Have you ever wanted to talk to an ex after a breakup to get “closure?” I’ve heard a lot of women say this, and while I don’t believe you should rely on another person for closure, speaking to an ex (after much healing and time apart) can be helpful in your own healing journey. But when it comes to breaking up with a narcissist, they will never change or mature, so it is absolutely imperative that you find a sense of closure within yourself, without your ex’s participation.
So what is closure and how to you get it when breaking up with a narcissist?
Closure means the wound has healed. Maybe not perfectly or completely, but enough that your energy isn’t pouring out of it on a daily basis. That takes work! The word closure actually comes from an Old French word meaning barrier, fence, or boundary. When it comes to breaking up with a narcissist, closure has a lot less to do with healing face to face conversations and a lot more to do with creating boundaries that keep you safe so you can find healing within yourself.
Closure comes from within. If you are relying on someone else to get closure, it’s likely never going to happen. Image someone stabs you and you have a huge bleeding wound. You know you should go to the doctor to have it sutured, but instead you say you are going to wait until the person who hurt you goes through medical school and learns wound care before you get medical attention. That’s kind of like what relying on your ex for closure is like, especially when that ex is a narcissist.
Narcissists often use “closure” as an excuse to reenter your life, so it’s important to have a plan in place for your safety, healing, and closure. Read on for a detailed 5 step plan for getting closure after breaking up with a narcissist.
Go No Contact
When breaking up with a narcissist, it’s important to understand closure and what it really is, because your illusion of closure can easily be manipulated by your ex to keep the door open on your relationship.
One of the aspects of narcissistic abuse that makes the relationship so exhausting and damaging, is that narcissists are experts at getting you to let them back in, no matter how much they have hurt you.
Remember in the beginning when they bombarded you with love and gifts? When you thought, wow s/he might just be the one. When you were bragging to your friends about how you were dating the most romantic person ever? That was the fairy tale before the nightmare. But when it comes to breaking up with a narcissist, they will pull out all the stops, and then some, to get you to let them back in. They will tell you they are addressing all their flaws, they’re in therapy, they will tell you a sob story about their childhood trauma. They will promise to never hurt you again and threaten to kill themselves if they do. They will say all of these things and more all while buying you expensive jewelry and making you the most romantic dinner you’ve ever seen.
But how did you end up back at dinner with your narcissistic ex? Maybe they wore you down. Maybe they begged. Maybe they said something like, “I don’t want to get back together, I just want to talk. I’m in therapy and my therapist thinks we could both use some closure.”
That makes sense! Closure is healthy, right?
When it comes to breaking up with a narcissist, you need to know that closure is an illusion. Closure is the crowbar they use to pry open the door back into your life. Closure is something you are going to have to find on your own.
That’s why it’s so important that the first step of getting closure after breaking up with a narcissist is going no contact.
Set Up Safety Precautions
Think of it this way. A narcissist is an addict, validation is the drug, and you are the supply. Have you seen the crazy things addicts do when they are cut off from their supply? You need to think of the narcissist as a dangerous junkie who wants to use you to get their fix. It is important not to downplay the fact that leaving a narcissist and going no contact can become a dangerous situation.
It’s hard to focus on closure and healing when you are afraid for your safety. You need to put safety measures in place for your peace of mind, as well as your physical and emotional safety. Here are a few suggestions.
–Change your number. Even if you block a narcissist, they will find ways to contact you. They will buy burner phones or have friends reach out. To really cut off contact, you might need to change your number completely.
-Set all social media to private and change your handles. The narcissist will create new profiles to digitally stalk you and leave hateful comments on your posts. Set everything to private and don’t approve people you don’t know. You may also want to change your handles so the narcissist can’t find you and continue to keep tabs on your life. Also keep in mind geotag usage. You don’t want to tag yourself at a location if you are still there and you don’t want to tag yourself at the same place multiple times. The narcissist may start hanging out at that place hoping to run into you there.
-Alert security. If you live in a neighborhood with security or an apartment building with security or a doorman, let them know. Share with them that you have an unstable abusive ex. Show them the person’s pictures. Ask that this person not be allowed in under any circumstances. Many security professionals have dealt with this situation before and may have some added insights or security precautions they can recommend.
-Get an alarm system. Easy, not very expensive, and will help you sleep better at night. You can also ask the alarm company if they have any additional recommendations.
-Move. I’m not saying you should sell your house and move to a different state, although some women do end up doing that. But it may be possible to move. If your lease is up, don’t renew. If you live in an apartment community you may be able to move to a different unit. Ask your management company if this would be possible. Explain the situation, share any documentation including letters from your therapist and paperwork from the police. They may be able to help you out and let you move into a different unit.
-Consider a restraining order. You will need to work with the police on this and you will need evidence. Do not delete any messages your ex sends you, as tempting as it might be. A restraining order is not a foolproof strategy, but it will set a very serious tone to your ex and provide the evidence you need to carry out some of these other strategies. It can also enrage your ex and cause them to lash out, so please be sure to have security measures already in place.
These strategies may seem time consuming and even expensive, but you can’t put a price on your safety or peace of mind. You have been making the narcissist the center of your world; it’s time to put your wellness and safety first in a concrete way.
Work With A Domestic Abuse Center
You may think that sounds dramatic and unnecessary. Maybe your ex was only emotionally and never physically or sexually abusive, so why would you go to a shelter? It’s a misconception that abuse shelters are just for those who have been physically abused. A domestic abuse center assists men, women, and children, gay or straight, who have dealt with any kind of intimate partner abuse, whether that be physical, emotional, or sexual.
Contacting your local abuse shelter or domestic violence help center is a huge step towards getting closure. Having been abused by a narcissist, you likely have been gaslighted. That means there is a small part of you that may still be wondering, “What if I am crazy. What if he really is just trying to love me?”
Talking about your situation with a professional is going to be one of the most validating experience of your life. It will knock that self doubt right out of your head. When I was trying to leave an abusive relationship with a narcissist, a friend’s mom put me in touch with a counselor she knew at our local abuse shelter. The counselor called me and asked, “Does he tell you he loves you to death?” “Yes.” “Then you better believe him.”
Never before had someone voiced and validated my fears so clearly.
Her saying that changed everything for me. She then walked me through how to leave, the plan I needed to make on how to escape, and how to do so with the least amount of risk to my safety. I truly would not have been able to leave without this support.
Your local domestic abuse center is also going to be able to recommend resources to you for your physical safety, as well as emotional healing and closure. Most can provide therapy with one of their counselors in house, often at a free or reduced rate. But if they are unable to do so, they will be able to recommend the top experts in your area.
If you are unsure of who to reach out to or are unsure if you are experiencing abuse, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Again, this comes back to validation. Validation is such an important part of the process because being in a relationship with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a profoundly invalidating experience.
Educating yourself, whether that be through reading, working with a therapist, or attending a 12 step group, will help you close the door on this relationship by creating space between your emotional involvement and your psyche. By understanding NPD through a clinical lens, the next time your narcissistic ex tries to use a classic tool of manipulation, you will be able to recognize this behavior as a symptom of his/her disorder. You will have the insights of renowned experts and therapists validating your experience. You will be able to breathe and seek out one of the tools you learned through your research, rather than getting sucked back in. This isn’t a perfect practice, but overtime you will be able to use your research to shift your perspective and your response.
Educating yourself isn’t just validating, it is also going to help you better understand your ex, yourself, and your dynamic. When you really integrate the understanding that your ex isn’t just manipulative or flawed, but actually suffering from a personality disorder that most therapists agree is incurable and nearly impossible to treat, I promise it will be a lot easier to have compassion for the both of you and walk away.
I recently put together a list of books I recommend to my clients who are breaking up with a narcissist. You can find that list here.
Go All In On Healing
One of the most important aspects to getting closure after breaking up with a narcissist is learning to put yourself first. The narcissist likely demanded your undivided attention, guilted you for having friends or hobbies, and made their emotional outbursts the center of your universe. Your relationship with the narcissist has likely robbed you of your relationship with yourself.
Maybe the most healing thing you can do right now is vow to fix that. Take a moment to promise yourself to put your wellbeing first now, no matter what.
I have seen women who due to a lack of awareness, education, and healing have dated narcissist after narcissist. Truth is, I have been that woman. And if your attraction to a narcissist stems from unresolved childhood trauma, there is a real risk that could happen.
That’s why the moment you realize you are in this dynamic you have to go all in on your healing. Many women are pulled into this dynamic with a narcissist due to childhood trauma. Many were raised by a narcissist or co-dependent parent. Sometimes people who tend to be more empathic are easily drawn in by a damaged narcissist. The point is, you not only have to heal from the trauma of this relationship, you also have to be willing to turn inwards and find out if there was any trauma that drove you to this relationship.
By no means am I trying to blame the victim here. What happened to you was horrific and not your fault. What I am saying is that the process of self discovery and healing that can come after leaving a narcissist can be deeply empowering especially after such a disempowering experience. It may be painful, but looking inward with ultimately free you from this dynamic and open up space for life altering healing.
Ultimately, the tools you use for healing will vary depending on what works for you and it will take a lot of experimenting. For me, I found hypnotherapy, Theta Healing, and homeopathy to be my go to strategies.
Ready to start dating again? Working with a matchmaker is a safe, easy way to get back into the dating world. Join my free database here to be considered as a match for one of our clients, totally free to cost for you.
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