The Trauma Bond can exert the most incredible grip on its victims. A bio-chemical addiction to both abuse and abuser, it is difficult to understand for the victim and their support group. Breaking it requires a different mindset and some very hard work.
First Challenge – getting over them
People think that getting over a narcissistic relationship is all about getting over the breakup and trauma bond. This is only half of the equation, an important one nevertheless. Some tips to get this first half achieved:
- Understand that you were in love with a charade only. It didn’t exist.
- Understand that the person you were with was actually a very toxic and dangerous con artist.
- Self-validate that they were indeed narcs by systematically comparing their behaviours with the red flags of narcissism;
- Give up any hope of ever getting validation from friends or family, or indeed “normal” therapists. No-one who has never been a victim of it will ever get it. Instead seek comfort, support and validation with other NPD-abuse victims (eg FaceBook forums), or from a therapist who specialises in NPD abuse recovery.
- Let go completely of the dreams that you might have had about the future with that person. Sadly these were all totally unfeasible fantasies.
- Learn as much as possible about NPD to make the above points sink in.
- Forgive yourself for what you perceive may have been your mistake. Narcs are, after all, extremely talented and believable con artists and even the professionals get fooled. You were targeted for some very admirable qualities in you, and you were only trying to fixing vulnerabilities in them. Much though you may have tried, the unfortunate reality is that narcopaths can never be fixed.
- Protect yourself from any further abuse. Make yourself unfuckwithable. Bombproof. Go No Contact, block numbers, prevent any social media feedback getting back to the narc, cut ties with joint friends who are pro-narc.
- Approach the breakup as you would breaking any other addiction. Get plenty of exercise, ideally in the fresh air. Set yourself goals regarding your physical health. Surround yourself with positive people who boost you. Do hobbies and past-times that you really enjoy, even better if they are creative.
- Surround yourself with triggers that remind you of happier times pre-narc – listen to the music you liked beforehand, hang pictures of happier memories, eat food reminiscent of your prior life etc.
Second Challenge – refinding you
But the second part is much more difficult and important. Whilst getting over the breakup is the obvious test, rebuilding yourself is the real challenge. It is extremely difficult for victims, and more so for their supporters, to either understand the effect of the abuse during the devaluation phase, or the enormity of the task ahead to rebuild. Few people get that it is not overcoming a breakup that is the real issue – it is coming to terms with losing yourself in the entire process, and facing up to the reality of having to pick up pieces shattered into a million pieces. Consider what has happened during the devaluation phase:
- Isolated from friends and family
- Little or no appreciation or praise
- Constantly undermined
- Your confidence systematically eroded.
- Abused in many ways possible
Some tips and tricks to help rebuild you
- Establish a physical refuge to buy you time that is free of as many pressures as possible. Invariably this will mean downsizing, and possibly even moving area completely. You don’t need either money worries or the risk of any contact with the ex.
- Surround yourself with a different crowd of people who are fun to be around and who build you up.
- Do things that make you feel good about yourself.
- Work on your physical appearance to be the best physical embodiment of yourself – this will boost your self-esteem dramatically
- Identify and heal your inner wounds (people are pre-disposed to falling for narcs because of some childhood wound they picked up in childhood that makes them people-pleasers with weak personal boundaries – an issue that needs to be resolved as part of the process).
- Work on your mindset towards the ex. By rights you should hate them and wish to seek revenge. But this is the wrong mindset – not only will it mean that they take up mental bandwidth, but they will also derive narcissistic supply from anything you do in this respect. Your aim is to neither love nor hate the ex, and to banish them from you mind completely. Replace love and hate with pity. Because although they may well have destroyed your life, you can get away from them. Their toxic alter ego, their real self, follows them everywhere they go destroying everything about their lives sooner or later.
- Hold on to the belief that you will get over this, you will learn some amazing life lessons, you will learn a lot about yourself, you will develop a very difficult relationship with yourself, and you will emerge stronger, wiser, better and more attractive than before.
- Don’t give up, but instead be patient with yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day, you have a lot of healing to do, and it’s a phase that should not be rushed.
- Keep yourself grounded with the full understanding of the two halves of this challenge. This setback does not define you – it was a wrong turn, that is all. First step is to divorce yourself and everything about that relationship, the second is to rebuild you. Take all of that negativity from the first half and turn it around to be a force of good for the second.
- Every moment of weakness, every time you feel like a relapse and breaking No Contact, whenever you find yourself ruminating, or at every time you feel triggered by memories etc, remember this – you dodged a bullet. Repeat this like a mantra. Every. Single. Time.
- Never give up.