Getting Over the Narcissist: A Game of Postpone & Pretend

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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  • Msdori

    May 3, 2016 at 6:17 am Reply

    Hi Zari,
    Don’t know if anyone else has mentioned this song, “Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri
    I ran across it while listening to some popular songs…found it to fit perfectly about getting over a ‘narcissist’ relationship, re-enforcing the strength we have in staying strong….give a listen
    PS I’m already on your email list

    • Zari Ballard

      May 4, 2016 at 1:40 am Reply

      Hi Msdori,

      I know that song and I love it!!! It is all about a narcissist…WITHOUT A DOUBT. Thank you for sharing the link!

      Zari xo

  • Avis

    April 20, 2016 at 5:42 pm Reply

    I love you, and I love this site! Seriously. I’ve been doing research on narcissist, listening to youtube lectures on narcissism and codependency in my car for months now, not even sure if my situation applied. I got way too attached to one of my students (college level) nothing physical but his neediness over the last four years has cost me dinners, hours of counseling, my attention to my other students and yes, a broken heart. I’m a dance teacher and he is/was a great dancer, and of course needed constant reassurance he was a good performer. He was the star of most of our shows for 7 years!! Sent him to NYC, called friends to give him a chance, pulled strings, etc. I called him my muse, and he lived with me and hubby for 3 months while he was working on production. So proud and attached I was…I found myself texting him late into the night, talking about our lives, and the arts. He started posting things on fb to get my attention regarding other people and how they were better for him, doing more…then he’d “forget” to come to rehearsal. As the lead of several productions, I’d call, beg and get this new stern refusal that he was busy. I found myself in rages, texting crazy things, obsessing, THIS IS NOT ME! I felt desperate, anxious, my chest was always tight and I was afraid to tell anyone how I felt because “everyone likes him”. I felt like the bad guy, I felt like the abuser! I would demand more of his time and he would just brush me off. He openly declared he was not going to share his Snapchat with me, and I was visibly shaken when he asked me if I was jealous. I didn’t know what to say, and couldn’t figure out how I got into this situation. I kept asking what was up with me?! Was I in love with him? No…? so why was I so attached and why did I care so much and so deeply? During a rehearsal, someone out of the blue accused him of being a narcissist, so I looked into it! This is a classic case and a month ago I got so mad he didn’t text me back, I sent him a text saying I understood why his mom treated him the way she did. WOW. the rage I got back, he called saying he couldn’t work with me anymore, he couldn’t trust me and he needed “time” to think about what to do next. I was crushed, guilty and lost. I felt like a 5 year old begging daddy not to leave me alone in my room for being a bad girl. I’ve been quietly hysterical while dealing with the silent treatment for a month now, however he did come to a show two weeks ago. He hugged and fawned over everyone, and chase me around to hug me in public. Didn’t happen…so I guess I made him more mad? In any event it is so hard to have rehearsal without him, he was such a part of my every day life. I have breakdowns sometimes, and text or call and leave a message. I’ve been blocked from his facebook and Instagram… but I’m going to do your postpone and pretend starting NOW.

  • Kim Yu

    March 17, 2016 at 10:59 pm Reply

    Hi Zari,
    How does one go about being strong and deferring the sadness and pain when ex is the father of my 8 month old baby? What can i do to stay strong and get over him? We are in contact in hopes of keeping a harmonious and amicable relationship for baby’s sake but it has been very difficult for me to move on. It had been 4 months but the contact and exchanging baby during visitations is not helping me! Plus, ex regularly asks what I’m doing and who I’m going out with. Looking forward to your insight. Thank you

    • Zari Ballard

      April 8, 2016 at 11:16 pm Reply

      Hi Kim,

      I realize that it has been a long time since you wrote and I apologize for the delay in responding. In hopes that it will help you, I have listed some strategies for dealing with a co-parenting narcissist. This is all about intimidation and control and you simply have to stand up for yourself. It takes practice and resolve but it is NOT impossible.

      1) Keep all verbal communication (in person and on the phone) to a MAXIMUM of ten minutes and no more. There is nothing that he has to say to you or you to him that can not be said in under ten minutes. If you have to watch your watch, do it and let him know, if he goes off, that his time is ticking away so he’d better make it good. Then hang up or walk away. What’s the worst that can happen? He’ll get mad? So what – he’s mad all the time anyway.

      2) Keep all verbal communication to about the baby only and ONLY if it’s necessary information. You have to be the judge of what is necessary and what isn’t and be confident in your decision. This tip goes hand in hand with Tip 1 above. Ten minutes and no more. Most importantly, you do NOT have to answer questions about your life – it’s NONE OF HIS BUSINESS. Walk away or hang up.

      3) No matter what is being said, practice showing only DETACHMENT and INDIFFERENCE. Show him no emotion whatsoever even if it kills you. Shut the door and beat the wall, but don’t let him ruffle your feathers. This is what he obviously LIKES to do. My thought here is that, by keeping all interaction to ten minutes, you can fake ANYTHING for ten minutes – even a non-emotion. Know what I mean? At the same time that you’re training him to see that he doesn’t have the crazy effect on you he used to have, you will be re-training your own brain to understand the same thing. Fake it till you make it.

      4) Document everything…even if the interaction is good. Ten minutes at a shot is easy to keep track of. Keep a journal/notebook handy at all times. If you need to go back to court against him for whatever reason, this will be worth it’s weight in gold.

      Good luck, Kim. Write me whenever you want. I’m here to support you!

      Zari xo

  • Rowena

    March 11, 2016 at 9:47 pm Reply

    THANKYOU! THANKYOU! THANKYOU! for this site. The picture is now becoming very clear. From start to now its been chaotic,confusing,distressing,frustrating,painful ,exhausting and more. Reading various posts its clear how strong many of you are. I wish you the best on your journeys. Soon I hope this charade will be over,I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. All the best with your work Zari.x

  • Tasha

    January 2, 2016 at 9:26 am Reply

    Thank you….i just broke up again from my narracist and this is it….i’m done can’t do it in 2016

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