“Hello? Where did you go? You never replied to the question in my last text?”
“Hi, I was just thinking, I haven’t heard from you in a few days. Just wondering if everything is ok?”
“I think this is really strange. First you say you care about me and want to work things out, then it is impossible to reach you for a week….”
If you are with a narcissist (including psychopaths/sociopaths), or a person with strong narcissistic tendencies, chances are you may have sent messages or e-mails like this. You may have called the person on the phone, just to be met by no answer or a phone that is switched off. This treatment of us, we now know as the Silent Treatment. I also like to call it The Disappearing Act. Now, where this sort of behavior gets really unhealthy and sick, is that the narcissist always comes back again. They can pop up like nothing ever happened, days, weeks or months after a Disappearing Act. Or they can try to get inside your head by reaching out to you indirectly through relatives, etc. (Hoovering by proxy). Or they can return to tell a “sob story”, any kind of excuse, for their behavior:
“I had some stuff to figure out. I had to be on my own”. (Uhm, ok, you didn’t think it could be kind to tell me about that, did you?)
“Well, I didn’t know if you ever wanted to see me again. So I stayed away”. (Ok, well, why do you come back now, then?”).
The reasons they do this can be deliberate or less calculating, depending on the type of narcissist. If they are malignant/sadistic, it may have to do with punishment, or as a way to control you. To heighten your anxiety so that you become insecure whether they’re ever coming back. If you have feelings for them still, their absence will make you more compliant and make you less inclined to make demands.
If they are just plain old covert narcissists, the broken connection can be simply for the reason that they are hooking up with someone else. A very likely scenario. And when they go back to you, the other person/persons, are left in a limbo instead, just like you were. This disappearing act is more likely to happen towards the end of your relationship, or simply when things are rocky. Or if you’re broken up already, but still “figuring things out” between the two of you. The reason for disappearing is clear; the narcissist absolutely must find and “cultivate” new sources of narcissistic supply (potential partners). The narcissist would never risk standing alone after a break-up. There is always someone else waiting in the wings, (or several someones).
When I speak about a disconnect, I am referring to this behavior that I’ve described already. But I am also referring to the term in a wider and deeper sense than that. I choose to think of the disconnect, as the nature of the narcissist’s attachment to us. Now, we have to educate ourselves. But that is not enough. We have to look this truth in the eye, and accept it at a deeper level, if we are ever gonna heal. The truth I am talking about, is the answer to the question that haunts all partners of narcissists:
How can he/she treat me like this???
Time and again we lived through the narcissist acting like a callous, cold, cruel person. Without consideration for our feelings. Without accountability and remorse. Tossing us aside, only to pick us back up from the ground when it suited them. They have treated us in countless ways that we find appalling, when truly admitting it to ourselves. So what is this truth? Why are they doing this to us?
They can not form a genuine emotional connection, or attachment to another human being. I know, we all felt the feeling of “being special”, or that they “must care, somewhere deep inside”. Harsh truth: They don’t. They never cared. To them, we are things. Objects to be used. I know this is heartbreaking, but if we are ever going to truly escape and heal, we must embrace this hard truth. Several other bloggers, including a narcissist, HG Tudor, use the term “appliance”, meaning people are appliances, that the narcissist uses for their own purposes…
When we are thinking “they must care, deep inside”, we are merely projecting our inner emotional life, onto them. We think they must care, because we do. It is unthinkable to us, that a person can be so cruel to us, time and time again, without regretting it. We give them “the abuse excuse“. Meaning, “oh they had such a hard childhood”, “they never did receive unconditional love”, “they had such a heartbreak at a young age”, etc. As if somehow, that makes it “ok”, for them to keep abusing us, using us. And yes, most likely they had some sort of trauma in their childhood. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is; the adult is now treating you cruelly, and they don’t show any genuine will or effort to ever stop that treatment of you (other than temporarily, to win you back, perhaps).
The disconnect means therefore, in a deeper sense, the narcissist’s complete inability to connect to another human being in a deep, emotional way. The sort of connection that is crucial, when it comes to love. The simple answer to all those times you asked yourself “Why do they treat me so cruelly”? is: “They do not love you. Because they can’t. It’s not how they’re wired”.
I am the perfect example of not believing a hundred percent in this truth. For the longest time, I kept doubting. As those of you who know me through the blog know, (but I’ll say it again) I tested this truth several hundred times, through four years of an emotional roller coaster. “The truth held true”, every time. It was only me that refused to believe it. What I do believe is that many people are trapped in this same “magical thinking”, their partner is going to change, their partner is different. The only reason I am throwing this blog post out there, is in the hopes of reaching someone, anyone, who is sitting there, like I was, reading articles like this, and holding on to false hope. My question would be: “How much proof do you need, before you are certain that a person never cared about you? How many times must this person treat you cruelly and callously, before you realize the truth?“.
I have made peace with the truth. I hope you can, too. I still grieve it, but I’ve accepted it for what it is. The narcissist in my life never cared one iota about me. He used me as an “appliance”. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less. I loved him, and that didn’t mean jack s*it to him, to put it in a brutal way. (And yes…it is brutal, to think about that). And to protect myself from ever falling under his spell again, and to keep him from hurting me again, I must never, ever be in contact with him again. It’s a hard truth. But, just like promised, the truth shall set you free.