This is the Big Secret About Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Written by Angela Atkinson

Your version of yourself or a narcissistsSo you’ve made the choice to end your relationship with a narcissist. Or maybe the choice was made for you. I want to tell you to feel amazing about that right now. But first, let me tell you this – I know it hurts. And that’s okay; it’s going to get better. I promise you.

However the relationship ended, you’re working on recovery from the narcissistic abuse you’ve been suffering. Whatever your story, this is a time of intense healing, and that’s a good thing. I wrote this guide for you to remind you of some things that have helped me – and I want you to know that you’re never alone.

Of course, you’re hurting, and it will likely be a while before you feel 100 percent better. But I’m asking you to hold out hope – and to know – that better will arrive. You’ll feel happy and at peace again. It will take time and hard work, but it’s worth it and you deserve all the love and happiness life has to offer.

What should you expect in narcissistic abuse recovery?

Trying to recover from narcissistic abuse can seem a never-ending journey which can also be very difficult to navigate. You may have lost all self-esteem and confidence you once had, which will make it even harder to take the first steps towards recovery.

From gaslighting to playing the victim to flying monkeys and beyond, narcissists know only one thing: they want what they want when they want it, and nothing else will do. Research proves that narcissists, regardless of their classification and level of extremity, all share four basic traits – they lack empathy, they are self-centered, have a serious disregard for other people, and are selfish, to put it mildly.

I polled several of my narcissistic abuse recovery support groups and they agree that this seems consistent with their experiences. How about you?

Is recovery from narcissistic abuse possible?

As someone who has personally managed to recover from narcissistic abuse and who has helped thousands of others do the same, I can tell you that recovery from narcissistic abuse is absolutely possible! Still, recovery requires you to recognize what you’ve been dealing with and then to take intentional steps toward healing. It will be difficult, but it is most definitely worth the effort. If you have children with the narcissist or are unable to go full no contact for another reason, you’ll need to modify the process, but even then, with certain personal policies and behavior modification techniques put in place, you can heal and take back your life. I created the DUO method to make this process more understandable and easier to navigate.

Where do you begin your healing process?

How to Identify Narcissistic Personality DIsorderThe first thing I want to tell you, whether you’re already gone or you’re planning your escape, is congratulations.

I know that might seem inappropriate at this moment, but try looking at it a new way. Imagine the level of freedom you can now enjoy. Imagine how you’ll be allowed to make your own decisions, to be the person that you truly want to be.  To start this process you need to learn how to open your mind and heart further as healing requires rebuilding your whole sense of self. The first step toward recovery is knowing that you deserve better and that narcissists are not capable of true, genuine love.

Your recovery should begin with getting to the point where you just want to feel better. Given that we all hate pain and naturally want happiness, this really should be the starting point. I find many people buy into this notion of ‘healing’ but instead of wanting to feel better, they want someone to fix them, or make them happy.

In other words, many of us don’t realize exactly what we need in order to arrive at that place of happiness and contentment. Once we really figure out what we need deep down inside then we can take steps toward healing and recovery.

The Big Secret: Deep Down, You Really Are Who You Want to Be

See, the truth is that the person you want to be is secretly who you really are – so the best way to begin to find yourself and figure out your life after narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship is to indulge in the things you love, the things that make your soul feel alive. That’s going to help to discover yourself and bring that “true you” up to the surface.

But what if I love to do something I’m no good at? What will that serve?

First of all, you’ll never know until you try. Plus, you don’t have to be “good at it” to enjoy it; but about now, I’d love it if you could stop feeling like you’re not good enough.

You being “not good enough” is simply a lie you’ve come to believe thanks to the mind-numbing experience of being involved with a narcissist.

Can a narcissist change?

Is there any chance the narcissist will change? Is narcissism curable or do they remain forever broken? Research suggests that narcissism exists on a continuum from mild to severe with most people falling somewhere in the middle.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a pathological distortion of a person’s traits and interpersonal relations, is established by specific diagnostic criteria. The disorder is commonly known as NPD.

While less severe narcissism may be viewed as a personality quirk – albeit one that can occasionally cause friction with others – narcissistic personality disorder is an entirely different story. In general, while it’s theoretically possible, narcissists won’t change – this video offers additional information to explain.

How does narcissistic abuse affect you?

A toxic relationship with a narcissist can literally kill youIt’s a narcissist’s nature to tear down the people who are closest to him or her. The narcissist must feel in control, and they must obtain what he considers the appropriate amount of admiration and attention from their various sources of narcissistic supply.

When they get it, he feels validated and he might be the best guy you’ve ever met – or she might be the coolest girl.

Note: Narcissists come in all shapes, sizes, colors and sexes. I’m going to use the “he” pronouns from here on out simply because statistically, narcissists are slightly more likely to be male  (and for ease of reading).

But when the narcissist finds himself spending too much time alone or with a lack of attention and admiration, or he’s directly defied, he becomes a whole other person.

When Narcissistic Rage and Narcissistic Injury Set In

Narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury will set in and the person in the line of fire is most likely to get the brunt of the narcissist’s rage. In fact, narcissists know very well how to manipulate you; often they’ll play the victim in order to get you on their side (narcissistic injury). When you fall for it, they might just inadvertently recruit you to become one of their toxic flying monkeys. Or, if you don’t, you can probably expect the injury to become narcissistic rage.  And then if you don’t finally comply with serving his needs, the narcissist will likely send a flying monkey your way to do his manipulative bidding.

When you feel weak: How do you stay strong in the face of a love bomber?

We all know that when a narcissist feels like he’s lost (or might lose) something he wants (yes, I said something, because to a narcissist, people are things), he goes into love bombing mode.

You know, that’s when he places you on a pedestal and makes you feel like you’re perfect and amazing and like no one can compare? And where he suddenly seems humble and sweet and you start thinking maybe he really can change, after all? And then before you know it, he’s back in and you’re back to trying to figure out how to deal with his gaslighting?

Yep. And remember how crazy-making it can all be? Remember that life?

Good. Now You Remember Why You Left.

When you feel weak, you have to remember why you left. Or why you’re planning to leave.

Related: This is why you haven’t already left your narcissist

The gnawing feeling in your stomach when you hear the names you’re called or the horrible way he seems to see you as a person, maybe.

How your entire being, your character, and your integrity were called into question for every little “infraction” of the ridiculous  (and often unspoken) rules and double standards he required of you?

That’s why you left. Or maybe it’s why you’re leaving – or maybe, it’s just one reason you can stop crying about the narcissist who left you. 

Because now, you are the one who decides what happens. Now it’s all about what you want, what you choose, what you say is best.

ABOVE ALL: Don’t scare yourself into staying

Remember: the narcissist tries to make you into exactly what they are. They are trying to project their bad qualities onto you. They will go out of their way to play head games with you and why they will tell you that if anyone hurts them, it will be your fault. The narcissist wants your sympathy so that you will do all of the work so that they can get attention and love without having to do anything in return.

The narcissist is going to try to make you afraid and insecure. They want you to think you can’t live without them and that you can’t do better. Don’t let that scare you – I know that being in full control of your life might be a little freaky after having been under someone else’s thumb for a while, but you will very quickly find yourself feeling light and happy in a way that you can’t remember feeling before.

You can do better.

I don’t care if you’re overweight or you’re frumpy or you’re very, very shy – no one deserves the mental and emotional abuse of a narcissist. It’s pure torture and you can do better. You DESERVE better,

Know that. And remind yourself when you feel weak. You can do this. You can be who you want, and you can take care of yourself. KNOW IT!

Change is hard but you will come out so much happier and more fulfilled.

While your initial reaction to any sort of change is going to be difficult sometimes, this is especially true when it involves separation from someone you’ve spent many years or even months with.

That’s because a lot of times, you literally sort of forget who you are – you’ve become so enmeshed and codependent with your narcissist that you literally don’t know who you’d be without him.

REMEMBER: Your situation and what you’re dealing with now doesn’t make you wrong, less than anyone else, or stupid; it makes you human.

People who have not experienced the hell of narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship have absolutely no idea how incredibly it takes over everything in your life.

Before you know it, you are literally putting every single word you say and choice you make through the “narcissist filter,” which is your understanding of what will and will not upset the narcissist.

How Do You Remove the “Narcissist Filter” From Your Self-Identity?

So now that you’ve made the choice to leave, it’s time to begin to shed the narcissist’s version of you and start to create your own perfect version – what you consider the be the best possible version of yourself.

If that means you need to spend a bit of time getting over your relationship first, fine – but set a time limit and stick to it. And then, you can get on about the business of deciding who you are after you end a relationship with a narcissist.

How long does it take to fully recover from narcissistic abuse?

Everyone has their own journey and while there are so many similarities among narcissists and the way they treat their closest relationships, there are several factors that might determine how long it will take to fully recover from narcissistic abuse. Depending on how long you were involved with the narcissist and the nature of your relationship, it could take a few weeks, a few months, or more than a year. The good news is that when you intentionally focus on and work toward healing, it can certainly expedite the process.

Are you ready to get started on your narcissistic abuse recovery?

Let’s discuss it. I’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences, and questions on this stuff.

  1. Have you been in and escaped from a narcissistic relationship?
  2. Are you still in one?
  3. What advice would you give someone who is doing what you did (or plan to do)?

Share your thoughts and experiences in one of our narcissistic abuse recovery support groups.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Resources

Helpful Videos for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors

Related articles that can help in your recovery from narcissistic abuse

Books

Author

  • Angela Atkinson

    Angela Atkinson is a certified trauma counselor and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery, and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic personality disorder and narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships since 2006, she has a popular narcissistic abuse recovery YouTube channel. Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own. Atkinson offers trauma-informed narcissistic abuse recovery coaching and has certifications in trauma counseling, life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation, and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves. Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse here at QueenBeeing.com and at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online.

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