Healing & Recovery After Narcissistic & Psychopathic Abuse
Tips for your recovery journey
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Healing and recovery are required whenever someone experiences trauma or abuse – regardless of the cause (e.g., childhood events, adult relationship abuse). Coming out of these relationships can change the way you view the world. It can cause you to wonder how the heart of someone you loved could be filled with such darkness.
Millions of romantic partners and children find themselves bonded to someone toxic behavior. That person may even have narcissistic personality disorder or psychopathy. And for most it’s an unsafe place to be.
Is it fair that someone else’s disorder resulted in the necessity of a healing process?
No. However, typically in the aftermath, fairness has to take a backseat to more pressing issues – such as, emotional health and overall well being.
Abusive relationships are not ‘normal relationships’ – they are usually traumatic for the victim. Exposure to a harsh, controlling and punitive partner is a shock to the nervous system, often experienced as an assault on the survivor’s brain. After trauma (regardless of the cause) – active healing with a specialized approach is necessary.
After an abusive relationship, a combination of
purposeful shifts in thinking,
incorporation of consistent self-care,
education are required to lead toward recovery.
Many survivors derive additional benefit by also seeking services from a well trained mental health professional skilled in the area of personality disorder, trauma, and abusive relationships.
Is it always traumatic to be involved with a personality disordered partner?
Probably not always, because there are many variables involved with how a person responds or reacts to someone with an aggressive or controlling personality. However, the likelihood is high that an abusive partner will traumatize, ‘over stress’ and disrupt the emotional harmony and stability of their partner.
Factors in Recovery | Self compassion
How you respond to yourself (self compassion) is extremely important in the aftermath. Healing and recovery involves attention to emotions and, if necessary, a change in how one responds to themselves. For example,
a) Actively working to banish negative self talk.
b) Maintaining patience with the long period of time it might take to move forward.
c) Being mindful to reduce, not heighten the emotional climate.
The healing process often requires a strong and knowledgeable support system (e.g., skilled therapist, empathic informed friend).
Gentle strength from healthy people when times are particularly dark can be invaluable. Input or guidance from those who are intense, toxic, manipulative, inflammatory, abrasive, focused on drama, or emotionally unhealthy can easily cause further damage.
Emotions need to be protected, calmed, nurtured, and gently eased back into a regulated state.
It might help to think of healing a traumatized brain as one would think of interacting with a traumatized child. We would treat them gently, with patience and nurturance, right? We would not want to repeatedly discuss the details of their abuse, or inflame their pain by interacting harshly or with impatience.
Well … you deserve that same approach from yourself (and from others) during the often raw and intense period following a relationship with an extremely insensitive, abusive partner.
In the aftermath of these toxic relationships, emotions often feel like they’ve been attacked and ravaged by a destructive force. A person can easily feel overwhelmed, out of control, lonely, in pain, and unlike their old selves.
Why focus on the brain when recovering from narcissistic abuse?
Preparation & Psychopath Abuse Recovery
Let’s look at how many survivors, who have gone through the recovery process, approach the aftermath of these damaging toxic relationships.
Aside from establishing safety, which always takes precedence, here are a few other factors to consider in the recovery journey. (Healing is impossible when there is not safety. If help is needed in this regard, please take steps to a get assistance immediately.)
A part of undertaking a challenge as tremendous as psychopath abuse recovery is preparation. By preparing, we mean attempting to make a mental shift. A position where one is willing to move forward in healing without input from the psychopathic or narcissistic partner. A shift where one no longer views themselves as a couple, but rather an individual.
This can feel scary for some, however to entangle healing with the abusive partner (e.g., needing closure from them, retaliation, etc) will maintain an emotionally charged environment that directly conflicts with healing.
Healing is about calming the nervous system and growth through various approaches in self-care. Abusive partners do not foster those feelings within their partners. They want their mates to feel ‘less than‘, inferior and damaged.
Preparation also involves learning what is needed in order to be aware of the facts and have a general understanding of what happened to you. You have to know what you are dealing with in order to take steps to move forward.
If one is not aware that they were involved in a traumatic relationship, it will be harder for the mind to make sense of the current emotional state. It’s difficult to heal and recover when you’re not entirely sure what you are recovering from.
Not knowing has lead many survivors down a road of unnecessary self blame or confusion regarding why they have such intense pain. Or perhaps why the pain remains present for such an extended period of time.
It is very difficult to solve a problem when there is no clarity. However, given that you are reading this here, it is likely that there is awareness or suspicion that a personality disorder could be a variable. And this does not mean knowing where on the pathological narcissism the partner falls (that is not important), but rather having a general idea that they have a Cluster B Personality conditions that impairs their ability to have an adult, mutual relationship.
Be sure to access quality material and trustworthy information sources
One of the most common ways survivors begin to approach their recovery is by finding safe and reliable recovery resources to learn more about the condition. This could be in the form of books or a knowledgeable friend who has been involved with a toxic/ abusive partner in the past.
It could also include finding domestic violence, narcissistic and/ or psychopath abuse recovery awareness and education websites, like NeuroInstincts, to gain a better understanding of the disorder.
Preparation often also includes identifying a safe, empathic, and supportive friend. Or it could entail scheduling a visit with a psychologist, physician, and/or attorney who has a strong knowledge base of toxic relationships, narcissists and psychopath abuse recovery.
But whatever mode one finds most appealing, it will be important to take action toward self care and place one’s mental health, healing, and recovery first. It is imperative to moving forward.
I’d like you to watch a video I created regarding healing and pathological narcissism abuse recovery. Although some might consider it a bit long at 8 minutes, I hope you can put aside a little time for yourself, healing and recovery. You are definitely worth it!
Rhonda Freeman, PhD
© 2013 NeuroInstincts | All Rights Reserved
[Image credit: © Shutterstock | VT Studio]
Here’s your video.