Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
by Diane Linsley
In my coach training, we were asked to choose a niche. At the time,
I wanted to be a relationship coach. I had just gotten divorced for
reasons of narcissistic abuse. I spent many years trying to fix that
relationship by learning new skills. I didn't want all of my knowledge
and experience to be wasted.
I thought I couldn't be a relationship coach without being in a relationship. So I started dating. Trusting in the Law of Attraction, I set out to find a relationship that would help me become a better life coach. The universe brought me exactly what I needed - another narcissist.
Even though this was one of the most painful experiences of my life, I know it was not a mistake. How do I know? First, because I met this person in a dream 13 months before I met him in waking life, and I recognized him when he showed up. I knew we were supposed to be together for an important purpose, but I didn't know what it was until after the relationship ended.
I tried dating again, but I kept attracting bad relationships until I figured out that I needed to heal myself. Then I took a long break from dating to focus on healing. That was the best thing I ever did. It was a wonderful experience of rapid personal growth.
A few weeks after ending the last relationship, I received a download from the universe telling me what my coaching niche was and giving me instructions for how to proceed. My niche was not about relationships in the way I had previously thought of them. It was about the relationship with self.
Learning from Narcissistic Abuse
Melanie Tonia Evans says that those of us who have gone through narcissistic abuse chose this experience before we came here as part of our soul's journey.
One thing that helped me to heal was acknowledging the lessons I learned from my experiences. As my teacher Bill Harris says, "Once you have the learnings, you no longer need the feelings. The feelings are just there to point you to the learnings."
I wouldn't be a life coach today without my experiences. Along the way, I learned to trust my higher self. There's nothing more valuable to me than this connection.
The secret to overcoming narcissistic abuse is to develop a relationship with your higher self. This connection can turn the worst thing that ever happened to you into a learning experience that opens up your life to new possibilities that you never before imagined.
My personal education in narcissist abuse would not have been complete without experiencing all three types of narcissists - altruistic, cerebral and somatic. I spent hundreds of hours studying about narcissistic abuse. Videos by Melanie Tonia Evans and Sam Vaknin were the most helpful. But there's no substitute for personal experience.
Healing from Narcissistic Abuse
There's nothing like narcissistic abuse to give you an opportunity to face the trauma of your past - especially things that have been repressed since childhood. The narcissists in my life gave me the opportunity to bring old wounds to the surface so I could consciously heal them.
The first step in recovery is to come out of denial. We are really afraid of the darkness - the unknown. The more we learn, the less fearful and the more empowered we become.
Sam Vaknin says that all of the Cluster B personality disorders, along with C-PTSD and codependency, are just different manifestations of the same thing - childhood trauma. All of these so-called "diseases" are really coping mechanisms and behaviors developed in childhood in an attempt to deal with trauma.
The job of psychology is to identifiy the problem, and Sam Vaknin has done this. But what is the solution? Now we have to look elsewhere. The only real solution is love. This is what spiritual teachers have taught for thousands of years. Compassion and self-compassion are spiritual practices.
Albert Einstein knew this. In a letter to his daughter, he said, "There is an extremely powerful force that, so far, science has not found a formal explanation to. It is a force that includes and governs all others, and is even behind any phenomenon operating in the universe.... This universal force is LOVE.... After the failure of humanity in the use and control of the other forces of the universe that have turned against us, it is urgent that we nourish ourselves with another kind of energy…. If we want our species to survive, if we are to find meaning in life, if we want to save the world and every sentient being that inhabits it, love is the one and only answer."
Some people learn about narcissism and then become obsessed with blaming the narcissists in their lives. You cannot heal yourself while obsessing about someone else. Remember, you get what you focus on. I suggest you focus on loving yourself and working on your own personal growth.
Practices for Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
I did Melanie's Narcissist Abuse Recovery Program (NARP), and I also worked with a life coach. My coach taught me that it's okay to have emotions. Crying wasn't allowed in either my family of origin or my marriage. My coach encouraged me to feel my feelings, which was essential for recovery.
I wrote these affirmations on a sticky note and put it next to my computer: "I am enough. I am loved. I am always evolving. I choose my own experiences. Change is natural. I will always be here for myself. People are free to come and go. I am secure in myself."
Eventually, I developed my own process for emotional healing, which I teach to clients. This process is designed to retrain the brain. After I did it every day for 6 months, the process became automatic, and I stopped experiencing intense negative emotions.
Basically, I did everything that I write about on this website. There wasn't just one miracle cure that worked for me. The secret is to never give up. If you are determined, you will heal.
It's essential to learn how to love and care for your Inner Child. From the perspective of your higher self, you are a precious, unconditionally loved child. Self-compassion helps us develop the attributes of a loving parent - the attributes of the higher self. Remember to take care of your physical body. I worked on releasing trauma from my body by dancing. Here's a clip from a video that a client and fellow life coach sent me. She appeared with Oprah to talk about her experience of dancing to raise her vibration. Rachel Platten's album, Wildfire, is my favorite. It has some good breakup songs, along with her inspirational Fight Song and my Inner Child's favorite, Better Place.
Any type of exercise can be helpful. Just move your body and breathe, cry, laugh, or get angry. Let any emotions that surface be okay. I never know what my dance sessions are going to be like. The music and exercise brings up a lot of stuff to be healed.
Try watching the following short videos with your Inner Child. They explain the meaning of the stories of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. They are good for helping children understand what narcissism is and how to cope with it.
Recovering from Complex PTSD
Complex PTSD begins with childhood abuse. Once a person has become sensitized through early abuse, minor events can trigger emotional flashbacks that throw them into a state resembling the intense fear and powerlessness that they experienced as a child.
I recommend reading Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving by Pete Walker. It's a self-compassionate approach to treating this common but devastating problem. This book helped me understand what Melanie says about codependents and narcissists being two sides of the same coin.
The narcissists in my life were traumatized like I was in childhood. But while they were using narcissistic defense mechanisms to protect themselves, I was using codependent tactics. We were subconsciously attracted to each other by our common wounds.
Once I'd done enough recovery work, my attraction to narcissists fell away. I still feel compassion for them, but I no longer feel attracted. True love is compassion, not fatal attraction. The most loving thing I ever did for myself and everyone in my life was to leave the narcissists and create a new life where I could be my best self and help others.
Blocks to Recovery
Initially, my biggest block to recovery was my fear of being single, and I worried about what people would think of me.
In How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk, John Van Epp says that two risk factors for divorce are getting married before age 26 and marrying someone you've known for less than 2 years. I wish I'd known this before I got engaged at age 19 to someone I'd known for only 10 days! Narcissists are in a hurry to get married, have sex, or move in together because they can't keep up the facade for long. I gained a new perspective on relationships by reading The Eden Project: In Search of the Magical Other by James Hollis. I saw that I had been using relationships to run away from my own maturation process. I learned that I needed to be a mature person if I wanted to attract another mature person.
The biggest problem I've seen with narcissistic abuse clients is they are afraid of being alone. I think this stems from the way they treat themselves. Who wants to be with someone who is mean? Practicing self-compassion helps us get over the fear of being with ourselves. Be your own best friend!
Self-esteem increases as we move forward one step at a time, noting our progress and congratulating ourselves for making improvement. Nathaniel Branden, author of The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, says that self-esteem comes from what we do. Any positive action that we take to move towards our goals increases self-esteem. Living in fear, denial and blame undermines self-esteem.
After narcissistic abuse, it's good to take a long break from romantic relationships until you are healed. But this doesn't mean that you don't have love in your life. I have deeply satisfying relationships with my children and friends. I know the value of relationships for personal growth.
After spending so many years doing personal growth work, I have no desire to be with someone who hasn't done his own work. I'm only interested in healthy relationships with growth-oriented people. Narcissists don't do personal growth work because they are too busy looking outside of themselves for validation. If you are doing the same thing, then you are a match to the narcissist.
Codependent relationships are not about love. They are about control, attachment and infatuation. Your attractions are your responsibility.
You know you are done with narcissists when you see them as boring. All of the fatal attraction and attachment is gone.
The final stage of recovery is forgiveness. But it may not be what you think. True forgiveness arises spontaneously out of self-compassion and understanding.
After spending 8 months doing concentrated healing work, I felt like I was ready to dip my toe in the world of dating again.
I was surprised at how confident I was and how easy it was to identify narcissists without having to go on a first date, in most cases. A couple of narcissists still slipped through my screening process, but I identified and dumped them quickly after one or two dates.
I decided that I would either find a loving man or stay single for the rest of my life. And I was fine with being alone because I loved myself. When I least expected it, my soulmate came along. We started dating in May of 2018, and I'm amazed every day at how kind and loving he is.
Here's the interesting part: He treats me as well as I treat myself. I had to work for years to develop this level of self-love. Sure enough, I attracted someone with the same vibration of love. Now I know that the Law of Attraction works. As Melanie says, "So within, so without."
"How does one become a butterfly? You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar." ~Trina Paulus
Please note: I no longer do narcissistic abuse coaching,
Copyright (c) Self-Compassion Coaching with Diane Linsley. All rights reserved.