A Simple Remedy For Feeling Better After Narcissistic Abuse

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If you’re struggling to heal from and move on after narcissistic abuse, you’re probably frustrated that it’s taking so long. Healing from narcissistic abuse is so much more complicated than healing from a regular break up. This is why the typical breakup advice and tips not only don’t work, but often times leave you feeling even worse off, and wondering if something is wrong with you. The popular breakup wisdom that advises you, that you will feel better if you find a new hobby, and change up your hairstyle, doesn’t help you to get over it any faster. The common remedies for a broken heart fall short because they don’t address the broken spirit, mind-bending confusion, cognitive dissonance, unanswered questions, lack of closure, and the callous, post-discard behavior characteristic of break ups with narcissists.

What if I told you it’s okay not to be okay?

You might agree with that statement in theory, but when it comes to the pain of heartbreak no one wants to be okay with not being okay. We want to fast forward to feeling good again, and the sooner, the better! There is a famous idiom that says: “The only way out, is through,” but when our hearts are broken, and we’re feeling the gut-wrenching pain of despair, going through it is the last thing we want to do. We don’t want to wait that long. We would rather go around it. Over it. Under it. We would rather just avoid it all together. Wouldn’t it be great if we could be prescribed an amnesia pill that could wipe away the memories, erase the pain, and get rid of the obsessive thoughts, so we could just get on with the rest of our lives? So often in our desperate attempts to side skirt the inevitable pain of the loss of a relationship, we unintentionally end up prolonging it.

Our natural instincts to avoid pain are then reinforced by the unspoken cultural pressure, of the dogma of perpetual positivity, that shames us for any hiatuses in optimism.

If you take a quick scroll down your social media news feed, you will recall the super rosy, uber positive, feel good memes and messages I’m talking about.

I am in charge of how I feel today, and today I am choosing happiness.

Put your positive pants on.

Think like a proton and stay positive.

Positive minds live positive lives.

I’m not knocking these messages. They are empowering, and the practice of identifying, and erasing our limiting beliefs, and substituting them for positive ones, is essential to our emotional well-being, but not at the expense of denying our true feelings. We need not rush to the positivity finish line because we are experiencing the discomfort of negative emotions.

We are not weak, or wrong for having painful, and tough feelings. They are as natural to the human experience, as having happy, and joyful feelings.

Facing our pain and accepting it, and being in the present moment, is a much healthier alternative, than trying to ignore and dodge our pain, with chants of positivity. When we learn to be present with our feelings, we become better equipped at managing them. When we suppress our pain, get frustrated by its presence, and don’t process our hurt, then it unconsciously rears its ugly head in our lives in a variety of horribly destructive ways.

Many people mask their pain in drugs and alcohol, work, exercise, sex, and so on as a method to avoid their pain. Some people suppress their emotions through comfort foods, and overeating and some people displace their pain and take it out on others. And guess what? All that emotional numbing only stalls our healing, and worse, it stirs up a whole slew of new problems we have to confront.

There’s another famous idiom that cautions us about unresolved pain: “Hurt people hurt people.” If we don’t practice being compassionate with ourselves, then we definitely can’t be compassionate with others.

There is nothing dangerous, or weak about being okay with having negative emotions. Although, I know it may seem like sitting with our feelings is similar to, and can be potentially as destructive, or useless as dwelling on them, and may even make them last longer, and weigh heavier. But actually, the opposite is true. The danger lies when we sit with our feelings and allow the way we feel about something to morph into beliefs.

For example, There’s a monumental difference between feeling sad and broken and believing you’re broken, and it will last forever. There’s a huge difference between feeling devastated, and believing your life is over. And there’s a big difference in feeling rejected, and believing you’re unworthy, or something is wrong with you. This is where, if we’re not careful, we can start down a very slippery slope. When we can identify how we’re feeling, and then add the words, “and it’s okay” afterward, we immediately neutralize the feeling from snowballing from a feeling to a belief.

Every time we’re able to contain our feelings, and not let the cognitive process of emotional reasoning (a process by which a person concludes that his/her emotional reaction proves something is true regardless of observed evidence) get the best of us, we gain mastery over our emotions, and we begin to heal.

 

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Bree Bonchay, LCSW, is a psychotherapist with over 18 years of experience working in the field of mental health and trauma recovery. She specializes in helping people recover from toxic relationships and shares her insights about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and psychopathy in her blog FreeFromToxic. Her articles have been featured in major online magazines and she has appeared on radio as a guest expert. She is also a dedicated advocate, educator, and facilitates survivor support groups and workshops.

 

 

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9 thoughts on “A Simple Remedy For Feeling Better After Narcissistic Abuse

  1. Thank you so much for this spot-on article! I have been numb, bewildered and hurting for 9 months now, and none of my friends understand why, they think I should have been over this 6 months ago. They don’t realize that going through a relationship, and the very painful discard from a narcissistic, is nothing like a normal breakup. Once again one of your articles has made me feel less insane, and I will follow the wise advice it contains.

  2. It’s been 8 months and I’m still angry. I don’t have any positive feelings toward him, don’t miss him, and SO happy to have him out of my life but I still have angry thoughts about him and it’s really annoying. I don’t want to have ANY feelings about him at all and don’t want to think about him, it’s a waste of my brain cells to dwell on him. What can you do to process the anger, dissipate it and get the narcopath out of your head?

    1. It may feel frustrating that you still hold so much anger but anger is usually the final step and signals the end of the healing process. It’s actually a sign that you have worked through the fog of the cognitive dissonance and are able to see things clearly now. With that clarity brings anger at the awareness of how you were treated. Be patient. The anger is positive if channeled in healthy ways and it will fade into apathy in time.

      1. Thank you, I so look forward to that day I’m not very patient with the process but I know I have to go through this in order to heal.

  3. It’s been over two years since I’ve communicated with my narc friend. I thought I was finally over the extremely painful, one-sided, tortuous, soul-sucking relationship. Recently, we communicated (after getting the silent treatment from him for 2 1/2 years). Having moved on with my life, I felt apathetic in communicating with him; I thought it may even bring some additional closure and healing. While I was being heartfelt and sincere in sharing my feelings, he so callously reflected back to me that I was toxic and the abuser in the relationship. During our conversation, while denying any abuse whatsoever to me (he then copied another girl (a stranger) on the email while portraying that I had imagined things the same as his Mom who has Alzheimer’s and required too much attention. This had me over the top shaking in anger. It caused me to relieve the trauma and torture he subjected me to for 3 years. Triangulation, gaslighting, one-sided energy exchange, disregard for me or my feelings etc. All in one email. My advice is for anyone who thinks their is ever a chance of redemption or healing in a relationship with a narc, spare yourself the unnecessary pain, unequivocally, there is not.

    1. this sounds so familiar. very one-sided friendship, toxic, I was dumping ground for so much negativity and my sympathies were played for financial gain. now she is posting about only wanting to be around positive people, lol. so I think the script is being flipped and I am being discarded for being negative. will definitely heed this advice about closure. I know deep down I will never get any closure and I was just used. once I stopped being as giving, her true colors came out. I think one of the hardest parts is never knowing if any of it was real.

    2. Jupiter mom, your post gives me hope. my ex Narc has done every single thing youve mentioned above, My narc of 7 years lived in florida part of the year. He has used me the entire time. i finally had the courage to break free and it has left me in pieces, in therapy and crying for four months. I feel stronger now, but he has an apartment full of belongings to get and threatened me not to touch them until he returns, all the while, he has never skipped a beat, he is off in Europe for 2 months. I feel confident with the nocontact at this point, as ive experienced what you talked about above when contacting him but i fear the day he comes for his belongings.

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