STEPS TO TAKE AFTER NARCISSISTIC ABUSE
Being in a narcissistic relationship is bad enough, but exiting it can prove to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. A narcissistic relationship isn’t just a bad relationship. Coming out of one is like getting released from a prison where psychological and sometimes physical damage was done to you which may take months, years and even a lifetime to overcome and heal.
Upon entering the relationship, you likely never heard the term narcissist or if you did you might have given it much thought thinking it was just a term for a self-absorbed person. However, if you’re exiting the relationship, either through a discard or you got lucky enough to just leave it, you know it was much more than that.
I know when I left the narcissist my entire life had been turned upside down both mentally and physically. Standing there at the crossroads of my future I had no idea of which way to go. Prior to the narcissist I had been married to a wonderful girl for 30 years, had a job, a nice house, three cars and the future looked good. This in spite of the fact that both my wife and I had just gone through treatment for cancer. In my wife’s case hers was much worse, but she had a chance of survival. Mine was much less and the prognosis was good. Then she died.
The shock of her death was unbelievable, but I was determined to move on, as she wished. Then I met the narcissist. Within a little under two years everything I had worked for was gone. The home was in foreclosure, the cars, job and everything was history.
Much of that was because I simply wasn’t able to deal with the game-playing mind games of the narcissist. It all just slipped away. But here I was, lost with no direction to go. It felt like my life was over.
So, what to do? Well, here’s what I did, and it worked and I’ll pass it on to you. First let me tell you that thankfully we didn’t marry, have children, so my experience may not entirely match yours. I have another article on this site which addresses those instances.
1. DETERMINE TO HEAL
The first thing to do is to DETERMINE that you’ll never go back to that which you were freed of. Many victims of narcissistic abuse keep themselves on a sort of Yo-Yo after the relationship is over thinking that somehow, someday the narcissist will change, see the light, and the relationship will start again.
NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!
In the beginning the narcissist manipulated their way into your life by a carefully crafted system in order to get what they wanted. This is called “supply” and it may have been money, possessions, or just to have someone on their air to show the previous victim they were still desired. But that’s all they came to get. After they get what they want they began to withdrawal (devalue) and then finally move toward discarding you. That is unless as I said you beat them to the punch.
Most narcissists are not going to quite messing with you even after a discard. Much more if you leave them. Known as hoovers, they are known to contact you even years after the relationship is technically over. A text, a phone call, or a physical visit even years down the road. You must be resolute in keeping your distance from them. This may be ramped up especially if you ended the relationship. The narcissist hates to lose, a term which is known as narcissistic injury.
You may have heard the term “NO CONTACT” which means you drop off the grid. Change your phone number to an unlisted number, block social media, etc.
Again, this can be complicated if you were married to them, had property or children, and you have to have so type of contact. Again, I invite you to read this article for more information.
2. ASSESS WHERE YOU ARE NOW
In order to grow from where you are you have to understand what happened, and where to go from there. This isn’t so easy in the beginning because if you’re like me you have no idea where you are. Your mind is jumbled, you likely cannot put a finger on exactly where things went wrong, or if you do you may be angry at yourself for allowing this to happen in the first place.
No experience with a narcissist is the same. It depends on the type of experience, your particular circumstances at the time. In the beginning when the narcissist met you they sized you up to determine the best way to get to what they wanted. I call this the interview, where they see what value you were to them.
So then after the relationship the level of recovery will be different. In my case my entire life had shifted. Besides working my day job, I had been a successful writer and speaker. The experience with caretaking for my wife, as well as dealing with my own health issues had taken me off track even before the narcissist, but after I couldn’t see that success ever happening again.
But I simply couldn’t see that from the perspective of where I was in the aftermath. I needed help. Some of this help came from my own research into narcissism, narcissistic relationships, and narcissistic abuse. I detailed this in my book, “My Waffles are Cold – A Man’s Guide to Abusive Women”. In that book I talked about seeking outside help. I saw a therapist.
Many people shun seeking psychological help, thinking it somehow puts the blame on them. But this isn’t the case at all. A good therapist will listen to your story and get it into an order that you can understand. They will help you put the puzzle back together.
Once I understood what happened, I had a choice. Either live in that aftermath, or pick up the pieces and move on.
3. PLAN FOR RECOVERY
In my case I was presented options. I’m a US veteran so I was offered services to help me get back in the game. One was legal, for as I said I was basically broke, in debt and facing foreclosure. So, they advised me to try and sell the house, file bankruptcy, and clear the decks. This might not be the best for everyone, but again, it was a plan.
STICK TO THE PLAN
It’s going to be hard. Much of what I experienced was psychological damage. We refer to this as trauma, and the level of trauma is different for everyone. This may be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or Complex Post Traumatic Stress disorder, and this must be diagnosed by a mental health professional. You may need temporary medication solutions, or even long term pharmaceutical help. You also may need longer term counseling help even months or years afterward.
But this is important. You are rebuilding. Sure, you can try to do it yourself, and many have. Yet I found that during my relationship with the narcissist I was isolated from outside friends and family. That’s what they do in order to control you. You may have difficulty trusting others, especially people you hardly know to help you. But trusting others help you save yourself from “self-delusion”.
During the relationship with the narcissist, you were constantly made to question your motives and thinking. That’s not going away simply because you’re not with them anymore. So, having a concerned third party will help you see situations for what they are, not as your mind may trick you into believing.
1. Reconnect with friends and family. This could be difficult and it’s likely the narcissist got to them already, trying to convince them that YOU’RE the crazy one. Don’t push it. If they are really your friends and love and care for you they know what happened.
2. Get back into “life”. The narcissist likely isolated you from life, and/or you were so focused on them and the stuff they were up to that they took most of your concentration from the thinks you love, such as hobbies, etc. So, get up and get back into those things. Take your time, there is no rush but DO IT!
3. Keep your eye on the goal and realize you are getting better day by day. You are growing, so keep learning about your experience. You’ll get better and soon finding yourself a survivor instead of a victim
Good luck and God Bless!
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