3 MIN READ | Mental Health

How to Recover from Narcissistic Abuse

Dennis Relojo-Howell

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Dennis Relojo-Howell, (2020, April 18). How to Recover from Narcissistic Abuse. Psychreg on Mental Health. https://www.psychreg.org/how-to-recover-from-narcissistic-abuse/
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Connecting the past with the present is one of the most important aspects of changing patterns and efforts to recover. If you have met a narcissist in your life, you know that a larger pattern is at work, and connecting to that pattern is the key as you work to recover and overcome narcissistic abuse.

Whether you had a dysfunctional family system that dominated you, or an abusive relationship with a narcissist, it can come as a shock to you. Those who persist in abuse are usually accustomed to such relationships from childhood.

When you are helpless and dependent, it is safer to deny your shortcomings as a parent or carer than to admit them. Denial is the child’s first and only defence, and when one is helpless or dependent, it is safer to deny and deny it than to admit shortcomings in parents and caregivers.

It is also safe to blame your problems on yourself, rather than questioning the status of the people who depend on you for their survival.

While denial helps the child survive, it itself becomes destructive in adulthood. There is nothing more damaging than denying the abuse and as long as you refuse, you repeat unhealthy patterns and fail to protect those you love from further abuse.

This is the first step in the process of recovering from narcissistic abuse and one of the most important steps in a healthy recovery process.

The pathological narcissist will never take care of your feelings or needs, and he does not care if you agree with them in any way on what you need. Narcissists are not interested in explanations, so you cannot win their trust, and you are unlikely to find the right way to explain your point of view and get them to trust you and eventually prove themselves to you in any way.

Processing the reality of your narcissistic abuse syndrome with a narcissistic parent or partner involves loss and grief. As an adult, you mourn the loss of a loving parent you never had, a healthy childhood family you missed, or someone who perhaps supported you more than you did.

You are grieving with your partner for the love you fell in love with, which you thought you knew but did not love, and the time you spent hoping for something that never came, such as trust or intimacy that could never come. There is no way out of this grief, it involves a constant struggle to come to terms with the realities of the relationship between narcissistic parents and partners.

Grief and loss are deeply painful and take time, and we often do everything in our power to avoid pain by distracting and numbing ourselves with compulsions and addictions.

Many of us spend years escaping our grief only to find that it stares at us in the form of depression, anxiety, and even suicide attempts. To come to terms with grief and to acknowledge it and to leave it behind is necessary for healing.

Children from narcissistic family and home experiences are repeatedly afflicted by persistent attacks on their emotional and physical well-being – and leave lasting emotional or physical scars. Such children and partners often have complex traumas such as chronic pain and illness, depression, and anxiety. This is a complex trauma and a profound form of trauma, and it is the result of a long-term relationship with a narcissistic parent or family member or partner.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, identifying the effects of complex trauma and treating symptoms is an essential step towards healing.

The capacity for suffering also includes a corresponding capacity for healing, and healing happens when we recognise the larger pattern at work in our lives, overcome denial, understand the reality of narcissism, and move beyond grief and trauma to a healthy, happy existence. 

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Image credit: Freepik


Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He interviews people within psychology, mental health, and well-being on his YouTube channel, The DRH Show


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