Stages of Healing After Narcissistic Abuse
1. The Decision to Heal.
Once you recognize the effects of narcissistic abuse in your life, you make an active commitment to heal. Regardless of the pain or risks you have to face, you're sick and tired of being sick and tired. You're ready to jump, almost as if your self protective mechanism kicks in and says, NOW OR NEVER! Deep healing happens only when you choose it, pursue it and are willing to endure the long, process of recovering from narc abuse.
2. The Crisis Stage.
Beginning to deal with memories and suppressed feelings can throw your life into utter turmoil. This is the stage of very intense emotions. You are "withdrawing" in a sense from having your every move dictated or at least judged. Drama, chaos, fighting take a toll on you. You may feel very anxious, shocked, depressed and very mistrustful. Please Remember, this is only a stage. It WON'T last forever. The most helpful action at this stage, is to READ EVERYTHING YOU CAN ABOUT NARCISSISM, THE NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY AND NARCISSISTIC ABUSE. This knowledge is your power to motor on. Balance this learning with EXCEPTIONAL self care. Allow yourself all your emotions, be honest and simply FEEL.
Many survivors suppress all memories of what happened to them as children or in their adult relationships. Those who do not forget the actual incidents often forget how it felt at the time. Numbing, compartmentalizing and disassociating kept you SAFE. Now you're free and your emotions are permitted. Remembering is the process of getting back both memory and feeling in congruency. It also helps you GRIEVE.
4. Accepting the reality of the narcissist.
Believing it Happened and Realizing that it was a type of abuse; maybe it never got physical. But believe me, just as soul shattering and damaging. Survivors often doubt their own perceptions or minimize how bad it really was. Coming to believe that the abuse really happened, and that it really hurt you, and that your hurt is important and should be nurtured and cared for is a vital part of the healing process.
5. Breaking Your Silence.
Most adult survivors keep their abusers secrets. Telling another human being about what happened to you is a powerful healing force that can dispel the shame of being a victim. Remember, the action belongs to the perpetrator and so does the shame. You were targeted.
6. Understanding That It Wasn’t Your Fault.
Adults & Children usually believe the abuse is their fault. Adult survivors must place the blame where it belongs – directly on the shoulders of the abusers. Romantic partners who were subjected to the narcissist's abuse - must place the responsibility and accountability with the narc. The re-establishment or creation of BOUNDARIES will help you quickly identify what is YOURS to fix, and what isn't. You are responsible for getting better and taking care of yourself here on out. Keeping yourself safe from harm, but healed and open for all the amazing possibilities life offers.
7. Connecting with your inner child.
By that, I mean - the innocent, trusting, unconditionally accepting child inside all of us who were hurt in our lives. To imagine someone small and childlike to protect is something all of us with empathy and or children can identify with. What did you need as a child or older that youre lacking now? What do you need to feel whole? Listen to this child. Such wisdom can be found DEEP within our souls. Many survivors have lost touch with their own vulnerability. Getting in touch with the child within can help you feel compassion for yourself, more anger at your abuser and greater intimacy with others.
8. Trusting Yourself.
The best guide for healing is your own inner voice. Learning to trust your own perceptions, feelings and intuitions forms a new basis for action in the world. LISTEN. ACT. You will begin to trust that you can COUNT on yourself to take care of you. That's a powerful feeling Trust in yourself. (God First for me)
9. Grieving and Mourning.
As children being abused, and later as adults struggling to survive, most survivors haven’t felt their losses. Grieving is a way to honor your pain, let go, and move into the present. CRY IT OUT. CRY IT ALL OUT ONCE AND FOR ALL. GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO BALL LIKE A BABY.
The Backbone of Healing Anger is a powerful and liberating force. Whether you need to get in touch with it or have always have had plenty to spare, directing your rage squarely at your abuser, and at those who didn’t protect you, is pivotal to healing. Use your anger to MOTIVATE YOU TO ACTION AND CHANGE. Internally and with the world around you. Use anger at your abuser to propel you to DO GOOD DEEDS in the name of paying it forward. Dont worry, this stage wont last forever either. Sometimes, IT FEELS LIKE it will last FOREVER. It wont. Get it out positively. Work out. Fuel your passions and transformation.
11. Disclosures and Confrontations.
Directly confronting your abuser and/or your family is not for every survivor, but it can be a dramatic, cleansing tool. They won't care, so please dont expect them to. You can always just get it out in a blog, letter or other form of writing and letting go "ritual" that you find cathartic. Then don't send it. I always say, nothing says "F" you, like SILENCE.
Forgiveness of the abuser is ENTIRELY personal to each survivor. There's no way that a topic so delicate as this, be dictated by MY beliefs. You pursue your path to forgiveness as you deem appropriate both in method AND timing. When you're ready, you'll KNOW. Youll get tired of feeling angry and willing to try something more PEACEFUL. For EVERYONE. Remember too, that a critical essential of forgiveness is for yourself.
Having a sense of a power greater than yourself can be a real asset and source of serenity in the healing process. Spirituality is a uniquely personal experience. You might find it through traditional religion, meditation, nature or your support group. Immerse yourself in Faith and you're HOPE and sense of security will be a God send. :) Literally.
14. Resolution and Moving On.
As you move through these stages again and again, you will reach a point of integration. Your feelings and perspectives will stabilize. You will come to terms with your abuser and other family members. While you won’t erase your history, you will make deep and lasting changes in your life. Having gained awareness, compassion and power through healing, you will have the opportunity to work toward a better world.
(Adapted from The Courage to Heal after Sexual Abuse)