It takes a lot to remove a narcissist from your life. Not only the fact that he is not all that willing for you to make that call but also the actions and thoughts of the people involved with them often make it difficult. Especially codependents hang around until the bitter end (or longer) hoping something will change for the better. Invariably, it doesn’t. The best advice is to go full no contact, resist the moments when they make contact and work hard on why it happened in the first place. Above all, keep them out of your life, work on reality and not fall back into the fantasy that the narcissist built in the form of the illusion they initially hooked you with.
Once they are gone, even if they were the one who did the discarding, it is important to know that unless action is taken, they will never really be gone. They will always reserve the right to come back and tap into their ‘supply’ again, creating chaos all over again. If you have a child with such a person, then that door is always slightly ajar. He (or she) will often take advantage of visitation and handovers to maintain a dysfunctional relationship with their ex partner, often using the child to help with this. As a responsible parent, it is essential to draw a balance between contact with the narcissist and child and what he wants to achieve with his ex-partner. If you are lucky, the narcissist will eventually lose interest in both and truly disappear! The information we do know about narcissism tells us that they have real difficulty loving anyone including their children.
However, what do you do in such cases? Some of my current clients are struggling through this at present, confused as to why the narcissist is suddenly ‘Prince Charming’ again, why he is doing the things he is and what that means. This is precisely the problem. Narcissists like to put a fog around any situation they are in to keep people guessing and the attention firmly on them. Even if this means acting in contrast (nicely) to true character. Codependents in this situation are always likely to fall for the ‘supply’ scenario and believe that things can be salvaged and it can be an especially confusing time for them. My advice always is to learn and set boundaries. More importantly to maintain them strongly to avoid them being violated continually. However, with a codependent mind this is difficult and they sometimes have to take drastic measures to make sure they are safe.
One of the traps that narcissists set is the use of text to keep constant contact. Many codependents fall into the trap of allowing a dysfunctional dialogue to develop where there is a bigger chance of being manipulated. These dialogues often start off functionally and descend into gaslighting, blame and insult as it goes on. Some will even give in to make it stop and believe me, I have heard some horror stories concerning this where children are involved. Constant contact concerning basic care procedures, changing arrangements at the last moment, blaming for minor events and reporting emergencies that are anything but. This will spill over to the handover where the narcissist will hang around, start dysfunctional conversations and generally complicate everything. Sometimes, they will use the child to attack their ex-partner by telling the child how bad they are. In this situation, codependents do not usually have the skills to cope and they need to be taught how to deal with it. There are practical and emotional steps to this process.
On the practical side, the following is helpful;
1. Set up a new email account just for the narcissist. Tell him you will only respond at all if mails are sent to this address. Check daily and filter what messages need responding to and delete all others.
2. Block access to you via any other social media avenue. Many codependents will give the excuse that they need to keep this open if there is an emergency with the child. My argument always is that if it is a true emergency, it needs dealing with immediately and it is the responsibility of the parent in charge at that moment to deal with it.
3. Make handovers as short as possible. Avoid long or meaningless conversations.Under no circumstances, allow the narcissist in your house or car. If you feel threatened, arrange for others to do the handover
4. Stay in the moment. Always keep your own mental health in mind, accept your reality. Try not to engage in arguments and squabbling that will enable your boundaries to be pushed aside.
Emotionally, breaking the link that the narcissist has created and was maintained by codependent thinking is often difficult and support is generally needed to do this. It is essential to set and maintain healthy boundaries around an unhealthy situation. Additionally, deeper work must be done to analyse and heal dysfunctional attachments from the past.