10 Steps to Start Healing From Narcissistic Abuse.
Congratulations! You are here, which means you know you have suffered from narcissistic abuse. Don’t think I’m joking, I’m not as many people don’t understand what it is and are still suffering in their relationships. We can all suffer from abusive relationships whether it’s our parents or a personal relationship.
We get sucked in because narcissists are charming at first fulfilling our wants and needs. They treat us like we are the most precious person they have ever met… until it changes and they reveal their dark side, but now it’s too late. We have fallen for them hook, line and sinker, unless you have been born to one, then there was never a choice and many of us suffer from growing up in an abusive family and don’t realize the damage that has been done to us until a trigger happens in our lives, suddenly it’s like a light bulb goes on. For me it had to be few light bulbs because I was so used to being abused that when people told me my mother “wasn’t quite right” I was confused and defended her. Trust me I don’t defend her anymore.
I have been on a long healing journey, with many Ah-ha moments, times when I curled up into a ball and cried so hard I shook but now I feel invigorated and ready to meet life's challenges. I want to share with you some tips that have helped me on my journey.
1. Allow yourself to grieve and be angry.
I didn’t have a choice with this one I was SO angry when I finally realized. I was angry with myself, my abusers. I asked myself so many questions, how could I have been so naive? Why did I allow people to treat me like that? And then there are those negative, little thoughts that nip and bite like am I really as useless, worthless, ugly as they say I am? You are allowed to be angry and grieve. It’s natural.
2. Learn simple techniques and self-soothing methods.
These are so important to helping you heal! You need to choose what feels right for you. I strongly recommend mindfulness, meditations, yoga. Art therapy is an excellent tool as we discover our deepest, inner feelings when we just let our mind wander. It can uncover lost memories, hopes and dreams of what we want to bring into our lives. We can learn aromatherapy, which calms our senses or Reiki to clear out our chakras.
Don’t forget, we can also use even the simplest forms of soothing methods to help us too, even just taking a soak in the tub can do wonders for the mind, body and soul. Use your favorite bath oils, bubbles or salts, relax and breathe in the scents. Let your mind drift to a place you love or have wanted to visit. You can play soothing music or directed meditations even the sound of waves lapping a sun drenched beach. These techniques and methods are yours to choose. Find out what works and feels right for you.
3. Go No Contact with your narcissist
This is a tough one, I know but it is essential. Some advise to go low contact but it’s not good to go this route because they will always find a way to wiggle their way back in or stand on the sidelines watching and waiting for a time to step back into your life, which is called Hoovering. Block them from all of your social media accounts, your phone… everything! It will be difficult at first because you are so used to them being there, there will be feelings of guilt, even though you feel angry. It can feel like a double edged sword but it’s worth it!
I decided to go No Contact with my mother 6 years ago. I set a date giving myself a week to grieve her and then I held a 5 minute memorial for her around the fire pit in our backyard, saying that deep down I loved her and wished her the best for the future. I had written a letter to her, which I placed into the fire. It felt like a cleansing, a weight that had dragged me down for years felt like it lifted and that I had been able to give myself a sense of closure on it. Of course, there were many areas I still need to work on, like you will have but it’s a step… and one in the right direction.
4. Work on your self-esteem
When we start to recover from narcissistic abuse we find we have companions with us often called depression, anxiety and self-esteem. They walk with us everywhere, constantly nattering into our mind. We can’t sleep, eat. We don’t want to go out, often it feels like our bed is our best friend, after all it doesn’t just judge us, it just supports us with it’s warmth and comfort but that’s not a life.
Our narcissist told us constantly that we were failures and useless, but why should we prove them right because they weren’t! You, yes, YOU survived a narcissist! Sadly, some people don’t. You, my friend, are a warrior!
Some people feel it’s depression or anxiety where they need to start, I have found when I worked on my self-esteem, my depression and anxiety started to heal and yours can too. We also often mix up feelings of depression and anxiety with something else, a different emotion, like frustration, anger, loss, mourning. If we can pinpoint the emotion we have a better chance of understanding it and therefore confronting it and taking it to the next step of healing from it.
5. Set your new boundaries.
How many times have you said yes to something and either didn’t want to say yes or regretted it later? You’ve lost count, I know.
“When you say no to the wrong people, it opens up the space for the right people to come in.” – Joe Calloway
It is so much easier to say no because yes comes with so many sub-categories, whereas a simple NO doesn’t. It sets a healthy boundary to something you don’t want or want to do.
When the last time you said yes and added a boundary to it? “Yes, I can but…not right now, later, if…” As you start to heal you will understand where you want your boundaries to be, they don’t have to be hard and fast boundaries, never to be moved but healthy realistic ones.
Do you take the challenge? Are your ready to set them? Today?
Oh! I heard that. That intake of breath. You are asking, why do I need to do that? Well, you have been carrying around so much baggage, mentally, physically, it’s time to detoxify your mind, body and soul ready for the new and improved you. Start to look at your old habits, which are useful to you and which are not. Did you spend so much time running around after your narcissist that neglected yourself?
Time to level up and be brutally straight with yourself. Did you put on more weight than you are comfortable with? Did food become a comfort or alcohol? Did you let your gym membership lapse? When was the last time you gave yourself a treat, like a massage, nails done or a visit to the hairdresser to feel pampered? When did you let the negativity slip away like a heavy, burdening winter coat? It’s time to take care of you, yes you have permission to start looking after yourself. Detoxify, cleanse. Look at it like you are a butterfly,once cocooned but now getting ready to metamorphosize into a new you, a brilliant, bright colorful you!
7. Permission to forgive yourself.
We are not talking about those around you, we are talking about you. It is time to forgive yourself. People can be brutal but not as brutal as we are to ourselves, that is a whole different level! We hear in our heads all day everyday the words that were repeated to us. We can malign, hate, distrust ourselves because we have been abused but it’s time to forgive.
Forgive what we perceive to be our worst mistakes and undoings. If you grew up with a narcissist you weren’t taught any other way with relationships. If you had/have a relationship with a narcissist you can forgive yourself because they are charming, sweet attentive, loving and wouldn’t want that? It’s just that you couldn’t have possibly seen the dark side of them until they chose to reveal it to you. Forgive yourself, don’t keep beating yourself up, you are worthy of so much better in life.
8. Uncovering childhood trauma.
More often than not we fall into narcissistic relationships because we simply weren’t taught anything different! How would you know what an abusive relationship is, if you grew up in and around abuse? You wouldn’t! There are those who did have healthy childhoods and went into a relationship they thought was good, only to find out it wasn’t.
For many of us though, we end up in abusive relationships because they feel “familiar” and because it’s resonates as to what we know. However, over time we get tired of struggling with the constant manipulation, gaslighting, verbal abuse and start to remove the blinkers from our eyes and discover a whole new bright shiny world out there with people who are genuinely kind, loving and supportive.
9. Learning the red flags.
We need to learn the red flags of a narcissist so when we are ready to date again, we don’t fall into the same old trap, over and over. Just to cover this quickly, as I went into more depth in the post, 9 Traits of the Narcissist Personality Disorder You Might Recognize in Your Partner.
Here are the top ten signs you have just met another narcissist:
He/she will brags about previous relationships.
He/she will flirts with others, often right in front of you.
He/she is insensitive to you and what you might want or need.
He/she is unwilling to seriously commit to you.
He/she flaunts and uses you as a trophy.
He/she simply uses you on a rebound.
You know they are only using you for sex.
He/she constantly puts you and others down.
That’s just a start of a long list, but they are flags to watch out for in the future!
Finally, we are on the the last step which is listening. When we stop to listen to people talking, really listen we can suddenly see flags emerging. You suddenly hear me, me me in conversations, when you do take a step back and watch. You have been in an abusive relationship, you know what one looks like and sounds like.
I called this post 10 Steps to Start Healing From Narcissistic Abuse because you have now started a journey to healing, KUDOS to you! It’s not any easy journey, it will be very difficult sometimes but the best ones are the toughest, ones where you laugh, cry, scream but it’s worth it, trust me I’ve been there, in the trenches. Life isn’t constantly puppies and rainbows. No-ones is, but you can find a life where you feel good about yourself, where you want to get out of bed and start a new day. You will find you can look in the mirror without hating who you see.
What has been you biggest challenge in healing?
Please share if you know someone who is struggling with self-esteem.
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