And what can you do about it? In this post I’m going to share 4 things you need to do.
Narcissists have an insatiable appetite for fuel, so no matter what you do for them, it will never, ever, be enough, because they have one set of rules for themselves, and one for everyone else. The entire universe has to revolve around them and if you deviate from worshipping at the altar of their (imagined) brilliance, you’re going to pay. Most relationships involve give and take, compromise, and accepting that no one is perfect, we all make mistakes, and we can work things out between us.
But this is NOT so when it comes to narcissistic relationships. They want everything to be perfect according to their demands, and to hell with yours. When you try to get a little bit of respect, or acknowledgement, or thanks, it’s not going to happen. If you bring it up, or demand something more, the narcissist will become angry, start blaming you and show you how disappointed they are that you’re not living up to their ridiculous and totally unattainable standards.
That’s why they start devaluing you. They will criticize absolutely every single thing about you that they possibly can. How you walk, talk, dress, behave, think, everything! So you try even harder, but they’re still not happy. They will criticize your household skills, cooking, parenting, social skills, and make you feel lacking in every department. They’ll even criticize you as a lover, and then withdraw sex and affection to punish you for your lack of perfection.
You can never do right anymore. You can drive yourself completely nuts trying to anticipate their moods, you will be constantly walking on eggshells, but no matter what you do, say, or try, it will never be enough. You simply cannot win. Which is why you need to wake up to this harsh reality and get out of the relationship. You ARE enough. They are the ones who are totally screwed up and they will never, ever stop trying to hurt you. So, let me share 4 tips with you on how to start recovering from narcissistic abuse.
Four things you must do…
You begin to start recovering from narcissistic abuse by learning the truth of what the narcissist really is, and knowing that you are in NO way to blame. You could not have been nicer, better, prettier, more handsome, slimmer, yada yada, because for a narcissist, nothing is ever enough, ever. No matter what you do, how hard you try, how much you compromise, it's never, ever enough. You need to mentally stamp that on your forehead! You also need to know that you cannot ‘fix’ or ‘cure’ a narcissist. They are pathologically wired to believe they are better than everyone else, that they are never wrong, and that they are perfect, so they don’t seek help, they don’t want help, and no amount of love and compassion from you will ever change them. They will wipe the floor with your emotions and leave you feeling worthless.
So STOP right now, thinking that you can fix them, or that it's your fault or you're to blame, because trust me on this, and I KNOW, you can’t, it's not, and you're not.
Secondly, plan your exit strategy…
Plan your exit strategy (in the utmost secrecy), and get out. Your sanity depends on it. You will never be happy in a relationship with a narcissist, and staying with one will gradually eat away at your soul, lead to a host of emotional and physical problems, and leave you a shadow of your former self. You owe it to yourself to get out, so start planning, and do whatever it takes to get the heck out. Even if you can’t do that right away, start planning it and imagining the freedom you will have when you finally get out. One woman I know of spent 14 years planning to get out. But she did it and now lives quietly in a place her ex can’t find her, and she is at peace.
But remember, even when you leave, or they leave you, they still want to hurt you if they can, and may start a smear campaign against you, they may try to hoover you, they may accuse you of all sorts of things – all of which are lies, even to the point of filing restraining orders/protection orders or having you arrested (and I know many people who have been put in jail over false accusations) and that’s why those who know better now are always advising you to go ‘no contact’. Which is the most important next step you must take.
Thirdly, go ‘no contact’…
It’s absolutely essential that you go no contact, or low contact if you have children or other issues that means you have to keep some contact. No contact means just that, you sever all ties with them and anyone who doesn’t know the truth of who he or she really is. Cut all ties… block, delete, check your social media security options and don’t let anyone in who you don’t trust implicitly. Block everyone you have in common, unless you can really trust them, and don’t accept new friend requests because narcs usually have their flying monkeys on the case. Narcissists are adept at recruiting ‘flying monkeys’ – allies who believe their BS and who are nasty enough to get involved in their hate campaign against you, or, they may be people who are genuinely charmed by them and believe their BS stories about you.
Also be aware that narcs also use flying monkeys to try to lure you back, often with lies about how much they are missing you and how they feel they've made a terrible mistake. Don't fall for it. Let your closest allies know what you are dealing with. The family and friends who really care for you will believe you. If they don’t and they side with the narc, you need to block them too.
You may also start receiving texts from unknown numbers. If you do receive such messages, export them and save to your PC, as you might need this as evidence at some future point, then delete them and block the sender. Do this as many times as you have to. You may even decide to change your phone number but it’s not unheard of for the narc to still manage to find it so it’s not a guarantee that you won’t hear from them. If you do, block them immediately.
Take it a step further and delete or remove any photos, gifts or any kind of memorabilia you have of them. Sell or donate their gifts to charity. You don’t want anything in your space that will remind you of them.
If you are living in the same home – and the narc has vacated - consider redecorating or moving furniture around. You might not feel like doing this, but it will help clear some of the negative energy in your space.
One client I worked with told me she had completely redecorated her home, but on closer questioning about her ex-narc breaking into her house and raping her, I discovered that she had not been able to face changing the room where it had happened. She felt physically sick every time she went in there, and avoided the room for over 2 years. After a couple of sessions with me, she was able to strip the room down to the bare walls and redecorated it in bright, uplifting colours. She was then able to enjoy the room!
If you’re seeking divorce, get a lawyer who understands NPD, or at the very least, domestic violence and coercive control. If they don’t have this knowledge, there’s a big risk that the narc will hoodwink the lawyer with their charm offensive. You need someone who knows how to see through the narc’s BS.
In the case of low contact, for divorce / child issues or business issues, have your lawyers deal with everything and do not deal directly with the narc at all. Subsequently when the issues have been resolved, for example, with your children, make all the arrangements via a third party – ideally a safe person in your life. If this is not going to be possible, make sure that the visitation rules are written in stone, witnessed by both lawyers, down to the smallest detail. Then, stick to those boundaries. Be as ‘grey rock’ as you possibly can be during your dealings with your ex but be absolutely rigid about boundaries, and keep your lawyer posted of any breaches. If you are co-parenting with a narcissist, that’s another minefield you’re walking into and you need to always be 10 steps ahead of them.
If you’re in business with a narc, there is only one real solution. Find a way out. Get legal advice and formulate an exit strategy. You cannot continue to co-exist happily in business with a narc. To try means continually keeping yourself within striking distance of more abuse. Don’t let it happen. Find a way out.
Fourthly, learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and abuse…
Learn as much as you can, as quickly as you can, and the scales will start falling from your eyes. It's their fault and if they are already with the next victim it won't be long before you'll feel sorry for that person, because they’re going to go through the same hell as you’ve been through. Guaranteed.
The next victim will never be enough either. No one ever will be. So please take my advice and take these steps, and start focusing on self-care and self-love. You're LUCKY that the narc is out of your life for the moment, but also be warned... this is not necessarily the end, because Narcs are known for 'hoovering', so they’ll often try to get you back at some point.
You need to be prepared for that. Don't fall for it. They do these terrible things because that's how they are wired. They are warped. Not normal, and they chose you because you're probably a sensitive or an empath... they are adept at spotting your vulnerabilities.
Please believe that you can reclaim your self-worth and get YOU back, because you can, but you have to start taking action to find yourself again. If you’ve gone back several times, don’t beat yourself up. It’s very common, and in another post, I’ll talk about how to handle judgemental people if you do go back.
If you have already left, but you are still ruminating, trauma bonded, or struggling with any number of issues that are common when you’ve been dealing with a narcissist, decide that you’ve have enough of feeling like this and that you are going to change this, that you are going to heal. Then start working on rebuilding your self-worth. Reach out and get the support you need! So please remember that you deserve better than what you got from the narcissist. And you can heal. Click here for ways I can support you in your healing journey.