Feeling of loneliness after no contact or even while you are still in a relationship with a narcissist can seem overwhelming at times. You can be surrounded by people but still feel utterly alone and harboring all the raw emotional pain that goes with loneliness.
Escaping loneliness is much more difficult that you might think or that others might think it could be. The route out of loneliness is not just a matter of buying a new dress and going to a party or joining a book club. It creates profound psychological damage which is why narcissists are so keen on isolation as a manipulation tactic and is a self-perpetuating cage that can prove very difficult to break free from. Loneliness distorts our perceptions and a narcissist will encourage these distorted perceptions. So if you get invited to an event by someone the narcissist will say “So and so told me that they don’t really want you to go, they were only being polite” the reason they do this is that an isolated and lonely person who believes that people care for them a lot less than they actually do, are much easier to control. You might feel that the toxic “relationship” is the only one that you can cling on to and if you let go you will drown. That is exactly what the narcissist wants you to think. You doubt our even long standing existing relationship as the narcissist tries to get into them and either deride the relationship or try to become more important than you are in that relationship. You can often push away the very people who you could reach out to because of self-doubt and having social anxiety because you don’t know what to think or who to trust anymore. Social encounters tend to be about the weather and finish as quickly as possible, instead of having a good old chat. The brevity of these encounters means that connection with others is minimal. Which sends the message that you are “not interested” in talking to that person. A lonely person’s body language and facial expression can also give off the same “stay away from me” vibe.
To break the habits around loneliness you have to be proactive, it isn’t just a phase that will pass if you don’t do anything about it. You have to decide to take certain steps to calm the anxiety of moving out of your isolation and if you are still with a narcissist they will strongly discourage it. So, don’t tell your narcissist what you are going to do, where you are going to go or who you are going to meet. Take baby steps at first meet someone for coffee (one person at a time) instead of going to a party or a crowded club. Arrange to meet somewhere you already know with someone who you were close to in the past and haven’t seen for a while. Remember why you enjoyed this person’s company and the things that you did together and recognise the fact that this other person probably has a very busy life too and it might not only be you.
If you feel anxious about making contact send an email or a text message with a more proactive message than “we must meet up sometime” because that means the intention is there but it might never happen, give a time scale to show that you mean it. When you are out, smile at people, make a comment on how beautiful someone’s baby is and engage with the people around you. After your meeting check how you feel, you will probably feel fantastic – remember that feeling and use it as encouragement to do the same again very soon. If you slip and tell the narcissist you met someone for coffee don’t let them know that you enjoyed it. Shrug it off and seem indifferent.
This is a hard leap to make in the beginning but once you realise what has happened, why and that your perception of how others see you has been distorted by the narrative the narcissist fed you and as a result of that, your self-imposed isolation, you can push out of your cage (at your own pace) and begin to enjoy life and other people again – you won’t regret it.
1 thought on “Loneliness”
Thank you for sharing your story. I think we all go through that process to a greater or lesser degree. It is a horrible and devastating experience having a narcissistic mother but what we all have to accept is that it was not our fault, we are not unlovable but we were used by an emotionally damaged person so that they could feel better about themselves. I think that all of us survivors/thrivers are a work in progress. It is the ones who think that they are “there” that we need to worry about and avoid. Coming this far is an incredibly hard journey, so I think that you deserve a hug and to tell yourself “well done me, look how far I have come”! If you need to chat please feel free to drop me a message any time