Feel Your Feelings
When you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you learn really quickly how to ignore your own emotions. You learn that your feelings don’t matter, at least not as much as the narcissist’s feelings. And so, when you get out of the relationship, you might keep going in that direction. For me personally, that was one of the worst things that I dealt with – forgetting how to feel my feelings. And honestly, I didn’t even WANT to feel them!
The truth is that one of the most significant mistakes I made in my own recovery was shoving my feelings down and trying to move on without feeling them. I really believed that this was the right thing to do at the time – I didn’t like how it felt to deal with those emotions and I didn’t fully know how to process them. It wasn’t until several years later – when I still hadn’t managed to heal – that I really got my head around this concept.
That’s why, when I work with my narcissistic abuse recovery coaching and counseling clients, I make a point of teaching them how to feel their feelings and how to move forward from there. You can work on this at home by taking some time to sort of grieve the relationship.
Cry, scream, throw things, break things – whatever you need to do to get through those emotions. It sucks, but you’ve got to do it if you want to take the next step toward healing.
Time Soothes Trauma
In addition to allowing your feelings to flow, you’ve got to give yourself the time you need to heal. Let’s face it – there’s a chance that you may not be 100 percent healed because triggers and reminders of the abuse will come up. Even if you get to the point of handling it well, you can still be affected one way or another.
This is the time to get to know yourself again. Depending on your circumstances and the specifics of your situation, you might need to find a therapist, counselor, or coach who specializes in narcissistic abuse recovery to help you find yourself again. It also helps to find a narcissistic abuse recovery support group so you can find support from others who have been where you are.
Most importantly, remember that is no standard time limit for healing – each of us is a little different and will have different needs. You need to do what feels right for you, and to take as much time as you need to heal.
Firm Up Your Boundaries
During the relationship with the narcissist, your boundaries were repeatedly crossed, and no matter how firmly you’d had them set before, you might have almost forgotten how to set and stand behind them.
When you are healing from narcissistic abuse, you’ve got an opportunity to learn or relearn how to set firm boundaries and how to ensure that they stick. And honestly, setting boundaries is not only necessary for your healing and continued wellbeing, but it is literally one of the best forms of self-care around.
Whether it happened before or during your relationship, you might have been a people-pleaser – and while you don’t have to be rude or disrespectful to someone to enforce your boundaries, it might feel a little unnatural to you at first.
Forgive Yourself for What You Didn’t Know
Maya Angelou once said, “Forgive yourself for what you didn’t know before you learned it.”
I love this quote because it so perfectly expresses one of the most important things about narcissistic abuse recovery. Most survivors are relatively intelligent people who can easily read most other people.
That’s why we are so likely to blame ourselves and beat ourselves up for taking the abuse as long as we did. And listen – I totally get it.