Healing, Living and Learning
to Love Again

The Healthy Recovery for Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse,
Divorce and Betrayal Trauma

The Dance of the Cycle When You are In a Relationship with a Narcissist

First and foremost, he or she chose you, to manipulate and abuse you. This is domestic violence. This is a pathological love relationship. It’s abuse like no other; covert narcissism is hidden and insidious. During this cycle, a survivor will have been subjected to all forms of narcissistic abuse. The ambient abuse is emotional with the intent to erode your sense of self-identity and self-worth. The survivor finds themselves slowly living in a state of confusion and paralysis to objectively see this person. Realizing their words and actions are not matching and the person who originally showed up in the relationship has become different but you can’t put your finger on it. Your gut at this point has been talking to you and you are choosing to ignore it. You are in the dance of wanting the “good feelings” of the oxytocin mood booster when they behave poorly and you don’t hold them accountable for fear of them lashing out and meltdown. You blame it on a bad day and frankly you don’t even realize you are being manipulated. In the beginning he is a chameleon of you, all the good in you. Over time the narcissist will begin to show up as impulsive, lacking empathy, abusing alcohol, sex and drugs as coping tools, using double standards, being critical of others and is negative in his emotions and comments. A narcissist cannot handle any sense of criticism and you will find yourself overcompensating for this character flaw. You will be overcompensating in caring for the children, caring for the house and your efforts are expected not appreciated. The brainwashing and abuse will take an extreme toll on your mental health, leaving survivors feeling depressed, suicidal, and broken. As stated by Sandra Brown in her trainings on NPD, if a therapist has not experienced this kind of abuse, they often miss the signs and symptoms. If you find yourself in this type of relationship, make sure your therapist has completed the necessary trainings to recognize and treat survivors of NPD.
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Narcissism: The Abuse Cycle

If you find yourself in a relationship that fits this description or resonates with you, I want to assure you that there are steps you can take to break free from this harmful cycle and seek the support you deserve. Please continue reading below.
This is where it all starts, in this phase, you are Idealized and have a new, amazing boyfriend or girlfriend. But the truth, the reality, this is the lying phase, the beginning of the brainwashing. If you could turn back the clock in real time; what would you see? In this phase, you will take an overdose of empty promises that he or she adores you, respects your boundaries and you believe you have found your soulmate. You have unknowingly become their new “supply” and you will begin your love addiction. And yes, I said addiction.  This is the hook.
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This is where it all starts, in this phase, you are Idealized and have a new, amazing boyfriend or girlfriend. But the truth, the reality, this is the lying phase, the beginning of the brainwashing. If you could turn back the clock in real time; what would you see? In this phase, you will take an overdose of empty promises that he or she adores you, respects your boundaries and you believe you have found your soulmate. You have unknowingly become their new “supply” and you will begin your love addiction. And yes, I said addiction.  This is the hook.
This is where it all starts, in this phase, you are Idealized and have a new, amazing boyfriend or girlfriend. But the truth, the reality, this is the lying phase, the beginning of the brainwashing. If you could turn back the clock in real time; what would you see? In this phase, you will take an overdose of empty promises that he or she adores you, respects your boundaries and you believe you have found your soulmate. You have unknowingly become their new “supply” and you will begin your love addiction. And yes, I said addiction.  This is the hook.
Upon realizing the harsh reality, you may find yourself in a state of psychological distress, struggling to catch your breath and overcome bouts of tears. There may be moments when you feel incapable of getting out of bed. This stage represents a challenging detox process wherein the pain and emotions are intense, leaving you feeling disoriented in a world that seems unfamiliar. It's important to remember that these reactions are completely normal. With time and proper support, healing is attainable and this phase will eventually pass.
If this cycle describes your relationship or sounds and feels familiar read on below to learn more about the next steps you can take to get out of a bad situation and get the help that you need.

The Marriage:  Do I Stay or Do I Go?

There is no easy answer to this.  If the narcissist is ready to discard you, you become the enemy.  They will have moved on to another supply (see supply definition), no explanation to the relationship ending, do not look for closure, it will not happen.    Separation from the Addict/Psychopath is no easy feat, it will require a team of professionals on board and a support system in place.  If you are married and have children with him or her see co-parenting with a narcissist.   You will be unable to heal and grow until you are out of this very unhealthy relationship. 

This is Divorce

Surviving Divorce from a Narcissist: Strategies for Success
Divorcing a narcissist can be an incredibly challenging and emotionally draining experience. Seeking advice from someone who has been through a similar divorce can provide valuable insights. Here are some basic strategies to consider:
Remember that these guidelines are just a starting point. Seek professional assistance from therapists, life coaches, and attorneys trained in dealing with narcissistic abuse.
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Surviving the Divorce: Yes, you will!

Pick your battles wisely, there will be times when it’s to your advantage to give your partner something they want, let them feel that they won that round. You set your boundaries as best you can, and stick to them.  And don’t forget to focus on self-care as you move along the process (i.e. meditation, therapy, hot baths, massage, walks at the beach and spend time with friends.)

  • A Legal Team that understands how to deal with high-conflict narcissistic behavior during the legal process.
  • A Trauma Therapist that understands narcissistic survivor abuse.
  • Therapy for the children.
  • A Forensic Accountant to uncover any hidden assets you may be entitled to (because the narcissistic partner will try to deny you your fair share of the assets)

Handling a Divorce with a Narcissist

Narcissists may struggle with the idea of divorce because it challenges their sense of control and superiority. They may view the divorce as a personal attack and experience what is referred to as a "narcissistic injury." As a result, they may engage in behaviors aimed at seeking revenge or maintaining their perception of victimhood.

Narcissists may resort to manipulation, lies, false accusations, and other tactics to gain an advantage or delay the divorce process. They may attempt to seduce the court or use mind games to undermine your credibility. It is important to stay calm, stick to the facts, and document any evidence that can support your case.

Remember that narcissists thrive on drama and attention, so it is crucial to focus on maintaining your emotional well-being and prioritizing your own needs and the needs of any children involved. Seeking support from a therapist, lawyer, or support network can be beneficial during this challenging time.


Co-Parenting with a Narcissist

You cannot always predict how your former narcissistic partner will behave when interacting with your children, but you can influence how you act when dealing with them. Establish good co-parenting boundaries because the narcissist’s sense of entitlement will cause them to test those boundaries time and time again. If you set limits, he/she will find ways to get around them, so you have to be firm (but fair also).  Well-set boundaries help you keep your distance (i.e., emotionally and physically) in check.A well written parenting plan can help provide these boundaries in writing.This plan is the #1 key to your success.
A well spelled out parenting plan with every detail that you can possibly think of to stay ahead of these issues. Co-parenting with a personality disordered adult is a nightmare. That’s why it’s called a high conflict divorce. To save on your trauma, change your expectations. Don’t be naive. Even if they play nice in the beginning, do not expect your narcissist to change. That way, you avoid being disappointed when they fall short on responsibility.  Don’t react, that gives them satisfaction and attention and will encourage them to behave poorly.  Find a way to resolve the issue.  You may find it helpful to acknowledge when they do something good or thoughtful regarding you or the children (positive reinforcement).  It will feed their ego and they will behave more positively.  This may also help protect you and your children from the incessant conflict (i.e., personal attack, ignored legal agreements, shared parenting time conflict, parental alienation, emotional manipulation tactics, etc.) in these high-conflict cases.
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Parallel Co-Parenting

If co-parenting becomes impossible because of feuding, then a better and safer option for you and the children may be to employ a “Parallel Parenting” process.  For co-parenting to work, both parents need to be able to co-operate together for the welfare of the children. Parallel parenting, on the other hand, is doing everything separately, but still sharing in the responsibility of the children.  The idea behind this is that you want to keep the children away from their narcissistic parent’s bad influence without the constant rows that are very upsetting to the children.

Parallel parenting allows feuding parents to have significant roles in their child’s life without interacting much with each other. Parents choose how to raise their child within their household and agree to only collaborate on major decisions together (i.e., child’s health and welfare issues, etc.).  The main advantage of parallel parenting is that it allows the children to remain close to both parents, which means they won’t feel as though one parent has abandoned them. It also helps prevent the children from becoming too attached to one parent over another.

Although parallel parenting is not a legally recognized concept, it is a parental style that may work better when having to deal with a narcissistic ex-partner. This style of parenting may mean that you and your narcissistic partner may both get what you need from parenting together while maintaining separate lives. Even though you don’t live together, you still share the children.  So, you have to find a way to make it work, otherwise, the courts may become involved and take charge, where you could find yourself going through custody battles. This process may allow you to maintain some semblance of sanity and self-respect while your ex-narcissist is still having a somewhat toxic relationship with your children.

The beauty of this arrangement is that each parent raises the children independently of one another. Both parents have their own set of parental guidelines, which they follow in when it is their turn to have the children. It is a way to keep both parties from interfering in one another’s business. However, you are going to need a good parallel parenting plan since each parent will have their own set of rules.  I would recommend that you may need to see a licensed therapist or parenting coordinator to help you reduce any unreasonable expectations that you may have.  They will also be able to help with building your sense of security having come through high conflict divorce or separation that goes on in narcissistic domestic abuse.  They can also help you deal with any difficulties arising out of this new co-parenting relationship, and of course, develop a comprehensive working plan that will require minimal contact.


Healing, Living and Learning to Love Again

The Road to Recovery: Rebuilding Yourself and Your Life

Recovering from the aftermath of a toxic relationship is a challenging journey, but it's one that will help you become the person you were always meant to be. It begins with breaking that trauma bond and detoxing from the effects it had on your brain chemistry. With a support system and therapy; you will shape up, woman up, man up, get up, and walk away not in shame, but because you are a true human. Throughout this recovery, you will find yourself asking countless questions and experiencing a range of emotions. Confusion, pain, anger, and tears may overwhelm you at times. This is normal. You will ask yourself; how did this happen to you? And the answer is simple initially; because they could.

Recovery is a process that centers around focusing on yourself. It involves finding your voice, learning to trust your instincts, and recognizing the red flags that you ignored. It means breaking free from isolation, shedding self-judgment, and letting go of any embarrassment you may feel. Remember, YOU DID NOTHING WRONG. You will learn the concept of cognitive dissonance, which can make the recovery process even more painful. But as you persevere, prioritizing yourself and your children, you will grow stronger day by day. With the help of evidence-based treatments and trauma- informed approaches, you will work through the trauma and emerge on the other side, ready to embrace a brighter future.

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Survivor Characteristics

Very often the survivor, unlike the grandiose narcissistic, is a kind, gentle, and humble self. Originally research labeled survivors as co-dependent personality types, working hard to please others. In the relationship, the survivor tends to become over-responsible and too agreeable to overcompensate for the narcissists’ bad behaviors. Further research by Sandra Brown on the survivor challenges the original beliefs of the “co- dependent victim” and labels the survivor as having these personality SuperTraits: Kind, Sympathetic, Cooperative, Warm, Considerate, Cooperative, Empathetic and Trusting. All super to have in a mate. Survivors don’t look for attention or help for themselves rather they struggle to set boundaries with the controlling personality of the narcissist. Last, survivors tend to do the lion’s share of the household duties, grocery shopping, cleaning, and caring for the kids.

You survived the abuse. You’re going to survive the recovery.

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