Recovering From Narcissistic Abuse: 12 Things that Helped Me the Most

healing from a narcissist

After my relationship with Narcissist #1 ended, I was in shock.  I didn’t see it coming at all. I knew nothing about Narcissists, and I didn’t have anyone around that knew a lot about Narcissists either–including therapists. I was getting a lot of bad advice such as, “get over it,” or that he was a “selfish assh*le,” but I knew deep down what he was more than “just” a liar and a cheater, and that what I was going through was more than the breakup blues.

My relationship didn’t run the standard course of a Narcissistic relationship (idealize–devalue–discard), there was no “devalue” phase in my relationship, at least not to my face.  And there wasn’t a “discard” phase either.  He was Prince Charming the whole time we were together–until I accidentally stumbled upon his double life, which was so over-the-top there was no way he explain his way out of it.  I was devastated, and he was totally nonchalant.  Three hours earlier we’d been discussing this business that we were going to open together, and the house that we were going to buy.  I was floored at how little he seemed to care about our breakup.   It was though he was upset with me for finding out the truth about him than anything.

I couldn’t get over the fact that our relationship seemed to mean nothing to him, when three hours before we were getting along famously, planning to start a business together and buy the property that we were living in.  I felt like I was losing not only my best friend, but the best thing that had ever happened to me.  I just couldn’t understand how I felt this intense connection, and that we had so much in common and he didn’t seem bothered that he’d never see me again. I felt like I had been shoved off a boat into a cold, dark ocean and was trying to figure out how I got here, catch my breath and start treading water all at the same time.

Over the next few days, I dug and dug into his email, into his Facebook account, into anything that I could get access to.  The more I found, the more my suspicions were reenforced that the person I was dealing had more than just bad behavior–his behavior was so unnecessarily malicious, but I couldn’t figure out why.  All of his lies and the level of his deceit just seemed like such a big, hateful  fu*k you.  After all, he was the one that wanted a monogamous relationship, not me–I was fresh out of a divorce, and wasn’t ready to get seriously involved with anyone.  Outside of being incredibly hurtful, all his cheating, lies, and resentment was just so…bizarre.

In an attempt to understand how he seemed to hate me so much, but pretend to be my ultimate man, I contacted his ex wife on Facebook.  She was gracious enough to talk to me, and I told her what had happened between us, and that I was contacting her for some clarity, or to talk, or something–I wasn’t really sure–I was just feeling so lost.  She explained that one week after they got married he got fired from his job, and seemed to want to be a kept man.  A few weeks later, some friends of hers told her that they’d seen him on multiple dating sites, and while he denied it, she later caught him “sex camming” with people on the internet.  Three months into their relationship she filed for a divorce. She said that she told him he could stay at her house (which is where they were living) until he could find a place of his own, but that she was going to move on with her life.  She started dating other people, and when he found out, he went nuts and started throwing her stuff out onto the lawn! (Of course in his version, she was bipolar, cheating on him and an alcoholic…poor him.)

All of my questions about where the relationship went wrong, and why he hated me suddenly became very clear.  He was a scam artist, and the scam wasn’t paying out as fast as he’d hoped. The more I began to dig around on the internet and in his email, I began to really see his total lack of empathy and complete lack of regard (he was using my pet name for him as his screen name on these dating sites!)–and then I began to wonder just who in the hell I’d spent the past 18 months with…and the thought of what the answer was terrified me. The best advice I got during this time was from her, and that advice was to “run far and fast and never look back.”  Which I did.

Like most people, I turned to google to try and make sense of it all.  I read a lot of things on Narcissism, and Sociopaths, and the more I read, the more things made sense.  However, I was left feeling incredibly broken, and for a long while I was scared that I would never recover.  I was having nightmares, and would wake up screaming or crying.  I became suspicious of everyone–including my friends and family, and wondered who else in my life had some sort of hidden agenda.  My self-esteem was shattered, and I it took me a long time to feel attractive and worthy.  I know now that I probably had PTSD from what happened to me, and I wish I could go back in time and give the broken me a big hug, and tell her that she’ll get through this, and to just hang in there.  Since I can’t do that, my goal is to share everything I’ve learned while going through all that with the hopes that it can help you.

Out of everything I did, here’s what helped me to recover from Narcissistic Abuse the most:

1. Figure out what you need. If you just got out of a relationship with a Narcissist, then it’s important that you realize you are going through a lot more than just a bad breakup. You just went through emotional hell, and are most likely feeling shell-shocked and mind fu*ked–and that’s normal. Right now the biggest thing you can do for yourself is to think about what you need in order to support yourself in order to make healing possible.  Will being around other people help or not help?  Would being on some anti-anxiety, or anti-depressant medication help?  Do you find journaling a good outlet?

Think about what you need to support yourself emotionally right now, and then don’t be afraid to ask your support system to help you in those areas. (If you struggle with codependency issues, this part might be hard for you, as we are the ones that are so used to taking care of other people–but consider this a good opportunity to learn how to ask for help!)  If you don’t have a good support system that understands what you are going through, then I recommend finding one.  There are lots of support groups online.  Here’s a link to mine, and I recommend that you join a few in order to find one that is the best fit for you.

2. Creating my “Buddha Board.”  My Buddha Board was the first thing that I created in order to capture, and remind myself of the mindset that I wanted to have.  I had it in my bedroom for awhile so I could see it first thing in the morning, and the last thing at night. This board has brought me a tremendous amount of peace over the years, and it’s one of the few items that I brought with me when I moved from New Mexico to Michigan.

3. Designate a color to remind yourself that you are loved.  I was feeling really down one morning, and thought to myself that I was tired of being disrespected and feeling used and unloved.  I then realized that I needed to take charge of the situation, and start respecting and loving myself.  Since I am a very visual person, I decided that I needed a visual reminder that I was loved, and that I mattered.  I declared the color red as my reminder color, and went out that day and bought some red towels, so when I got out of the shower I could give myself a hug.  Maybe that sounds kinda lame, but it was a small thing that reminded me every day that I was loved, and knowing that made me smile–and at that point in my life, I needed all the smiles I could get.  I started telling my friends about my color and what it was about, and they began giving me items that were red too.

4. Affirmations.  The worst part of my day was right after I woke up.  I was having nightmares that were so bad I was waking up screaming or crying.  If I wasn’t waking up that way, I was waking up with an intense “heavy” feeling of having to carry all this emotional weight with me all day.  I couldn’t shake the feeling of a tremendous sense of loss and sadness. I decided to take some flashcards and write an inspirational quote, or some sort of reminder on each one.  (Some of the cards said, “The best revenge is a good life,” “You can do this,” “Learn what you can from this, and shake off the rest,” “Be kind to yourself,” “Follow your peace.”) I’d go through these cards before I went to bed, and then again a few times in the morning. They really helped to remind me of the mindset that I wanted to develop, and to find the strength I knew I needed to tap into.

5. Circling the wagons.  Find your support people.  I ended up calling my mom, who lives several states away, and she (thankfully) was able to come out and stay with me for almost two months. I also had a few friends that I’d told my story to, and even though I wasn’t sure I could trust them, as I didn’t trust anybody at that point, there were there for me.  (Although I’m not really sure that any of them believed I was really involved with a Sociopath/Narcissist, as most of society thinks of Charles Manson when they think of a Sociopath/Narcissist.)  I even ended up moving in with one for awhile.  Don’t be afraid to lean on those key people that you do trust, and sometimes those people are found through support groups.

6. Counseling.  A good counselor can really work wonders.  Try to find one that has experience with Narcissistic abuse, and/or emotional/psychological abuse.  It’s understandable if you just want to shut down and not talk about what happened to you. Many victims (myself included) feel a lot of shame and embarrassment about what happened to them.  Please try to keep in mind that the Narcissist should be the one to be embarrassed and ashamed by their behavior, not you.  Sometimes finding a good therapist can be difficult.  Don’t be afraid to try out more than one–especially if you don’t feel a connection with them.  Most domestic violence centers also offer free or low cost counseling, as emotional and psychological abuse is abuse, and is considered a form of domestic violence.

7. Make a Doctor’s appointment. If you are feeling severely depressed, or suicidal, please get help now.  What you went through was hard enough, you don’t need the added burden of depression or anxiety.  Consider making an appointment with a psychiatrist or a psychiatric nurse practitioner who is familiar with Narcissistic abuse. There are medications you can take to help with the anxiety and depression.  There is no shame in this, and you need to do what you need to do in order to cope. (This is something I wished I done a lot sooner than I did!)

8. Reclaim your power.  The first few months after finding out the truth, and getting readjusted to my new life were the hardest.  I had a hell of a time just getting out of bed and into the shower.  I remember one day having to tell myself out loud to get out of bed–and to move my right leg off the side of the bed, and then my left leg, and to march my body into the shower.  I was at such a low point that morning, and then something in me clicked. I’d realized that he’d already taken so much from me, that I wasn’t going to give him anymore power to hurt me–that I needed to reclaim my thoughts and emotions, and get busy making a life that I loved.

9. Create a Vision Board.  If you are feeling anything like I felt, then maybe you feel like your life just shattered into a thousand tiny pieces, and you are left struggling with how to put them all back together.  One cool thing about your life shattering like that is that you can assemble a new life, and you only have to pick up the pieces that you want.  To get an idea of what I wanted my new life to be like, I created a vision board.  A vision board is where you search for images and words that describe what you want in your life. It could be images or words that describe people, places, things, or ideas.   (There is no wrong way to make a vision board–just enjoy the process! Some of the things that I put on my board were images of lakes, images of a woman writing, of being a nurse and in a job that I enjoy, and encouraging and empowering other people.) After you find all these things, you simply tape them onto either a large sheet of paper or a poster board. You want to place the board somewhere that you’ll see it everyday.  When you do see it, try to take some time and really feel how having those certain items in your life would feel.  A vision board helps you to define an ideal future, and the more you focus on that, the more inclined you are to steer your life in that direction.  Fast forward four years, and I am living the exact life I had on my vision board!

10. Educate yourself.  What just happened was not your fault. Let me repeat, it was not your fault.  There’s nothing that you did or didn’t do that would have changed things. Your Narcissist may have blamed you for everything, but the reality is that they don’t lie, cheat or steal for the same reasons normal people do. Everything they do is to feed their ever-hungry ego, and unfortunately that means destroying a lot of other people with their bad behavior.  I found that the more I read up on Narcissism, the more it helped me to really put down the idea that I was somehow at partial fault for our relationship ending.  Having the words to describe what happened, was also incredibly helpful.  I’ve had several run-ins with Narcissists over the years, and I now that I know the red flags to watch out for, I feel really confident that I’ll be able to keep them out of my life once I spot them!

11. Support Groups. There are tons of support groups out there, both online and in person.  (If you are going to join one on Facebook, you may want to consider creating a fake profile just to participate in the groups, because even though most of the groups are “closed” or “secret” they still show up as groups that you are a member of–and other people can see that you are a member, although they can’t see what  you are posting.) Here is a link to the support group I started, although I’ve found that it really helps to join a few.

12. Help others.  I’ve found that when I’m having tremendous amounts of emotional pain in my life that it really helps to go help someone else.  I guess it’s a way of putting aside all my issues, and helping someone else with theirs.  I know you probably don’t feel like showering, let alone volunteering, but it really does feel good to get out of your own pain and focus on other people for awhile.

13. Gratitude. When your world is falling apart around you, it’s understandable that your focus would be on everything that’s not working.  But the reality is that there is a lot of amazingly wonderful things that are going on in your life.  Try to take some time on a daily basis and think about ten or so things that you are grateful for.  Did you shower with clean water this morning?  Be grateful for that–a few small percentage of the world has that luxury. Do you clothes in your closet, your health, or food in your fridge?  Again, many people don’t even have that.  Really visualize these things, and let the gratitude that you have for them wash over you.  Nothing puts a stop to fear and stress like gratitude.  

Recovering from Narcissistic abuse isn’t easy or quick, but it is possible, and it is possible to create an even better life for yourself than the one you had before.

Just remember that you are not alone in your healing.  Please keep me posted on what’s worked for you, and how your healing is coming along.  If there’s anything I can do, of you just want someone to listen, don’t hesitate to contact me. Take care, and (((hugs))) to you.

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Dana

I am a self-help junkie, former advocate for victims of domestic violence, current psychiatric RN, as well as being a recovering victim of Narcissistic abuse.

My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life.

Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics.

It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.
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About Dana 280 Articles
I am a self-help junkie, former advocate for victims of domestic violence, current psychiatric RN, as well as being a recovering victim of Narcissistic abuse. My goal is to educate, empower, and inspire other abuse victims in understanding more about what happened to them (and how to prevent it from happening again), as well as how to go on and rebuild an amazing life. Even though I have had a lot of "in the trenches" experience with highly manipulative people of all kinds, I consider myself to be a student of Narcissism, mindset, motivation, healing, and life in general, and am by no means an expert on any of these topics. It's for these reasons, that when you are reading my information that I encourage you to hold to what helps, and let the rest go.

31 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for this article and for this site. I saw the mask come off my narcissist just slightly over a week ago – and it happened to occur during a time when I was recovering from a pretty serious surgery. It was almost like she fed on my weakness and enjoyed hurting me when I was already down. And all that time I had been working so hard to try and win her love back, because I thought I was to blame for our problems. It’s been hard to eat and I can’t sleep. I wake up at 3 or 4 am almost every morning and I’m so sad, I usually just get up and go for walks in my neighborhood. At least now with these articles, I know what I was dealing with. She meets every single criterion for being a covert narcissist. Every single one. It is frightening how well that list describes her. I’m going no contact. Thanks so much for the help. I will keep reading this site and my heart goes out to everyone who is going through this.

  2. Hi there,

    I am so sorry that she unmasked herself right when you were going thru a tough time. These people are so cold and calloused, it’s hard to believe they even exist–until you encounter one. …If you would like some support through all this, please consider joining a support group. I think most people find them very helpful, here is a link to mine, but there are many more out there, and you may want to join a few to see which ones you resonate best with you. (((hugs)))

    http://www.facebook.com/groups/NarcissistSupport
    (This is a closed group, which means your Facebook friends can’t see what you are posting, but they can see that you are in the group. If that bothers you, you can always create a fake account that you use just to participate in support groups with–just a thought.) 🙂

  3. Thanks. I did as you suggested and joined the group. I did create a fake account. 🙂 The last thing on earth I want is to have this person who treated me like crap get some kind of joy of seeing me on some support group having to recover from her. Talk about food for the Narcissist ego! I look forward to interacting with people on the site and hearing their stories.

  4. Dana,

    Thank you for making this site and for making all the videos! I have been listening to them non-stop for the past few days. I am in the medical field too and knew about NPD, BPD, Antisocial, etc long before I knew I was in a relationship with one. But in desperately trying to figure out what had happened in the aftermath, I could never say he had one or another diagnosis, bc while he fit some criteria, he didn’t meet the criteria exactly. And I was left so perplexed and bewildered. A friend led me to the PsychopathFree.com website and I read the book. It was very helpful in understanding the deranged dynamic that happens in these relationships. But I’ve really loved the expanded explanations you’ve offered. The thing I didn’t understand before was that NPD’s come in all shades on the spectrum and don’t necessarily display all the signs. I was in a relationship with a narcissist for 7 YEARS before I married him and another year after that before the “mask (completely) fell”. (Of course looking back now, there were definitely signs, but no one in my family or I could ever imagine things would have gone the way they did with him. None of us knew he was capable of behaving the way he did). It’s so humiliating. Blinding. Dumbfounding. Once we had children he became a completely different person. So cruel and mean. And eventually violent and destructive. He definitely has a problem with alcohol and so I often just chalked it up to that. We separated in 2012, divorced in 2013 and I’m STILL reeling and trying to make sense of what the hell happened!!! It is a relief to know that you are so well versed in this pathology and are trying to get the info out. It’s so important! Thank you!

    I am up tonight digging thru your information trying to get help in the moving on. He’s long since moved on. Even got his new girlfriend pregnant after only having just met her. Now she lives with him in my old house, with so much of my old stuff. He even has the wedding vase that we drank out of (as a symbol of our union) next to their TV. I can not understand this?? (I thought he kept that vase a momento, something to remember our beautiful wedding and “soul-connection” by). All the furniture is stuff we picked out together in very “happy” times. I can not understand how he feels absolutely no disgust in just replacing me and I can’t shake what an ENORMOUS fool I’ve been to think that he really loved me all those years. With all that commitment and all those words. I just feel like the biggest fool. Do I keep the ring that for me was such an enormously happy, amazing, words-cannot-describe-the-love-and-bond-I-felt-when-he-gave-it-to-me token? All the memories I kept of our relationship (photo albums, etc) are packed away into a box in my garage. And I just wonder… what do I do with this box? Was it all fake?? Really?? Every, single, last thing? None of it was real??? How does one recover from such a devastating nightmare?

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for your efforts. You are pioneering an enormously important movement that I hope gains some major momentum soon.

    Much love and light to you!!!

  5. Dear Loved and Valued (love the name you chose by the way),

    I love the book Psychopath Free. It really helped to give me a ton of clarity, and was in many ways the light that guided me to the clarity and closure I needed.

    I’m sorry you got tangled up with this person. Please don’t feel that any of this is your fault. Highly manipulative people are just that: highly manipulative. Normal, decent people (who don’t know the red flags) don’t see them coming. I know it’s hard to wrap your mind around the possibility that nothing in your relationship was real to him. I really do get the pain in that…all too well. :/

    Healing is such an individual things, but what really helped me to recover from this nightmare was to squeeze all the lessons I could out of these experiences, and use them to fuel my personal growth as well as to help others.

    I’m excited for this next chapter in your life, and hope you can focus your pain of what you don’t want in your life into helping you get clarity on what you do want and then pouring your energy into making that happen. <3

    Sending light, love, and (((hugs))) your way as well.

  6. thank you for your website. I too have a degree in Nursing, but at this time I am not in the field. I had to get divorced from an abusive sociopath and my sister is a narcissist. I can’t believe at one time I actually thought these people loved me. now I see the reality of it and it really hurts.

    I believe there is a deep spiritual root to a lot of this. I think the abusers can sense a good soul and they manipulate their victims to get their trust first and then they go in for the kill.

    In the bible, it says that we are not fighting flesh and blood but principalities and powers of wickedness in high places. I actually believe my X was possessed. He said he wanted to kill me because that way he was doing “god’s will”.

    This is very sick and demonic. I know some of what I am saying might sound crazy to some people, but I actually lived this.

    Thank the real God almighty that He shows us a way of the oppression and wants to set us free from the torment of these abusers.

    God bless you all.

    Mary

  7. Hi – wow, this site is really really helpful. I’m just reeling from being “discarded” for the second time by the same guy in a year, this is after weeks of anger over small things, then withdrawal of affection. When I try to talk each time he gets angry with me, it’s always my fault and very rarely will he admit any part in it. I suspect another woman (again) and before he was with me he did the same thing to his previous girlfriend several times. The final straw for him this time is that I contacted his ex-wife to find out if she could throw any light on why he is angry all the time. When I told him I was going to meet her, he flew into a complete rage and stormed out of my house. I offered to cancel the meeting to placate him but he still said it was over between us as he spent “21 years getting that woman out of my life” and he doesn’t want me discussing his relationship with her (his relationship, not ours!). I do get that but my intentions were good. He is now cold and withdrawn. I know he had a difficult childhood and I have put so much effort into trying to understand him and adapt my behaviour to keep him happy. Believe it or not, I am a successful businesswoman in my early fifties with lots of friends and yet, I have put up with such shit from him, even down to tolerating him seeing other women that I now wonder what is wrong with me! I even suggested that we go to sex parties instead so that he could get his need for variety there. As I am writing all this, I find it unbelievable that I have wasted so much of my emotional energy on this guy. I still find it difficult to let go though, I want to help him because I think he is so emotionally damaged he will never be truly happy unless he gets some help.

  8. Hi there,

    I’m glad you are finding the site so helpful. I think you’ll find that the more you read the stories of others (I highly recommend joining the support group: http://www.NarcissistSupport.com/forum), the more you will see your own reflected back at you. At the same time, I think you will also see a lot of yourself in the other members. …I know that you want him to get help, but you can only lead a horse to water–you can’t make it drink, and you for sure can’t carry the horse to the water (which is what you are wanting to do), as you will only break your back to help the horse get what it doesn’t want. <3

  9. I work in the same office with a guy that was Mr. Jeckel/Hyde. I knew he was different but could never put my finger on it. We had absolutely nothing in common. He was charming around other people but never with me. I’m Mr. Nice guy…. too nice. I have actually developed hip joint pain and lower back pain from just being around him. I know because last year he was gone on vacation for a couple of weeks and I was pain free for the first time in 3 years. In working with a Chiropractor he asked if I had ever injured by back at any time. No I hadn’t. I was being sucked dry of my energy. A radio program was reading Dr. Orloft’s 5 signs of Narcissism and Mr. Hyde had all 5 of them. He is very covert. After working in the same office for 8 years I had to change my interactions with him. He was giving me the silent treatment for my telling him what a jerk he was after one of his weird stories. After 2 weeks my pain started fading, and after 4 weeks I guess he thought it was OK to begin to drain me again. But instead of Listening to him I just turned around and walked away. And tried to act like I was angry with him. Ignoring him, almost like being mean(which i’m not) It was a struggle for me but after 3 months I now I pretty much ignor him, no cheery Goodmorning, and I just leave when I’m done at night. Everything I’ve read about NPD is as though my Mr. Hyde was personally interviewed for the article. Many thanks for the videos and information. Believe it or not there is a scripture that talks about Narcissists as a sign of the last days. 2 Timothy 1-5 What do you think?

  10. I think that Narcissists and people with really destructive behavior have been around since the beginning of time, and they will probably also be here until the end of time as well. …Look at the story of Cain and Able.

    I’m not quite sure what I think about NPD/ASPD people being a sign of the last days, but I have to say that I do think something much bigger than we realize is going on. …When I started this site, I didn’t expect many people to be reading my blog or watching my videos. I was very wrong about that. Between the two, I get about 200,000 visitors a month–and that number just keeps going up. Seeing all the people coming here gave me a mix of feelings–both happy and sad. Happy that they were realizing that they weren’t alone and that together we could help each other, but sad (and TOTALLY overwhelmed) that there were so many hurting people out there.

  11. Hello Dana, I am so grateful to have stumbled onto your you tube videos and your website here. I am at my wits end. I don’t know how to completely let go of my narc ex. We were together, on and off for 10 years and although there were many signs of his narcissistic illness along the way, I chose to ignore them. I really didn’t know any better. INever in my wildess dreams could I believe that there are such people, who can’t really feel a true connection with another human being. He fooled me though! And I am very smart, I have an MBA, good job, etc. After his lying and cheating came to light, I had enough and told him that I just wanted to be friends, he stated that he has no interest in having a platonic relationship with me but the trust was gone (I had no clue what he was doing behind my back), and I could no longer share a bed with him. When he couldn’t get his way, he proceeded to try an harm me with slander, threats, demeaning words that hurt me to the core. I couldn’t understand how he could be so cruel. Anytime he asked me for help, I helped him, because that is what you do for people that you care about. But now I know that I was being used. I had loaned him 20k to help him rescue his failing business and of course had him sign a promissory note. He ended up loosing his job and decided that he couldn’t pay me anymore. Like you, I wanted to play nice (be friends), so that he would continue to pay any amount that he could afford, but he somehow is dictating when and what he will pay. I had thought of just forgiving the balance of the loan so that I can go “no contact” but I feel like he will be getting ‘free’ money, almost like stealing it from me….the money is actually not an issue for me, it’s the principle of the thing. He lied, he cheated, he hurt me deeply, and the only thing I have left is this loan that he claims he plans to pay some amount of money each month. Should I forgive the balance of the loan, for my sake? Maybe you can use this question on your YouTube show? I have good days and bad days. I miss the idea of what we were in the beginning and I feel paralyzed and have felt this way for a very long time. He has a new girlfriend and I am okay with it but he still owns a peice of my heart and I don’t know how to wake up and realize that it was all a con job. Now that I can look back with some level of objectivity, I can see that I was the perfect victim, a giver, a woman who is nurturing and forgiving. PLEASE HELP. I can’t come to the realization that he never really cared for me and it still hurts even though it’s been three years since we were last together.

  12. Thank you for this article. I myself didn’t know so much about narcissism until I was put in a situation where I couldn’t make sense of anything.

    I was supposed to be married this last November 2015. The whole wedding was prepared, family would be flying in and I was wrapping things up at work for the few weeks I would have been away. 2 weeks before my wedding, a woman calls me and tells me about a whole relationship she had been having with my fiancé. Long story short, I had to cancel my wedding at the last minute, face all my friends and family and deal with the loss of my love. All this just 2 weeks before what was supposed to be the happiest day of my life.

    The lies he stirred up to defend his behavior and the extent and detail of his false stories was unbelievable. He begged and begged to continue on with the marriage but I couldn’t start a life with someone I didn’t even know. He had manipulated our entire relationship and was living a completely different life behind my back. I’m mortified and humiliated and having to face everyone was the hardest part.

    I struggle every day because it’s so fresh and the ‘no contact’ rule has only recently come into play since we had to clear up all our wedding finances and separations… I know that’s an excuse since it was so hard to stop communication with him. Reading about narcissistic abuse makes me feel worse sometimes because I consider myself a every strong woman, but even strong women are human I suppose.

    In hindsight, I guess I dodged a bullet by finding out about his double life and making the decision to walk away before marrying him, but it doesn’t feel like a blessing yet at all. I feel miserable, ashamed that I miss him and humiliated. My self esteem is at an all time low and trying to see a sunny future is difficult since it is so fresh. Reading about other victims (makes me feel weird even using that word) does however give me a sense of strength to know that I’m not alone, yet I know the road to healing is long and I just have to believe.

    This is my first time posting a comment online about anything! Feels kind of healing in itself.

  13. You so did the right thing by calling the wedding off. I’m sure it was devastating and hard on many different levels–but the fact that you held to your healthy standards for a partner is a great sign! The pain you are feeling will pass–it really will. There is NO WAY you could have had a healthy marriage with a man who lies, cheats, and manipulates. Moving forward with him would have caused you a TON of pain in the long run. …If you haven’t already joined the support group, you may want to consider doing so–I think you’ll find it to be very validating and healing: http://www.NarcissistSupport.com/forum

  14. I would often fantasize about my ex, about him seeing that he didn’t hurt me, that I’d moved on. THese daydreams wer constant through my days. I didn’t even know he was a narc until a few days ago. I really thought I was just unworthy of his love even though I knew he was a worthless individual that would never amount to anything. He would often ask me why I was with him and my answer was always “I see potential”. The relationship started when I was 16 years old. He gave me a pager and forced me to call him everytime he paged. It was crazy but I did it and I felt like that was love. He would go to jail for risk seeking behaviours (stealing cars and so on) and I even ran up my mom’s phone bill to speak with him collect. If I was sick he didn’t care, if I was hurt he didn’t care or he would pretend he did in order to maintain power over me if I saw his mask slipping. In the final year (I was with him for 4 years) of our “relationship” he was often gone for weeks and days at a time. I would seek him out, even going to his relatives to feel close to him. I finally started to move on from him and his manipulative behaviors. I found a really nice man that treated me like a princess. He was gone for several weeks and this man was driving me home when I saw that he was waiting in the lobby of my building. I was freaked out but I told him I wanted to move on, that this new man wanted a future with me (he really did and he really was a nice person). He went to the vehicle of my new interest and had words and then he lashed out at me. We went for a talk where I told him that I wanted stability I was tired of the games. I was only 20 years old. I was tired of the constant manipulation tactics, the pretending. At this stage I recognized that he wouldn’t be completely faithful and he wouldn’t be what I needed but I still held out the hope because I really loved him. I gave him my virginity and my heart. He was hesitant when he told me he wanted to work it out. Then he left again and was gone. I realized he was using me to look good in front of his lower class relatives. I was pretty and well spoken while he was from the gutter. He could give the appearance of being “better than them” by bringing me around. All the while I’m sure he had girls on the side to stroke his ego. I kept trying to show him I loved him and giving him everything he asked for but that was never good enough. He would buy me stuff and then take it and break it or destroy it right in front of me. He kept doing the “ghosting” on me and I finally told him to “f off”. He came around one more time after that but he didn’t get let in to my building. I told him I had nothing else he could use me for and he needed to leave me alone! I didn’t hear from him after that. It felt like my arm was missing. I was so sick and hurt. I wanted him to come back and beg for my forgiveness and to resume the relationship. I started going out. A few times he would have his friends come to my house to check on me. They seem to have been his “help” in keeping me bound to him. I moved out of my place and took up with another man that wined and dined me and treated me like a queen until his mask fell off. He was a more blatant image of my narc! I got pregnant by this man and he was a MONSTER. While my ex had been cruel, giving and taking away affection and physically abusing me and my things, this particular man had the front of being “a good guy”. During my pregnancy I found out my ex had died and I went to the funeral. I wrote a letter and put it in his casket forgiving him and telling him everything I never got to say to his face the way I wanted. I put the note in his casket. I hoped doing this would bury the feeling and resentments I had towards him. I was the first person to his wake and the first person to his funeral. I found out that he had moved on from me to a new victim who was there when he died of walking pneumonia. She had a baby boy by a different man and was PREGNANT with my exes baby. She was pregnant two months before I was pregnant by my newer Narc. I was hurt by that! His family started to call me and request to spend time with me and I allowed it. After I had my baby I was emotionally spent from dealing with the previous relationship as well as the passive agressive tendencies of my child’d father. He left to reenter the military and I found a new man soon after. THis man was awesome but I didn’t know how to treat him. My dad was a type of passive agressive so i think my pain comes from this first relationship in my life. I got divorced from my husband and went back to my child’s father. We got married a week after my divorce! He was soon back up to his old tactics. Throughout the years with my first Narc I would daydream about showing him that he didn’t hurt me, that I’d moved on with another man so he could see that he had no effect on me. These daydreams persisted until a few days ago when I saw a video on soul ties. I brought clarity to me that that was what I was dealing with. I was so hurt. Then I got a video RIGHT AFTER in my recommened list about Narcissistic personality disorder. The symptoms fit my first Narc and daughter’s father to a TEE. I was so hurt. This is just the other day that I figured out about my first Narc. With my husband and child’s father I decided 4 years ago to get help because I couldn’t deal with him anymore. I was tired and exhausted. He is in the military and his officials had him go to testing and get counselling. We worked on our problems and for the most part it worked! WHile he was and still is having outbreaks every once in a while he is better. I don’t think he will be fully healed but we relate better and he is getting along better in the family structure. THe thing is with the daydreams about my ex and still fantasizing I never realized that this was dissassociation. He had me completely programmed, I feel. To the point where even at the funeral I was trying to find examples that he really loved me and was hurt about our break up through our former friends and his relatives. I was doing fine even having these daydreams but I didn’t get full clarity until the info about NPD, even though my husband was doing the same thing! My first Narc was ghosting often so I didn’t see him as much but with my husband we lived together so his tactics were constantly in my face. Now it’s been 14 years since the break up with my first Narc. I have finally figured out that he was a Narc and using me. This has caused me great distress. I also figured out that somehow I have a trauma bond to him that I was never able to fully break. I would NEVER want to be with him again but I am constantly thinking about his seeing that he never hurt me. I am praying and hoping to overcome the distress that has just come to the surface regarding this first relationship over the last week. I didn’t hurt to this great extent in a while since we were together. It has been 14 years and Im 34 years old with a husband, home, and great family but I now feel disturbed and like I never knew the first Narc at all. I know it’s because I didn’t but I still hurt. ANy tips or clarity on this situation would be helpful.

  15. I think I’m most hurt by the fact that now I understand he was NPD I realize that he didn’t care at all. THere was no love there and he was just using up his N supply (me and my doting). I never figured it out until recently and I feel disgusted, shame, and completely used all over again. These feelings were not evident before. I had the daydreams but I didn’t think they such a huge deal because I had “moved on”. I need help.

  16. Perhaps the hardest part of having a relationship with a Narcissist is that there is no closure. This can really leave an unsettled feeling ou are correct in thinking that you didn’t know him–because there was no “self,” no person there to truly get to know. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s the truth.

    At this point you could try doing some visualization exercises where you imagine yourself releasing the energy cords that are still attached from him to you. Or visualize surrounding your relationship or him in a bubble of white light and releasing it into the sky.

    …Since therapy has helped your current husband somewhat, I’d encourage you to spend as much time as you can in the moment building a good future. Lord knows you’ve really had a rocky road this far, focus on finding joy from here on out. (((HUGS)))

  17. My biggest help was when I started reading about other people’s experiences on this and other sites that randomly came across my Facebook feed via friends. That was when I realized….for the first time….that I was not alone, that the bizarre things I thought nobody would ever believe..are standard MO. I had no idea. It was validating, liberating, affirming, and encouraging. I don’t have the battle of others in that my abuser passed away, but as I still at times process the past thirty plus years and now have an explanation for things I could not previously make sense of.

  18. Yes, I think hearing the stories from others is so incredibly validating–as we all are basically telling different versions of the same story. There is a lot of peace that comes with knowing that we were’t over-reacting, or too sensitive, or crazy. (((HUGS))) to you. I wish you all the best in this next chapter in your life. <3

  19. Your story was amazing. I broke up with a guy who was narcissistic about 3 months ago. It was so weird but deft universal and divine. I found myself researching articles aboit narcissistic character and codependent people. I had never heard of either of the two. I just remember thinking after getting out of the relationship something was missimg there was knowledge I was not understanding so I could become free. I have been on the road per say of healing but I have learned so much about myself and people. My main thing is boundaries and learning to set healthy ones. I never was taught boundaries but to put others first. My parents are very religious and thing martyr is the way. Im glad Ive learned the the truth. Your blog was a sign Im on the right path. Im in nursing school and its amazing ypur a nurse I love the nurses. Love you girl! Thanks for sharing your hearts journey 🙂

  20. It’s been 4 years no-contact now from my narcissist ex wife, and I still care deeply for this person’s circumstances, even though I was chewed up and treated as disposable once she felt she deserved multiple male partners because of how elite she thought of her social standing. It is very hard never being able to say goodbye to this person in person after I left, due to the need to care for my own personal safety both from her and also from the mob she amassed on social media against me to do her proxy bidding (thus deniable agency). I experienced retaliation to myself when in social settings while trying to leave this person and deal with PTSD from the emotional abuse compounding the trauma. The ubiquity of mobile phones and social media make it impossible for me to set foot in my old social circles or city, because everyone (mostly white-knighting males) involved tried to “help” her track me down when I fled my home situation.

    Divorcing her meant divorcing all related social and professional connections. I have no idea what was told to them or what she might make up about me if she were given physical proximity to me without any witnesses. No one knows the real her, they only see an innocent perfect facade, the one I too fell for, just like them. I was not allowed to put a foot wrong regardless of what was done to me in my domestic servitude as a house husband (we took on completely reversed roles because of my belief in being supportive and my nonbelief in gendered marital roles) because she would broadcast any reply I made throughout our shared social and professional network via Facebook of evidence of me being a terrible husband. Even though I was filling the domestic roles, I experienced social putdowns in professional settings about the lack of respect I apparently had for her cooking and washing (?!!) and that I would be soon homeless (she owned the home). I dread what she may have done if she had caught me when leaving the house to protect the marital assets (all in her name), particularly given the narrative she developed in the prior months because no one would believe me. In private she would joke that I should commit suicide and that her cheating was my own fault. No one will know or believe me, so I can’t even talk about it to people who mutually know us. And besides, I don’t want to hurt her professional future or public reputation, because I only ever wanted her to succeed.

    I still hide here in a remote country location hundreds of kilometres away, and would not set foot in the city where I lived with her. I cannot post under a real name because of the repercussions that might arise. I never made a settlement for marital assets out of doing the right thing and am currently building myself up from scratch. I don’t think I can ever risk exposing myself to relationships again because I cannot risk putting myself in such a situation. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to caring for people.

  21. I am a 50yo male. My NPD came into my life and I truly fell in love. I gave her my heart my soul my all. In the beginning we shared so many wonderful moments. I believed that this was my soulmate and that I would love and live until the end with her. After about 6 months I noticed a few red flags but I merely passed them off as learning and growing. Then these little moments started to sting. Each one became more and more painful. She drank quite a lot but again I never put much thought into until I had to clean up after her night of vomiting. After a couple years we had some issues/ red flags that I again discounted yet we separated for a short time to see if we were meant to comeback together. I missed her so. I needed her. After we came back together we married a short time after that.
    I thought this would make her happy and so my true intentions: feelings toward her. But each following issue became more painful. She would trap me in the bedroom or closet.
    We were intimate once in the bath tube and after discussing a problem she held me in the tub not letting me out. I knew our problems were growing I was confused in love and in pain. She began devaluing our relationship. Wanting to spend more time drinking that’s pending it with me. No more date nights unless alcohol was around. Her mom knew of this yet would not help me try to get her help.
    Her own mom was having an affair on her dad. So I knew I had no support here either. Finally after blaming on her sons issues at school I finally walked away.
    I cry daily, I hurt, I’m trying to learn about just exactly what I was dealing with. My hearts broken and I will do my best to move on.

  22. Thank you so much for your courage to share. I was dating my ex for nearly a year and a half. It was a very tumultuous relationship. When he was loving, it was the most amazing feeling I felt like the luckiest girl! He is a CEO of a local hospital and is highly respected and liked. At first, I though his outburts were a result of his high-stress job or simply because of alcohol. But soon, I became very depressed and began to beleive that everything was my fault. We were supposed to go looking for rings this weekend but I found out he was seeing soomeone else. The two of us started communicated and we discovered he was lying to both of us. The other girl said she also recently learned that there is actually a third woman. 🙁 And, on the same day that I found this out, I was told by one of his family members that he was actually married three times. Not two, like I was led to believe. I was stupid enough to feel sorry for his failed marriages. I feel so blindsided. I never thought that someone of that intelligence (he has his doctorate)and stature could be so heartless. When I asked him to tell me the truth, he simply hung up on me. I am absolutely sick about this. I loved this man so much. It is heartbreaking to think it was such a lie. My faith is so important to me. It is so hard to understand.

  23. I’m so sorry you are going through this. I can relate to a lot of the hurt and heartache you feel. I know you are in a lot of pain, but you really dodged a bullet by not marrying this man. He has no moral character and would have only ever caused you hurt and heartache. …The book club book for this month is called “Psychopath Free” and if you’ve never read it before, I highly recommend it as I think you will really relate to a lot of what the book has to say, and it will help to make things make more sense: Psychopath Free by Jackson Mackenzie (((HUGS)))

  24. Thank you for this informative article, I have read many and I found this very helpful. The similarities between your story and mine is very interesting! I am still reeling after 7 months. I feel like it is a constant process of feeling okay, and then crashing again. Even now, I have crashed because my ex is now starting a relationship with somebody i know, to add insult to injury. There seems to be no remorse, no respect and no care for me, and I even feel that it is a final dig at me for exposing his lies. A truly despicable human being. I pressed your support group link but it is not working. I would love to join. Thank you so much 🙂

  25. Thanks Dana, your group has helped me to realize in a matter of days that I’ve been fooled by a sociopath and it helped me to write the best anti-love letter ever and go NO. He just tried the hoovering twice, so far so good. I’ve watched all your videos and sometimes I was laughing out loud about how stupid those creatures are in the end. Always the same storyline. Seems to me like they’ve all memorized the same lines 😂😂😂 it’s just ridiculous. Thanks very much!

  26. Hi Dana,

    Thanks for you very sensible and visual advice!

    I escaped a short term but emotionally abusive relationship with a narcissistic man in March this year.
    To this day i am astounded that I wasnt quite clued into what he was doing.

    We met in August/ September 2015. He appeared to be a high-achiever, intelligent, articulaye, well-informed and somewhat compatible.
    I was ‘love bombed’, contacting me frequently, brought into the family fold, ‘supported, befriended, declaring me to be his girlfriend among many other lovely ‘couple’ things for the first few months. We spent time together relatively normally.
    Things seemed to go along well, then suddenly in November I discovered his attempt to cheat. He went out of his way for a few weeks to ‘make it up to me’ and much of the love-bombing resumed. But, by December he became aloof, was putting me down, ignoring me, objectified me and subtly tying to tell me what to do, who I should talk to etc.
    Then finally when I really needed support at a time of multiple illnesses in my family, he didnt hesitate to calls things off, telling me to “call him in a few weeks when im feeling better”. We had planned Christmas together amd I had even helped buy gifts for his nieces amd nephews. I spent 2 weeks unable to eat and wondering what the hell happened.

    In January he resumed contact with me only to start a series of attempts to ‘stay friends’
    him seemingly comfused about his feelings for me. It turned out was really to keep me there for his own amusement, when he felt lonely or just incase the next someone fell through. One time he called me in tears, crying lonely. He feigned friendship by helping me with a few things (fixing tables etc) but when i turned to him for support, again he was uninterested and even had the nerve to tell me I couldn’t turn to turn to him anymore.

    I ended up finding a conversation with the women he had tried cheating with previously that went back to a time when we were still together.They were talking about buying land together and other more graphic things. He was also gloating about his contact with me.

    That day I rang him told him im done, walked out of his house and life. He made no effort to reconcile from there. I completely disconnected from him, no phone, no social media nothing.

    I heard/saw nothing ftom him until I went to watch my new soccer clubs mens game (he was a long time retired member) and he tried to approach me. He didnt even ask how I was, just rambled for a few minutes, and when I had uttered nothing futher than a hi, he walked away.
    I was spared for a few weeks then he contacted me again in April, posing as his housemate on facebook asking how the soccer was.

    Since then I havent heard a thing, and i certainly haven’t contacted him.
    After this experience i have almost complete inability to trust anyone now. I started to date a little again, made new social circles and met 1 or 2 people I thought may be compatible, even as friends. But these contacts have since faded away too. I become tired easily and am often unable to feel safe around many people.

    I can’t believe something relatively short-lived could cause so much destruction! Ive felt bewildered, confused, mind-boggled and edgy for months. My family and friends either cant or dont want to understand and its difficult to explain as it seems so ridiculous or far-fetched.
    I am moving on, with a new job, better able to support myself and relishing the few family, friends/acquaintances I have left, i still myself wanting to burn the memory of him out of my head!!

    I love your visual techniques and am wondering if you can suggest any other support groups to turn to?

  27. I was a very shy, uncertain young woman when I meet the narcissistic sociopath who dominated my life for the next 25 years. I had a well paid job in which I was very unhappy, had come from a middle-class background and from an emotionally distant and unsupportive family, and was hideously homesick – I was also physically very unwell, with undiagnosed endometriosis. She got her hooks into me when I approached the HR department of the organisation in which I worked. I was being sexually harassed by a colleague and I was scared stiff – being stalked by a man I’d only ever been polite to, someone well entrenched into the workplace environment in which I was a newcomer. All these toxic things – now I can’t believe how vulnerable I was and how everything and everyone seemed to conspire to put me in her path.

    Little by little my sociopath extracted all sorts of information from me about myself, my background. In what seemed a cold, uncaring, even hostile environment, I thought I’d found a friend. I was sexually totally inexperienced, but before I knew it, I was in a relationship with another woman. She had a husband whom she hated – she claimed he raped her, and I totally believed her. Suddenly I was the love of her life. I had no-one to talk to apart from her, and for the first time in my life, I thought I actually mattered to someone.

    The endometriosis turned out to be ovarian cancer and my self-esteem as a woman plummeted even further when I found out I would never have children. She reassured me that I had validity – and then she began chiselling every scrap of money she could from me. We bought property – I was no good with money, she said, so she took over the finances. Before I knew it, the townhouse I had was gone … sold to finance her into a business. She told me if I loved her, I’d support her the way she’d supported me emotionally. If I pressed the point, she would stop talking to me – for days on end. She and her children would leave the room when I entered it. I ended up eating meals in my bedroom because everyone would leave the table when I joined them. But it was my imagination, she said, I was seeing things that weren’t there. Had I taken my zoloft? Every time I raised a query – had I taken my zoloft? I took that zoloft religiously – it was prescribed after the workplace stalking – and it was one of the things that numbed me to what she was doing.

    Eventually she got all my superannuation – she’d signed a statutory declaration saying she would repay it, but that of course didn’t happen.

    Over the course of the next nearly two decades, I climbed the career ladder, jobs I hated but which paid well. We bought more property, but I lived on the smell of an oily rag – any personal expenditure was selfish of me. I was told. I used to cringe at the thought of spending anything on myself. I’d wanted to travel, to study more, to write but I couldn’t do any of those things. I bought second-hand clothes, borrowed books from the library rather than indulge myself by buying them, owned very little apart from the properties, which just guzzled up money. I saw no rent money from the properties – I believed her when she told me it was being recycled into mortgages. It was for our future, she said, and I should stop asking questions; I should trust her more, she would never let me down.

    At times I wondered why she and her children always had new clothes and material possessions, but I simply didn’t believe she could be doing anything untoward. Everything she said seemed so reasonable. I had to learn to manage my income better, she told me – the fact that most of it was going on mortgages, rates, insurances and maintenance meant nothing could be spent on me. When we sold property, she misled me about payout figures; turned out, she made a lot of extra money that way. But I believed her – I guess I was so far in, that not believing her would have been untenable. Now I torment myself with that knowledge – if I’d gone to a solicitor, I would have gotten something back as a defrauded business partner, but under the family law that prevailed at the time, my rights were non-existent. My ignorance and wilful trust in her are hurting me still.

    I’m intellectually bright – not brilliant, but not dumb – and I blame myself for my lack of self-protectiveness, my utter stupidity. I’ve never thought of tricking someone or stealing from them; I’m not a player nor am I street-savvy. I sucked down her Kool aid, and when she kicked me to the kerb, it turned out I had nothing. Bits of paper she’d bullied me into signing meant she actually owned everything. I was numb. I lived in a place where same-sex relationships weren’t recognised. The law was changed a year before she kicked me out, but when I eventually got my act together and took her to court, the court ruled there was insufficient evidence to prove a relationship. She’d hated going out; she had friends I rarely met; she didn’t want people talking about us, she said. We hadn’t gone to parties, weren’t seen together in public, hadn’t had photos taken together, and, most damning of all, she’d rigged the finances … I’d paid her cash for bills, there was no trace of me in the relationship. The mortgages I’d signed weren’t taken as proof; as far as the court was concerned, it meant nothing. There’d been a relationship, the court said, but it had ended before the law changed in the place I lived to allow recognition of same sex relationships. I had to sign a declaration that I wouldn’t pursue her further – it was that or pay the entirety of her legal costs. I was financially cleaned out …

    My world fell apart. I lost my job. I’m living on a small pension as far from her as I can get. I hadn’t realised how physically afraid I was of her until I challenged her. Even now, she frightens me. She’s found my address – a letter turned up before Christmas. I was too afraid to read it and took it to a solicitor, who read it and gave me the gist of it. In the letter she admitted we had a relationship. The solicitor said she effectively was admitting perjury, a criminal act. Did I want to take legal action? No way – I can’t afford it and I suspect it is a trap. The letter was typed, no signature, except on the registered postbag. Her admission came almost a year to the day after the court case, and two weeks before Christmas, an almost impossible time of year for me now. It was designed to hurt me as much as possible. These past weeks have been some of the hardest of my life, because my demons have been circling.

    These people are deadly – I’ve ended up with few friends, am now even more isolated from family (some of whom cut off contact with me when they realised I was in a same sex relationship), was disinherited after my mother died. Now I struggle. I can’t trust. I live in fear. I torment myself with my stupidity. I’m too old to be employed at the level I was before. She used my weakness to destroy me – I simply didn’t matter as a person. She manipulated and deceived me right from the beginning – lies built on lies, truth shifted like sand swirling in a desert wind. A person without empathy or compassion, she was looking for someone to manipulate, and stupid, stupid me fell into her path. I always wanted someone to love and to be loved by, just as if life really were like a romance novel. I was committed to that idea of being loved and loving, but never having actually experienced it in my familial life, I didn’t know what was reasonable or what was impossibly wrong.

    I got a narcissistic sociopath who targeted me with the intention of taking as much from me as she could. She took everything, and I am still afraid of her. She has effectively destroyed my life; I’m not physically dead, but I’m not living. I can’t sign my name to this; you can guess why. I’ve finally learned not to trust her. I’m ashamed and still in pain; please understand how hard this has been to admit to.

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