The road to recovery from narcissistic abuse

Survivors of narcissistic relationships often blame their problems on themselves. (Rawpixel pic)

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 it than to admit shortcomings in parents and caregivers.

It is also safe to blame your problems on yourself, rather than question the status of the people who depend on you for their survival. While denial helps the child survive, in itself it 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.

Accepting the source of the abuse is the first and most important step in the process of healthy recovery.

The pathological narcissist will never take care of your feelings or needs, and they do not care if you agree with them in any way about 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.

Children exposed to narcissism in the family often suffer from pain, illness, anxiety and depression. (Rawpixel pic)

Processing the reality of your abuse 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.

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 to overcome, and one often does everything in their power to avoid pain by distracting and numbing themselves with compulsions and addictions.

Many spend years escaping their grief only to find that it is staring them in the form of depression, anxiety and even suicide attempts. To come to terms with grief, acknowledging it and leaving it behind is necessary for healing.

Children from narcissistic families and home experiences are repeatedly afflicted by persistent attacks on their emotional and physical well-being that 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 and profound form of trauma and is the result of a long-term relationship with a narcissistic parent or family member or partner.

According to the US National Institute of Mental Health, 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 you recognise the larger pattern at work in your life, overcome denial, understand the reality of narcissism, and move beyond grief and trauma to a healthy, happy existence.

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.