It is just NOT falling out of this distorted and desperate love it is recovering from it – the trauma that occurs as a result of a severely distressing relationship or emotional and psychological abuse from a Narcissist.
From my Book – From Charm to Harm and Everything else in Between with a Narcissist! @http://www.amazon.com
One of the most debilitating aspects of this abuse that is so damaging to targets/victims is the trauma or even post-traumatic stress disorder that is associated with a Narcissist and the emotional and psychological abuse! Here is a quick and clinical type definition of trauma – basically it means ‘injured’ AND the direct result of an overwhelming amount of stress/anxiety that exceeds a person’s ability to cope or integrate the emotions involved with that experience. A traumatic event can involve one experience, or repeated 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 AND long-term negative consequences that can even be overlooked by mental health professionals especially if emotional and psychological abuse is at the root of problem but not actualized as trauma inducing in the diagnosis. Remember trauma is not always diagnosed by the victim because they have been so managed down AND they do not have a background in psychology to self-diagnose so basically they think something is personally wrong with them but they also blame themselves in the process and try to accommodate.
This is very important for targets/victims of this abuse because if the therapist or clinician fails to look to trauma as a diagnosis to isolate ALL of the problems as they relate to ‘current or past trauma,’ they may fail to see that victims young and old, organize much of their lives around the 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 THEN the associated trauma becomes imprinted on their minds for many years and they live with that feeling of being stuck or frozen in time. The trauma will trigger memories of the abuse pull the target/victim right back into the debilitating feelings associated with the abuse which can surface in many different ways. 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 and safe.
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 a 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 terrible trauma. We are aware that these situations can happen, but we don’t have the tools right there with us to recover if we DO experience such a traumatic event. It also takes a willingness to try, fail and persisting to get through this. Most importantly, it takes a strong will to have self-compassion to fix yourself and to move forward with help. Another important aspect is realizing that the Narcissist is not part of this equation because they were/are the attacker or perpetrator in this situation that acted out in the abusive manner AND usually the victim cared for or loved them AND may still be living with them. 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 to recover. They will only bring more trauma into your life and pull you back into the abuse as long as they are a part of your life.
A little bit of a lesson of the basics of a NORMAL relationship. Normal bonding with people is a biological and emotional process that makes people more important to each other over time and GROW together in many different capacities. Unlike love, trust, or attraction, bonding is not something that we can just let go of immediately or abruptly stopped at will. It is cumulative process or better yet only grows and increases in time but rarely decreases. Bonding naturally grows with spending time together, living together, eating together, being physical, having children together, and even during stressful times or difficulty. Bad times will even bond people just as strongly as good times, and sometimes more so. However, when dealing with a Narcissist you are not dealing with reality or even a real person – you are dealing with a master manipulator, predator and abuser – THAT is what traumatizes the victim or the extreme betrayal that the truth yields in the end.
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! It is like ‘shell shock’ having to deal with and avoid all the firing from the Narcissist’s weapons or tools in their arsenal of abuse. You forget what is really right as it concerns YOU because you are always having to explain, react, and keep peace to keep your sanity or basically taking cover and protecting your personal space or individuality BECAUSE IT IS ALWAYS THREATENED BY THE ABUSE. Becoming attached or falling in love with a very chaotic and inconsistent person makes it simply impossible to form a consistent reality based connection because of the fear, loss, the feelings of worthlessness that were imposed on you, feelings of blame and shame, or even the loss of normal and good memories above and 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 or your normal. Remember that love and bonding are mixed into this equation which creates that ‘cognitive dissonance’ too! This is the trauma 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 sadistic and a hideous dehumanization and such an intense betrayal for a normal human being that if not corrected it can diminish and disable the target/victim’s perspective of the world, people, and love throughout their entire life or traumatize them. True recovery requires such a deep desire to dig down deep inside and dispel EVERYTHING that this Narcissist has damaged as well as desensitize the emotions, love and bond that was formed. It is just not falling out of this distorted love it is recovering from it.
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 life or anyone, even family or friends, except superficially. This trauma creates a feeling of being totally alone, and totally empty, and very damaged. Then it seems that going back to the primary abuser will help you overcome it or fixing this to make everything right again AND to release from all of 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, isolated, and fearful, etc., and then processing all of this along with that blame AND real love that you believed in seems insurmountable. 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 real agenda.
To go a bit further to I want to add some information about complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which 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 and desperation. 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 to go a little further! There are many obstacles and many distorted messages or the feeling of being in shock. Unfortunately, this 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 into someone they loved was 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. Yes, this was completely abnormal to your world! 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.
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 must dig down very deeply to break this negative attachment and the distorted messages.
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 – simply put it is much harder to stay away from people we have strongly bonded with. This is especially evident with children from Narcissistic parents, long-term marriages or partnering, or basically any type of long term relationship. 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 especially when you are dealing with a Narcissist that has corrupted your emotions in this 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 but it is a HUGE betrayal when the victim learns the totality of the truth and traumatizing. All of this can only start with no or minimal contact! Greg