Just how the walls, framing and structure of our homes can come crashing to the ground when hit by a bulldozer, our boundaries, which separate us from others, (the walls that hold ourselves inside us and keeps others at a safe & healthy distance) are completely demolished in a narcissistically abusive relationship.
Here’s an example:
Whenever we try to talk to the narcissist about something they did that resulted in us feeling a certain way, regardless of how nice we are or how much responsibility we take when we try to talk about it, the narcissist whose identity renders them incapable of taking any responsibility and see all feelings as criticism and thus a narcissistic injury, will deflect our concerns and throw a red herring, not see them as valid, won’t listen to us, will twist it and turn it back on us, etc. ANYTHING that will prevent them from having to acknowledge that our feelings are valid, important or exist or that they in any way have any responsibility for behaving in a manner that impacts our feelings or having to take them into account.
We want to talk about something they did and how we feel about it, but they deflect with well YOU do this…avoiding taking any responsibility for what they did and switching the issue from what we felt to how THEY feel. As a result, we don’t feel heard, which diminishes trust and goodwill…we are frustrated, dont feel listened to or more importantly heard. Our concerns go unresolved. They mount. Our emotions are nearly completely shut down just as the narcissist is. We explode which gives them justification in their eyes to abuse us further saying “see! YOU really have a problem with anger!” (projecting their emotions onto us because WE CAN FEEL them). It’s an exhausting mind screw. No other way to put it. And why over complicate it by using some textbook term to describe it?! It’s a Mind Screw! It’s exhausting, burns us out and makes most of us never want to argue like this with another person again in our lives.
How boundaries are at play in the above example is this (think in terms of separation and responsibility): by playing into the twist of focus, shame and blame we’re allowing our boundaries to be crossed and taking responsibility for the narcissist’s disordered behavior. (being overresponsible) By chasing the red herrings (narcissists irresponsibility), we allowed a narcissist to drive our thinking all over the place, (think for us) we allowed them to assign their flaws to us (define us) and battled them to hear us (rather than listening to ourselves) without realizing that it is a lost cause (acceptance) because we didn’t understand how very different they are (irresponsible/disordered) from us (identity boundary), we allowed our emotions to be neglected (rather than tending to our feelings) and played with and allowed our rights to be violated by not standing up, (protecting ourselves) walking away (holding the narcissist accountable) and refusing to remain (respecting our own worth) in the company of someone who doesn’t respect us.
[Please note: by “allow” we are discussing responsibility; NOT blame. Targets of narcissists are in an abusive relationship where there is an extreme power imbalance, punishment & reward system, stockholm syndrome and brainwashing, as all victims of abuse we “allow” things to happen due to the abusive schema]
Let’s face it, some of us didn’t have very strong boundaries when we first encountered a narcissist; nevertheless, the trauma of this abuse wears us down over time and causes us to resign easily to repeated boundary violations from a narcissist. They’re determined to get their way and we are sick of fighting. Plus, we’re used to putting ourselves last to please others and we constantly acquiesce. This is the “boundarylessness” of narcissistic abuse and what we call “forced codependence”. It’s the lowest point in the narcissistic “relationship”; having none of our own needs met, having the narcissist demand that theirs are or else they punish us with rage or silence, having hatred, blame and shame projected upon us with no defense (no boundaries) and accepting all of it while feeling hopelessly worthless, loveless, lonely and stuck in a cycle of learned helplessness.
When the foundation of ANY structure or being is destroyed, the whole house will eventually fall down. Eventually, if the narcissist doesn’t discard us first, we are utterly so worn down, we must exit this abusive, boundaryless existence to save our souls, our lives and our sanity.
Once we leave these relationships, we can finally assess the true damage of the trauma. As we would had our home been rammed with a bulldozer, we stand staring at the remains, the rubble and a few valuables that can be salvaged, we realize that our home is no longer our home. We begin picking up the pieces we can salvage, experiencing tremendous sadness, grief and a feeling of disbelief of the reality before us. Overwhelmed, we look at it all, our identities, our love, our beliefs, our views, our trust, our hopes, dreams, good names, reputation, sanity and souls….and in utter shock & grief decide to just raze the rest of the structure and start over.
We build our new homes with the foundation, structure and “walls” of boundaries. Boundaries save us. They are the demarcation lines between ourselves and others that define who we are, who we aren’t, what we are responsible for and not responsible for and what we will allow to happen or not happen in our lives in order to live in harmony. It is our strong foundation. They hold us together and protect us from the outside world, elements, and people who mean to do us harm. Our boundaries keep our worth “inside of us” so to speak. We decide who comes and goes based on what we want going on “inside our homes”.
By having strong boundaries we are making a statement about what we believe we’re worth. If we feel valuable, we are going to want to protect ourselves with good boundaries. Just as we don’t leave diamond earrings laying on the front porch of our new home, we don’t allow our valuable selves to be in the company of an exploitative, abusive, narcoholic. We protect what we value with boundaries.
What lessons have you learned about boundaries as a result of having them destroyed by a narcissist?
What examples can you give of boundary violations that occurred during the relationship with the narcissist?
How did you build your boundaries back?
Psychological trauma is the damage to the psyche that occurs as a result of a severely distressing event like emotional and psychological abuse.
One of the debilitating aspects of this abuse that is so damaging to targets/victims is the trauma or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from being in this relationship! DEFINITION: Trauma means “injured” AND the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds a person’s ability to cope or integrate the emotions involved with that experience. A traumatic event involves one experience, or repeating events with the sense of being overwhelmed that can be delayed by weeks, years, or even decades as the person struggles to cope with the immediate circumstances. Eventually this can lead to serious, long-term negative consequences that can even be overlooked by mental health professionals especially if psychological abuse is at the root of problem but not actualized as trauma inducing.
This is very important for targets/victims of this abuse because if the clinician fails to look through a trauma diagnosis to isolate the problems as they relate to current or past trauma, they may fail to see that trauma victims, young and old, organize much of their lives around repetitive patterns of reliving and warding off traumatic memories, reminders, and affects. This is very true for many targets/victims that have not addressed the trauma correctly and the negative messages and associated trauma becomes imprinted on their minds for many years. The trauma will trigger memories of the abuse and pull the target/victim right back into the debilitating feelings associated with the abuse. This may not always be on a conscious level but in the sub-conscious where it is always available unless we disable it and enable our old and real belief systems that life is good.
Normal bonding is a biological and emotional process that makes people more important to each other over time. Unlike love, trust, or attraction, bonding is not something that can just be lost or abruptly stopped at will. It is cumulative and only grows and increases but rarely decreases. Bonding naturally grows with spending time together, living together, eating together, being physical, having children together, and even during stress or difficulty. Bad times bond people just as strongly as good times, and sometimes more so.
Bonding is in part why it is harder to leave an abusive relationship the longer it continues. The bonding makes it hard to enforce normal and even healthy boundaries, because it is much harder to stay away from people we have strongly bonded with. An important point to understand is that when leaving a long relationship, it is not always useful to base your decision to leave by how hard it is to break this bond, because it will always be hard. This is especially true in an abusive relationship. Secondly with an abusive relationship only YOUR bond was/is real and based solely on the growth through YOUR love for this person. There was no love reciprocated with a Narcissist just a need to use you as supply or objectify you to meet his/her needs. Leaving or moving on for a Narcissist is a simple act once they have found new or better supply!
Moreover, experiencing extreme situations and extreme feelings such as abuse tends to bond people in a different way. ‘Trauma bonding’ is a term that defines this bond when a person has experienced abuse in a seemingly loving relationship like one with a Malignant Narcissist because of the continual shifting to blaming and the devaluation involve. The ‘love bombing’ in reality is ‘love bonding’ that creates the connection to the Narcissist even though it wasn’t real. So unfortunately the target/victim plugs all of their normal AND learned life experiences into this love – TRUST being right on top of the list. With the devaluation, the distorted and negative aspects of this love also bond and this changes the reality to accepting the good, the bad and the ugly or basically submitting to the abuse because of the extreme manipulation and control methods of the Narcissist
A good example of this distorted love is if a child grows up in an unsafe/abusive home. It makes unsafe situations in the future have more holding power and almost acceptable because it is what they know and have accepted as their normal. This example has a basis beyond any cognitive learning and it is neither rational nor irrational. If targets/victims can come to see that part of the attraction or falling in love included this dysfunctional or irrational bonding, while very unwanted and horrendous, it became a natural process or basically surviving because of this distorted love/abuse. Then maybe they will be able to understand the reality of the dysfunction and manage the situation more intentionally with understanding the reality of the situation or the ‘trauma bonding.’ We have to dig down very deeply to break this negative attachment and the distorted messages.
Intense relationships where distorted love is involved tend to hijack all of the target/victims relating capacity and rationale. It is like a continual state of being so worn out, managed down and burnt out AND always feeling a need or in the position to fix the wrongs to make it right again by accepting the blame ALWAYS! You forget what is really right as it concerns you because you are always having to explain, react, and keep a peace to keep your sanity. Becoming attached or falling in love with a very chaotic and inconsistent person makes it simply impossible to form a consistent reality based connection that goes beyond the feelings of fear, loss, the worthlessness that was imposed on you, feelings of blame and shame, or even normal and good memories beyond the trauma that comes with devaluation. When separated from the abusive partner, the urge to make contact is usually intense because it is the chaotic connection that is alive and makes the connection with them (as horrendous as it is) tolerable in any circumstance. In simpler words your normal reality has been manipulated and managed down to accept a role where you operate within the dysfunction because it has desensitized your rationale.
This is the bond with them and in reality it has always been this way with the Narcissist. Love connected you to this first and that love was manipulated in a manner to manage you down and control you completely. This is hideous dehumanization and such an intense betrayal to a normal human being that if not corrected it can diminish and disable the target/victims perspective of the world, people, and love through their entire life. True recovery requires such a deep desire to dig down deep inside and dispel EVERYTHING that this Narcissist has damaged. It is just not falling out of this distorted love.
Some of the signs and symptoms of being stuck with this trauma. The target/victim and survivor can come to find that it is almost impossible to relate to anyone, even family or friends, except superficially. This trauma creates a feeling of being totally alone, and totally empty, and very damaged. Then is seems that going back to the primary abuser will help you overcome it or fixing this to make everything right again AND release from the pain associated with being separated from them. It SEEMS normal in this state of trauma to believe that even though something is so horribly wrong that leaving isn’t an option even though it is real and there is something horribly wrong with staying. Most of the relationship was a huge manipulation that managed you down to accept a submissive role, feel shame, etc., and then processing all of this along with that blame AND real love you believed in. You didn’t outwardly accept this distorted love, you were TRICKED/CONNED into it or psychologically abused. The Narcissist said to you in the beginning “I love you,” he/she didn’t say “I love you and I am going to ABUSE you,” but that was their agenda.
To go a bit further complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a common problem for survivors of abusive relationships. The symptoms which are many include a feeling of emotional numbness or feeling like one of the walking dead. You feel like you are completely engulfed and surrounded with this self-protection like the aftermath of a destructive tornado that completely destroyed your entire house. In reality it is despair. You lose faith, hope, joy as well as the love you THOUGHT was real. This was all real to you, the memories, the time together, the emotions and everything else that you were conned into believing. It is a hideous abuse because you gave love, you believed in love, you believed in them, you gave yourself completely to this love because this is what we grew up believing was normal and then this Narcissist destroyed this image of real love and damaged this belief so completely that you are trying to heal from this.
That complete distorted thought process has to be removed from your psyche to rebuild your belief system. It is a matter of realizing now that there are two types of love, ‘real’ and ‘abusive.’ It is compartmentalizing and understanding that real love can and does exist as well as predators and distorted love. It is putting your trust back into yourself so that your new lessons will keep you safe from one of these monsters should you encounter one again. It is also you putting your trust back into yourself so that you can establish a real life that includes REAL love. It is you believing more in yourself than allowing this abuse to define you forever.
Now a little further! There are many obstacles and many distorted messages or the feeling of being in shock. Unfortunately this is a normal part of the process that is directly related to the abuse that requires some time, education, and deep soul searching to correct. Why are we in shock when we had a real sense of this? Well we didn’t want to believe that we were basically with a destructive monster and we were only justifying, apologizing, fixing, and living in the shadow of fear and control. Who wants to believe that the love they invested in is such a total sham or abuse? Who even knows how to believe in a manner that precludes all reality and a belief system we all grew up with that allows people to love normally. It sounds like brain-washing and basically it was. It is necessary to correct this trauma to destroy the negative messages and purge the blame from this Narcissist out of our heads – and it is of vital importance to do this in the beginning or whatever stage you are at now! Unfortunately this doesn’t always happen and many stay locked up in this trauma their entire lives.
If I could give an example of a devastating shooting at a school where lives are lost. What is the first thing that is done after the event? The school provides the surviving students with trauma counselors so that the trauma doesn’t manifest itself in the survivor’s lives forever. Overcoming this hopelessness from the trauma doesn’t happen overnight, it takes intervention, hard work and awareness or defining it for what it is – TRAUMA. No one ever imagines they will be witness to a terrible shooting, nor do we believe we will be in an emotionally/psychologically abusive relationship with a Narcissist, but both are real and both yield trauma. We are aware that these situations can happen, but we don’t have the tools right there with us to recover if we experience such a traumatic event. It also takes a willingness to try, fail and still persisting to get through this. Most importantly, it takes a strong will to have self-compassion to fix yourself to move forward. Another important aspect is realizing that the abusive Narcissist is not part of this equation. They were/are the attacker in this situation that acts out to harm good and unsuspecting people. As personal as this situation was, as well as how this love felt familiar and real, you are still dealing with a highly disordered creature and a predator. This is self-help not yourself and the Narcissist’s help. They will only bring more trauma into your life and pull you back into the abuse.
You CAN be in control of this situation! BUT you will slow your progress to a screeching halt if you go to the trouble of fulfilling the no contact rule and then obsess about making contact. It totally defeats the purpose of no contact if you keep an ongoing dialogue and connection. As they say you can’t see the forest for the trees!
Think about the reason why you may obsess about these monsters and make contact. It is because we want them to validate all of that emotional expenditure that we provided through loving them and NOW the pain and having to grieve the abuse and some sort of closure! It won’t happen because this Narcissist would have NEVER put you in this position in the first place if he/she REALLY knew love or better yet REALLY loved you. REMEMBER they are ABUSERS and they aren’t going to turn around and fix this or you because their agenda was to control, disable and harm you. If you think they are going to suddenly realize your worth, when no other human being in this world has any worth to them beyond an object to use, then you need to do a reality check until you get to the point that you understand that they are destructive and dangerous to you and your life.
Seriously ask yourself if you could imagine your Narcissist saying: “I’ve been emotionally unavailable, I’ve had NUMEROUS affairs, I intentionally manipulated you, gas-lighted you, tried to drive you to the point of insanity, ignored and silenced you, blamed you for everything, projected darkness onto and into you, constantly ignored your needs, used you, extorted and stole from you, and made your life a living hell AND I WAS ABUSIVE. Then imagine them saying that they suddenly realize your worth and how valuable you are to them and they want to be together with you to fix ALL OF THIS. First why would you want a person that has taken you down so far to ever be any part of your life and secondly they are NOT emotionally available for you or anyone and they are off and abusing their next target/victim! They are like criminals living out a life of crime. Don’t forget how they smeared you, your name and then tried to destroy your integrity to avoid exposure and the truth of what they are. How could you forget ANY of this in a manner to accept them back into your life – and then how many times have you accepted them back into your life to end up abused over and over again. You must move TOTALLY on and away from them being anything in your life. Forget them completely so you can start recovering because it is integral in surviving this abuse AND moving forward.
To truly move forward to recovery you can’t make your abuser (the Narcissist) the focal point of your life AND your recovery. They are what they are and you have had personal experience which more than enough defines their character and agenda! You have to make YOU the focal point of YOUR life. This time of grieving, healing, and regrouping with you is an opportunity to get real about the relationship that has just ended and you have to look at you and your relationship with open eyes and the reality that it was abuse. So many times, I have heard targets, victims, and survivors say that they want to be able to get past it all, to move on, and they want it all to just be over with so they can live again. The wanting is only part of the battle, a very important part, but the rest of it takes longer and demands introspection, education, support and the need to accept that this Narcissist was AND always is a potential danger if you let them be any part of your thoughts OR life. There is no magical kiss from the prince/princess Narcissist that will awaken you from this this doom, because they are the one that gave you the apple that poisoned you in the first place! Your own care, love, and self-compassion will awaken you and return you back to a fulfilling and real life!
Now some clinical information about the Common Features of PTSD from emotional/psychological abuse. These are consistent symptoms that identify the abuse as a psychiatric injury and different from a mental illness. That is an important differentiation to make so that you don’t internalize a message that says you cannot overcome the effects of the trauma and live with it as YOU being the sick one. The Narcissist is definitely the dysfunctional person in this equation that disabled you!
• An overwhelming desire for acknowledgement, understanding, recognition and validation of their experience.
• Fatigue with symptoms similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
• Extreme anger from feeling the injustice and almost seeming ‘manic’ instead of motivated for recovery purposes, “obsessive” instead of focused, and “angry” instead of passionate to fix yourself and regain order and reality in life.
• A desire for revenge.
• A tendency to cycle between reconciliation/forgiveness and anger/revenge where objectivity and reality become a causality.
• Feeling extremely fragile, where formerly the person was of a strong, stable character.
• Numbness, both physical and emotional (inability to feel love and joy.)
• Hyperawareness and an acute sense of time passing them by.
• An enhanced and hypersensitive awareness.
• A constant feeling that you have to justify everything you say and do.
• A constant need to prove yourself, even when surrounded by good, positive people.
• An unusually strong sense of vulnerability, victimization or a feeling of persecution!
• Occasional intrusive visualizations connected to an extreme anger.
• Feelings of worthlessness, rejection, a sense of being unwanted, unlikeable and unlovable.
• A feeling of being small, insignificant, and invisible.
• An overwhelming sense of betrayal, and a consequent inability and unwillingness to trust anyone, even those closest to you.
• Depression with occasional sudden bursts of energy accompanied by a feeling of “I’m better!”, only to be followed by a full resurgence of the symptoms a day or two later.
• Excessive guilt about your situation and why you can’t overcome this.
A couple other facts about trauma: Intellectually, you lose from 50 to 90 percent of brain capacity, which is why you should never make a decision and why you feel so lost and empty when you are “in the trauma zone.” Emotionally you don’t feel anything and your spirit is disconnected. Physically all your systems shut down and you run on basics. When your system starts to recover and you can handle a bit more stimulation and energy, THEN real thoughts emerge that will guide you back to reality and help you process the information and start on your road to recovery!
Trauma can be caused by a wide variety of events, but there are common denominators. There is frequently a violation of the person’s familiar ideas (belief system) about the real world and of their human rights, putting the person in a state of extreme confusion and insecurity. Recovering from a traumatic experience requires that the painful emotions be thoroughly processed. Trauma feelings cannot be repressed or forgotten and should be treated immediately or as soon as there is a realization that you are caught up in the trauma. If they are not dealt with either directly or at any other point in your recovery, the distressing feelings and troubling events replay over and over again in the course of a lifetime, creating this condition known as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Every bad moment in your life will connect you with those negative messages that the Narcissist manipulated you into believing and you will feel those old feelings of worthlessness. You will always feel like you are not good enough. Events do not always define you especially negative ones, but sometimes we define ourselves through these events especially after this type of traumatizing abuse. The Narcissist taught us to blame ourselves and if that message is still cycling in our heads from this abuse we will let it define us forever. Whatever inner resources people need to mobilize to achieve recovery, they still should not try to accomplish this task alone. Depression and trauma are ‘disconnective disorders’ and they do not improve in isolation. To fix them you have to be connected to others and accept that there is goodness and real love out there.
Today I can clearly see that early intervention is so vital. Trauma is real and debilitating in situations like this abuse that is born from a hideous betrayal of a person’s spirit and belief system. It can shut you down completely and keep you locked up in isolation because your replaced belief system from the abuse doesn’t trust that there is goodness in life. Sometimes we don’t see this until many years after the fact. This is not recovery, this is living in fear because of a traumatic event and this is what this abuse does and what the Narcissist wants. A Narcissist cannot live or survive on their own, they need us (people) to feel alive and be alive, but they are predator that feed off of people. We don’t need people to survive, we want to enjoy people, like them, and even love them. There should be a sign around a Narcissist’s neck that says ‘danger, do not feed this animal because they will completely devour you!’ The Narcissist has stolen enough from you, so don’t allow them to take anything else from you, especially other people and love. What this Narcissist forced into your head can be desensitized and you CAN recover completely. It all starts with you and a journey away from what they are and what they have done. You deserve the love that you gave so freely and unconditionally. It is still there and with self-compassion you CAN and WILL give it back to yourself. No/minimal contact always!
The all or nothing advice we give about avoiding a narcissist altogether, isn’t because we’re unhealthily encouraging black and white or either / or type of thinking or advocating that healthy boundaries can’t be used with general run of the mill people who “irritate” you.
This advice is given because the bottom line is that a narcissist ISNT run of the mill and with a narcissist there is NO HALF WAY. The common “get along” tactics that are useful and helpful with healthier people will not only not work with a narcissist, but will likely BACKFIRE; ALWAYS leaving you in a position that if you make the decision to have any interaction whatsoever with a narcissist, the entire interaction will blow up in your face and cause emotional distress.
The narcissistic personality disordered psychopath is the first “throw away” person I’ve encountered in my life. By throw away, I mean, the only person that I would not consider salvaging, giving an inch to, or letting remain in my life. I entirely throw them away, lock the door, and block their re entry in all ways possible.
Let’s consider why we must be so absolute when it comes to setting such a permanent boundary with a narcissist:
1. They lack empathy
Without having experienced what it’s like to deal with someone without the capacity to empathize, we take for granted that we possess this much needed human trait and we’re somewhat naive that other human beings could possibly be void of this sign of being “human”. We underestimate the danger of a sociopath and/or psychopath, we extend benefit of doubt when it isn’t deserved, we employ fairness when that’s not reciprocated, due to decreasingly poor boundaries we get our wires crossed. We take too on much responsibility (forced codependency of narcissism) and repeatedly doubt and blame ourselves when these empathy problems show themselves, instead of realizing the problem exists in the other person and will try to fix it; not knowing we’re dealing with a lack of empathy and are inexperienced as to how to handle ourselves when confronted with this information.
Empathy problems present themselves in a number of ways:
a. We dont feel listened to or more importantly “heard”
b. Lack of feeling heard or seen creates “intimacy” issues
c. Intimacy issues along with the realization emotionally that the narcissist refuses or can’t empathize with us, causes us to feel insecure in the relationship
d. The insecurity in the relationships drive conversations regarding trust that are again not listened to, heard or responded to (thus there is no resolution)
e. Lack of resolution leads to frustration and expression of feelings and acting out on the part of the target that allows the narcissist to use and shift the focus and blame (deflection) back on us which causes….
f. An anxious feedback loop. This cycle of lacking empathy is at the core of EVERY argument with the narcissist because the arguments themselves exist due to the narcissist’s lack of empathy.
Sound confusing? Imagine LIVING it. We chase our tails in these relationships. No wonder we end up feeling crazy and confused. It is crazy and it is confusing. It’s just the narcissist who introduces this and continues this throughout the entire relationship which includes the time period FOLLOWING the actual cessation of the relationship.
If people dont respect us or are not willing to show us respect, then there’s just not much more we can do.
2. Their negativity will bring us down instead of our positivity lifting them up
They say, “Misery loves Company” well I say, “Narcissists love to bring happy people down.” What BETTER type of power trip to a narcissist’s ego than to take a naturally happy person and by their own “amazing abilities” turn them into a shell of their former selves while walking off “wearing their skin”? You know that they WANT to see you laying on the sidewalk, crying out in pain because you’re “nothing” without them; just as they told you (or insinuated many times).
Once your boundaries are eliminated, you become a narcissists free for all playground. Whatever good things they want to pick out about you to use, enjoy, toy with, show off, and just as rapidly and intensely abhor us for them is just another HUGE reason to not have to deal with these shenangigans on an ongoing basis.
They’ll take what the like about us and discard the rest, treating us as a cafeteria plan of THEIR choosing instead of a person with a whole and complete identity.
They’re always complaining about something. They’re always at odds with someone whether a family member, co worker or someone in the general public. So many opportunities for the narcissist to whine and stir the pot with never ending chaos. These people would be unhappy at Disneyland! The happiest place on earth!
Their personalities are dark clouds of accumulated shame, addictions and perversions. They feed their thoughts of power, sex, worldly success, vanity, who’s who, delusional dreams of unlimited popularity and/or beauty or money. Blech! They actually are the people among us who boast about how their life would be a GREAT REALITY SHOW! Uhm…Says WHO? Oh yes, the narcissist. The one person self hype machine.
Narcissists are vapid and one dimensional. They lack emotional depth and context. They aren’t fun conversationalists. They’re draining, negativity will feel like a smudge left on your world when they walk away. I personally think, smudge itself is easier to clean away than a narcissist.
LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO LET A NARCISSIST SUCK THE JOY OUT OF YOU WHILE DUMPING ALL THEIR TOXIC NEGATIVITY INTO YOUR SOUL
3. ITS FUTILE TO CONSTANTLY DEFEND YOUR BOUNDARIES AGAINST SOMEONE WHO CANT RESPECT THEM
Narcissists are the ONLY ones allowed to have rules in limits in the relationship. They dictate. They speak for “US” whether we agree or not. They bulldoze. They refuse to respect the demarcation lines between ourselves and them. They view us as possessions owned, not wonderous additions to their lives. They can’t be truly grateful because they feel entitlted to it all. Yek!
Our boundaries are the ones that even if existed upon meeting a narcissist, surely will NOT once we’ve spent enough time in their company.
Personally, I was able to tell many romantic parnters no, or express my desires and opinions in prior relationships. The narcissist however, just beats us down. Exhausts us. The constant drama, arguments, disrespect, demands, ego games, silence……I can easily see why just acquiescing (waiving the white flag of surrendering your boundaries) seems like a “peacekeeping” decision.
Even if you learn to establish healthy boundaries and that’s a Sign of Health but you are engaged in constant battle with a person who whole heartedly believes it is their right to not only challenge those boundaries but to destroy them if they want, It’s a sign of health to recognize futility, know when to throw in the towel, and refuse to participate in any relationship that isn’t reciprocal and/or enriching to your well being.
There’s a certain emotional intelligence in being able to recognize when things are a losing battle. Our responsibility is not to teach another adult how to respect our boundaries. That’s up to the narcissist. Since the narcissist is heavily invested, in fact lives to blame others, this is a no win situation. We will constantly have to repeat ourselves about what we can’t tolerate and theyll continue to ignore us.
This is the same premise as “fool me once, shame on You, foo me twice, shame on me”. The first time they ignored our saying, “Please don’t speak down to me.” or “Please don’t call us names” was their one chance to show us they respected our need to not be called names. The second time, they do it is an indication that they will continue to do this, and if they do, we are ALLOWING it.
Establish just ONE BOUNDARY and walk away for good!
Just say, ‘NO!’
Because that means:
NO MORE MANIPULATION
NO MORE DRAMA
NO MORE GAMES
NO MORE ARGUMENTS
NO MORE PUT DOWNS
NO MORE NARCS
We live many years of our life with certain expectations about the integrity and intention of others. I don’t think any normal person regardless of their level of self esteem, expects to be so blindsided by and at odds metaphysically with the narcissistic person. Sure, self esteem issues may lead us to stay far longer putting up with a person who treats us poorly or is the root of our not asserting boundaries to protect ourselves, but narcissistic abuse goes far behind an assault on our self esteem. It attacks the fiber of who we ARE; our identities.
Think about this. Prior to meeting a narcissist, did you have any trouble whatsoever with YOUR identity? Did you know who you were? Did you know your strengths and weaknesses? Did you know what scared you or what you longed for? I can nearly guarantee that you had your identity quite together prior to a narcissist entering your life. One of the reasons narcissists target those they do, is to rob us of the good qualities that make us so “attractive”; not just our vulnerabilities or weak points. Our solid identities are their lifeblood.
Most targets are likeable people; reliable, dependable, lovable, stable and trustworthy. If we weren’t, we would not be so shocked and stunned to find how opposite a narcissist is to us and how the only way they could have possibly gotten close to us is by weasling their way into our heads and hearts via lies and manipulation.
Instead of returning to our previous selves in tact after the relationship ends, our identity is in a state of limbo; in flux and malleable which is very scary. While our core characteristics have remained the same, we’re suddenly needing to assimilate the new lessons and awareness into our selves going forward but we don’t find the experience a smooth, straight line or quick journey towards integration.
One is the Loneliest Number
Being on the receiving end of a person who lacks empathy shows a reality to the human condition that we didn’t want to believe existed. Watching people side with your abuser, disbelieve you and even worse, bully or smear you along with the narcissist is highly traumatic and isolating. It’s within our human nature or socialization to side with the crowd. The abuser gains momentum by getting to the crowd earlier and then playing up to them which is their perverse talent.
Targets have always connected with people based on truth and integrity. It’s shocking and defeating to have so many turn against you, even the one who said they “loved” you, for such an obvious lie, while you’re forced to stand alone and come to terms with the reality that “as long as you know the truth, nothing else matters.” That’s not an easy place to be in. We may find that we doubt ourselves due to the mob mentality because it’s so hard to stand on our own. When we’re escaping an abuser, we need validation and desperately want to return to “normal” but we find that our old normal is NOWHERE to be found.
We’re Damned If We Do, Damned If We Don’t
We know we need people, we know we shouldn’t isolate, but that’s all we feel the urge to do. Extending ourselves, risking, trying, trusting, analyzing, putting energy into others seems like an overwhelming feat, even after we’ve done a lot of work on ourselves to return to emotional health. It’s not always that another narcissist comes along, but they were so damaging to us and our interpersonal relationships that new ones seem formidable to participate in. The risks we’re willing to take with our hearts, minds, souls, and identity after the life sucking narcissist rips through our lives is far less than ever before. We can get stuck in a juxtaposition between wanting and not wanting people close to us. We risk pushing away people who can really be there for us because of the exhaustion and anxiety from our prior abusive experiences.
We Suffer Our Own Identity Crisis
We knew who we were before, why is it that we are having such a hard time successfully being ourselves now?
A person with an identity crisis targets someone who doesn’t and the target ends up experiencing one themselves. How does this happen? Lack of boundaries while in the relationship certainly explain why we give up who we are in order to try to keep the narcissist happy. (Yes, this is called codependency and yes, it is a requirement of a narcissistic relationship)
But why do we have identity issues once we are free?
We were defined and controlled while with the narcissist. We were further defined by others as the smear campaign was in full effect. We began to notice that the stress, abuse & mistrust and the toll it takes in every area of our lives. We feel weakened, less than, less capable, and more damaged. Which only reaffirms that who we formerly thought we were, is no longer showing up to handle things we used to be able to handle. Where we used to have stability, we now experience flux; sometimes severe and sometimes rapid.
Who are we NOW, then? Why can’t we be the same as before? Why did we have to change when we weren’t the person with the personality disorder?
It Feels as if Our Baseline Never Returns
Every new action or decision we take as a reflection of who we are is like starting all over again; relearning to Live. Be. Breath. Each new decision opens a can of worms and turns into a major overhaul of who we are. When your world views have been changed so drastically by trauma, it begins to feel like our “baseline” is a moving target or that we’re chasing the foxes tail. Just when it seems we’ve reached our place of stability, something comes along and shakes it up causing us to make changes when that’s the last thing we want to do is change something else about ourselves or our lives. It feels as if its a wound whose bleeding never stops. If it’s not some new way were dealing with our coworkers treatment of us at work, it’s the question of how much responsibility to take in a situation with inlaws, or other family members.
The identity and boundary work required after narcissistic abuse is daunting and exhausting. We feel the urge to sift through all the rubble just in case we miss something crucial to our never going through this again. We HAVE to show up to boundary challenges – or we may begin to notice how many people we’ve been tossing away, for valid reasons, but suddenly realize no one is there. We can get paralysis by analysis wondering if we did the right thing.
If before our lives were driven to meet goals in areas like finances, career aspirations or fitness and nutrition, NOW our goals focus on never being victimized again. The struggle to have power over our situation after such a random act of abuse consumes us, takes all our energy, all our focus and throws our lives out of balance.
We Have a Hard Time Seeing Results and Staying Positive
How long do we have to practice doing the “right thing” or making the right choices to live a healthy life before we start reaping the rewards and seeing the positive results of our continued efforts? Our newfound knowledge of narcissistic people carries over into our everyday lives. We suddenly notice how narcissistic the office gossip is, or that annoying supervisor that throws everyone under the bus. We want to run, escape, avoid them, yet the financial difficulties of making decisions to leave unhealthy environments catches up with us and causes anxiety. Or we worry about being seen as unstable when all we want is that every elusive, “healthy environment” or peaceful atmosphere.
While we feel that we’re drowning in our own ineffective efforts to regain our life and identity that we know realistically we’ll never have again, we’ll catch wind of the narcissist having the time of their lives, seemingly unaffected by the same abusive relationship that left us feeling crippled. (albeit they claim THEY were the abused ones) The constant realization of the injustice of the situation is enough to make us want to throw up our hands in despair and “give up”; whatever that means. We didn’t ask for this struggle, we didn’t want it and we certainly didn’t deserve it, yet here we are, asked to manage it and thrive.
Don’t let anyone tell you, you aren’t trying hard enough. If you have survived a narcissistic relationship with your thoughts in tact…YOU ARE TRYING HARD ENOUGH! Telling someone whose life was placed in a blender and pureed for an extended period of time that they aren’t trying hard enough to be positive or “get over it” is like restarting the blender. Yet again, it falls on our shoulders to take responsibility and set a boundary between ourselves and the person who stunts our growth by judging or pushing where we need listening and affirming, to say, “Ill do the healthy thing and cut off my only source of support”. While it’s smart and good for us, its just another difficult choice to deliver ourselves defeat and loss at a difficult time in our lives.
Recognizing the level of damage we’re still experiencing after narcissistic abuse isn’t heartening news. It’s quite easily, depressing and hopeless. But once you identify and feel the feelings in the aftermath of this abuse, it paves the way to overcome the damage and build the bridge back to a hopeful future, freeing ourselves of the affects of this abuse once and for all.
A “Safe Place” is a metaphoric imagery state of consciousness that is calm and peaceful. An imaginery place that we can imagine going to in our minds in order to calm ourselves and bring about the de-escalation of emotional arousal.
By creating and going to a safe place when triggered, we bypass the fight or flight responses by our sympathetic nervous system. Our inner dialogue while going to our safe place contains content and perspective that supports low arousal and a feeling of being centered. Our nervous system needs to be able to relax in order to facilitate healing.
A feeling of internal security can be felt regardless of what is going on outside of us; ie: the tirade or emotional outburst of an angry, narcissistic coworker, family member, ex-spouse or boss or any other event that triggers us.
All that’s needed to create this “safe zone” is to develop imagery that we can associate with feeling safe.
What images bring you into a state of relaxation?
When are you feeling most peaceful and safe? Where are you? What sounds do you hear? What temperature is it around you? How do you feel?
Is this somewhere you’ve been before?
Create such an image of this safe place that you engage all of your senses: touch, smell, hearing, taste, etc.
An image that I use is swinging in my hammock overlooking the Caribbean, with the sun shining and the waves gently rolling in below me. This makes me feel very peaceful and safe. I feel the sway of the hammock, hear the waves and feel the sun on my skin as I look at the gorgeous blue sky.
When I am triggered by a memory, I remind myself that I can handle it, that I am able to handle the conflict or stress, keep my cool, and deal with the situation in a good way. I keep telling myself this, and imagining myself doing it while feeling the safety of my Caribbean getaway. It helps me to handle the situation effectively.
In times of stress, trauma, being triggered or having to deal with narcissistic people, ground yourself in your safe place. Go to that place in your mind and immerse yourself in the safety and protection of this place.
This tool allows us to stay present (not disassociate) from an experience while maintaining a relatively calm emotional state. It teaches us that we have within us, the resources that maintain boundaries around our calm emotional state despite the presence of narcissistic or other toxic stimuli.
A central feature of PTSD is the struggle we have to regulate our “affect” or regulate & modulate our emotions when encountering a stimulus or “trigger”.
When triggered, we find it difficult to regulate the intensity of our feelings and connect with the problem solving area of our brains. This results in the feelings of anxiety or arousal intensifying over time rather than diminishing and resolving themselves. Additionally, if we choose negative coping techniques such as over spending, over eating or withdrawing socially, among other things, we develop new maladaptive, trauma seeking behaviors that compile themselves on the original trauma: the narcissistic abuse.
The inability to stabilize our emotions and decrease our arousal in times of triggered anxiety is metaphorically comparable to having poor shock absorbers on our car. When we hit a bump in the road, we bounce all over the place. Likewise, when a survivor of narcissistic abuse encounters a similar event or person that triggers traumatic memories of the abuse, our nervous system remains more highly aroused and our emotions can be all over the place. Moreso, than by those who haven’t experienced this abuse.
To compound issues, most of us who suffer from PTSD tend to get upset and angry with ourselves for being symptomatic at all. If it were someone else who was hurting and struggling we’d show much more compassion and empathy, yet we think that we should be stronger, handle things better, not ask for help or not be affected by the trauma at all. This thinking or lack of compassion for ourselves tends to intensify the symptoms and make the recovery period more lengthy.
One of the most important ego-strengthening tools in recovery from the trauma of narcissistic abuse is to help targets increase our ability to modulate our affect. We need to develop coping skills that allow us to regulate the intensity of our emotions. We need to increase our resources, impact our state of consciousness and contain the negative affect, sensation and imagery and stay connected to our resourceful state of mind while under the duress of triggers.
One way to modulate our affect is through Self-Soothing and Self-Care. Many targets of narcissists were never properly taught how to reduce negative affect without resorting to some other problematic behavior, such as numbing, avoiding, using drugs, alcohol, over eating, over spending, etc. It’s not that we’re masochistic, we just picked up negative coping skills and didn’t ever have any formal instruction on how to self sooth, how to put words into feelings, how to be comforted sufficiently, or how to be protected; so we are always in a state of constant arousal and vigilance.
Healthy self soothing activities are a source of decreased arousal, pleasant sensations and a calming affect. Self soothing activities should have all of the following characteristics:
- Rhythmical in speed or movement
- Soft in texture, tone or hue
- Quiet in volume
- Image driven meditative practice
- Having a safe place
- Using breathing to calm down
- Calming self talk
- Calming, positive sensations
Examples of types of activities include:
- Warm baths and showers
- Appropriate use of food such as a warm cup of tea
- Listening to gentle, calming sounds or music
- Holding gently or touching oneself (stroking, hugging, arm rubbing)
- Gentle rocking
- Taking a walk
- Attending a class or religious service
- Exercise or sports
- Dancing, gardening, painting, playing music
- Spending time getting massage or going to a spa
The more traumatized the target, the less likely we’ll feel resourceful and capable of responding in self soothing ways.
Many times when we’re agitated or having flashbacks our breathing becomes short, shallow and even at times, we hold our breath. None of these patterns of breathing leads to decreased arousal.
It’s important that we start the process of self care let’s get ourselves in a good breathing state. Let’s take slow, methodic, deep, easy breaths to break the pattern of arousal.
Right now, exhale so deeply that you feel all of the air being blown out of your lungs. Imagine the negative feelings or images of the triggering event being blown out from inside you. Blow slowly until you feel your lungs empty entirely; almost to the point of discomfort. Exhale all the tension, stress and upset; the drama, the negativity and the traumatic memories.
Next, take a very deep inhale (which will come almost naturally in reaction to having all the air blown out of your lungs). Inhale peacefulness, relaxation, unconditional love, acceptance and centeredness.
It should take you approximately 10 seconds to exhale and 5 seconds to inhale.
Come up with a list of self-soothing techniques that you can use the next time you experience triggers, flashbacks or encounters with narcissistic people that will help you lessen the intensity of your emotions and transform your feelings of arousal into a state of calm. Remember to consider all the characteristics the technique should possess in order to qualify as “calming”.
The trauma of this abuse by a narcissist doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with us. We just lost the connection with ourselves and our resources along the way.
What would it Be?
Narcissistic abuse is a traumatic experience that can leave us feeling discombobulated from our sense of normalcy. Often, even though we feel that we can’t wrap our minds around what we need to do next to recover, we intuitively have those answers inside of us, they just need a little help coming to the surface.
By asking yourself this very simple question, you will learn alot about what is you really need to feel better and begin focusing your energy there.
Once we receive all the answers, we’re going to compile the data and implement some resources that will focus specifically on what we need to do as a group to heal.
Let’s not beat around the bush, Narcissists ARE addicts. Primarily empty vessels but full of shame and envy who make up for their feelings of emptiness through their addiction. What are narcissists addicted to? Supply.
Supply is anything or anyone that gives the narcissist positive affirmation and confirmation of their false identity.
False Identity is “the thing” that narcissists create to give themselves feelings of worthiness and importance. It’s a substitute for true identity, which is based upon realistic positive and negative characteristics that define a person intrinsically and determine the quality of our interactions with others over time.
From there, you can see why its difficult to pin down all the various forms of supply a narcissist can garner to prop up their shanty false image of themselves into one clear cut definition of what narcissists are addicted to.
Where one narcissist might be addicted to fame and fanfare for all their glory, another narcissist will be heavily introverted in the corner watching antisocially as they judge others for being so “flamboyant”. The particular type of supply the narcissist is addicted to is less important than defining firstly that the narcissistic person is in fact, behaving as an addict.
Narcissistic Addicts are repetitive, lazy, creatures of habit.Narcissists will stick to their drug of choice, but will gladly substitute a new one if they find that the payoffs offer them a path of lesser resistance.
For example, take the female narcissist who is accustomed to getting attention (supply) for their body; receiving many years of attention for being in shape and wearing revealing clothing. After seeing the tides of time take over, they’re now aging and gaining weight, they will feel a great deal of anxiety and depression. There’s an overwhelming grief and sense of loss from the morphing of their body into an image that they won’t be able to use for supply.
The one thing they know for sure is that they need the attention to feel ok, so they begin seeking out new ways to get attention for their body that doesn’t have to involve them being a particular “shape”. They could begin seeking to become the “expert” a guru or provide other forms of “consulting” that will allow them to get the same amount of ego strokes for their physical appearance without having to have the 24/7 workout routine that got them attention in the past.
The key is to look for the motivation; the underlying need for attention. The narcissist’s need for outside approval hasn’t changed, it’s just how they go about getting it that has changed.
Spending time with a narcissistic addict may help you recognize certain traits and behaviors that accompany addiction, such as the following:
Making impulsive choices
Constantly seeking excitement and new sensations
Feeling alienated from mainstream society
Valuing deviant or nonconformist behavior (anti-social)
Lacking patience such as having trouble waiting for delayed gratification
Fear of abandonment
Let’s take a closer look at the Personality Traits of a Narcissist as an addict:
Self Medication—Narcissists use supply to fix situations and feel better. Mistakenly, they believe (deny / justify) that they are only using it for “good” reasons but in reality it is “helping” them cope with life and the reality that their inner world is empty.
Numbing-Avoidance of Feeling— Emotions make a narcissist feel vulnerable and out of control. Most likely their family growing up didn’t allow for feelings and so they have no real practice on what to do when they feel a certain way. It was as if the family “feeling thermostat” was set to 55▫ and everyone called it “warm.” When supply comes along, it makes them feel better and comforts them against any unpleasant emotion.
Shame—The term really refers to “toxic shame” which is different from “healthy shame” which helps us realize that we are human and “not God.” “Toxic shame” goes further and dehumanizes us and isolates us from the rest of humanity. We are less than others and instead of making a mistake, we feel we are “a mistake.”
Due to toxic shame, narcissists either admit no problems, where they act shameless, or they walk around full of shame. This manifests itself mainly in relationships where they either act “better than” or “less than.” Shame is responsible for a lot of the arguments in narcissistic, addictive relationships. We’re just trying to talk to the narcissist about their behavior, but they personalize it, hear the message they are “bad” and defend themselves staunchly often using verbal abuse and word salad to deflect and turn the shame back onto us for trying to speak openly about our feelings.
Denial—is the coping mechanism of unawareness. It is really not about lying, but about a total unawareness that there is a problem. Oftentimes, the more severe the problem, the more denial there is.
Minimizing—is the coping mechanism of acknowledging something, but making it “not that big of a thing.” They often feel that people are making “a mountain out of a molehill.” or that others concerns are from a place of “envy” “jealousy” or “being a hater”.
Normalizing—This occurs when the narcissist wants to feel normal, because of the shame they feel. They surround themselves with other narcissists or “addicts” who do the same level of lying, manipulating, cheating, sexing, avoiding, etc. so that they feel normal. They assert that “If so many people are a narcissist/psychopath, it must not be that bad”.
Blaming—The narcissist subconsciously feels that “they might be at fault, but they convince themselves that other people are more to blame” for whatever is happening in their lives. Even when there’s a legitimate complaint, the blame gets them stuck, causing them to not take responsibility and find a solution. The problem is that they don’t look as to how they contribute to the problem and, additionally, this gives them a sense of entitlement to continue to behave in the ways they always have; consequence free and “perfectly” blameless. (In their perfect narcissistic image bubble)
Emotional Avoidance—Narcissists are not good at all at staying emotionally present. One telltale question to determine if you’re dealing with a narcissist is to ask them a direct question about feelings: “How did you feel about your bosses treatment of you in the meeting this morning?” Notice immediately how they will speak to their THOUGHTS or details of what was going on in the room. Anything at all but how they felt. If you press them again for discussion of feelings…You’ll almost get a blank stare or sudden desire to change or divert the subject. Feelings cause narcissists to dig into their emotional depth. They can’t draw on any “emotional reservoire” because it’s just not there.
This avoidance typically creates an “emotional chase scene” where one is emotionally trying to connect while the other runs away and avoids.
The only time they express emotion is when they spontaneously burst into emotion roused by the loss of supply, ie; shame, jealousy, envy, rage, etc. They’ll express those in covert ways. The “addiction” becomes the “trusted source of comfort” rather than anything outside themselves worthy, genuine, or Godly.
Grandiosity—Due to lack of self esteem, shame and the momentary awareness that “they aren’t like other people,” narcissists become grandiose. They inflate their sense of self to help push people away to escape vulnerability. Sometimes their grandiosity is from achievements they have accomplished due to their “needing to be perfect.” Addicts have an uncanny sense of being able to have low self esteem and being the best of everything all at the same time.
Low Self Esteem—This is slightly different than shame in that the person REVEALS their low self esteem to others. This usually can lead to depression, “victim mentality” and a lack of change in behavior.
Controlling—Really, it is about “attempting to control.” Control is somewhat of an illusion. They try to control what people think of them, their environments, spouses, and children. They are like the writer, director, producer and star who wants to run the whole show. If everyone would do as they wish and play the parts they’ve been assigned, the show would be great.
But what happens is the world doesn’t always cooperate. Other people exist in their own right with separate feelings, thoughts and needs. So we exert ourselves more by using kindness or meanness to get them to change. We are a victim of the delusion that we can get what we want out of life if only we manage well.
Codependency—This is an addiction in itself. Codependency is trying to numb ones feelings by fixing, thinking for, reminding, and acting as the conscience of those around us. We can be more in touch with their life than our own. We learn this survival skill usually by growing up in a family that has addiction or is dysfunctional. We had to predict what was going to happen next and be responsible for the feelings of others. Narcissists command that those around them become very codependent in order to “keep the hell down”.
Black & White Thinking--Rigid Thinking—Narcissistic Addiction is not about moderation. Narcissists have trouble being moderate in most things. It’s like their modus operandi kills all the “reasonable brain cells” leaving only the black or the white, the all or the nothing.
Anger and Rage—If there is a feeling that is expressed, it is usually anger. Not having supply makes them irritable and angry. Telling a narcissist no, makes them rageful. Accusing them of being anything less than perfect will result in a sudden burst of anger followed by a long, cold silence. The final parting shot of the narcissist’s rage is the “dead to me” zone. That’s where you will forever be punished by their anger by NOT being able to be graced with their royal presence.
Quick Fix Mentality—Narcissists are used to “fixing” their uncomfortable feelings with their addiction. As a result, they expect change to happen fast and have difficulty waiting for things or progress over time. That is one of the reasons they can’t change is because they are incapable of withstanding the painful/ uncomfortable feelings that occur with withdrawal.
Ego Boundaries—Narcissists don’t have ego boundaries. They have an inflated sense of self. They feel they control whatever is going on around them. They behave as if they have an inordinate sense of influence and power over other people. They think that all they have to do is “talk with someone” (manipulate, lay, shift blame, coerce) to make everything right.
Irresponsible and Unmanageable—Narcissists have difficulty managing their lives. The have trouble with procrastination, following through, and avoiding. They’re lazy and believe the devil is in the details so better leave those to someone else to take care of. They will often continue to maintain a codependent marital relationship as their “primary” relationship because that person serves as supply that serves the narcissist’s daily needs and dirty work.
What areas of your life have been affected by the abusive experiences with a narcissist:
Were you dependent upon your abuser for financial assistance? Did the stress or depression of abuse affect your ability to take care of yourself financially? Did a court battle use up your resources? Did a court battle result in the narcissist bilching you out of resources? Has their refusal to pay their responsibilities for marital debt or child support caused you to fall behind and suffer financially?
Be very honest and realistic about where you stand financially. Ultimately, all we need to survive and be happy is to cover our ability to take care of ourselves and our children. If you find that you have stress in this area, consider all your options and develop a plan that will allow you to feel stable and peaceful. If once you’ve put your plan on paper and you realize that you’re lacking, follow through with steps to improve your situation in the meantime and include in that plan, your coping skills for dealing with the stress and pressure of financial strain.
Narcissistic abuse is a traumatic event. Most of us who are targeted by this human predator were not prepared to deal with such a departure from normal behavior that we’re left with a feeling of generalized feelings of not being safe, not knowing who to trust, looking over our shoulders and waiting for the other shoe to drop, realizing that narcissists are capable of the most dangerous behavior imaginable: stalking, harassment, death threats, electronic surveillance, theft, turning children against us, smear campaigning, ruining your professional reputation and credibility, lying and perjuring themselves to simply make their targets “pay”. They seeth with envy and retaliation to the worst degree is not beneath them, but in fact they’re rather capable of committing those atrocities with no remorse. The bottom line is, narcissists will steal your soul and identity from you for themselves, and will think nothing of leaving your empty carcass on the side of the road as they speed away towards their next victim.
Here’s a great piece on the emotional and psychological effects of trauma:
Our bodies feel the real effects of abuse. Many of us have PTSD, anxiety, depression and adrenal fatigue. We’re exhausted from fighting with someone who is energized by battle. Our bodies are in a hyper vigilant state, prepared for the next round – not knowing where it’s coming from or when, but sure that it WILL.
Two types of therapies that have received a lot of positive feedback in helping with recovery from NA are:
- EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, left-right stimulation. These back-and-forth eye movements are thought to work by “unfreezing” traumatic memories, allowing you to resolve them.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you process and evaluate your thoughts and feelings about a trauma. While cognitive-behavioral therapy doesn’t treat the physiological effects of trauma, it can be helpful when used in addition to a body-based therapy such as somatic experiencing or EMDR.
One of the ways I’ve managed the physical symptoms of this abuse is to take part in DAILY exercise. A good aerobic workout helps you get all of your pent up energy of emotions like anger, anxiety and fear, out of your body. The commitment to your physical health and well being will pay off in spades for your emotions, mental well being and self esteem. The beauty of an exercise routine is that you can take control of your own body, you can do it at home and you don’t need an expensive gym membership or trainer to begin right away.
Here’s a link to awesome HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts that I build into my daily routine – they can be done right from the comfort of your own home. What’s even better is that this form of workout requires less time to burn fat than more traditional cardio workouts. HIIT Workouts from Fitness Blender
PTSD or Complex PTSD is an all too familiar by product of narcissistic abuse. While we don’t provide specific support for this symptom, we by no means are saying that it doesn’t exist or isnt an important element in healing, we simply rely on the support of friends of the page to tackle this issue head on and specifically focus their resources on this aspect of healing.
Please consider visiting this page for an indepth focus:
Many of our relationships are impacted by narcissism. Those relationships can be familial with our own families of origin, our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, nephews, nieces, cousins, uncles, etc. or they can be relationships with our own children or inlaws. The important factor here is to determine which relationship is causing YOU the most stress? Why is that stress present? Does the person possess a level of malignant narcissism (diagnosed or not) that poses a true level of frustration or uneasiness in your life?
It’s long been understood that when your boundaries are CROSSED, you will feel an immediate sense of anger. Your gut instinct will kick in and you will feel it – typically in your solar plexus, it will feel like a kick, a slight, a put down, a knee jerk response of angst to a behavior that is typically boundary busting.
You’ll have a chance to consider your boundaries under the “personal development” area, but there’s no better indicator of relationship areas that need improved upon than by using your boundaries as an indicator to what’s wrong.
Knowledge is power in this scenerio – for the more you learn about spotting not only narcissists, but other toxic people, your ability to spot them and act on your intuition will build your self trust and self esteem.
Continue to read and learn EVERYTHING you can about narcissistic personality disorder, understand the manipulative techniques they use to exploit your vulnerabilities to step over your boundaries and enter your life.
If you haven’t made the decision to go NO CONTACT – Please consider taking the power back and implementing this life changing decision! We have a special area of our page dedicated to No Contact goals and frequently post about the benefits of this technique for getting free from the narcissist that abused you.
It’s also important to note for those of us who have been nurtured / socialized to make relationships a priority, please consider your relationship with yourself FIRST and learn to bring discernment, moderation, balance and reciprocity to your relationships. Narcissists are very good at spotting people who make others and relationships a priority and will exploit this vulnerability which will result in your feeling abused by them.
To determine your attachment style in relationships consider this article:
After narcissistic abuse is the PERFECT TIME to focus on developing YOURSELF!
Being honest with and knowing yourself – the good, the bad, and the ugly is incredibly freeing. Use your courage to explore what drives you. What are your values? What motivates you? Ask yourself the tough questions:
How can you build back your self-confidence? How do you set boundaries? Do you know what your vulnerabilities are? What allowed a narcissist to take advantage of you? Was it Lack of self worth / esteem? Naivete? Did you give the benefit of doubt to someone who didn’t earn it through actions because you were focused on and flattered by words? What is it about your own ego that needed to be puffed up by words? This isn’t the area to delude yourself or live in denial. I assure you, self honesty won’t kill you – but it WILL give you the opportunity to improve yourself and areas of your mental and emotional functioning that hold you back from your best life.
Much of my recovery after narcissistic abuse was focused on my own deficiencies. From my upbringing with a narcissistic parent, I was able to identify a number of irrational thoughts that I had about “fairness, justice, honesty and love”. By identifying where my thinking set me up for disappointment and upset, I was able to catch those thoughts and redirect my emotions and behavior into healthier, more realistic responses.
Identify Your Own Irrational Thoughts
What things do you value in life? Are they tangible things like a job, a career, education, a home? Or is what you value less tangible like relationships, humanity, animal treatment, world hunger, etc.?
Many of us who are recovering from being the target of a narcissist, have long lived our lives for OTHERS. If we were raised by a narcissist or spent many years in the company of one who controlled us, we have learned how to put ourselves dead last. Telling targets to spend more time focusing outwardly goes against the spirit of what recovery from being a victim really means. I’d rather modify the advice to say, consider bringing FAIRNESS AND BALANCE into your sense of community. Your relationship with the world at large is one that you will realize narcissistic abuse has affected in that, your levels of trust for strangers and your worldview of the basic nature of others. Where we may have previously believed that “All people are good”, after narcissistic abuse, we’ll realize this no longer holds true. There are very BAD people in this world (narcissists and other psychopaths) and we will need to be prepared for an attack and how to deflect it with no harm to us.
One beautiful way to incorporate your new found beliefs into the community at large is to speak out about narcissistic abuse, tell your story, inform others and help them gain the knowledge that you’ve gained from having gone through this experience. Be there to validate and support other survivors. Your story could be the one told in such a way, with just the right details to impact and save another person from this trauma. Please remember to empathize with the pain and confusion of new survivors who upon first leaving a narcissist,are so engulfed in self hatred, possibly suicidal and lost. Reaching out and helping even if it is just to listen to another as they share their hurt is tremendously cathartic for you as well. This choice will allow you to realize that connecting with others can still feel good, can still be trusted. Sharing your time and resources with safe people enriches both of you. It takes a village to heal a target of narcissistic abuse.
If you haven’t had a chance to visit our community on Facebook, please check it out!
You don’t have to believe in God or a higher power to be spiritual.
You just have to want to get to know yourself and the powers that be a little better.
Personally, narcissistic abuse brought me closer to God. How? In my utter despair, I couldn’t came to terms with the reality that I could NOT do this by myself. My capacity to handle what I believe to be dark supernatural forces that the narcissist brings with them (evil) was not enough. I felt weak, unsure and so confused that only God was able to transform my faith into true hope and action. My reliance on God’s omniscience allowed me to suspend my own thinking and control (my own ego) allowed God to step into my life and take control of the steering wheel that finally steered me away from someone that was detrimental to my well being; my very life.
I’d never faced any addictions in my life, as I don’t think I have what psychologists would consider “an addictive” personality; HOWEVER, the relationship with a narcissist had very much engaged my “addictive tendency” to fixing the problem, my addiction to “righting the wrong” and ultimately my own repetition compulsion; my desire to fix my childhood wounds when presented with someone with similar mental disturbances to my original abuser.
There was NO WAY I could break the addiction without God’s intervention. For me, it is God who I believe in, but for you, it may be another higher power – just please if you don’t have one – FIND ONE. Im not advocating victimization, self blame or reinforcing the idea of unworthiness that you can’t do this alone, but rather, Im advocating realizing where your human capabilities sometimes are lacking in life and reaching out to a higher power helps to cement and patch up those limitations.
What area causes you the most stress and upset?
Write down 5-10 goals in each area and begin looking for ways to combine them together.
STAY TUNED! Next we’ll explore pulling this list together, once you’ve had some time to consider what areas need work.
Thank you for taking this most important journey back from the darkness of narcissistic abuse and stepping into the light with us!!!! We hope that as we build more light, life, love and laughter back into ourselves, our relationships, and our community that we will light the way for others to walk the same path to safety and freedom from narcissistic abuse permanently!
There’s no time like the new year to create a NEW YOU after narcissistic abuse.
With all the confusion and depression a thing of the past, we’ve got so much time and bandwidth available to us, we can have trouble knowing where to start setting goals or to decide what it is we truly want. Finally, many of us haven’t believed ourselves worthy of focus and have thus always put our desires last to everyone else in our lives; especially narcissists.
Let’s take a look at the areas of our lives we can explore when considering goals pertinent to our abusive experiences with a narcissist:
What areas above have suffered?
What areas have you neglected in order to take care of others but need to focus on now?
What area causes you the most stress and upset?
Write down 5-10 goals in each area and begin looking for ways to combine them together.
Take a deep look at yourself and make goals based on how you need to improve yourself so you can improve your relationships and the world around you.
- What things do I value in life? Are they tangible things like a job, a career, education, a home? Or is what I value less tangible – relationships, humanity, animal treatment, world hunger, etc.?
- What would I like to see changed about the things I value?
- What are your values? Take a 5 minute assessment:
- How can you build back your self-confidence?
- How do you set boundaries?
- Do you know what your vulnerabilities are?
Answer the following simple open ended questions.
What do you want to do?
What don’t you want?
Brainstorm. Try answering these questions to inspire your creativity.
Here are 28 questions to ask yourself after narcissistic abuse:
1. We learn from our mistakes, yet we’re always so afraid to make them. Where is this true for you? Have you worried that you’ll meet another narcissist and not know how to get out before you get hurt?
2. What risk would you take if you knew you could not fail?
3. What is your greatest strength? Have any of your recent actions demonstrated this strength? You learned alot about how strong you had to be to survive a narcissist. Think about the strength you’ve shown picking yourself up after this horrific abuse.
4. What are the top five things you cherish in your life? Remember how the narcissist tried to destroy them? How can you protect these in the future so no one ruins this for you?
5. How can you improve your boundaries? What areas do you need to be more protective of? What makes you mad?
6. In what ways have you learned to trust yourself since having your trust broken by a narcissist?
7. At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?
8. What and who do you most connect with? Why?
10. What are your feelings about honesty? Do you have the ability to spot people that are lying? How will you use your knowledge to live an honest lifestyle and protect yourself from frauds?
11. What bad habits do you do that you dislike?
12. What are you avoiding?
13. What is the one job/cause/activity that could get you out of bed happily for the rest of your life? Are you doing it now?
14. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?
15. What are you most grateful for?
16. What would you say is one thing you’d like to change in the world?
17. Do you find yourself influencing your world, or is it influencing you?
18. Are you doing what you believe in or settling for what you’re doing?
19. What are you committed to?
20. Which worries you more – doing things right or doing the right things?
21. If joy became the national currency, what kind of work would make you wealthy?
22. Have you been the kind of friend you wish you had?
23. Do any of the things that used to upset you a few years ago matter at all today? What’s changed?
24. Would you rather have less work to do or more work you enjoy doing?
25. What permission do you need/want to move forward?
26. Really, what do you have to lose if you go for it?
27. How different would your life be if there weren’t any criticism in the world?
28. We’re always making choices. Are you choosing your story for you or for someone else?
STAYING ON TRACK:
To help you stay on track with your goals set them using the acronym, “SMART”
A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART mnemonic. While there are plenty of variants (some of which we’ve included in parenthesis), SMART usually stands for:
S – Specific (or Significant).
M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
T – Time-bound (or Trackable).
Anyone who teaches people how to set goals will tell you to write your goals down, put them in every place you can think of – on your refrigerator, in your car, at your desk, etc. There is a valid reason for this; by putting them in front of you every day, they stay in the forefront of your mind – conscious thought, if you will.
When you feel yourself pulling back from your goals or procrastinating, question why. Do some problem solving to see if you can get back on track. Ask yourself the hard questions and, even if there aren’t any real answers, find a way to move forward.
Keep checking back as new information is added!