Let’s say you have a pipe leak somewhere in your house. The pipe was originally defective, but you had no idea. And it’s behind walls, so at first you don’t notice it’s leaking at all. It’s just sporadic drops from time to time, but as time goes on, those drops are more frequent and a puddle starts to form. Then, instead of drops, it turns into a thin squirt, then a thicker one. You may start noticing something strange about the water flow in the system, but you brush it off by rationalizing it in a way that keeps you unaware of the real issue
This can go on for quite some time, and in the meantime, as you start having water pressure issues, you decide to change the shower head, the fixtures, you buy a new garden hose, you change the faucets. Nothing seems to work. Over time, in the midst of your busy life and in your perceived inability to fix the problem, you eventually get used to the lower water pressure and adjust to it. It may still bother you a bit, but not as much as it did at first. You may have changed the way you do your dishes and even found that the new system was actually better, you’re not “wasting” as much water as before. You make take shorter showers, sweep the driveway instead of washing it – and now it’s a pattern: you have a new found passion as an environmentalist. It works like cognitive behavioral therapy: you change your behavior, then the behavior changes you.
But there’s one strange fact you can’t come to terms with: you notice the water bill isn’t going down. In fact, it’s actually more expensive now. At this point, you are experiencing cognitive dissonance: you have two conflicting facts and beliefs. The first one says “I’m being mindful about my water consumption and using much less”, the other one says “the water bill is strangely higher than usual”. How do you make sense of that? You may tell yourself “the children or my partner must be using too much water”, or “water prices must have gone up”. You will find a way to justify the facts to eliminate the cognitive dissonance.
Once soothed, you may complain about the water company, or ask your family to be more mindful of their water usage, reduce yours even more. You may talk to people and ask them if their water bill has gone up as well. But since you are completely blinded to the true source of the problem, you basically feel very confused about what is happening and it’s so incredibly unsettling!! You are so obsessed with the idea that you have to find a way for the water situation to be resolved, that after hitting wall after wall and no answers, you decide to up your game. After all, this is your responsibility.
You may start believing you’re doing something incredibly wrong. You are now very aware of wasteful water usage and convinced yourself that this is where the problem lies. So you go online and discover that animal agriculture is responsible the majority of water consumption in the planet and decide that you don’t want to be a part of the problem, so you go vegan. Please take note of the fact that this is now completely unrelated to the original issue, which is: you have low water pressure and your water bill is higher than usual. But you are changing yourself in fundamental ways, because the original problem has led you to new questionings and taken you in tangents that ultimately distract you from the problem at hand, keeping you further and further away from a resolution. However, since the problem remains and you’ve changed anything imaginable, the longer time goes on, the more unsettled you feel.
And then one day, the water issue will literally pour itself all over you. You’re in the bathroom and water comes shooting out right at you. You can’t contain it, you are in shock, your bathroom is getting flooded, you’re soaked in dirty water and it’s spreading to the rest of the house. Water is everywhere, you watch the damage unfold right before your eyes and you don’t know how to stop it. Also, you don’t fully understand what is causing this, so it may cross your mind that maybe you did something wrong, but hey… there’s no time for this, right now you need to run, as fast as you can, and seek help.
When you’re back with a plumber, there’s so much damage all around you. The base of the furniture is soaked, the carpet is ruined, curtains are soaking up water, there are objects floating around, it’s a catastrophic mess!! You don’t even know where to start. You feel disoriented. You’re exhausted, it’s cold and, to make matters worse, now you’re also having electrical issues and you have no power in the house.
It will take a lot of work and you will certainly need help to reverse the situation. It’s possible, but also far from being an easy task.
As you try to sort out what caused the flooding and destruction, the reality of it reveals itself in all its glory: the defective pipe is now in clear sight, shooting out insane water pressure. You realize that no amount of effort will remove the water already in your house, because the leakage is still very much active. The only reasonable thing to do is to address the actual source of the problem, before you even attempt to clean up the mess.
So, let’s look at your options, shall we? What would you do? Would you try to put some tape around the pipe? Maybe use some sort of container to collect the water and work in shifts with your family to get the container emptied every 10 minutes? Can you think of any other absurd ideas on how to salvage the pipe and stop the leakage and damage at the same time?
Probably not. Your first move HAS to be cutting the water supply. That’s the ONLY possible solution in this situation. And then, of course, there’s the pipe itself. Remember, it’s DEFECTIVE. There’s no fixing it. The pipe needs to go and stay gone. No reusing it in any way, shape or form. In order to have a normal, functioning water system in your house, you will need a reliable, non defective, normal functioning new pipe put in place.
And, with you previous experience of water related destruction, you likely won’t settle for some generic, cheap pipe and hope it will do. No… You will buy the best pipe you can get because never again in your life you want to go through the same type of experience.
This is your abuse story and your answer to the question “Is no contact really the only way”? It absolutely is. The narcissist in your life is disordered. It won’t function in normalcy, no matter how much effort you put into fixing them. You need to cut the supply. And replace the “defective pipe”. And I don’t mean replace it with a new partner. But with normalcy and proper functioning, whichever form that may take in your life. And that is not possible if you keep tempering with the defective pipe.
The narcissist leaks abuse and damage incrementally. And incrementally enough, that you’ll brush it off as anything else imaginable, while being blind to the truth. You will change yourself to soothe your cognitive dissonance. You will spend time, energy and money into finding possible ways to fix the relationship. You buy books on how to improve your relationship, you watch videos, you talk to people. You change core, fundamental things about yourself that take you further and further away from setting yourself free. You become excessively mindful of everything you do and say, you walk on eggshells, you talk to people about isolated events that don’t draw the full picture and remain void of clear and effective answers, because no one outside of your torture chamber can even vaguely grasp the sustained crazy making behaviors you’re being subjected to day in and day out. You keep trying harder. And to your surprise and utter confusion, there’s still a high price to pay. Nothing you do works.
You blame it on factors outside of the relationship, while “the pipe is safely hidden behind the wall”, or the narcissist is safely hidden behind his mask. Narcissistic abuse victims keep putting tape around the pipe, unaware that it can’t be fixed, while thinking they are the ones either using the wrong kind of tape or having not learned well enough how to tape a leaking pipe effectively.
But ultimately, the “defective pipe” will burst. It’s inevitable. The disordered cluster B person cannot function in a normal capacity, abuse will shoot out of them in unimaginable proportions, like it’s what he or she is designed to do, at the core. Destroy your life and everything around you, while feeling entitled to do so, after all, it’s who they are at their core, what they are inherently designed to do.
I’m sorry to break it down to you like it is, but here’s the truth: you are dealing with a defective pipe, that acts in sneaky and undetected ways behind the scenes. Compromises the entire water system in your house and will, ultimately, create nothing but destruction, affecting every other system you have in place, including your support system, your internal power source, your spiritual practices, your personal belongings… in essence every aspect of your life, including who you are physically, emotionally and psychologically. Cutting the ties, removing the narcissist from your life and cutting off any and all contact, to the best of your abilities and possibilities, IS-THE-ONLY-WAY.
Now… no contact means not only that you no longer contact them, but that you also completely shut off any and all viable possibility they may contact you. It’s completely blocking the source of supply (namely, you!) from the narcissist’s reach. It means blocking the narcissist on your phone, social media, email, etc. Distancing yourself from the people who may serve as conduit for information about him to you and vice versa. It also means to emotionally distancing yourself from the need to know what the narcissist is doing. Don’t check their Facebook page, don’t ask people about him. Leaving even the least bit of “leakage” will end up also damaging your internal power and there will be no energy left in you to deal with the situation.
Furthermore, whatever channels you leave open will be the equivalent to putting tape around the pipe. It may diminish the potential for damage, but you remain at risk for destruction.
If you share children, assets or a business with the narcissist, keep contact to the bare minimum and to what is absolutely necessary, limited to the scope of these arenas. In the meantime, empower and heal yourself. Learn all you can about the functioning of cluster B disordered individuals and how to protect yourself. Keep yourself in the safest distance possible, physically, emotionally and psychologically.
Be brave. Stay safe. Go no contact. Keep yourself from drowning in abuse.