Healing from Narcissistic Abuse
Narcissistic abuse is a soul-crushing form of trauma because it slowly builds up like a snowball effect. This type of abuse affects your identity on a very deep level for several years. That’s why the stages of healing after narcissistic abuse are an ongoing process – not a quick fix. Healing narcissistic abuse requires a much different approach than recovering from isolated traumatic events. Just like someone working through drug or alcohol recovery, it’s crucial to work through the phases of trauma recovery.
It’s not fast or easy, but you’ll come out the other end more dignified, stronger, and kinder than you ever were before the abuse. If you are ready to heal you must learn about yourself, your childhood trauma, you must learn boundary setting and be able to understand your accountability. What a narcissist did to you is only half the story, the other half is your own issues as to why you stayed, why you allowed yourself to be treated this badly. What we didn’t know did hurt us, so now we must learn and protect ourselves so this never happens again.
Here are the stages of healing:
Stage 1: No Contact
Absolutely, No Contact, or strict Modified Contact such as in the case of parallel-parenting, is the number one thing anyone who has suffered narcissistic abuse needs to do to have any chance of recovery. This vital first stage to healing after narcissistic abuse is so that a person can get off the battlefield where they are sustaining trauma after trauma and start to learn how to heal. Be sure you understand what No Contact is. It can’t just be physical No Contact. Narcissists are energy vampires and they are getting an energy feed off you with ANY emotional energy you grant them (in any shape or form.) After being traumatically abused, the abuse lives on inside you as if it has a life of its own. Even if you have gone No Contact it’s likely that you will still feel like you are in the thick of abuse, plus there is also a chemical addiction withdrawal to the narcissist going on which is horrific. This is your body and brain trying to force you to reconnect back to the source of the peptides (emotional cocktails) that your cellular being is hooked on.
The standard No Contact stage of healing after narcissistic abuse includes these issues: a belief that staying away physically should be enough to get well, and the non-recognition or treatment of the peptide addiction, meaning that the victim suffers horrific addictive pulls to the narcissist (even if just as obsessive thoughts) that feel almost impossible to overcome.
In standard No Contact, where the mental, emotional and psychic connection to the narcissist is not being addressed and released from within ourselves, the breaking of No Contact is usual, in fact probable.
Additionally, if there is not enough emphasis on blocking all contact, and letting go of all involvement, interest or checking up on the narcissist whatsoever, there is a real danger to get hooked back in.
What is really required is knowing how vital all of these actions are because of the energetic, emotional component that needs to be dissolved. I have also found that there is a lack of preparation or treatment for the inevitable after-shock that hits victims hard, means they feel worse when out of the relationship than they did in it (due to a fully activated peptide addiction) and this can be a real danger time where they go back or break down making future recovery even more arduous. No contact can only work if the feelings of addiction are treated quickly and thoroughly.
Stage 2: Taking Personal Resposibility
After narcissistic abuse, there has been so much projected onto you that it is usual to feel defective and wrong. You were probably convinced that you were to blame for a great deal of the relationship.
It truly is such a relief when we DO discover information about narcissists that helps us realise that there is a name for this insanity and that we are not going mad! This second stage of recovery after narcissistic abuse is one we have to get very clear about because if we assign focus and blame to narcissists and keep looking outwards, we are going to be in for a very hard time. In no way does doing this heal your traumatised Inner Being. Demonising narcissists doesn’t make you well. That’s like taking poison every day and hoping the other person will be exterminated.
Stage 3: Start Releasing the Trauma
The third of the key stages of healing after narcissistic abuse is very important. Especially, once we have detached and got some space from the narcissist, the almighty peptide addiction is going to hit VERY hard.This is when people can feel like they are losing their mind.
But releasing the trauma is key! Talking about it or journaling is a good way to release and organise your thoughts and feelings. Without our traumas corrupting our True Self, we start emerging as self-partnered and self-generative and no longer seeking love, approval, security and survival outside of ourselves. This means we now show up authentically, we no longer hand power away trying to get people to love us and be safe. We become a self who knows there are plenty of resources and people in life to generate with and we can leave alone those people and things that are not a match for our new and healing solid Inner Identity.
Stage 4: Ensuring You are Never Abused Again
This fourth stage of vital recovery after narcissistic abuse was contemporarily about learning all there is about toxic people and narcissists to try to avoid them in the future. If only this worked! I can’t tell you the amount of people I’ve met over the years who have been taken down by subsequent narcissists despite being incredibly learned experts on everything there is to know about narcissists. This is the thing, all our brain pathways form around our Inner Identity beliefs. If we still have faulty and traumatised ones, our mind will come up with thoughts that dismiss the ‘gut warning’, make excuses and reconnect us with the exact match of the still existing painful belief.
The other thing we may fall into the trap of doing is believe that defences and being FULLY on guard is the way to go. I want you to imagine this: closing the shutters down on a house when it has terrible mould and toxins trapped inside. Everyone just gets sicker within those four walls! And that’s what happens, people report that there is no way they will risk trusting someone and getting into a relationship again. They don’t trust people, life and themselves and it’s a terrible way to live. Life has lost joy for them. It’s horrible and painful. Or if people DO venture out and try to open up to love again, without doing the inner work, exactly the thing they think they are protecting themselves from ends up in their life again.
The joy of recovery is that once we have committed to our inner work and the releasing and up-levelling of our previous traumas and subconscious painful programs, we can have a wonderful self-devoted lifestyle. In this way of living, we want development, expansion and freedom. We have stopped trying to learn about, lecture and prescribe to, navigate, or fix and change the billions of other people in the world.
Instead, we work on the one person we can, ourselves, to break out of co-dependent patterns that are the perfect match for narcissists in toxic relationships with them.
Ella McCrystal – Clinical Psychotherapist/Hypnotherapist –
Owner of The Northampton Clinic –
Co-Founder of The Evolve Project –