Codependency & Withdrawal from Toxic Friendships
I'm not sure if this is the proper section, or if this topic even belongs on this forum.
Does anyone else come from a strong background of codependency?
Have you gotten out, or are you in the process of getting out?
Have you faced "withdrawal" symptoms from trying to escape codependency?
How do you cope with the withdrawal?
To clarify, codependence is the excessive reliance on another person for emotional and psychological support.
Feel free to read my experience below, but I'm cool with generic responses too because I know it's a long-winded read.
For me, I have been codependent on my roommate (who used to be my boyfriend) for about 2 years, and am currently trying to become independent after realizing the toxicity of the friendship. It is a bit of a double whammy because he is an extreme narcissist, who I believe had hand in grooming my codependency and at the same time crushing my self worth.
We were/both very anxious and depressed people when we first started dating, and immediately moved into a "romantic" relationship. He love-bombed me -- made me feel special, handsome, intelligent, creative, valuable. He made meals for me when I was too depressed to move. He helped me go doctor's appointments when I was too scared. He even took care of me when I had to undergo a semi-intensive surgery last year. This was the start of my addiction to his validation, even if I didn't realize it yet.
Slowly he did less and less, gave me validation more sporadically. I don't know if he already had the inklings of narcissism before we met, or if it just exploded over time in our relationship. We broke up after having more and more arguments, always the same issue. I didn't feel like I was being heard, and he denied it, often insulting me and dismissing everything I said. We settled on, "We have different ways of thinking." We remained friends, and then roommates, with still a close bond. I think too close a bond. We still cuddled sometimes, and I found myself even actively seeking his validation, asking reassurance about almost everything I ever did.
It just got worse. Especially in the last two months, his narcissism seemed to fully rear its ugly, fully developed head. It became so clear just hearing the way he talked -- "Every boy wants to **** me." "I'm literally way above everyone else." "I'm not like other people. Other people are boring." "I'm going to be a billionaire one day," or "I'm going to be the secretary of education."
And these weren't just whimsies -- he fully believed all these things. He would go on and on about how great he was at everything and how other people are so inferior and don't do x, y, & z right like he does. He would dance in the street, sing loudly on the train full of people or the grocery store even when it's socially unacceptable. He believes he is above societal rules. People will talk to him, and he will hum over them and look at his phone the whole time, as if anything is better than listening to another human being speak.
But that wasn't the worst part. It was a weird and slightly annoying development, but at least it was better than seeing where he started, so paralyzed by anxiety and fearful of doing anything in case he failed.
It got bad when we just argued, more and more, to the point he was just gaslighting me and never truly engaging. My points were never heard. I was cut off. My "tone" was too loud or I was speaking too fast, and that somehow sounded like I was being condescending. He didn't understand me, even though I try to explain myself as clearly as possible in several different ways, so my point must be stupid, or I "don't know how to talk to people."
The breaking point was when I called him out on the narcissism. Once he knew I picked up on it, it was all downhill. Immediately, he told me that I was, in fact, the narcissist.
And then....Well, I suppose this story is getting too long. You can imagine the rest, but the aftermath is still the same. What I basically learned is that he legitimately has no regard for my feelings, despite superficial affection he used to show me and how he claimed he still cared -- He said that being mean is a fundamental part of his personality, and that he wants to hurt people. He has stated again and again that he will not change this, regardless of how I say it hurts me.
So, the person I was so codependent on for so long is no longer in the picture, and I feel lost, anxious, and most of all, so lonely.
I've tried to watch so many self help videos and articles. I've been talking to friends and family left and right, trying to get it all out. I've been writing a lot, online and off, trying to sort my feelings. I'm trying to adopt positive mantras for myself. I'm trying to remind myself of the reasons why it is best to move on. I'm trying to set goals for moving out, getting my career back on track, rebuilding my other friendships.
Yet I am facing this withdrawal. And it's causing me to do stupid things. I'm still trying to reach out to this narcissistic ******* for any sort of positive response, and every time I'm met with a negative reaction or silence, I just feel like I'm being pulled deeper into depression and isolation.
I don't know what to do. I don't know how to be alone and feel okay right now. I would appreciate anyone else's thoughts on this, especially if you've been in a similar situation.