All survivors of narcissistic abuse emerge feeling shell-shocked, diminished and deeply traumatized. Some resolve to rush headlong into the next relationship to exorcise the experience. Others decide that the only way to protect themselves in the future is to steer clear of love and intimate relationships forever after.
Both of these choices are, essentially, coping strategies. Both sidestep the key question: “How can I do relationships differently going forward?” That is the question I want to explore here.
Relationships are not a rehabilitation facility
First off, it needs to be said that there is every reason to take a good, long sabbatical from relationships in the wake of an abusive relationship. The damage that you have undergone is immense. You need to take the time to heal and get to know yourself all over again.
However, that damage says nothing whatsoever about your worth as a human being – notwithstanding everything that an odious, destructive “partner” said about you.
All that that says is that you – just like everyone else in the course of an abusive relationship – have acquired a veritable collection of damaging patterns of beliefs about yourself. You really don’t want to bring those beliefs into any future relationship.
Despite what Hollywood etc would have us believe, relationships are not a rehabilitation facility.
The rescue fantasy is just a fantasy
I can remember, at one rather low point in my marriage, reading a hideously cliched novel about a beautiful, young woman who had been duped into marriage with an archetypal, narcissistic Prince Harming. Within a few years, she had a small child, a sickly dog, and had become horribly drained – both physically and emotionally -by the marriage.
At this point, her sickly dog had another sickly moment that led her to visit the vet…
The vet turned out to be super-caring, irresistibly attractive and her “forever person”, the man who wanted to protect her, keep her safe and make her smile again, for the rest of her life. He cured her pet and healed her.
Boy, did I want one just like that!
Needless to say, that was not my experience.
Nor should it have been.
We all need to do own healing work
We all need to do our own healing work. That is just one of those things that we cannot offload onto others – much as we might like to.
You see, our relationship behavior doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Rather, it comes out of the experiences and beliefs that we have about ourselves.
So, were the Perfect Vet (or other) to come along and offer us their undying love, protection and support, much as we might enjoy it, that would not be enough to exorcise our own negative soundtrack. We would still have to do our own emotional baggage clearing.
There is no way that you would want to bring your old patterns of belief and behaviour into a new relationship.
But in addition to that, you might like to consider that you – unlike a Narcissist – are very much all-of-a-piece.
Your overdone strengths
You are not the kind of person who varies their persona and convictions according to who you have in front of you. You are the kind of person who brings your overdone strengths to all of your relationships.
Those strengths include
- Giving too much too much, too generously to too many people who have not earned their place in your life.
- Being too forgiving to people who need to be held accountable for their behavior.
- Trusting other people too much on the strength of their own assessment of their merits
- Being too loyal to people who fail to show loyalty to you.
- Being too selfless for your own good.
- Being terminally modest about your own merits and achievements.
- Being too vulnerable to predatory folk.
Narcissists are plausible
Narcissists are plausible… and utterly dishonest.
A Narcissist was never going to tell you that you were their perfect target. Their script was always going to say that they were wonderful, faultless people who were devastated by all your failings.
The problem is. of course, that Narcissists come across as being far more convincing when they are lying than you sound – at least, to your own ears – when you are telling the truth. So, you end up believing them.
Especially when, as is so often the case, that is the kind of rhetoric that you grew up, with in a home where at least one family member was abusive and narcissistic.
Two things to remember
That leaves you, as an abuse survivor, in the strange position of having to take on board two important considerations
1) That there is nothing wrong with who you are and how you .
2) That, for all that, it is in your best interest to modify how your beliefs and traits play out in the outside world so that you are never again emotionally defenceless in the face of a Narcissist or other emotional predator.
My Valentine’s Day gift to you
With Valentine’s Day very much in the air, right now, I wanted to provide a realistic alternative to the greetings card take on relationships.
Not a day goes by without someone commenting on my Instagram account,
“I wish I had known what you are teaching 5/10/20 years ago.”
So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I shall be doing a live training on
How to do all your relationships differently, so that you enjoy the same consideration that you show to others.”
This is a free training – consider it my Valentine’s Day gift to you – looking at
- Two things you can do differently to put yourself in charge of your relationships.
- A simple way to start to make sense of your patterns and beliefs.
- How to get over the issues you have around judgement.
- How to start getting comfortable with saying “no” to people.
- Creating a new template for your relationships.
- Rethinking how you show up in relationships.
- Creating a gentler, more supportive relationship with yourself.
The training will run for approximately 75 minutes on Sunday 14th February at 6.30 pm UK time, 1.30 pm EST.
Grab your place here:
If you are not getting the joy and validation that you deserve from relationships, then chances are that something needs to change. Nobody else is as invested as you are in you getting more joy out of your relationships.
So, if that is something that matters to you, I look forward to seeing you on Sunday on Zoom.
Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.
The 5 Simple Steps to Healing from Narcissistic Abuse
Over the next 5 days, I'll send you some lessons and tips that I've found have really helped women to heal from narcissistic abuse. Starting with the basics.