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)
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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:
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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…