That moment when you realize you’re in the presence of a malignant personality, and you make the decision to bow out quietly and make a clean getaway, is probably one of the most naive moments you’ll ever have.
So you think you can just fade away into their past, unscathed?
It might take them a while, but they’ll figure out you have dropped off of their radar. They will seek you out. They will hunt you down and they will force you to tell them why you don’t like them anymore, even if it means they do it with everyone BUT you.
I have experienced this phenomena more times than I care to share.
The average, normal person handles this kind of rejection in a much more civilized manner. For instance, when I realize someone has stopped being friendly, I might send them a note asking if things are okay.
If they don’t answer, I leave it at that.
If they do answer with a laundry list of my transgressions, I might try to salvage the friendship by promising to do better, or I might just decide their expectations of me were much too high and unrealistic. Perhaps they’re better off finding my replacement.
Either of these two paths are accurate and healthy choices.
The psychopath, however, takes it to the extreme.
They might call and call and call, maybe even letting your old landline ring at least a hundred times. They might send text after text after text, nasty emails rewriting history or letters in the mail. They might call low-rent talk shows and have the producers contact you or send you bogus magazine subscriptions. They might even write a song about you or periodically (depending on whether the moon is full, or not) tell people you ruined their life.
Oh, the angst of being a psychopath must be tremendous and consuming. I cannot even imagine it.
I have been successful at fading into the background for only a few months at a time. My longest fade on record was two years before the psychopath started asking all of our mutual friends why we weren’t friends anymore. She was diabolical because she did it in such a way that my friends thought it behooved them to get involved and try to fix the situation. I was totally not on board with any of their suggestions.
I was quite happy to remain in the background.
Here’s how fading into the background goes:
- You stop contacting them.
- You stop reading their emails or taking their calls.
- You stop hanging out at gatherings where they might be present. Sometimes you can show up, but make sure not to engage them on any level deeper than a “hello” or you’re just asking to be back in the foreground again.
- You slowly disengage on every level until they can’t see you and you can’t see them.
- Continue on with your life.
This kind of split is usually prefaced after being abused in some form or fashion. Whether its being constantly lied to, humiliated, manipulated or verbally abused in a passive/aggressive way, the split is always justifiable.
One of my friends tried to convince me to see it through and try to work it out.
That’s ridiculous advice.
When you are in the middle of an abusive and toxic connection to another human being the only thing you need to do for yourself is to get away from it as quickly and as painlessly as you can muster. Even though you are successful in escaping, you need to be prepared for their reappearance, because they will come back until you have made it clear they are not welcome.
Why do they do it?
That answer is very simple. So simple, it will shock you.
They keep coming back for one reason and that is Control.
Once they realize they have lost their control over you, they will do anything to get you back under control. They will take great and embarrassing strides to woo you back. It won’t matter to them if you’re coming back on bended knees, begging for forgiveness, or if you’re taking a swing at their jaw with your fist. Either way suits them just fine because you’re engaged and, believe it or not, you are back under their control.
The best advice anyone can give you is to never let them back in. Do not engage them on any level. Ignore the calls, the texts and the pleas from misinformed friends to patch things up.
Do Not Engage.
Cut Off All Contact.
Most importantly, be prepared for their unwelcome reentry to your life.
How do you prepare for something like this? You might have just spent 3 blissful months not having to deal with them and now you have to deal with them again? How in the world are you supposed to handle this new situation? Especially since now the psychopath’s attention is focused solely on you…the one that got away?
Every incident is different, but the overall best defense is not to let it become anything more than a blip on your radar. Ignoring them is still the way to go.
You don’t have to take their calls or answer their emails. You don’t even have to listen to the fifty voicemails they leave or read the emails they clog your Inbox with. Delete the voicemails without listening to them and set up the filtering controls on your email account to put anything they send you right into the Trash file.
I think it goes without saying that they add nothing to your life. They only take away from it. So nothing they have to say after all this time is even worth responding to.
You owe them nothing.
You owe it to yourself to remember why you faded into the background in the first place.
Until next time, this is Madeline Laughs, fading into the background where the psychopaths can’t get to her.
You can find this and many other entries about living with and recovering from narcissistic abuse in my book, Life After the Narcissist written by Katy Shultz. Available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com and all fine retailers.