We’ve talked before about how the trauma bonds we develop with narcissists affect the same part of the brain as any other addiction. We are literally addicted to our toxic relationships, and that is why it’s so much harder to end a relationship with a narcissist than anyone else.
Just like any addict, we need to recover from our toxic relationships and gain control over our addiction.
There’s one phenomenon that early in recovery puts us at risk, and if we fall for it, we will end up “relapsing” and find ourselves falling for hoovering from the narcissist – or worse, chasing after them. It’s called “the pink cloud.”
What is the Pink Cloud in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery?
Pink cloud (or “pink clouding” or “pink cloud syndrome”) is a term that is used to describe the feeling of elation that many addicts and alcoholics feel shortly after detoxing and moving into sobriety. They feel excited and hopeful in ways they didn’t before, and things seem to be moving in the right direction for the first time maybe ever. Since survivors of narcissistic abuse are often trauma bonded with their abusers, they deal with very similar issues. Trauma bonding works very much like drug addiction in the brain.
Why is pink clouding dangerous for survivors of narcissistic abuse?
There is only one problem with the “pink cloud” syndrome – and that is quite simply that it can make people dangerously overconfident in themselves and their recovery. This overconfidence can sadly lead to a relapse. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it happens to many in narcissistic abuse recovery as well. For example, when you first leave a narcissist, you can start to see the possibilities of a life without constant control and codependency.
You feel like you’ve overcome your trauma bonding and you have all of this hope – you feel like you’re on top of the world!
With all of this new goodness coming your way, you start to think this is how you’re going to feel all the time. Like life has just turned on a dime and the only way to go is up.
It is an amazing feeling! And while I want to tell you to hold on to it as long as you can, I also want to be realistic with you and let you know that it won’t last forever.
You’re still human and you’ll still have bad days. In fact, I would venture to say, you may find yourself feeling a sudden drop from the cloud, and you’ll feel like you’ve crashed back to earth in a most undignified way.
Reality will set back in and you’ll realize that even without the toxic person in your life, there are still difficulties and hard times.
What are the effects of pink cloud syndrome in narcissistic abuse recovery?
You may find yourself stuck in a deep depression if you’re not careful – remember, you weren’t allowed to show your feelings completely with the narcissist, so you may have sort of numbed out in order to get through it.
Letting go of the narcissist and working on your healing will require you, at some point, to mourn the relationship and work through all the hard feelings that go with it.
When you’ve lived in this constant state of control and numbness for so long, you might find that “normal” – you know, living without someone holding you down and without someone always sort of “managing” your every move – it might feel like you’re high on life.
You can’t even recall, if you ever knew, what real life feels like – and you have most likely forgotten how it feels to deal with your emotions.
It is good to feel happy and excited – it can help you to start to heal and make intentional choices. Don’t get me wrong.
But be aware that the pink cloud will eventually dissipate and you’ll need to keep pushing through the hard parts. You might think you don’t need help and you can just start living.
And I think you CAN just start living – but you must also stick with your support groups, and/or your coach and/or therapist. Don’t assume that “pink cloud” means all done healing.
How do you deal with pink clouding in narcissistic abuse recovery?
Here are some tips to help you get through the hard parts of the dissipating pink cloud.
1. Focus on finding balance.
In the relationship, all emotions are extreme. You deal with the highest highs and the lowest lows. After the relationship, start to focus on calmness and releasing the need to feel “extreme” emotions in order to feel normal.
2. Try to steer clear of the narcissist and places you know they will be.
Find a new route to work, or go to a different grocery store/bank, etc. Reduce the temptation of going back when you create new ways to do your business.
3. Create new routines and traditions.
After you are away from the narcissist, start creating new routines and traditions right away. Do things differently than before and when it comes to holidays and celebrations, keep the stuff you love, but release the traditions that don’t fit anymore – and in either case, add in new stuff and new ways to do things.
4. Realize that you must go no contact (or low contact) with the narcissist.
Do not fool yourself into thinking you can be friends with this person or just see them a little bit. Addiction is addiction. You wouldn’t just take one drink if you were a recovering alcoholic, right? The same principle applies to our recovery from toxic relationships.
5. Get support from a group, a coach, or a therapist.
Get the support you need in narcissistic abuse recovery because going it alone is not only dangerous but less effective. And stick with it. Don’t let the pink cloud push you away – at least not for too long.
6. Take care of yourself and be prepared for triggers.
Make sure you’re taking care of yourself during the narcissistic abuse recovery process. Self-care is so important for a number of reasons – primarily because you probably haven’t had much opportunity to focus on yourself for years, or even decades. It’s also important to watch for triggers and have a plan in place for when one hits you.
7. Keep your eye on the prize!
Narcissistic abuse recovery is not easy, so it’s really important that you remember why you’re doing all of this – you’re working on creating the life you want and deserve. And it’s about time!
Get support for narcissistic abuse recovery right now.
- The QueenBeeing SPANily, Official – We consider this the best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web. It offers several subgroups and features a vigilant, compassionate admin team full of trained coaches and survivors, supporting more than 12k members. SPAN is an acronym created by Angie Atkinson that stands for Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.
- Other Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups – We also have separate groups for each stage in your narcissistic abuse recovery and some for those who have moved past recovery and are evolving into the next stage of their own life. Survivors have unique and individual needs, even when they’ve moved on – so we’re still here for you.
- One-on-One Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching – If you prefer to get more personalized support in your recovery, you might like to schedule a session with one of our coaches to plan and execute your own narcissistic abuse recovery plan.
- Find a Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist – If you’re looking for a therapist for narcissistic abuse recovery, either because you cannot afford coaching and want to use your health insurance or because you have additional issues you need to address that do not fall within the realm of coaching, you will want to find the right therapist for you – and as far as we’re concerned, that therapist must understand what you’ve been through. This page offers assistance to help you do exactly that.
- Where Are You in Recovery? You might not be sure exactly where you fit in and what level of recovery you’ve achieved. If that’s the case, you’ll want to check out this self-assessment to help you determine exactly where you fall in the stages of recovery from narcissistic abuse. Once you finish and submit the assessment, you will be given resources for your own situation, along with recommendations of which groups to join.
- Which Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program is Right for You? If you aren’t sure which program you want to utilize to facilitate your recovery from narcissistic abuse, this self-assessment will help you decide.