This article will walk you through 3 crucial steps in recovering from narcissistic abuse in considerable detail.
After getting away from narcissistic abuse, the next step is recovery. Especially with emotional abuse, it’s a very personal, arduous, conscious and sometimes painful but rewarding process. To an extent it happens on its own, unless you get wrapped up in another abusive situation, but you can help it along by being aware of the process and knowing how it works.
The biggest risk is falling back into another abusive relationship, that’s why recovery is so important to growing out of the abused mindset you’re so familiar with. I’ll show you the 3 biggest steps you need to take in recovering from emotional abuse I’ve found useful in my own life, so you devote your time to recovering and not suffering the pain your abuse has left. Let’s start the recovery process right now so you don’t have to carry it for the rest of your life.
Establishing your own life is the only way to live a full life, and narcissists by their very nature cannot allow you to live your own life. They need you to live in their world, soaking up their problems and bad feelings. You serve them, live for them and do the things they want on their rules and terms.
The problem is, if you’ve been involved with a narcissist, you’ll have different obstacles to face than victims of other types of abuse. Emotional abuse is entirely different from physical. The damage it inflicts is different and so treating the scars from that trauma will be different.
How is it different? Well you’re more programmed and conditioned to certain behavior and habitual activities by the narcissist when you’re emotionally abused. So it’s not just your reaction to abuse you’ll be changing in your behavior, but your entire distorted way of thinking they’ve programmed into you.
So the first step is removing their sole influence on you and getting other influences from healthier people.
Getting New Input from a Healthy Environment
This is absolutely essential. All of a narcissist’s advanced tricks and methods, no matter what they are, fall to the wayside if you’re getting input from other people. They rely solely on isolating you and being your only influence.
You need to find and connect with people who have similar interests to you, and those you don’t as well. Input from all directions and all sides, so long as it’s positive and supportive, is welcome and constructive in these situations.
Reconnecting with people you lost touch with because of the narcissist is another option. That is, people the narcissist didn’t like, was threatened by and so didn’t approve of and didn’t allow you to be around them for your own good, by making you feel bad for choosing to associate with them.
This has a few interesting facets to it. For one thing, you’ll have lost contact with people you liked and cared about because of the narcissist.
For another thing, you’ll have lost contact with people you thought you liked because the narcissist force-associated you with them… you were supposed to like them so you did. On the other hand, you’ll learn that some (if not most) of the people you never liked in the first place.
Getting back into contact with them makes you learn something: not only did you not like them, but they were just vessels to further the narcissist’s abuse. So no longer knowing them turns out to be a blessing in disguise, but at least now you know what your feelings are.
And last are the people you currently know and through recovery learn you don’t like them and they aren’t good for you. You outgrow them through your recovery.
Establishing Your Own Schedule, Irrespective of Others
This is important for two reasons. First, it’s natural for us to develop our own schedules based on our personality traits, lifestyle choices and personal preferences (and work obligations). Making our own choices is essential to being a responsible adult who makes healthy decisions for themselves.
Making good decisions for yourself is a prerequisite for making good decisions for others; like supporting your family or being a good friend.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, is that narcissists make it their life’s work to get your daily schedule to revolve around theirs, in both personal and professional lives. Any way they can control what you do at any time they wish is a win for them.
This means that you will feel inclined sacrifice your own needs to meet others’ needs, rather than structure your life around meeting your own needs.
I’m not suggesting that you should be selfish before all else, but that the important next step for you is identifying what you need to do for yourself to be happy and productive. Ask yourself what makes you happy, not what makes you comfortable from making someone else happy.
That means doing things based around your life and personal choices, not theirs, by having your own schedule with your own events you live by.
Now, a schedule isn’t a script. That doesn’t mean you have to schedule all of your time in hour-by-our blocks, but whenever you’re doing something, know that why you’re doing it, not to evade abuse or feel better from the trauma if it’s an escape or an indulgence.
Always know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
Working Through It by Yourself and With Others
This last one sounds like a cop out, but it isn’t. You need to understand your abuse, however painful, and not run away from it. Preferably you’d also work through it with a professional.
Why is this step last? Because it isn’t a step; it’s an ongoing process you must instill through habit. Recovering is work in productive sessions, not obsession over the results of your abuse without acknowledging the abuse itself.
By acknowledging it, you can isolate the problems it creates in your life. By tracing them back to the source, you can separate the abuse and resolve it rather than be a victim to it by indulging in dysfunctional behavior.
I’m making such a big deal out of this one seemingly minor point because most abused people just castoff and “move on” or “get over it”. They do so at their own risk and expense.
You don’t just “move on” from emotional abuse, you either acknowledge and work through it or absorb it and have it bleed into all other aspects of your life. It changes you for the worse when you don’t confront it, sometimes forever.
Would you rather confront it now and all of the pain it causes you, or avoid it and pay that debt over your lifetime with interest?
Recognizing the full range and scope of the harm done to you and its effect on your life is the only way to recover, from now into the long term. If you don’t, you not only victimize yourself through dysfunctional behavior but those closest to you as well.
I’m also going to stress that you see a professional as well as expose yourself to people who are healthy and supportive in your personal life. Both are invaluable tools, it’s not just one or the other. When used in tandem, they’re even better and serve to compliment and supplement each other.
For example, focusing your anger from the abuse by ranting without actually confronting the root cause would be indulging in your abuse and spinning your wheels because your anger from being abused and no one protecting you.
It starts a downward cycle where it continues and feeds itself from the ranting and channeling feelings onto the wrong things, rather than an upward cycle where you can acknowledge the abuse and come to terms with it.
What happens when you don’t cope is that minor things start to wear on your nerves and bother you, but you don’t actually acknowledge that you’re irritated all of the time because you’re angry about the abuse, aside from everything else.
This has to do with you, not them. There are plenty of things the narcissists can and should be blamed for, but your reaction isn’t one of them. You choose how you respond and react to their behavior.
Working through it means taking responsibility for your enabling them as well as not allowing their bad behavior to make you feel like a good person. You were tricked and manipulated into supporting them to stick around, now you can stop.
I know I’ve put it to you in a series of actionable steps, but getting over being emotional abused by a narcissist is a process and way of thinking, too. It has phases you must go through; it’s a lot more than just a few steps.
But the steps are a way to show you what actions you can take to help facilitate the healing process.
Depending on the length and severity of your abuse, it may be a lifelong process, but it’s never hopeless. There’s no case, as far as I’m aware, that didn’t require, and couldn’t be helped by, these steps.
And if my personal experience has anything to say to that effect, it’s that you can always recover. Anything is possible when you have the will to improve. But it’s a choice, and a something you must work on.
You’ll identify the source of your problems and overcome them, but you’ll also succumb to them without realizing it, and this is where conscious effort and feedback become so important. The biggest step is recognizing it as a necessary process and knowing it to be as such.
Best of luck to you and I hope I’ve helped you along in your journey.