People who have lived through emotional abuse and have been able to leave that situation where the narcissist for so long controlled their life are much stronger than anyone gives them credit for.
Narcissist are some of the most insidious and dangerous people on the planet. They take control of their intended victim and break them down until there is almost nothing left of them.
They use verbal abuse, emotional blackmail, manipulation and gaslighting to name but a few tactics. Their desired result is to leave you a shell of who you once was and once this is achieved and you will no longer serve a purpose to them as you have nothing left to give them.
They use the kindness of people against them, and when someone who has been abused starts their recovery it can be a long and painful process, to make matters worse as they start to heal the narcissist may try and work their way back into their lives.
Healing is never easy but what it does do is empower the survivor in ways they have never thought of themselves before.
During recovery, the person finds out so much about themselves but also finds that the traits left behind from the involvement with the narcissist are things they question themselves over, in a way the narcissistic behaviors have been absorbed and they need to be removed and replaced with positive healing and strength.
1. You struggle with understanding whether the decisions you make are right or not.
Moving on is a period of acceptance, you will question have I made the right decision, what did I do wrong for them to treat me like this. As this slowly sinks in and you know you have done the right thing the trauma increases as the realization hits just how the hell did you survive for as long as you did.
2. Reality doesn’t feel quite as real as it should.
You’re now living in the real world and it can be a scary place to be. You’ve lived a lie for so long in this wild and dangerous world created by the narcissist that you actually fear now living in the real world. You question everything because you really have no idea what is real anymore.
3. You cannot overcome this alone.
You feel ashamed that you were taken in by this person for so long that you can’t possibly tell anyone about it, you think they won’t believe you anyway. They will and if they don’t then they are not worth your time. You are no longer the person you once were before the narcissist came into your life and you fight to get back to that person, it won’t happen, too much has happened, the person you are going to become will be stronger than before, but to do this you will need support and understanding, choose your people carefully it may even only be one, once you make that decision you will feel better for it.
4. You struggle with self-sabotage.
You have been put down for so long by the narcissist that you find to your horror that you are putting yourself down too now about anything, this is one of the traits mentioned in the introduction. If someone is constantly abused to the point of feeling they are worthless you can’t just turn that thought process off, but you can each time you find yourself putting yourself down, remind yourself you are worthy and you know your self-worth.
5. You constantly doubt yourself.
Narcissists need you to doubt yourself so that they can portray the hero of rescuing you from everything you do wrong. Now you are away from them you may find yourself doubting every decision you make or even incapable of making a decision. Each time you find that happening tell yourself it’s ok to doubt and find someone you trust to talk your doubts over with.
6. Healing takes time, a lot of time.
Healing is no small job, it takes time, a lot of time, and you will find yourself taking 2 steps forward to then take 1 step back, and that’s ok. If something is unsettling you, you may find days when you just don’t want to ‘people’ so don’t, go ahead and have a duvet day, just do you. There are no quick fixes for abuse.
7. You find yourself chasing after toxic people.
Narcissists have this ability to spot someone who is going through the healing process from another narcissist. They try and latch on and sometimes we mistake this for someone trying to help us. We are vulnerable, raw and open and this is the perfect time for them to strike. Be guarded with any new people during this time, and if in doubt ask a trusted friend what they think of this person, friends have an amazing knack of spotting a bad one straight off the bat.
8. You have to work through your people-pleasing ways.
You have been living a life of constantly having to please the narcissist for fear of what they may do to you, you carry this habit through into your recovery and you find you are saying or doing things just to keep the peace. This has to stop, only do what you want to do, it’s your life.
9. Your self-worth has to be built back up.
Your self-worth is all but gone and this is down to the narcissist taking it down brick by brick until your self-worth is a pile of rubble. Your self-worth won’t return overnight but each time you do something that you want to do and is right for you the rubble gets less and the wall of self-worth returns. You are the architect of your life so build a good one.
10. Trusting others is not easy.
This is really a hard one as you are unsure who can be trusted. People will have to work hard to earn your trust and you may even find that people you once trusted you no longer feel able to trust now and it isn’t anything they have done. Keeping your guard up is the right thing to do, remember this is about you and your well-being no one else.
11. Fear doesn’t just go away.
Living has become a place of fear and it won’t just disappear the moment you leave the narcissist. You are literally afraid of living; you find yourself living on your nerves and you have anxiety that feels like it is off the charts. Speak to your doctor who may be able to suggest some treatment to assist your road of recovery.
12. Your sense of boundaries is quite warped.
The narcissist broke down all the boundaries that you had, they force their way in and they are there to stay or so they think. Once away from the narcissist you have to work on building your boundaries back up but doing in such a way that you don’t shut yourself off from the world completely which is what you feel you want to do.
13. Being vulnerable isn’t always a bad thing.
There is nothing wrong with being vulnerable, as it is in these vulnerabilities that you saw how your life truly was and in that realization that is what gave you the strength to leave the situation. We all feel vulnerable at some point in our lives it is a healthy response, it is not being a victim, it is being a survivor.
14. You take on the blame for things you have no control over.
When with the narcissist you were blamed for anything and everything, even the things beyond your control, if the weather was bad it was your fault! You will still find you blame yourself for things beyond your control, this is an inherited habit from your time with the narcissist and you will need to work on telling yourself you are not to blame.
15. You lose all sense of self.
Narcissistic abuse leaves you having no sense of self, it is damaging and you will find this a struggle to release yourself from this feeling. You’ve lived with that feeling for a long time and it will take as equally long to work through this feeling and come through the other side.
16. You have to learn how to put yourself first.
You did everything for them, they always came first and now you need to put yourself first and that will be alien to you. You are taking steps to do what is right for you and doing some simple things like reading a book of your choosing, eating what you want to eat as examples will feel amazing and empowering.
17. You begin seeing the pain in others more.
This is always a hard one as you have been through the pain you find yourself seeing it in others where you hadn’t before. This is like an awakening and is a hard cold truth that there are so many narcissists in the world doing so much damage that you will want to shut yourself away, don’t shut yourself away and if you feel able to reach out to those you can see are in the same place as you, there is power in numbers and the words ‘I see you’.
18. You struggle to put your emotions into words.
What you feel isn’t always something that can be put into words, your emotions are all over the place and you actually wonder if what you are feeling is even true, you are displaced and what was once a simple thing to do such as say’ ‘No I don’t think so, or Yes, what a great idea’ you now sit there thinking I don’t even know what I think about that. Just know this is all normal.
19. You spend a lot of time on the edge.
Your life was one long living on the edge of your nerves, you were constantly unsettled and wondering when the next barrage of abuse would hit. You can’t turn that off, if only it was that simple. You will have to allow those emotions to wind down on their own in time as you grow stronger and there will be times, they return but each time they return you will cope with them better than the last time.
20. You learn how to be a bit more selfish.
There are selfish people and then there are those in recovery learning to be selfish to meet their needs, this is a totally different concept. For so long your own needs were never met or even acknowledged. You will need to acknowledge what you need and you will make it happen. Often people in recovery are looked on as selfish, ignore them that is some of the stigma attached which is annoying, to say the least as when does anyone attach stigma to a narcissist? They don’t.
21. You do not feel open to love.
Your idea of love was ripped away from you and an insidious being was there in its place. They ruined what love can be like for you. Any person showing interest in you will be viewed with suspicion, you will question their motives, you are disinterested in love and quite frankly who can blame you for that. Never feel pressure to start a relationship and never think getting into a relationship will heal you, only you can heal you.
22. You compare yourself to others far too often.
You will find yourself comparing who you are to other people you know. You may even find yourself wishing you could be more like them or even them, don’t do this to yourself, you are amazing just how you are, recovery and all.
23. You seek approval from others in ways you shouldn’t.
You are now in the position where you make all your own decisions and you will find that you think you can’t so will check with people if you are doing even the smallest thing right. As you go through recovery this will lessen as the stronger you grow the more you will trust in yourself.
24. You work hard to maintain normalcy.
To quote Morticia Adams ‘What is normal to the spider is chaos to the fly’.
Normal is what you decide it to be. Normal is how you live your life; it is after all yours. You have been through hell and lived, make your life your normal, and above all else live!