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!

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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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  • Tamarco

    October 17, 2016 at 9:24 pm Reply

    Thanks for helping them. I was there before, it’s a mirror to how they see themselves.

  • Colleen

    August 20, 2016 at 2:29 pm Reply

    I love ur way of communicating. U voice my feelings/thoughts perfectly. And the knowledge re forgiveness and recovery is tremendously helpful and fine tuned for assistance in survival of narcissistic abuse.
    Thank u!

  • Debra

    August 17, 2016 at 4:08 am Reply

    Hi Zari,
    Thank you so much for all the insight and information you provide. I just ordered your book “When Love is a Lie” and can’t wait to read it. But I was wondering about your thoughts on Narcissism and alcohol abuse. My ExN was a closet drinker for 20 years. We were married for 25 years and when I stepped up the pressure that he get help, he abrubtly traded me in for another woman. It’s been almost 3 years and I’m still so sad and hurt. I’m really sick of feeling this way. I catch him driving by my house quite often and it is almost comforting to me. How sick is that!!! I have had no contact for over 2 years now but seem unable to totally let go of the suffering. I really hope your book can give me the help I need.Thank you for your thoughts! DD

  • ~Raven~with no wings to fly~

    August 6, 2016 at 4:04 pm Reply

    Hello everyone! I have the same feelings will this ever be ok again? Whatever ok was cause I barely recall it before my life was made into a big entertaining joke for the enjoyment of the soul sucking spirit crushing vulture aka my husband !?!? I saw the signs like most say that they do!?! But dismissed them as he needs to grow up etc…. But now on the other side
    Of 15yrs just about I feel like he skinned me alive and robbed me of what I had and was gonna be!?! & ran everyone I cared away mostly due to how they always say “‘omg why do
    You stay with him?!” Or “you allow it to happen” and until you have been thru hell that we have they should think before speaking!!! Its just like depression and how they say the worst thing to say “is get over it” …. I know I have so soooo much of a long story to tell and hopefully I can take time & share it here?!? But I feel so stuck and trapped!!! And it has become a daily fight to just live if I can honestly call it living now it is basically is like Groundhog Day over and over and I used to dread his night shift hours but now it gives me peace and quiet but very alone & lonely!!! He recently said out loud to me “you are acting weird? What ARE YOU up to”,…. *probably because I have chased him and begged him to change all while in my “coma” of depression where I only barely get up to pee!! & then search endlessly for answers to all of the fkry he has done to my head over all of his abuse, affairs/cheating, lying if his lips move!!! & the silent treatments that would make other narc/socipaths bow to him as their king!?!!! And then the discards soon after he will say so give me “some or get naked” and not understand whyyyyy I am repulsed and almost hate sex!!! He even says …. Fine if you are repulsed by me then don’t worry I wont bother u or ask again!?! Wtf?!? He knows what he is doing!!! Its insane and disgusting!!! But the original point was he noticed the POSITIVE CHANGE in me and he went crazy I mean nuttier than trail mix nuts!?! He has no emotions and feelings when he fakes them I cringe!!! He went on a “witch hunt” to try and accuse me of an affair with my best friend who happens to be a guy and has been in my life much longer!!!! He did not like when I finally stopped the very things he claimed to hate like searching phone stuff or asking repeatedly what where when why and sad all of the time!?! He also said I did not pay attention to him that I pay all of my attention to this other guy ?!? That my time & SEXUAL ENERGY all went to my friend and that’s total horse shit!!! I can’t even say good morning on Facebook to the friend that he claims gets his due attention and also is why he is not getting some from me now days *and made the one person I can trust and care about his scapegoat and blame him/us for his own “cock blocking” I will never understand how they see that it’s always someone else that is the problem never them!!! And how he saw a positive change in me & how he turned it into a negative and witch hunt as if I were to FINALLY give in and have an affair or anything after 15yrs that will some how give him a redemption of all he has done & he has even gone as far as stalking ME to
    Try and catch something it’s not jealousy it’s insanity and scary!!! He was screaming in my face over it about did u or did u not flirt and make sexual comments to him!?! You sent meme’s with sexual innuendos to them etc?!? And of course I was like so what?!? You have had mannyyyyy fk buddies for years!?! And I stray from your control and you are acting like a crazy person!?!? I can’t even see his point of view guys!?!? Help me!!! I mean and when other guys would be outright gross flirting sending unwanted “dong” pics that was fine w/ him but this sweet guy I guess has a soul and he knows that I don’t care about the money or bling I care about laughing & love etc but he does not give it to me he recently spent about no kidding
    20 or more hours a week TALKING TO HIS “COWORKER” cough cough…. But can’t hardly speak to me without his phone out or a video game on that’s more important…. He made it clear to me & my insticts that “coworker”
    Was fk buddy by over telling the details and also protecting her that’s really another story but how can he even treat me so badly and scare me like this after all his bs?!?! I feel like as crazy as it will sound that either he is acting this way cause he knows how
    Far HE has gone w things or he is not currently able to find a side supply or side piece or my favorite one maybe he is distracting me w/ this whole chaos that he created to one scare me off from maybe being happy finally meanwhile he IS actually up to his usual bs and just hiding it in a new way!?! Cause he plays the cell phone game and he has always hidden apps etc so for all I know he’s been after fresh supply meanwhile making sure I stay down and out?!?!
    I have rambled and not stayed on topic!!! Ughhhh but any help would be great!!!! I know I def need some
    Friends here where I live that know first hand how hard living is with these assclowns…… Thanks for listening!!! ????????

  • Frances

    August 2, 2016 at 12:12 pm Reply

    Hi Zari, thank you so much for all your posts. Ive also read your book ‘when love is a lie. I walked away from my narc 1 month ago TODAY and never looked back. I was with him a year but to be honest for the last 6 months of the relationship I was trying to figure it all out.
    Something felt off from day 1. I know he always lied about how much he was drinking and caught him out several times. He fits every stage and I actually think he was planning a discard as I’d left him and gone back once before. He even conveniently did things like leave his phone ‘accidently’ at work on the eve of the anniversary of the death of my father (he’s stood on his grave with me and TOLD him he’d look after me) he just got worse…if we had a fight he’d ignore me etc message me the next day and say he’s been with his family. Anyone I caught him in a huge lie….always suspected he was cheating but never caught that but several messages and emails I saw on his laptop.
    I already suffered from anxiety before I met him…he’s made me ill for a year whilst trying to study in university!!!
    Anyway it’s behind me now, there’s so much I could tell you but it’s pointless. I KNOW what he is….I can’t Stress the importance of no contact enough to people. The second I gave him his things I left and haven’t said a word since (although he messaged me 2 weeks ago to ask for one of the things he’d left that I’d forgotten)
    I took it but left it there when he wasn’t in. Didn’t reply to his letter either….I told him I was disaffected by his actions and that I’m going to live the rest of my life happy…..see ya!!! And I thank God I never had children with him, because when his ex comes round…he puts there band on playing in the background…..he’s probably never left her alone as they have a child.
    I’m one month free….I DIDN’T break no contact no matter how awful I’ve felt the urge to get in contact. My anxiety has reduced and I’m slowly but surely getting myself out of the house and everytime i do I smile and say in my head ‘fuck you you lifeless soulless narc…I’m about to have a good day…without your soul ducking presence or constant messaging that you blamed ME for. It feels damn good that I don’t have to look at the back of his head and feel I’ve ruined the rest of my life and feel almost suicidal. I’ve got my degree to gain and my daughter to look after. It’s YOUR life at stake. Just get away!! I went back the first time because he threatened to ruin me. NC has given me my life back. I no longer read about narcissism…I’m reading self esteem and the law of attraction. Your life gets so much better the day you walk away and I’m proud of myself for being one month NC. I’ve even changed my phone number!!! Dropped mutual friends on Facebook and blocked all avenues. Every person reading this….I was SERIOUSLY anxious. You can do it for yourself it’s your lifes worth. Read these blogs and self help books…keep going… CAN be overcome. Peace and love to you all and especially Zari….you’ve saved my future xxxx

  • Aurla

    July 30, 2016 at 8:53 am Reply

    Absolutely amazing article! Thank you massively! 🙂 <3

    • Zari Ballard

      July 30, 2016 at 9:34 pm Reply

      Hi Aurla,

      You’re welcome and I’m glad you’re here!


    • Zari Ballard

      August 4, 2016 at 6:07 pm Reply

      Hi Aurla,

      Thanks for the kind words! We’re all in it together, sister!

      Zari xo

  • Steph

    June 25, 2016 at 10:13 pm Reply

    I don’t mean to flood these blogs. This is what I say, I’m a music lover..Listen to Maroon 5…Misery…that’s where we all are…music for me saves me, other than Zari…Adam Levine, can push us to the limits. He’s obviously been there ,if not, how can he write this kind of music…Personally, for me, I love Stevie Nicks…she may be to old, for some..But, her songs speaks to us all… couldn’t love any one more than her…have seen her over 15 times…I appreciate & love all her music..sometimes, this is, what will save us…These artists don’t write these songs for the fun of it, they’ve been in are same shoes. So, I’ll throw a few out there…Ed Shereen Thinking Out Loud, aren’t we all messed up…Narcs, could care less..think Passenger….”Let Her Go” is are victims song….then finish it off with my Stevie…Stand Back, then Dreams is our song, all us narc victims & then one of her new songs, of course, My Stevie, my love….this is it, it’s done, “For What It’s Worth”…Sometimes, we have to bury the hate we for them, bcuz , as my mother would always tell me, “You , don’t hate anyone one, you may dislike them…HATE, is a very strong, bad word…you will be more at peace if you don’t Hate…she was right…She has passed away 7 years ago….and, i still to this day, love all her wisdom…just wish, she was still here to guide me

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