“A Bittersweet Good-By” (A Poem to a Narcissist)

poem-narcissistNarcissistic partners suck – we know that. No matter what we do or say, they can’t love us and we can’t fix them. Inevitably, the good-by is bittersweet. From one silent treatment to the next, amidst all the hoovering and narcissistic discards, we hope and grieve and hope and grieve until our hearts have no choice but to give up and give in to acceptance as a means of salvation.

At some point, we have to choose life over the narcissist’s manipulation. It’s something no one can even begin to understand unless they’ve lived the experience.

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Once the victim of a narcissist boyfriend, I’ve now had both the privilege and opportunity to write books, blog on this website, and counsel others out of their pain. These tasks and all the wonderful, caring people who visit here have helped me move forward and, thus, my pain has faded into something far less threatening. But while this is truly a good thing, maybe it’s also true that I, too, need to be reminded every so often of just how awful Wayne really was and just how bad he made me feel. Maybe I’ve needed to rewind the movie back a few years so that I could watch, thankfully with detachment, how Wayne’s cold narcissistic indifference turned this strong, independent girl into a pile of mush. Well, today, in a dusty envelope under a big stack of papers, I found my reminder.

The following poem was written by me in 2003 just a few years into the 13-year relationship and in the midst of a devastating silent treatment. Reading the words brought back a flood of emotions and tears because, without a doubt, it could have been written by any one of us who come to this website.

So, I’m sharing it with all of you….

A Bittersweet Good-By (by Zari Ballard)

Bittersweet, I hate that word
It makes me sad, its so absurd
For when its time to sink or swim
I always drown from missing him

Good-bys are bittersweet, he’d said
And left me lonely in my bed
He wasn’t where he’d meant to be
I’d beckoned him to come to me
And as the sun began to rise
He fled so there would be no lies
And vanished…right before my eyes

Then Silence, that I fear, begins
I try to call, an endless ring
I want to talk but always cry
My anger is in fact a lie
Outside his door, I can’t come in
I fall apart…the Silence wins

His good-by is Bittersweet, I know
It follows me, however slow
And creeps upon the love I feel
Biting gently at my heels
Fearing grief, I try to run
Knowing soon the end will come

I hate good-bys, I hate the end
I hate to let the sadness in
It makes me just a little girl
Who clings too tightly to her pearls
If I let go, my heart won’t beat
From missing him, I’ll never sleep
But here it comes, however slow

His Bittersweet good-by….I know

When I wrote this poem, I was inconsolable and so utterly heartbroken. I missed him so much, I could barely breath. In utter desperation, I typed these words on a pretty piece of paper and left it on his doorstep hoping it would make a difference and end the silence. Instead, he returned it to me….because I meant nothing. Today, so many years later, it became exactly the reminder I needed.

Let your hearts not be troubled, sisters and brothers, for there are reminders everywhere that are reason enough for you to end the suffering. Your happiness is and always has been patiently waiting…..


Zari  xxoo

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  • Lilly Hope

    April 26, 2017 at 11:13 am Reply

    This poem touched me so deeply. I understand exactly how you feel and how you must of greatly suffered. I have now spent hours reading your blog and articles and learning about you and your pain. I discovered you because I have been hopelessly and desperately searching for answers to the end of a recent relationship and (hate to admit this).. adulterous affair of what I believe to be a very narcissist man. I read your book WHEN LOVE IS A LIE and oh my.. how so much rings true. My intuition speaks so loud and clear. It cannot be silenced especially after reading your book and blog.

    I, however, still feel so ambivalent to the truth. He was so good. SO GOOD. Seemed so honest and real. How can that all be a lie? It is devastating coming to terms with this. I think the hardest part for me is that he retrieved or recovered in me a very sacred sense of belonging and security. Something I have only been able to describe in one word. “HOME”. And what that meant for me as a young girl was that I used to get very homesick being away from my parents and home for a long period of time. Being reunited with them and coming back home was such a wonderful, peaceful feeling where I knew I was back where I belonged and safe from all the troubles of this world. That is the feeling I experienced with him instantly. Within the very first moments of our interaction. Many I guess would call that the
    “Soul-mate” affect maybe… but I really don’t believe in the soul-mate concept.

    Anyway, this fact alone is the absolute hardest part amid this discovery process for me to reconcile. How could such a heartfelt gut emotion engrained in the deepest part of my soul be such a lie? How could I be so wrong? It is sickening and heartbreaking in every way if true. I am shattered and crushed in a way I never knew was possible.

    Thank you for reading this. Thank you for sharing your story. I would love to talk with you more and seek out more therapy and healing. Let me know how I can do that.

    • Zari Ballard

      May 3, 2017 at 11:34 pm Reply

      Hi Lilly Hope,

      Thank you for writing and I am so sorry that you are in so much pain, sister. The “soul mate affect” is a term that I gave to the very feelings that you describe but they are feelings that HE creates in you. It works because we ALL want it – even you – and a narc knows this and learns to play it well.

      You say How could such a heartfelt gut emotion engrained in the deepest part of my soul be such a lie? How could I be so wrong? but the truth is that YOU weren’t wrong at all. YOUR feelings were REAL based on HIS fakery and these people are very good at what they do or they wouldn’t be who they are. It’s not abnormal for you to assume that the person that you love is telling you the truth. How were you supposed to know? Your narc – as they all do – figured out what you wanted most in a relationship and mirrored it back to you. This is what they do. Again, it is WHO THEY ARE.

      You can contact me here and I will respond. I speak with people all the time and see them through their recovery. I’m not saying it doesn’t take time and due diligence, but it is ALWAYS successful. Hang in there…I am here to support you:)


  • Jane laughton

    November 30, 2016 at 12:41 pm Reply

    I wish I had read your articles 5yrs ago, I hit the Abyss at 100 miles an hour, after 2 yrs of the hot and cold, I even left him twice because he showed no emotion, he came round crying saying he just needed more time, and I believed him,. I had warning signs I chose to ignore, I broke my own heart, lost my identity,. And found it impossible to date, I was so broken, had so many questions, the sadness was so profound. Two yrs after the break I was diagnosed with PTSD. Am happy to say that I have finally got most of my mojo back, still have trust issues, but with the certain knowledge i will never be afraid of walking away should I not be treated with respect. My encounter with this emotional Vampire nearly cost me my life. I am so grateful for your articles they have made me realise i was not a raving lunatic, just the victim of one,.namaste. Jane

    • Zari Ballard

      December 6, 2016 at 10:47 pm Reply

      Hi Jane,

      No, you are not a lunatic… much less a raving one! YOU, my sister, were never the problem. It’s a pretty empowering fact, isn’t it, given the fact that we spend almost the entire relationship thinking (and being told) the exact opposite? I’m grateful that you are free and thank you so much for sharing:)

      Zari xo

  • Michaela

    October 9, 2016 at 5:02 am Reply

    Firstly what a boss name (cool) ? I have been reading your articles with complete hunger and absolute relief, I AM NOT NUTS! hallelujah ! Zari your words are a comfort and a sense of freedom to me as I broke up with my narc four years ago and was left with a brain like play doh? A personality smashed to bits and severe anxiety and depression which I felt through the entire relationship . without going into detail what horrendous things he done to me and me losing my entire mind and well being, I just want to say at this time zari THANKS ., I did not know the full extent of his condition until now ? And what it actually was , alls that I knew he was a monster i had no understanding of him at all. I knew this creature inside out but was under the impression he hated me I repulsed him and that was why he was the way he was. I hated myself, I repulsed myself, no self worth , nothing! Just a carcass. You’ve given me a flicker of my old self … I wasn’t cuckoo after all. Thank you with all my heart.

    Michaela. U.K.

    • Zari Ballard

      October 12, 2016 at 12:09 am Reply

      Thanks, girl, and I appreciate you as well! You are perfect just the way you are and don’t ever forget that. No one’s self-worth should ever be based on the ideology of another person – never – let alone one that is barely human at all. Carry on…you are four years out just like me and life, now, is whatever you choose to make of it. Be free and happy – you deserve it!

      Zari xo

  • GuyFromPhx

    August 24, 2016 at 8:48 pm Reply

    It is so interesting Zari.. I found your site by looking for answers at what happened to me with this angelic, stunningly beautiful, fragile looking woman I was involved with albeit briefly (just shy of 4 months). We met and she was going through the divorce and the more I read everything I realize that every action, red flag I had make sense now and that I was dealing with a narcissist. I’ve never experienced this before and it’s been months now and I was up until a few days ago completely devastated. Funny enough, it seems that for a lot of us the poems, words we write after the narcissist we loved are very similar. I will share my messages to her I posted embarrassingly on my instagram hoping she would read them so you can see how similar we the “supply” are for them. What a fool I was. I have been always a strong individual, I moved to other country and built myself from scratch but I was NEVER hurt and devastated by an individual like this woman. Btw, she was far away too, and I even flew half across the world to try to see her when she started the silent treatment. And while I was doing that and waiting at the coffee shop with a rose hoping she would come see me, she was going to some parties and having time of her life. Everything now makes sense and I am grateful I’ve looked up this information and came across your site.

    She did everything you mention in your articles, raised me up, she played a victim and talked about her ex-husband in the most horrific ways smearing him, saying he controlled her etc etc, but in the end it looks like nothing was really true because she made me crazy, stalker, lunatic in the eyes of her friends too when in fact, I did nothing but love her and it’s funny, most people with narcissists go through this same phase, where we look up their facebooks, instagrams, even after they block us (the silent treatment) and they know we will be looking especially then. And then they have excuse to keep painting us as controlling and crazy when in fact all we were looking for is answers, some closure, something as to why this happened. Unfortunately as that is exactly what they expect.

    Funny enough, up until a few days ago I was still looking at her instagram and I know for a fact that she was looking at mine and you know, they are so cunning, she knew I was watching and when I post something on my instagram (sad, romantic, I’m going to hawaii etc etc) she posts something on hers that mimics what I do and deliberately trying to keep me hooked and wondering whether or not we are “soul-mates”, because that’s how she made me feel in the beginning.

    Btw, here is my post to her on instagram that I deleted now because I know what the deal is but just for the sake of your poem, this is what I wrote:

    I am cruising the city alone this evening trying to heal my broken soul even though i know it is an impossible task.

    I have loved very few women in my life and never really understood what people meant when they talked about a soulmate until i found and lost you.
    Maybe i was meant to enter your life briefly to help you through tough times but when i saw you for the first time i knew it was you i missed my whole life and why i felt unfulfilled. But life or God have a cruel sense of humor.

    People tell you, you are beautiful, gorgeous and things you hear often but to me you were always perfection and so much more. I loved to pieces all the little things you felt sometimes insecure about, but especially when you wake up in the morning and i see your smile and the way you looked at me.

    I have never imagined that i can feel this way about someone, especially someone who i knew so very little, but the moment i saw you i felt something i have never felt before. And now when you took your own path, a path that does not include me i understand what they mean when they say about the one you truly love leaving you being worse than death.

    Some people try to hate those who leave them so they could move on, but i don’t know how to do that. Hating you would be hating myself and I can’t do that regardless of how we ended up. I would have traveled the world 3 times over again just to try see your smile again.

    I sit in this city right now feeling half of my soul is missing. I would have been writing you a love letter right now, like i did every morning so you could have a smile on your face when you wake up, but right now all i am left with are memories, a broken soul and these words i am typing on a glowing screen.

    I now know it was always you.


    It is really sad, how low we go thinking this will get them back, when in fact they had absolutely no emotions or empathy towards us. It was all a game to them.

    • Zari Ballard

      August 26, 2016 at 1:33 am Reply

      Hi GuyFromPhx,

      Thank you so much for sharing your heartfelt letter to that empty soul of a person that we all know here. Our lives become interchangeable, don’t they? I thought it was very beautiful……Stay strong and know that you are NOT alone by any means. Recovery is a team effort, brother:)

      Zari (GirlFromTucson, btw!)

  • Same Boat

    August 4, 2016 at 6:52 pm Reply

    Wow, I thought I had read EVERYTHING on your site, but somehow I missed this poem! Today is my ex N’s bday. Not that I give a fuck about that lol, but unfortunately his dumb ass has been on my mind because of it. However…
    This time last year I was in the midst of the most extreme discard I had ever faced in my entire life.
    This time last year I had lost 10lbs off my already tiny frame. I couldn’t eat or sleep and friends and family took notice.
    This time last year I spent hours and hours creating a ‘collage’ of memories, of special moments and little pics of things he loved.
    This time last year I sent him that photo in hopes that it would make him see my love. my pain. my caring. He replied “very cool”, and those two pathetic words make my heart feel lighter.
    This time last year he messaged me later that night saying “you are so creative. but creative people sometimes go too far” I didn’t know what he meant. Until he finally said “you pushed me away”.
    This time last year I apologized for going too far. For all the ‘awful’ things I did. (which was NONE). He sent me a pic of a fun day we had saying “this was a good day”. My reply “yes it was”. Yes, one of the very few ‘good days’ we had.
    This time last year he came back into my life. Wanting to ‘refresh. start from scratch. learn from mistakes’. I cautiously but happily obliged. This ‘new start’ lasted all of 2 months. His old ways of excuses, lies, and subtle abuse resurfaced.
    Shortly after “this time last year” I left his cheating ass and told him GOOD BYE! Many, many love bombings and apologies later…. (of which I ignored thanks to Zari) I moved on with my life. Happy. At peace. I started to gain weight, sleep better, and enjoy life!
    I would have never seen him again if it weren’t for running into him that fateful night at the concert. I will never forget the evil look in his eyes as he stared at me while holding his new girlfriend’s hand. A look that said “HA! GOT YA!”
    This time THIS YEAR I am feeling strong!!! I may think about him from time to time. He may pop up in my dreams. BUT, it doesn’t hurt anymore. I don’t long for a text. I don’t want to wish him ‘happy birthday’ and I certainly don’t want to see him ever again!!

    Thanks again Zari and everyone for your posts and stories of inspiration! To those who are feeling like the pain will never end, I know what you mean… but trust me, IT WILL! But first, you must love and respect yourself and say “FUCK THIS!” and make a stand against your N’s abuse!!!

    God bless !!

    • Zari Ballard

      August 12, 2016 at 1:56 pm Reply

      Hi Same Boat,

      Thank you for sharing that summary of your time with the narc. You continue to do awesome, girl! You have run the race with this asshole and I dare say you have won. Stay in that mode. I have to tell you that tonight – TONIGHT – I am going to a show at a club here in town to support the members of my band that are also playing for another singer….and guess who may be there??? I don’t feel any anxiety, though. I feel mostly annoyed that I have to go. So my plan is to show up right when their first set starts (10pm), make sure they see me in the crowd, and then leave as soon as the set is over and before I have a chance to break from my peripheral vision. I will not look around and if he is there, I will walk right by. Maybe I should bring a few of my books to pass out to the people at his table! haha! He’s the kind of guy who will walk right up to me to say hi and maybe even try to chat. Good God…Well, I knew the circle would close if I got back into the band so it was the risk I took. He’s in a band too and he knows the guys in my band do chances are fairly good he’ll be there. Oh well..

      As for you, you are doing amazing and all of your feelings and “look backs” are completely normal. It’s a process, girl, and we can only go at it at our own pace. I’m grateful we got to speak and I appreciate that you come back here to share:) You are now officially an inspiration that survival is possible! God Bless!

      Love, Zari xo

  • Debra H

    June 23, 2016 at 2:56 pm Reply

    Wow…I just stumbled upon this post as I desperately search for ways to heal myself and process why I miss a man that is so self-centered. I ended a 20 month relationship in April (but that wasn’t the 1st or last time I said good-bye to him). The final straw happened 3 wks ago after a vicious cycle of lies backfired. I exposed him and kicked him out of my house. Our Dance of Intimacy has turned into Dance of Anger, he hates me now and has gone NO Contact for 3 wks. Other than my pathetic attempt of emailing him two days ago, to offer tickets to a concert, that I may not use. We were supposed to see the show together, I suppose I wanted to test the water to see if he’d respond, maybe he’s not so angry with me anymore. My heart is barely beating and he doesn’t care!!! it takes all I have to get through my days, to focus on work. I feel so abandoned and misunderstood. He responded to my email that he’d accept the tix, I took it a step further suggested that he could come with me and he declined. Of course I feel more rejected. why did I even set myself up for more rejection? It feels surreal. He’s 41 yrs old, an alcoholic, sociopath who probably has sex addiction issues as well. I stood by him while he went away for 30 days of alcohol rehab, i think he even hooked up with some young heroin chick while there. It’s just ridiculous that I would EVEN think about wanting a man like this…believing that my love could save him. Therapy is helping but I feel like I need closure…to what, I don’t even know. As if I’d believe anything he says anyway so why bother. I used to feel proud that his family and friends recognized his love for me, that I was the ONLY woman he was ever in love with. It helped validate and give me hope that maybe he does have a heart and real emotions. Yet, he’s lied and disappointed me so many times. He watches tears roll down my face like they’re raindrops, he shows no emotion or remorse. I hated when he’d say “I’m sorry for what you think I did” His favorite saying was “I’m not the man you think I am” or “You’re reading into it too much, I didn’t cheat on you” Whenever my instincts alerted me, I’d seek and find the truth, approach him with it and he’d STILL deny what was in black and white. OMG…there were times I wanted to punch him in the throat.!! 3 wks ago the bottom fell out, he took the day off work but told his boss he was traveling to see a client. He began sending me cryptic text messages. I suspected he was drunk and depressed. I blew up his phone, emailed but he went dark on me. I drove to his place, he wouldn’t answer the door. He was hiding. All the sudden he began texting me saying he was in this place, that place, here, there and everywhere but really he wasn’t in any of the places he told me, one of which was his office. So I got people involved to look for him, I was scared and concerned about him. I called his ex-wife and his boss who is a 6 yr recovered alcoholic, so he knows the drill. Once my N found out I called his boss, it was ALL OVER. He said I crossed the line and he’s done with me…NO CONTACT!!! He has no clue that I took a risk of loosing him to try to save him. As i write this, i’m thinking…what the heck is wrong with me? He’s such a loser, financial mess, alcoholic, cheater, liar and user…what the hell do I see in him? I have my life together, I’m such a good person, his family and friends love me…nothing makes sense that he’s pushed me so far away and doesn’t realize that he’s drowning. I’m beside myself and trying so hard to read as much as I can to understand what could be going on in his mind. How is it that he doesn’t recognize what he’s done? Or doesn’t care at all??!!! His ex says, he’ll be back, but I don’t think so. I want him to come back just for satisfaction…even though I’m the one who ended the relationship in the first place it still feels like he discarded me. I can’t wait till the day when I could bump into him and not even feel one ounce of emotion, even if he’s with another woman. I know that day will come!

    • India

      August 15, 2017 at 12:21 pm Reply

      Debra H = just read your post.
      My ex is exactly the same.
      Pls can you post what happened next – my heart was racing reading what you typed. My ex is an alcoholic who is in love with him self, lazy, a show off, moody, never buys as much as a biscuit, treats me like a second class citizen, beyond difficult, inflated ego, no gentle or warm traits = infact nothing to admire or respect yet I am gutted over our relationship not working out.

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