Why No Contact is not Always the Answer
Everywhere I look and everything I read says, GO NO CONTACT with the narcissist and/or abuser you are distancing yourself from.
And it's true, it does help to protect you against further outside manipulation of your emotions.
Going no contact will certainly allow you to normalize your nervous system somewhat, hopefully find some level of peace, or at least find a sense of pride in yourself for finally making your self a priority in your story. And if this is a part of your journey already, I celebrate this huge accomplishment with you!
BUT ( you knew there was a but coming, here it is) BUT what about all those men and women who have shared children with the abuser that yes, they would love to go no contact with but can not.
What about them?
By continually pushing this concept of no contact on trauma survivors who do not have that choice, we are causing even more FRUSTRATION and feelings of HELPLESSNESS because they do not have this choice.
Again and again, as I work with my clients, there is the issue of HOW DO I GO CONTACT when children are needing to be co-parented and physical custody is shared?
THIS is the tricky aspect to the no contact policy. And the pain I see in my clients' eyes when they talk about this constant advice they are absolutely unable to follow.
So let's be a bit more realistic shall we? Let's move past the immediate, knee jerk response, and look at the whole picture.
Here we go:
One of my clients has an ex that nightmares are made of. I won't go into details here, just trust me on this one. From sexual abuse to financial control ... this narcissist has all the traits. And, unfortunately, all the apparent power.
No contact was never going to be an option for this beautiful client of mine.
So we began to look at patterns that can be interrupted with a broader set of boundaries.
And, one of my favorite strategies: PATTERN INTERRUPT.
Here's one we came up with pretty quickly during this exploration:
Her Ex always entered the house they used to share as though he still lived there. And as though it was still his. It isn't, but that show of power and ownership was incredibly damaging to my clients well being. In fact, it was repeating the trauma cycle every time he did this, which was twice a week - once for pickup, once for drop-off.
We decided together that it would be worth a try to stop that from happening any longer.
The next time he showed up, she took the children to the car outside, cancelling his apparent need to enter the house.
The first time was startling for him. But the new routine was established. And the unhealthy pattern was interrupted.
HUGE sigh of relief for my client, as she was able to protect herself from this show of power and control as well as allow herself this win - however small it might seem in the grand scheme of her recovery strategies.
Having the strength to follow through with this decision took real preparatory work for her, as she needed to know she 1, had that choice, and 2, was allowed to begin dictating what her life wants to look like. And how she wants that to feel.
No more shaking in the foyer after he leaves. No more feeling like she'd just been owned all over again. It was one of her first wins. And it did wonders for her confidence in finding more to follow.
This is one example of a pattern interrupt where no contact is just not an option.
This also is healthier for the children and their new reality. This is home with mom, and that is another home with dad.
Perhaps, instead of being so pushy about the NO CONTACT strategy, we can now begin to implement LIMITED CONTACT strategies, and CONTROLLED CONTACT. Contact with specific preparation of the nervous system prior to the necessary times, with planned recovery strategies to immediately follow.
We can begin to minimize the repeat trauma by no longer pushing band aids on broken bones, by no longer placing even more unrealistic expectations on survivors ( like the no contact ) and by allowing each unique person and their situation to dictate which mechanisms we suggest.
If you or someone you know is currently in a situation of continued abuse by their abuser, I invite you to connect with me personally at email@example.com to talk further. There is more hope than you can see right now.
My name is Jewelle, and I share and use strategies that not only worked for my own recovery, literally saving my life, but also work for real people in the real world. That said, what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for the next, which is why personal guidance is key to true healing and recovery that will last a lifetime.
I believe everyone has the right to heal, and the ability to heal, when given the proper guidance and support from a place of compassion and love.
All my very best to you,