There are some common stages a victim of narcissistic abuse goes through after leaving the narcissist; I thought it might help some people to know what to expect because many victims seem surprised by the intensity of their emotions and how they are feeling. Intense feelings are scary.
The victim of narcissistic abuse needs to know what they are experiencing is normal and they will get past it. Here are 10 common steps victims take after leaving the narcissist. They are not in sequence and you may feel them alternately, or feel past a stage only to relapse and feel like you haven’t healed at all.
1. IN CONTROL. Initially you may feel energized, almost on a high, …… empowered; because you are taking your life back and finally standing up to the narcissist. But that is short lived I am afraid.
2. MISSING HIM. As reality sinks in you will miss the narcissist as if a body part has been cut from you. You will feel like the desire to contact him is so strong it is out of your control. You figure that if he would just give you closure you could start to heal but he blames every thing on you and refuses to take any blame.
3. WITHDRAWAL. Like anyone going through withdrawal, the ache is a physical pain, you will come up with dozens of reasons why you NEED to call him. Things that really are of little importance all of a sudden must be dealt with by him and only him. A flat tire, the cat has a fur ball, a letter came in the mail for him.
Fight the urge!!! Go for a walk, call a friend, anything but contact him, check his social media or contact his friends and family.
4. BARGAINING .You “bargain” with yourself, all you need is to hear his voice, or see him…… you will be strong. Or you just HAVE to tell him what you think of him or try to hurt him like he hurt you. But just like a junky, you can’t “do just a little”, you will fall into his toxic web again because it hasn’t been long enough.
When will it be long enough to not affect you? When you no longer want to see him, when you have nothing more to say to him, when the love is gone, the anger is gone, and you actually never want his pathological toxic fog hanging over you or any where near you.
5. CRYING! You may cry none stop for days on end. I couldn’t believe how many tears a body can produce!! I sat for hours, unable to even focus on TV, staring blankly into space, I had to remind myself to blink and breath. I even thought I could die if I just forgot to breath. (No. It doesn’t work. You can’t will yourself to die)
After a while you will be able to function a little bit, go to work, grocery shop, get dressed. I used to allot myself time for a really good cry before putting my makeup on. I could go all day without breaking down for the most part but on the way home I would be sobbing.
Sometimes I would go for a day or two without crying and then out of no where it would hit me like a bolt of lightening and I would have tears streaming down my face.
Relax! It is normal no matter what other people might say about you needing to “just get over it and move on”. Trying to NOT cry or feeling bad about crying only compounds the problem. Then you are berating yourself and feeling bad about feeling bad.
6. OBSESSING. You become obsessed with figuring him out, what he is doing and why. You are hooked on the “game” of solving the real live game of Clue life with a narcissist becomes. You read all about narcissists, compare notes with other victims on supper forums, you feed off of the shared stories; “OMG!that’s what my ex did!” Or “you think that’s bad, MY N did this……!”
You may try to talk to old friends face to face about what he did or doing but you will quickly notice people turn away from you and minimize what you went through or simply don’t listen.
You talk about him and the relationship ad nauseum, even you ate sick of talking about him. But he is all you think about. You relive the whole relationship over and over again. You analyze why he did the things he did, you try to “catch” him treating his new woman badly or cheating on her.
You feel you have lost all your social skills. You have forgotten how to make small talk, it all seems so trivial and pointless. You fear you will never find your “old self” again.
7. MOURNING. You mourn the death of the relationship; your dream, your fantasy, your hope. He may be an asshole and lying to the new woman but he used to be your asshole and now she is the one with hope, even if it is false hope. You long for the those brief moments when he was “loving”, you knew he was lying but he cared enough to lie. I used to pray he would tell me any lie, no matter how feeble and transparent it was; so I could continue to lie to myself.
8. ACCEPTANCE. He goes on a smear campaign. Little had you known he was slagging you long before the relationship ended and now no one believes you because he has convinced them you are a paranoid psycho butch that made his life hell. After all, he seems so happy with the new woman, it must have been your fault. And if it was so bad, why did you stay so long and not say something sooner? Huh?
Anything you say at this point is just going to sound like sour grapes and revenge.
You are going to have to accept that the only closure you are going to get is that you were involved with a personality disordered person who will never make sense or admit to any wrong doing.
9. PARANOIA. It will seem like you are surrounded by narcissists. At every turn you run into another one trying to take advantage of you. This is a very vulnerable time, the first narcissist that comes along and tells you how fantastic you are will take away all your insecurities, you will feel renewed, healed from the N by this honest loving guy who treats you with kindness and understanding. You will have forgotten that is how it always starts with a narcissist and before you know it you are out of one frying pan and into another one. That is why it is vitally important to not date too soon.
You are not being paranoid when you think you are surrounded by narcissists. More than likely you are going to realize that some family members are narcissistic AND a victim is a narcissist magnet.
As you start living true to your core self you will notice some family members and friends will not like the new you. The people who have always been able to manipulate you and used you for passive supply will try to stop your personal growth and self awareness.
10. FINDING YOUR BEST SELF INSTEAD OF YOUR OLD SELF. Number 10 is strictly your choice. You can bury the pain, continue to do what you believe other people want you to do, like pretend to move on and find a “nice” guy who treats you right. (As if you were looking for an asshole last time). It has been useful to research narcissists and learn what you are dealing with. It helps to know they can’t be healed and their brains are deformed. It helps to hear the stories of other victims and know you aren’t the only one who got sucked in.
But, you will never find your old naive self. Remaining a “victim” by continuing to obsess about him, stalk him, “out” him, and expecting that telling people how hurt you were in your last relationship is going to somehow protect you in the future is futile and self defeating.
Some people get stuck in victimhood. In many ways it keeps them attached to the narcissist and being a victim has become their identity.
Personally the last thing I wanted was to be an eternal victim, living in fear of being unable to protect myself from the narcissists in the world. You really can’t get away from them so how do you protect yourself?
Well THAT shold be enough reading material to keep you busy for awhile.
There are more things you go through, I have included links to some posts that delve more deeply into some of the topics but there are more Posts throughout the blog.
And one more for good measure.