This is the Big Secret About Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

This is the Big Secret About Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Your version of yourself or a narcissistsSo you’ve made the choice to end your relationship with a narcissist. Or maybe the choice was made for you. I want to tell you to feel amazing about that right now. But first, let me tell you this – I know it hurts. And that’s okay; it’s going to get better. I promise you.

However the relationship ended, you’re working on recovery from the narcissistic abuse you’ve been suffering. Whatever your story, this is a time of intense healing, and that’s a good thing. I wrote this guide for you to remind you of some things that have helped me – and I want you to know that you’re never alone.

Of course, you’re hurting, and it will likely be a while before you feel 100 percent better. But I’m asking you to hold out hope – and to know – that better will arrive. You’ll feel happy and at peace again. It will take time and hard work, but it’s worth it and you deserve all the love and happiness life has to offer.

What should you expect in narcissistic abuse recovery?

Trying to recover from narcissistic abuse can seem a never-ending journey which can also be very difficult to navigate. You may have lost all self-esteem and confidence you once had, which will make it even harder to take the first steps towards recovery.

From gaslighting to playing the victim to flying monkeys and beyond, narcissists know only one thing: they want what they want when they want it, and nothing else will do. Research proves that narcissists, regardless of their classification and level of extremity, all share four basic traits – they lack empathy, they are self-centered, have a serious disregard for other people, and are selfish, to put it mildly.

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

Is recovery from narcissistic abuse possible?

As someone who has personally managed to recover from narcissistic abuse and who has helped thousands of others do the same, I can tell you that recovery from narcissistic abuse is absolutely possible! Still, recovery requires you to recognize what you’ve been dealing with and then to take intentional steps toward healing. It will be difficult, but it is most definitely worth the effort. If you have children with the narcissist or are unable to go full no contact for another reason, you’ll need to modify the process, but even then, with certain personal policies and behavior modification techniques put in place, you can heal and take back your life. I created the DUO method to make this process more understandable and easier to navigate.

Where do you begin your healing process?

How to Identify Narcissistic Personality DIsorderThe first thing I want to tell you, whether you’re already gone or you’re planning your escape, is congratulations.

I know that might seem inappropriate at this moment, but try looking at it a new way. Imagine the level of freedom you can now enjoy. Imagine how you’ll be allowed to make your own decisions, to be the person that you truly want to be.  To start this process you need to learn how to open your mind and heart further as healing requires rebuilding your whole sense of self. The first step toward recovery is knowing that you deserve better and that narcissists are not capable of true, genuine love.

Your recovery should begin with getting to the point where you just want to feel better. Given that we all hate pain and naturally want happiness, this really should be the starting point. I find many people buy into this notion of ‘healing’ but instead of wanting to feel better, they want someone to fix them, or make them happy.

In other words, many of us don’t realize exactly what we need in order to arrive at that place of happiness and contentment. Once we really figure out what we need deep down inside then we can take steps toward healing and recovery.

The Big Secret: Deep Down, You Really Are Who You Want to Be

See, the truth is that the person you want to be is secretly who you really are – so the best way to begin to find yourself and figure out your life after narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship is to indulge in the things you love, the things that make your soul feel alive. That’s going to help to discover yourself and bring that “true you” up to the surface.

But what if I love to do something I’m no good at? What will that serve?

First of all, you’ll never know until you try. Plus, you don’t have to be “good at it” to enjoy it; but about now, I’d love it if you could stop feeling like you’re not good enough.

You being “not good enough” is simply a lie you’ve come to believe thanks to the mind-numbing experience of being involved with a narcissist.

Can a narcissist change?

Is there any chance the narcissist will change? Is narcissism curable or do they remain forever broken? Research suggests that narcissism exists on a continuum from mild to severe with most people falling somewhere in the middle.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder, a pathological distortion of a person’s traits and interpersonal relations, is established by specific diagnostic criteria. The disorder is commonly known as NPD.

While less severe narcissism may be viewed as a personality quirk – albeit one that can occasionally cause friction with others – narcissistic personality disorder is an entirely different story. In general, while it’s theoretically possible, narcissists won’t change – this video offers additional information to explain.

How does narcissistic abuse affect you?

A toxic relationship with a narcissist can literally kill youIt’s a narcissist’s nature to tear down the people who are closest to him or her. The narcissist must feel in control, and they must obtain what he considers the appropriate amount of admiration and attention from their various sources of narcissistic supply.

When they get it, he feels validated and he might be the best guy you’ve ever met – or she might be the coolest girl.

Note: Narcissists come in all shapes, sizes, colors and sexes. I’m going to use the “he” pronouns from here on out simply because statistically, narcissists are slightly more likely to be male  (and for ease of reading).

But when the narcissist finds himself spending too much time alone or with a lack of attention and admiration, or he’s directly defied, he becomes a whole other person.

When Narcissistic Rage and Narcissistic Injury Set In

Narcissistic rage and narcissistic injury will set in and the person in the line of fire is most likely to get the brunt of the narcissist’s rage. In fact, narcissists know very well how to manipulate you; often they’ll play the victim in order to get you on their side (narcissistic injury). When you fall for it, they might just inadvertently recruit you to become one of their toxic flying monkeys. Or, if you don’t, you can probably expect the injury to become narcissistic rage.  And then if you don’t finally comply with serving his needs, the narcissist will likely send a flying monkey your way to do his manipulative bidding.

When you feel weak: How do you stay strong in the face of a love bomber?

We all know that when a narcissist feels like he’s lost (or might lose) something he wants (yes, I said something, because to a narcissist, people are things), he goes into love bombing mode.

You know, that’s when he places you on a pedestal and makes you feel like you’re perfect and amazing and like no one can compare? And where he suddenly seems humble and sweet and you start thinking maybe he really can change, after all? And then before you know it, he’s back in and you’re back to trying to figure out how to deal with his gaslighting?

Yep. And remember how crazy-making it can all be? Remember that life?

Good. Now You Remember Why You Left.

When you feel weak, you have to remember why you left. Or why you’re planning to leave.

Related: This is why you haven’t already left your narcissist

The gnawing feeling in your stomach when you hear the names you’re called or the horrible way he seems to see you as a person, maybe.

How your entire being, your character, and your integrity were called into question for every little “infraction” of the ridiculous  (and often unspoken) rules and double standards he required of you?

That’s why you left. Or maybe it’s why you’re leaving – or maybe, it’s just one reason you can stop crying about the narcissist who left you. 

Because now, you are the one who decides what happens. Now it’s all about what you want, what you choose, what you say is best.

ABOVE ALL: Don’t scare yourself into staying

Remember: the narcissist tries to make you into exactly what they are. They are trying to project their bad qualities onto you. They will go out of their way to play head games with you and why they will tell you that if anyone hurts them, it will be your fault. The narcissist wants your sympathy so that you will do all of the work so that they can get attention and love without having to do anything in return.

The narcissist is going to try to make you afraid and insecure. They want you to think you can’t live without them and that you can’t do better. Don’t let that scare you – I know that being in full control of your life might be a little freaky after having been under someone else’s thumb for a while, but you will very quickly find yourself feeling light and happy in a way that you can’t remember feeling before.

You can do better.

I don’t care if you’re overweight or you’re frumpy or you’re very, very shy – no one deserves the mental and emotional abuse of a narcissist. It’s pure torture and you can do better. You DESERVE better,

Know that. And remind yourself when you feel weak. You can do this. You can be who you want, and you can take care of yourself. KNOW IT!

Change is hard but you will come out so much happier and more fulfilled.

While your initial reaction to any sort of change is going to be difficult sometimes, this is especially true when it involves separation from someone you’ve spent many years or even months with.

That’s because a lot of times, you literally sort of forget who you are – you’ve become so enmeshed and codependent with your narcissist that you literally don’t know who you’d be without him.

REMEMBER: Your situation and what you’re dealing with now doesn’t make you wrong, less than anyone else, or stupid; it makes you human.

People who have not experienced the hell of narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship have absolutely no idea how incredibly it takes over everything in your life.

Before you know it, you are literally putting every single word you say and choice you make through the “narcissist filter,” which is your understanding of what will and will not upset the narcissist.

How Do You Remove the “Narcissist Filter” From Your Self-Identity?

So now that you’ve made the choice to leave, it’s time to begin to shed the narcissist’s version of you and start to create your own perfect version – what you consider the be the best possible version of yourself.

If that means you need to spend a bit of time getting over your relationship first, fine – but set a time limit and stick to it. And then, you can get on about the business of deciding who you are after you end a relationship with a narcissist.

How long does it take to fully recover from narcissistic abuse?

Everyone has their own journey and while there are so many similarities among narcissists and the way they treat their closest relationships, there are several factors that might determine how long it will take to fully recover from narcissistic abuse. Depending on how long you were involved with the narcissist and the nature of your relationship, it could take a few weeks, a few months, or more than a year. The good news is that when you intentionally focus on and work toward healing, it can certainly expedite the process.

Are you ready to get started on your narcissistic abuse recovery?

Let’s discuss it. I’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences, and questions on this stuff.

  1. Have you been in and escaped from a narcissistic relationship?
  2. Are you still in one?
  3. What advice would you give someone who is doing what you did (or plan to do)?

Share your thoughts and experiences in one of our narcissistic abuse recovery support groups.

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Resources

Helpful Videos for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors

Related articles that can help in your recovery from narcissistic abuse

Books

Toxic Disability? Why Narcissists May Be a Few Crayons Short of a Box

Toxic Disability? Why Narcissists May Be a Few Crayons Short of a Box

I’ve written pretty extensively on narcissism and have been researching the topic for nearly 10 years now. That’s why when a reader recently asked me a question about narcissism and whether or not there are neurological symptoms involved with narcissism, it surprised me that I didn’t know the answer off the top of my head.

“What’s amazing to me, is that the traits of narcissists are absolutely the same across life situations,” wrote my reader, Pam, in response to my post on narcissists and flying monkeys. “For me, that begs the question of whether there’s something specifically neurological going on as a result of childhood abuse and trauma?”

Here’s exactly how a narcissist’s brain is different than a neurotypical brain.

How a Narcissist’s Brain is Different Than Everyone Else’s

So, we all know that narcissists are seriously lacking in empathy, especially those who would be classified as having NPD (narcissistic personality disorder), if they’d ever give anyone the chance to diagnose them officially. (Side note – they won’t, because they don’t feel that there’s anything wrong with them).

But according to research, narcissistic personality disorder have less gray matter in the left anterior insula, the part of the brain linked to empathy.Why narcissists are a few crayons short of a box

The layman’s version of the scientific explanation is that those parts of the brain that mediate empathy (the ability to care about other people’s feelings) are lower functioning and less capable of focusing on others.

In other words, a narcissist has less gray matter in their brain than someone who is capable of empathy.

Worse, researchers say, the differences in the narcissist’s brains are actually literally causing them to turn inward and to self-focus.

Study authors defined certain traits as being shared among all narcissists, despite various other definitions and forms of narcissistic personality disorder.

In a German study, researchers found that the degree to which a person was able to exhibit empathy was directly tied to the amount of gray matter in the brain, both in the healthy individuals as well as in those with narcissistic personality disorder.

And, narcissists were typically found to have less gray matter in the brain, the study said.

Read more about narcissism, or visit this resources page I set up for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse for more help and information. 

Related articles

Unmistakably Toxic: 4 Qualities Shared by All Malignant Narcissists

Unmistakably Toxic: 4 Qualities Shared by All Malignant Narcissists

Narcissists are the worst kind of abusers because so often, even the very people they’re abusing aren’t aware of it – in fact, that’s the very nature of their favorite manipulation tactic, gaslighting.

So many people are in these situations and because they are being so heavily manipulated, they really believe that they are the ones with the “issues” – when in reality, they’ve just been horribly gaslighted by one of these people.

It’s crazy-making, to say the least.

What is a Malignant Narcissist?

In general, when we talk about a narcissist, we’re talking about someone with a high opinion of him/herself. But when it comes to toxic relationships and narcissistic abuse situations, the term refers to a toxic, verbally (and sometimes physically) abusive person who may have narcissistic personality disorder. The malignant narcissist is officially defined as someone who has narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) along with various antisocial features, paranoid traits, and ego-driven aggression. They may also exhibit an absence of conscience, a psychological need for power, and an inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement. However, very often people who should be or might be diagnosed won’t be labeled as such. This is due to the fact that they’re unlikely to see a psychologist unless they’re forced to legally, or in some cases, as an attempt to maintain control over or connection to someone in their lives who threatens to leave due to narcissistic abuse.

What Qualities Are Shared by All Malignant Narcissists?

While there are various types of narcissists and they exist at various levels of toxicity, there are four basic traits that every narcissist has in common, according to a 2013 study published by Kamila Jankowiak-Siuda and Wojciech Zajkowski. In a narcissism-focused study, the researchers were able to define the following traits as being shared among all narcissists, despite various other definitions and forms of narcissistic personality disorder. It didn’t matter if they were a covert narcissist or a grandiose narcissist – or one of the many other types of narcissists that we’ve currently defined.

 

All narcissists have these qualities

4 Traits Shared by All Narcissists, According to a 2013 Psychology Study

The qualities that are shared by all narcissists, regardless of classification, include the following.

  1. Selfishness
  2. Disregarding other people
  3. Being self-centered
  4. Lack of empathy

Interesting, right? I thought so. Would you add any qualities to this list? Would you disagree with any?

What’s the #1 Quality Shared by All Malignant Narcissists?

In this 4-minute video, I’ll explain the single quality that is the tipping point into malignant narcissism and exactly how to identify it.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Could you be in a relationship with a malignant narcissist? Are you dealing with narcissistic abuse in a toxic relationship? Take this narcissistic abuse self-assessment test today and find out. 

Get Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery 

Online help is readily available for survivors of narcissistic abuse. Here are some options to begin healing from narcissistic abuse right away.

Related articles
Toxic Relationships: 44 warning signs you’re being emotionally abused

Toxic Relationships: 44 warning signs you’re being emotionally abused

44 Warning Signs That You're Being Emotionally Abused by a NarcissistAs someone who has survived and thrived despite having experienced various forms of emotional abuse, thanks to involvement with narcissists in my own life, it was often hard to see while I was in the “thick of it.”

How do you know if your relationship is emotionally abusive?

Physical abuse is often pretty obvious, but emotional abuse can be incredibly hard to detect, especially if your victimizer is a narcissist.

On the plus side, there are plenty of warning signs.

If your significant other is a narcissist, he (or she) might engage in certain narcissistic behaviors and types of manipulation, such as the ever-pervasive gaslighting tactic that is the bane of so many victims of narcissistic relationships.

How to Know if You’re Being Emotionally Abused

Does your significant other:

  1. Isolate you and prevent you from spending time with friends or family members?
  2. Force you to account for your time when apart from him?
  3. Act really jealous and possessive sometimes?
  4. Make excessive and unreasonable demands for your attention, even to the detriment of your other responsibilities?
  5. Make everything “all about him?”
  6. Make you the scapegoat for all the arguments or problems in the relationship?
  7. Consider himself the “boss” and insist on making all the decisions in your relationship/family/life?
  8. Snoop through your stuff? Does he refuse to allow any privacy? Does he go through your mail, hack your email or Facebook account or go through your personal belongings?
  9. Get excessively angry without warning or over tiny things?
  10. Have the whole “Jekyll and Hyde” deal happening – where one side of him seems  charming or even sweet and loving, while the other is mean, spiteful and downright hurtful?
  11. Play games with your head? Tell lies in order to confuse you or blame you for something you didn’t do?
  12. Become overly critical of everything about you when you don’t do what he wants?
  13. Take control of everything in your life, such as your finances?
  14. Feel entitled to everything from your attention and UNCONDITIONAL respect, regardless of how he treats you?
  15. Feel entitled to your financial or other kinds of support?
  16. Cause damage and/or give away/steal your personal property?
  17. Harass you whenever you’re away from him because you have to be (such as work or school)?
  18. Make threats about how he will “ruin you” or otherwise cause trouble for you at work, to your family or to others?
  19. Say overly critical things about your body and appearance?
  20. Have weird sexual issues?
  21. Become excessively pushy or forceful about sex, or even hurt you during sex?
  22. Become angry or sullen (or even display narcissistic injury) if you don’t go along with his sexual demands?
  23. Drink excessively or take drugs, and then blame his awful behavior on alcohol, drugs or his own history of abuse or tragedy earlier in his life?
  24. Pressure you to use alcohol or other drugs, even when you say no?
  25. Cause you to become anxious about confronting him about literally anything?
  26. Threaten you with physical harm or make you feel afraid of how he will react when you speak or act in general?
  27. Manipulate you with the constant threat of mood changes and impending narcissistic rage?
  28. Make you feel like you’re always “walking on eggshells” or living with constant stress, anxiety, or fear?
  29. Withhold affection to punish you?
  30. Give you the “silent treatment” when you don’t do what he wants?
  31. Humiliate you?
  32. Expect you to ask permission to do stuff as though you’re a child?
  33. Threaten to hurt himself when he doesn’t get his way or if you threaten to leave?

What are the signs of physical abuse?

Listen, emotional abuse is awful and can make you completely miserable. But physical abuse is a whole other ball of wax.

While you should never stay in an abusive situation, you must remember that when physical abuse is a factor, there is no fixing it – and your life could depend on you getting away safely.

Ask yourself, does your significant other:

  1. Physically abuse you in any way? Push, shove, grab, punch, hits or strike you with hands or fists?
  2. Threaten or assault you with weapons, such as household objects or knives?
  3. Blame you for their abusive behavior, saying things such as “look what you made me do,” or “well, if you hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have had to hit you?”

If so, there is no time to waste – get help and get out before it’s too late. Here are some resources for you.

What are the signs of sexual abuse?

According to Dr. Phil, the following are signs of sexual abuse. If you’re being sexually abused, you can’t wait – you need to get out ASAP. If you don’t have any support (which is unfortunately common for victims of narcissism and abuse, since abusers often isolate their victims), start here, and check out these resources as well.

You are being sexually abused if your partner:

  1. Views women as objects and believes in rigid gender roles.
  2. Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships.
  3. Wants you to dress in a sexual way.
  4. Has ever forced or manipulated you into to having sex or performing sexual acts.
  5. Held you down during sex.
  6. Demanded sex when you were sick, tired or after beating you.
  7. Involved other people in sexual activities with you.
  8. Ignored your feelings regarding sex.

More Resources for Victims of Narcissists

Visit the QueenBeeing Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Resources & Support Page

If you’re in an abusive relationship with a narcissist, you might want to read one of these books.

Are you experiencing (or have you experienced) emotional abuse in a toxic relationship? Find out for sure by taking this quiz.

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