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7 Things That Supercharge Narcissistic Abuse Recovery

In the days after you have gone no-contact, recovery from narcissistic abuse feels like an out-of-reach fantasy.  

Narcissists leave a part of themselves inside of us after they’re gone.

No matter how much you wanted to go no-contact, once they’re gone, it feels as if the narcissist has unceremoniously ripped out a part of your own body. [See The Ultimate Narcissistic Abuse Dictionary to review unfamiliar terms]

We’re left sitting in shock, bleeding, wondering how everything that just happened doesn’t affect them. 

Yet, despite their absence, it’s as if somehow, they’re not gone at all. In our minds and bodies, we can feel them with us as if they are telepathically reaching out to us.  

It feels as if this roller coaster of emotions will never end. [Read The Emotional Hell of Breaking Up with a Narcissist]

One of the worst parts is that, despite everything they do, we fear that a part of us will always be in love with that undefined piece of them that they leave behind.  

There are ways of moving past this fugue state and starting your narcissistic abuse recovery. 

7 Ways to Start Your Narcissistic Abuse Recoveryreflections about the narcissistic abuse recovery journey

If you’re struggling in your narcissistic abuse recovery, here are seven things you can try to start purging him or her from your heart.

Even if some time has passed since the relationship ended and you went no-contact, these tasks can still give your recovery from the narcissist a boost forward.

It’s never too late to recognize our strengths, ease our pain, and put the narcissist even further in the past. 

1. Write out a list of all the things your narcissistic partner ever did to you that was damaging.

Make a list that’s as detailed as possible.

What insults did he or she hurl at you? How many times did he or she cheat?

What did they say when you weren’t around, and how did it contradict what they said when you were?

Did they threaten you? Was the narcissist in control of what you did or where you went? Did you lose friends?

Was your job in danger?

Was your life in danger?

Pinning down narcissistic abuse is hard. It unfolds slowly over time, and we often can’t quite put our fingers on what’s wrong.

A lot of what feels so wrong about the relationship is not just what they do, but the result that gets deposited in us. We feel utterly violated and defiled. 

That’s precisely why this task is so important. Pin down all those little things they did. Don’t forget the lies, the times they turned themselves into a victim, the code-switching between love and hate, and the denial, deflection, projection, and blame of their behavior onto you. 

It all creates a false reality for us that has left us standing where we are now, in this freefall, unable to cope with life. 

So write it all down. Nothing is too small. The invalidation, the smears, the lies, the gaslighting, the double standards, the verbal abuse, the physical abuse, the things they used against you, the silent treatments… it all goes on the list.

The Power of the List

You may begin to feel anger or vindication as you write. You may get an urge to contact your partner and tell him or her off or send them your list. 

Do not do this.

Reaching out to them will backfire and make narcissistic abuse recovery even more difficult. This list is for you. 

The goal is to start putting together a different narrative beyond the one your ex-partner wanted you to have. The urge will pass.

Don’t stop at writing the list.  Please read it.  Read it as many times as you need to until you can no longer deny all of those things you may have put out of your head or repressed.  

By actively reading and writing, with a consciousness you may never have done or been able to do with the narcissist present in your life, the pieces may start to come together differently.

You may feel less sad and more indignant–but this is a good thing.  That anger will build a wall in your heart and help you mentally “stand up” to the narcissist if he or she returns. 

The new insight can help you stop falling into the abyss. You may start to absorb some of the peace that comes in the narcissist’s absence. 

Please note that if you find your anger or other negative emotions increasing in intensity, then stop. Use another form of emotion management, such as a relaxing activity.

2. Write out a list of all the things you have survived in your life. 

Make a list as detailed as possible, and include anything you feel was challenging. You could have both positive and negative events on the list. 

You might include childbirth or finishing school.  Perhaps you were in a severe accident or were bullied as a child.  

Again, nothing is too small—every incident in your life matters. 

Narcissists think we can’t live without them. They need to believe that everyone is thinking about them, worshiping them. 

They love the thought that they created this “larger-than-life” soulmate idea in our minds. To them, it overrides everything else we have ever done or experienced. 

They imagine we will sit around pining over them forever.  

Maybe you even believe right now that you will. Yet those are the narcissist’s fantasies, not yours.

Look at your list.

You are strong. The narcissist is a blip on your radar, an unfortunate detour along the path of your beautiful life.

Their reality is not your reality, and you have the proof in your hands.

3. Avoid people who are victim-blamers.

You’re trying to make a significant life change by recovering from narcissistic abuse.  

The last thing you need right now is someone judging you or your emotional state. 

Victim-blamers have an image of you as someone who was “getting something out of” the abuse–or you would have left sooner than you did. They also define a pre-conceived role for you in their minds that colors their interactions with you.

You don’t need that negativity and their lack of support holding you back while you’re trying to break out of an old mindset and take the next steps to move forward.

You may also decide to avoid people who call you codependent for what happened.  At this point, you are still feeling connected to the narcissist. It may not be the best idea to examine what either led to that connection or held it together. [Read Don’t Say Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse are Codependent]

The narcissist used manipulation tactics that resulted in mind control. The tasks in this article are all about breaking it. [Read If You’re in a Relationship with a Narcissist, You’re in a Cult]

If any, sorting out any other mental health issues can come later after you have taken your mind back first. Anyone who doesn’t understand that doesn’t belong in your life right now.  

4. Get a brief session of Emotion Freedom Technique (EFT) Tapping therapy.

What if I told you that there was an evidence-based treatment you could learn in an hour from a trained therapist that could start immediately helping you feel better?

When I was in the early days of my narcissistic abuse recovery, I had Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. 

Narcissistic abuse survivors need immediate relief from the painful thoughts and feelings before any talk therapy can help us process it.

This therapy was so effective that I wrote about the unique ways I thought narcissistic abuse survivors could benefit from it. I wished every survivor of narcissistic abuse could experience it. [Read How EMDR Therapy Can Help with Narcissistic Abuse]

Survivors can now easily and quickly try something very similar, called Emotion Freedom Technique (EFT) tapping. 

What is Emotion Freedom Technique (EFT) Tapping?

EFT is a similar form of therapy to EMDR that combines cognitive therapy with the physiological response of tapping on our bodies’ pressure points.

Over 100 studies demonstrate its effectiveness, including a decrease in post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and an increase in overall well-being (Bach et al., 2019).

Since the fall of 2019, Stacey Vornbrock, MC, LPC, has been offering a one-hour $25 session of EFT that she developed specifically to help with narcissistic abuse recovery. 

Vornbrock tailored the session tailored to survivors to help them break the spell they have to narcissists and sociopaths. She specifically the tapping series to reduce the emotional pain caused by that connection: EFT Tapping to Break Your Addiction to a Sociopath.  

If you’re hurting right now and need something to help you stop the pain, I recommend giving it a try. It can take less than fifteen minutes for most people to start feeling better. Once you learn the techniques, you can practice them yourself. 

Yes, this item on the list has a small cost, but I decided to include it because it works.  I know this from my experience with EMDR, and many of my readers have let me know this particular session worked for them.  

5. Keep reading about narcissism and narcissistic abuse. 

The influence the narcissist had over your thoughts will fade away the longer you’re in no-contact. Yet continuing to read about narcissistic abuse will validate your experiences when you start to have doubts. 

It will remind you that nothing about what happened was normal or acceptable. You will see your own story reflected in other people’s stories over and over again.

The similarities between what you read and what happened to you will start to drain the narcissist’s spiritual residue out of your sphere. 

It will start to sink in that we are all feeling the same thing. There is nothing to miss because our stories are carbon copies of one another; we are missing ghosts.

6. Expose yourself to the work of narcissists. 

Seek out the videos, books, and articles created by narcissists themselves that explain their behavior (e.g., the works of H.G. Tudor).

When you start to see the world as they do and understand how very differently they think from you, it will begin to erode your desire for the narcissist. [Read How to Think Like a Narcissist and Why You Should

You will be so disgusted by the narcissist’s manner of viewing people and relationships that you will want no part of it.

You can start applying to your situation what you read about how narcissists think. Eventually, you can start giving yourself pep talks, reminding yourself what they did wasn’t personal. Putting yourself in their minds is particularly useful if you start to get nostalgic or miss the narcissist.

You will, maybe for the first time, be able to start rejecting the narcissist as you reject the narcissist’s way of thinking (instead of the other way around).

7. Take your space, time, and personal choices back.

Did you change or hide things about yourself to keep the peace and avoid the degrading accusations and questions? 

If so, change them back. Now. Do what you need to do to purge the narcissist’s influence. Take your power back. Let go of that stranglehold you had on yourself to keep him or her happy.

Anything you put on hold, left behind, put off, ignored, didn’t explore, or changed about yourself to appease the narcissist, drag it out and let it shine.

These things will take the place of that space in your life that the narcissist is squatting in.  That space belongs to you, and you can and should put in it whatever you want to without guilt, without fear.

If there are things in your home environment that remind you of him or her, get rid of them.

For example, you could get new sheets. Redecorate. Do it in colors you love, maybe ones that the narcissist would not have approved. Move furniture around.

Stock up on food the narcissist didn’t like that you love. Watch a series or a movie that the narcissist never enjoyed.

Do some things you had put on hold because he or she was dominating your life and that you never had time for, or you shied away from because he or she mocked them.

Take up a new interest that had always looked appealing or an old one you had given up. Invite a friend out that you haven’t talked to in a long time, especially if it’s someone from whom you were isolated because of the narcissist.

When you make these changes, these are the things that will help you start living your own life again in small steps, one day at a time. [Read Ten Ways to Start Living Again After Narcissistic Abuse]

Narcissistic Abuse Recovery is Possible

complete narcissistic abuse recovery is possible

 

There may be a small piece of you that you can’t explain to anyone that doesn’t want to recover.

Narcissistic abuse recovery not only means letting go of some of the worst things that ever happened to you. It also means letting something fade away that sometimes felt like it contained all the beauty and goodness in the world. 

Maybe you’re afraid you’ll never see those things again. 

Because you have these conflicting emotions, you may have to force yourself to do things you know will take you further along the narcissistic abuse recovery path. 

In those moments when the pain of holding on is greater than the pain of letting go, use it to take some power back. Grab onto one or more of these tasks and use it to push forward and close to your new and beautiful destiny. 

Source

Bach, D. et al. (2019). Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Improves Multiple Physiological Markers of Health. Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine 24: 1-12.

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A version of this article appeared on Thought Catalog. 

Kristen Milstead

Kristen Milstead is a narcissistic abuse survivor who has become a strong advocate for finding your unique voice and using it to help others find theirs.

20 Comments

  1. This article gives me hope. Though my ex husband I’d definitely a Narcissist, I didn’t see it at the time. My sister told me she was cheating on her husband with a married man. She used me as excuse to visit him ( bday trip) & then dumped the affair info on me – completely blindsided me. She expected me to keep her secret & be happy for her. I was disgusted, as my ex cheated on me & she’d ghosted me while I was going through my divorce.
    What opened my eyes was triggered
    by how she began treating her husband and kids. She suddenly was my Father reincarnated, and I was 5yrs old again, our parents had separated because mom chose the hwy over Dad’s “my way’. I flashed back to what my Narcissistic father put me through being 3 yrs older, something snapped and everything that I grew up thinking was normal, wasn’t normal at all, but was all I’d ever known.
    You don’t know what you don’t know.
    Once I began seeing it I couldn’t stop. I was the rebellious Scapegoat the majority of the time, though so I now know dad triangulated us against one another. I moved out at 18, got a far away from my family as possible. While my sister the golden child followed in her idol’s footsteps (dads).
    Im trying to move forward, my father passed away before I even recognized what he was, my sister I saw under her mask and she knew it, I became the enemy, and she started with her smear campaign & flying monkeys, & my emotionally unavailable boyfriend refused to listen or acknowledge my life experiences that I needed validated. I shattered, total breakdown lost my job, became deeply depressed & move in with Mom 30 yrs after I left.
    I have been no contact with my sister for about 18 mos. However I feel stuck as I am living with our mother who wants to remain in neutral, yet in doing so actually enables my sister.
    How do I get beyond this all I’ve journaled, I realize I’m not to blame, but I’m not able to reprogram myself to believe in me. I’m not sure I even know who I am anymore. Please help me to let go of the guilt, shame and negative self worth that had been with me as long as I can remember. I’m doing my best, but any advice, recommendations, or where to get help without a job/ insurance I’d be truly grateful for, the chance to be free to live for myself first for the first time in my life

  2. Kristen Milstead

    Hi Stephanie: I’m so sorry to hear about what you are going through. So much of what you describe sounds so familiar to me. There are so many of us who have been through some of these same scenarios and though you may feel alone, please know you are not. There is a vibrant community online of people who are willing to offer support and many resources as well to help. Please look for the youtube videos of seasoned coaches such as Richard Grannon that can empower and keep your mind strong, practice self-care and meditate if you can, and try Tracy Malone’s page with thousands of resources, including links to local communities maybe in your area that offer support http://www.narcissistabusesupport.com. I also have a free toolkit for recovery here and page here on my website that contains a list of books that I found very useful in the early days. Both are located on tabs at the top of the home page. Please let me know if you need help finding them. Stay strong! -Kristen

  3. Stephanie Allen

    Iam in the middle of a custody battle with my soon to be ex husband of 17 years. I’m struggling really bad. No one understands what I’m going through or what really happened to me. He has turned my sister which was my best friend against me. And I feel so alone. He has moved on with a new woman and says how happy he is and actually found love. I have 3 children with this man. And gave half my life too. It’s so hard to truly let go bc he is all I can remember since we were together so long. But he has tortured me and made me out to be the abuser. He has done everything from abusing my kids, sneaking out in the middle of the night to physical abuse. But mostly verbal I’m actually a pretty girl but he tells me I’m gross and ugly. It’s horrible. Why do I think I miss him sometimes and I can’t seem to get it in my head that he never loved me even though he tells me that he didn’t. I don’t want this new girl around my kids. And I’m scared the courts will believe him and lose my kids. I’ve read that verbal abuse can cause you to have autoimmune disorders and I developed narcolepsy, fibromyalgia, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome and more. I’m disabled and on disability bc of his abuse. Now I believe I’m dealing with PTSD and I’m scared I may never get better. My 2 teenaged boys have learned to not respect me from him and they are depressed and one is suicidal. Is there anyway for me to prove or anyway help the courts to realize the truth of what he has done to us. Because he makes up so many lies about me like I’m a drug addict bc im on Medicine for my health issues he caused. I want my life back bc I can’t do anything my house is a wreak and my life and I’m scared I may never be me again.

  4. How is it that we become addicted to learning about narcissism even once it’s over?
    Yes we looking for reasons and answers but it’s of no use as they are Already on to the new supply not giving a damn about you.
    Don’t we still give them too much head space ? What happened to mind over matter?

    1. Kristen Milstead

      Truly, I think it’s because so much of what they did doesn’t make sense to us and we are left with a big puzzle. That’s why one of the things I started doing was the “think like a narcissists” piece. Once I tried to get in their head and understand why they do what they do, it answered some questions for me and I stopped sitting around wondering why things happened like they did. I think I could have waited months or years longer to just let it fade away but this worked faster for me personally.

      1. Kristen, I understand completely. I just broke off my 3 year relationship on April 2 after months of steadily increasing abuse that culminated one night in some physical violence and being called horrible names that I didn’t deserve. I put up with 3 weeks of roller-coaster behavior after that, with him alternating between begging to come back and verbally abusing me when I didn’t immediately do what he wanted. I finally went no contact 6 days ago with a restraining order. I heard already started therapy a couple of weeks ago with the intent of trying to figure out what is wrong with me that I would put up with someone like that. But I also want to understand what’s going on with him because I am left with questions about how much was actually real, or if I was just used the entire time. I bought the book Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft yesterday and stayed up very late last night, reading almost the entire book. I feel it’s an important part of the process of learning how to stay away from relationships like that to not only figure out myself, but learn how the mind of an abuser works as well.

      2. Kristen Milstead

        Hi Sarah: I’m glad to hear you’ve been able to go to therapy! That book you mentioned is a great one. It’s my strong belief that, though we do need to understand what our own vulnerabilities are, we do need to understand our abuser as well. Understanding narcissistic abusers helps us to understand how what they did wasn’t personal and can help us move on, and, as you said, also helps us learn what to be on the look out so we don’t fall for this kind of thing again! -Kristen

  5. Thanks Kristen , going on 10 months no contact , amen … slowly getting better , it was great the first year and wham 3 more years of who f**k is this ? True colours came out , when you have never dealt with this behaviour , it really turns your world upside down .all I can say is “I’m the normal one “because I know what empathy is ????

  6. Thank you , my first 3 months had been hell of no contact … the nightmares of him screaming at me inches away from my face, I would recoil and tell him it was not right … the joking around he did , was hurting me to the core , was not normal … the lies I questioned , made him go off like a rocket and saying I was crazy …. I went from kaos to deafening peace and quiet!!!!! After he put his hands on me for second time , I had enough , called the cops , I was so broken inside and made sure he could not contact me at alll …. I gave 100% to the devil … NEVER AGAIN , thank you again , great advise.

    1. Kristen Milstead

      Hello Susan,

      Thank you for visiting my website and taking the time to share what you’ve been through. I’m so sorry that you’ve had to go through this. The pain that they put us through is some of the worst we can experience. I’m so glad you’re free of him now.

      Kristen

  7. Hey Jackie…. pls get in touch with me to chat…. I’m looking for some non judgemental support….

    1. Hi Sabrinia,
      I’m here:-)

      1. Kristen Milstead

        If the two of you would like to exchange E-mail addresses, please contact me privately and I can arrange it.

  8. I might also add that while I haven’t had a PTSD-like episode in a while, I did last night, so the first thing I did this morning is pull up my blog and read key pieces where I’ve detailed some of the abuse and absurdity. You DO have to focus on taking back your space and your life.

  9. despair2deliverance

    Very helpful. And getting new sheets was the first thing I did when I got her out.

  10. Very helpful. And getting new sheets was the first thing I did when I got her out.

  11. I can relate to what Jacky commented about not being able to remember so much of the bad things he did. I think my mind would block it out, line amnesia. I didn’t WANT to believe he (or anyone) could ever be so foul. I literally forgot the worst of the worst and clung to the best memories, this torturing myself and prolonging the abusive relationship to a place beyond any hell I had ever imagined in my worst nightmares.

    1. Hi,
      Yes i understand you. Do your best to remember and write it down. It helps when you feel weak and missing him. Today I find myself thinking about all the times he would seem to understand me and i believed his words. It looked like he really wanted to work it out but i dont believe that anymore. I think it was all about him, to get what he wanted and be the good guy for the outsiders. Is it a bad thing to think this way? I feel guilty about not trusting and insecure because i dont want to blame when it could be my fault.
      Does somebody recognize all of this?

  12. Yes you do! It’s very hard and you’re actually in what I think is one of the most difficult stages of recovery right now. You can make it through this! Maintain no contact and it will eventually get easier. Your thoughts and feelings will start to shift as you feel more empowered.

  13. Hi,
    The way you explain and write really helps me with getting through this difficult times. It makes me feel i’m not crazy because sometimes i think i’m making a big issue out of nothing. Its strange but often i cant remember the way he treated me in the two year relationship. I know there were a lot of times i felt alone and was thinking its not oke i have to get out of here but when i try to remember what happend in detail its very hard. I was reading your articles and then the memories of his behaviour came back. That helps to bring everything back to reality. Still in that process its hard to not miss him. Yesterday i almost did unblock him but convinced myself not to.
    Not remembering what has happened makes it harder to recover because i keep thinking about the good times, blaming myself and missing him more because of that. Everyday gets better but thats also painfull sometimes because reality kicks in more and more and that means he will never be in my life again. Its getting clear to me that i deserve more love and have to keep healing my codependency issues.
    Thanks again Kristen.

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