How long does it take to heal from narcissistic abuse? Let me tell you, but first, a short story: Recently, a small plane crashed in the mountains, with only two people in it. They were working, delivering goods. There’s no explanation yet, as to why the plane went down. A quote from an expert: “It took only a few minutes for the plane to hit the ground and shatter into a million pieces. But it will take about a year to fully understand why this happened”.
I felt really sad for the two persons who lost their lives in mere minutes. After not being able to let this really go, I understood why. It related so perfectly to disasters in general. They always seem to happen real quickly. It’s only when you’re gonna put the pieces together; understanding, grieving.. That’s when it takes time.
This is exactly it, with healing after a narcissistic relationship. You don’t understand the “why”, and it takes a really long time to heal.
How long does it take?
This is very hard to answer. Two important factors here: * how long you were with the abuser, and also: * what your own background was. There’s a sliding scale here..like, if you had a very loving childhood/previous relationships, and you were only with the narcissist a few months, you could make an “easier” recovery. (It would still probably take you longer than a “normal” relationship of the same length would have).
If you had a complicated background/dysfunctional childhood, it might take you longer to heal from a narcissistic relationship. And if you were with the narcissist for years, rather than months, it’s probably gonna add to the time you need to heal from this ordeal.
The standard answer from grief counsellors is that grief of a significant loss in your life, will probably take a year to go through (in some cases more). A significant loss doesn’t have to be a death, it’s you who decide what constitutes such a loss. If you loved someone deeply, and lose them one way or another, in my book, that counts as a significant loss. There are no right or wrongs here, we’re all human, and unique in our own healing, and how deeply we feel. Some of us are empaths/highly sensitive people, and we may require a bit longer than others, to heal from the crushing blow that a narcissistic relationship is.
Why does it take so long?
You’re grieving not only a partner who you lost, and the “love” you shared. (Well, the love you felt, and your partner faked). You’re also grieving loving an illusion, and spending all that time on someone who is an empty shell. You’re grieving cause of all the abuse you were put through, and also that you couldn’t stop it, at the time. You’re grieving the loss of your sense of self; self worth. You’re grieving the feeling of safety; that people are mostly good within, they have a conscience, they care. They can change. Etc. With the narcissist, you found out that there are people who don’t have a conscience. That’s a truly disturbing experience, to see a person subjecting you to all kinds of cruelty, without remorse. It’s a rare thing, meeting such a person up close. It’s overwhelming. I had never, before the narcissist, experienced a person who could so coldly lie, use me, manipulate me, and then go silent for days and weeks… etc. It’s unfathomable to a normal person.
All of this, you grieve. And it will take time. You’ll probably not be the same again. You’ll carry a scar. But you can heal enough, to be happy again, to love again.
What can I do to speed up the process?
* Anything healing/nurturing. Meditation, therapy, spending time with true friends. Educate yourself on narcissism, read all you can find. (I listed a few good blogs in a post, Here). I found that beautiful/peaceful things, make my heart a little lighter, especially nature.. creative activities, like writing. (You can read my kick-start guide to healing, Here). Just have patience. Imagine you have a big open wound on your body… it’s gonna heal when it’s good and ready, right? You can’t “force” it to heal, before the body has done its work. Same here… you can only clean your emotional wounds, bandage them, promote healing, but you can never force it to heal, until it does. The pain will lessen over time, as you start to re-discover life again.
What should I avoid?
* Being alone too much, as it might trick you to get in touch with the narcissist again.
* Also, talking to people who don’t understand why you can’t “just move on”… don’t talk to those people, not as your primary source of support, anyway. Find blogs, people who know what you’re really dealing with. I truly believe that no one can understand 100%, what victims of narcissists go through, if they haven’t experienced it themselves. It doesn’t compare to any other experience, really. Even my own mother couldn’t understand me, eventually told me to just “get over it”… that’s when you know, that nobody except people who went through this, can understand. It truly is like you’ve been to another world, another planet, and you’re trying to explain, to people back on Earth… they won’t understand, unless they see it for themselves.
All my healing thoughts to you! Love/Survived