6 Steps to Emotional Healing after Narcissistic Abuse (#1 is the most important!)
Have you been sitting around, asking yourself the following questions?
“Why does it take so long to heal from this heartache?”, “Why can’t I stop thinking about the person who treated me like crap?”, “Why do I still love him/her after what they did to me?”, “Will this pain ever go away?”
Obsessing over an emotionally abusive relationship is draining, and often so detrimental that many lose their jobs, homes, and even their children. In severe cases, suicide is attempted and sometimes successfully carried out.
There are many elements involved in healing from Narcissistic abuse. Just as with any loss, there will be periods of grieving, denial, anger, and depression. However, unlike a typical break-up where you would eventually get to a point of acceptance, many victims of Narcissistic abuse stay fixated and obsess about their abuser, often suffering as long as ten years or more post-breakup.
Why does this happen and what can you do to heal from an emotionally abusive relationship? Following are the top six tips for getting over Narcissistic abuse.
1 – Learn grounding techniques and self-soothing methods
The secret sauce that you won’t find in most articles regarding healing is the importance of learning to ground yourself – a.k.a. self-soothing. Whether you do this is a good indicator of whether or not you will truly begin to heal.
Narcissistic abuse is an emotional trauma. It targets your primal abandonment wound. When you feel betrayed, rejected, and abandoned by the Narcissist, your amygdala hijacks your rational thinking and sends you into fight-or-flight mode. You have a thought (I’ve been rejected because I’m not good enough), you experience an emotion from that thought (panic, sadness, depression), and then you run with it like a Running Back on crack with blinders on.
Yeah…you’ll want to stop doing that.
There’s not a lot you can do to prevent this from happening completely, but practicing self-soothing methods and grounding techniques will help damper this emotional hijack if repeated consistently. The best techniques are the same ones used to help with PTSD triggers and emotional trauma.
Learning to self-soothe is the critical first step because otherwise, any activities you engage in to heal and move forward will be drained away by the emotional hijacking caused by your amygdala.
2 – Allow yourself to grieve and be angry
Many victims of narcissistic abuse have the false perception that since their partner was a fraud and the relationship was one-sided, that they shouldn’t allow themselves to grieve or vent their anger. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Not allowing yourself to process these feelings often leads to detrimental outcomes at a later point in time, such as getting stuck in emotional, and/or spiritual levels of bereavement. This typically manifests in symptoms such as:
- Staying stuck in a sad, angry, or depressive state, or often feeling emotionless
- Signs of suppressed anger
- Prolonged exhaustion, depression, or indifference
- One or more addictions
- Repeated avoidances
- Some type of chronic pain or illness
- Obesity and/or eating disorders
3 – Seek professional help if you believe you may suffer from any form of psychological neurosis, such as complicated grief
Complicated grief is a severe and long-lasting form of grief that takes over one’s life. This is very common in the aftermath of abusive relationships because victims never get the validation they wished for, nor do they get a sense of closure.
Following the end of an abusive relationship, a lot of business is left unfinished, including unsettled disputes, discrediting of your character, questions unanswered, and unrequited love. You’re left hanging, unable to complete your relationship with your abuser and feeling stuck in the pain of your grief.
What makes this type of grief so excruciating is that you must grieve twice – once for the person who love-bombed you and for whom you fought to bring back amidst soul-shattering abuse, and you also grieve the end of the relationship.
If you believe you might be suffering from complicated grief, please seek the services of a licensed therapist who specializes in emotional abuse/trauma. It may be necessary to go on medication, but inquire about non-addictive ones that you can use on your most difficult days.
(Please note – complicated grief used to be attributed strictly to bereavement, but medical professionals now agree that it can apply to any type of traumatic loss).
4 – Make sure you’ve implemented No Contact in its true form
Many victims of Narcissistic abuse prolong their suffering by leaving a window open in the event their toxic Ex decides to reach out. Across the forums and chat rooms, countless victims describe how they’ve been “No Contact” for such-and-such amount of time, but then receive a call or email from their Ex. If the Narcissist has a way in, then No Contact hasn’t been properly executed. This is the primary cause of not being able to heal, because as long as your abuser has a way in, true healing cannot take place. Once the Narcissist successfully reaches out and provokes a response, you’re back in the thick of the abuse. (If children are involved, a very strict plan for modified contact should be legally documented, entered, and enforced).
Remember, narcissists are smug in their belief that you will surrender to their manipulations. Not going No Contact only strengthens their feelings of entitlement and perceived power.
5 – Stop researching Narcissism 24/7
During the phase of discovery, educating yourself about Narcissism is essential in understanding the traits of the disorder and helps you recognize the dynamics of abusive relationships. However, when it’s time to truly heal, your focus should then turn to healing methods and self-care.
Constant research on the traits of your disordered Ex keeps your focus on them, not on you or your recovery. Remember the old saying, “What fires together, wires together”? Each time you repeat a particular thought or action, you reinforce the connection between your neurons, turning those thoughts into a way of life, and thus influencing your day-to-day reality. Implementing self-care patterns that are positive and healthy may be difficult at first, but with practice, they too will become habitual, and will help you recover faster.
6 – Work on your self-esteem
The number one, most important thing to realize is that the perceived rejection from your abuser is an illusion. Their primary goal is to make you feel invalidated, invisible. What that means is that even if they secretly think you’re attractive, successful, fun to be around, or the best partner they’ve ever had, they will NEVER admit to it, unless they are trying to keep you in the queue.
Narcissists strive to take away every last shred of your self-esteem because that’s how they keep you hooked…to keep you thinking, “I am damaged goods. Better to have someone who treats me like crap than no one at all”. Remember, most of what comes out of their mouth is a lie, including the negative things they say about you.
Copyright © 2017 Kim Saeed. All Rights Reserved
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