healing from narcissistic abuse

3 Key Steps to Healing from Narcissistic Abuse

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Let’s start with a simple question…

How long, exactly, does it take to heal from narcissistic abuse?

Because that’s the objective here, isn’t it?

Depending on what site or Facebook page you land on, it could take anywhere from ten minutes to ten years.  And if we’re honest with ourselves, ten minutes is expecting a bit too much…but, ten years?  In the words of Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

If you believe it could take ten years to heal from narcissistic abuse, you might be tempted to stay in your toxic situation because, better the devil you know than the one you don’t.  Am I right?

Sadly, many people search for a magical golden ticket that will make their pain disappear in an instant, but such a ticket doesn’t exist. 

So, what does it take to heal, then? 

While healing is different for everyone, there are three essential steps that must be taken before true healing can begin.  If these steps aren’t achieved, healing can take much longer than it needs to, if it happens at all!  To ensure you don’t sabotage your recovery, I cover these three essential steps below.  They don’t necessarily need to be executed in the order I list them, but they do need to be achieved before you can get on with the business of true healing.

1 – Acceptance

When is it time to let go of a relationship?  It’s time to let go when you stop growing as a couple, your bond causes more pain than happiness, you are being manipulated and abused, and/or the relationship’s overall climate is one of anxiety, fear, and shame.

What do I mean by relationship climate?  If you think of your relationship in terms of weather, what’s the overall climate?  Plenty of sunshine and balmy breezes with a few rain clouds here and there, or constant thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tsunamis?  Obviously, a relationship with a narcissist would be one of perpetual, tempestuous cyclones… the likes of which Mount Vesuvius would be highly envious. 

It’s not healthy.  Once you’ve made the determination that your partner is abusive or emotionally unavailable and won’t change, it’s time to accept the need to end the relationship – as opposed to hanging on, vainly hoping they will go back to being the person they were when you first met.  It’s natural to want to make things work with someone you are in love with, but loving a narcissist is about as good for you as a cancer diagnosis.  In fact, narcissistic abuse has been correlated with certain types of cancer.  (And if you do have cancer, leaving the narcissist is the first empowering step you can take towards your recovery.)

Accept that the breakup is imminent and that reconciliation is not in your best interest. By doing so, you can save yourself from more pain down the road and move on to the next healing stage of letting go.

2 – Letting Go

Once you’ve accepted that you must detach, the next step is to let go.  Letting go is similar to acceptance, but involves an inner shift.  It’s an inner process of consciously recognizing that you can make it alone and that you do not need your Ex in order to survive emotionally.

In your mind, you let go of the unswerving belief that you need your Ex in order to feel good about yourself.

In your mind, you accept there will be a hard road ahead, but it’s one you’re willing to travel to get to a place of true healing (and make space for a loving, reciprocal relationship later on).

In your mind, you let go of waiting for apologies and closure from your abusive partner.

In your mind, you let go and release the narcissist.

In your mind, you drop the mic and walk away. 

Once the above two steps have been accomplished, the next one is the coup de grace, albeit a hesitant one…

3 – No Contact

Going No Contact is often the hardest step in narcissistic abuse recovery.  However, this one step is the crux in determining whether or not you will heal.  You cannot finalize the other steps without it.

In the case of shared custody, Extreme Modified Contact must be enforced to protect your emotions and allow healing energies into your personal space.

When you avoid No Contact, don’t properly block the narcissist, and/or attempt to stay friends, you accomplish many things, none of which are helpful or healthy for you.  Several examples of these self-defeating accomplishments are:

  • Taking away your credibility for any boundaries you tried to set
  • Coming across to the narcissist that you are colluding with or quietly accepting their unacceptable behaviors
  • You’ll be incessantly looking for signs that there’s still a chance for reconciliation
  • You’ll set yourself up for a no-strings sex situation (no strings from the narcissist’s side)
  • You’ll put yourself in the role of “safe fallback” when the narcissist needs extra supply aside from their new partner
  • You’ll develop (or deepen) feelings of self-loathing because you are holding out for a person who will never reciprocate your emotions or devotion
  • Your self-esteem and confidence will plummet because you won’t be able to accept that the narcissist won’t commit (even if they pretend they will, you’ll be crushed when you find out they lied again)
  • Your core abandonment wounds will only become worse, setting you up for complete dysfunction and annihilation

You must work through all three of these critical steps in order to begin your recovery.  This is why it’s impossible to magic away the pain of narcissistic abuse….because the relationship is the cumulation of all of your worst love experiences that haven’t been resolved (romantic or otherwise), many going all the way back to your childhood.  People who accept the need to end the relationship, truly let go, and implement No Contact in its true form are the ones who successfully move on towards healing and happiness. 

“To live in this world, you must be able to do three things
to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, let it go.”
― Mary Oliver

Are you stuck in your recovery?

If this article resonates with you and you know it’s time to stop the chaos, end the mental torture, and begin healing your life, then I’d love for you to join us in our Inner Circle by claiming your free Beginner’s Healing Roadmap.

You can sign up right here.

If you’re ready to go deeper and change your life right NOW (or become an Empowered Empath), I offer a wide range of effective resources and techniques to protect against toxic people – in my bestselling program, The Essential Break Free Bootcamp.

I’m excited to share with you the psychological tools I and thousands of others have used to heal from narcissistic abuse.

Explore techniques derived from behavioral therapy (vetted by the psychological and neuro-psychological communities) to finally heal your life.

Learn more here!

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Leave a Comment:

Donna says December 9, 2018

I’m having a very hard time with no contact. My narc is my one and only child, my daughter. My husband died 5 yrs ago. My daughter has done all the usual narc retaliations. I really don’t have anyone and I’m very depressed. I already take antidepressants. ( A gift from my daughter) Everything I read has to do with a spouse or significant other. There needs to be something for mothers! So much Narc Advice doesn’t even apply. This is my only child that I have loved with all my being all her life. It feels so much like my failing that she turned out this way! And I feel so cruel despite all the pain she enjoys inflicting on me. Yet there is this rage that I have toward her. I feel like I’m losing my mind!!!

Anonymous says September 11, 2018

Still angry after abuse what is ever happened in the past. I red a lot of comments of others and you tube stories with advice of survivors who are helping and support others to give advice what you should do and the golden rules after abuse, when pain lingers on after abuse etc. Some of these people are still in my mind get flashbacks and negative thoughts of it Even when it is long a go when it happened I have still weird dreams of this individuals. This type of abuse is a complicated because it is done to an individual and it is like nobody understands you and know you went though, and lonely at the core of your soul. To have similarities with some on makes it less lonely cause they understand you and i understand them. There is no alienated feeling of abandonement cause you understand the core of abuse. They say move on but it is hard to forget the past as it never did happen. In the past I needed to go in rehab for traumabonding. I did “t know what it was and cognative dissonance. Hope that many find you so they know that they are not alone. It feels very lonely at the core of your soul and describes the escape and exit-strategy from the narcissist. Never again with the naricissist what a nightmare was that. Get the hell out of there. I hope that police-officers know more of this abuse and don”t believe them in that theater that they are playing so they can stay safe at home.

Tio says September 11, 2018

Did n”t know what cognitive dissonance was and traumabonding. You don”t know where you are dealing and that makes it difficult. You have always hope if you don”t know what this is and what and who this person is. It is a look a like of everybody slavery to the devil who thinks he knows you and want to rule over your life. Confused in a web and in a fog at the cost of your short time memory and you gat nothing done and don”t know what it is and where it is come from. After I red about this what it means traumabonding it has a clear face. Finding you at the core of your soul and now i am understanding what this is and what it means. It is if you don”t see it in the beginning you get used to it to underwent this this shit and it can become a cycle and it is if you never can find the end cause there is no end for the narcissist. It ends when you are finally broken burned at the end and maybe even dead. Abuse has no end and it is an endless road. Now you can hold on to something what gives you strength and right and the right to speak out for what you are as an individual with individual rights. It is an emotional trip. The narc was a bad trip and a big hangover. You know they are sick. Victimblaming is also very damaging. You know the motives. Non judgemental people who listen to you and consistantly support values and beliefs. That attract and attack and cat and mouse game I don”t want to be envolved by that. .

Anon says October 28, 2016

Yes the newsletters and posts have been very helpful!
Glad to hear you have started back with your business, wishing you all the success and happiness.
Stay strong ❤️

Smlk says October 27, 2016

Kim,I experienced all that U listed ,after I Broke my NC rule . And my reason being is I felt so lonely and he was the only one who d appear and want to take me out for a date ! But once I started loving myself ,I slowly realised my self worth. And once I did than I didn’t feel as lonely . Because I started busying myself in doing what I love doing ! And ofcourse reading more info on Narcisissts and narcisssit victim syndrome i finally figured it all and made the decision no more and made a new yr resolution I am not gonna do this anymore ! Called and ordered not show his face ever again ! Narcs like to look “all that “in front of their families. Thus I threatened to spill out the beans if he doesn’t stay away from me. I am proud of myself for having fulfilled my resolution and haven’t seen him for two yrs !! What I find hard though is, I still do get triggers . I have recovered from that longing for him feeling but I still find myself mad at him and I know I have not fully healed and somehow I feel I don’t think any of narcs victim can ever heal ! Moving on is a struggle still . I am
Blessed I am in a much better place and very relieved I am not with him ! I don’t ever miss him again. It had come to a point where when he d re appear I d feel disgusted to even look at him ! I have a question though. Why do most people don’t understand our situation? To them it is just “oh get over it !” Or “when u ever stop talking about it ?” Or ” I can’t wait till u take him totally out of your mind once and for all!” Truthfully speaking ,other than your posts and other sites on narcissists I have fought and still am fighting this inner battle ,alone. I don’t have much friends because all they do is talk about themselves and their poor stories ! Than turn around and tell me ” move on stop being depressed , you need to be happy etc etc !” Absolutely no moral support Kim. So I stay away from such people but end up lonely ! But this time I am stronger not to fall into another bad relationship just cause I am lonely ! I don’t wish to date at this moment. I am not ready to meet another narc ( I feel there r more evil doers than good men in this world )

Heartbroken in need of help says October 27, 2016

Dear Kim,

I don’t know if he’s an N, but I’ve felt and gone through feeling crazy, worthless, doubted myself. I think he cheated on me multiple times. I’ve seen pictures of them together in Bali when he said that he was supposed to go to Korea for work. Unfortunately, I played detective countless of times snooping and going through his phone and I’m not proud of that. But I found all these text messages between them. She doesn’t live in the same country and they are doing long distance it seems. I just don’t understand why. We had such a good thing going on, until I found out about his first trip to Bali and that’s when the nightmare started. I sent the other lady a text on instagram and facebook asking if she had gone to Bali with him, this was before I saw the pictures, and she showed it to him and he said that I was his friend who has been “acting weird ever since he told the gang about their trip to Bali”.

I’ve been trying to make it work for the past 6 months but he broke up with me again after I posted a picture of us on Instagram. Just to give you full context, I liked and unliked many of her photos, in the hopes that she would come to my Instagram account and see our pictures. But he broke up with me because he said that I was messing with and harassing her and she was just a family friend, and endangering his family.

I’ve showed him his texts, and he said that he cannot explain anymore than that he has to do this, and that I can either believe him and stick with him, or just leave.

He never gave me that choice. I decided to stay with him hence the instagram picture. but he broke up with me. His siblings are in Singapore for the weekend, and we were supposed to meet, he arranged for them to meet with all our mutual friends.

I don’t think i’ve reached the stage of acceptance, or letting it go, because i don’t believe that he could do this still. I feel bad because i’ve been acting crazy and i wonder if i’m the narcissist in all of this. I keep looking for reassurance everywhere, from my friends, my family, i keep telling them i’m not crazy. most of our mutual friends don’t believe me until i show them his texts. But some just say that that’s not the person they know.

That’s not the person I knew either.

Laura Bridges Newhouse says October 27, 2016

I left R in 1991 after 10 years of abuse. My life still carries scars, but I intentionally reestablished my positive sense of self and forged a beautiful life and attracted a healthy romantic relationship. It took years. What helped the most? Meditation. Journaling. Some good therapists. It also helped to create a supportive, loving community around myself of people who believed in me. My son and I prospered and flourished because of these things. If I can do it, you can do it.

    Smlk says October 27, 2016

    Wow your comment sounds so encouraging. I have lost all hopes I can ever find a good man ! I guess i
    I am disappointed my ex turned out be a narc and played his game and he was fake ! I too try everyday to be positive and happy and I count my blessings daily. It is only when I get triggered I kinda go back into my shell ( for I have no moral support from friends nor communtiy ). But I don’t stay as long in my shell. Using my Dbt skills I come out of my shell.

Val says October 27, 2016

So well-said. Acceptance of what is and what will be is so very difficult– and so very necessary for healing and recovery.
I allowed my ex-husband to move out and move back in (all while “eating cake”) four times before finally accepting the utter toxicity and lack of hope for a better outcome.
Perhaps my therapist put it best when she told me quite frankly, “You can’t build a relationships based on someone’s “potential.'”

    Kim Saeed says October 27, 2016

    Val, a profound quote from your therapist, and so very accurate. Oh, how we give it all away based on someone’s potential. No more! Thanks for sharing 🙂

anon says October 27, 2016

Im still stuck in recovery, its been 3 months and a friend has just said i need to slow down..ive lost everything and possibly moving into a hostel and my anger at the moment is 2 years ago i started my new life and was doing ok, then i met my N and now i feel i’m completely back to square one.
and everyday i’m reminded of him due to the fact he kept everything of mine, so when i go to get something, its not there and it’s a big trigger!
But i’m still living with hope & no contact and have bad days & i let myself have those bad days (well im trying) and deal with the emotions so that eventually i can move on.

    Anonymous says October 27, 2016

    I am going on my third month of no contact. He still writes me cards and occasionally leaves voicemails. The sex and affection were very good when we had them and I miss that so much and I feel so lonely. I find myself so tempted to call him at times . this is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do if not the hardest. I am working on having and finding men friends–in addition to my female friends. I am with you hundred percent and I support you 100%. Remember you are not alone!

      Anon says October 28, 2016

      Thank you

      NM says November 7, 2016

      I am in the same boat as you 3 months as well. It is lonely and thats one thing that i feel is hard for me. i want to crawl into a shell and just not talk to anyone or do anything. i hate that i am going through this.

    Wendy Pauling says October 27, 2016

    Sounds very familiar, i have been fighting in court for over three years to get back what was taken from me financially.
    Hendreds of thousands was taken, not to mention the emotional and physical abuse.
    I was 47 when i met this dysfunctional man, i had been in a 20 year marriage prior to meeting him..
    While my marriage sadly ended , it was healthy we just both had different goals and dreams..so i was blessed to know what healthy looks like when i met the anti christ.
    I was a home owner, had my own business, great credit, medical, ira, great money in savings..then i met Him! It was all taken from me, gone!
    It’s been 3 years, and i have nothing in my heart left for him..i have been fighting to get my business up and running again, i opened in July! 🙂
    Still the fight is on in the background, i do have a restrsaining order so he can’t bother me!
    Kims newsletters have been a Godsend!

    Gloria says November 2, 2016

    Still stuck in recovery too,its been 3months but um still confused,hurt and I even lose energy evry single day.But I pray alot,do some excercises and talk with other people just to avoid dis feelings.Its so sad bcs we did online dating but it feels like It was’nt any more.I angry,hv fear nd feel so ashamed dat I’ve been abused throuh de phone and evry person I tell him about dis whom I trust and close to would say “get over it,its life” but its not easy.I think I’ll recovery quickly because we never met.

      Anon says November 3, 2016

      I’m not hot on online dating but I’m sure that’s where a lot of Narc’s doing their hunting and looking for their next supply to be careful and thankfully you didn’t meet up with him because he would of hurt you a lot more….I’m sure of hat!
      Stay strong and listen to yourself, you will get better day by day and stronger, it’s not easy . Other people can’t quite understand because they haven’t had to deal with someone who has no remorse or conscious, it’s hard to get you’re head around, for us and anyone trying to be of comfort.
      Thanks for replying to my little need of help!

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