healing from narcissistic abuse

5 Steps to Healing When the Relationship is Over

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Getting over a relationship is hard enough, but trying to recover from the pain of narcissistic abuse seems insurmountable.  If you are ruminating over “what could have been”, perhaps the following checklist will put things into perspective.

1. Don’t Turn Crumbs Into Trophies

If you’ve been discarded by the Narcissist or gathered the courage to leave yourself, you may romanticize what really happened in the relationship.  Ironically, when you were with your abuser, you were miserable and yearned for a different life.  Then, when that opportunity presented itself in the form of the Narcissist taking a new lover or your leaving after choosing not to be abused anymore, suddenly the relationship was lollipops and rainbows.

The reason for this is rooted in your brain chemistry.  You were so conditioned to being abused and accepting less that whenever the Narcissist threw you a crumb, you experienced an exaggerated high.  You tend to remember everything through rose-colored glasses, as if it was all wonderful.  In this case, longing for and obsessing over an abuser is evidence of having been brainwashed.

If your Narcissist discarded you, it may be even more tempting to imagine he or she was perfect and you weren’t. Remember them as they truly are, zero…not a hero.

2. Remember Who You Were Before the Relationship

Who were you before you met the Narcissist?  Were you satisfied and happy?  Did you have friends and hobbies that kept you busy?  Now’s a good time to rekindle old friendships and connect to interests you had before all of your time and energy was sucked into an eternal abyss.

That happy-go-lucky person you were is still in there, and is the main reason you were feeling so sucky with the Narcissist.  The part of you that you had to suppress to keep your toxic Ex happy is who you need to reconnect with and bring back to the surface.

3. He’s Not All That

One of the biggest challenges in getting over the Narcissist is grieving over lost love and what could have been. You’re left to pick up the pieces and accept that the life you’d planned is no longer an option.

It’s important to remember that they aren’t the only person you can experience love with (and it was one-sided, at that).  Granted, you have a journey ahead of you in order to get to a place where you are ready for another relationship, but the point is, you will know love again.

Hope can be a terrible thing if it keeps you stuck in the past.  Instead of allowing your toxic Ex back into your life, make space for real love and happiness, whatever that may look like for you.

You won’t spend the rest of your life alone. But first, you need to work on the reasons you stayed in an abusive relationship.  Learn to love yourself and stop looking to someone else to validate you and your worth.

4. Acknowledge the Need to Let Go

Trying to hold on to the Narcissist and force them to be human and love you is torturous.  This succeeds in nothing more than your feeling ashamed, foolish, resentful, angry, and obsessed with making it work.

It also perpetuates your feelings of not being good enough, and so you keep attracting more of that kind of energy into your life.  When you’re holding onto something, you’re in a place of not having, and this is what you’ll keep getting.

Let go and make peace with yourself.

Let go and open yourself up to new possibilities.

Some people believe that holding on and hanging in there are signs of strength, but there are times in life when it takes much more strength just to let go.”  ~ Ann Landers

5. Replace Fearful Thoughts

Another reason it’s so hard to let go of the Narcissist is because you’re reacting from a place of fear.  You internalized the lies they told you.  Lies that made you believe no one else would ever be interested in you, that you aren’t attractive anymore, that you weigh too much, are getting old, and the like.  In turn, you may believe it’s better to have a fraction of so-called love than none at all.

When you’re holding onto these fears, the Narcissist wins. They want you to remain fearful so you will keep letting them back in whenever they get bored or the new supply doesn’t pan out.

Stand strong.  Remind yourself that a better life is possible.

Sometimes the strongest thing you will ever do will be to let go of someone. It will be painful, you will suffer guilt, and you will second-guess yourself, but for your own sanity and quality of life, there will come a time where you hand them to God, with your love.” ~ Lee Goff


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Virginia says September 30, 2020

Just found out about this. Thank you ever so much to help me realize what is really going on and it has helped a lot to heal. Thank you!!

Michele says July 5, 2017

BRAVO! This, by far, is the best article (IMHO) and I so desperately needed to read it today! Thank you, Kim!!!

Heather Walsh says September 13, 2016

Wow! So much power to you amazing women xx A good read thank you xxx

Edith says September 12, 2016

Dear Kim,
Have to thank you for this article. I just left for good after 5 months. I used to live at an apartment at his parents’ house and that’s where I met him. He was like an addiction to me, and I left him twice in the beginning with no remorse or pain. Cause I was aware- kind of- of the narcissistic traits. But I failed when I became obsessed and living there was obviously not helping. After 5 months , in which we were not together anymore the last 2 – and I even accepted his other terms cause I could not leave him (cause it’s true that when you give them a second chance it is worse. After nc , if you return it is twice the pain), even in other terms (being just friends only for sex) – I finally decided to leave him for good after he stood me up for the first time in those terms. To me it was very painful and humilliating. And I felt I had to speak up this time (instead of just going No Conctact, cause I knew this would not be enough for me). So I just send him a very long and clear message explaining my position. Well, this worked and I felt relieved and proud of myself for taking that step towards him.

On that same day, I found another apartment – nicer – and I just moved there yesterday with my Little daughter. So, I feel that the moment I made this huge important decision some other good things came.

During our moving yesterday he was there (he does not live there but he is almost every day there during the day). He stayed there since Saturday night and he obviously knew by his mother, that we would move at 10 am yesterday. He was there like just checking on us, silent.

I felt great, relieved this last days with the plans on the new apartment, and having ended the relationship. But today I am feeling soo depressed.. I don´t know why.

But this article has arrived just on time.

Thank you

Sheila says February 10, 2014

Truer words were never spoken and sometimes we need to see it in print or hear from someone that has been through what we have or are experiencing! It can be so overwhelming at times!

    Kim Saeed says February 21, 2014

    So true, Sheila! When I was going through it, no one could really relate to the experience because it was all just so bizarre. I remember feeling like a weirdo for sharing my story because, even to me, it sounded crazy. In fact, I didn’t find other people who’d been through the same experience until after I’d left the situation, so I was groping blindly until the middle of my recovery.

terriiwachala says February 3, 2014

This is great advice! I wish I’d had this about ten years ago!

    Kim Saeed says February 16, 2014

    Me, too, Terri. I had to learn the hard way…sounds like you did, as well.

sweetmarie9619 says February 3, 2014

Oh this is one thing I thankfully don’t have to struggle with. He took me so far past anything I’d ever imagine was possible in the realm of a human being evil… Past my obvious fear of him and what he has the ability to do, I feel nothing but pity for the life he has chosen and hope he likes being alone, because he will have to get used to it. We will always leave.

If the relationship was lollipops and rainbows, the lollipops were in a gutter in a back alley in the City somewhere being peed on by stray cats and rodents. And there were no rainbows until the day I left.

When he does something, he doesn’t do it halfway. That is one thing I should thank him for.

    Kim Saeed says February 3, 2014


    I am glad you don’t struggle with this. Of the people I’ve interacted with so far, your case is one of the more extreme ones. I still grit my teeth when I think of what he did to you. I’m not a psychologist, but I am pretty sure your Ex would qualify as a Sociopath. Most cases of Narcissistic abuse are limited to mental abuse, swirled with feigned caring and affection, which is what makes it so hard for many victims to leave. They’re still holding out for Mr. Charmer, who never comes back because he was fake to begin with.

      sweetmarie9619 says February 3, 2014

      Ah he only feigned affection for me in front of other people and only if there was a payoff of a substantial level that could be gleaned from it. Once he got me to a point where I was “properly under control” he was pretty much nasty and rotten… except when he was busy being a monster.

        Kim Saeed says February 3, 2014

        Hmmm. nasty and rotten…or monster. Gosh it’s hard to make a choice 🙁

        Glad you are free now 🙂

Teela Hart says February 3, 2014

Although I don’t regret for a second leaving my abuser, I continue to find myself reacting to others; children, father, mother friends as if he were the one speaking to me. Difficult to right myself and realize I am not there anymore, but getting better. Thanks for the post.

    Kim Saeed says February 16, 2014

    Teela, have you gone to therapy for this? It sounds like you are hypersensitive due to long-term abuse. I tried therapy, and honestly…it helped, but guided meditations have helped tremendously. I have some free ones on my site if you’d like to try them. Some are binaural, but if you prefer a soothing voice, you might want to head over to YouTube and find “healing meditations kelly howell”. She puts me in a trance every time 🙂

      Teela Hart says February 16, 2014

      Thank you Kim. I’ll try the meditation.

      Teela Hart says February 16, 2014

      Thanks Kim, I have had therapy, however, no meditation. I will try it.

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