Breaking Our Narc Addiction: The Truth About Suffering

no-sufferingMentally letting go of the narcissist is never going to happen as fast as we’d like unless we starting taking credit for recovery time served. If we did that…if we realized that there are phases to the suffering post-break-up with a narcissist and that, for the most part, we’ve moved through them successfully without even knowing it, we wouldn’t be so inclined to give up and go back from whence we came – to the very person that caused us the initial grief.

Simply put, to break our addiction to the narcissist, we have to understand what all the suffering really means. I’m going to try to explain it so that everyone can find a place of peace. Believe me, when you “get it”, you can rest assured that recovery is around the corner.

If we gave ourselves the suffering credit that we deserve…if we weren’t so willing to give in and give up… we’d eliminate – at that point – the compulsion to break no-contact because we would know that it wasn’t the narcissist we were even missing!

Okay, Zari, what the fuck are you talking about?

I’m saying that we become The Suffering. It’s part of the game that we play with the narcissist and we’re left with the residuals. Most of us don’t realize that, when the final break-up with a narcissist occurs, our sadness and grief is actually less about the loss of the relationship than it is about the fact that we’ve become the suffering that was associated with it.

If you think about it, we spend far more time with The Suffering than we ever do with the narcissist himself/herself…so it’s natural to become attached to it. The sadness becomes a familiar connection…it keeps us in the loop all by itself. This is why the narcissist likes to keep us anxious and off-balance. His theory is that as long as we’re suffering, he can feel fairly confident that we’ll always be in the queue. For the most part, his theory is right but we have the power to change that by, say, believing in a “theory” like mine – that we can get past the suffering and out of the fucking queue much quicker if we first realize that it’s not all about him. We just think that it is.

It’s been weeks…months! I don’t even want the motherfucker back. So why am I so unhappy? All I want to do is cry. What the hell is wrong with me?

Nothing is wrong with you but there are two phases of suffering. Listen carefully. Time and time again, in consultations, I hear this: Why am I still so sad? I don’t even want him back! What’s wrong with me? The person I’m speaking with is usually beside themselves with self-doubt. I explain that this particular form of cognitive dissonance is a good thing and that it’s different from the cognitive dissonance that makes us doubt the narcissist is even a narcissist. When you’ve reached the point of feeling nuts over the fact that you still feel sad, the worst of the suffering is actually over. You’ve passed through the first phase. In other words, you are no longer in denial!

zari-ballard-consult-supportIt’s during that first phase that people will ask me “Are you sure he’s/she’s a narcissist? Are you sure?” (to which I typically respond, “The fact that you’re calling me tells me you already know the answer to that.”) Still, they may struggle or choose not to believe me. Two phone calls later, when I hear “He’s a narcissist. I don’t even like him! Why am I’m still crazy sad?”, I know that they’ve moved on to phase two and are now attached only to the sadness itself  and while this attachment is actually more bittersweet than being attached to the narcissist, it’s far easier to let go of!

The problem is that the second phase of suffering is where it becomes dangerous because if we don’t understand it, we can easily give in to the depression and go back. This is why, if right now you are feeling the compulsion to make contact even though you’ve accepted the reality, it is imperative that you pay attention to what I’m trying to say. Listen up – you’re NOT crazy!

The feeling of having to let go – to be free of the madness – is often difficult to appreciate. I didn’t get it either at first. When my ex finally walked out (after 13-years), never to return, I couldn’t even cry – I knew it had to end. Yet three months later, I still felt crazy with undeniable grief. It took me awhile to understand that my attachment to the narc was long over. It was my attachment to the suffering itself that I had to get over…my addiction to the very drama that I hated…and THAT I could handle!

Get Better…Get Zari’s Book!

At first we miss the delusions because although the madness wasn’t pleasant, it wasn’t dull either.  Being caught up in all that drama and chaos sure kept us occupied and on the edge of our seats. When all the narcissistic noise subsides, the silence is so deafening that we don’t even realize that we are coming back to SANITY. And believe it or not, Zen Therapy and Buddhist Philosophy will tell you that after madness, the first phase of SANITY may not infrequently be a form of depression. I swear to you, this is the way it works! Look it up! You don’t need professional therapy, you just to move through it. THIS TOO SHALL PASS – AND QUICKLY!

I’m done with the N and now I’m just stuck on the sadness. Everyone is sick of it and so am I.  How do I get through the final phase?

By realizing this: our suffering changes nothing. When we’re with the narcissist, we suffer because we think it’s going to change something – either with the narc or the relationship – but it never does. For instance, when my ex would disappear or go silent I would suffer like no tomorrow, day after day, until he returned. I just couldn’t help it. The silent treatment was his favorite “punishment”. Then one day, I switched it up, deciding to have a ball while he was gone, and what do ya know? He still returned. Suffering or not, the result was the same. Pretty soon, I was counting down the days until my next “vacation”.

The same way that you were able to move past phase one of suffering (missing the narcissist) without even knowing it – by accepting the truth – is how we get through phase two. Understand in your heart that our suffering changes not a fucking thing. It doesn’t change the world, our world, the narcissist’s world, the past, the future…not a thing. We can curl up in the fetal position, lose ten pounds, and even feel suicidal and the universe and everything in it just keeps moving. As I said, in many ways, the final phase – the final “let go” before mental freedom – is often that bittersweet sadness that makes our heart shatter…like the ending to a really sad movie. But the truth is that the movie is OVER and it’s time to exit the cinema.

When you get to the point that you still feel sad even though you KNOW you don’t miss the N, believe me, it’s done. Hold all that useless suffering – the suffering that changes not a thing – in the palm of your hand and blow it the biggest good-by kiss ever.

Think about it…if we can come to realize and accept that all the love in our hearts can’t convince a narcissist to care about right from wrong, then we can certainly realize that our suffering changes nothing and choose to be happy.


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  • snowarab

    June 21, 2016 at 12:15 pm Reply

    I agree fully to this. I have to look back though, and sort of forgive myself for getting attached to the suffering because it was so carefully created, so sick the way he did it. There WAS true suffering at first. At some point, he texted me though, don’t you have any self-respect. All of these things, after he almost stole money from me, were truly dumbfounding to me. I had never run across someone so horrid because all the things that were positive and good, in the end meant absolutely nothing. But since I could never ever do what he did, it was inconceivable that it was all intentional and it was so easy to believe it was all my fault. Again, carefully crafted but also, I clearly had the right personality or ‘issues’ to fall for it though he deeply trauma bonded me to him. I also went through the very intense phase of how could he do this after claiming he looked for me for decades. thought of me… how could he even risk hurting me again? As you said in another post, because history means nothing to these people.

    But I do remember vaguely understanding what you posted here, that my hurting from real reasons, and continuing to hurt, was the only thing after a while that kept me bonded to him, in my head. I remember once him telling me to stop hurting myself. It blew me away, how does someone KNOW this to say to someone? Well, because he has done it a million times to women, that’s how. He causes immense hurt and then steps out and then easily blames the person for walking around with that big gaping hole. But after a while, it did start to filter through that the pain of what he did (long story) was over. I mean the actual things he did were over and that at some point, I had to accept that he didn’t care at all for me and he was that willing to hurt me. I had to accept I was played. I had to accept how deeply hurt I was an also, strangely, I had to accept that I loved him, trusted him and even needed him (not needy, just needed him). I had to do both, recognize how much he meant to me, despite the hurt (that wasn’t easy to do) he really caused and then learn to let them both go, my care and attachment to my suffering, which is where I am at right now.

    I think this is one of the last things that binds us to these people. If we let the suffering go, are we letting THEM go? I had a friend tell me that love isn’t pain. I had a hard time understanding that as I have spent alot of my life in pain from lack of FOO love. I learned well before him to hang on to pain as it was the only thing I had because without that pain, I would have to face that my family really and truly abandoned me and I was in fact, floating freely in life on so many levels. Its a very twisted thing for sure.

    I think the hardest thing though is to face who and what these people are. Absolutely nothing made sense at first. The hot/cold, the love/hate, the drama, the lack of honestly and care. How could anyone be so incongruous and not see it was the problem? I pointed them all out to him as we all did, but in the end, this is who he is and not a thing will ever change it. Ever. Holding on to the hurt and “trying one more time” wasn’t going to change a thing. Neither the hurt and suffering and the effort was bringing anything positive to my life. And I also realized that if I “played right” he could be in my life. If I treated myself as his doormat, pretended what he did hadn’t happened, then sure, he could be in my life. But that is how I slowly realized there wasn’t a damn thing there for me. No one should have to live life ignoring this kind of abuse just to keep someone.

    I think, once I accepted that history didn’t mean anything, he didn’t care whether I lived or died, and that nothing about me would change a thing, even the beautiful parts of who I am or my sadness or suffering, did I understand that this person has absolutely nothing for me. Maybe someone else (but I also hear that he can’t hold on to any relationships) but all I need to think about is ME and what he can give to me and it was nothing.

    And, strangely, I am still here even though I have given up the suffering. And strangely, he is still there if I ever want him back in my life. But he’s there for all the wrong reasons. Not for love, but because I am just one other person of many in his queue.

    • alightthatnevergoesout

      August 4, 2016 at 12:29 pm Reply

      Snowarab, I must say I truly and deeply rely to your comment. I do not know the details about your Narc or even the details about your relationship, but when I understood you went through some issues with him trying to steal money from you for example, I felt something about your story would be applicable to mine.

      I am just getting into this phase of realising that the only thing that is holding me back, that is preventing me from truly moving on and letting go is the suffering and the sadness. They are the only things I still feel. The emptiness that comes with it, the crippling anxiety and self-doubt, the open hole bleeding out as I try to walk through life.

      Our story ended 4 months ago, but hell, I think the sadness I felt in the very beginning has nothing comparable with what I am going through now. I feel full on crazy, weak, stupid. It’s draining my own energy. Why am I reacting like this? Now?

      We never got in contact through the 4 months. Maybe in the beginning, because we were engaged in some professional endeavours together, and also he tried stealing money from me. Winning this fight against him has meant a lot to me and gave me some drive and strength to move on. At first.

      I am so scared of my own thoughts now. I can’t fall asleep at night. I am simply obsessed with the thoughts of our past relationship and all the damage that has been done. Is it possible to ever heal from the mental and psychological consequences? Why is this so painful now?

      I cry every day thinking about it. I am just so sick to not be over it already.

      When I read this article at first, I burst into tears again when reading about the Budhism principles saying the first step into happiness is depression.

      I was sure I had got over it already. Living my life to the fullest and be able to live for myself. I am in total relapse and absolutely frightened. It is good to hear from people who qualify it as the “last phase”, the “last step” before full recovery.

      • Colleen

        August 20, 2016 at 2:37 pm Reply

        I used to feel like someone chopped off my legs or something when he left me- like a necessary part of my being was missing and I couldn’t make it. It’s absolutely the worst. And I’m soooo sorry that ur going thru this. Keep reading, reaching out, keep trying- don’t give in or give up no matter how many times u fall. Get back up. There’s hope!

    • Sick of BS

      January 24, 2017 at 12:14 am Reply

      Well, I think the strongest thing for ME that registered from ur comment…was your recollection – how he coldly suggested U should “stop hurting urself”, obviously making a mockery of ur emotions, feelings & adult concerns…I had a visualisation (from exper)…HOW he most likely said it, as he just glared at U, while U were in dis-belief to his sudden change of attitude….not an emotional bone in his body, as he just let his ‘mask’ slip. How, he most likely gloated to himself, watching ur emotions emerge (alone with him) – not hysterical, just hurting (the ones he doesn’t have & never will) & just trying to figure – WHY, the turn?
      And PURE dis-belief u WERE IN…knowing u’d been intimate with this person, had laughed together many times, told him ur feelings about all sorts of stuff, esp the stuff U loved…& believed he fully shared those moments & agreed. Oh, he shared them alright…patiently waiting for the moment when he’d just smash them into the ground. Yes, I know it…pure Norman Bates with the switch.
      Take care sweet….the world IS getting wiser to these bastards….& U are already one step ahead of everyone….they are VERY SIMILAR in how they react with ppl. I just wish I had the knowledge & official label of these types when I was a child…the only types that ever came close – were the serious bully types at school, for no real reason except gain popularity thru their pranks…& I avoided them, then. We ALL recall how they had minions, or some weak person who stood behind them. We were never warned these juveniles, may never grow up – just how lil they’d conform to be adults…some very smart (high IQs) & going onto Uni…yet, entering their 20s, they were also learning how to play down their nasty souls…to gain better effect. However, mentally – they are stuck in juvenile…even with a Uni degree….pretending they are playful outside work. PRETENDING is their occupation…it’s a full-time job.
      Even tho the statistics are high…1 in 25…they are STILL much less than us (the ppl with care for others & feeling)…so, there is better hope out there, but realise they are ALWAYS out there (esp now with internet)…since they can’t hold relationships & always, looking for prey…just, be careful. Watch the bragger or sudden pity-player…& esp the fast love-bomber! Or the one who suddenly wants U to jump into a cause.
      Is he really into U, by his behaviour? Always ask urself, that question.
      Take care

  • Joanne

    June 20, 2016 at 2:42 pm Reply

    Hi Zari

    well got my 2nd hoover yesterday from different number….texting :hope this makes you feel better the controlling woman after you burned me for other man on Father’s Day eve”….wtfi? I’d say they are perfect for each other lol…..interestingly it was few days after his ex wife & i hung out and compared stories (he lives 1 1/2 hours south) ex lives a few blocks from me….their 21 yr old daughter lives down by him & has been estranged from mom for a year or so….she has no clue why & why won’t dear old dad will not speak to her and tell her to talk to her mom…..he hit mom & denies it to daughter…..she thinks mom broke up the family for nothing & does not believe moms story….. when we were together I used to tell him he needs to get things right between mom and daughter ….. he would always brush me off and just pooh-poohed and say couldn’t do it whatever whatever ….. I remember I pressed him as to why and he came out with this outrageous story that he got mom on her knees giving some guy a blowjob while they’re having a family barbecue !??… therefore he couldn’t tell daughter because then she would hiate her mom more ( like you need to give your girl details ?!)….. at the time I was still in the fog and so I let it go but he had given me a beat down several weeks prior to that and went to jail and so on so forth and was claiming he never hit a woman before … and I were friends so she told me well that was why she left him so when I saw him the next time and he was claiming he never hit a woman before I let him know that it was a lie that I talk to his ex and she told me what was up and that’s when he came up with the story of her giving a blowjob when in reality according to ex he was dead asleep…. after he hoovered me yesterday I thought about it and I realize that’s the exact moment when I started to be devalued was when I called him on his lie……. it’s so bizarre how predictable these guys are it blows my mind !!! needless to say I have not answered him back nor do I intend to but it was kind of cool that I kind of could put my finger on the moment that he started to devalue me because he was caught in huge lie …..he was always so nice so I thought other than the dating sites I caught him on the text messages with other women saying good morning sexy nice boobs etc. oh and the disappearing acIs I could never figure it out ( can you say red flags hitting me over the head ?) I just need to get this off my chest but I refuse to ac knowledge him in anyway shape or form and I just wish everybody strength and hang in there!!!! it willget better every day you DO NOT CONTACT or respond…..its HARD I so want to text him back and say the only thing would make me happy is if you texted me and said you were 10 feet under but I wont even give him
    that…..THANK YOU ZARI & everyone on here!! if you haven’t gotten Zaris books you must do it immediately……they saved my sanity….huge giant hugs to you Zari!!! xxxooo girl you’re the best…..forgive me but I’m typing this on my phone and it’s pretty hard lol. Love to y’all it’s a great day here at the beach xxxooo

    • Zari Ballard

      June 27, 2016 at 6:44 am Reply

      Hi Jo,

      You stay strong, girl! There are so many things we want to say that we think would be the icing on the cake…the perfect phrase to make us feel better about the whole mess…but the reality is that NOTHING is exactly what they deserve. They wouldn’t get it anyway. Now, silence…THAT they understand. I hope your silence stings.

      Other than that, I bet you look hot in that tan! His loss – what a douchebag! LOL

      Love ya,
      Zari xo

      • Steph

        June 27, 2016 at 3:25 pm Reply

        Just talked with Zari, what a great conversation, there is no doubt, we can’t change them, can we really change any1??? No we can’t, & with Narcs, forget about it…I’m still struggling just as every1 else…but, we have to continue NC…there’s really no other way…we love them, want them, but, they could care less about us…Zari, keeps me strong, as she says, we’re all in this together.,.& she needs us too…let’s just stay strong & move forward…as I’ve always said, the devil wants us, we can defeat him…love to all & especially my Zari

  • Same Boat

    June 20, 2016 at 7:58 am Reply


    A very strong word to the wise: NO CONTACT IS NO JOKE! You cannot have ONE HIT of a cigarette if you quit and you cannot have ONE DRINK if you are a recovering alcoholic! Learn from this, my BIG FAT MISTAKE! I went to a club knowing there was a chance my ex N would be because my friend wanted to see the band.. I felt I was OVER HIM, no feelings at all, so I thought, “well I’m not gonna feel scared of him forever!” Long story short; he was not there, but his friends were and they told him I was there so he was rushing over to see me. I left before he got there! I felt SO STRONG! My friend even told me how strong I was!! Yeah baby, fuck him!! ha! Then… without warning he called my home phone the next day. I cannot explain to you why I did what I did at that moment… as it had been 7 months NC… but, (oh Zari I know, please don’t kill me!) I answered. 45 minutes of his love bombing was almost believable for a second. Still I held firm and said it was over and I would NOT be seeing him again. Every day after that I received emails with more love bombing, but also nice ‘normal’ emails asking about my family, how’s my day etc. Sounded safe enough and I was actually somewhat enjoying the daily ‘hello’s’ even though deep down I knew this was a VERY BAD IDEA! He asked me on a few occasions to meet up with him (for concerts etc) (so familiar how Zari?) I said no each time, but kept up with communication. This weekend I went to another show that I knew he might be at. I KNOW! UGH! I made sure I looked HOT! I wanted him to see how good I looked and have him grovel a bit all the while I would still say “no”. I guess I was thinking that would be some kind of “revenge?” idk. Anyway, NOTHING could prepare me for what really happened. I looked over and there he was at the bar.. with a girl! I know he saw me out of the corner of his eye and grabbed her head and started making out with her!! I walked toward the bar where my friend was, STARED HIM RIGHT IN THE EYES, looked away for one second and when I looked back they were gone. The look he gave me back was not one of ‘oh no!” it was one of “How do you like me now?” PURE EVIL! That look is haunting me now. A whole day of ‘let me explain” emails the next day and now I am left with the most horrific feelings of regret and anger. LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE GUYS AND GIRLS! DO NOT BREAK CONTACT! EVER! FOR ANY REASON! can I repeat: EVER! Let the healing process begin: AGAIN! Fuck! (as an added note: I responded to his emails but told him “you think you’re hurting me but you’re not. I don’t care one bit about you”..) not that it makes a difference, I know.

    • Zari Ballard

      June 20, 2016 at 1:51 pm Reply

      Hi Girl…

      OMG….so sorry! I was reading your post and, of course, knew the outcome before I got half way through it. Got butterflies in my stomach – sympathy anxiety! Thank you for sharing. I am going to mark it as an important post after I finish this reply. What happened was a TYPICAL NARCISSIST MANEUVER and couldn’t have happened any other way. It’s all about what they can get away with. Evil motherfucker he is. It’s so weird if you think about it because it’s not like there was any way he could have known you’d be at the first show after all that time or that his friends (flying fucking monkeys they are!) would tell him which would in turn start the ball rolling which would eventually lead to the quasi-in-your-face-discard of the second show. This shows without a doubt that it takes just ONE THING to get them to do it to us again and THIS – AS WE ALL KNOW – IS THE REASON WHY NO CONTACT MUST MEAN NO CONTACT.

      Reminds me of a time when my ex – after 4 months of NC (and me feeling great) – just happened to be driving along and see me standing in my friends driveway which was right off a busy main road. All I was doing was putting a for sale sign on my car and cleaning it up and he just pulled up, got out, and started in all happy to see me. I held strong and was aloof but he was persistent, saying he wanted to see me, blah blah. He asked for a hug, I reluctantly gave in, and then he mouthed the words “CALL ME”, making the phone sign with his hand and yelling out his number as he drove off. I thought I was being so strong but two days later I had to do it…I called. AND WHAT DO YOU KNOW – THE NUMBER WAS DISCONNECTED. And then I was right back in it like a raving maniac. Bastard!

      Girl, TAKE BACK THE POWER AND BLOCK HIM EVERYWHERE AS WE DISCUSSED LONG AGO!!! Cease all communications immediately. The fact that you are responding at all after he did that tells him – without a doubt – that you are in the queue. It tells him that he got away with it NO MATTER WHAT YOU SAY TO HIM Like I always say, when there is a compulsion to react or respond, imagine the SMIRK on the other end. It doesn’t matter whether your communications are negative or positive…it means all the same to him. It’s all about the fact that you communicated at all.

      Brush yourself off and get back up and out there. No more shows. If you think he might be there, do not go. No concert is that important. Don’t allow this to put you back at square one. It was just a glitch and now it’s over. Back on the wagon, sister. I’m here if you need me….

      Much Love,
      Z xoxo

      • Same Boat

        June 27, 2016 at 11:53 am Reply

        Hi Zari and friends…Well it’s been just over a week since my run in with the evil bastard! This last week pretty much sucked… my mind just won’t stop the “what if’s”!?: “what if I didn’t answer” “what if I didn’t respond to email?” “what if I didn’t go to that damn show!?” etc. I can come up with a thousand answers to the ‘what if’ questions.. the reality is he was on the prowl, working his way back to me (his mom and her crocodile tears telling me how much he loves me etc). Do I regret answering the phone? HELL YES! Can I take it back? Sadly, no. You’re response to my horrific run in was great and helped me get through the week even though I still feel like crap. Mostly I’m mad at myself for allowing it, sigh. I just wanted to report that he has NOT tried contacting me and trust me that WITHOUT QUESTION if he does (through his Mom etc).. I WILL NOT RESPOND! EVER AGAIN! FOR ANY REASON! EVER!!!! That last disgusting thing did it for me! Still hurts though, that’s not what I want stuck in my head after all I’ve been through. Tough lesson for sure. I am not good at feeling resentment, anger, or regret.. kills my soul. I had accepted it all from the last time and was truly at peace. He knew I was doing well (from his Mom) and needed to do something about it! Do I give that to him? Let him suck my peace away? No, fuck no. He got me good for a week, but no more! (imagine how much longer that could have gone on for? if i gave in to the notion of ‘being friends’?) I shiver to think of it. Just sharing this with you makes me feel better. Quick added note: i showed some of his ‘before and after incident emails’ to a friend who’s ‘been there’ and she said “WOW! He really is a master!” Yeah, he is and I hate admitting it cause that just lets reminds me of how many others he is hurting as I type this… 🙁

    • snowarab

      June 21, 2016 at 12:32 pm Reply

      I remember the narc told me a story. This was before he had started his damage. In that story, he was telling me about how he had been rejected sexually by his partner or something. We were sharing a similar story of my own. So he said, this is what you do, go in the bathroom and start masturbating. Get real loud and noisy and make sure the other person hears. I remember thinking what a funny thing to think of and do.

      Well, now that I know what I know, it was pure manipulation and triangulation. Only in this case, he was triangulating with his partner with himself! How sick is that? But, I guess it works as he described it easily enough and it sounded like it was effective in his life before. They will find anything, anyway, to cause pain, to make you feel excluded, to make themselves feel in demand and desireable, even if they are flying solo.

  • Cat

    June 16, 2016 at 3:10 am Reply

    It’s so hard to believe that someone I knew, worked with and was kinda friends with for 15 years before getting into a relationship with is a narc. I’ve been NC for about 6 weeks and I’ve got carton upon carton of his junk here, along with tons of sports equipment. I don’t want him here….at all…for any reason. I can drop stuff at his sister’s house without having to see him, but I know she’ll go through everything and pilfer anything of value…just like she took everything of value after their mom died. But that’s not my problem, right? I’ve gotten a couple of different answers and maybe I’m fishing for the answer I want. A very nice narc survivor told me she stored her ex’s stuff in the garage (I don’t have a garage, so it’s all in my basement and storage shed). A friend of mine told me to hold onto it, just in case…but she also thinks he and I can be friends again. She works with counselors and I guess she picks things up by osmosis. Doesn’t understand how a narc works. As long as his stuff is here, he’ll think he has a foot in the door. Another friend told me to burn it. I feel like, with his property here, I’m walking around waiting for him to just show up. He’d never call first because I might say “no” and he doesn’t take that or confrontation well.

    Am I stuck with the cartons being stored here until it’s convenient for HIM to come and get them? I’ve lived for several years with everything revolving around what is convenient for him. I want them gone now. I really do. There’s 8 or 10 cartons, plus all the sports stuff that’s too big to box up….and more to box up. He moved in just over a year ago and left 11 months to the day after his arrival. He was going through a divorce that was a long time coming, then went back several months after she was served (supposedly) when the kids started calling him (supposedly.) Long long story, but I have seen a different side of him in the last year and I don’t like it. I adored his mom and was present when she died. I’m friends with his sister only because of him, so that has to end. I just don’t want him to decide to show up and need a place to stay when/if he leaves home again, for real or play. My “counselor-by-association” friend thinks that if I’m over the heartache part of the relationship that was(n’t) that I can rent a room to him. I say no.

    I’m so conflicted about this, which annoys me because I’m normally very decisive. I lived a peaceful stress free life until he erupted into my household and I want that old life back! He thrives on drama and chaos. I always considered home my safe haven from the world. He’s an extrovert to the point of coming across as over-zealous to be the center of attention sometimes and I’m almost a introvert and don’t like being in the limelight.

    • Zari Ballard

      June 18, 2016 at 1:48 am Reply

      You’re not stuck with anything. Move them out. Call his sister to come get them and if she doesn’t answer, put them on the curb. Don’t be conflicted. This is YOUR life. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Just don’t make a big deal about it…just pack up his shit, put it out, and be done with it.


      • Cat

        June 21, 2016 at 7:32 am Reply

        I’ve actually laughed a bit about his leaving in such an all-fired hurry. My schedule was in the process to being changed so we would have the same days off (we work in the same place) and I betcha he had activities going on that I didn’t know about. One day he was there, giving me a set of huge wind chimes that he knew I wanted. The next, I came home to a uHaul truck and showing me texts to prove his kids were excited that he was returning home. Of course, he filled the truck, but left tons of crap behind. So as I’m packing up everything I find…to include things from his mom that his ex-in-the-process-of-becoming-the-ex wife supposedly told him he couldn’t have in the house. NOT my problem if she throws or trashes them. Don’t care. Not one bit. I find this cathartic and amusing. An over-the-top-OCD friend who can organize like nobody I’ve ever seen has come over a couple times to help me purge, pack and clean.

        Does that mean I don’t miss him? Nah. I do miss some of the good times, but I’m a realist….plus I miss the old me more than I miss th =e handful of good times with him. I could never trust him even if he came back on hands and knees, crying (he can do that pretty easily) and begging. More likely he’ll be in a raging temper next time I see him and I know me…I’ll roll my eyes and tell him to get over himself. I choose the dog we got over him. He admitted to “beating her @$$” after she had a potty accident at 6 months old. I can defend myself…but to beat a puppy so that when she crouches out flat in fear when I went to after she had another accident? If nothing else, that tells me what type of person he really is.

        Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the peace, quiet and healing process of packing his crap and getting my space back to being MINE. Incense, Himalayan salt light, zen music. Dog lounging around wherever I’m most likely to trip over her, but knowing she’ll get hugs and snuggles instead of beatings.

      • Cat

        June 24, 2016 at 5:48 pm Reply

        His sister can’t drive this far, so tomorrow a friend and I are loading up the back of my little pickup and dropping the stuff on her driveway. As we leave town, he’ll get a text saying it’s there. This way he has no reason to come to the house and I can get the next (and hopefully last) load ready. He had stuff everywhere….just kinda took over. The friend who is driving along was a little upset at first that I’m not giving him a heads up….but I figure his stuff will be 2 miles from his house and no rain in the forecast. It’s as much warning as I got to the uhaul truck in my driveway. She thought telling him and giving him a deadline to come get it was being more above board. *shrug* This way the stuff is going going gone and it’s on my terms for the first time in 5 years. If he doesn’t like it, too bad. It’s bad enough to work with him and see him on occasion (and he acts like everything is normal while I pretend he’s dead and am coldly polite if I must speak). I don’t need all his crap in my house….just waiting in case he decides to try again.

        If I waver on doing this for me, I remember that he beat the dog for having a puddle accident at 5-6 months old (I wasn’t home)….badly enough that when I reached down to pet her after she had another accident that day, she went right out flat on the floor in fear. Today the neighbors said they could hear him just screaming at her and calling her “f***er” and “re-re” when I was gone. She’s a sweet dog who learns quickly and she doesn’t need to be abused any more than I do.

        • Zari Ballard

          June 24, 2016 at 6:13 pm Reply

          Hi Cat,

          Okay, as much as I want to sympathize with what your doing right now, I can’t get the image of that sweet little dog who is so badly abused out of my head. Can’t you somehow get that dog???? If that image affects you the same as it is affecting me right now, there is NO WAY you would waiver. But, again, can’t you get the dog????? Somehow??? Have someone steal it – something! Good God!!

          Zari xo

          • Cat

            June 24, 2016 at 6:23 pm

            Oh I HAVE the dog. No WAY I’d let him have her. He kept talking about the awesome dog he left behind….that he complained about unendingly when he lived with it. When he got back, he called to tell me how funny the dog was. It jumped his kid and took the pizza he was trying to eat. Yeah…great dog. Then his sister mentioned that he “used to beat hell outta” a dog he used to have. Wish I’d known this before.

            But no…my dog is with me and she’s not going anywhere!!!!


            July 23, 2016 at 9:59 pm

            i was married to a n., for one year. What hell, then i found the road to peace & freedom. Grateful, I am ! Concerning animals, I was not goin g to leave until i found good, safe, loving homes for them all. I am spiritiual, not religious. I prayed all the time, repeating to Lord, Don’t let me go. Hold me tight, show me the way. Animals , in a very short period of time, went to various homes. I can even visit … You have choices my dear. As far as i am concerned, freeing oneself of a n is life or death matter !!

  • Becky

    June 15, 2016 at 9:11 pm Reply

    I’m Becky and just wanted to thank you all for your comments and advice. I am 4 weeks into the final ( I hope!!) silent treatment from my 4 year relationship with an N and I am reading all this with such relief that I am not crazy!! Zari is spot on with describing exactly what I am feeling and going through and describes my ex to an absolute T! Makes me feel so much better and stronger. I have caved in the last 4 years and contacted the N during his silent treatment phase begging for him to take me back even though I had done nothing wrong, just to be pulled back into the cycle of abuse. I am struggling as am depressed and sad and sometimes overwhelmed with the desire to hear from him!! ( crazy!! As he treats me horribly!!! ) but am so inspired by these stories I am determined not to again. It’s so nice to feel not so alone in this.
    Thank you so much!

  • kohisee

    June 15, 2016 at 5:58 am Reply

    P.S. Hi Zari. I’d Like to add this to the comment/inquiry I posted 1-2 days ago: I mentioned that my ex didn’t attack me verbally… I meant that he didn’t use foul language & didn’t yell at me. But, he did unfairly put the blame on me when he should have taken responsibility. E.g. he accused me of not accepting him as the person he was – as I urged him to change his hurtful ways of treating me.

    Like I mentioned, I’ve had difficulty diagnosing him as a narcissist. E.g. he seems to have no obvious aggression. I’ve thought that he’s a covert/introverted one… but even that definition to some extent defies how he behaves. It would be easier for me to move on if I could discard him in my heart/mind as a narcissist.

    It was me who left him, already 7 months ago. I’ve tried NC but have had short email exchanges with him a few times during this period. He never changes his mind about wanting to be polyamorous, rather than being exclusive with me whom he “still loves” & had called soulmate and perfect for him. He knew all along I wouldn’t assume the polyamorous role he offered for me to embrace as well.

    He hurt me very much with this polyamory thing (originally, he had said he wanted only me) and broken promises and blaming me unjustly etc… Finally it dawned on me that he had zero empathetic consideration for my feelings. That lead me to think of him as a narcissist… but I’m still not sure…


  • kohisee

    June 14, 2016 at 10:37 am Reply

    Zari, thank you SO much for your articles, for so generously sharing your experiences and insights. I recently found this site and it’s been a great help to me!

    My ex seems to be some sort of borderline case, I guess, and it’s been hard to to define him as a narcissist. He’s an introverted jovial, positive guy with no evil attacks & words, yet he lacks empathy and “doesn’t believe in rights and wrongs” (as he put it). However, many of the characteristics of narcissism describe him spot on… often with a twist, though. Eg. instead of being with other women behind my back, whom he called her soulmate & perfect for him, he suddenly wanted polyamory – a few weeks after saying he adored me and was so devoted to me.

    I’d be interested to know if you, Zari, have any view on the kind of narc that (at least) poses as an honest person, doing pretty openly what narcissists usually do behind your back. (He also seems to be a good devoted father to his 3 children – I guess a narc shouldn’t be that?)

    • Zari Ballard

      June 18, 2016 at 1:42 am Reply

      Hi Kohisee,

      Listen, narcissists usually exist as different versions of themselves and of each other and some are polished and some are just awkward and stupid and some are rich and some are poor and some are cute and some not so cute, some fat, some skinny, and on and on. They ALL pose as honest people…it’s just that most know that they can’t be too overt about their shenanigans because it doesn’t work in the long run. Your narc may not be too polished at it. Sounds to me like he’s trying to hard by saying he doesn’t “believe in” right or wrong. That’s ridiculous. A polished narc would tell you he knows right from wrong but just doesn’t give a shit. LOL I don’t know. It’s hard to tell. If he’s a genuinely devoted dad, I would have to say that he’s probably just an pompous asshole with narc qualities but not a full-blown like most described here. That’s my take on it….


      • kohisee

        June 18, 2016 at 12:43 pm Reply

        …I’ve wound up getting much deeper into exploring what narcissism is about than I originally intended, e.g. by mirroring my own experiences against those that I find shared on the internet.

        Thank you so much, Zari, for kindly replying to me and also providing mirrors & sharing your insights:))

    • Same Boat

      June 18, 2016 at 7:08 am Reply

      Kohisee, You may want to look up “Aspbergers” in regards to your questionable narc. There are some similarities, but not at all one in the same. I am in a relationship with a guy with aspbergers and trust me, it is not easy, but I have also gone through the trauma of being with a narc and they are very different animals. With aspberger’s the whole lack of empathy thing is the most difficult part to take as well as so many other annoying and often hurtful traits, almost hard to describe. The feeling with a narc is that you are no longer in your own mind… you are losing yourself and are chasing and retrieving something out of your control. Do a little research and see if your guy’s traits fall into an autism category. Be prepared for a difficult road if you decide to stay, but know they actually do have hearts and have sincerity, where as Narcs do not! Good luck! God Bless

      • kohisee

        June 18, 2016 at 5:53 pm Reply

        Same boat on, thanks a lot for your reply. Very interesting indeed, for my ex has three children: one Aspergers, one autistic… and one normal. So, I did ask him via email (before the idea of narcissism had yet occurred to me) if he himself had ever been tested for those. He didn’t reply to my question… although he did reply to the mail. I’ll need to look more into Aspergers… thanks a lot for the tip :))

      • kohisee

        June 20, 2016 at 6:58 am Reply

        P.S. My ex writes poetry with a lot metaphors. Although some aspies understand metaphors, or can learn to understand the commonly used ones, being able to create your own (with ease) maybe isn’t an aspie thing? All in all, narcissism seems more like what’s going on with my ex…

        I like the way Dr. Craig Malkin doesn’t view narcissism as a black & white thing, but he’s come up with a spectrum scale of narcissism. So it’s not that you either are or aren’t (a pathological) one, and that’s it. I haven’t yet read his book(s), but the idea of a spectrum sounds plausible to me.

        • Zari Ballard

          June 20, 2016 at 2:05 pm Reply

          Hi Kohisee,

          The idea of a spectrum might sound plausible but it’s also, in my mind, a cop-out that gives a narcissist way too much leeway to do what he/she does. Given that someone with a bonafide narcissistic personality has no capacity at all for feeling true human emotion, how could this legitimately be placed on a spectrum? A person either has feelings or they don’t and THIS is what determines the diagnosis. Narcissists are unfixable at the core. Now, a person can certainly exhibit a few of the behaviors but that only makes he/she a person with narcissistic tendencies that can probably be fixed. It’s all complicated and no one is ever going to agree on everything. However, unless a person has experienced this type of relationship or has been involved closely enough with a narcissist to have been affected by that person’s behaviors, they couldn’t possibly understand the dynamic. The dynamic, indeed, is very black and white.


          • kohisee

            June 20, 2016 at 3:43 pm

            Hi Zari, thanks a lot for replying ???? I think I get what you mean. I’m only just learning about these things. I left my ex without thinking or knowing that he could be a narc. It’s been only pretty recently, over half a year later, that this notion dawned on me.

            I must say that as I read Same Boat On’s recent tweet about his ex’s behavior & your reply with a similar sort of experience, I found the same pattern there as between me & my ex. Always that he got me warm up to him again, he hurt me without delay. And I couldn’t get why he would do it, over n over, in a way that I had explained in great detail how much & why it hurt me.

            His inability to learn from previous mistakes I first started to ascribe to him being dum. Then it dawned on me (not long ago) that he needed to be devoid of empathy to do so; he clearly didn’t want to change in order not to hurt me. Now that I’m reading up on narcissism, I realize that it served his own needs to hurt and devalue me over n over.

            When it comes to the ‘spectrum’ thing, I’m open to embracing it because it allows more variation to the image of the narcissist, and thus even my ex would pass for one. I experience he hurt me just like a narc does (after first idolizing me!), the whole typical pattern & dynamic was there. But there are also traits in him that don’t fit the typical narc, like being a good father.

            Btw, I’m also similarly addicted to him, despite him hurting me again n again, as the victims of narcs are. I’ve never had this sort of insane addiction to a man before. I’m struggling to keep away from him & have a strong urge to cyber stalk, but it hurts too much, so I’m trying not to. Almost 8 months after the breakup I’m still like this!

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