Healing from narcissistic abuse is a process, and it looks different for everyone because every relationship is unique, and the same goes for emotionally abusive relationships.
You may be wondering where am I with my healing?
It is impossible to determine the number of steps or elements involved with healing from emotionally abusive relationships, but I am covering 8 main components. I discussed the first 3 of these pieces in Elements of Healing (From Narcissistic Abuse) Part 1 (here).
4. Reclaim Identity
You may not be the same person you were prior to entering a relationship with a narcissist, and then, you may not want to be that same person.
When you reclaim your identity you know who you are. You know your beliefs, core values, and which direction you want and need your life to take to maintain your mental well-being. You also know how you want, and should, be treated in a relationship.
You may not want to be the same person you were prior to the emotionally draining relationship because you are now stronger, more aware of what a narcissist looks like (their tactics and behavior), and you know what you might have lacked when you locked elbows with the narcissist. As you reclaim your identity, you are either working on regaining what you (then) missed, or you solidly have it under your belt today.
5. Self-Compassion and Celebrate You
As you heal, you have compassion for yourself. You no longer blame yourself for the narcissist’s behavior. You no longer believe that if you do the right thing, or say the right thing your relationship will upright itself and the narcissist will get better. You stop laying a guilt trip on yourself for getting into the relationship.
You learn to celebrate yourself.
You do even the smallest of things for yourself. You get out and do what you love. Sometimes, when we are in the healing process, it is accompanied by financial difficulties. Go out and spend little. Go to a bargain movie, the library, a thrift store, or, buy yourself something within a small budget. Start a journal (so very therapeutic)! The point is, celebrate YOU, celebrate your accomplishments…celebrate your life!
(Celebrate Your Accomplishments. Read more here.)
(Does therapy help a person diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Read more here.)
6. Feelings May Stick Around
Know that the feelings and emotions that you have—hurt, pain, frustration, confusion, grief, shock, etc., may stick with you for a while.
Think of it as what it is, a grieving process. You have lost yourself to a relationship that you thought was ideal. You have lost the relationship with the partner that you thought was the love of your life.
When we grieve, it takes time to heal. Today, we may feel the hand of healing upon us, and then tomorrow something may trigger us to feel emotions that we thought were buried and long gone. Allow yourself to feel what you feel at the moment.
Allow yourself to acknowledge the where and the why of your feelings, but, I want you to pat yourself on the back at the same time. You are in the healing process and what you feel today is not permanent. You own your good feelings, and you own your uncomfortable feelings (they come and they go).
7. Seeking New Love Relationships
While you are healing, one of the last things that you should do is seek a new love relationship.
Give yourself time to heal. Give yourself time to recognize the milestones that you have reached in your healing. Give yourself time to understand who you are. You do not want to take the hurt, pain, or doubts, with you into a new relationship.
You may feel starved for love after any period of time with a narcissist, but love comes in many forms. The best form for you until you have healed is a friendship and not a romance.
When you give yourself time to heal, you will learn to expect what you need in life. You will expect respect in a mutually give and take relationship. You will know what is healthy for you.
8. Your Support System
You may have been in a narcissistic relationship, or in one, where you were led into isolation and for a time, you didn’t recognize it. It may have separated you from any sort of support system, leaving you to feel alone, as if you were on an island with your enormous struggles.
Especially when you are in the healing process, and this is always a human ‘need’ in life, ensure you have a support system that is made up of at least several people that you can trust and rely on.
Your support system can be friends, loved ones, or professionals that have your back. They listen with a non-judging ear. Your well-being is a priority to the people in your support system, and you are confident in your trust in them.
With a support system, you should find an honest mirroring back to you when you either thrive or slide back.
9. Speak as a Survivor
What you verbalize in life speaks volumes of how you view yourself. Are you a victim? Remember, you own who you are internally, and nobody can claim your thoughts, actions, beliefs, or core values. Are you a survivor? You may be a survivor. I hope you are! But, are you a thriver? Do you emanate a strong person that has the ability to, and/or, made your way beyond the hurdles of narcissistic abuse?
My own story (about being a victim): I was in a session with my life coach. I mentioned how angry and downgraded my boss led me to feel. He made me feel belittled, frustrated, and hurt. My life coach didn’t go easy on me, she let me know that I had adopted a victim mentality.
Victim mentality is defined by Merriam-Webster as the belief that one is always a victim: the idea that bad things will always happen to one.
I compared this definition to my (what felt like abusive) boss and how I related to his behavior. I then asked myself some questions, and these are the questions that you can ask yourself (in relation to how you feel about the emotional abuse that you have/are experiencing):
- Am I always a victim?
- Will bad things always happen to me?
- Am I allowing his/her thoughts to victimize me, or am I setting mental boundaries and not claiming his/her thoughts/ideas/abusive words as the truth?
- Am I living my life (mentally and physically) based on my own beliefs, thoughts, and core values? Or, am I mirroring a victim mentality?
My wake-up call/answer: I am NOT a victim! I have this!
Summing the Healing Process Up
The healing process is like a three-part book.
- Part 1, the first section, you will not either understand or know what you need to heal from.
- Part 2, page by page, your needs, wants, and well-being, as well as how to heal, arrives (gradually) from each page that you turn.
- Part 3, you recognize your healing milestones. You recognize that you have closed one door and you have opened another. You recognize that you are breathing (an image of) fresh, clean, non-abusive air. You now feel free to enjoy your life. You trust yourself with renewed compassion. You stand on solid ground.
I hope you enjoyed this two-part series. We would love for you to share your own healing experience(s) in the comment section below.