How the Narcissist Hits Rock Bottom (And What You Can Do to Deal)

How the Narcissist Hits Rock Bottom (And What You Can Do to Deal)

When it comes to people with narcissistic personality disorder, it seems like the only thing you can predict is unpredictability. What happens next when they hit rock bottom?

What can you expect? What can you do – and how can you deal with and overcome their treatment during this unpleasant narcissistic cycle?

If you’re currently involved with a narcissist or are about to get involved with one – you’ll want to hear this.

This video will give you all of the answers you need when it comes to recognizing, understanding, and overcoming the narcissist’s rock bottom moments.

What is narcissist rock bottom?

You might call a narcissist who has found rock bottom a collapsed narcissist. In general, narcissists hit rock bottom when they are able to no longer manipulate, exploit and abuse others. 

In other words, narcissist rock bottom is what happens when the narcissist finally realizes that their abusive behavior will not be tolerated any longer, that what they have done has gotten out of control, or that they’re about to lose everything.

Unfortunately, it is typically later rather than sooner. It can take many years of ongoing manipulation and abuse before they hit rock bottom. Often, it happens when their closest sources of narcissistic supply go away, whether by their own choice or otherwise.

Why do narcissists hit rock bottom? 

Narcissists crave power and control like an alcoholic craves their favorite drink. Narcissists NEED to have the people around them feeling weak and unempowered – this way, they’re malleable so that they’re easily controlled. 

But when these people walk away and stop doing what the narcissist wants before they’re ready for it, the narcissist’s biggest fears are realized. 

A narcissist’s lack of capacity for empathy and emotional depth, paired with a desperate need to feel validated and congratulated by others, will often result in their demise.

They will do just about anything to feel significant and special – so much so that they may lie, cheat and manipulate to get their own way.

So ironically it is their desperation for significance and validation which ultimately serves as the catalyst for their narcissist rock bottom. 

What scares a narcissist?

As often as a narcissist threatens, directly or indirectly, to abandon you, you’d think they were perfectly secure in their ability to remain surrounded by sources of narcissistic supply – as in, people who love, admire, and serve them as needed.

But the truth is that while abandonment is probably the most human fear one can have, narcissists aren’t immune.

In fact, if we’re being honest, they’re probably pretty normal this way.

With that being said, the difference between a narcissist’s fear of abandonment and that of the average person is that a narcissist will actively abuse and manipulate the people around them in order to control them and keep them in their place.

How do the narcissist’s fears coming true lead them to hit rock bottom? 

Fear of abandonment comes to fruition when you walk away from the narcissist. Now, don’t expect them to recognize this right away – but it’ll relieve some of the tension for them initially – even just the idea that they’ll be able to openly meet new people can be a huge thrill. 

At first, they will feel free and some version of happy – but then one day (maybe even the same day the relationship ends), they’ll remember something that you used to do for them, and they’ll want that back. 

If your resist (and I hope you do – read this about how to avoid the hoover maneuver), the narcissist attempts to navigate their remaining relationships – often not even personal ones, they grow frustrated and angry.

What does the narcissist experience at rock bottom?

You might think that when a narcissist hits rock bottom, they will finally see the light and realize how awful they truly have been – and you’d hope they’d be SO SORRY for this abusive behavior they’ve been serving up all these years.

As amazing as that would be, it’s rarely the case. Instead:

  • They will probably feel like their world has been turned upside down and they have no idea how to fix it.
  • They may become depressed and experience symptoms of anxiety-like panic attacks or insomnia.
  • They may also lash out at others for no reason at all.

Whatever happens, you can expect them to be acting extremely erratic and unpredictable as they expertly play the victim.

The Narcissist’s Backup Plan

Before the narcissist knows it, you’re off living in a totally cute place that’s a little too far to just drop in. And, you’ll have the nerve to want your privacy, which won’t be tolerated if they are still part of your life. 

Eventually, they begin to guilt and shame the few people who remain close to them, seemingly doing their very best to push your emotions aside. This, combined with a lack of narcissistic supply, culminates in the narcissist’s idea of actual hell. 

So, the moment any source of narcissistic supply refuses to comply with their wishes or orders, the narcissist has lost control of that person and therefore has no influence over them anymore.

And that’s one of the narcissist’s OTHER biggest fears: that they’re so insignificant that no one cares what they say, do, think, or feel. 

This right here is exactly what causes them to tend to need a backup ‘source of supply’ (since they can’t be alone), so they very often attempt preemptively replace a source of supply.

Unfortunately, it can be one of the most dangerous times for you. Because a narcissist who has hit rock bottom may feel as though they have nothing left to lose. They don’t even have the narcissistic supply they need to function – so their desperation can lead them to lash out.

The narcissist eventually hits rock bottom and they feel unbearable sadness, grief, or remorse because they can’t continue the way they are going anymore. In order to keep this grief or pain at bay, they will stoop to any level. 

The Narcissist’s Rock Bottom Patterns

When the narcissist finally hits rock bottom, there is a predictable pattern that emerges. This pattern is so predictable that it can be used as a roadmap for how to deal with the situation.

  • The narcissist’s life will begin to crumble under the weight of their own lies and deceit.
  • This collapse may occur because of something external like losing their job or a major financial setback or some other traumatic event in their life.
  • It could also happen because they have become so absorbed in their own self-image that they cannot see reality any longer – they live in a world of illusion created by their own ego which is beyond their control.
  • As they begin to realize that they are no longer able to maintain this illusion, they become increasingly agitated, depressed, and angry until they reach a point where there is nothing left but rage at themselves for being so stupid as to believe such obvious lies about themselves as well as rage at those who duped them into believing these lies were true.

Should you support a narcissist who is at or near rock bottom? 

Believe me, I get it – as an empath, you naturally want to support someone in pain, especially when it’s someone you love or loved so deeply.

But listen to me, don’t do it. Not this time. Hear me out.

As much as helping them would serve some codependent part of yourself, the narcissist is likely to cruelly reject your offers for help. This will make you feel rejected – again- and that’s going to do a real number on not only your self-esteem but also your psyche – triggering would be putting it mildly. 

Personally, I don’t think you owe them any of your time or support, but if you must give it to them, try giving them space and let them know when you’re available if they want to talk about anything (without pressure!).

Just because they’ve hit rock bottom doesn’t mean that things are going to change – not for long. 

In the end, you can only change yourself and your reactions to narcissistic abuse. You will never be able to control their actions.

However, the more you understand what makes the narcissist tick and how their behavior affects you, the better equipped you will be to deal with their antics when they come knocking at your door.

Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today

Why Do Narcissists Make You Feel Like You’re Not Enough?

Why Do Narcissists Make You Feel Like You’re Not Enough?

If you’ve ever been in a toxic relationship with a narcissist, you might already know how adept they can be at making you feel completely worthless. If that rings true for you, you’re definitely not alone. In fact, one of the most underrated ways a narcissist can devastate you is by making you feel inferior, or like you’re just not good enough.

How does this kind of long-term narcissistic abuse affect you?

The impact of this kind of ongoing psychological abuse is so significant that most victims of long-term narcissistic abuse find themselves struggling with symptoms of C-PTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder). We become so damaged that we end up becoming codependent. This ongoing invalidation of a person’s self leads to a lack of self-esteem and self worth, and it can lead us to becoming ideal prey for other narcissists.

Does psychological abuse at the hands of a narcissist change you permanently?

You lose yourself, in so many ways, when you become enmeshed with a narcissist in any kind of relationship, and the closer the relationship, the more damage it can cause for you, psychologically, emotionally, and physically. The good news is that it does not have to be that way, as victims of narcissistic abuse can recover through intentional healing and learning how to avoid getting entangled with other toxic people in future relationships. Making yourself aware of the red flags to look for in new potential relationships can help as well.

Why do narcissists make you feel like you’re not enough?

This leads to the point of this post: why do narcissists make you feel like you’re not enough, or like you’re completely worthless? Sometimes in narcissistic abuse recovery, knowledge is power, and this is one of those times. Let’s talk about it.

Narcissists Lack Self-Esteem, And It Makes Them Feel Better To Put You Down

It is a known fact that many narcissists, despite appearing to be the opposite, have a major lack of self-esteem. This leads them to bolster their fragile egos with a façade of false confidence, and at the same time, they do anything they can to make you feel terrible about yourself. Covert narcissists are less likely to pretend to be confident, so they’ll act more self-hating, but they will also do anything possible to make you feel inferior. So, when a covert a narcissist begins to show their true colors; you immediately think how out of character it is for them since they initially showed you a vulnerable side.

Worse, narcissists will put you down in unimaginable ways – they dig deep to hurt you. They put you down regarding your appearance, intelligence, habits, and anything else that comes to their minds.

Narcissists Use Gaslighting to Make You Doubt Yourself

Narcissists need to find ways to bolster their fragile egos, and if their abuse towards you is making you doubt yourself, they are getting exactly what they want.  Gaslighting is the ideal manipulation tactic for this outcome, and narcissists use it to push you further into submission. They find your weak points and exploit them. For instance, they will make you believe that you are losing your memory by telling you things that you did that you never did or vise versa. When they see you doubt yourself further because of their manipulation and gaslighting tactics, they feel good about themselves.

Narcissists Get a Thrill From Invalidating You

Narcissists are known to invalidate your feelings by saying things such as “you’re way too sensitive” when you react to their abusive behaviors, for example. They invalidate your feelings to make you doubt yourself so they can get you in control. When you believe you’re worthless or not enough, the narcissist figures you’re not going to go find out you can do better than them. The way they see it, their feelings are very important – but their marked lack of emotional and compassionate empathy means they literally do not care how you feel at all. This is a dangerous combination for anyone involved with a malignant narcissist.

Narcissists Feel Entitled

Narcissists live in a constant fear of missing out (FOMO!). This is often developed early in childhood, at the same time as the development of their trademark entitlement complex. Their sense of entitlement also means they feel compelled to do anything they want, and they will do it at your expense without concern for the impact it has on you, your feelings, or your life. They lie and cheat on you, too, because they feel entitled to do so. They feel that they need to have access to other sources of narcissistic supply as “backup” because they cannot stand the idea of ending up alone.

Remember that healthy, secure people will never tear you down to hurt you on purpose. This is a toxic, malignant behavior and it’s one you don’t deserve. Need help recovering from narcissistic abuse?

Watch this video to learn more about why narcissists have to hurt you.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support & Resources

If you feel you need additional help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery, look for a trauma-informed professional who is trained in helping people who are dealing with overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. Depending on your particular situation, you might benefit from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching, or you might do better with a therapist. You have to decide what to do from here – if you’re not sure, start with my free Narcissistic Abuse Recovery quiz. With your results will come recommended resources for your situation. It’s totally free.

More Free, Helpful Information & Resources to Help 

Related Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

5 Traits Of A Covert Narcissist That You Must Know About

5 Traits Of A Covert Narcissist That You Must Know About

Are you in a relationship with someone who seems to be the shy and quiet type who does not brag about themselves, but who also treats you differently behind closed doors?  Do they, at times, seem to hate themselves? Does this person appear to be an introvert, and despite their apparent lack of empathy, pretend to be overly sensitive and caring?

Are you starting to wonder if you’re crazy because they keep twisting everything you say and do to make it seem like you’re wrong, bad, or otherwise unsavory? Are you feeling confused, lost, or completely alone in the world?

Why do you feel so confused in your relationship? 

It makes total sense that you’re confused here. After all, why would someone who seems so humble and kind be difficult to deal with? They seem so gentle and insecure on the outside, but they somehow make you feel completely miserable. You’re not sure why or how this is happening, but you know that spending time with them makes you feel bad about yourself and your life. Yet, you can’t seem to get away from them somehow. I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that you’re not crazy. But the bad news is that there is a good chance that you’re dealing with a covert narcissist.

What is a covert narcissist?

In this quick video, I offer a brief definition of a covert narcissist.

@coachangieatkinson##covertnarcissist ##covertnarcissism ##covertnarcissim ##narcissismdefined ##understandingnarcissists ##narcissisticabuserecoverycoaching ##queenbeeing♬ original sound – Angie Atkinson

A covert narcissist is also called an introverted narcissist or a vulnerable narcissist. They exhibit a very subtle, but equally toxic form of narcissism that presents with a more introverted personality. This kind of narcissism is referred to as “vulnerable narcissism,” which might be on the narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) spectrum (a cluster B disorder, according to the DSM). It is characterized by vulnerability and sensitivity, two characteristics that manifest with defensiveness and hostility.  Like grandiose narcissism, covert narcissism will also involve grandiose fantasies and thoughts, an overinflated perception of entitlement, and a general sentiment of being better than others. But there are some subtle differences, in addition to the more obvious ones.

What’s different about the covert narcissist?

As explained above, the covert narcissist‘s personality is characterized differently. They are also plagued by constant worry, and they deal with their own inability to function normally in relationships. In addition to ineffective functioning, the covert narcissist actively struggles with unfulfilled expectations (which lead to abuse of their sources of narcissistic supply – also known as the people closest to them). They are can also be extremely vulnerable to the effects of stress, depression, and anxiety.

What are some traits of a covert narcissist? 

1. They Put Themselves Down

Unlike typical narcissists, covert narcissists put themselves down by telling people that they feel they’re not good enough or not smart enough. They may also tell you how terrible their lives are – and in many cases, they will be telling the truth about how terrible they are as a person. Of course, this is at least partially about getting narcissistic supply from you. See, you’ll be inclined to soothe their pain by telling them that they really are good enough and smart enough, and they don’t give themselves enough credit. This is what they want. This is how they manipulate you and reel you in so they can go after other things they want from you.

2. They Are Passive-Aggressive

If they don’t feel they are getting enough of your attention, they will become passive-aggressive in order to get it. For example, they may purposely leave a mess after you ask them kindly to clean up after themselves after dinner. And when you get upset, then they put themselves down because “it’s not their fault they’re a slob,” or whatever excuse they choose to make. This makes you feel sorry for them and backpedal, and maybe even go ahead and clean up the mess yourself. It’s easier than dealing with their drama, and you feel a little sorry for them. This is exactly what they want, of course. It’s all about attention and sympathy – and getting what they want from you.

3. They Are Highly Reserved

Standard, grandiose narcissists are happy to make it known how amazing they are, or how amazing they think they are, anyway. They will brag about anything and everything, no matter how ridiculous. But you will not see this from a covert narcissist. They aren’t known to brag and they never tell anyone that they think they are the greatest, at least not overtly. They act like they’re shy and reserved but if you look closely, they are smug and express their superiority in quiet ways.

4. They May Be Involved In Helping Non-Profits Or Charities

Covert narcissists are sometimes harder to identify because they seem like such good people. As such, they often want to appear to be heroes and they may seem totally altruistic. That is why they will be involved in charities or non-profits, and they’ll pretend to be very passionate and to care deeply about whatever cause they are focusing on. This allows them to seem important and often gives them feelings of superiority over others. Here’s one way they might not brag, but they’ll definitely make it known that they are doing so much for the “less fortunate,” and they never do anything without strings attached.

5. They Express Envy

While grandiose narcissists feel envy, they do not generally express it to others. They worry that it would make them seem week or vulnerable, and they do not want to be perceived this way. But the covert narcissist will make it known that they are jealous and envious of others, and they really are. This is not an act for a covert narcissist. Remember that they are narcissists who want to be better than everyone else. If they see that someone has more than they do, or that someone is “better” than they are in some way, they don’t take it well.

Guide to Identifying Covert Narcissism

So, how can you tell someone is a covert narcissist?  In this video, I’m explaining exactly how to identify covert narcissism.

Get Support in Healing from Covert Narcissistic Abuse

Do you know a covert narcissist? Take our free covert narcissism test and find out, right now. You’ll be directed to healing resources at the end of your test. If you’re already sure you’re dealing with a narcissist, you can start your narcissistic abuse recovery healing here for free.

Helpful Videos for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors

The Female Narcissist And A Few Ways They Manipulate

The Female Narcissist And A Few Ways They Manipulate

Do you know a female narcissist?

Like every narcissist, the female narcissist often has many sneaky ways of manipulating.

For example, a female narcissist will often use the fact that she is female – not only to excuse the abuse but also to justify it. She may even attempt to cause you to appear to be the abuser in this process. Crazy-making would be an understatement in the effects the female narcissist can have on the people around her.

Have you been abused by a narcissistic mother, female partners, or friends?

Maybe you have had the unfortunate experience of having a narcissistic female boss or any other position of power over you. If so, you know the pain and frustration they cause.

What are some of the ways a female narcissist manipulates to get away with being abusive? 

Female narcissists control through manipulation and threats. They will use “care-taking” and even sexual behavior (favors, withholding, etc.) to get what they want from you. They use gaslighting, their physical attributes, guilt and obligation – and many more types of coercion to get people to do what they want. They become abusive in covert ways, and sometimes in more obvious ones.

In this video, I’ll fill you in on what female narcissists are like and how they most commonly manipulate you.

Need help with narcissistic abuse recovery?

More Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

  • Best Books on Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
  • Comprehensive Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Glossary: This is a comprehensive guide to words and phrases (related to narcissism, NPD and related conditions, narcissistic abuse, and narcissistic abuse recovery) that are commonly used in articles, videos, and narcissistic abuse recovery support groups. Defined here as specifically how they relate to narcissism, narcissistic abuse, and narcissistic abuse recovery, these terms have been developed by psychologists, coaches, therapists, and survivors of narcissistic abuse who need a way to understand and overcome the abuse.
  • FAQ Help: Whenever you need help with something related to this site or you want to know how to find something, join a group or otherwise deal with an issue you’re having, visit our new FAQ Help page.
  • Self-Care for Survivors: This is a page that covers everything you need to know about self-care, from how to build your own self-care kit to how to sign up for self-care support, and more.
  • New Resources Page: This is a one-stop overview of narcissism, NPD, and narcissistic abuse recovery, offering a long list of resources that will be helpful for you.
  • Stalking Resources Center: If your narcissist is a stalker, the information and resources on this page will help you get and stay safe.

 

 

How to Support Yourself So You Can Heal Faster After Narcissistic Abuse

How to Support Yourself So You Can Heal Faster After Narcissistic Abuse

When you go through narcissistic abuse, a strange thing can happen: you can sort of lose yourself. You forget to do things for yourself, or you intentionally neglect them in favor of doing things for others. What’s worse is that even as you go through narcissistic abuse recovery, you might still neglect self-care since your life is changing and things get busier with kids and/or work, for example. And regardless of your personal circumstances, if you’re reading this now, chances are that you’ve neglected yourself or at least forgotten to include yourself on your own priority list.

So let me ask you: when’s the last time you put yourself first in life? Have you ever put your own needs first? There may have been a time when you were a child when you did put yourself first – well, that is if you didn’t grow up in a toxic family.

Growing Up in a Toxic Family: How It Affects You

Growing up in a toxic family usually leads to one of a handful of outcomes, one of which is becoming a toxic person or a narcissist. The other extreme is becoming more of a people-pleaser who becomes prone to abuse in adulthood, thanks to feeling like “toxic” seems “normal” for us.

But whether you met the toxic person in your life by birth or by chance, before you knew it, your attention was off yourself and your own needs. And, if you’re like most narcissistic abuse survivors, your attention most likely turned toward what the people around you wanted, demanded, and otherwise asked of you, and the responsibilities take root so firmly that you begin to neglect your own needs.

What’s a people pleaser?

A people pleaser, for the record, is someone who has a codependent personality that causes them to sort of need everyone to like them. They tend to avoid conflict to the point it becomes detrimental to their own lives or needs. This can make you especially vulnerable to narcissists and narcissistic abuse. But the reason for your “pleasing” ways isn’t as simple as you might think – and it most certainly isn’t as easy to stop as you might hope. But there are things you can do to heal from codependency, including learning how to set and enforce firm boundaries. But one often-overlooked way is less about how you interact with other people and more about how you take care of yourself. So let’s talk about that.

Support Yourself in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

As a survivor of narcissistic abuse, chances are that you don’t really know how on what YOU want, and more importantly, what you need in your life – mentally, spiritually, and physically.  Despite what the narcissist would have you believe, life’s not meant to be lived in a state of fear, stress, and chaos. And despite what you might think, your own mental, emotional and physical health are all connected.

How do you finally put yourself first?

So how do you go about relearning (or maybe learning for the first time) how to take care of your own needs first? Have you ever done this before? As I mentioned, if you grew up with a narcissist or otherwise toxic parent in your life, chances are that you may have never known what it felt like to be on your own priority list. But even if you are one of the small percentage of survivors who did not have either a toxic parent or a serious trauma earlier in life, and even if you did happen to have a serious sense of self-esteem before you met the toxic narcissist you’re dealing with (or have dealt with), you’ve still got a lot to remember.

For example, despite how you might be feeling right now, it’s really important that you remember the possibility of enjoying your life. What would that look like for you?

My Philosophy on Overcoming Narcissistic Abuse (And Life in General)

In general, I am all about shifting perspective based on new information. And, I do my best not to judge others, for the most part. I try to remember that if I live in a happy mindset, I  live in a happy world – while if I live in a negative mindset, then I live in a negative world.

While I don’t vibe with the whole “toxic positivity” thing, I do believe that once you’ve got yourself free and safe, you’re going to do better if you make an intentional effort to feel better. BUT, that doesn’t mean you should shove your feelings down. It means you should be aware and awake, and let your feelings happen. Then, work through them and go forward from there. I learned the hard way that shoving your feelings down and trying to stay happy can actually hurt you in the end.

I find that the most important thing I learned in my own narcissistic abuse recovery is to focus only on what I have the power to change – and not what I don’t. This reduces a significant amount of stress across my entire life.

And I like to live by the philosophy that we should enjoy our days as much as possible. I believe that if we can open our minds to the possibility that we might have been mistaken or even plain wrong about any belief or idea we’ve had, even if it’s been in our heads for our entire lives, we are more intelligent and will have better lives than people who stick with rigid thinking and unchanging ideas. Being open to having been wrong about stuff I believe or believed before I learned something new is actually a big part of what led me here to you today – and I’m betting you could say the same about what led you here, to me today.

Self-Care is a Powerful (and Necessary) Part of Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Putting yourself on your own priority list and paying attention to your own needs is going to be a big part of how you can reclaim your life and conduct a slow, but methodical total life makeover that takes you from stressed and overwhelmed or exhausted to free, happy and motivated.

It won’t happen overnight, but with intention and active self-care, you can heal and be even better than you could have imagined. You’ll regain your energy, have time for things that you are passionate about and crave, and watch as you see your efforts not only contribute to your own life betterment but for your kids and/or anyone else you most care about. There’s just one thing I ask of you: You need to give it your all. That means to pick and choose the ideas and thoughts shared by myself and other narcissistic abuse recovery coaches, not to mention your fellow narcissistic abuse survivors, to implement in your own recovery.

Not everything that works for me will always work for you, so don’t beat yourself up if you find that one thing works but not another. But in any case, follow through on the ideas and healing techniques you do try, and give it time.

Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you’re not going to go to sleep tonight and wake up with a totally different life. But if you stick to it and stick with your own personal plan for successful narcissistic abuse recovery, you’re going to see true results that nurture your spirit and help you get healthy on all levels.

Self-Care Guide for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors

Don’t worry about being perfect, but get yourself on some kind of self-care schedule – just a way of reprioritizing your day and night so that there’s time for what matters most – you! You may go through some initial emotions that feel like pushback against this idea, but just let them come and go as you work toward healing. One last tip for today: Don’t forget that things like guilt and avoidance are simply your mind’s way of resisting change. Change can be scary and it can feel really difficult. But if you think logically about it, you know that self-care is not an indulgence – it’s a necessity, especially if you’re working on narcissistic abuse recovery.

Be sure to check out our comprehensive self-care guide for narcissistic abuse survivors. And remember that with self-care, consistency is key, so it is really important that you find a path that helps you develop a routine that works best for you. You don’t need to feel intimidated by the process, because if you’re like me and most other survivors, that might mean you just freeze – or even give up completely.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support & Resources

If you feel you need additional help and support in your narcissistic abuse recovery, look for a trauma-informed professional who is trained in helping people who are dealing with overcoming narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. Depending on your particular situation, you might benefit from Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching, or you might do better with a therapist. You have to decide what to do from here – if you’re not sure, start with my free Narcissistic Abuse Recovery quiz. With your results will come recommended resources for your situation. It’s totally free.

More Free, Helpful Information & Resources to Help 

Related Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Overcoming Trauma Associated with Narcissistic Abuse

Overcoming Trauma Associated with Narcissistic Abuse

If you’ve experienced narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship, you have likely experienced significant and ongoing trauma. And while it might feel like no one in your life gets what you’ve been through, you’re far from alone. In fact, according to the National Council For Behavioral Health, approximately 70% of Americans (over the age of 18) have experienced trauma in their lifetime. That is well over 200 million people – and that’s not even considering the fact that so many lives have been permanently altered thanks to the pandemic.

What is narcissistic abuse?

The term “narcissistic abuse” is thrown around a lot these days. While not all abuse technically involves narcissists,  a narcissist is involved more often than you might think. Malignant narcissists have a seriously impaired ability to experience emotional and compassionate empathy, and they are known to act from that perspective.

In layman’s terms, that means that, essentially, they don’t care how you or anyone else feels, and you can tell because of the way they treat the people around them.

Narcissistic abuse involves subtle manipulation, pervasive control tactics, gaslighting, and emotional and psychological abuse.  In most cases, narcissistic abusers might be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder – if they actually go to a psychologist for diagnosis, but this rarely happens.

Due to the nature of this personality disorder, most narcissists don’t feel that there’s anything wrong with them, and they are likely to look outward at other people if there are problems in their lives. They may be overtly narcissistic, or they may be more of a covert narcissist. In either case, anyone in a close relationship with one of these toxic people will be used as a form of narcissistic supply and not treated like an actual person. Sadly, even the most intelligent and educated people can be manipulated and abused by a narcissist.

What is a toxic relationship?

A toxic relationship is similar to a dysfunctional relationship, but it is in many ways far less repairable. While therapy and ongoing effort can repair many dysfunctional relationships, toxic relationships are physically and/or psychologically unsafe. They can even be life-threatening for one or both partners involved. A toxic relationship involves more negativity than positivity, and it doesn’t emotionally support one or both of the people involved. When narcissistic abuse is part of a toxic relationship, only the narcissist’s needs are addressed and the victim is actively manipulated and abused in order to facilitate this.

Toxic relationships will involve resentment, contempt, communication problems, and varying forms of physical, emotional, and psychological abuse. In the most extreme cases, you may need medical help and intense therapy to begin recovery. I always suggest seeing your doctor and getting checked out on a regular basis anyway, and I think it is an important first step in narcissistic abuse recovery. This way, you’ll know for sure what you’ve got to deal with, and you can get your doctor’s advice on taking the next steps in your personal journey toward recovery.

But in most cases, you can manage with some support and intentional healing. In nearly all cases, people who are victims of narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships will experience some level of ongoing trauma and will struggle with the after-effects long after the relationship ends. In any case, intentionally working toward narcissistic abuse recovery can make a significant difference in both the length of your recovery as well as the quality of your life during and afterward.

What is trauma? 

Trauma is defined by the American Psychological Association (APA) as: “The emotional response someone has to an extremely negative event.” The effects of trauma can vary from person to person. Some people may be minimally affected by trauma. Others may be debilitated by the effects. In narcissistic abuse, ongoing trauma related to gaslighting and other forms of manipulation and psychological abuse can lead to trauma bonding.

In addition to prolonged psychological abuse, physical violence, and other forms of abuse, trauma events include things like a car accident, a natural disaster such as a tornado or hurricane, the death of a loved one, serious illnesses, or divorce. In some cases, minor trauma can even occur as the result of seemingly positive changes, such as moving, getting married, or changing jobs.

Many narcissistic abuse survivors also experience trauma bonding with their abusers. This video offers some additional insight into trauma bonding and how it affects you during and after narcissistic abuse.

Emotional And Psychological Trauma as a Side-Effect of Narcissistic Abuse

What happens when you survive a traumatic event? 

During each trauma you experience in your toxic relationship, your body goes into defense mode, creating the stress response which results in a variety of symptoms, both physical and mental. You will experience your emotions more intensely and likely behave differently as a result of the trauma. The body’s stress response includes physical symptoms such as a spike in blood pressure, an increase in sweating and heart rate, as well as a loss of appetite.

How does your body respond to a traumatic event?

During episodes of narcissistic abuse, whether they’re psychological or physical, your body will have a stress response. This will affect your thoughts, your moods, and your emotions, but also your physical health.  Your body perceives what you’re dealing with as a physical threat, whether or not you’re in physical danger. This is why so many survivors find themselves living in fight or flight mode (or even experience an ongoing freeze response). The flight or fight response causes your body to produce chemicals that prepare your body for an emergency. As you might imagine, this can profoundly affect you.

The symptoms involved can lead to a variety of complications, including the following.

  • You get anxious.
  • You lose your appetite.
  • You suffer from other stomach and digestive issues.
  • You sweat more.
  • You breathe faster (respiratory rate increases).
  • Your heart beats faster.
  • Your blood pressure goes up to a dangerous level.

There has been some real hope found in Polyvagal Theory for healing the physical response to ongoing trauma.

How does your mind respond to the trauma associated with narcissistic abuse?

Following each traumatic event you go through during narcissistic abuse, you will deal with uncomfortable and potentially devastating emotional and psychological effects. For example, it might mean you deal with experience denial and/or shock. So many survivors of narcissistic abuse tell me that they do not even realize that they are being abused until they feel too stuck to leave – or until they are discarded and trying to figure out what happened.

In any case, you might find yourself living in the stress response for days or weeks before going through a series of emotions that could lead to healing. Note: while some level of relief may occur for those who are still dealing with narcissistic abuse, it is very difficult to fully heal unless you free yourself of the ongoing abuse. In most cases, that means you’ll need to go no contact with your abuser (or low contact, if you have children together).

When you stick around and continue to tolerate narcissistic abuse, you’re doing more than making your life harder. The ongoing abuse makes it nearly impossible to heal, and this can result in a serious impact on your overall health and wellbeing.

Symptoms of emotional and psychological trauma include the following. 

  • You’ll feel shocked (at least initially) by the abuse.
  • You’ll deny that it’s even happening, or you’ll doubt that it did.
  • You’ll find yourself feeling foggy and sometimes confused, and you won’t be able to concentrate.
  • You’ll be irritable and you might feel angry a lot.
  • You will deal with mood swings that might feel out of control.
  • You’ll be anxious and you might feel scared or on edge all the time.
  • You’ll often feel guilty, and you’ll blame yourself for everything that goes wrong (in your relationship and otherwise).
  • You’ll suffer from shame, whether it’s related to the fact that you’re tolerating abuse, or it’s related to the self-image the abuser has created for you.
  • You’ll self-isolate and withdraw from your friends and extended family, and this will leave you feeling more alone than ever.
  • You’ll find yourself feeling hopeless and you’ll always have an underlying sense of sadness.
  • Eventually, you’ll go numb, and you’ll feel like you’re not even living, but just “getting through the days.”
  • You might find yourself just sort of “existing,” and you might neglect your own physical needs, your responsibilities, and even, at least on some levels, your kids or other people you care for.

These responses are the result of evolution – your body has evolved to respond this way to effectively cope with an emergency, whether it’s to stand and fight or to run away as fast as humanly possible. Unfortunately, our bodies and brains weren’t designed to deal with ongoing narcissistic abuse, so these issues can become debilitating for victims.

What are the long-term effects of ongoing trauma related to narcissistic abuse? 

PTSD & C-PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder often diagnosed in soldiers, as well as in survivors of abuse, in which a person has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. Post-traumatic stress disorder can leave people feeling anxious long after they experience trauma, whether it results in a physical injury or not. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance of anything to do with the trauma, panic attacks, poor concentration, sleep issues, depression, anger, and substance abuse.

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is a serious mental health condition affecting a large percentage of victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse. This disorder can take years to treat and many professionals aren’t familiar with its symptoms or misdiagnose it. They may even victim-blame if they aren’t familiar with the subtle tricks of a narcissist. Unfortunately, it can be a lifelong condition, but it can be managed with mindfulness and behavior modification, among other therapies and modalities.

Depression

Depression is a very common issue for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse, manifesting in a persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities – both daily “chores” or responsibilities as well as things you normally really enjoy doing. Depression significantly affects your daily life in ways that not everyone understands – and it can also affect your physical health in a number of ways. When we’re talking about depression, we don’t mean those moments where you occasionally feel sad or a little down – we’re talking about a lasting experience of intense negative emotions such as hopelessness, anxiety, helplessness, and negativity.

Not only can these issues affect your health as noted, but both the physical and mental effects of trauma may lead you to practice bad habits that negatively contribute to an overall lack of wellbeing.

How do you recover from trauma related to narcissistic abuse? 

If you’re ready to start healing from the abuse you’ve experienced, you’ve come to the right place. Now that you’ve recognized that you’ve dealt with narcissistic abuse, you’re ready to start learning how to deal with and heal from the ongoing trauma you experienced during your toxic relationship.

Start With Self Care

Self care is always important, and when you’re trying to heal from significant trauma, it is even more important than ever. Especially during the first days and weeks of recovery, you might find yourself neglecting your self-care. You might also beat yourself up too much, and this is the time when self-compassion must be a big part of your plan. So be kind to yourself – you’ve had enough abuse from the narcissist. Don’t continue it on their behalf.

Instead, be gentle with yourself and take the extra time you need to get a healthy diet, hydrate, rest, and nourish your soul and emotions. Journal, exercise, or do any favorite activity that makes you feel good. All of these things can help you restore your sense of well-being and wholeness in the moment and will help your overall state of mind anytime.

Discover the Right Resources for Your Recovery

Start by finding out what kinds of narcissistic abuse recovery resources are available to you, and which ones will best fit your personal needs and your budget. Understanding your needs and which of the available options is best for you going to be a critical step in moving past emotional or psychological trauma you’ve death with through narcissistic abuse. Talk to family, friends, or trusted people in your life who may understand what you’ve experienced, or reach out to a narcissistic abuse recovery support group.

If you need to report an event to a professional or law enforcement. do so. The same if you may need to see a doctor. Do your best to make informed choices here and do what is best for you and your health and wellbeing.

Understand the Effects of Narcissistic Abuse-Related Trauma

Knowledge is power when it comes to narcissistic abuse recovery. Not only will understanding what happens mentally and physically during and after the abuse give you insight into your experiences, but it can also help you learn how to help yourself heal.

Plus, if you’re anything like me, looking at the situation from the perspective of a “scientist,” as in logically and not emotionally, can help you find the catalyst you need to get out of a toxic relationship and to heal your whole life on a more profound scale. This is especially helpful for diverting your most extreme emotions if you can logically understand that what you have experienced isn’t your fault – and then to go deeper and look at how your own psychology as well as the narcissist’s psychology almost doomed you to end up in a toxic relationship in the first place.

With this kind of self-awareness, you can intentionally redesign yourself. And while you definitely cannot become the same person you once were after you’ve experienced narcissistic abuse, you can absolutely become a better, more enlightened, and intentionally-created version. I like to think this is the one silver lining to narcissistic abuse recovery. Clearly, we’d all rather avoid having the narcissistic abuse experience in our lives – but since it is so soul-crushing and psychologically damaging that it breaks us down to the point that we feel like a shell of a person, we have to rebuild ourselves anyway.

You can look at this as a horrible injustice, and you’d be right. But the hidden bit of light here is that you can literally rebuild yourself to become the person you really, truly want to be – the person maybe you should have been all along. And this leads me to my next point.

Overcoming the Effects of Narcissistic Abuse-Related Trauma

Depending on what level of trauma you experienced during narcissistic abuse, the process for dealing with it varies. In cases of shorter relationships and those that aren’t as significant (such as a co-worker of a few months, versus a 20-year marriage, for example), you might feel better with time. But most of us will need to go through a whole process that will involve an extended period of self-reflection, research, learning, coping, grieving, and ultimately, and personal evolution.

After you’ve worked through the painful parts of the narcissistic abuse recovery process, the silver lining is fully in place, and you’re ready to begin discovering who you are, what you want, and what your life will look like from here on out.  (THIS is the good part!)

It’s around this time that you’ll begin to feel a sort of shift in your narcissistic abuse recovery, where things will start to become clearer than ever. It’s as though you’re nearing the end of a lifelong existential crisis – and you can really begin to feel yourself evolving into a whole new level of consciousness – and that can be a beautiful thing.

Get Help With Healing From Narcissistic Abuse Related Trauma

Overcoming emotional and physical trauma associated with narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships can be a long, difficult process. It takes digging deep and doing the work each day to move past the all-encompassing and life-altering level of trauma brought on by the ongoing abuse.

Please remember that you’re are worth it and that you deserve to be happy and healthy. And, whether we like it or not, when we’ve experienced narcissistic abuse and the trauma related to it, our health, happiness, and wellbeing literally depend on doing this work. Take the time to heal, empower yourself, and move forward from psychological and emotional trauma.

Remember that in every stage of trauma recovery, getting support is going to be critical. Whatever path you choose, the level to which you share your experiences with people in your life is a personal decision. Don’t keep things to yourself, but understand who is going to be a “safe” person with whom you can safely discuss the abuse and trauma you’ve experienced.

Remember that not everyone has experienced what you have, so they may not fully understand the depth of it. Trying to explain the psychological abuse narcissists inflict on you can feel impossible when you’re talking to someone who just doesn’t “get it,” if you understand what I mean.

You might even want to hire a narcissistic abuse recovery coach to help you work through your recovery –  or even just to have someone who will understand and help you process what you’ve been through.

Resources for Healing After Trauma Caused By Narcissistic Abuse

Professional Help for Managing Trauma and Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

If you are experiencing symptoms that are affecting your day-to-day life, it is important to get professional if needed. There is no shame in working with experts to improve your overall health and wellbeing. Consider talking to experts if you experience the following symptoms.

  • Ongoing distress, anxiety, sadness, etc for multiple weeks.
  • Feeling like you’re stuck or you have an inability to function in your life.
  • Feeling hopeless all the time.
  • Your work or school is affected.
  • Your daily life and activities have been affected.
  • You are using drugs or alcohol to cope.

It never hurts to start by contacting your family doctor or mental health professionals. Also, consider talking to a clergy member about a referral if you go to church. They may know a professional in your community that you can work with. You can also check out the narcissistic abuse recovery support resources here.

Self-Assessments for Managing Trauma and Narcissistic Abuse Recovery 

More Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

  • Best Books on Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
  • Comprehensive Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Glossary: This is a comprehensive guide to words and phrases (related to narcissism, NPD and related conditions, narcissistic abuse, and narcissistic abuse recovery) that are commonly used in articles, videos, and narcissistic abuse recovery support groups. Defined here as specifically how they relate to narcissism, narcissistic abuse, and narcissistic abuse recovery, these terms have been developed by psychologists, coaches, therapists, and survivors of narcissistic abuse who need a way to understand and overcome the abuse.
  • FAQ Help: Whenever you need help with something related to this site or you want to know how to find something, join a group or otherwise deal with an issue you’re having, visit our new FAQ Help page.
  • Self-Care for Survivors: This is a page that covers everything you need to know about self-care, from how to build your own self-care kit to how to sign up for self-care support, and more.
  • New Resources Page: This is a one-stop overview of narcissism, NPD, and narcissistic abuse recovery, offering a long list of resources that will be helpful for you.
  • Stalking Resources Center: If your narcissist is a stalker, the information and resources on this page will help you get and stay safe.
  • Visit Our Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Resources Page

*Disclaimer: This article is for informational and educational purposes only.  It’s very important to always check with your doctor before taking any action that could affect your physical or mental health.  

 

Pin It on Pinterest