The Different Levels of No Contact

We hear the term "no contact" and it ultimately means the literal meaning of not having any contact with your abuser.  But, does that mean you aren't no contact if you aren't 100% staying away from your narcissistic parent?

Technically yes, but did you know there are different levels of going no contact?

So the next time someone tells you that you're doing "no contact wrong", you can let them know that not everyone is on the same level as everyone else.

Recently, I was shamed about my choice to send my mother an anniversary card for our 11 year anniversary (which fell smack dab between her birthday, mother's day, and my birthday) of her slapping me in the face with my kids there and her calling me a pervert because I chose to sleep next to them.  I was in shock at the arrogance of the woman who thought she knew better than me how to live my life.  I was hurt, because that was my choice for my life, so what was it to her what I chose to do?  I was also in shock at her elitist attitude towards anyone who's no contact with their parents, that she thought that there was only one way to do this no contact thing. 

I call these types subject purists.  There are subject purists of every single subject out there: homeschooling, vegetarianism, parenting, gaming, sports, religion, photography, art, music, fandoms, books, movies, etc. etc.  If you go into ANY group for ANY subject, you will find a subject purist

subject purist (noun):
1. a person who thinks you should follow the subject matter of a title to the "t" in order to be considered to use said title (e.g. in order to be considered a gamer, you must play certain games)
2. a person who claims they know everything about a given subject, even if they are wrong (e.g. a person gives you a lecture on how to be a proper homeschooler, when you've already been homeschooling for many years)
Subject purists can be juvenile, and possibly narcissists themselves, or at the least, they are adopting a narcissistic attitude.  They have hard time seeing outside of their own situation and think that their way is the "only way".  When in reality, anyone can be anything, as long as they are following the basic rules of what they are trying to be (e.g. in order to be called a "gamer", you must play video games; in order to go "no contact", your main way of living is to not engage your narcissist in contact, etc.)  That doesn't mean you have to be exactly 100% following the rules in order to be considered whatever term you're identifying with. 

Here are the different levels of going no contact:

  • 1-Beginning Level:  Another name for this level is the "Shedding" stage.This level starts from the time you go NC.  It can last days, weeks, months, or even up to a year (and some people skip this level all together due to their circumstances).  There is no shame in this level, though others will try to shame you.  You are shedding your prison of abuse, and this level is the hardest level to not only stay committed, but to feel like you're doing things right.  You will have horrible feelings: sometimes of guilt, grief, remorse, and feeling like you're doing something inherently wrong.  You will feel like you're on an emotional roller coaster: one moment you will hate her, the next moment you'll wonder if she can change. 

    This is also the level where you'll want to lash out to your mother.  You will want to demand answers.  You will want to make her understand how much you hurt.  And there's nothing wrong with any of these things.  There are some things you need to understand first: if you lash out: your mother will use it against you.  If you try to demand answers: she will use it against you.  If you want to make her understand how much you hurt: she will use it against you.  You have to understand this first, because if you don't, you will be 100% broken down when she shows you this side of her.  And I don't want you to brake down.  I want you to be strong and not care if she uses it against you.  I want you to feel strong and ignore it.  If you need closure?  Then get it.  But know the only closure you will get will come from YOU, not her.  It will come from the satisfaction you have said your peace.  It will come from you not needing a response from her (because if you get one, it will only be fake, condescending, and hurtful). 

    But in order to get to this point?  You need to build your education about narcissism first.  You need to read everything you can, and join support groups and learn to deal with your loss before you can actually get any closure.  So my suggestion during this time is to rent every book you can from the library.  Buy some more books.  Read articles online.  Watch youtube channels on maternal narcissism.  Join support groups.  Just immerse yourself in it.  Learn everything you can.  This will make you feel stronger and better than you trying to figure this out alone, without any help.
  • 2-Intermediate Level:  This is also called the "Acceptance" stage. This level means you've moved beyond the need for answers.  You've accepted the fact that your mother doesn't love you (nor can she love anyone, not even herself).  You've stopped wanting answers to your questions from her (now you can seek the answers in books and on maternal narcissism websites).  You seek healing rather than revenge.  Your triggers are coming up less and less. 
  • 3-Expert Level: This is also known as the "Autopilot" stage.  You've dealt with this for years and your triggers are minimal.  You are comfortable.  You are happy.  You are safe.  You don't have to think about much in this stage. 
  • 4-Sustaining Level:  After being on autopilot for so many years, you may forget a little about why you left in the first place.  Your abuse is in the past, and has been for some time, but now?  You're not feeling as bad anymore.  You may want to see if you can reach out and see if anything has changed.  I will assure you, it hasn't.  Unless your parent has a sort of dementia, but even then, YOU will start to feel those old feelings come back up.  If you break your no contact now, you may end up at the beginning level again.  Which is okay. Because every path is different.  If you need closure to remind yourself of why you left, then by all means, get it.  I am not the type of person who thinks that someone is doing something wrong by carving their own path in life, even if that path sometimes backtracks to the beginning.  We all need different things in life, different ways to heal and deal with our trauma. There should be no judgment from your support persons in this.  But if you make this mistake continuously, you should really figure out why you want to torture yourself.  I suggest finding a therapist and checking out Shahida Arabi's "Becoming the Narcissist's Nightmare" and her amazing checklist of "101 things to do instead of breaking no contact".  This level can feel amazing, if you remember it's about sustaining, and not backtracking.  You can stay at this level indefinitely, as long as you don't completely forget why you went no contact to begin with.  My suggestion is to keep a journal or a blog with everything you can remember and things as they happen before you even go no contact (or starting after, it doesn't matter).  It's easy to forget things, but when you write them down?  There's no choice but to remember.  So, if you feel the inkling of going back and checking out mom's behavior again?  Reread your journal/blog and you'll remember why that's not a good idea.  Especially not more than once. 
  • Combo Level: This level means you can be between any levels.  You can be a little bit of one and a lotta bit of another.  Or you can be a little bit of two and a lotta bit of another.  You can be at different levels for different circumstances, too.  Like at level one for something you just found out that she did and level two for your daily life and level three for a seeing her in public.  Most people have a combo level going on, unless they are purists (though I think those people could be suppressing their feelings about certain things, which means at their cores, they aren't healed at all--as a purist is trying to convince themselves as much as they are trying to look like they are convincing you). 

Now, what does going no contact really mean?  

Going NC is a way to break your emotional bonds with your abuser.  It helps to severe that addiction/connection so you don't feel compelled to enter their life again so they can abuse you more. 

Going no contact has really only two rules to follow:

  1. Break all forms of contact with your parents as your main way of living.
  2. Do not engage in their contact of you.
Does it mean we have to stay silent?  Does it mean we can't share our stories or speak our truths?  Of course not.  Speaking your truth is not technically contacting them, even if your parents can see it and hear it.  This means you can write blogs or make youtube videos, or even write a memoir.  I will say that protecting yourself from your narcissists hurting you by them having access to your truth is a necessity (like I blogged on this blog anonymously for four years before allowing my real identity be known). 

What happens if you break no contact?  

Normally, you will get hurt.  You may fall for a fake apology (as we all have one time or another) and think they have changed, but I am here to tell you: they haven't.  If you are hoping for something amazing to happen, the only thing that will happen is that they will humiliate you for coming back to them.  Maybe not right away, but eventually.  And they may do it in front of your face or even behind your back where the only way to find out is through another person.  Why even risk that?  Don't be a glutton for punishment.  Try to keep away from your mother (or any toxic person in your life) as much as you can. 

When is it okay to break no contact?

A purist will tell you never.  I don't agree.  If you are in stage one?  And it's your first time going NC?  Then you may do this a LOT.  And that's normal.  This is actually helpful in cementing the fact that you need to get to level two as quick as possible.  Some people will say that this level isn't a valid "no contact" level at all.  But again, I disagree.  You are shedding your need to have your parents in your life, and that level deserves recognition.  Every journey begins with a single step.  Does that mean you're not on the journey just because you're not 100% there yet?  Of course not.  That's silly.  Going no contact says you're going somewhere.  It doesn't say you are already there. 

Though, I also believe there are some very valid ways to break no contact, if you do it right.  

Tomorrow I am going to publish a post about: "How to Properly Break No Contact", so be sure to check that out if you are thinking about breaking the no contact rule with the narcissist in your life.

Your path is your path to walk.  Your level of NC is a part of your path, as are your choices as to what you do on your path.  Nobody can tell you that you're doing it wrong.  You have to do it your way.  Because if you listen to everyone around you, you won't ever feel completely healed. 

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