The Intentionally Emotive Podcast with Shaun Karim
Episode 21 - My Narcissist Ex Took Everything Away From Me
In this episode, Shaun reads a letter from a listener who just broke up with their narcissistic ex; in it, she asks for advice as she has no clue where to go as she seemingly has nothing left; her narcissistic ex “took everything away” from her, as she puts it.
If you resonate with this topic, you definitely want to listen to this episode as Shaun outlines the steps that you can take to understand where you’ve been, where you are now, and ultimately where you can go.
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How's it going, everybody? Welcome to the Intentionally Emotive Podcast with Shaun Karim, part of the Mental Health News Radio Network. New episodes are available every Wednesday on your favorite podcast platform.
If you want to leave a voice message about any topic or have a question to be featured in a future episode, go to www.shaunkarim.com and click the microphone icon on the bottom right of your screen.
Today’s topic is per request from a listener, Jennifer, who asked to touch on this based on the experiences I’ve shared on this show so far. As she put it to me, “My Narcissistic Ex Took Everything From Me.”
In her email, she said she was in a relationship with her boyfriend for almost two years before they broke up. I’m going to read her email because I think a lot of people–male or female–can relate to her situation, and then we’ll get into the specifics on what to do.
I really enjoy your show and wanted to say thank you for telling your story, so I was hoping you could help me with something.
I broke up with my boyfriend two weeks ago, and it has been really hard for me. When we first met, we got along and spent a lot of time together with our group of friends. He was super kind and asked me out one day, and I said yes. After a few dates, we decided to become exclusive.
At first, everything was perfect. I liked the way he paid attention to me, and he was always sincere and thoughtful. He made me laugh. We did everything together, and I couldn’t have asked for more.
I think five or six months later he started to change. He didn’t hug and kiss as much as he did when we first got together. All of a sudden, he didn’t want to plan dates with me anymore because he said we should just go with the flow. When I asked him if he loved me, he didn’t say yes or no, but he said why should we overthink it and we should just enjoy each other. I used to tell him all of the things that I went through when I was little with him, like the things that made me sad and the things that I still struggle with, and he started exploiting all of that and made me feel really bad about all of it.
Then he started showing these narcissistic traits that he never showed me before. He used to be thoughtful and we enjoyed the same things all the time, but then that stopped and he stopped being considerate to me, his empathy was gone, and he was always looking for validation from other girls about the way he looked or dressed. Even if I told him he looked handsome, it wasn’t enough unless some other girls told him the same thing.
I had to break it off with him, and he was so angry at me about it. He said I would never find anyone like him and he couldn’t believe how much I was hurting him. I tried telling him how I felt, but he made it seem like everything was my fault. Even when I started to cry, he wouldn’t stop berating me.
We spent so much time together. I’m not so young that I can simply move on to another relationship with someone for the sake of it. All I wanted was a real commitment and affection, but he stopped giving me that and now I don’t know what to do with what’s left.
I feel like he took my time, my money, and my emotions from me. Basically, my narcissistic ex took everything away from me.
Can you tell me what I can do?
Before I start, let’s take a step back so we can set the groundwork here.
So you’ve finally and officially detached yourself from your narcissist. First off, congratulations. I hope you understand how important it is that you did this, and how much strength you had to muster up to actually do it. It’s not easy breaking away from someone, but as you probably saw, their talons are so engraved in you that it takes so much extra effort to extract them from you, but you did it. You finally did it.
You’ve gone through a lot. Don’t pretend you didn't. You need to mourn the ending of this relationship. I’m not saying that it’s you missing the other person, although maybe you do; we’ll get into that in a moment. You spent so much of your time and you gave so much of yourself, and the other person didn’t reciprocate. They even took advantage of your kindness and your heart.
The time you gave them is something you’ll never get back; the affection you gave them might feel like something you don’t want to give to anyone else. You might be questioning if you’ll ever find someone else who can make you feel the way that your narcissistic ex did.
Don’t fall for that. Don’t fall for any of that. Yes, the relationship is over. No matter what happened, the pain that you feel about this loss isn’t going to go away, and you certainly can’t ignore it. So sit with it, and understand that it is truly over.
Remember this: when your narcissistic ex hurt you and suffered the consequences, they still are not the victim.
So if that means you keep to yourself for a little while or you cry a river of tears, do whatever you need to do to mourn this the right way for you.
It sucks that they manipulated you so much for so long. It wasn’t your fault. You were just being you. They were expert at being the master manipulator. Maybe they kept reeling you in when they saw that you were thinking about leaving before this ended. They knew what to say and what to do to make sure you’d stay until you had the mental fortitude to get out of it.
Sure, you’ve had some good times with your narcissistic ex, but don’t let those times overshadow the ones that made you feel the way you did to help you end it. Don’t go back.
I don’t just mean don’t go back to your narcissistic ex. Don’t go back to ANY narcissist. They may look different and sound different, but they’re the same. They all do basically the same thing, including honing in on your good nature to get as much benefit as they can to your detriment, so be mindful of that.
The thoughts and stories that your narcissistic ex, or anyone who knew you during that time, do not apply to you today. You’ve changed. You’re more mature. You’re wiser.
So don’t revert; don’t go back making the same mistakes you’ve made before. You didn’t know any of this before, but you do now. You’re armed with information that you can keep with you for the rest of your life. Use it to your advantage.
You’re a genuinely good person, but you didn’t get played. What happened is your narcissistic ex played themselves out of them having access to you.
It’s not enough to not go back to that person no matter how much they might beg. Don’t let your loneliness make you settle or lower your standards so you get into a relationship with someone who doesn’t deserve you.
It might be difficult to see this right now, but detaching from your narcissistic ex revealed some things about you that will eventually trickle into your conscious mind. You may or may not fully know what you have to offer, but you’re slowly starting to understand your worth.
You know, deep down inside, that your narcissistic ex wasted your time, and they were bringing you down with the way they wanted your lives to intertwine. That’s not good enough. It’s not good enough to be with someone who isn’t where you are in life. You probably don’t even know what you’re ready for at this moment, and that’s OK.
It’s OK not to know where you want to be, but you have to remember where you don’t want to go. You’re in the process of something important here in your life; don’t let anything or anyone change the trajectory that you’re on right now.
Just wait. Don’t settle. Wait for the person who is worth waiting for; you’ll know who they are once they enter your life. This person will help you realize why it didn’t work out with anyone else previously.
Remember what happened. Do your best to recall why this relationship ended. Think about all of the things that happened that got you into that relationship in the first place, all of the things that kept you there, and the things that made you decide that was no longer appropriate for your life.
Sometimes it might be difficult to do this; I completely understand that, but you owe it to yourself to be honest about what happened. Remember, you were the victim here, and that means you went through something traumatic. With that, you have some life lessons that you need to keep in the back of your mind, and even teach them to others you care about.
Let go of the thoughts and emotions that made you suffer. Once you stop being attached to those parts of your past, a wave of peace, joy, and relief will overcome you.
All of what I’ve described so far is you laying the groundwork to this next phase, which is discovering yourself. That also means that you’re not going back to the person you were; the person you are now is further ahead in life.
You may not believe this right now because your narcissistic ex spearheaded your self worth being as low as it could–but believe me you have something to offer. You weren’t in that relationship by happenstance; it happened because that narcissist saw so much value in you, and they saw the opportunity to do whatever they could to extract that goodness out of you for their own benefit for as long as they could.
Obviously, I don’t know what you have to offer; that’s something you have to figure out yourself. Sure, your friends and loved ones may be able to pitch in, but this has to come from within and you need to be able to speak to it with as much conviction as you’ve ever had in your life.
Part of this discovery is forgiving yourself, not because you could have avoided this situation, but because you need to understand that it’s OK to make mistakes; your job here right now is to learn from those mistakes. You didn’t deserve what your narcissistic ex did to you. The sooner you accept that, the better; and that’ll help you to continue on this path.
So you’ve mourned the loss of your relationship with your narcissistic ex; you understand and are intentionally not reverting to where you were only to make the same mistakes again; you’ve kept your standards high, and possibly even raised them because of what you’ve learned; you can look back and see where you were and compare that to where you are now and where you’re going, and you’re going to continue on that journey; and you’re discovering the new you.
Own the person you’re becoming. You’re weathered, you’ve been battle tested, and here you are still standing. So stand tall. Wear those scars as badges of honor. Know that your perseverance in all of this doesn’t make you look strong; rather, you need rest to recuperate so you can step into your new persona and show people what you’re made of; and when it’s time, the right person will appear in your life.
It’s not like your work here is finished. I don’t know that you’ll ever be done. Your narcissistic ex took a lot from you, and they’ve moved on from you not because they found someone better, but because they found another victim who has no idea what shenanigans they’re capable of.
Part of this includes resolving the issues you have with your narcissistic ex within yourself, because there’s no way in hell that they will give you that closure themselves.
I get that you may not be happy right now because you’re so used to being with this toxic ex, but remember that someone out there right now is meeting that person, and they think your ex is someone special. You know better than that now.
All the things your narcissistic ex put you through don’t serve you anymore, so let go of them because that’s holding you back.
What you have left are all of the things no one could ever take from you. Don’t be angry at your narcissistic ex for what they did; be thankful that you’re able to move on from it and live the life you’re meant to live.
All right, everyone. Thanks for listening to the Intentionally Emotive Podcast with Shaun Karim. If you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to spread the word on social media and check out www.shaunkarim.com.