What is a Hoover and why do the narcissists do this? Will they ever stop and what can you do about it to keep yourself away from the narcissist and heal trauma bonds? The Hoover is basically the narcissists attempt to suck you back in, to make you believe they have changed or to simply provoke you in order to gain supply. The majority of narcissistic abuse survivors have experienced a Hoover in some form or another. Some attempts at sucking you back in may be subtle and covert while others may be negative attempts to get your attention focused back onto the narcissist. Some narcissists claim they have changed and tell you they will make things better or even seek therapy for their issues. Understanding the truth about narcissism can help you make decisions based on knowledge rather than the illusions the narcissist is trying to create to entice you back. The narcissist does not like to let go of what they feel is theirs, mainly the supply they take from you. In the following video I talk about types of Hoovers, what the Hoovers may really mean and ways to protect yourself.
Narcissistic Abuse Recovery by QueenBeeing.com offers free video coaching each week on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays along with videos and help on recovery from toxic relationships. Featuring certified life coach Lise Colucci and supported by QueenBeeing founder and certified life coach Angie Atkinson.
Lise Colucci is a certified life coach, as well as a certified narcissistic abuse recovery coach. She is a long-time admin and mentor for the SPAN Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Group, actively helping survivors of narcissistic abuse in the expansive community to learn and heal. Lise is passionate about providing coaching services that help her clients feel heard and validated as she guides them along their healing journey. For information on coaching, group coaching or to contact Lise check out the links below.
Lise Colucci is an intuitive healer and certified life coach, as well as a certified narcissistic abuse recovery coach. She is a long-time admin and mentor for the SPAN Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Group, actively helping survivors of narcissistic abuse in the expansive community to learn and heal.
If you’ve ever been in a toxic relationship with a narcissist, you might have found yourself avoiding social situations and feeling a lot of anxiety when you’re forced to go out into the world. And if you consider yourself an empath, this could be magnified by your ability to sort of “feel” everyone around you. I know that’s been the case for me in the past. Whether you could be diagnosed with social anxiety disorder (SAD) or you just struggle with social situations, it could be a result of your toxic relationship.
Also called “social phobia,” social anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that causes you to have an extreme, unrelenting fear of being watched and especially judged by people, including not only strangers but also people you know. This crippling fear can affect your ability to function in the world – whether at work, school, or any of your other daily activities. Many sufferers of SAD report that it is difficult for them to make and keep friends.
What does SAD have to do with narcissistic abuse recovery?
Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships can cause you to feel overwhelmed and isolated on their own, but they also cause what psychologists call a “toxic internal environment” that can lead to stress, depression, anxiety, and a wide variety of other physical health problems. Social anxiety can be a side-effect of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) as well – and many survivors of narcissistic abuse suffer from C-PTSD.
Consider this: a 12.2-year study that launched in 1985 and followed more than 10,000 people found that people who reported being in unhealthy or negative relationships were far more likely to develop heart problems, including a fatal heart attack or cardiac event, than study participants who had healthier, less negative relationships.
And on a more practical level, since narcissists are so likely to isolate and control us in these relationships, we become hypervigilant of their moods and behaviors and this can leave us not only exhausted emotionally but also unwilling or unable to deal with other people during the relationship. This could be because we are too overwhelmed by the narcissist’s need for attention and supply or because we grow tired of trying to behave “correctly” in public (so that the narcissist doesn’t further abuse us when we get home). It could also be for a number of other reasons (or a combination of reasons).
What are the symptoms of social anxiety disorder (SAD)?
According to NIMH, the symptoms of social anxiety disorder include:
Blush, sweat, tremble, feel a rapid heart rate, or feel their “mind going blank”
Feel nauseous or sick to their stomach
Show a rigid body posture, make little eye contact, or speak with an overly soft voice
Find it scary and difficult to be with other people, especially those they don’t already know, and have a hard time talking to them even though they wish they could
Be very self-conscious in front of other people and feel embarrassed and awkward
Be very afraid that other people will judge them
Stay away from places where there are other people
What does social anxiety disorder (SAD) feel like?
One of the worst aspects of suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder is the feeling that you are entirely isolated and alone in the world – even (and sometimes especially) if you’re in a room full of people. It can feel as if you are cut off from the world and your inner self. Worse, it feels like you have no control over the bad feelings and that you’re trapped forever in feeling anxious and alone.
It may be helpful to hear that even if you’re feeling alone, there are some symptoms that therapists have noted are the hallmarks of SAD and just about everyone suffers from them.
The feeling that no one understands you.
When you’re in the grip of social anxiety, it feels like you are cut off from everyone and that no one can understand what it feels like inside your head, not even your therapist or your best friend.
You’re trapped forever in anxiety
SAD transcends time and space. It feels as though you’re stuck in a cycle of perpetual anxiety, even though part of you knows that SAD doesn’t define you and that no matter how severe your current flare-up is, it will pass. Anxiety tells you that you are stuck and can’t move out of the trap you’re in, even if your rational mind understands it’s not like that.
You feel like a fish out of water.
Chronic anxiety feeds on negative messages that tell you over and over that you don’t belong, you don’t fit in, that there’s something wrong with you. The deeper you get into this negative mindset, the more isolated and alienated you feel, and you withdraw from friends and family. A vicious cycle sets in to keep you apart and deepen the feeling of alienation.
A negative mindset takes over
When you’re suffering from anxiety, you tend to look at the world through very gray-colored glasses. Your brain’s default setting becomes irrational and negative. You can misinterpret things people say or do, even kindly-meant advice from your therapist or counselor.
That can spill over into feeling like a failure. You can fall into a spiral of self-criticism and self-loathing, raking over perceived mistakes and failures from the past.
Social anxiety can make you feel as though you have a layer of psychological skin missing. You feel self-conscious like everyone is looking at you and judging you. You worry over every little detail of your behavior, your clothes, what you say and what you do.
The self-loathing and stress that comes with chronic social anxiety can make it virtually impossible to live in the moment and get on with enjoying life.
Note: Because this issue is so prevalent for narcissistic abuse survivors, I’m working on a new course on the subject over at Life Makeover Academy. I’m currently searching for people to beta-test the course. While it’s normally a $99 course, I’m offering it to people who are willing to beta-test it for half-price. If you are interested in testing the course and sharing your thoughts with me, you can click here to get lifetime access to the course (and all future updates/additional material) for just $49. Please note: the beta testing period will close at the end of July, when the course will be ready to roll out at full price, so get in there now if you are interested.
You might also enjoy this video I made on the topic.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach 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 relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in 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. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.
After my husband was served, but before he went into default, we both received an Order to Attend a Parenting Class. The order said that we were to both attend the parenting class in person. My difficulty was that I have such severe anxiety that I couldn’t go to stores by myself – much less a room full of others in my same position (but who could probably envision this actually working in their own situation).
And why do I have to take a class when he isn’t even doing his part?
I took my chances and looked up an approved online parenting class on the list given to me by the courthouse.
While I was taking the class, I was trying to imagine what it would be like in those situations with my covert narcissist. After watching the videos and taking the tests, I realized that while I knew the answers, I did not foresee any of that working out in my life.
After the test was taken, I had my first case management hearing where I was informed that I needed the judge’s permission before I could file it. So I went downstairs and filed a Motion to Have Online Parenting Class Accepted. I chose to ask for forgiveness instead of permission and it worked out for me.
Looking on the clerk’s website and seeing that the judge approved it took a huge weight off my chest. I was well on my way to a DIY divorce. Finally!
Here it is on Sunday night, and I’m a little resentful because there was a way to prevent this much work in a divorce. Let’s not forget that while I am playing my own attorney, I am also raising my kids, volunteering at their school, writing my blog, and I have a third shift job.
I am supporting my children (who I had with my narcissist) fully on my own. Plus, I am also helping my daughter, granddaughter, and grandson – who is only a week old.
If he had even an ounce of empathy, he would do his part. He would provide what I have asked for without such a fight and knowing how he destroyed my life over the 13 years I’ve known him with his constant drug use – well, you would think he would want to do the right thing. He just thinks I deserve it. I gave him plenty of time to act like a human.
Okay, lesson learned.
A step I did not do while filing for divorce is the discovery phase.* Since he was not involved and did not give his information I did not think to subpoena his information and the general magistrate did not say I should. I even have an attorney that I have worked with through all of this and she never said I should do one. I suggest filing a subpoena for production of documents from a non-party whether you think your spouse will cooperate or not. This is not in your divorce packet.
*Editor’s Note: Discovery, in the law of common law jurisdictions, is a pre-trial procedure in a lawsuit in which each party, through the law of civil procedure, can obtain evidence from the other party or parties by means of discovery devices such as a request for answers to interrogatories, request for production of documents, request for admissions and depositions. Discovery can be obtained from non-parties using subpoenas. When a discovery request is objected to, the requesting party may seek the assistance of the court by filing a motion to compel discovery.
I really counted on him to do the right thing. I asked him to send me his check stubs every payday. Had he done that, I would have been able to show the judge and my divorce would be over because I would not have worried so much about the past marital debt in my name. I would have had the child support set and the judge would have determined spousal support and I would be well on my way to healing. We would have no more dealings and no reason to talk. We still have no reason to talk but it is keeping him in my head.
The lesson here? The discovery phase should be done after filing. Do not count on your narcissist to do the right thing.
Tomorrow, I will be going to the courthouse and filing my first subpoena. Luckily our courthouse has an area that you can print the forms for a small fee. I will be at the courthouse when they open at 8:30 am and then have to print, fill them out, and file them by 9:10 am to get home and take the kids to school. With legal proceedings, there is a time limit and it is important to get everything done on time.
When you go to the case management hearing, mine was handled by the general magistrate, they will go over the list of papers you need to have. Bring in the copies of all of your papers that you have on hand from filing the dissolution of marriage and any mail you have received from the courthouse along the way. The checklist will help you get everything in order for your final hearing.
After you make sure that all paperwork is in order and you have copies of all financial records such as the debt owed in your name, the income of both parties, assets, and life insurance policies make copies and add it – because you will need it for the final hearing.
When you have everything in order you will call the judge’s assistant and set a date for the final hearing. They will usually give you a few and you pick the one that best fits you. If your spouse has an attorney they will try to set the date but remember you are an acting attorney so if the dates they choose don’t fit yours, don’t be afraid to tell them so.
Lessons I have learned through making mistakes. During my case management hearings, we never went over the financial obligations. Knowing what I know now if there are bills from the marriage that are in your name that you want your spouse to help pay, you need to provide copies to the court. If the bills are in your spouse’s name it is their responsibility to provide copies to the court. My largest bill that I am not willing to take on all on my own is in my name and is affecting my credit but with no support at this time I can only afford the main bills and I am not willing to take this marital debt on myself.
Unfortunately, I did not learn that lesson until the final hearing that turned out not to be the final. I will be contacting my credit card company to get a printout of my statement from January 2017 until we separated in November. The court can require him to supply money to pay for this. Something that you also need to be aware of is even though the court can order your spouse to pay past bills, child support, and spousal support it does not mean that they will but it will be on record and if your spouse ever comes into money on the books, you will get paid.
Getting records with no spouse involvement.
A subpoena duces tecum is a subpoena for production of evidence. I received indigent status, so I will be filing this next week to have his employers provide his income to me. In all of the stress of filing it on my own and dealing with the DVI at the same time, it is amazing how much I have forgotten legally.
I wish I had thought to subpoena them before the hearing. I hoped because he was in default this would not be necessary but since it seems to be one of the factors holding me back from spousal support I will go that route.
My husband worked for cash for many years because he could not hold a real job and hide money for his drug use – but he was supposed to be paying support on 3 of his older children. Over the 10 years we were married, he mostly worked landscaping for cash jobs and his child support built up. The government took our taxes every year and gave it to his exes. I am thankful this year will be different.
In the next part of my series, we will be discussing the parenting class.
When you make the decision to file for divorce on your own, you will realize quickly that there are a lot of things that have to be done. Once the court has the paperwork, your next step is to get your spouse served. Some states have process servers and some states just have law enforcement serve them. But the good news is that it is not something you will have to do. I worked with a process server and my husband was served within hours of me filing the paperwork because I knew that he was leaving the state and things would be a lot harder as well as expensive with him so far away.
He did call me after he was served and assured me I would get my answer. Of course, I am still waiting. There is a time limit for your spouse to answer the petition and it is usually 20 days or less, but if they miss that deadline, then your case will go into default and you will more than likely get what you’ve asked for. It does take a little longer to do it all on your own and without the other party participating but the savings and lack of contact make it worth it.
There will be a case management hearing; I had two, so that the court can make sure that you have all of your paperwork in its entirety and that you have done everything you needed to do. If your spouse is involved in the divorce they will be there also.
If you can both agree on the terms of the divorce, it goes a little quicker. But if not, just do your best to relax and know that it will come to an end sooner than later.For example, I filed for divorce January 10 and my final hearing was supposed to be August 24th (this didn’t go as planned, so the new final hearing October 8, 2018). It has been a long wait but I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
We were both court-ordered to take a parenting class in order for the divorce to go through. Some states make it mandatory and some don’t. Most states want you to take the class in person but if there is some reason you can not attend an in-person class you can file a motion with the courthouse and ask the judge to approve you taking the online class but you will have to have a reason other than you do not want to. Because of my anxiety and C-PTSD, being in a room full of strangers while I was still stuck with the verbal and mental abuse was not an option. I actually took the class first and asked for permission later. Luckily my judge was understanding and it was accepted.
Now to start the waiting game. There will be a lot of that. My county has a web page for the clerk’s office that you can look at to see the activity on your case. Every page you filed is on there and you can keep an eye on it to see if your spouse has done their part.
Divorce is stressful any way you go about it. Know that you are a survivor and this is just another bump in the road. You have overcome so much more. Good luck SPANily! I look forward to hearing about your experiences along the way. You never know who your experience can help.
Check out our new sister site, Divorce Your Narcissist for more resources and information on divorcing your narcissist.