Healing from the Trauma of Narcissistic Abuse


“Don’t
blame
a
clown
for
acting
like
a
clown.
Ask
yourself
why
you
keep
going
to
the
circus.”
~Unknown

When
I
first
experienced
narcissistic
abuse
as
an
adult,
it
was
a
at
a
time
when
the
term
“narcissistic
abuse”
was
not
so
heard
of
or
understood.

I
had
met
a
handsome,
intelligent,
charismatic,
and
charming
man,
and
as
is
typical
in
abusive
relationships,
had
been
completely
overwhelmed
by
the
intensity
and
‘love’-overload
of
the
early
stages.

Before
I
could
catch
my
breath,
though,
the
nitpicking
started,
and
so
did
the
heated
arguments,
the
jealousy,
the
cutting
contact,
and
disappearing
for
days
on
end—shortly
followed
by
dramatic
make-ups,
apologies,
gifts,
and
promises.

And
so
had
begun
the
emotional
roller
coaster
ride
that
is

dating
a
narcissist.

Many
months
later,
I
found
myself
becoming
a
different
person.
I
was
stressed,
anxious,
paranoid,
increasingly
isolated,
and
cranky.
I
was
totally
lost
and
felt
like
nobody
understood.
Friends
couldn’t
understand
why
we
couldn’t
just
end
things.
We
were
hooked
in
a
destructive
bond.


At
the
worst
points
being
caught
in
a
toxic
relationship
feels
utterly
maddening.
After
months
of
relationship
highs
and
lows,
of
it
being
on
and
off,
the
gaslighting,
accusations,
and
coercive
control,
I
honestly
began
to
believe
I
was
losing
my
mind.

I
was
stuck
trying
to
make
sense
of
my
experience,
and
the
logical
part
of
my
mind
was
desperately
searching
for
answers
to
so
many
questions:

Why
did
he
cheat?
What
was
so
wrong
with
me?
Why
did
he
lie?
What
were
lies
and
what
was
the
truth?
Was
any
of
it
real?
Did
he
ever
really
say
the
things
he
said?
Was
he
even
capable
of
love?
How
could
things
have
been
different?
What
else
could
or
should
I
have
done?

These
are
some
of
the
same
questions
I
hear
my
clients
ask
now
when
they
come
to
me
for
support
in
healing
from
narcissistic
abuse.

The
Journey
of
Healing

My
own
recovery
started
one
particularly
frantic
night.
I
was
incredibly
upset
and
desperate
to
make
sense
of
what
was
going
on.
Searching
online,
I
happened
to
come
across
information
about
sociopaths
and
narcissists
and
this
particular
kind
of
psychological
abuse.

This
was
a
pivotal
moment.
I
had
never
heard
anybody
use
the
term
“narcissistic
abuse,”
and
at
that
time
(this
was
many
years
ago),
there
was
hardly
any
information
around
about
it.
But
I
knew,
the
moment
I
read
this,
that
this
was
it.
It
shifted
my
whole
perspective.
It
was
shocking,
confusing,
although
overall,
an
unbelievable
relief.
I
realized
this
was
a
‘thing’
and
that
for
the
first
time,
other
people
understood.
More
importantly,
there
was
a
way
out.

Reading
more
about
psychological
abuse,
I
arrived
at
my
first
key
point
in
healing:

I
Realized
It’s
Not
Me—I’m
Not
Crazy!

Toxic
relationships
will
leave
you
feeling
like
you
are
mad.
Often
abusive
partners
will
reinforce
this
by
never
taking
responsibility
and
constantly
telling
you
in
various
ways
that
it
is
your
fault
or
your
issues.

My
narcissistic
partner
would
criticize
and
undermine
me
in
all
sorts
of
strange
and
subtle
ways,
including
judgments
or
‘suggestions.’
He
would
often
communicate
in
ways
that
would
leave
me
doubting
or
questioning
myself.
As
is
the
power
of
being
with
a
narcissist,
at
the
time,
I
was
eager
to
please
and
impress.

If
I
ever
pulled
him
up
on
any
of
the
criticisms,
he
accused
me
of
being
negative,
told
me
he
was
trying
to
support
my
personal
growth,
that
I
was
being
sensitive,
paranoid,
that
I
was
over-reacting,
or
that
I
had
issues.
This
kind
of
abuse
in
itself
is
maddening.
I
realized
that
all
of
what
I
had
been
feeling
was
in
itself
the
symptoms
of
being
in
an
emotionally
abusive
relationship.

I
was
not
and
am
not
mad,
but
I
was
in
a
mad
relationship.
I
found
as
I
cut
contact
and
removed
myself
from
the
toxic
dynamic
that
my
sense
of
sanity
swiftly
returned.
This
is
something
that
many
sufferers
I
work
with
now
also
experience.
You
are
not
crazy,
but
if
you
are
in
an
abusive
relationship,
you
are
in
a
relationship
dynamic
that
will
leave
you
feeling
like
you
are.

Letting
Go
of
the
Need
to
Understand
and
Know

It’s
our
mind’s
natural
tendency
to
want
to
make
sense
of
our
experience;
however,
with
narcissism
and
narcissistic
behavior,
there
is
no
sense.
You
can’t
apply
logic
to
illogical
actions.
I
created
a
lot
of
distress
for
myself
in
the
early
part
of
my
recovery
by
desperately
clinging
onto
the
fantasy
that
I
somehow
could
understand
all
the
what’s
and
whys.

Being
able
to
let
go
of
this
need
to
know
is
a
big
step
in
recovery.
This
was
not
easy
at
the
time,
but
I
managed
this
by
practicing
mindfulness
and
learning
to
recognize
when
my
thoughts
or
attention
would
drift
to
the
narcissist
or
on
trying
to
work
out
the
answers
or
understand
the
non-existent
logic.

As
I
became
aware
of
my
thoughts
drifting
to
such
a
futile
task,
I
would
then
try
and
tune
into
my
feelings
in
that
moment
and
ask
myself
“How
am
I
feeling
right
now?”

I’d
mentally
label
the
emotion
and
any
physical
sensations
that
went
along
with
it.

Then,
knowing
more
clearly
how
I
was
feeling
(sad,
angry,
etc.)
I
would
ask
myself
“What
do
I
need?
What
can
I
do
for
myself
right
now
that
is
a
loving
and
supportive
thing
to
do?”

Sometimes
this
would
be
to
allow
myself
to
cry,
punch
a
pillow,
reach
out
to
a
friend,
or
go
and
treat
myself
to
something
nice—to

practice
self-care.
It
was
a
step-by-step
process
to
find
ways
in
which
I
could
gently
feel
my
feelings
and
attend
to
my
own
needs.
This
also
included
the
feelings
I
had
about
not
having
answers
and
accepting
that
maybe
I
never
will.
You
can
gently
let
go
with
this
refocus
and
self-care.
Make
a
choice
about
what
may
be
harmful
of
helpful
to
your
healing
and
recovery.

Considering
My
Own
Narcissism

I
laugh
now
that
my
break-up
lasted
longer
than
the
actual
relationship
did!
The
toxic
dynamic
was
addictive
and
really
hard
to
let
go
of
from
both
sides.

An
empath
will
care,
forgive,
understand,
and
put
a
narcissist’s
needs
before
their
own.
A
narcissist
will
crave
the
attention,
contact,
and
power.
It
becomes
a
dance.

Narcissists
tend
to
have
a
disorganized
attachment
style.
Relationships
will
be
push
and
pull,
on
and
off,
up
and
down.
Being
in
a
relationship
with
a
narcissist
is
a
lot
like
being
on
an
emotional
roller
coaster
ride.
It’s
exhilarating
and
draining,
but
if
you
stay
on,
going
round
and
round
for
long
enough
you
will
get
sick!

Because
of
the
attachment
style,
the
moment
a
narcissist
senses
you
are
pulling
away,
they
will
instinctively
aim
to
pull
you
back
in
again,
throwing
all
sorts
of
bait
in
order
to
hook
you
back.

I
was
hooked
back
again
and
again
by
broken
promises
and
wanting
to
believe
the
fantasy
of
how
things
could
be.

I
was
also
hooked
by
believing
that
somehow,
I
could
be
the
one
to
change
him,
to
make
him
see,
to
help
him
love
and
feel
loved,
to
make
things
different,
to
help
him
be
the
person
I
hoped
and
believed
he
could
be.

Truth
be
told,
I
wanted
to
be
the
one
to
capture
and
hold
his
attention
and
interest.
However,
such
is
the
demands
of
narcissistic
supply
that
it’s
impossible
that
can
ever
be
one
person
forever.

Quite
frankly,
I
had
to
recognize
the
narcissism
in
this.
To
see
the
narcissistic
fantasy
in
my
idea
about
somehow
possessing
some
magical
powers
to
help
him
heal
and
change.
I
can’t.
In
fact,
nobody
can.

A
narcissist’s
healing
and
actions
are
their
responsibility
only—nobody
else’s.

Believing
on
some
level
you
can
be
the
‘the
one’
to
change
a
narcissist
is
narcissistic
to
some
extent
in
itself.
This
doesn’t
mean
somebody
who
has
this
hope
has
narcissistic
personality
disorder!
It’s
just
helpful
to
recognize
the
ill-placed
hope
and
fantasy.

Narcissism
is
one
of
the
most
difficult
clinical
presentations
for
highly
experienced
specialists
to
treat.
You
do
not
have
the
ability
or
power
to
change
or
help
an
abuser.
More
to
the
point,
why
would
you
want
to?

Let
Go
of
Fantasy
Thinking
and
Ground
Yourself
in
Reality

Many
people
who’ve
experienced
narcissistic
abuse
become
trapped
in
elusive
fantasy.
Fantasy
thinking
is
clinging
onto
the
hope
of
how
you
believe
things
could
be,
not
how
they
actually
are.

One
of
the
most
confusing
things
I
experienced
when
in
a
relationship
with
a
narcissist
was
distinguishing
the
difference
between
fantasy
and
reality.
With
this
there
can
be
a
discrepancy
between
body
and
mind.
For
example,
my
ex
constantly
told
me
that
he
was
being
supportive.
However,
I
didn’t
feel
supported.

Like
in
many
abusive
relationships,
the
words
and
the
actions
do
not
match.
Nobody
can
really
mean
the
words
“I
love
you”
and
be
violent,
critical,
or
abusive
at
the
same
time.

In
recovery,
it
is
vital
to
distinguish
between
the
hope
and
fantasy
of
how
things
could
be
and
the
reality
of
how
things
actually
are.
I
often
hear
people
describe
the
longing
for
things
to
be
like
they
were
“in
the
beginning.”

The
start
of
an

abusive
relationship
can
be
incredibly
intense
and
powerful.
This
is
the
time
the
manipulator
will
‘love-bomb’
and
it
can
feel
exhilarating,
romantic,
powerful,
and
highly
addictive.

Intensity
is
not
the
same
as
intimacy
though.
Real
intimacy
takes
time
and
is
balanced.
Intensity
can
give
you
a
high
that
you
continue
to
crave.

If
you
suspect
you
are
in
an
unhealthy
relationship,
it’s
important
to
take
an
honest
and
objective
inventory
of
the
current
reality,
not
your
ideal
of
how
things
were
or
could
be.
Right
now,
how
safe
and
secure
do
you
feel?
Currently,
what
are
the
actions
of
your
partner
or
ex?

It
can
be
helpful
to
take
pen
to
paper
and
list
the
current
behaviors
or
circumstances
to
help
regain
some
more
realistic
perspective.
Perhaps
asking
friends
or
family
their
view
too.

Take
responsibility

One
of
the
things
I
feel
most
grateful
from
my
experience
of
narcissistic
abuse
is
that
I
really
had
to
learn
to
take
complete
responsibility
for
myself.
I
had
to
become
fully
responsible
for
myself
and
my
actions;
my
recovery,
my
efforts,
my
self-care,
my
finances,
my
health,
my
well-being,
my
life…
everything.

Something
I
see
many
people
do
while
in
a
toxic
relationship,
and
even
following
the
end
of
one,
is
to
become
stuck
with
focusing
their
efforts
and
attentions
on
the
narcissist.
Over-concerning
themselves
with
what
they
are
now
doing,
or
not
doing,
or
still
trying
to
get
them
to
see
things
another
way,
or
holding
out
for
an
apology
from
them,
or
hoping
they
will
change
or
fulfil
all
their
promises
and
so
on.

A
particular
hook
I
often
hear
about
in
my
work
now
is
the
abusive
partner
dangling
a
‘carrot
on
a
stick’
when
their
partner
attempts
to
end
the
relationship.
This
can
be
highly
abusive
as
they
step
up
the
promises
of
providing
you
with
whatever
it
is
they
know
you
wish
for;
be
it
proper
commitment,
a
family,
a
secure
home
situation,
financial
purchases,
or
more.

I
have
honestly
yet
to
hear
an
account
of
when
any
of
these
promises
have
been
honored.
Instead,
partners
are
left
wasting
months
and
years,
even
decades,
holding
on
the
fantasy
and
hope
that
a
partner
will
provide
them
with
what
they
need.

I
think
it’s
important
to
recognize
the
bigger
perspective.
If
there
are
things
you
want
in
life,
then
you
take
complete
responsibility
for
making
them
happen.

Remember,
too
much
focus
on
the
narcissist
is
a
big
part
of
the
problem
in
the
first
place!

Healing
comes
with
returning
your
focus
to
yourself,
acknowledging
your
own
feelings
and
emotional
experience,
recognizing
your
own
wants
and
needs,
and
gently
attending
to
those
yourself.

I
truly
believe
that
healthy
relationships
begin
with
the
one
we
have
with
ourselves.
That
includes
taking
full
responsibility
for
all
aspects
of
ourselves
and
our
lives.

Gratitude

When
I
was
in
the
midst
of
the
insanity
of
narcissistic
abuse,
I
felt
like
I
was
in
a
living
hell!
At
the
time,
I
absolutely
would
never
have
entertained
the
concept
of
applying
gratitude
to
the
experience!
Now,
though,
many
years
later,
I
can
truly
say
I
am
deeply
grateful
for
the
experience.

When
I
became
aware
of
this
particular
kind
of
psychological
and
emotional
abuse,
the
sheer
depths
of
the
pain
I
was
experiencing
propelled
me
to
embark
on
a
deep
journey
of
exploration,
healing,
and
recovery
and
vast
personal
growth,
which
I
am
now
eternally
grateful
for.

I
actively
practiced
writing
about
what
I
could
be
grateful
for
in
each
part
of
the
experience
and—as
difficult
as
that
was
at
the
time—it
helped
to
assist
my
healing.

I
learned
about
narcissistic
abuse,
I
learned
how
to
spot
the
signs
of
both
overt
and
covert
narcissism
so
now
I
can
spot
this
a
mile
off.
With
awareness,
I
have
a
choice.

I
had
to
take
a
good
look
at
my
part
in
the
dynamic,
my
issues
of
codependency.
I
learned
boundaries.
I’ve
learned
healthy
communication.
I
worked
with
a
therapist
and
support
group
to
feel
and
heal
the
family
origins
of
some
issues
that
related
to
why
we
attract
or
repeat
unhealthy
relationship
patterns
in
the
first
place.

I
learned
how
to
tune
into
and
trust
myself
and
my
gut
instinct;
I
always
stay
close
to
that
now.
I
learned
a
huge
amount
about
myself.
I
know
what
healthy
relationships
are
and
enjoy
many
of
them
in
my
life
now.
I’m
a
better,
wiser,
and
more
grateful
person
for
going
through
it
all.

Don’t
get
me
wrong,
I
would
never
want
to
experience
it
ever
again!
But
I
rest
confident
now
that,
because
of
a
full
recovery,
I
absolutely
will
never
need
to.
I
do
not
attract
that
kind
of
person
anymore.
In
fact,
I
can
be
quite
the
narcissist-repellant
because
I
recognize
the
warning
signs.
As
well
as
spotting
the
signs
on
the
outside
and
recognizing
the
abusive
actions
of
others,
I
now
have
clear
boundaries
and
the
self-esteem
to
communicate
them.

I
have
also
worked
on
what
needed
to
be
healed
inside
of
me,
and
for
that
I
am
grateful.

See
a
typo,
an
inaccuracy,
or
something
offensive?
Please

contact
us
so
we
can
fix
it!