Escaping a narcissistic abusive relationship is extremely challenging – yet the journey to genuinely heal yourself can be even more difficult and painful at times. Victims are often left reeling, completely drained and fundamentally questioning their perception of reality after enduring years of manipulation.
When we experience tremendous stresses and traumas, our minds instinctively try to protect us by compartmentalising, rationalising, or denying the full extent of the wounds initially. However, true healing requires moving through the pain to genuinely confront and process it before we can integrate these experiences and rediscover our strengths. Expect this to challenge you both emotionally and physically at first. Know that pushing through the difficult healing process is completely worth it.
In the initial months following the relationship, prepare to endure a turbulent wave of difficult emotions. The emotional and mental poisons from the abuse have built up for a long time. Now they are finally coming out and need to be released.
Swings between feeling completely numb or utterly enraged are common. You may break down unexpectedly over minor triggers. Loneliness, sorrow, and waves of grief over the time lost can also arise. Nightmares reliving bits of trauma unfortunately recur too.
it is vital during this stage to implement healthy daily self-care routines while accessing trauma-informed therapy and support groups. You need empathetic understanding more than ever to build enough stability and tools to start processing the torrent of emotions. Know these intense reactions will gradually settle into a calmer headspace again.
The damaging effects this abuse had on your mind and emotions may cause profound confusion, leading you to doubt your sense of reality. You may still reflexively blame yourself or make excuses for much of their behaviour.
Journaling and frankly discussing events with specialist counsellors help overcome this cognitive dissonance. Recording examples of the manipulation suffered lets you systematically break down the actual abusive patterns to regain conviction in your judgment.
Therapists help immensely in unravelling the residual warped thinking, providing exercises and new mental frameworks so you genuinely internalise none of this was your fault. You did not deserve any of this.
The immense stress endured takes a heavy toll physically, often depleting your energy, immune health and exacerbating any medical conditions. Lingering brain fog and concentration issues are frustratingly common too.
While still processing the trauma through counselling, also prioritise restoring your physical well-being. Light exercise, sufficient sleep, a nutrient-dense diet, and relaxation practices like yoga or meditation help stabilise mood and cognitive faculties faster. Consider supplements that reduce cortisol and support nervous system recovery as well.
The traumatic manipulation inflicted can leave profound scars on one’s mental health and very sense of self. Many survivors struggle with Complex PTSD, anxiety, or depressive disorders for years after escaping the relationship due to the brain and nervous system essentially being held hostage under prolonged duress.
The emotional volatility, intermittently withdrawn affection then hoovering reconciliations essentially condition your brain to maintain hypervigilance for threats – continually flooding the system with stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline even when real danger isn’t present.
Insomnia, migraines, digestive issues, and body aches persist from the physiological changes this activated fight-or-flight state created long term. Lingering cognitive dissonance can haunt you too until the trauma is adequately processed through intensive therapy.
Is full recovery possible?
Yes, full recovery is possible. But it takes committed help, a long period, and real work to truly change the harmful thinking the narcissist caused. Their projections become so ingrained that victims reflexively blame themselves or struggle with self-confidence, unstable moods and boundaries for years if not properly addressed.
Specialised counselling provides the techniques and validation to dismantle these embedded mental chains. As the brain’s neural pathways are rewired through the repetition of new healthy coping behaviours and thinking, you reclaim personal empowerment. PTSD symptoms significantly decrease as traumatic memories lose their strong emotional charge.
Have compassion for the length of your journey – while full recovery takes commitment, with help, you can heal from narcissistic abuse and flourish again.
Integration and post-traumatic growth
With ongoing self-care and counselling, you slowly regain more balance and clarity. Flashbacks or triggers don’t overwhelm you like before. You set firmer limits with people and start hobbies again that give you purpose.
The final step is integrating the experience into your life. This means fully working through what happened and using that knowledge to enrich your future. The pain can lead to deeper wisdom and strength.
Many survivors describe reaching post-traumatic growth – they can now give greater compassion to others from going through their own healing process. You realise the abuse could never truly damage your inner bright spirit. Scars linger but you move ahead with more direction and confidence.
The journey is long, but takes one step at a time. With help and self-love, happiness, meaning and freedom wait ahead. You merit nothing less.
Seeking professional help
Given the extensive psychological manipulation narcissists use, it’s vital to get professional support instead of trying to “just get over” the relationship on your own. Therapists who understand trauma provide the tools and validation needed to unravel distorted thinking patterns.
Types of therapy that can help:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – Identifies and shifts self-limiting beliefs that came from the narcissist’s emotional projections you internalised. Also builds self-confidence and strengthens the ability to set boundaries.
- EMDR – Targets traumatic memories directly by using eye movements while recalling distressing events. This changes how the memories are stored in the brain to reduce irrational feelings of shame or inadequacy.
- Group Counselling – Connects you with other abuse survivors for comfort, advice, and rebuilding damaged social connections.
- Art or Music Therapy – Channels expressing painful emotions into productive creativity.
Seek a counsellor well-versed in narcissistic abuse and Complex PTSD specifically. Their understanding of manipulative tactics and stages of recovery helps clients gain clarity faster to dispel lingering illusions from the abuse. With consistent professional support, you can reclaim your inner light.
If you resonate with any part of this journey to heal from narcissistic abuse, know that vibrant peace and joy absolutely await you again. You deserve no less. Reach out to skilled specialists who fully understand this trauma such as Jeanne van den Bergh, Psychosocial Counsellor and Founder of Guidance to Grow. Jeanne’s trauma-informed therapy and decades of supporting abuse survivors equip her to compassionately guide you through processing emotions to rediscover your worth and strengths. You are not alone.
Contact Jeanne today to take the first step in truly reclaiming and embracing your authentic fulfilling life beyond the pain.
More about Guidance to Grow
Guidance to Grow is a South African-based therapeutic consultancy that provides professional counselling and life coaching services. Guidance to Grow, under the leadership of Social Worker in Private Practice, Jeanne van den Bergh, has a focus on supporting individuals who are experiencing grief, bereavement, and trauma. They offer a range of services that are designed to help clients process and manage their emotions, including one-on-one counselling, group therapy, and workshops.
At Guidance to Grow, Jeanne takes a compassionate and personalised approach to each client’s unique needs. She works closely with clients to understand their challenges, provide guidance and support, and develop customised strategies to help them move forward and find a sense of peace and fulfillment.
Guidance to Grow’s commitment to providing exceptional therapeutic services has earned them a reputation as one of the most trusted and reliable counselling and life coaching providers in South Africa. If you or someone you know is struggling with grief, bereavement, or trauma, consider reaching out to Guidance to Grow for compassionate support and guidance.
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