Healing from a Narcissistic relationship

Healing From a Narcissistic Relationship

Two weeks ago I shared about what Narcissistic Personality Disorder is (link) and last week I shared some examples from my own past of interacting with a Narcissist (link). This week, I wanted to share a little bit about healing from a narcissistic relationship.

Not everyone heals the same.

It’s important to note that some things may work for one person but not another. And it is very rare that just one thing will solve your issues. Often, it’s finding the right combination of tools to help yourself sort through what you’ve been through and how to heal. I also think it’s important to note here that I am not a doctor or a therapist. What I am is a person who has been through a lot and tried many possible solutions. My goal now is to share some of those solutions with those of you who might benefit from them.

The first step in healing from a narcissistic relationship:

In my opinion, one of the most important steps you can take when healing from a narcissistic relationship would be to end the relationship. (Reminder that I don’t just mean romantic relationships here, but also friendships, co-workers, neighbors, family members, etc.) Cutting off a narcissist’s access to you is a crucial step in hindering their ability to further manipulate, gaslight and overall abuse you. Unfortunately, this step isn’t always possible. (For example, if the narc is one of your parents and you aren’t able to move away from home yet, or maybe your boss in a job that your circumstances prevent you from leaving.) If that’s the case, try to create as much space or distance as possible. Minimize the amount of time spent alone together and really work on building up your self-confidence and worth so that they have less of an effect on your mind.

In my experience, I’ve also found that time spent trying to verbally defend yourself against a narcissist is time wasted. Usually, there is nothing to be said that can alter their opinions and they cannot be changed. Very rarely will they apologize or admit to wrong-doing. Instead, just focus on you, getting stronger, and work on a plan to change your circumstances in order to be able to either eliminate or minimize all contact.

Acknowledge what you’ve been through.

This is another very important step in healing from a Narcissistic relationship. It isn’t just that you had some not so pleasant moments with someone, but something that most likely deeply affected and possibly traumatized you. In order to heal, you need to admit to yourself what happened. Know that you are entitled to all of the feelings that you might have regarding the situation and that they are one hundred percent valid. Also know that you have nothing to be ashamed of- the actions of a narcissist had nothing to do with you but everything to do with who they are. Victims of a narcissistic relationship are really the collateral damage of someone with a serious mental disorder. The shame tied to the relationship is completely theirs. Now it’s time to unpack the trauma and all of your feelings associated with it.

At first, it might be scary to walk away form a narcissist. You might feel sad to be cutting ties because even though they were incapable of real love, your feelings for them were strong. This is completely natural and again, nothing to be ashamed of. Ultimately, it’s not about whether you love them or not; it’s about whether you love yourself. And loving yourself means not putting up with another moment of being manipulated and hurt, used and neglected. Remind yourself of the pain that is tied to being involved with them and celebrate the blessing that comes with saying goodbye. It will be hard at first, but the more time that passes without that soul crushing weight on your shoulders, the better and stronger you will feel.

Accept that you won’t get closure.

One of the hardest parts of healing from a narcissistic relationship is realizing that you will never get an apology. Your abuser will never admit to any wrong doing, will never say sorry, and will most likely try to make you out to look like the bad guy. Odds are, you won’t understand why they chose to hurt you the way that they did and that lack of understanding will drive you crazy. It will never really make sense to you because your brain does not operate the same way that theirs does. And the only real reason behind their actions will be because it served them at the time. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for this, other than focusing on the things you can control instead. Like your own healing journey.

Set boundaries.

In order to heal and to protect yourself from further mistreatment, you will need to set boundaries. Most likely, any boundaries you had were completely crushed by the narcissist and standing up for yourself no longer comes naturally. By setting new boundaries for yourself moving forward, you are establishing what you will and will not tolerate in all romantic and non-romantic relationships in your life. Typically, victims of narcissists tend to be a little (or a lot) more empathetic than the average person, and so it’s especially important for us to have strong boundaries so as not to be taken advantage of.

Some healthy boundaries will be no longer agreeing to things just to keep the peace. No longer keeping yourself small in order to appease others who might be threatened by your success. And no longer lighting yourself on fire to keep others warm. Realize that it is okay to take up space, to voice your opinions and your feelings. Stop apologizing for things that aren’t your fault and start having the difficult conversations.

You are allowed to put yourself first.

And you are allowed to say no to others. This doesn’t make you a bad person. If you continue to put everyone else first, you’re going to wear yourself out and eventually have nothing left to give. Having no self-compassion is just putting yourself back on the road to being further abused, taken for granted and burning out. Start prioritizing you and your needs instead. Remember, your boundaries are to support yourself, not to hurt others. So if someone is offended or angry about your boundaries, it may be because they can longer treat you badly. (RED FLAG!) Just because someone is upset by your boundary doesn’t mean your boundary is wrong.

You also need to set some boundaries with yourself. For instance, stop the negative self talk. You’re no longer allowed to tear yourself down for not being perfect. Stop berating yourself and start being kind to yourself instead. A big part of healing from a narcissist is building back up your self-worth, and a big part of that is learning to love yourself as you are, faults, strengths and all. Remember that you have worth and value, regardless of other’s opinions or what you can do for them.

Build a support system.

The key to a good support system is making sure that it is toxic free. Sometimes it might take a while to find these people and you may be tempted to reconnect with your abuser out of loneliness. Don’t give into the temptation! This will only set you back and force you into a position of fear, anger, depression and anxiety all over again. The right people are out there. If it’s taking a while to find them, spend that time working on you, and maybe step out of your comfort zone to encounter new people.

You should be surrounding yourself with people that you can trust. Those who respect and support you and your boundaries. People who will build you up and celebrate your success, whether it directly affects them or not. You don’t want people in your crowd who are only happy for you when they benefit or who constantly need you to prove your worth. Those are the types you want to walk away from, because otherwise the odds are high that they will try to tear you down or sabotage you. In order to build your best life, you want people who will encourage you to shine.

Your circle should also involve people who are going to have a positive energy.

I’m not saying it has to be unrealistic sunshine and rainbows all of the time. It’s important to acknowledge tough times and not sweep things under the rug. However, if someone is constantly complaining or whining or criticizing, it is not good for your mental health and will hinder your healing. You need to create an environment in which you can prosper and thrive, not one that makes you feel like there’s no point in trying.

There may be people who judge you and try to make you feel bad for cutting off a narcissist. This is most likely because they have fallen victim to the narc’s charm and lies and do not see the real damage that the relationship inflicted on you. If that’s the case, the best thing to do is to focus on what you know is true and on the people that have proven to be who you can count on. Rather than trying to get everyone on your side, focus on what you can control and on the people who are in your corner. This will be hard and it will hurt, but remember that their options only hold as much weight as you allow.

Decide to conquer your narcissist abuse syndrome.

If it was long term, then healing from a narcissistic relationship can result in narcissist abuse syndrome. This usually involved things like low self-worth, anxiety, depression, and nervousness. Nightmares, insomnia and fear as well as PTSD can be common too. While others might not take your state of mind seriously, you have to acknowledge that it is real and make the decision to overcome it.

Therapy can be a valuable tool.

Talk therapy is a wonderful tool because you can talk through all of your thoughts, feelings and experiences without worrying about being judged. This impartial person may be able to offer you new insights or ways to look at your past and help you to sort through all of the chaos and confusion in your mind. You have guaranteed privacy and the benefit of all of their studies and experiences as well. It can be really refreshing to have a fresh take on things, to be able to say things out loud and to know that you’re not actually crazy.

I also recommend hypnotherapy, EFT or CBT, as all can help to rewire your brain to stop believing the lies that your narcissist may have fed you during your time together. These therapies can help you to reaffirm your worth, value, confidence and strength, while also helping you to release the lies, shame and trauma that you have stored in your mind.

Journaling is very affective in healing from a narcissistic relationship.

There are so many ways to utilize journaling, that it’s definitely possible to make it your own. You can start off with a blank journal or start off with a guided one. There are also options like bullet journals, gratitude journals, books specifically geared towards healing, and more. It can be so helpful to write down all of your thoughts in order to be able to get them out and better sort through them.

While it’s a really great tool to helping you get through your negative thoughts and experiences, you should also try to make it a point to write down some of the good things. This can mean writing a daily gratitude, but also noting any of your accomplishments big or small. Make a note of how they make you feel and of how far you’ve come in your healing journey. Or if something small happened that really made you smile, jot it down. Studies have shown that writing something out can make it easier to remember, so taking the time to focus on these good and proud moments can help to establish a more positive way of thinking. And when you have a more positive energy, you tend to feel better and more motivated to keep going. This is super helpful when in a healing journey.

Another way to use your journal would be to challenge your negative thoughts.

If you start having a thought that you know is detrimental or self-sabotaging, write it down in your journal and then use the rest of the page to challenge it. For example, if you start having a thought like I’m not a good person, write that down and then underneath, write down all of the reasons that you know it isn’t true. Fill the page with reasons that you are a good person. Prove to yourself that this thought is unjustified and untrue, and then allow yourself to let it go. This can take some practice, but is a really great technique to helping yourself overcome doubt, negative self-talk and anxiety.

Healing from a Narcissistic relationship is not an overnight thing.

It is a journey and it’s going to be hard. There will be ups and downs, three steps forward and then a step backwards. It isn’t linear and you might have some really hard days. But as time goes by and you keep working on yourself, it will get easier. The more you love yourself, build up your confidence and focus on healing, the stronger you will become. It is amazing how far you can go and what doors will open up for you. Eventually, you won’t even recognize the person you were when you first started the journey. On those hard days, just remember how much you matter, how far you’ve come, and how much you deserve.

These are just a few ways to get you started on your healing journey. As I mentioned above, different things will work for different people. If you have any questions or maybe you have some additional tips you’d like to share, please don’t hesitate!

I really hope this helps.


inspirational journal cover
I have always loved when my journal covers connected to what I was feeling or wanted to be feeling, so I started creating custom journals in order to motivate myself further. If this is something you’d be interested in, please check out my etsy page.


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