at 8:59 pm

            Well Zari,
            U were right, that late goodnite text was intended for me. She showed up at my work today…The only good thing is we are both professional, so nothing major happened. We talked peacefully, best thing, we don’t need any major explosion to disrupt both of our jobs…I have bought an hr conversation with you, hope we can both make it work into r schedules…I feel you can understand my situation, & then I can move on…No Doubt in my mind she is a narcissist, just hope u can help me confirm this…I just need to be able to rid myself of this cancer & move on

          • Zari Ballard

            May 19, 2016 at 6:06 pm

            Hi Steph,

            I sent you a confirmation on the 17th right away and then sent a follow-up today because I hadn’t heard back from you. I didn’t even make the connection!! LOL I think I sent the confirmation from my yahoo address and the follow-up from my gmail to make sure that you got it. Respond to yahoo if you get it but I’ll check both…..I look forward to talking with you!!!

            Zari 🙂

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