“I went to bed at seven this morning. After months of no contact, S blew back into my life. She invited me over and we drank vanilla vodka and danced to vinyl all night. It was the most fun I’ve had in ages. She spun me Floyd and Eagles, and, “Blue Bayou.” When in doubt, play Linda Ronstadt. She called me ‘Punkin’ and pulled out all the stops. Of course she knows how to woo me. We made no arrangements to see each other again, and I’m okay with that. I know how dangerous she is, but last night felt like basking in the sun. Who can blame me for wanting one night of amazing?” (Journal entry, December 2016)
Who can indeed? Recovering from narcissistic abuse is one of the hardest, dreariest things you will ever do in your life. It’s days and weeks and months of no contact, that feel like stumbling around in a wasteland of negative emotions. For a long time the only things you feel are sadness, grief, anger, shame and self-doubt. Relief on the days when you feel numb, when you feel nothing at all. The smallest tasks require enormous effort, and you’re not sure you’ll ever be different again. Those are hard times, sister.
Of course I heard the term “being hovered” tossed around in the narcissist recovery community. But it wasn’t ever going to happen to me. I really believed that. In the cab on my way to see S, I was determined not to get hooked.
Hoovering happens when your narcissist comes looking for you again. For some reason they’ve decided you could be useful to them once more. I had some warning that I was back on S’s radar that came in the form of an email. She was suddenly willing to drop off my stuff. Month earlier my request was ignored with stony silence. I didn’t bite that time, but it weakened me. The dreams about her returned on a nightly basis disrupting my sleep. Intrusive thoughts of S invaded my brain and I was able to redirect my attention only with great difficulty. My emotions were high, and I felt anxious and restless. Add to that some personal stress around the holiday season, and Bingo. I was ripe for the picking.
For those of you who have been there, it’s okay. I know you’re worried for me, and I would be for you, if this was your story. Contact with a narcissist is always dangerous to one’s emotional and mental health, and is best avoided altogether. I was treading rough waters.
That first night the attention felt wonderful. The music was magical and we danced for hours without getting tired. The vodka was deliciously warm. We teased and laughed and reminded each other of the good times. When the morning light dawned through the windows and I finally insisted on going home, it was like I had turned back the time and we were at the beginning again. I left with my heart full of hope and a huge smile on my face.
I returned the next night, and for a few nights after that. Things seemed okay. We fell back into our old routines. I even started making her tea again. We never addressed what was happening between us, we just slid back into acting like we were a couple. At first it felt nice. Comforting. Hopeful. Maybe I was wrong all along and had imbued her with all those narcissistic qualities. It’s hard to see things clearly in the midst of breaking up. Maybe she was really a decent human being after all?
That’s what I wanted to believe. And once upon a time it would have been easy. But there was a problem. I had swallowed the red pill. Remember the Matrix? Swallow the blue pill and all is as it was. You remain unaware and asleep. But decide on the red pill and you will see the truth. Reality as it really is, whether you want to or not. When I educated myself on narcissism, I opted for the red pill. And once the vodka induced haze cleared out a little, I noticed everything. S was still lying, still unapologetic, and demanding of my immediate attention. She expected my absolute dedication without being willing to give me the same. But now, unlike before when I was wondering “why would she do that?” there was only clear certainty, “because she is a narcissist.” A narcissist is a narcissist is a narcissist.
I’m glad I got to find that out. It’s not the thing to do for everyone, but for me it was helpful. I really needed that disillusionment. I haven’t been to her house in a few days. The last time I went, I was longingly thinking of the quiet evening I had planned for myself. It felt like letting down a good friend for a night out with an ex. I thought to myself, “Baby you deserve better than that.”The next night I stayed home and watched TV with my fur baby. I welcomed the slight boredom of the ‘Holiday Baking Championship’, and relaxed enough to happily drift in and out of sleep. It felt good and sweet and right.
Remember the narcissistic cycle of abuse? Already the devaluation has started. The texts between us are getting fewer and fewer, and I can tell she is getting ready for the discard. What she doesn’t know, is that it’s my choice this time. The less I feed her fragile ego with quick responses, the sooner she will be gone. I’m sad for her, because I see her for who she really is. I just don’t have much room for people like that, so I’m fine with her drifting away. There are so many wonderful and generous folks in my life. They show me how much they love me in many ways. Looking for love from someone who has none to give is like sitting by a fire that will never warm you. You can shovel in coal and wood by the truck loads, but you’ll always be cold.
Red pill or blue? You’re choice. But if you choose red, it’s a done deal. There is no going back.