Narcissistic Abuse – The Stages from A Survivor

If you’re on this site you are most likely trying to understand Narcissist Personality Disorder, grieving and or healing from a relationship with a narcissist.  There are several grieving stages after a narc relationship.  I’ve been utilizing all sources during my grieving period such as support web sites, licensed therapist, books on Narcissist Personality Disorder and support systems.  I was so beat down and abused that I literally hit “rock” bottom.  I don’t want to disclose the cycles of abuse or ruminate over the horrific events because it’s a never ending diorama!  The first thing I’d like to disclose is that narcs come from both genders.  I used male gender so the verbiage flowed easier.    What I’d like to do is let everybody know how I managed to move on and get on with my life.  Healing from a narc was absolutely daunting, confusing and one of the hardest endeavors I’ve been through.

Stage One:  Denial………… For example: “He didn’t cheat on me, he loves me, he said I’m the only one he loved, things weren’t that bad, I love him, I will never find another man who loves me, etc.”  One effective way to get over the denial stage is to journal ALL the abusive languages, lies and traits he exhibited to everybody during your relationship.   I wrote down all the hurtful things he said and did to me during our relationship.  If it hurt, I wrote “ouch” that hurt.  If I was upset I’d use profanity.  It’s your healing process and chance to be authentic, brutally honest and real.  Write down all your hopes, disappointments, anger, sadness, lies, and broken dreams.  I also wrote down abusive things he did to his family and associates.  I currently have a binder 5” thick and am still going.

Stage Two: Educate yourself and be familiar with all the pathological behaviors or Narcissist Personality Disorder (NPD). There is a lot of information out there and the more we understand their psyche the easier it is to understand they didn’t love us the way we wanted to be loved.  You must remember, they are incapable of loving another person.  They were only with you as an extension of their ego, to fill their Narcissist Supply and most importantly, so they didn’t have to be alone.  We have to face that we fell in love with a fake hollow person.  They are not capable of loving us. Period.  They don’t change and never will, they are broken people.  The more you understand NPD the easier it will for you to understand their pathological lies and behaviors.  I kid you not, when I was on a backpacking trip in Europe I hiked with a man for 300 miles who continued to talk about his ex and the abusive behaviors he endured from her.  He tried to rationalize irrational behaviors for 300 miles! Please don’t’ get stuck in this trip.  You can’t empathize with a narc, you can’t understand their behaviors so please walk away and don’t try to understand their lies.

Stage Three:  Write a goodbye letter, write down ALL your hurt, sadness and disappointments. Tell the narcissist how he hurt you, how you felt, how many times you cried over him etc.  This was the hardest assignment for me.  My letter was raw and real.  I also had to let go of the relationship with mutual friends and his family.  Not only are we saying goodbye to our ex narc, we are saying to part of our old lifestyle     Of course do not send him the letter.

Stage Four:  The dreaded “NO CONTACT”.  This is also a hard one, brutally hard nonetheless. No contact is very hard because it’s the absolute “closure” tool.   When I say no contact I mean, no Facebook creeping, dating sites, talking to old mutual friends, email etc.  Absolutely NO CONNECTION or CONTACT!  Block his number, filter his emails to garbage etc.  I discovered after I’d creep on his FB or interact with mutual friends it brought back some of the good memories and I was sucked back into pain.  No contact is much easier on our psyche than keeping in touch with them.  It’s almost like quitting smoking, each day gets a little easier.  Take one hour or even day at a time.   They were an addiction to us and the only way to break free is to completely let it go.   If you need help in this area (I did) just remember they don’t care about you or how you are doing.  They only care about themselves.  Period.  You are their food, their supply.  They fooled you into believing they cared about you and will continue doing so.

Stage Five: Go back over stages one through four, add more notes, add on to your goodbye letter and continue to give yourself a pat on back for no contact.  Give yourself a weekly reward for not corresponding to contacting anybody in the old narc world.

Stage Six: Expect hovering, they will come back and try to get in your head or back together.  Remember they are only coming back when they need your supply.  It’s not about you and they do not miss you as a person.  They miss your lack of boundaries and how you made them feel alive.  Remember if they can get a reaction out of you after no contact it will excite them.  Even a negative reaction will be misconstrued and they will persist.  Do not respond to them. Period.

Stage Seven: Ask yourself why you stayed in this relationship?  What attracted you to him?  Why did you stay?  What are you deep dark secrets that need to disclose with yourself?  They say, “the devil you know is sometimes easier than the devil you don’t know.”  This part of healing took a long time, maybe you’ll have to go back to your childhood, understand the relationship with your parents and if and why you continually choose broken men.  I’m still in this stage and most likely will be a long time.  This isn’t necessarily a stage, it’s more of seeking the intrapersonal psyche.  What are your automatic thoughts?  When you are dreaming or thinking what’s going on?

Stage Eight: Be aware of another narc relationship. .  First of all, I’d like to explain, my ex narc was attracted to me because I’m the overachiever type,  responsible, empathetic, highly sensitive, loving, attractive, educated, physically fit and had very poor boundaries.    Narcissists have ex ray glasses and if you demonstrate any of these characteristics you will be sought and picked by a narc.  Narcs love empaths (people who are highly in tune with others emotions).  They seek us because they are drawn to our emotionally sensitive traits.  Remember in the future narcs will still be attracted to you, be cognizant of this!

Stage Nine:  Time to rebuild your psyche and self-worth.  Instead of getting recognition form a partner, get recognition from yourself.  Do something!  Run a marathon, take a class, join a gym, advocate for a political cause you believe in.  By doing this for yourself you are training yourself to make yourself happy. I learned to run marathons by taking each mile at a time.  I literally pushed myself 10% with each mile.  It took along time and I made it.  I even ran Boston Marathon! The 10% rule works very well, little steps!!   It does sound cliché, however it is a very important step.

Be cognizant if you get stuck in a stage. It will happen and it’s a normal process to vacillate and have self-doubt. Getting stuck in the “venting” stage is too easy, be aware of it.

Stage Ten: Accept the choices you made, accept past denials and most importantly learn from your experience.  Use the pain inflicted by narc as energy and knowledge to help others.  I’m not going to say a prince will sweep you off your feet and you will live happily ever after.   When you know you are healing you will be able to look in the mirror and see the sparkle come back to your eyes and know that you don’t need ANYONE to rescue you, you can rescue yourself.

It will happen!


Posted on November 1, 2014, in Narcissism. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. For those that have children with their ex narc how to you deal with the healing when there is still some kind of communication because of children involved.


  2. belinda collins

    I was told by a friend to look at this site, I’m in the process of taking steps to remove remove myself completely from this narcissistic man. This site has good information that I surley can use thankyou.


  3. I am after advice really. I am struggling to work out whether I have been a ‘victim’ of narcissistic abuse, a number of things connect for me but I’m still not sure, for a start I am a man and it is usually men who are the narcissists. Perhaps if I describe a few things, I can get a better idea.

    1) My wife would often tell me how wonderful she was as a school teacher and how I didn’t give her enough credit for how hard she worked and how brilliant she was (probably true, I’m sure most husbands don’t encourage their wives enough) but she would also belittle and demean me a lot, often in front of my family and would tell me that I was emotionally insensitive, awkward with people, a geek and too intense.

    2) She accused me of bullying her, controlling her, not allowing her to express herself and reducing her to an empty shell of her former self. I made a studied effort not to do these things but felt like she was doing these self-same things to me (although I didn’t say).

    3) When we got engaged, she chose an £1800 ring. At the time I was a student and couldn’t afford this much. She got very upset and got her Dad to call me. He said that it was important I got the ring that she wanted and so I asked my parents for the money. I wanted to get her something nice and didn’t want to fall out with her father but I felt pretty cheap and used at the time, like I could only be the bad guy or do my duty. I wanted her to feel overjoyed at our engagement but instead the ring clouded things. I felt like the fact she got what she wanted was only right and proper and the fact that I had potentially stood in the way of her happiness made me the bad guy and killjoy. I felt both terrible and used.

    4) She was diagnosed with depression and told me that her CBT therapist had said she was depressed because of me, her husband. More than once after this she threatened to commit suicide. On one occasion making a big fuss about collecting pills from around the house. She told me I had reduced her to this state and I should be ashamed of myself.

    5) For my birthday I had booked two theatre tickets. The night before she told me she didn’t want to go. I got really angry and drove off. When I came back she had packed her bags and got a friend to pick her up. She said I was unsafe to be around and accused me of throwing a ceramic mug at her (which didn’t happen). She came back a few weeks later and then moved out for good. She has never apologised: a) for letting me down, b) leaving c) lying about me throwing things.

    6) She stopped my family from visiting and we would only holiday with her parents. Despite this she accused me of controlling her.

    7) She accused me of serious emotional and psychological abuse. After this I barely left the house for two weeks. I was afraid to answer the door or the telephone, I thought it could be the police. This assessment was done without me being present and when it was suggested that a three way conversation take place between my therapist, hers, and the couple counsellor she shut the process down. It felt like she was afraid of transparency and accountability.

    8) My parents got divorced in the first year of our marriage. I thought that she might support me through this, but whenever the issue came up, she always had a more pressing or urgent issue that needed to be dealt with. Often she would trump my problem or excuse herself by saying she couldn’t deal with this now because of too much work, being depressed or feeling suicidal and that it was really insensitive of me to expect her to be there for me.

    9) She got in touch with a divorce solicitor in July and said a divorce petition would arrive in the next few weeks, I received it about ten days ago. For six months I was dreading the arrival of the post man.

    I’ve tried to be matter of fact and even as I’ve written this I think I’m being silly. Of course if something else is going on then I would like to know so that I can get to bottom of it and move on with my life.


    • Chris, it’s been over a year since you posted this… I just found it and read it. I’m a divorced woman healing from a narcissistic ex-husband. I hope you were able to find peace and move forward with your life. Please post back and let us know how you’re doing…. I for one, would really like to know.


  4. I’m very empathetic and compassionate and a good listener which means I’m narc bait. I didn’t realize my Mom was narcissistic until I got engaged and I resisted her trying to control my relationship with my fiance (now husband). She lied, blamed me, and turned all my family against me. I tried for 20+ years to reconcile with my family while friends told me she probably really loved me, that she was just wounded, and I needed to forgive and love her more. I finally realized it was futile and did No Contact. While trying to reconcile, I was hurt and confused and walked into the loving arms of another narc couple. Finally saw through their masks and walked away.

    In the last year, my teenaged son was diagnosed with cancer and had intensive chemo and several surgeries. We went through the experience with faith, courage, and a sense of humor, but by the time it was over, we were physically and emotionally exhausted. We had had little sleep for months. Most of my friends were extremely supportive, but one long-time friend was not. I had always been there for her, given her understanding and compassion. While we battled cancer, she continued to dump her problems on me. When we were exhausted, she kept inviting friends to “ride along to visit” us even though I told her we weren’t up to having visitors. She criticized me and insulted me and then cut me off when I tried to explain/defend myself. When I tried to tell her to back off–we were too exhausted and overwhelmed to deal with all this–she said also “gets overwhelmed too” and she has a headache. Then she shifted all the blame onto me by piously telling me she “forgives me.” Throughout our battle, her focus was always on herself: what she wanted, not what we needed. I don’t think life is all about me, but for goodness’ sakes, there ought to be some sort of sensitivity to a family facing crisis.

    The problem with narcissism is that it fills a person with self-doubt: Was I over-reacting or was what I felt true? Is it ok to be angry about this? Is she the bad friend or am I? Who am I? How am I supposed to act? How disgusting I am that I let another narc into my life. I’m so emotionally tired. We have courageously fought to escape and heal from the damage of narcs, but I’m getting tired. I don’t know if I can endure another one. I genuinely care about people. Am I supposed to become hardhearted so I don’t become more narc-bait?


  5. I am beginning to see the sparkle return to my eyes again😀


  6. Thank you…


  7. The more I read about Narcs on blog sites…..the more I’m amazed at how I’m in every story! Even the wording is the same as mine! I’m empathetic! I was successful, had a day manic personality and wouldn’t lye anyone put me down because I was too bubbly and full of life and laughter….then he came along and had dogged my life and destroyed it over a thirty year period!! he even returned into my life when I was away from him and married. Having lost two babies and vulnerable… I genuinely thought he was my soul mate and that’s why he’d contacted me after ten years apart!! We were clearly meant to be!! How foolish was I?!!
    I gave up a lively home, friends and a career to be with this lying cheat!!!after one year of marriage he was cheating with a fault!!!… I’d let myself go!!! I should have ditched him then but my dad was dying and I couldn’t cope. He also had a frank conversation with my dad and promised to look after me forever more!! NOT!
    Now 15 years later..he’s at it again..and that’s one I know about!! I have had my suspicions before!!
    I moved country to be part of his dream…given up my well paid job and left all the friends I be with him! And now? ..well he’s decided that it isn’t his dream anymore and want to return to our birth country. Oh yes!!?..and there is a woman involved!! a real old tramp ( four years older tha him! ) who just happens to live across the road for his mum! So,whilst supposedly caring for his mother, he’s been tripping across the road in the small hours to woo her with takes of how she’s the only one and how he just knows they’ll spend their life together!! Even took on holiday and used to ring me daily pretending he was alone!!
    This woman is in a eagle of her own!!her reputation sucks!! I found two lists that he’s made of her sexual partners.. They get better each time!!! They always end with his name!! now come on… imagine writing about the new love of your life and how she snared an 18 year old for a one night stand at the age of 44? .. Worse still, imagine telling your new love?!! Or the man hunt she’s been on across the world? Talk about League of Nations?!!
    I’ve been through all sort of emotional abuse this past six months as he tries to repair his act of being caught out!! No he doesn’t want me!!…but he doesn’t want to lose half of his life’s work because money and assets like his home are is idols!! People look up to,you when they see all that you have!!!!!!
    Of course..again it’s my fault! I looked through his personal photos and emails!! if I hadn’t it would have all fizzled out by now as this woman wanted commitment after a year of being used!!and then we could have carried on as normal!! He’s even had the cheek to say that I would still do well to ignore this as when he’s gone I’ll regret the situation I’ll be in!!?. I’ll have no friends and I’ll weep every night for him!! He saw three areas that needed to be rectified in order to resolve our problems… Not one related to his behaviour and affair!! There was the issue of my weight… I’m not that gross!! … I’d lost weight.. Yes he accepted that but that was due to stress and not for HIM!!
    And so on…. You all know the script!
    I’m so glad these blog sites exist!! I’d be dead without them and genuinely believe what he says….that it’s ALL MY FAULT!!


  8. Reblogged this on Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD and commented:
    Excellent advice from someone I have learned so much from about narcissistic abuse and how to deal with it.❤


  9. My heart is broken at this reality, undeniable, Im tired hurt, angry, and sad.


  10. Thank you!
    I have read and re-read over and over.
    My situation is difficult right now,I was forcd out my home by a R.O. because I told the narc husband to pay me the money I put into the house and I’d leave. He decided I get nothing and got the law involved with lies,now my 2 dogs and I are without a home,income or any comfort.I have been crashing with a friend who has been sick,I helped get them well and soon have to leave.I have fibromyalgia and sleeping on a air mattress is killing me.The narc wrote e-mails telling me he had hope if only I would change and stop insulting him.He brings up the past as if were yesterday,tells me that I have interferred with his life and destroyed people he ministered to.He started a church while I was 180 miles away taking care of my parents with alzheimers,macro degeneration,etc.It seems his x wife decided to come to his church of 20 people and when I protested and said I don’t like that,he said I was jealous(not) and God forgives and so does he,it was a huge ego trip for him,cause after all she was the problem…Sick!
    He called me my mother(who had alzheimers but was always abusive)
    put me down,called me a whore cause after 4 years of caring for my parents my body was so shot,I couldn’t work and he supported me.
    He said I destroyed his church and the people that went there.He treated others really well,attentive,praying for them all hours day or night,prayed for his x and she got well even though he can’t pray for me,I am the enemy.He is ordained and wanted to start a church again but I felt he didn’t to get our home life right,he said there is nothing wrong with him,it’s me who’s controlling and Insults him.I tell him things like he is unsupportive of me and my feelings.I could go on and on but my arm hurts and that’s enough about the narc ,phoneyi,preacher.i can’t say I’m over it,but I’m getting it now.It hurts.
    Thanks,weeping willow


  11. This is one of the best steps of recovery from NPD that I have read to date! Thank you for spelling out every single thing I am feeling and trying to do to heal and move on from this abuse! Unfortunately “No Contact” is not an option for me since there are children involved.


  12. Brilliantly written ..thank you!


  13. Thank u so much. I am in absolute turmoil as see my ex narc daily for our business and he works in my home office too. I feel i might never recover but continue to work on myself. Your Stages of recovery are useful. Peace and love to you x


  14. So true. You laid it out perfectly


  15. Well written and exactly.


  16. I think they’re attracted to empaths because they see it as a vulnerability and something easily exploited and taken advantage of.

    Emapthic people can also tend to be codependent too and that to a narcissist is a bonus, but if someone isn’t already codependent, they likely will be, once involved with an N.


  1. Pingback: A little piece of me, a little piece for you. | skyeathena2000

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