What to Expect in the Recovery ‘Process’

There are various ways that those in the NPD Abuse Recovery movement have approached healing.  Books have been written, suggestions made; however, the truth is no one has quite re-invented the wheel.  I surmise that one feels ‘helped’ when the manner in which one delivers the message helps a ‘target’/survivor connect and begin to process.

We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, we have to know what we’re dealing with.

Recovery from NPD abuse is a grief process plain and simple…as a new member right now you  may not know which way is up, so here are some visuals so that you can see what the map ahead looks like.  Healing will take commitment. The following diagram of the Grief Process is modeled after Kubler-Ross’s Stages of Grief… further adapted by Human Rights Education Associates (HREA.org)

Copyright, 1997-2007 © HREA. All rights reserved

In the diagram above, when examining it for the purposes of our unique needs, I feel it is an accurate representation.  Initially, what has happened may not be clear right away.  This is not a normal break up and so for a moment many find some form of dissociation  occurs. Note the period before the ‘break’ this can be considered a ‘false’ recovery. There is a brief stage early on where many of us have shared, we thought we ‘got it.’  In re-reading some of my earliest work, I noted there was a period where I was very “La-dee-dah” about the experience, I thought I was over it, discussed it like any other ordinary hiccup…I had no idea I would soon be knocked so hard on my ass I would be rendered mute for a month and spent the next 16 or so months sorting through the devastation.  The diagram illustrates a typical flow of events in the grief processing response. In my estimation, what will be different is the length of time one cycles through the stages dependent upon the extent of ‘trauma’ one experiences.

I am hesitant to say that EVERY victim will experience Trauma to the fullest extent, but most that I have communicated with have had symptoms to one degree or another; however, I believe the extent and the depth of the trauma will VARY according to circumstances.  I feel very strongly about blanket statements when it comes to explaining the process, only because one size or situation does not fit all.  There are many touting that this event will have lifelong emotional consequences…I am not sure how ethical that is if one is in the arena of peer support.  I feel that it is damaging and promotes a negative spin on recovery.  From my point of view, if I’m dammed for life, why bother trying to heal?  Not everyone comes with the same amount of baggage and I firmly believe, we are a manifestation of our thoughts.  Our minds will take us wherever we want to go.  Healing takes work but it can be done.  Survivors of the Holocaust have gone on to live their lives – I am certain they struggled with trauma, but they continued to keep going.

Given what we know about the disordered ones, we know that anyone can fall prey, everyone’s coping mechanisms will vary.  Some will be better able to bounce back than others depending upon factors.  There is PTSD, C-PTSD then there is what is now known as Acute Stress Disorder which is not as severe at PTSD but indeed a stress response to a traumatic experience.  Acute Stress lasts no more than four weeks, but it also presents with a ‘delayed’ response…you can read more about ASD [HERE]

Another useful diagram found on the University of Minnesota’s website is the following:

  • © 2012 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.

In the above referenced diagram, note the loops.  This experience is very much like a roller coaster and we cycle back and forth for a time between the stages until we get to acceptance.  One day we’re doing fine and feel on top of the world, then suddenly we face a dramatic dip.  The key lies in knowing this is part of the process.  Knowing this allows us to hold on and hang tuff…we have options, we can reach out – we don’t have to go through this alone…

Keeping it simple, the slogan we use to remember all of this is: Narc Raiders H.E.A.L. “Help Eachother Actualize Love” (the actualizing is in supporting one another on a peer level though the stages)…the L.O.V.E. part – well, the goal is to not let ourselves become jaded…Love is everywhere, it’s the universal truth…we STILL have love…

Feel free to ask questions about this process or your insights as to how you have observed your own healing journey progressing thus far.  In subsequent modules I will delve deeper into the various stages and how they typically present based on my own experience as well as what I’ve observed communicating and working with others through this process…

8 thoughts on “What to Expect in the Recovery ‘Process’

  1. I have no words- the ups and downs are surreal. I feel like I’m living in a prism that keeps changing shapes. It’s been over a year. I saw a sudden change after 9 years which was so evident in a matter of weeks.in looking back, knowing what I know now- He never behaved in extreme ways because he knew it wouldn’t work with me, nevertheless there was always something off and I couldn’t put my finger on it – I got sucked in like a fool – not paying too much attention as I was a very busy exec. Since my early thirties when we met. He was also very successful so it was never about using me for money- but I guess he saw my strength, my extensive compassion and loving nature and perhaps I was a trophy gal to him because of how I looked. It kills me to know that despite my intelligence and zero tolerance for nonsense from men- I became a weak spineless victim. I was a woman who walked out on a husband with a one year old baby at 30 , left the best job in London, came back to the U.S. and didn’t look back. After this relationship with a narc I am a lost soul who doesn’t know if she’s coming or going. The night we split- I showed him the door with a smile and didn’t even bat an eyelid . He was in shock as he thought I would plead with him- later that night I went into shock- but woke up next day and went to my usual routine on Wall St. The pain sunk in and I wanted to stop breathing. I did research for months and realized I had been with a textbook Narc for 9 years- I went up and down for most of last year – but now after a year I feel so empty and hopeless I just don’t get it – I was doing better 6 months ago. I ignord his texts etc..for the first six months- then they stopped- Sadly his place is down the street from mine -when I see him I make pretend I don’t see him- he repulses me but I’m still so empty- and in agony -why?

    • Please see my initial post from a few minutes ago -I just wanted to add that my poor daughter who is now an amazing teenager saw me in this state as it was impossible to hide at home. I went from a vivacious mother to someone who is still powerful at work but completely sad and empty at home. I’m living on auto pilot – work-time with daughter- gym -home -business travel – vacation- social outtings- one expression : flat apathy – I just don’t know if I will heal- I have tried everything and the amount of prayer and meditation – still no light at the end of tunnel- I’m so upset that my kid sees me sad

      • They say it takes 18 months to start to really feel there is hope you will soon come back into your own…give it time, we all felt the same exact way. Be honest and up front with your daughter, granted you don’t have to share every detail, but a little reality never killed anyone. Humans feel and that’s a good thing, there is a strength in admitting, I feel really shitty but I’ll be back on my game soon…9 years is a pretty solid chunk…of course they can walk off into the sunset…they can’t feel, but for those of us who have invested time, energy and more sacred…emotions, our hearts, our souls…it’s nothing to sneeze at. Things will come into focus…you WILL recover…I promise you will. If you have FB, feel free to private message me there if I can help you with anything. Best wishes to you…
        https://www.facebook.com/NARCraiders?ref=bookmarks

  2. Now why I understand why I felt the loops.. coming back and forth each stage for healing. Now I know that its normal. Thanks to this article as it gave me realization that in time I will be healed.

  3. I am 6 weeks no contact with my narc ex. He went away on to do a race and although I knew deep down anyway. Whilst he was away, I had it confimred he was seeing another woman, a woman I had accused him of seeing and also in touch with his ex, whom he always told me he hated and was a phsyco.
    I decided that my best shot to escape was to cut contact whilst he was away. He messaged me on his return I sent a civil but message back ‘I hope your race went well’ he then replied with ‘that’s a shitty message’.. I never replied! I work in a gym and he is a member. I see him daily, one of his new women is also a memebr abd I see them together. She was my client, although I don’t think she knew about us, ill never know.
    I’m struggling, I don’t understand how he could do this and also why he never fought for me, I don’t want him, but I guess my ego wanted him to at least try. He told a mutual friend I just stopped talking to him and did him a favour, that he won’t cause me any trouble. I’m struggling as I don’t understand how he can be so care free. I’m angry that I made it easy for him, I’m hurting because, he used me, because although I ignore him in the gym, I have to see him!!! Because he lied in the most awful way, because in the end he didn’t even try like I know he has done with other women in his past! I am successfull and get so much attention at the gym and he knows that, yet he picked a woman who well is althogether strange and owman he told me was ugly… I’m confused! He just switched off, I understand all the facts, but I must have been even more worthelss to not even be worth fighting for?

    • Candice,
      I thank you for sharing. I just got back from a hella trip into the city and am on ‘fumes’ as I’m writing this. I need a bit of a nap and when I wake up I will respond. Hang in there…the cognitive dissonance is normal…will communicate with you soon.
      ~Betty

    • As promised Candice, I am sorry it took me a lil longer to reply; however I don’t know enough about your story to rubber stamp him a narc as jerks can do some shady things as well; however, given you’re here, I will answer AS IF he were a narc.

      Candice you shared:

      “I don’t understand how he could do this and also why he never fought for me, I don’t want him, but I guess my ego wanted him to at least try.”

      I have found that once we understand what this is, oftentimes after replaying the tapes we do find that a real relationship based on the things healthy relationships are based on never existed. We also discover we were dealing with someone who was presenting the false self and therefore, we might find an inner conflict concluding we ‘loved’ someone who really did not exist as they never showed their real selves to us. I am not sure that is real love even if the feelings we had were real. That idea alone can cause a lot of cognitive dissonance…”Was it love?”…I think you’re on the right path understanding that while the situation sucked big time, it’s our EGO that’s messing with us. We’ve been brought up on the fairytale and yes…they’re supposed to NEED us and be near death at the thought we might actually be out the door…NEVER are they supposed to just drop us without so much as a second thought…and closure!!! What ever happened to CLOSURE and “BABY I’M SORRY?”…Ego is bruised, it will take some time…

      Additionally you shared:

      “He told a mutual friend I just stopped talking to him and did him a favour, that he won’t cause me any trouble. I’m struggling as I don’t understand how he can be so care free.”

      Narcissists never attach or bond Candice, they don’t love (ANYONE) nor do they feel remorse or empathy…that’s how they are able to detach so easily without blinking. This has nothing to do with you any moreso than it has to do with the ex wife, the new woman or even the other two or three that more than likely exist you don’t know about. It’s got nothing to do with you it’s what they do. They need people to feed off of for identity and their own ego. It is what it is that is the part I would suggest you try to own even though it’s very hard to comprehend. I really really understand how hard it is. As per sharing with a mutual friend, it is typical they have to maintain their own image, they’ll smear you and talk trash if it makes them look good. Try not to bite or keep it going. Oftentimes we feel the need to ‘right’ ourselves, or shout from the rooftops and let the world know what dirt bags they are. Try to resist the temptation, it can and often does snowball and you’ll be caught up in the he/said – she/said and this serves to feed them and also serves as indirect ‘contact’…simply refuse to engage. If someone approaches you with a tale of what he’s said, simply share it’s unfortunate he’s elected to kiss and tell but you wish to maintain your integrity and really do not wish to engage then change the subject…SMILE…let ’em wonder….do not engage.

      You expressed:

      “I’m angry that I made it easy for him, I’m hurting because, he used me, because although I ignore him in the gym, I have to see him!!!”

      You’re ahead of the game here Candice at least you can express what you are feeling, so many of us were left catatonic. Expect the feelings to cycle up and down and yes, there may even be some sadness and pain…I rather appreciated the ‘anger’ hated the ‘pain’ part but you will get through it. I find that in some cases this type of break-up brings up all other kinds of issues…might turn out to be a whole revamping of life and how we approach it…many have had a weeding out process, a ‘cleaning out of the closet’ so to speak.

      You also shared:

      “Because he lied in the most awful way, because in the end he didn’t even try like I know he has done with other women in his past!”

      How do you know this? Because he told you? Candice, don’t compare yourself. With a narcissist it’s all about image…No one ever knows the true story…again for re-assurance, this lunacy…it’s so not about you…the man has issues…

      In response to:

      “I am successfull and get so much attention at the gym and he knows that, yet he picked a woman who well is althogether strange and owman he told me was ugly… I’m confused! He just switched off, I understand all the facts, but I must have been even more worthelss to not even be worth fighting for?”

      NO! You are not worthless. One thing I will share…Don’t ever look to the outside to find your value…You must find your own value for yourself on your terms don’t ever let someone outside do that for you…NEVER…it’s the FIRST step to getting lost! Simplified Candice, because you say you ‘understand’ although I believe it takes time to really UNDERSTAND all of this…it’s not about you Candice, I don’t know you but I’d place my wager not a damn thing wrong with you other than you got caught up. Go through the motions, take the time you need to heal, understand that this might be a more challenging cluster phuck, but you will get through it. This man is DAMAGED as in beyond repair IF you’ve done your homework and read up and believe he’s a narc, and even if he isn’t….what he did was a really shitty thing to do and either way, he’s not worth your going nuts over even though for a time it’s inevitable.

      If I can answer anymore for you or you need to vent, you feel free to post in the Ask Betty section and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible. You hang in there, you’re not crazy he is.

      Best wishes to you…

      ~Betty

    • Candice,
      Sorry to hear you’ve been bitten by a narc. I have in hindsight learned a few things about MYself and the whole ‘process’ and the healing, and the pain, and the anger, and the rage and the WTF’s…if you are open to it, hear me out…

      Yes what they did was SHITTY!
      Yes, they are disordered…
      experts believe they are incurable.

      YOU, ME, anyone who is normal is POWERLESS over this…

      It stings like hell to arrive at the realization that we’ve been used.

      We can’t comprehend how in the blink of an eye they can just up and run, especially after all that you shared (whatever that was – in hindsight CRUMBS!)

      This is about ego and control…yours AND his…it was a dance…

      We all have egos and we all have our own lil tug of war with control from time to time…

      We won’t have the last word on this…

      They get the last bark…

      There won’t be a ‘sorry’ and if there is, it’s only to pull you back in to dance in the midst of insanity once more…

      Do your best to release and let go…

      Don’t get caught up in the drama of figuring them out…

      You can’t ever reason or rationalize crazy and therefore in trying to do so, you hypothetically could end up ‘trying’ for the rest of your life…because if you can’t reason or rationalize something then if you try to when does it end?

      Learn what you have to in order to validate yourself…

      There WAS nor IS there anything you can do about it…

      You can only heal and save you…

      It truly does SUCK…

      But the only power we have is power and ownership of self…

      Get yourself back…get out there, don’t get caught up in the caught up…

      Take the time you need to mourn, grieve, and heal…

      Don’t think he’s treating the next one better – he’s not…appearances are deceiving…

      If you have certain things you need to improve – work on them…

      Don’t get stuck on trying to one up or get him to see the error of his ways…

      They lack remorse…

      Walking dead is dead…can’t bring them back to life…

      Thank God you are alive…

      Live life…

      BUT figure out what made you vulnerable…

      All the best…
      Betty

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