Narcissistic abuse takes a lot from its victims: Our sense of self, our security, our trust and happiness, and sometimes even our memories. Often, when we finally break away from a toxic relationship with a narcissist (or any other abuser), we are left feeling like there is no true “us” anymore. We are merely empty shells of the people we used to be. Can you relate to that feeling?
Do You Remember Who the Narcissist Really Was?
When you first leave a relationship with an abuser, it’s easy to look back on all the good times you had with your now-ex as if they were real memories instead of manufactured ones. You may even feel that you miss your ex. But in reality, this person was never really who you thought he or she was.
This person was the false self that your partner created for the express purpose of gaining control over you. Narcissists are expert manipulators who use their false selves to get close to their victims and then use their true selves to manipulate them into staying put by causing fear, guilt, and shame.
Are you ready to release your past and own your future?
If you are ready to release your past, to forgive yourself, and to love yourself despite what has happened, you will also be able to find your own place in the world. You will find your voice and your truth, and you can live confidently with a deep knowing that you are enough.
To do this, you have to let go of the shame and self-blame. You need to understand how their abuse works so that you can recognize it for what it is – the actions of someone who wasn’t capable of seeing you as their equal, who may have had a sort of “god complex” – and who wanted to use and abuse you as an object. If we see these things clearly, we can begin to heal ourselves.
Your Past Doesn’t Define Your Future
Imagine for a moment trying to put on the clothes you wore as a baby or toddler. The fact is, the clothes may be yours but they simply don’t fit anymore. It’s the same with reacting to our past with the narcissist. It makes no sense to go back and dwell because the past doesn’t define your future. Your past was full of narcissistic abuse and was probably traumatic, problematic. It caused havoc and made you doubt everything you thought was true – but you can heal your past for a healthy present…and future.
Is Past Behavior Always an Indicator of Future Behavior?
Your past definitely influences the future. What you went through or the mistakes you made will impact your thoughts and feelings which can lead to a crossroads. One road leads to unconscious thoughts and feelings that trigger destructive behavior and repeat circumstances over and over. Another road leads to healing the past, becoming intentional with thoughts and feelings which promotes healthier choices and actions. The good news is that your past behavior doesn’t have to be an indicator of what’s coming down the road if you do the internal work to heal.
Take Advice from Maya Angelou
Author, poet, activist, and all-around goddess Maya Angelou famously advised us to “do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” My point is that the choices we make are influenced by a variety of things including:
- Our age
- Our support system…or lack of it
- Our economics
- Our level of education
- Our advantages…and disadvantages
- The available choices at the time
We may make entirely different choices when any of these factors change. What we chose in the past does not mean it’s what we would choose today or tomorrow. As we grow, mature, find support, and experience different circumstances, we change and so does the quality of our choices. If we stay the same and keep making poor choices, it’s important to look at what is holding us back and do the work to heal and move forward.
Some Things are Out of Your Control
Sometimes circumstances are beyond your control – and when a narcissist is involved, they do everything in their power to prevent you from controlling your own life and circumstances. What you experienced in the past wasn’t anything you chose directly, but something that happened to you.
Still, it’s really important to remember that this doesn’t mean you can’t control the future. You may be unable to change what happened to you in the past, but going through tough situations does provide lessons and awareness that you can take with you and use in the present and future.
In a way, having things happen outside of your control can offer you mental resources that give you control moving forward. It may be as simple as choosing to forgive or learning you can manage stress or uncertainty. These are powerful tools to have today and tomorrow.
Your past doesn’t define your future, your awareness does. What you are conscious of, the choices you make with intention, and the actions you take today are what influence your future more than anything.
Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Resources
- The QueenBeeing SPANily, Official – We consider this to be the best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web. 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, as well as 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.
- Check out my book entitled Your Love is My Drug: How to Shut Down a Narcissist, Detoxify Your Relationships & Live the Awesome Life You Really Deserve, Starting Right Now.
- Narcissistic Rage and Narcissistic Injury: What You Need to Know
- Free Help for Victims of Narcissism and Gaslighting
- What Happens when Love turns into Rage
- Now You See It, Now You Don’t: The Many Faces of Narcissism
- Narcissism Exposed: This is What Happened After Sam Vaknin Gaslighted Me on Facebook
- Like Extroverts, Introverts Can Also Be Prone To Narcissism
- Are You An Introvert – Or Are You Maybe an Undercover Narcissist?