Spiritual Recovery from Narcissistic Abuse

The Spirituality of Narcissistic Abuse

If anyone had told me ten years ago that narcissistic abuse had a spiritual element to it, I would have waved them off as senseless.

How could anyone in their right mind ever believe that the systematic devastation of another person’s life could possibly contain a hint of spirituality?

Narcissistic abuse is deliberately inflicted by someone you love and it targets you for who you are, the very ESSENCE of you.  It is a long-term, calculated campaign to make you feel unworthy and despise yourself, and to have you believe other people view you in the same light.

The narcissistic abuser wants you to believe that no one cares about you, and that no one should care about you, because you, as a person, are not loveable, have no redeeming qualities, and are a waste of space and time.

They take advantage of your forgiving personality and repeatedly exploit your fear of abandonment in order to make you more dependent on them and more likely to stay attached to them—despite (or rather, paradoxically, because of) the misery you find yourself in.

Narcissistic abuse, by all accounts, is soul-crushing.  That is why the trauma is so difficult to overcome.  We are left feeling so utterly helpless and hopeless in our spirit.  We feel we lack the spiritual strength to stand up for ourselves and escape our misery, so we instead keep digging ourselves into a deeper spiritual hole.

How could any of that be considered spiritual?

Had I not finally detached from that relationship and made the daily commitment to myself, I would have never discovered the answer.

After being narcissistically abused, my self-worth was stripped. And why wouldn’t it be when every insecurity, fear and inadequacy I’d ever felt about myself, others and life had erupted and blown up in my face?

After being narcissistically abused, not only did I doubt that I was lovable, desirable, capable or adequate, I even doubted my ability to survive my wounds or live as a human being on this planet, in a way that was not tormenting beyond belief.

All of that changed when I made the life-altering decision to go No Contact and heal my inner wounding, no matter what it would take.

Countless times, the pain was so devastating, I didn’t want to go on.  I prayed that I’d lay down to sleep and not wake up.

Little did I know at the time, this feeling of hopelessness and debilitating grief was part of a journey of spiritual recovery from narcissistic abuse that would eventually lead me to appreciating and being thankful for this arduous and intricate decade of my life.

The Journey

At first, I endured months of struggle and suffering without knowing if I was making any progress because the pull to go back remained strong.  I missed the moments under my abuser’s sway because, in my traumatized mind, cognitive dissonance and memories of so-called “good times” clouded my objectivity.

It took several months before I could recognize the smallest of victories.

The spirituality of narcissistic abuse revealed itself in waves, even ripples, but after experiencing ten key significant milestones, I began to recognize that healing was within my reach.  But, more importantly, these signs were also an indicator that I was growing and evolving on a spiritual level.

1) I began to appreciate that self-care was something I needed to participate in consistently.

Not only because I was healing from emotional abuse, but because I’d begun to understand the importance of putting on my oxygen mask before helping others.

Life can be stressful enough without the added obstacle of toxic abuse.  It only stands to reason that if you’re healing from narcissistic abuse, your body and mind require extreme self-care.  In this vein, I began reducing social engagements, staying off the internet, saying “no” to friends and family, taking a nap when I felt exhausted, and making time to do guided meditations.

I resisted the urge to make excuses as to why I couldn’t take care of myself, realizing that even the busiest person can work self-care into their schedules.

Even as a single mother, I deliberately hired a babysitter on occasion to take myself out.  I did guided meditations at night.  I journaled and did mirror work.  If a friend asked me to visit and I didn’t have the energy, I respectfully declined.  I took the initiative to be a little “selfish”, because I intuitively understood the need to do so after putting out other people’s fires for too long.

2) I did what it took to protect my mental and physical space. I no longer acquiesced to things that intruded on my privacy and peace of mind.

Most narcissists and other Cluster-B disordered individuals pull out all the stops when trying to hook a previous source of supply back into their realm of madness.  They pretend to have changed, to want to be friends (especially for the “sake of the kids”), to be just another normal person going through a typical breakup or divorce.  They may go so far as to tell you their relationship problems with their new partner.

My decision to create peace and calm in my life meant that I no longer wanted, nor tolerated, any of those things.  I wanted peace and autonomy so badly that I was willing to completely block my ex out of my life, resolving not to let him come close my new residence or give him access to call me at whim.  I refused to put myself in the line of his tomfoolery, and instead, I put up all necessary boundaries to protect my new sense of peace.

3) I no longer cared about how my Ex would react to my decisions.

I stopped worrying whether my life choices would make my Ex angry or make life “inconvenient” for him.  I began to understand that true fulfillment meant honoring my own dreams, desires, and ambitions regardless of how my ex might respond.

4)  I discovered that no amount of love, caring, or empathy will change a narcissistic individual. 

In fact, I found it was detrimental to my own well-being to believe that I could fix, correct, change, heal or rescue another person when they did not see a need to change.

And so, I let go of the fantasy that there MUST be ways I could prove to my ex how much I cared and what a wonderful opportunity for true love he was throwing away.

Sadly, even my most herculean labors of love and devotion failed to spark even a miniscule amount of empathy in my ex.  Why?  Mainly because in order for him to have understood what I was offering him and what he’d be losing, he would need to possess the capacity for reciprocal empathy.    But studies have shown that people who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder are not hard-wired like a normal human being.    Rather, they generally have structural abnormalities in the region of the brain that has been linked to the capacity for empathy.

What that means in layman’s terms is that when it comes to narcissists, there’s just no one at home when it comes to the empathy trait.

There were times it appeared my ex had the capacity for empathy – such as when he pretended to experience remorse, made promises to go to counseling, and swore to stop lying.  But given how the disordered mind of a narcissist works, his promises were always bogus, and it was only a matter of time before he’d start engaging in unacceptable behaviors again.

So, I learned to stop trying to control people.  And this is what I was doing when I kept struggling in vain to make him be a good person and feel accountable for his relationship crimes.  I learned I couldn’t control anyone…and so I turned inward to heal my life and my relationship with myself.

I learned the art of acceptance. 

5)  I began to notice that some of my other relationships had been a big energy and time drain, and I resolved to do something about them, too

I got into the habit of honoring myself and releasing that which didn’t serve my highest good or simply didn’t feel right on an energetic level.  Consequently, I become more sensitive to other relationships in which I felt taken advantage of or that drained me.  This didn’t mean that I would dump a friend in need, but rather that I started noticing my relationship ‘climates’.  In the same way that a long-term weather pattern creates a climate in a particular region, if the climate of any of my relationships had proven – over time – that I typically feel put upon and used, then those were the ones that I considered releasing.

6)  I became more concerned about what I was doing with my life than what my Ex was doing with his.

I no longer obsessed about my Ex with his numerous girlfriends or the fact that he seemed so happy because I’d come to understand that he was destined to repeat the same cycle of abuse with anyone he was with at any given time.

Instead, I focused on my future.  I focused on exploring things that held meaning for me.  I took inventory of my beliefs surrounding my purpose in life, my spiritual beliefs, and what the rest of my life could look like.  I began to realize my life could be anything I wanted it to be.

I contemplated the importance (or non-importance) of my existing relationships and made the decision to only keep people in my circle whom I trusted; who had proven they were beyond the superficiality of image and materialism; who cared about the same things I cared about.

And so, I held a few near and shed the others to make space for new and inspiring relationships.

7)  I no longer focused on problems, but on solutions

I realized that I had the power to conquer and change my circumstances, rather than continuing to believe I was at the mercy of outside forces.

I began to accept that for every action, there needed to be an equal and opposite reaction.  If I needed to delete an email I’d had for years because the ex emailed me from different accounts, I deleted it.  If I needed to file a restraining order because he was stalking and harassing me, I drove to the courthouse and filed it.

When I saw the need to change my cell phone number and insist that he call me on me landline, I did so (only because we share a son).  When he sent me unwanted gifts and flowers, I marked them “return to sender” or refused the delivery.

I fought the good fight to protect my newfound freedom.

8) I learned that what you allow will continue

I detested how my ex treated me and my children.  I fought, sometimes literally, to make him stop being a big bully and liar.

I argued, stamped my feet, and engaged in all kinds of revenge tactics to show him I wasn’t going to put up with his abuse.

I thought by doing these things, I was taking up for myself and honoring my values.

But, near the end, I saw how pointless all these things were.  After all, no amount of lecturing, arguing, or proving to him how horrible he was mattered as long as I stayed with him.  I saw how mundane all of my righteousness campaigns were when, in the end, I always ended up taking him back and resuming the relationship as though everything was on the up and up.

I had to finally accept that not only were my disputes ridiculous in the face of his continued abuse, I had basically trained him how to treat me.  Ultimately, I taught him that he could do anything and there wouldn’t be any consequences.

Until I made the empowering choice to show him that his abuse was, in fact, not going to be tolerated anymore.  I finally stood up for myself in the only way I could and that was by leaving him.

9)  In due course, I stopped believing that what happened to me was a punishment, but rather a divine gift

At one point in my life with my ex, I believed I was being punished for every bad thing I’d ever done.  I thought it was a form of retribution from God because I thought He was highly disappointed in me.  I’d made so many mistakes that surely this was all happening because I deserved it.

To drive this belief, my ex would assure me those bad things were happening to me because I’d been a bad person.

And I held onto this belief for years.  Until I started doing the inner work to heal my wounding.  Over time, I recognized that the lessons I’d been presented with were not meant to punish me, but to help me overcome the false beliefs I’d held for so long and to help me purge the dysfunctional programming I’d received.

I came to understand that it happened so I could heal the wounds I’d carried since childhood.

10) I learned that transformation is the key to living your best life yet

Once I distanced myself from emotional abuse and manipulation, had developed a sound perspective about how relationships should work, and learned to establish healthy boundaries, my life became incredibly fulfilling and peaceful.

That’s not to say I haven’t experienced difficult times since leaving, because all of us experience ups and downs in life.  But, when I began to honor myself and recognize my worth, I no longer allowed negative people to dominate my life or dictate how I should live it.  I no longer tolerated unacceptable behaviors or disrespectful people and their depressing attitudes.

At first, it was hard to act in ways that were in complete contrast to how I would normally act.  I wanted acknowledgement, accountability, and justice.  That’s precisely what made healing and maintaining No Contact so hard in the beginning.  And although my life had been the result of all the decisions I’d made up to that point, I discovered I’m not helpless.  I imagined my best life coming true and then got to work on making it happen.

If you are trying to leave a toxic relationship, my testament to you is that as horrible and crippling as it feels in the beginning to go No Contact, there is an end to it.  The body and mind have enormous wisdom.  They know how to heal themselves if you create the conditions in which they can do so.  Give them that opportunity by working on yourself – healing your wounds and altering those of your traits that left you vulnerable to narcissistic abuse.

To answer the big question – How do you keep going?  One day at a time…ensuring that on this day, you begin taking to heart what you’ve read in this essay, and make a fresh commitment to yourself every morning.   It won’t serve you to sit around passively, waiting for a magic cure.  It’s about taking action.  There are hundreds of thousands of people just like you who have taken a stand against their abusive partners.  They’ve gotten a taste of the good life–and that taste of freedom is too sweet to turn back to the lives they had before.

In closing, I leave you with this poem, penned by Jessie Belle Rittenhouse.  When applied to toxic relationships, it warns you not to set your wages with the Narcissist in your life, working for “a menial’s hire”.  To caution you against giving 110%, thinking that one day, you’ll be rewarded for all the time, effort, and dedication you’ve invested in the relationship.  To avoid holding out for the day when the Narcissist morphs into a caring, compassionate individual, expressing remorse for their deeds…and promising to compensate you for all the overtime you’ve worked.

I bargained with Life for a penny,

And Life would pay no more,

However I begged at evening

When I counted my scanty store;

For Life is a just employer,

He gives you what you ask,

But once you have set the wages,

Why, you must bear the task.

I worked for a menial’s hire,

Only to learn, dismayed,

That any wage I had asked of Life,

Life would have paid.


~Jessie Belle Rittenhouse (1869–1948)

Copyright 2018 Kim Saeed and Let Me Reach, LLC

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  1. Joanna

    I’ve finally left a man that relentlessly tortured me psychologically and set out to destroy everything I held dear, every bit of the love, energy and beauty in my life. He tried to isolate me completely, engineered it for me to put on 20 kg in 3 years, stole all my money and left me with old, dirty and damaged clothes (I told him about my childhood trauma of being bullied for being fat and wearing ugly clothes). He broke his phone and took mine, “lost” his keys and left me in an apartment that somehow was never clean (even if I cleaned everything up, which always took a few hours, the next day it was as if I never did clean up), he drank excessively, was very aggressive and blamed everything on his drinking, apologizing to me but somehow never managed to clean up empty bottles (actually it seemed like he collected them, knowing I was developing PTSD from seeing or smelling alcohol), he smoke pot all the time and once when I tried to argue with him about that he said that it is the only thing that calms him down, without it he will go outside to kill the first person he sees. He had a morbid fascination with killing and famous murderers, he thought it was funny that he used to kill cats on the streets with stones. He was gradually getting more and more aggressive towards me and started with death threats. He pressured me into getting married to make the situation better (it gave him a better visa status as a family member of a EU citizen). I stayed with him for 3 hellish years. I was able to forgive and forget everything and my mind was in a constant fog, I couldn’t think clearly about anything anymore, I screamed that I don’t feel like a human being anymore, that I want to die, he laughed and said do it. How is it that you can survive all that and forgive as soon as your torturer gives you just a little attention and care? Although I noticed how his behaviour changed drastically over time and that after marriage it got thousand times worse, I still believed that he is the perfect man I met and he’s just sick and depressed. Finally as he assaulted me brutally and took my phone as I tried to call an ambulance and started listening to music I finally saw through the mask completely. It was like staring at the heart of darkness. It was an unimaginable horror, it was like seeing a demon instead of a man. Next day I wrote my friend (psychologist) and she gave me her diagnosis at once: narcissistic personality disorder of the worst kind, with very strong psychopathic and sadistic tendencies. I took my phone as he slept and I went to the police, who sent a patrol car to let me pack my things and took me to a safe house (But they didn’t have any place in a house for women so they put me in a refugee camp at first).
    I was traumatised, shaking, crying uncontrollably, a total mess. But then I started reading about narcissistic abuse and I finally understood. I’m not stupid nor worthless, I survived hell and I’m still standing, I still love, I kept my values. I let him abuse me and go almost completely numb, but I kept my soul and humanity untouched inside a secure space in my mind. I opened up to my family and friends, police and social workers and I was met with such warmth and compassion that I felt my soul healing. I went once again to the apartment with the police, my landlord came too. I was ashamed and mortified by the state of the apartment but once again nobody was holding it against me, my landlord agreed to end the contract with me at once without any financial compensation for damages and hugged me. Two female police officers told me that I’m free and I can be happy again. I took two teddy bears I used to hug as I was in a fetal position, but then I decided I don’t need them anymore, I gave them to two sweet little refugee kids who were with me in the same room and didn’t have a single toy before and I felt indescribable joy and happiness when I saw them hugging those teddy bears for hours before I left to the actual safe house (they found me a place).
    Now I feel free, happy, incredibly energised and wanting to make up for the time I’ve lost. I got a lawyer and I will get an annulment and I will make sure he will never hurt anyone again, I will testify to everything and help the police create a full psychological profile of this monster. I got over this illusion of love quickly when I realised the man I loved never existed. I even found myself getting closer to a man who cared for me for a long time and accepting and giving back hugs and other signs of affection.

    The most incredible thing is that all of it took me only a week. I filled myself with love and will to live once again, I opened up to others and I got over his brainwashing completely. I know who I am.
    I don’t know what comes next but I know I can take it.

  2. Suzanne

    My daughter just split from a narcissistic man a month ago. Her twin boys are turning into him. They sound just like him when they talk to her. They just turned 16 last month and have basically moved to be with him. They only come home to sleep or take a bath. One is already on probation and neither of them go to school. He is not the boys dad. I don’t know what to do to help her. She feels she’s loosing her sons. Thank goodness her daughter is still here.

  3. Destroyed

    I personally don’t think a full recovery is possible in my case. Its been few months and im still in pieces blaming even myself now wondering I’m a narcisists.
    After being so close to each other for 3 years he just found someone else in two weeks after an argument and disappeared ..just like that…
    The pain is unbearable…life has no colours anymore. No strenght or motivation to do anything..just existence.

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi “Destroyed”,

      If it’s been a few months, you are still in the beginning of your journey. It takes quite a bit of self-work to heal.

      Recovery is possible, but it depends on how you navigate it.

      Wishing you the best.

      Kim XoXo

  4. John Hope

    Kim, I follow you and have taken great strength from your posting. Just a reminder to all, men too are victims of malignant narcissistic abuse. Only through your mentoring was I able to go no contact and finally remove myself from an abusive marriage. As a career military officer, you are taught to never give up, never give in, keep trying, etc. But it just doesn’t, and can’t work, with a narcissist. Thank you for showing me the way and guiding my rehabilitation. You are wonderful.

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi John,

      Thank you for your kind praise…I wrote this particular article from my personal perspective, but I’ve taken a more gender-neutral approach in most of my current work.

      I am so glad to learn you have found freedom and are on your healing journey. You are right, it can never work with a narcissist, despite people who say otherwise. You made the right choice.

      Kim XoXo

  5. Cathy

    That is truly a fact! Faith Hope and Love to you and all us survivors ✝️❤️

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed the above article about all the lessons learned about narc abuse and spiritually you became a better, stronger, wiser person. HalleluYah! You are correct when you say, you cannot change the narc, they are wounded, tormented, toxic people who need to be out of your life before they kill your spirit. Yes, it hurts to know I was set up to be a target and victim because of my fear of abandonment, insecurity and neglect as a child. But I have to change this and not allow this curse to go to another generation. This spirit of abuse stops with me. I will not abuse my son nor allow any abuse from him or anyone else. I will give him this knowledge about narcissism and pray he remains empathetic but not a sucker for a loser, user, abuser narc no matter the gender. We have suffered from sabotage as well, but we keep winning. We do get knocked down, but will never be kept down. We keep getting up again. HalleluYah! Thank you Kim for what you are doing to help others! I will always remember you and tell others what you did for me. Shalom.

    1. Kim Saeed

      Thank you so much, Shirley. Your comment truly touched me this morning. They may try to knock us down with their games, but when we know what we’re up against and have lost the feelings of guilt and shame, it eventually gets better and they leave us alone.

      I am so proud of you 🙂

      Kim XoXo

  7. Shakira

    Brilliant article an I loved the poem. Thank you for inspiring and strengthening me.

    1. Kim Saeed

      So glad to know you enjoyed the article and poem, Shakira. Thank you for stopping by 🙂

      Kim XoXo

  8. I know that it has a spiritual side to it. The Bible says that we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and rulers of wickedness in high places. You are of the light and these abusers are dark souls. The darkness wants to out the light out, by the Lord isn’t having it. God bless all who have been through this and continued healing. The truth will set us all free!!!!!

  9. Paula

    I have been reading Kim’s posts for three years now, since splitting from a man who had been my husband for 27 years. A man, who I no longer recognised in personality and character. I could no longer relate to this person, who I had loved unconditionally. I saw a therapist who explained to me that he was a narcissist. I had no knowledge or understanding as to the definition of ‘narcissism’ other than someone who really likes themselves or is vain. When it was explained further, I read so many articles on different websites. The pieces of the jigsaw began to fit! I was fortunate enough to stumble across Kim’s website and read so many blogs that have helped me through the darkest days of my life. Today, I am at a point in my life where I am beginning to see the light! Fortunately, I learnt how to deal with him very early on. His mind games were unbelievable but I read between the lines and didn’t play ball which was to my advantage. This latest article by Kim has resonated with me totally. It is exactly how I feel now. I was told by my therapist that I have a strong moral code, that I am wise, intelligent and spiritual – exactly the same strengths and qualities that Kim recognises in herself! I felt that my whole world had fallen apart. I questioned why he would treat me the way he did. I, or anyone else who is kind and compassionate, caring, loving, does not deserve this treatment, so why mourn over garbage?! Thank you Kim for your valued guidance and advice. It makes so much sense. How and why does this happen to good people? What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. We will go on to have a more fulfilled and happy lives on our own. Don’t put the key to happiness in someone else’s pocket – go out there and live your own life because you can, be free!!

  10. Susan

    I want to thank you for all of you words of wisdom. As I read through this essay I cried.. it was as if I was writing it. All of it nailed my life to a tee with my 7 year relationship with my ex. I went no contact about 11 months ago, moved away and now in the process of building a new life. As you said it has its ups and downs but I am dead set on living a better life. I hope to find a partner who truly appreciates me for all that I am. I still struggle with feeling that I am worthy but I deal with it one day at a time. I have since heard that my ex went back to his ex-wife. they had been divorced for 15 years. So I have one lingering questions. Will he be able to make that relationship work? I always told him he needed to go back to her because I felt he still loved her.. Not sure why I need the answer to that question,, maybe just a way of finally closing that chapter of my life.
    Again, thanks for all of the help and support you have given me through this past year.. Keep up the good work, many of us still need you!!!

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Susan,

      Thank you so much for your kind praise. It makes me very happy to know my work has helped you along your journey. I do wish you all the best as you move forward into your healed life.

      Kim XoXo

  11. Dianne

    I loved this post and am healing a little each day. Thank you so much. I FEEL your genuine concern . Dianne Hardy

    1. Kim Saeed

      Thank you for sharing and for your kind praise, Dianne. I truly am concerned because I want you to know that healing and a better life is possible.


      Kim XoXo

  12. Marilyn Gardner

    Hello Kim, it’s been 7 months since I walked away. I just wanted to tell you that you have helped me so much. Everything you say is true. I thought I would surly not make it the beginning, God put people like you in my path. It is a day to day. I’m doing really good now and with Gods cont help I am going to make it. Thank you for all you do.

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Marilyn,

      Thank you so much for your kind praise. I am very happy to learn that my work has helped you through some tough times…and I hope it continues to do so. Wishing you all the best as you continue your healing journey.

      Km XoXo

  13. when my husband die.my healing started.i have no contact with my children.it is a new road for me.to move ahead you need to stay away from narc.do not include them in your inner circle.i had ptsd for awhile.now i am working on self care i am 75 years old.spending my time in peace and quite.karen

    1. Kim Saeed

      I’m sorry for what you’ve been through, Karen. Please know it’s never too late to be happy. I’m glad to know you’re spending time on your self-care and peace. Wishing you all the best…

      Kim XoXo

  14. Hi Kim your article sooooo resonated with me! Like you, I have finally arrived in a place where I see my experience as a Divine gift. I couldn’t back then! Not only have I been able to heal from the abuse of a narcissistic relationship with the man who, at the time, destroyed my life, but I have also found the experience has helped me to overcome childhood trauma which I never understood until now. The dynamics were the same in both relationships!! Self-care is of paramount importance to me now, whereas in the past, it was something I always felt I didn’t deserve because it was being selfish. I am so pleased that you are finally able to embrace life and to realise that there is no such thing as evil in the Divine Plan. Best wishes and thanku for sharing your story.

    1. Paula

      Sally, I feel exactly the same! I have read so many articles over the past three years and now I feel ready to respond, funnily enough at the positive stage. I can see light at the end of the tunnel now! All the best to you!

      1. Hi Paula it’s good to know you are also healing from past trauma. I would never have believed so much good could come from such a nightmare. Best wishes for the future ?

  15. Jean Byars

    Thank you for your reading…This journey for me has and is so hard…i have been stripped of everything..I havent seen my older daughter in 5 years, Her first born either….My second daughter was disgaureded by her father & Sister…My heart is so heart broken…I divorced my XN 5 years ago and have had no contact with him..He damaged me terrible. I just wished the pain would go away.

    1. Paula

      Jean try to focus on what you have got and not on what you haven’t. Hopefully, your eldest daughter, in time, will see him for what he is and realise that you are the trusted person in her life. It might take time, so stay strong and be patient. Concentrate on yourself and those that are there for you. It’s because you care so much that the pain is excruciating. I have come to believe that everything has a way of working itself out in the end. I dislike the fact that people are taken in by my ex-husband and his manipulation, but firmly believe that these spiteful, cruel, duplicitous people can’t live behind the facade forever. The truth outs itself in the end. Take care xxx

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