I seen this today and felt I should share - long but worth the read
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Recovering from this abuse – tweaking the traditional stages and bumping them up to account for the psychological terrorism.
I wanted to write about this because the recovery from emotional/psychological abuse requires more than just going through the five stages of grief in the traditional way. I have seen many takes on this subject, so I wanted to put my own spin on the topic. The traditional stages of grief are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Yes you will follow these stages, but your situation (being a victim of abuse) puts you in a NON-traditional situation as it concerns the ‘normal’ rationale and how you apply it to the total recovery as well as the stages of grieving.
Where do you begin and how do you modify and approach these five stages of grief? Well let’s start with the reality of your situation. You fell in love with a complete lie, or the IMAGE of a person that was an ILLUSION that meant to manipulate you into BELIEVING that your relationship was real to only extort your love and life. That concept will never be completely understood by a target/victim of this abuse. You unknowingly lived and loved this huge lie, you believed in them completely and spent a great deal of time and energy supporting, nurturing and developing this relationship. So to start off you are not grieving a relationship that is traditional by any means – you are more or less grieving an abusive love! Not only are you dealing with a lie, but with a creature that has extorted your life and love and you BELIEVED in this person that completely destroyed you and probably took your integrity along for the ride.
Now the truth is standing directly in front of you and you have to SOMEHOW process this without any experience to do so. You try to approach it like a normal relationship, BUT there is nothing near normal about it. You have to grieve the love you BELIEVED was real, as well as grieve the abuse. The two don’t go hand in hand. You can’t realistically separate the two facts, but it feels impossible to work with the two conflicting facts.
All of this abuse has left you vulnerable, traumatized and disabled. Today you stand at the bottom of a dark void looking for the smallest ray of light, but you are blinded by so many layers of confusion that it feels impossible to do anything but remain there and wait for something or someone to help you or even save you. You can’t apply a traditional grieving process to any of this because you have been managed down from the abuse, you are traumatized and a shell of the person you once were. You are not moving on with a clear perspective and mutual understanding that the relationship failed, you are moving on from an abusive situation.
Unfortunately everybody else around you is in this same darkness about this abuse. Even the people nearest and dearest to you can only console you from their point of view that doesn’t have the smallest connection to understanding the abuse. They don’t even know that you have fallen so deeply into this void. If you would have actually fallen into a hole the first thing you would do is use your voice and cry out for help! This is what you must actualize as the first step to move forward – your voice is integral in getting a message out to the world that you need help so you CAN connect to the very people that have experience to help you UNDERSTAND this!
The very next thing that you have to actualize at some point is that there is absolutely nothing that can do to try to make this love real again by returning to it for any reason. You can’t fix the Narcissist that did this to you, relate to them in any manner, and or be in any contact with them anymore. Their words (and actions of course) are what abused you in the first place so they have no sympathy as it concerns your situation because they purposely put you there. YES this is excruciatingly painful to accept and nearly impossible to believe BUT you have to put yourself in the reality that this person (the Narcissist) is dangerous.
You only have to look back through your experiences with this person to realize that no normal person would do what this Narcissist did to you, nor is there an acceptable reason for what they did, and they aren’t going to change today or any other day for that matter, OR ever help you through this. On the other hand they will trick you more, lie more, abuse you more and COMPLETELY destroy you if given the opportunity, ESPECIALLY as vulnerable as you are right now. You must accept that you are dealing with a highly disordered individual that knows all too well that they have to bury their abuse to avoid exposure just like any other criminal. If you can actualize this then you can concentrate your energies on YOU and not the Narcissist and what you thought was love or basically putting perspective on the situation!
What are the five traditional stages of grief and how we must tweak them to include this abuse?
DENIAL - Let’s start with looking at DENIAL! You have been in this stage throughout the entire relationship. Yes you had suspicions, intuition, as well as your Narcissist lying more and more to cover up the truth. You already approached this many times with many excuses to avoid facing the truth about them and now what more would it take to prove than what you have already experienced? Denial was/is just an everyday occurrence in your reality AND also a pattern that was detrimental to the reality of the situation. Well more truth will come out and it will be very debilitating as it concerns your emotions.
This Narcissist is going to be rubbing your face into their new and amazing lifestyle. They are going to brand YOU as the disordered one and even say that YOU abused them and they had to run for their life. They aren’t feeling any pain from the relationship ending because they didn’t love you. They aren’t going to feel the effects of the abuse because THEY abused you and you LOVED them. You didn’t abuse them so they are off and running and extorting someone new and better (well in their distorted eyes!) They are more of a foe then friend and your abuser! They left you with absolutely NO CLOSURE and meant to do so! This is just the real truth that many targets/victims stumble through because the denial keeps them believing in the huge con that they are. Without no/minimal contact the Narcissist will keep you locked up in their abuse until you finally say no and get out of the abusive dance with them COMPLETELY!
Along with the denial is the feeling of isolation. You are in this by yourself because the Narcissist has triangulated every which way he/she could and isolated you from many of your friends and even your family. They have backstabbed you in ways you can’t imagine and probably are not aware of either. This Narcissist has spent their time controlling you and they have extorted so much of your love and life. It is time that you will have to put a perspective on this and walk out into the world with open eyes and ears, and face this reality. Unfortunately there will be the people that side with the Narcissist but they are not worth your time. You are not the bad person here and real people will acknowledge your truth over anything the Narcissist has done to damage your image. Your vulnerability will make you feel untrusting to most everyone around you, but you need people to help you through this, AND there are people out there than CAN and WILL help you. The denial that exists will cement you to this Narcissist if you are still buying into this relationship being anything but abuse – that is the truth you have to actualize.
ANGER - GRRRR – you are ANGRY and you have a right to feel angry about what has happened to you. You have been totally dehumanized, lied too, extorted, betrayed, manipulated, tricked, conned and your basic rights taken away from you. You are not mad at the fact the relationship has ended but instead your very welfare has been put in harm’s way from someone that seems more like a monster now. They intentionally did this to you! You feel angry that you have been lied to and cheated from the basic rights we all have and DESERVE. You think about revenge, you may even feel a deep disdain or HATRED for this Narcissist. You feel angry for what has been done to you, you feel angry because you feel foolish, you feel angry for all the time you lost, YOU ARE ANGRY THAT YOU BELIEVED IN THIS PERSON AND TRUSTED YOUR LOVE IN THEIR HANDS and they desecrated it! They had no respect for you as a human being and didn’t care about any of the harm they administered. YOU DESERVE TO BE ANGRY!
In essence the anger is good in its own way. It helps you to externalize or project your negative thoughts outward and at the perpetrator (the Narcissist) and bringing you to a higher plane of thought as it concerns the REAL truth about the relationship – you get it! You are directing anger away from yourself and putting it where it belongs – ON YOUR ABUSER! It is a healthy stage but it is not your ‘save all’ instead a step to raise your thoughts to a higher plain or putting them out there and away from accepting the ‘blame’ and locking yourself up in this thought process. BUT it can also be a defense mechanism that externally serves a purpose but internally you have to accept the truth and move on from the anger. It can only soothe you for so long!
Bargaining – the tough stage to understand and embrace. When we hit this stage reality seems to stare us in the face that we lost so much of ourselves to what can only be described as a monster. All of a sudden that pain starts rushing in all around us because we feel like we have a debt to pay to get healthy – one we never wanted to incur or deserved. Our anger shielded us and gave us that rush of adrenalin and some validation BUT reality is here now and we have to negotiate through this.
So where do we go? Again we negotiate with our mind or thoughts and try to establish some form of sensible reality. One that allows the truth, but more than often it can also allow too much room for the type of bargaining that pulls you into the head of your abuser again to understand and justify over and over again and you have to turn this off. They are out there AND flaunting themselves on you, perhaps there is a new ‘love of their life,’ and more than likely they are getting these messages through to you and into your mind. You start reflecting all of these feelings right back into yourself and asking yourself if perhaps they really did change or is there something YOU can do to change all of this once again. That illusion that you loved them and vice versa is still sitting there in your heart and mind so you are starting to justify this with the pain guiding you to places you don’t want or need to be. The Narcissist is out of the picture and no matter how much you want them or the illusion to be real, it isn’t and that is a huge pill to swallow. What happens next?
Depression – The sadness is overwhelming and even all consuming. The isolation and sadness distracts you in many ways allowing your heart to rule your head and those images of the Narcissist are cycling through your mind, BUT you also see the reality of the huge loss. You have spent time educating yourself and are beginning to actualize the truth of this abuse but the depression and hurt make you basically withdraw into yourself AND your thoughts. Nobody can just erase all of this and you see a long road ahead of you. You just want the pain to go away. This is traumatizing and you are experiencing the physical effects as well. You might have disturbed sleep patterns, difficulties with eating regularly, aches and pains, you always feel exhausted, and your mind just won’t shut itself off so you can have a little peace. You will likely withdraw yourself from the life you led before, and have difficulty with trusting others.
Basically the reality has set in and you begin to feel depressed. You are no longer in denial, because you can see what has happened to you. The defense mechanisms and adrenalin are no longer there and you are surrounded by the silence that the truth seems to shroud you with a different darkness. There are no rescuers there with you, or hugs, or a friendly voice to say it will be OK – it feels like you against the world. It will require every ounce of energy you have to pull yourself back up and your thoughts play a major role and essentially keeping you down!
Acceptance – finally you are in the last stage of grieving. Really there is no definitive order to these stages and you can end up repeating a stage. When you have reached this stage (acceptance) you totally understand what has happened to you. There is a new meaning to the ‘WHY.” You are no longer searching for answers, and you are no longer deluded or confused, as you were before. You are no longer angry at yourself OR your abuser. You KNOW that there is no point in bargaining, because the person that you believed in is a HUGE lie and very disordered. There is no thought of ever going back to them or even associating with them, or even THINKING about them. You are moving out of the depression, vulnerability and isolation. It is now your time to start setting boundaries and looking inward.
Healing has to involve a deep look inside of ourselves to mend what may be broken as well as looking at some of our wounds that may have already been there that kept us in the dance with this Narcissist. This is a personal journey for all of us. Now is the time to start looking inward because you are getting back to ‘healthy’ and you have clarity over the situation to move beyond it. While you might not agree with what has happened to you, you accept it, and you let go completely. Your Narcissist (abuser) is no longer any part of you. You may have to repeat the steps many times in many ways, BUT when you have reached acceptance, you are finally healed from the abuse.
LASTLY, the important thing here is to stop blaming yourself. Stop wishing the recovery would go faster. Stop thinking that the narcissist is somehow the winner here if you are still hurting. This journey is about you and not the Narcissist. The Narcissist is not happy, they are doing the same thing they did to you to a new target and you must let any thoughts around this go. Many have tried to make contact with the new supply without success and it only pulled them back into the obsessive thoughts about the Narcissist and the abuse. You don’t need that. I had many people tell me that my Narcissist had issues (even the Narcissist’s family,) but somehow I ignored the red flags and didn’t see the truth until I experienced it and THEN I got it. I wish I could save a target/victim from the abuse but unfortunately the Narcissist has them trapped just like they did to us.
Yes, it was a manufactured love that was meant to completely con you. Your concepts of love that you held near and dear to your heart were mirrored back onto you and your reality was manipulated. You were in love or WHAT YOU BELIEVED WAS LOVE. Love is the strongest human emotion and bond in the world, and you felt it with all of your heart and soul which is not anything out of the ordinary or unique because it happens every day. BUT it was unique because it was a love that psychologically damaged you. Your whole belief system has been thrown out the window! Your spirit must heal from the loss of love however traditional or non-traditional (abusive) it is/was. Regardless of the abuse your love was still very real to YOU!
Here’s where the difference comes into the equation. The Narcissist manipulated and controlled you into a state of desperation for their approval or the desire for affirmation and reciprocal love. You worked so much harder for this relationship to become viable and real? You put so much of your time, energy, thoughts, and perseverance into this. And the end result - you were devalued every step of the way. This Narcissist was cruel and made you beg for the smallest validation from them. They forced you into believing that change HAD to start with you OR ELSE. This WAS the most painful experience of your life. Nothing traditional about this!
When they were ‘loving bombing’ you they showered you with their amazing charm, attention, gifts, and compliments. They only pretended to be the love that you dreamt of or exactly morphing into that dream that was personal to you. They were preparing you for the psychological and emotion erosion or ABUSE. Nothing traditional about this!
After the amazing ‘love bombing’ the relationship was always in contention with them, and YOU were always the cause of everything wrong. You always sensed from their words and actions that you might be replaced at any time, AND in reality they were ALWAYS working on replacing you. This disorientated and distorted your mind, SO this Narcissist basically hijacked your every thought, every minute of the day. But think about those thoughts – were they EVER positive, affirming or nourishing? No they were disorienting and negative to keep you off balancing and questioning your worth and reality. A Narcissist creates this unpredictable lifestyle with lies, games, gas-lighting, manipulation, betrayal and every other tool they use to abuse their target/victims. Nothing traditional about this!
This was a VERY unhealthy lifestyle and not anything near a viable relationship. It is oppression and desperation. Your strong sentiments toward solving all the mystery around them as well as proving yourself over and over again constantly played with and tricked your mind into believing that there was something so powerful about them that kept you hanging on for life and stuck in the horrible maze of their abuse. It is always a high adrenalin rush with them so when they create their chaos and/or discard you your world seems to fall completely apart. It is pure panic and devastation. Nothing traditional about this!
Narcissists always destroy the integrity of their last target/victim. They are claiming that you are the abuser or mentally ill, but the victim is the one left broken and traumatized from all of the abuse. Narcissists will always enlist their entourage or minions to carry out their message that YOU have hurt them in every way possible. Meanwhile the Narcissist has sailed off in the sunset with the new and perfect ‘love of their life.” With a normal relationship both parties usually have a mutual respect and don’t harbor the hate that a Narcissist does when parting ways. NOR do they play games like a high school kid trying to inflict jealousy or intentionally being cruel. Nothing traditional about this!
They accuse you of doing EXACTLY what they have done to you – NARCISSISTIC PROJECTION at its best. But if they were a real target/victim of this abuse they would not be unaffected by it NOR moving right on to a new ‘love.’ The true target/victim exhibits the trauma from this abuse and has to spend many years recovering. Narcissists only use their stories about us to seduce and lure in new ‘supply’ with their ‘woe-be-me’ or pity me approach. So be assured that Narcissists do not spend a single second recovering from the ‘love’ they proclaimed, or the “abuse” they inflected onto you! They were loved unconditionally, cared for, respected, given compassion, and nurtured by you/us (target/victim) so what in all of that would they grieve? They are sadistic and cruel to act out in the manner that they do to good and loving people. It is horrendous to ABUSE people, but how delusional and cruel to add another layer to the abuse by accusing the very person they abused (us) of abusing them (the Narcissist.) Nothing traditional about this!
This is what defines the non-traditional breakup with these creatures. It is not a straightforward recovery, but instead one that requires a strong dose of education as well as a strong arm to pull the target/victim out of darkness and despair with therapy, support and all the help that is available. You are NOT just grieving a relationship you are grieving the destruction from abuse! No/minimal contact! Greg heart emoticongr