Leaving a Hijackal®--that relentlessly difficult person who hijacks the relationship for his or her own purposes--can be a double-edged sword. Hijackals scavenge the relationship for power, status, and control, and leave you feeling discouraged, demeaned, and disempowered. You finally recognize the need to leave, and then what?
In my Facebook group, a member posted an article, and then asked, "Are you wondering what will happen if you end your relationship with a Hijackal?" The writer used "narcissist" in place of "Hijackal," but, of course, there is no difference. It's a good question because leaving a Hijackal can be absolutely daunting!
The first step is recognizing that you're with a Hijackal. If you've read my free ebook, How To Spot A Hijackal, you know you're with one, or were raised by one. You've likely been making excuses--or offering rationalizations and justifications--for his or her bad behavior for, like, forever! Either the behaviors seem familiar to you because you were raised around them, or, you are used to turning yourself into a pretzel or a doormat to please other people. You want to be loved, and, in the beginning, a Hijackal will do EVERYTHING possible to convince you that you've met your one true soulmate. Who wouldn't fall for it?
If you happen to have been raised by a Hijackal, you're highly like to attract one as a life partner. If you have recognized the soul-destroying effects of living with one, or of being raised by one, thinking of leaving is a remarkably healthy thing to do.
I'm using the word, "leaving," in two ways. You may be physically leaving a relationship with a partner, or you may be leaving emotionally, such as in going No Contact with a family member or friend.
How will you feel when you first leave a Hijackal?
Preparing to leave will be a samba: two steps forward and one step back.
"Yes, I know that leaving a Hijackal is the only sane thing to do, and I need to do it for my own well-being and mental health."
"How will I ever manage with finances, children, and little support from family, friends, or community? What if s/he changes? What if I'm wrong?"
Naturally, it will provoke great anxiety.
I remember the night before I left my Hijackal husband. I'd been packing for weeks and stuffing boxes out of sight in the backs of closets. The day of the move, I was anxious beyond words. I knew I had to do it for myself, my sanity, and for the children's well-being, yet, the likely consequences seemed beyond daunting.
"What will he do?"
Fortunately, I was the breadwinner, so financial anxiety was not part of the mix. It was my friends who carried that day: every time I wanted to take everything out of the truck and put it back before he came home, they said, "No way!" I got moved to a secret location, and they made it happen. Amazing friends.
Raised in a den of Hijackals, it was natural for me to attract one, in fact, many. Hijackals have radar for likely prey! I was successful in my career, and that was a saving grace. Like most, I believed that with more love, patience, compassion, attention, and money thrown in his direction, he would straighten up, feel good about himself, and stop his predatory ways. Of course, he didn't, and I left. None of that was easy or quick.
Sitting alone in that secret apartment with my children, friends gone and boxes looming, it hit me full force. There was the great relief that it was done. Huge! Then, there were anxieties:
- How could I keep him from coming to my work and following me home?
- Was it right to keep the children from him until I felt secure?
- What if he went to Child Protective Services and told them I'd taken away his access to the children, making me out to be "the bad guy?"
- What if I made a mistake and it was me not doing, being, or giving enough?
After, and often during, the relief and the anxiety is the fear of repercussion, followed rapidly by second-guessing the decision to leave.
At a deep level, you are curiously addicted to the Hijackal drama, so you will both feel relieved, and feel surprisingly--and sadly--lost without it. That addiction to drama is subconscious. On the surface, you hate the highs, lows, and I-don't-knows of life with that person. It's a roller coaster ride through different kinds of hell. Yet, the emotional volatility keeps body chemicals shifting, and it is difficult for you to actually let down, and be at peace, even though that's what you've longed for for so long.
What else can you expect when leaving a Hijackal?
The Hijackal will have done his/her best to alienate you from your friends and family. Hijackals need to win, and need to have power, so they tell stories to your friends and family to slowly turn them away from you. They cast you in a light of emotional fragility, if not downright saying you're mentally ill. You lose your support, and the Hijackal's desire is to gain their support. A double hit! Therefore, you are highly likely to feel loss and loneliness, at deep levels. The prospect of having to begin again to create friendships is depressing, especially because you don't trust your ability to know who to trust. Very difficult.
You'll likely feel an overwhelming mixture of relief, fear, freedom, strength, weakness, courage, hopelessness, mixed with the certainty you did the right thing while feeling uncertain about your future...and the courts often disappoint you when you learn there is too often no justice to be found.
But, leave that difficult person, that Hijackal. Do it anyway. You deserve to be free, loved, respected, accepted, trusted, appreciated, and safe. All those cannot happen when you're with a Hijackal!
© Rhoberta Shaler, PhD. When you're ready to say "No more!" to toxic relationships, unnecessary drama, and poor examples for your children to follow, work with Dr. Shaler directly now. Subscribe to her Tips for Relationships. Listen to her podcasts for valuable insights and strategies to reclaim yourself, and create healthy relationships with yourself and others: Emotional Savvy: The Relationship Help Show, and Save Your Sanity: Help for Handling Hijackals®.