Trauma Bonding is the result of the most incomprehensible, insidious mindfuckery and abuse leaves victims inexplicably bio-chemically addicted to their abusers. This bond must be broken before healing can start.
Also known as Stockholm Syndrome, victims of narcissitic abuse unwittingly form a tight bond with their abusers – despite the abuse. This is achieved through successive cycles of abuse (including the silent treatment) and affection.
Victims form a bio-chemical addiction to their abusers which is extremely hard to break. Throughout the Devaluation phase and Discard Phases, victims develop Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD).
You need to achieve two things before you can even start to break the trauma bond.
Remove your self from the Abuse
There is absolutely no way your recovery stands a chance of starting whilst you are still being abused. And given that recovery can take as long to achieve as the period of abuse lasted, every week you fall short of going no contact extends the date at which you should feel healed by a fortnight.
Firstly you have to go No Contact. Sever all ties completely, include all direct and indirect lines of communication.
There are many situations in which No Contact just is not possible. For this you need to do Grey Rock instead.
Unlike normal-range breakups, you will not get Closure from a Narcissist. Doing so represents a variety of things to them:
- That it is indeed the end of the relationship.
- Finality would limit the chances of pulling off a Hoover maneuver further down the line.
- Closure would limit the efficiency of any Triangulation with the new supply.
- Breakup, and especially divorce, would be an acknowledgement of failure (something that they don’t like to confront, ever).
- No further scope for the debate, arguments and crazy-baiting.
- You’re not destroyed yet – they need to see this happen in due course.
A breakup does not represent the end of the relationship to a Narcissist. Bear in mind that Narcs enter relationships for very different reasons that you do. For them, it is all about deriving Narcissistic Supply, and to them you still have a dribble or two left in the tank of fuel. All of the above reduce their supply or bank of Narcissistic Supply – something that they protect at all costs. They want to leave the tap open – and it is for this reason that No Contact / Grey Rock is so important to limit their options.
So now is the time to impose boundaries. These are the rules by which you are ending the formal relationship, tying up the loose ends, and barring / limiting any further invasion into your life.
Once you have severed ties and boundaries – it’s time to catch your breath and take stock of the situation. There will be a huge raft of administrative details you may need to do around severing ties and establishing your new life etc.
Amongst all this, however, it is time to learn all about what just happened to you, why, and what you are now going to do about it. I hope that this website serves as a good start. Reading all of the pages will inform you enormously. But also follow the links to the excellent articles at the bottom of pages for further insight, opinion and clinical research.
Unlove the Narcopath
As you now enter the next stage, armed with knowledge and a better understanding of Narcissism, your next challenge is to unlove the narc. Core to this is appreciating that the person you loved, and thought loved you, was just imaginary – both in your mind and in theirs. You loved the “false self”, the charade that masked a much more sinister and completely unlovable “real self” buried deep and camouflaged well. You may well be still raging with emotions – ranging from intense love to deep hate, you will be desperately sad not to live the dreams that you once held, you may deeply resent them for the years of your life they have stolen. But the point that you are aiming for is that of Zero Emotion. Where you neither love nor hate them. Where your resentment towards them is balanced by the knowledge and strength that you have gained from the experience.
Be patient – this will take some time to achieve. But have faith – every day that goes past you sees you get stronger and wiser. The pain subsides with every week. Each month takes you closer the light at the end of the tunnel. And every year brings increasing amounts of joy and happiness.
Note on Therapists
Engaging a therapist, particularly for this the most difficult of stages on your healing journey, is highly recommended. But please take note of the comments entitled Using Therapists – good ones can work wonders, the wrong one (who may be great ordinarily, just not for NPD) can do much damage.