Pink Clouding in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Pink Clouding in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

There’s one phenomenon that early in narcissistic abuse 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.”

Have you ever heard of “the pink cloud” part of narcissistic abuse recovery?

If not, buckle up – I’m about to explain exactly what it is and how complicated it can be.

Pink Cloud Syndrome in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

Pink clouding absolutely is real – for addicts of all types, including narcissistic abuse survivors who might be dealing with trauma bonding, but it isn’t something that can be seen with the human eye (at least not yet).

We’ve talked before about how the trauma bonds we develop with narcissists affect the same part of the brain as any other addiction.

What is trauma bonding?

Trauma bonding is a common condition among narcissistic abuse survivors and their abusers.

Thanks to an ongoing cycle of intermittent reinforcement, many survivors of toxic relationships go through this, much like kidnapping victims and hostages do. It closely resembles drug and alcohol addiction.

Through trauma bonding, 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.

What is Pink Clouding in Narcissistic Abuse Recovery?

The term pink clouding was originally used to describe the feeling of euphoria that many people experience after they stop using drugs or alcohol. 

Like a real pink cloud, it’s often accompanied by feelings of happiness and giddiness—and when you’re in the middle of it, it feels great!

Now, we also apply the phrase to the same type of phase for survivors in narcissistic abuse recovery.

But as lovely as it feels, there’s a dark side for anyone on the pink cloud – including survivors of narcissistic abuse.

Toxic Love as a Drug

A lot of people don’t recognize how similar toxic relationships and narcissistic abuse can be to a drug or alcohol – we really do feel addicted.

However, while you might want to hold onto those feelings forever (and who could blame you?), they don’t last forever.

In fact, usually only about two weeks after leaving a narcissist (or drug of choice) does this “high” begin to fade away.

The good news is that even though your mood may not be as fabulous as it was during the love-bombing phase of the toxic relationship, there are still plenty of things for you to do with yourself once you’ve detoxed.

How does pink clouding affect you in narcissistic abuse recovery?

When you’re dealing with narcissistic abuse for an extended period of time, your brain adjusts its chemistry in order to cope with the narcissist and the abuse.

So, when the narcissist stops being in your day-to-day life, your brain has to reset itself back to normal levels of chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline.

This sort of leaves you neurologically confused about how much of each chemical it needs for normal functioning, and it puts you into a tailspin.

You’ll have ups and downs, and you won’t quite grasp how to emotionally regulate yourself.

In other words, the trauma bonds that you develop with narcissists affect the same part of the brain as any other addiction, and so your brain functions just like the brain of an addict.

Can you really become addicted to a narcissist?

Believe it or not, you can be literally addicted to 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, you need to recover from your toxic relationships and gain control over your addiction.
  • According to their initial definition, pink clouds happen to your brain when you stop consuming substances that alter your moods.
  • When you’re under the influence of these substances for an extended period of time, your brain adjusts its chemistry in order to cope with them.
  • For narcissistic abuse recovery, the substance or drug is actually the narcissist in your life.

When those substances go away and your brain has to reset itself back to normal levels of chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline – it gets confused about how much of each chemical it needs for normal functioning.

How do you know if you’re on the pink cloud?

The first step to your recovery is knowing what is happening to you.

If you feel like something isn’t quite right, listen to your body! Don’t ignore warning signs that come up as a result of pink clouding, and don’t neglect your recovery. If something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.

Pink clouding can sneak up on you, so don’t let your guard down just because nothing seems wrong at the present moment—if there is a problem brewing inside of you somewhere, chances are good that you’ll notice it eventually if left untreated (and even more likely than not).

Also remember: don’t be afraid to seek help from others if needed; having someone else around who understands what’s going on with us could make all the difference between an early diagnosis or late-stage pink clouding (which can lead to much worse symptoms).

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.

Why do people experience pink clouding?

In short, pink clouding is the result of your brain becoming accustomed to life without the narcissist.

As we discussed earlier, the process of denying yourself the ability to sort of “feed” your trauma bond/addiction can be intensely painful.

In order to get through it, you have to really dig deep and summon up all the emotional strength you possess in order to make it through those first few days without your “drug of choice,” aka the narcissistic abuser you’re trying to recover from. 

Conflicting Emotions Complicate the Pink Cloud

When people are first starting out on their narcissistic abuse recovery journey, there are so many conflicting emotions running through them:

  • Fear about what’s going to happen next
  • Worry that you’ll never find anyone to love you
  • Anger at yourself for feeling like you’ve failed so miserably in your relationship 
  • Frustration at having allowed yourself to fall for a narcissist and having stayed so long
  • Sadness over leaving behind the lives they know

…and yet there is also hope that things will get better from now on.

These conflicting emotions make it hard for people just starting out with recovery because they don’t know which way their life should go anymore: forward or backward?

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.

Why do people experience pink clouding?

In short, pink clouding is the result of your brain becoming accustomed to life without the narcissist.

As we discussed earlier, the process of denying yourself the ability to sort of “feed” your trauma bond/addiction can be intensely painful.

In order to get through it, you have to really dig deep and summon up all the emotional strength you possess in order to make it through those first few days without your “drug of choice,” aka the narcissistic abuser you’re trying to recover from. 

Conflicting Emotions Complicate the Pink Cloud

When people are first starting out on their narcissistic abuse recovery journey, there are so many conflicting emotions running through them:

  • Fear about what’s going to happen next
  • Worry that you’ll never find anyone to love you
  • Anger at yourself for feeling like you’ve failed so miserably in your relationship 
  • Frustration at having allowed yourself to fall for a narcissist and having stayed so long
  • Sadness over leaving behind the lives they know

…and yet there is also hope that things will get better from now on. These conflicting emotions make it hard for people just starting out with recovery because they don’t know which way their life should go anymore: forward or backward?

What can you do if you’re experiencing the pink cloud?

If you are experiencing this phenomenon, it is normal to feel excited. But don’t let the pink cloud take hold of you and cause you to relapse and go back to the narcissist.

It’s easy enough to do this without a good solid hoover maneuver; the important thing is not to give in to peer pressure or any other temptation that could lead down a road back into codependency and narcissistic abuse

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 release 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.

If you’re worried about what could happen because of your pink cloud, don’t be afraid to ask for help from professionals who know what they’re doing—they’ll be able to help you keep things on track.

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.

You should also talk about your situation with friends and family members who have been where you are before—they’ll understand where you’re coming from, and will likely give some good advice about how best to avoid getting caught up in something dangerous again.

It’s important that people in recovery understand that their feelings are valid—it’s just as important that they realize those feelings can go away just as fast as they came along!

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!

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