Be Free from Narcissistic Abuse

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is characterized by severe dysfunction in the areas of identity, self-direction, empathy and intimacy. And while the nature of the condition makes it impossible for narcissists to be aware of their behavior, this combination of traits can seriously threaten the emotional health of those close to them. Narcissistic abuse syndrome can result from being involved in a relationship with anyone who has NPD, whether they’re your romantic partner, family member or friend. Talk to An Expert

Kelley Alexander JD. Program Director of The Sanctuary at Sedona discusses Narcissistic Abuse.

Narcissistic Abuse

But because one of narcissism’s central hallmarks is its profoundly confusing effect on everyone in its path, it’s often hard to tell whether you were the target of narcissistic abuse at all. Narcissists are extremely good at manipulation, experts at making you believe everything is your fault. If you think you may be suffering from the effects of someone else’s narcissism, ask yourself the following:
  • Do you feel unforgivably defective and flawed?
  • Do feel as if, no matter how hard you try, you’re never good enough for them?
  • Do you find yourself spending less time on your own interests?
  • Is your social circle shrinking or non-existent?
  • Do you feel tired, drained and unhealthy?
Narcissists dish out vicious criticism designed to make you feel unworthy: they may insult your appearance, discredit your friends or make fun of your passions. They may even make you feel like you’re a bad person for not treating them well enough. Ironically, many of the things narcissists criticize you for are things they do themselves. But even if you know on some level that these behaviors are wrong, it’s easier to just give in to their demands, because confronting the issue with them is so exhausting. And as the cycle continues, the relationship drains you of more and more of your health, money, time and attention.

How Narcissistic Abuse Affects Your Emotional and Physical Health

Oftentimes with narcissists, you’re adored one minute and abhorred the next. That’s because they operate within a framework of conditional love – that is, you’re loved for what you do, not who you are. To add to the confusion, they can seem completely thoughtful, considerate and relatable at times. They may even come off as caring and nurturing. But this can all turn on a dime as soon as their NPD is triggered. This head-spinning behavior leaves people reeling, wondering what just happened and picking their way through an emotional maze. Narcissists’ kindness is often motivated by their desire to obtain something or maintain outward appearances. But this cycle of hopefulness followed by total withdrawal of their love and support is a serious drain on your energy. Your health, happiness and wellbeing suffer as a result, which manifests in problems like adrenal fatigue, chronic depression, sleep disruption and eating disorders. You might feel so low-energy and distracted that you find it difficult to focus at work or carry out your daily tasks.

Narcissism - How it Works

Narcissists’ most telltale quality has to do with the way they argue. They hate to be confronted, and when they are, they twist the facts, bending reality until it paints a more favorable picture of their behavior. They never apologize; never accept responsibility; their primary tactic is to turn all of the blame back on you. Narcissists may also try to divert the attention by bringing up separate incidences that have nothing to do with the issue at hand. They refuse to see your point of view, and resolution with them is often impossible to reach. Instead, they throw tantrums, give you the silent treatment or simply threaten to leave. If you’re living with a narcissist, your home is a battlefield. This can lead to paranoia as you’re constantly walking on eggshells, and burnout as your fight-or-flight response is always switched on.

Projection

One of the tools narcissists use to maintain their position of power is to point out the faults within you that they exhibit themselves. This ensures their behavior goes unnoticed and they remain beyond reproach. Because they have endless tactics for covering their tracks, they never take genuine, lasting responsibility – even if they offer lip service, their behavior never truly changes. By projecting everything onto you, they succeed in making you feel like it’s all your fault. Memory is a creative act for narcissists, who often invent facts and use false allies to bolster their position. Over time, this continual erosion of your boundaries and rights eats away at your identity and self-worth. You may find yourself losing your drive, questioning your purpose and feeling a pervasive sense of emptiness in your own life. Because narcissists convince us that we’re damaged, we may believe that we’re not deserving of love and that we’ll never be happy again.

Victim to Narcissistic Relationships

Even if you’ve become well aware of how damaging its effects are to your spirit, you may still find it incredibly difficult to leave a narcissistic relationship. Because narcissists don’t respect boundaries, they become enmeshed, and leaving them doesn’t just feel like you’re losing the relationship, but a piece of yourself. That’s why, even if you’re separated from a narcissist, you may find it hard to move on with your life. You might find yourself thinking about them constantly, or feel a pressing need to contact them to see how they’re doing, to try to make yourself understood or try to make things right. Every time we reconnect with narcissistic abusers despite our better knowledge, we sink further and further into our feeling of powerlessness. And because narcissistic relationships are socially isolating, leaving may also mean you’re quite literally alone for a period of time.

Narcissistic Abuse Trauma

Being in a narcissistic relationship is, by nature, traumatic. Narcissist’s manipulations are disorienting to the point where we may feel completely lost, disconnected from reality. Their venomous criticisms cut deep, and become so internalized that they’re hard to extract. As you begin your treatment process, you may feel surges of anger as you realize the extent of what you endured. You may experience memories all over again, or have strong physical reactions to what you begin to uncover. Many people who have survived narcissistic abuse carry anger – consciously or unconsciously – with them for years after the relationship. That anger, which results from a triggering experience, often ends up getting misdirected as emotions you haven’t fully processed from the past are projected onto someone else. This only makes you feel more ashamed, guilty and out of touch with who you really are – which is why it’s so important to learn how to thoroughly process it and move it safely through and out of you.

Integrative Treatment for Narcissistic Trauma

The Sanctuary provides a safe space for you to begin to face the realities of your experience and heal from narcissistic abuse in an intentional, highly supported way. Our Integrative Trauma Treatment program is designed to comprehensively address trauma on mind, body, soul and spirit levels, drawing on a variety of traditional and modern healing practices to help you fully heal. If you’re suffering, know that there is hope. With the right treatment and support, you can reconnect with your body, your energy, your sense of self – and ultimately all the love that surrounds you. You didn’t deserve what happened to you, but you do have the power to turn it around. Call us at (877) 710-3385 to learn how we can help.

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