Narcissistic abuse is, by far, the worst kind of psychological and emotional abuse one can ever imagine. Unfortunately, many people are scarred for life by narcissistic relationships. Still, there is hope: Narcissistic abuse is treatable and survivors can get their lives back on track. After leaving a narcissist, however, you will likely go through a period of grieving the relationship before you are able to move on with your life. This process involves working through five stages of grief: denial that something bad happened at all, anger at yourself and others who did not help you sooner, bargaining with yourself over what you could have done differently in the situation to make it better or prevent it from happening altogether. The fourth stage is depression; this depression may be triggered by an event such as seeing an old friend who reminds one of past bad experiences, looking at pictures from when things were going well but only realizing now how toxic they truly were in retrospect - or even just existing in today's political climate which seems so rife with injustice against women who have been abused by men like Harvey Weinstein.
The initial aftermath.
The initial aftermath of narcissistic abuse can be very difficult. You may be in shock, you may be in denial, or you may feel that you're going crazy. You might even feel like the crazy one. It's important to remember that this is normal and that it is a stage of healing from being abused by someone who took advantage of your trust and empathy.
You will find ways to cope with these feelings and get through them as you begin your journey toward recovery from narcissistic abuse trauma.
Why it's so hard to leave a narcissist.
It’s not always easy to leave a narcissist. The longer you stay in an abusive relationship, the more your self-esteem takes a beating. You may feel like you deserve the abuse, because you believe that your abuser has made up stories about how terrible of a person you are and how much better off without them would be.
Many people stay in these relationships for years, even when they clearly don’t want to anymore—and there are many reasons why this happens:
- They have access to all your money and assets
- They make threats against other family members or friends who depend on their support (especially children)
- You have no idea what it feels like to have someone love and care about you unconditionally; or worse—you suspect that if anyone else finds out just how bad things really are between the two of them (which means admitting something is wrong), then they won't be able to get away from this person as easily as they think they can now!
How narcissistic abuse affects your brain.
Narcissistic abuse causes a series of physical and psychological changes in your brain that make it hard to leave the abuser. The symptoms are similar to those of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but they're also different: Because narcissists don't cause direct, life-threatening danger like combat or sexual assault do, their victims' brains respond differently. These differences in brain function can result in long-term effects such as depression and anxiety disorders.
Narcissistic abuse also causes self-esteem problems that make it even harder to leave the relationship because it feels like there's no way out or anyone who understands what you're going through—which is true! We all need each other's support when we go through painful events, so I encourage you to find friends who have been through similar experiences so you can share stories and build community together!
Dealing with the five stages of grief.
Dealing with the five stages of grief is a process that most people who have been abused can relate to. Grief is a normal response to loss, and it's important to know that you're not alone if you are experiencing these feelings.
When we think of grief, we tend to associate it with the death of someone close, like a family member or friend. But there are many types of loss—the death of a loved one, divorce or separation from your partner, financial ruin or bankruptcy, unemployment or job loss—and each type brings its own set of challenges when trying to cope with the change in circumstances. They all involve suffering and pain in one way or another (even if they don't involve physical injury), so grieving after some sort of trauma may feel inevitable.
You may wonder why it's healthy for us humans to experience such negative emotions when something awful happens in our lives; why does "good" stuff never seem like enough? Well-known psychologist Elisabeth Kubler Ross believed that these feelings were necessary for our well-being because they help us accept reality and deal with difficult situations better in the future (1). She identified five stages: denial ("I'm fine"), anger ("Why me?!"), bargaining ("Maybe things will change."), depression ("This sucks."), acceptance ("Well ... what now?").
Treating PTSD, depression, and anxiety.
One of the most important things you can do is find ways to take care of yourself. Here are some tips:
- Meditation, mindfulness, and breathing exercises. These practices help us focus on the present moment and let go of emotions that might otherwise get in our way.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a form of psychotherapy that helps people change the way they think about or perceive an event or circumstance in order to affect change in their behavior. It's used for many mental health conditions, including PTSD and depression related to narcissistic abuse.
- Medication. Sometimes medication can be helpful with managing symptoms such as anxiety or depression following narcissistic abuse — talk to your doctor about whether this might be right for you!
- Support groups. Find a good support group through Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Network where you can meet others who share your experience and learn from them how they overcame their trauma too!
Healing self-esteem and learning boundaries.
Setting a boundary is a way of saying, “This is me and this is my space.” It's saying that you will not let someone cross the line into your territory unless they leave their weapons at the door. You are making it clear that you have limits and you are enforcing them. A person without boundaries allows others to step all over them, even when they don't want them to do it or when it causes harm to themselves or others around them (including the abuser). Once you start setting boundaries, life becomes much more pleasant because people respect what belongs to you—they know not to invade your personal space or take advantage of your generosity without giving something back in return! Learning how to set boundaries may be difficult at first because there are so many factors involved: knowing what kind of behavior needs correcting; knowing how much correction is appropriate based on severity; anticipating consequences if one doesn't enforce those corrections (these may include being hurt); anticipating reactions from others who don't understand why these things need correcting (this includes family members who think everything was "fine" before). These factors make setting boundaries difficult but not impossible—if we all started doing this tomorrow there would be fewer divorces among couples who didn't realize there were problems until after they'd gotten married!
Creating a support system of loved ones and professionals.
This is an area where you will need to be your own advocate. You cannot rely on the narcissist to help you with this, and even if he or she does offer assistance, it’s unlikely that their way of helping is going to be helpful for you. Narcissists are often very manipulative and can use your past trauma against you in the present by offering false assistance that only serves his or her needs rather than yours. For example, if a friend asks how they can help after a break-up and a narcissist hears about it, they might tell that person that they need “space” when in actuality what they really want is another person willing to listen without judgment while telling them how much better off things could have been had they stayed together and worked through their issues together—and then someone else comes along who does listen without judgment but also offers advice (such as no contact). This would upset them because now there are two people who are not giving them everything back in return for listening!
Healing from narcissistic abuse is possible, but it takes time and effort.
It is important to remember that healing from narcissistic abuse is a process, not an event. It takes time and effort to rebuild your life after narcissistic abuse. You may find yourself moving back and forth between phases of healing as you learn new coping strategies, but that's okay!
You're going to be different than before you were abused. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you or that you're doing it wrong—it just means that recovery takes time and effort.
It's normal for survivors' self-esteem and relationships with others to be impacted by what happened in their pasts; however, these things can be rebuilt over time with the right support system in place (which we'll discuss later).
If you’ve been through narcissistic abuse, it can feel like a horrible dream. It’s more than just an ending to a relationship; it’s the loss of the person you used to be. But your trauma will pass and you will heal, and we hope this article has helped shed some light on the process for you. You are not alone in this journey—so many people have gone through what you have gone through and come out better for it. And if you need support throughout your healing, therapists are trained to help guide survivors of narcissistic abuse back to their true selves. Just because narcissists don’t care about other people doesn’t mean you should give up on yourself, because when that happens they win. Don’t let them win—find the community, guidance, and self-love that will bring meaning back into your life again!