It’s popular to express nothing but vitriol towards the narcissists we’ve loved and left. But I wonder: is there another side to the story? As aggressively as we embrace No Contact and as angrily as we tell the stories of narcissistic abuse, are we not whistling to keep up our courage? Is there not a secret “fly in the ointment,” even in the bliss of narcissist-less No Contact, that no one talks about.
In the wonderful book The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian, fiddle-player Sebastian is kicked out of the King’s Court Orchestra. As he swaggers and brags about being free, the gatekeeper locking the gate behind the disgraced Sebastian points out that he is more locked up than ever. “Locked into the outside, if you take my meaning,” he whispers. That’s when the “marvelous misadventures” start!
The same thing is true of going No Contact. Yes, it’s our choice but that doesn’t mean everything is rosy in the garden. Nor does it mean that we have no interest in the narcissistic family members we loved, but chose to leave. We just chose to end the pain. Yes, we’re free of them but we’re also locked on the outside.
Recently, I took a quick, unofficial poll of my Facebook friends, most of whom are survivors of narcissistic abuse. I asked how many of them had a support system in place meaning another human being who could help them in an emergency. Only 62% had anyone in their life to lend a helping hand, provide transportation or loan them $20. Almost 40% were utterly alone in the world with only themselves to rely on.
When you choose to go No Contact, you flush your support system and are “naked in the breeze” with only yourself to rely on. As bad as that sounds, it’s still better than the alternative (narcissistic abuse.)
For an ACON, the decision to go No Contact is to give up that last hope that Mom or Dad will ever love us unconditionally. Ever drop the implied-but-not-said “if only” or “in-spite of” when they grudgingly say, “I love you…(anyways.),” if they even say that!
When in 2014 it appeared that my paternal grandfather’s death was imminent, Dad rushed to his side. He rushed to the man who had treated him like a paraiah from birth. The man whose rages terrified and traumatized him when he was a sensitive little boy who tried so hard to be perfect to earn his father’s love and attention. The man who never once attended any of Dad’s track meets or football games. The man who made Dad wait almost fifty years for one lousy hug. The man who Dad had been nearly NC with for years. Dad rushed to see him…and even invited me to go see him. (WHY!?!)
For years I’ve pondered on why Dad did something so out of character for him and I think I’ve finally figured it out. Until you acknowledge that your parents were and still are narcissists and abusers, you don’t quite give up hope that sometime, someday your parent will finally give you their approval and unconditional love. Maybe even that first hug.
Going No Contact means you’ve finally figured out that you don’t want approval from someone like that. That a narcissist’s piecrust approval isn’t worth squat (and I mean diddly-squat!). Going No Contact means relinquishing that final hope. Accepting that your childhood dream of acceptance, love, affection and parental pride in you will never come true.
The final pain of No Contact is reading about our family member’s deaths online. Maybe finding their obituary months or years after they pass away. It’s happened several times to me since I went No Contact and it’s an odd feeling. Because when I went NC with my parents, the rest of the family turned their backs on me too (well, they already had anyways when Grandpa died.)
Don’t get me wrong! No Contact is good. It’s necessary. It’s the way things must be. But there’s a dark side to it also and we need to consider the risks and accept them when we choose the bliss, the freedom, the normalcy of No Contact.