I think that when a narcissist discards us, one of the reasons we wait for him to return (aside from the fact that he’s conditioned us to do so) is because we just can’t fathom the fact that he could actually give us up. And that’s what he does – he gives us up.
We think back to laughs shared, to all the things about us that he said made us different from the others, to the great sex, to the way we were always there when he needed us even though the favor was rarely returned, to the way we never cheated on him (even while he was cheating on us), to the way we’d allow him back without asking questions…we think and believe that everything we did for this person over the years actually stood for something. We believe that having a history together is special and, therefore, we assume that our partner must feel the same. We believe in the value of invested time. We imagine that couples who have these long complicated histories must be destined to grow old together, right? Once, while holding my hand and looking into my eyes, my ex even said those words to me…that we’d grow old together. Of course, he said it right after cheating on me as I sobbed over the betrayal but, still, he said it! (LOL)
Throughout the first three years of my relationship, during certain fights where it appeared that my mere presence in the room annoyed him, my ex would look at me in all my sadness and say as coldly he could, “I can take you or leave you”. I can remember in vivid detail the very first time he said that to me…how it felt like he’d reached into my chest and pulled my heart out. Those six little words hurt my feelings sooooo bad that I spent the next 10-years trying to prove to him that we were supposed to be together …that he, in fact, couldn’t live without me! He would periodically make that statement with such narcissistic confidence that I was bound and determined to make him feel otherwise. In retrospect, of course, those six little words were the most telling and truthful words he ever said to me.
When we lament over the fact that the N can just give us up at a drop of a hat, we have to remember that all of the things we remember that we did for him were about as abnormal and unnatural as the way he reacted to them. In normal, healthy relationships, one partner doesn’t have to do hardly any of what we do in order to “prove” their love for the other partner. By consistently showing us his narcissistic indifference to our very existence, the narcissistic partner basically conditions us to jump through hoops if for no other reason than to show him/prove to him that we’re worth loving. In doing this, we provide him 24/7/365+ full-blown narcissistic supply.
When we first meet the narcissist who becomes our partner, we are usually at the peak of feeling good in our lives. Rarely, if EVER, does a girl/guy hook up with a narcissist at a low period in his/her life. This is why I beg to differ with outsiders who state that it is a victim’s lack of self esteem that keeps her/him in these types of relationship…that allows the narcissist to treat us like shit. On the contrary, it is our self-esteem and confidence that attracts the narcissist in the first place because it exemplifies for him our future demise at his own hands. This is why he has no problem sucking up during the Idolize phase…indeed, our eventual (and inevitable) fall from grace is well worth it. Everything is a means to an end to someone with a narcissistic personality. Initially, the narcissist makes us feel so special and so connected that we imagine (incorrectly) that there’s simply no way he could really discard us or give us up for someone else. But he does, over and over and over.
How can the narcissist just give us up? The same way, when it’s time for him to come back, he gives up the girl that he cheats on us with. We are no more important than her and she no more important than us in his eyes. Don’t forget that every time a narcissist hoovers and/or every time the narcissist returns, someone else somewhere is getting the silent treatment. Someone else somewhere is asking herself, “How can he just give me up?” In the narcissist’s life, making us feel like we matter is just one way to get to where he needs to be when he needs to be there. Then, when he needs to be somewhere else, off he goes. It’s a glorious game of rinse and repeat, over and over. A history together? What’s that? To a narcissist, ten years together is the same as ten weeks which is the same as ten days which is the same as ten minutes. To a narcissist, all relationships are not only meaningless, they are also timeless. This is why he can give you up.
The narcissist doesn’t just reject us, he rejects the entire history and, I’m sorry, but that’s fucking painful. It’s rejection with a capital fucking ‘R’ because it all means nothing. A narcissist can compartmentalize five different relationships so that each relationship means exactly the same to him. This is what he does. This is who he is. For us, it’s our co-dependency to hope that keeps us from accepting the futility of the relationship for exactly what it is! In your mind, if you could rewind and replay an entire movie of your relationship, analyzing every scene and conversation, you’d see that the N was actually fairly clear about how he felt about you. We just wanted to believe something else and he led us to believe it.
Everything we do and say and feel in our relationship with a narcissistic partner is about proving our worth and trying to get him to change his mind. We tell him “Mean what you say and say what you mean” but when he is clear about how he feels about us…when he says things like “I can take you or leave you”…when he abandons us for no reason at all…when he cheats on us left and right…we continue to jump up and down, demanding that he take it all back, take us back, that he can’t possibly mean those words or actions because, because, because…how could you just give me up?
How can he simply reject all that history? You see, histories contain memories and we (the NORMAL folk) naturally get stuck on all that bittersweet. Narcissists don’t have the mental capacity to care about history and memories and this is because (and also why) he ‘s so good at being a narcissist.
To reject us is to reject all of the history that comes with it…the history that we worked so hard to create in hopes that it would keep him from leaving. But it never does. He leaves anyway. Unfortunately, this is the destiny of the relationship from day one. It’s like putting our heart and souls and years of work into painting a masterpiece for the person we love only to have that person look at it with disgust and leave the room. He never appreciates the love we placed on that canvas with every brush stroke or how carefully we chose the colors. Now, this doesn’t mean that the painting wasn’t beautiful….it just means that the narcissist didn’t see...couldn’t see it. In all the chaos and desperation of a discard, we have to remember that it wasn’t us. The narcissist didn’t give up on us – he gave us up. And there’s a difference.
Never ever give up on YOU because without the N, the whole world is a canvas and your prettiest masterpiece is yet to be painted.