The S.A.D. Cycle: The Discard Phase

The Discard.

This is what the codependent fears most. It is what causes them to feel paralyzed, frozen, and then compliant, cooperative, and meek. The threat of being abandoned triggers their brain’s fawn response and pulls them deeper into a sense of powerlessness, dependence, and shame.


This has to do with the same factor that causes the euphoria the codependent feels during the Seduction phase and the Distress they feel during the Abuse phase: Their emotional attachment and partial enmeshment with the abuser/narcissistic person.

Imagine for a moment that you were a conjoined twin and that twin had your heart, but you had their gallbladder. They could survive without you, but you could not survive without them.

This is how a codependent feels about the narcissistic person/abuser.

They feel that they’d die if that person abandoned them.

This stems from the very real emotional (and often physical) abandonment they experienced as a child from their parents. This very active, painful center of incompleteness and emotional isolation seeks it’s completion and wholeness through others it chooses (it can’t be just anyone!).

This is expressed as “I just want someone to love me for who I am”.

It does this because this is a NATURAL part of a process called “Individuation”. This is where a child begins to define themselves through and against their parents, their peers, their world. This maturation of self was highly inhibited in the codependent due to the abuse and neglect they experienced (from parents or otherwise).

Now that the codependent has met someone that really “sees” them and gives them grandiose praise, attention, and affection (aka the seduction), this development process is re-activated so it can complete its self and discover who it is.

This is why the codependent starts to feel alive, and often whole or complete. They also begin to feel empowered to be themselves during the Seduction phase. Their internalized loneliness and emptiness are sated and they feel safe to be themselves again.

But with the Discard Phase, all that love and affirmation and care is withdrawn (often suddenly) and the codependent begins to experience the terror of the emotional isolation and the emptiness of self again. They feel lost, listless, and without direction as the relationship with the narc was their center of gravity and their bearing to themselves.

This is a horrifying space to be in.

The Discard is the abuser’s big display of power, independence, and superiority. They “don’t need you anymore”. They are “better off without you.” They often quickly move on, replacing you with a different form of supply. You are only an object to them, not a human being.

Now, the Discard isn’t always permanent and not always large.

You can be discarded and hoovered back into the seduction phase within minutes. Sometimes the discard lasts weeks or months only for them to come calling back, promising changes and reminiscing about the past (as if the abuse and discard had never happened).

Yet, this is just their first steps in drawing you back into the Seduction so they can glean their supply to inflate their empty sense of self.

Beware of this. You end the cycle of your own torment by seeing and respecting what they are based on HOW THEY CHRONICALLY BEHAVE.

Check out the You-tube Training on this topic:

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