healing from narcissistic abuse

3 Scary but Necessary Steps to Healing From Narcissistic Abuse

A troubling thought, isn’t it?

You’re slaving away at trying to heal yourself after a toxic relationship, but you can’t help wondering if you have a shot in hell of actually making any progress.

What makes you any different from the millions of other people out there trying to heal after narcissistic abuse?

You’re doing all the same stuff. Joining hundreds of Facebook groups, messing around with positive affirmations, devouring all the books about narcissists you can find on Amazon — you know, the usual.

But, you’re still not sure if you’re actually going to accomplish any healing.

While healing from narcissistic abuse is different for everyone, there are three essential steps that must be taken before true healing can begin. If these steps aren’t achieved, healing can take much longer than it needs to, if it happens at all!

To ensure you don’t sabotage your recovery, I cover these three essential steps below. They don’t necessarily need to be executed in the order I list them, but they do need to be achieved before you can get on with the business of true healing.

3 Fail-Proof Steps Toward Healing from Narcissistic Abuse

1 – Acceptance

When is it time to let go of a relationship? It’s time to accept the need to let go when you stop growing as a couple, your bond causes more pain than happiness, you are being manipulated and abused, and/or the relationship’s overall climate is one of anxiety, fear, and shame.

What do I mean by relationship climate? If you think of your relationship in terms of weather, what’s the overall climate? Plenty of sunshine and balmy breezes with a few rain clouds here and there, or constant thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tsunamis?

Obviously, a relationship with a narcissist would be one of perpetual, tempestuous cyclones.

Once you’ve made the determination that your partner is abusive or emotionally unavailable and won’t change, it’s time to accept the need to end the relationship – as opposed to hanging on, vainly hoping they will go back to being the person they were when you first met.

It’s natural to want to make things work with someone you are in love with, but loving a narcissist is about as good for you as a cancer diagnosis. In fact, narcissistic abuse has been correlated with certain types of cancer (Desaulniers, 2016).  And if you do have cancer, leaving the narcissist is the first empowering step you can take towards your recovery.

Accept that the breakup is imminent and that reconciliation is not in your best interest. By doing so, you can save yourself from more pain down the road and move on to the next healing stage of letting go.

2 – Letting Go

Once you’ve accepted that you must detach, the next step is to let go. Letting go is similar to acceptance, but involves an inner shift. It’s an inner process of consciously recognizing that you can make it alone and that you do not need the narcissist in order to survive emotionally.

In your mind, you let go of the unswerving belief that you need the narcissist in order to feel good about yourself.

In your mind, you accept there will be a hard road ahead, but it’s one you’re willing to travel to get to a place of true healing (and make space for a loving, reciprocal relationship later on).

In your mind, you let go of waiting for apologies and closure from your abusive partner.

In your mind, you let go and release the narcissist.

In your mind, you drop the mic and walk away.

Once the above two steps have been accomplished, the next one is the coup de gras, albeit a hesitant one…

3 – No Contact

Going No Contact is often the hardest step in narcissistic abuse recovery. However, this one step is the crux in determining whether or not you will heal. You cannot finalize the other steps without it.

In the case of shared custody, Extreme Modified Contact must be enforced to protect your emotions and allow healing energies into your personal space.

When you avoid No Contact, don’t properly block the narcissist, and/or attempt to stay friends, you accomplish many things, none of which are helpful or healthy for you. Several examples of these self-defeating gaffes include:

  • Taking away your credibility for any boundaries you tried to set
  • Coming across to the narcissist that you are colluding with or quietly accepting their unacceptable behaviors
  • You’ll be incessantly looking for signs that there’s still a chance for reconciliation
  • You’ll set yourself up for a no-strings sex situation (no strings from the narcissist’s side)
  • You’ll put yourself in the role of “safe fallback” when the narcissist needs extra supply aside from their new partner
  • You’ll develop (or deepen) feelings of self-loathing because you are holding out for a person who will never reciprocate your emotions or devotion
  • Your self-esteem and confidence will plummet because you won’t be able to accept that the narcissist won’t commit (even if they pretend they will, you’ll be crushed when you find out they lied again)
  • Your core abandonment wounds will only become worse, setting you up for complete dysfunction and annihilation

You must work through all three of these critical steps in order to begin healing from narcissistic abuse.

This is why it’s impossible to magic away the pain of narcissistic abuse….because the relationship is the cumulation of all of your worst emotional traumas that haven’t been resolved (romantic or otherwise), many going all the way back to your childhood.

People who accept the need to end the relationship, truly let go, and implement No Contact in its true form are the ones who eventually and successfully move on towards healing.

This article was originally written for and published on Psych Central.  

healing from narcissistic abuseSources

Desaulniers, D. V. (2016, April 15). How Emotional Trauma Can Create Cancer… and 4 Ways to Stop it. Retrieved from https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/emotional-trauma-cancer/


  1. Judy

    Why do you try to make the person feel bad for what they have done to you. You know the will not and then you get sucked in again and again. No contact is the only way. Give up. You will never hurt them they are so self centered.

  2. I had to complete all three steps in order to save my life from the Narc that I was with. I always knew something was wrong with him. I couldn’t understand it because I didn’t have a name or a meaning for his behaviors. After I made up my mind to accept that he wasn’t going to change, I made up my mind to leave, then came the second step of letting him go in my mind and in my heart. While doing the no contact. I didn’t change my number because it would of been to much of a hassle but I just knew I would be strong in not responding to any texts, voicemail if he called. It’s been over 2 years and each step change my life for the good, it was hard but I did it. I think it funny that after all this time that have past, he decided to text but when I still didn’t respond, he called, I still didn’t respond then he tried calling from a different number, still no response. Why do these Narc think that they can just get back in touch with someone who doesn’t even like them anymore and did he think I would of been happy to hear from him when I was the one that let go of the relationship? Even if I seen him on the street, I still wouldn’t knowledge him like he didn’t even exist. Keep up the good work Kim, you are a blessing.

  3. Lori K

    I was in my relationship with my NARC for 7 years, on and off and I am trying to commit to these 3 steps u mention. the hard part for me is that we are neighbors. Altho I am in no contact and have been for the past 7 weeks. the problem is, I see him everyday. I am compelled to look out my window. I want to hate him, but I feel as if I still feel love in my heart. is it possible to get over this abuse in this situation.

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Lori, I can relate to your struggles. In my case, I had to move a couple of times to get away from narcissistic exes. Inconvenient, to say the least, but it brings much-needed peace and serenity.

      Kim XoXo

    2. Anne marie

      Hi Lori K,
      I am in the same situation as yourself and have tried to maintain no contact so many times but always get reeled back in somehow, I think my only option to keep my own sanity is to move away as soon as I get the chance.
      Good luck to you and take care of yourself.

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