How to Heal from a Toxic Relationship

Written by Angela Atkinson

“Like arsenic, toxic people will slowly kill you. They kill your positive spirit and play with your mind and emotions. The only cure is to let them go.” ~Dennisse Lisseth

In This Article

Are you ready to begin recovering from a toxic relationship? 

Healing from a toxic relationship seems like an impossible goal for many survivors of narcissistic abuse, and this is true for a number of reasons.

This healing guide offers solutions and resources to help you learn how to heal from a toxic relationship and why you were there in the first place.

Plus, you’ll learn how you can level up your life after a toxic relationship and begin to evolve into the person you’ve always wanted to be.

A Comprehensive Guide to Healing After Narcissistic Abuse in a Toxic Relationship

Before we begin to cover how to heal from a toxic relationship, please let me remind you that you are not alone. As a survivor of narcissistic abuse and a certified life coach myself, I have helped literally thousands of survivors of toxic relationships to discover, understand and overcome them. You can do this too.

Do I need to leave a toxic relationship to heal?

This won’t be a popular answer, but it’s the truth. Ideally, to heal, you need to separate yourself from the toxic person. I know it’s scary and emotionally draining to even think about it, so start with practical planning – especially if going no contact with this person means you are changing your living situation (as in, if it’s your partner or spouse or someone else you live with). Think about how you’ll manage financially, where you’ll go and who might help to support you in some way. Keep your emotions at bay during planning, and don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you. Getting out of the relationship is one of the most important things you can do to begin to heal. You can download my free PLAN (Preparing to Leave a Narcissist) resources right here. If you haven’t left yet, please read this article to get some encouragement and to get your head in the right place. 

Why is it so hard to leave a toxic relationship?

I know it’s not easy. There are several reasons you’re struggling, the most obvious of which is trauma bonding with your abuser.

Plus, after the months or years of abuse you’ve suffered, your self-esteem has taken a beating.

Will the narcissist come back to me after the toxic relationship?

You might also wonder if the narcissist misses you. Sadly, in most cases, the narcissist does attempt to reconcile at least once.

We call this “hoovering” because they do it when they want to suck you back into the toxic relationship.

It can be hard to resist, but you have to do it if you’re going to get and stay happy and safe.

The narcissist won’t return in a few cases, but it’s rare. They may come back anywhere from a few hours to decades later.

What are the first steps to healing from the toxic relationship once it has ended?

All of this is going to be important if you’re going to resist the hoovering that will inevitably follow the end of a toxic relationship.

How do I deal with the narcissist spreading rumors and lies about me?

Why me? I am smart and capable, but for some reason, I still fell for the narcissist. What did I do to deserve a toxic relationship?

You didn’t deserve it. Know that. And you’re not alone – some of the most intelligent, successful and attractive people I’ve met have fallen victim to narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships. It happens to the best of us.

Now that I’ve left the toxic relationship, I cannot seem to function like a normal person. How do I get through this?

One breath at a time. This is one of the hardest parts of this process.

  • Healing seems so far away now that you can barely even imagine what that might look like.
  • This is a tender and emotional time, so the first thing a lot of survivors do is to self-isolate. That’s okay at first. 
  • Take some time to mourn the relationship if you need it.
  • Remember that this is a process and that healing won’t happen overnight.
  • Be patient with yourself; if you need to take a little time, go ahead and do it.
  • If you need time with friends, arrange that too. You might be dealing with depression – visit this page to get help with depression.
  • Get free support from one of our online narcissistic abuse recovery support groups. 

I feel like I want to die. How do I deal with feeling suicidal after a toxic relationship?

Self-isolation and mourning the relationship can be okay for a short time unless you’re in such a state that you might be a danger to yourself.

Please note: I am not a doctor, and I do not personally know your story. I cannot offer any medical or health advice, so if you doubt that you will be safe, you MUST contact your doctor or go immediately to the nearest emergency room. 

How do I stop hurting and start healing after a toxic relationship?

I know your heart hurts. And you feel lost, confused, angry, and even rejected (and this is true even when YOU are the one to end the relationship).

My ex has already moved on to a new relationship. It’s killing me! How do I deal with this?

How do I deal with feeling so much anger after the toxic relationship ends?

Anger, in some cases, can help propel you forward – especially when you still haven’t left the relationship yet.

But at some point, it can become toxic for you – and that’s when you need to let it go.

Read this article to determine whether your anger is helpful or harmful and learn how to let go of it when it’s time. 

Being single feels weird to me, but I am not ready for a new relationship yet. What should I do?

I say you start here by learning to embrace the single life. There are SO many good reasons to love being single.

Whatever you do, avoid jumping into a new relationship too quickly. That will set you up for a painful failure and increases the risk of getting into another toxic relationship.

Take your time and heal first – there is no reason to get stuck with another narcissist.

And honestly, you are less likely to be an ideal partner if you get into a new relationship too soon – you may sabotage it without even realizing it.

I feel like I’m walking around in some kind of fog. What is this, and how can I deal with it?

Why do I feel so confused all the time?

Like brain fog, feeling confused or unable to think straight can be normal for survivors of toxic relationships. Here are some reasons you might feel so confused all the time as you’re trying to heal from a toxic relationship. 

I can’t leave the house anymore. I don’t want to get out of bed. How do I stop being lazy and start wanting to live again?

You’re not alone. Many survivors of narcissistic abuse feel like this when they leave a toxic relationship (and often, while they’re still in it!).

My whole life seems to be a cluttered mess! Is this related to my toxic relationship?

I feel like I’ve lost myself. How do I figure out who I am after a toxic relationship?

You might be surprised to know that nearly every survivor has some kind of existential crisis during recovery from a toxic relationship.

How do I let go of the shame I feel after this toxic relationship?

Feeling shame is normal for survivors of toxic relationships, but it shouldn’t be acceptable. YOU aren’t the one who should feel shameful here.

The narcissist may have berated, belittled, and humiliated you regularly, and you can bet they feel NO remorse.

Even though you’re not perfect, and you likely recognize and take credit for your part in the relationship, you were not the abuser, and you don’t need to feel any shame for what you’ve experienced.

Take the time you need to recognize this completely to release the shame and be proud of yourself for doing the hard work of healing.

This resource will help you start to let go of the shame, fear, and misery so you can reclaim your power and start living again.

How do I start living again once I get past the initial shock after the relationship ends?

First, you’ve got to understand that big secret of narcissistic abuse recovery.

Realize that you might begin to feel lonely around now, and this can be a dangerous time for you if the narcissist is trying to get you back. It’s especially important that you get involved with healthy people – at least on some level – and that you also understand that it’s okay to want to be alone sometimes.

Try using my life reset button to start feeling alive again. Sometimes, if you sort of “un**** yourself, you can just start living again!

How will I know when I’ve started to heal after a toxic relationship?

I understand that it can be confusing, and you should probably know that it won’t be an overnight shift.

How can I get help with how to heal after a toxic relationship?

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program Self-Assessment

Video playlist on healing after narcissistic abuse.



  • Angela Atkinson

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

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