How Did I Lose Myself in This Relationship?

Is anybody there? 

Yes, of course you are. You might feel lost, but you aren’t. That’s the trouble with narcissists – they make you feel completely adrift from yourself. It’s as if you’ve been pushed out to sea with no compass.

The narcissist is the one who pushed you, and they did so with a smile on their face. 

You see, it isn’t you who necessarily lost yourself. Your essence was stolen from you by the narcissist, and now you feel as though you’re responsible.

But how did this all happen, I hear you ask. If you know the typical narcissist, you’ll know there will be numerous, dark and twisty reasons for you feeling so disorientated from life.

Let’s start at the beginning…

The Narcissist in the Beginning

It’s no surprise that at the beginning of a relationship, the narcissist wants you to feel like the most important person in the world. 

They whisk you into oblivion and charm you; there’s no reason you would see through it. Narcissists can appear very genuine, very loving people in the beginning. There is always a catch though, and the catch here is that this behavior is not genuine. 

Narcissists, at the beginning of any relationship, want to impress you so you feel impressed by them. It’s this deep desire to make you see how special they are, and how lost you would be without them.

The worst part is: You feel lost with them too, eventually. 

Beware! This Won’t Last: The Narcissistic Cycle of Abuse

The savory truth of being involved in narcissistic relationships is that they come with a cycle.

The four steps are: 

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Idealization

The phase that makes everything seem like flowers and roses. The first stage of any relationship with a narcissist makes you feel special, loved and wanted. Taking you out on romantic dates, buying you lavish presents, putting you on a pedestal and like you’re the most valuable person on the planet. 

Devaluation

The blue skies never last, and before long, the devaluing comes in.

The criticism.

The ridicule.

The petty arguing.

The gaslighting. 

Telling you you’re not good enough.

It’s a confusing time for people who have just spent X amount of time telling you how wonderful you are. You’ll wonder at this stage what you’ve done wrong, and will try to ask them.

They won’t tell you, they’ll just love the attention you’re giving them trying to find out. 

Discard

This is the stage where you will be tossed aside as if you never mattered. The discard will feel brutal. You will feel as if you don’t matter any more, and the narcissist will treat you as though you are no longer of use to them. 

They will withdraw emotionally, become distant and cold and act as if you don’t matter. They may even accuse you of no longer fulfilling their needs, and possibly end things with you.

Hoovering

Hoovering is exactly what you think it means – the narcissist is back.

They will do whatever it takes to get you back into their arms. They will fill you with (empty) promises of a life together. They will offer endless (also empty) apologies. If you bite the bait, the cycle of abuse will begin all over again. 

The Gaslight Doesn’t Keep You Warm

When a narcissist gaslights, they’re looking to do two things: 

  1. Manipulate You.
  1. Control You.
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Responding to it by denying your versions of reality, or losing yourself in their dominant force will allow yourself to slip further away from who you really are. It’s a very confusing time, and anyone who questions their reality has had theirs rocked by a narcissist. 

It didn’t happen that way.

You’re exaggerating.

You must be going mad.

I never said that.

You’re the one who said that, not me. 

Imagine this on a long-cycle loop. It’s enough to make anyone feel totally and utterly lost. 

Isolated From Yourself … and Others

The familiar game of a narcissist is to pull you away from everybody else in your life. Over time and in very subtle ways, they will convince you to not go out by claiming to want to spend more time with you.

They also deceptively encourage you to rid yourself of certain people that you’re ‘too good for.’ These appear as compliments, but it’s just a way for them to cut more and more people away from you. 

Leaving you nothing but isolated and alone.

Soon enough, when problems occur, you’ve got nobody to talk to. Nobody will be there to support you and tell you that it’s not a healthy relationship. You’ll only have yourself – and if you feel lost – you aren’t going to find that person. 

The Narcissist’s Subtlety: Chipping Away Over Time

Over time, the narcissist will treat you like a block of ice. You begin a beautiful swan Once the hammer and chisel come out, you are chipped away into something nobody, least of all you, resembles. 

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When you look in the mirror, it isn’t uncommon to wonder where that person is now. You want them back, but at the same time, you don’t even remember who it was you used to be.

So much has happened. 

This is the entire gameplan of the narcissist. They don’t care how you feel, they just want you to feel as terrible about yourself as they do about themselves. 

Prioritizing Yourself Again

If you feel the most lost you’ve ever felt, light is at the end of the tunnel. You can prioritize yourself again, starting with these five quick tips:

  1. Reevaluate your values. This is always a good stepping stone to get you moving in the right direction again. What’s important to you?
  2. Connect with an old hobby. Remember all those things you used to do that you were told were silly? Go and do the one you love the most!
  3. Call an old friend. They never really went anywhere, but you were made to feel they did. Catching up adds to reconnection. 
  4. Volunteer somewhere. This will bring back that deep sense of self-worth, especially by helping make a difference somewhere.
  5. Practice mindfulness. Being in the moment will help you realize that the past has been and gone and all you have is now. Immersing yourself in whatever you like to do will mean you are looking after you. 

No Loss is Permanent

A narcissist can strip your identity, but it isn’t something you’ll never have again. Yes, it can take a little time to feel normal again, but you can find or replace what you previously lost (through no fault of your own!)

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