In the previous article, we went through the many reasons why recovering from a relationship with a narcissist is incredibly challenging and often takes years. Given the emotional abuse and manipulation that they put you through, it’s completely understandable that you’d find yourself going back to them over and over again, lured by their apologies and promises.
Recovering from abuse is never easy; however, healing from a narcissist – whether they be a close friend, a family member, or a romantic partner – is particularly devastating.
Not only did they completely destroy your previous beliefs about love and relationships, but they may have also subjected you to toxic practices, such as gaslighting, extreme criticism, and a complete lack of empathy to whatever hardships you went through.
However, recovery from narcissistic abuse is necessary, especially since research has shown that trauma from this kind of experience can become generational. After all, would you want your children to end up as either victims or abusers themselves?
If you’re having trouble recovering from your experience with a narcissistic abuser, then here are a few expert-recommended tips to help you out:
1. Acknowledge the Abuse
Your narcissistic abuser may have been so invested in themselves and their inflated sense of importance that they managed to manipulate you into thinking that you’re worthless or inferior to them. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
However, most victims of narcissistic abuse have been conditioned to believe this, which is why it can be hard for them to recognize that they were, in fact, victims.
For some, this denial can be a way to protect themselves. Naturally, strong feelings towards a loved one or a partner can overshadow such toxicity, even if they’ve constantly exhibited narcissistic traits. It can also be hard to accept that some people simply don’t care about others, despite what you’ve done for them or what you believed you meant to them.
But denial can only protect you for so long. In the end, you still have to take off the rose-tinted glasses and see the red flags for what they are.
Recognizing that you’re a victim of narcissistic abuse and acknowledging that all your feelings are valid is the first step to freeing yourself from your abuser.
2. Be Firm About Your Boundaries
In the previous post, we included a tidbit from clinical psychologist Dr. Perpetua Neo, who explained how narcissists often subject their victims to a push-and-pull once a relationship has ended. This means that your abuser might be calling you up in the aftermath of the breakup, attempting to lure you back by apologizing and promising to change for real this time.
Some may even try to shift the blame to you, claiming that it was your fault that the relationship ended or that you caused them to behave in that manner.
However, know that none of this is true. Your feelings during and after the relationship are completely valid, so you shouldn’t let their gaslighting second-guess yourself. Remember that it isn’t your job to fix them, nor is it your responsibility to manage their negative behaviors.
Being firm about your boundaries might require you to cut contact with them, ceasing all forms of communication and blocking them from your social media channels. The control that you’ve been conditioned to accept may lead you to feel guilty about this at first, but don’t let these doubts and moments of uncertainty drive you to return to your abuser.
3. Accept the Emotions
As toxic as your narcissistic abuser may have been, feeling grief and sadness over the end of the relationship is understandable. Victims may also exhibit other kinds of emotional distress, such as guilt, shame, anxiety, and even paranoia.
More than that, though, experts claim that toxic relationships often leave people with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can include nightmares, painful flashbacks, and the like.
These emotions may lead you to reconsider ending the relationship. You may find yourself questioning whether your feelings were valid or whether you genuinely were abused. Combined with the push-and-pull that narcissistic abusers often subject their victims to, you might even believe that you weren’t mistreated at all.
Sadly, these emotions are amplified in cases wherein the narcissistic abuser was a family member or a romantic partner. Breaking off these kinds of relationships can sometimes cause you to feel disloyal, especially if they begin using the oft-misinterpreted adage “blood is thicker than water” as a counter-argument.
However, these are normal emotions. Thus, they shouldn’t be perceived as signs that you weren’t abused or that you were the one in the wrong. Accepting this may be hard, though, especially when you’re being subjected by your abuser to manipulation tactics, in a bid to get you to return to them.
If you find yourself struggling to deal with these emotions, then consider working with a therapist. These professionals can provide you with the support necessary to navigate these complicated and difficult feelings.
4. Take Care of Yourself
Naturally, the best way to recover from the narcissist in your life is to take care of yourself. Focus on prioritizing your needs, whether it be healthy food, exercise, social interactions with people outside your usual circle, and the like.
Doing so may feel foreign to you, especially if you’ve spent years making yourself small and insignificant to feed into your abuser’s ego. However, know that practicing self-care and putting yourself first – for once – is one of the most effective ways to heal from a narcissist.
Some experts further recommend writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. According to them, this is a calming activity that can help you work through complicated emotions. It can also help validate your experiences, given that putting them all on paper could be the final push that you needed to recognize the abuse.
Above all, don’t be stingy with investing in your health and healing. The journey to recovering from narcissistic abuse is long and challenging, so don’t be afraid of doing whatever it takes to get to the end.
If you’re a victim of narcissistic abuse, then know that none of your experiences was your fault. It wasn’t you who pushed them to behave that way, nor was it you who caused the relationship to deteriorate.
They may make you believe all these things, but ultimately, you were the victim – not the abuser.
Do you have any other advice to give to those recovering from narcissistic abuse? Feel free to share them in the comments down below – we’d love to hear from you!