“I didn’t know what the future held, but I knew this…I was better than the past.” This is a quote from Denise Kavalisuskas, Transformational Love Coach and our guest on the podcast yesterday. Denise was in a toxic narcissistic relationship for 22 years before she got the courage to leave, and for the first time in her life trusted herself and chose herself.
I asked Denise if people who marry narcissists distrust themselves and generally feel inferior. Denise responded to this affirmatively and recalled her experience as a child of divorce in which she learned narcissistic behavior from her parents. We have a tendency to repeat our past because our experiences are ingrained in muscle memory, and we, unconsciously, repeat behavior that is familiar to us even though we know the behavior is adverse to forming good relationships.
When people leave a relationship that is hurtful, either emotionally, financially, or physically, they will need to do a complete rehaul of themselves in these areas, Denise further explained. “It was the BEST decision I ever made but everything in the past came with a cost.” Denise left with her 17 year old daughter, while she left her 16 year old son with his father, by her son’s choice. It’s excruciating for this mother to leave her child.
In order to leave a toxic relationship we have to experience a shift to self-love. But how do we know if we have self-love? What does the tape, the voice in our heads sound like if we have self-love, and self-love enough that we have the confidence to choose what is healthy for our own growth and happiness? Trust in our decision-making is something we have to learn after a narcissistic break-up, and with that we have to learn the signs to look for if we are presented with another narcissistic person: Are we being love-bombed at the very beginning of the relationship in the ‘getting-to-know-you period’ (too much affection and connection too soon), not being listened to or heard by the potential partner, not being respected, and not having an equal voice in life choices that affect both partners.
There typically is no converting of the narcissist because narcissists cannot feel empathy and therefore cannot do anything but put their own needs first. Control is the name of their game. The only conversion can come in making decisions that are right for our own happiness and fulfillment, and to look for a partner in which there is equal measure of mutual respect and consideration for each other’s well-being.
Listen to Denise Kavalisuskas discuss Leaving a Narcissistic Relationship here: