If you’ve spent your life living the shadows of a narcissist, you may not even exist as an autonomous entity in the eyes of his admirers. You’re just his plus-one. So as comfortable the discomfort of isolation is, this is actually the time to begin rebuilding your face-to-face and social networking worlds as your authentic self.
It’s emotionally refreshing to develop relationships with people who have no allegiance to your narcissist and a side benefit is that you can make important connections with those in similar circumstances to your own. They can offer invaluable advice and support and help you network for roommates, job leads, and other useful resources you may not have had to think about before.
There may also be mutual friendships you value that you can take steps to maintain before you leave (without dumping an uncomfortable amount of information on them or asking them to take sides). The narcissist is likely to smear you later, so you can preempt it by laying a foundation of truth by seeing these friends one-on-one, and then by simply showing yourself to be the decent person that you are.
There are no guarantees, but the ones worth worth keeping should still be there after. If you do nothing, they will have only the narc’s version of events to work with later.
Social media management
If you are connected to your narc on Facebook or other social media and are in the habit of including him in your posts, take steps to limit interactions but don’t make him disappear completely until you have ended things. Put him on acquaintance status, limit what he can see, gradually slow down exchanges and keep what you post about him generic. Don’t share fake lovebomby posts and don’t post rants complaining about him. (If you want sympathy, seek it in a private support forum).
If your Narcissist (or her flying monkeys) monitors your social media activity, an abrupt dropping of narc news updates may alert her to the fact that you’re no longer a worshipful subject promoting her precious image, and this could result in retribution.
Increase high-value contacts
If your social or professional networks contain mutual connections, carefully prune your contact lists and limit your visibility settings to include only those you can trust. Make a point to rebuild your networks with new and relevant contacts regularly: those you are genuinely close to, those with common interests, those in your professional field and exercise caution with those with whom your narc has a relationship. It’s very difficult to predict who be able to resist narc kryptonite, so err on the side of self-preservation.
Think before you post
Don’t make posts that will add credibility to a future smear campaign. If your wall contains a 24/7 litany of angry memes, come-hither selfies, inappropriate comments from the opposite sex, passive-aggression and woe-is-me posts, these could be exploited by your narcissist to make you look like “the crazy one” or “the cheater” later. As a rule, drawing public attention to your relationship problems will only make you look indiscreet and unstable. This will serve the narc’s agenda and not your own.
Don’t engage in digital drama
In theory, you can be lofty and believe it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. But in practice? If you need to make a living, your digital drama could cost you job offers and promotions, because recruiters and prospective employers do look at your personal social media. So control what your audience sees, and don’t put anything in public view that could offend your potential future boss.
Clean up your public digital drama and reserve your overshares, tirades, political rants and religious testimonials for closed groups of like-minded individuals who will genuinely appreciate it. Be sure to check the membership lists for Flying Monkeys first.
Do control the new narrative
Start re-branding yourself with new personal and professional narratives showcasing the autonomous being you’re becoming. This is a crucial time to protect your career and boost your employability so be sure your posts will reflect well with recruiters.
Rebuild your F2F Networks
Online social networks provide great resources for survivors who have isolated as a result of the many facets of narcissistic abuse. But many of us become so emotionally dependent on our online networks that we neglect our lives outside of the cage we occupy with our narcissists. To narcprooof your network in the most meaningful way, you will have to seek social and professional interaction without the narcissist. This means, see friends and attend work functions off the clock. If you don’t feel you have any friends, pursue a special interest. Join a support group. Volunteer. Start a side hustle. Go to a business after hours or Chamber of Commerce function. Get out and interact with human beings in non-threatening environments.
All it takes to get started is that first step… out of the house. You can do this!