Thoughts on this post? Share them with me on Facebook, join the SPANily or Tweet me at @angieatkinson. ~Angie

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.

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.

Related Reading: Gaslighting, Love Bombing and Flying Monkeys: The Ultimate Toxic Relationship Survival Guide for Victims and Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse

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 they are selfish.

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

Back to you: Starting the 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.

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.

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 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 to 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 its 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

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 awhile, 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 your 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.

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 “narc filter,” which is your understanding of what will and will not upset the narcissist.

Removing the “Narc 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.

Ready? Let’s get started together. Here are some resources we can dig into.

Articles & Info on This Site



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.

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13 Responses to This is the Big Secret About Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

  1. out …out…get out…stay out….go within….find your connection within..romance will never dupe you again…from now on you will have a true partnering with yourself and higherself. ..

  2. I recently got out of a bad emotional roller coaster relationship. I just feel like I don’t know if it was me or him. He was so critical of me . I could do nothing right ever . I am emotional drained

  3. Escaped from the narcissist but am allowing him some access to our baby (he discarded me 3 weeks before the birth and I was witness to his seduction of the new primary source- so so sick and unbelievably hurtful). Didn’t come to the birth, then shows up over Christmas with a massive hoover. At every visit to the baby (which are designed not to see her but to get to me of course) I have to bat off his manipulation attempts and sexual advances. Really makes my skin crawl. Wish I could go no contact. Oh! And also he has a child with someone else born 6 months before mine, and a 10 year old from another relationship. Constantly projects and plays the victim while exploting others, picking up and dropping girls and sytematically lying and manipulating. All of you who have the opportunity do it! I have been through much in my life and approach hardship with dignity and grace but this narcissist has floored me. They are awful guys. I feel your pain. Thank god for people like angie- you got me through those post discard days;) Any ideas how I can endure these visits any easier? Or how I can make him loose interest in me?

    Lots of love to you all for your recovery and beyond X

  4. It has been impossible to fall out of love with him, but when i start to feel weak and empty, I remember what this journey taught me..
    When genuine love is not returned it can eat you alive, paralyze every thought process, and strip you of any self-faith. The best way to start healing, is to cherish the memories and the strength you’ve gained from this road, and put the love to rest. The love you had was not incorrect.. only the person you chose to give that love to, they were not ready for that love, and they may never be able to accept real love.
    I will always love him. It’s not that he didn’t love me, he couldn’t correctly love himself or fill that hole that was consuming him. I had to let go.

  5. I was in a 23 year relationship with a narcissist. 3 years out. I have four children with him. 2 in college and 2 still at home. I am healing slowly, but most days I just have zero self confidence and procrastinate the smallest of tasks. I have stopped crying! Yay! But still struggle with relationships with men. This is so not who I am. Or rather who I was. I am choosing men that don’t treat me well and at times subjecting myself to mistreatment. I do desire to have a relationship to share life with in this last half of my life. How do I progress in the healing, and build myself back up to the girl I once was 26 years ago? I had therapy initially but the narcissist abuse was swept under the rug. Should I try therapy again?

    • Dear Survivor, my story is so much the same as yours. I am almost 3 years out now, with 3 children. I was raised by a narcissistic mother and married to one for 20 years.I went through a living hell emotionally. It is slowly getting better. I can identify phases I went through. I am at a stage where I really start to question everything I believe about life and relationships. It is so time consuming rebuilding your identity. But what I can tell you with certainty is this, if you identify these toxic people around you and go no contact, it sets off a natural healing process inside you. You change and heal on your own over time. Youtube videos was my only source of help. By becoming conscious of what these people made you believe about yourself and the world around you, you can change your way of thinking. It is truly liberating, but very very painful. I found that my own family is riddled by this narcissistic disease and my narcissist ex is brainwashing everyone I know. It is a very lonely process to go through. Be strong!

  6. I am two weeks out of a 16 year relationship with a narcissist. Since leaving he has been hoovering non-stop, promising to do all of the things he promised to do the previous time I left him, but suddenly remembered once I left him again. I swear this is it for me. But I can’t help but feel pity for him.

    I’ve been in flight mode since I moved out (while he was away on business). Compulsively cleaning, forgetting to eat and not sleeping much at night. I don’t know how to relax.

    • Pam stay strong. What you’re doing takes courage. Now is the time to reach out to friends and family. Build your support network. Your ‘N’ knows that time is not on his side. That’s why your ‘N’ is eagerly telling you what you want to hear. Your ‘N’ is doing everything to take advantage or your compassion while exploiting your current vulnerability.

      The first month can be the hardest. It’s scary and nerve-wracking leaving an ‘N’. Find healthy ways to distract yourself. Go for walks, reconnect with friends and family. Accept invitations from friends. Organize a board game night…

      Most importantly, allow yourself to grieve. You lost something important to you and it hurts. Don’t ignore those feelings of loss. You’re going to get through this. You’re going to build yourself a new life, one day at a time. Be patient with yourself as you do this.

      I’m hoping some other folks chime in with their thoughts

  7. Was with a woman for over a year in a rollercoaster relationship. The insults and accusation were never ending. We could never just “talk” about anything. We’d fight, split up, then she’s tell me we needed to work things out so we could start a family. I took her out for her 36th bday, she was actually 43 at the time. She told me how she always wanted to get married someday, but had been divorced at least 2 times. I held this woman while she cried because she feared that she would never have a child. She has at least two grown daughters. Now that I’ve managed to walk away, block her phone and social media, I’m undergoing a smear campaign.

  8. Narcissists are attracted to strong women, so when we get past all the bullshit, the hoovering, the manipulation, the grief and loss, when we are utterly broken by them, we are still the same strong women. Like waves, the trauma comes in and out, but like the tide going out, every little wave brings us closer to our brilliant future. 2 years on, still recovering, but loving every moment of it. Without being shattered, I would never have learnt so much about myself and what it feels like to be so grateful to be alive.

  9. I have been out for one year. It gets easier. What helped me when it wasn’t so easy was keeping of list of the reasons I was getting out. I called it my “STAY STRONG LIST.” Every time I was tempted to respond to him, I read my list instead. Here are a few things from it, though it was at least 30 reasons long.

    -Don’t forget he has a substance abuse problem
    -Don’t forget he doesn’t have a job and doesn’t intend to get one
    -Don’t forget he would spend all YOUR money if given the chance
    -Don’t forget he withholds sex to control and shame you
    -Don’t forget that his words rarely match his actions… from his fictitious grand plans for your birthday to his all-talk-no-action screenplays
    -Don’t forget he’s still stringing his ex-wife along and chatting up a local soccer mom while pretending to be with YOU full time. Those are just the two others you KNOW about!

    Anyway… you get the drift. Make your list specific and brutal and LONG. You want to be overwhelmed by the reasons not to put up with this for another minute! By the time you’re at the end of it, no amount of love bombing or gaslighting should be able to override the truth.

    You can do this. You are not alone.

  10. ‘Can a man ever get a woman to get over a narcistic relationship, will she ever truly love someone

  11. I just read your article Goodbye Narc Hello Me! What profound information and I find it all so true. Got out of my relationship that I had approximately One and half years WITH A NARC WHICH I NEVER KNEW WHAT IT WAS. At the beginning the relationship was truly, absolutely wonderful. Have a Special Needs daughter doing awesome all grown in an independent home and he/narc had a Special Needs Sister who has passed. I thought God sent this man to me. So much in common especially the understanding of my daughter. At beginning he grandiose me, I was a princess, showed me so much love and admiration Wanted to take care of me financially which I wasn’t accustomed AND DIDN’T WANT since I raised my daughter alone for 20 years. Then started to tell me he didn’t like my dog, paid too much attention to my sister and husband living next door, and friends didn’t want me to see so much and tried to incorporate him also with couples. OMG on and on. Well I tried and tried to tell him that I don’t see my friends all the time they have lives but we get together and a far as my dog and sister I love them no matter what. Yes my sister and I have differences but he was trying to pull us apart. He/narc was a very handsome man, charisma at first but then changed with rage starting to get angry when I didn’t conform. I grew to love him so much at the beginning because he took me to so many special places loved church like myself and yes was excited that someone was trying to take care of me!!!! At the beginning I was an Angel to him with great qualities. Now I am cold-hearted that took from him and I am the worst relationship he ever had also I am the fattest where he went out with very thin woman but I was the best inside and very pretty but couldn’t go out with me because everyone else was too important than him and he was with me almost every night. I tried so hard back forth but when I wanted to go out on my own he would say when I got back he didn’t care about my friends and what I did. Finally the relationship is ended. Never ever had I gone through so much turmoil and so much hurt. I fell in love HARD but I knew I couldn’t be controlled even if I am alone. I wanted a relationship so bad but want to share each other’s lives. He had no life never met anyone on his side just one cousin. His children and grandchildren he has nothing to do with which I felt a RED FLAG AT FIRST!!! I AM VERY FAMILY ORIENTED AND TRIED TO convince HIM AND SHARE TOGETHER BUT I COULDN’T. WE HAVE HAD NO CONTACT AT ALL FOR 4 MONTHS AND I STILL THINK OF HIM BUT HOW IT WAS AT THE BEGINNING. BY READING AND LEARNING NARCISSTISM I FEEL LIKE I AM ADDICTED TO HIM. I STILL CAN’T STOP THINKING OF HIM AND HE TREATED ME SO CRUEL AT THE END. THANK YOU FOR YOUR ARTICLE. I FEEL LIKE IT HAS HELPED. I AM A 63 YEAR OLD WOMAN AND HAVE BEEN ALONE FOR 20 YEARS, OF COURSE DATED BUT NOTHING SERIOUS UNTIL MY DAUGHTER’S LIFE WAS IN PLACE. NOW I FALL IN LOVE WITH A NARC AND I AM TRYING SO HARD TO LEARN FROM THIS EVEN AT A LATE AGE OF MY LIFE BECAUSE I TRULY WANTED TO HELP HIM/NARC AND TAKE CARE OF HIM AND TRY TO MAKE HIS LIFE HAPPY BUT I REALIZE I CAN’T AND HE WILL NEVER CHANGE. SO HARD BUT I KNOW I WILL BE IN A BETTER PLACE. FOUND A WONDERFUL NEW PRIEST AND CHURCH WHICH I AM ATTENDING AND I KNOW MY LIFE WITH GOD/JESSUS HAS HELPED ME!!!!

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