Recovery – What Phase are You In?
This word conjures up many intense feelings for former targets of narcissists. It’s no surprise that when we first free ourselves, we are apprehensize to embrace the concept of recovery. To do so is a reminder that we must again expend our energy “changing” and “fixing ourselves” to deal with yet another transgression by the narcissistic people around us.
In assessing the receptiveness of targets to authors and healers in the narcissistic abuse community, we find feedback shows that targets respond less favorably to those healers who shame or focus on labeling targets as “victims”, “codependent” or whose program blames targets for enabling or bringing on their own abuse. We’ve also found historically that our blog posts which focus on ourselves and recovery are not our most popular posts.
Our approach has always been “target trusted and target led”. By that we mean, that we focus on the individual and trust that we all intuitively know what’s best for ourselves and that where each of us are in terms of our own journey of recovery, is EXACTLY where we are meant to be based on our own circumstances and personalities. Recovery is definitely NOT a one size fits all event. Timing is everything!
When we are in the early phases of “light” or educating ourselves about narcissistic personality disorder and malignant narcissism, we are not going to be focusing much on ourselves or our own “issues”.
Let’s define “recovery”. First, we are discussing recovery from narcissistic abuse. Narcissistic abuse is the abuse we suffer from being in a close relationship with a person who has been formally diagnosed with the mental disorder of “NPD” or someone whose malignant level of narcissism and lack of empathy causes severe disturbances and abuse within their close relationships by which we were traumatically affected.
Recovery then becomes the process that ensues in the aftermath of accepting that the narcissism of another person became so toxic to us that we had no other choice than to sever the relationship and go no or minimal contact in order to save what’s left of our soul, sanity and identity.
Recovery is not an option; we either embrace the process and let it teach, transform and free us or we let recovery drag us through unending pain with no resolve and the inevitable repetition of the patterns of our past with one narcissist after another.
The Ana Stages of Recovery:
No Contact – The First 90 Days
The most difficult in terms of an intense and baffling rollercoaster of emotions, battling the addictive and obsessive pull of the toxic relationship, the dying of very bad habits, the smear campaign, the realization of the horrible things you were denying for so long, all make the first 90 days a true hell on earth.
The needs during this period are frequent crisis intervention, intense communication regarding the problems and the relationship, assistance in remaining no contact, emotional triage for extreme feelings and withdrawl. etc.
Light – Education about Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Knowledge is power! There’s a strong need and desire to read information that helps targets understand the narcissistic personality and abuse tactics, Reading everything you can get your hands on about the disorder and talking about it and Participating heavily in support groups.
What happens over time, as we educate ourselves about the disorder, we begin defining our own identity, separate from narcissism. We’ve been blamed ad nauseum by narcissistic people for being: “selfish, self centered, jealous, cheating, mean” (projection) so as we begin to learn that narcissist’s project, they have agendas, they are serial cheaters, etc. we begin to KNOW that we weren’t really those things, we are who WE are and no one outside can define us. We begin to form boundaries around our identities and protecting ourselves because we recognize that our hard work to get ourselves back should be relished and valued.
Life – Focusing on our own lives now that we’ve learned about the disorder, and have separated ourselves and our identities (boundaries) from the disorder.
This is the phase where, we no longer focus so much on the narcissism in the world and people around us, but we are willing to consider our own state of affairs. Our goals, boundaries, our family histories, our work lives, our friendships, and even our own levels of narcissism; our passions in life and how egoless our pursuits are. We strive to live our best lives, through our own authenticity and assume responsibility for the health and well being of our own lives.
Narcissism is nearly a distant memory, until something out of the blue triggers those old abuses. We can easily become frozen and drift right back into reacting as if the abuse is occuring all over again. It’s a day terror of sorts, realizing that we are PERMANENTLY SCARRED by something so traumatic that we can’t let go of the trauma, no matter how desperately we want to. PTSD. Today’s reminder that narcissist abuse occurred in our lives.
Love – God’s love, Self Love, Other Love, all things love
Love is a concurrent state to our everyday lives, but it deserves a special call out in our recovery program. Because the lack of genuine self love whether the narcissist’s or ourselves, gravely harmed us. Love doesn’t hurt. It’s the golden rule. It’s the only way we create peace in our lives.
Communion is important. After narcissistic abuse, we need to push through an ENORMOUS MOUNTAIN of mistrust towards every other human being on the planet and at times, even God. We no longer blindly trust others the way we once did. If you’ve never had the type of conscious altering experience as loving a soulless human, you won’t understand this desire to isolate from all humans, out of fear of ever encountering this again. Targets forever feel braced to prevent this abuse from recurring.
At this phase, accepting responsibility freely and humbly increases our self love. By living authentically without attack, so far from our narcissistic pasts, our self worth and love flourishes because it can! The more we love ourselves, the more we protect our goodness. Always striking a balance between being exposed, being known and trusting to not be devoured.
Our relationship with a higher power, in my own life, “God”, also develops love in our lives. Knowing that we can rely blindly on someone to always have our best interest at heart and who desires to know us and be close to us, despite our flawed state, is the kind of love that makes us joyful to be alive and deeply trusting.
Laughter – Without laughter, this whole process would be too overwhelming, dark and weighty.
The resurgence of laughter in our lives is the universe saying, “Everything’s going to be fine”. We know instinctively that when we can laugh about things, we just aren’t taking ourselves and the whole experience so seriously. We can’t always be focused on the struggle. Sometimes, we need to just laugh.
There were times in my own recovery that I’d read something or see a picture that would just make me laugh so hard out loud at the absurdity of big egos, selfishness, grandiosity and personally, what I’d been through. It wasn’t always the narc I’d laugh about, it could be my own, faux pas as I awkwardly stumbled through my own recovery. The ridiculous things I’d done or said, out of response of just being so hurt and broken.
This recovery has definitely showed me that the God I believe in, has a SENSE OF HUMOR! and Im so thankful that he does!
What we focus on, what we grapple with, what we choose to read about or gravitate to in our daily lives will depend upon where we are in our phase of recovery.
Once we are conscious of the inescapable reality that post narc abuse, we’re in “recovery” whether we like to admit that or not. Embracing the journey and being aware of where we are in the journey helps us be more patient and understanding with ourselves.
Where are you in your phase of recovery?
What are you learning?
What do you need at this stage?
Are you growing?
Do you ever desire having “not to recover” anymore, that you just want to live life without having to think about “narcissism?
What do you need from us and others around you at this phase?