From the outside looking in, someone who has never gone through narcissistic abuse would assume that leaving is the most challenging part.
The truth is that the hardest part comes after you leave the narcissist. Staying away for good is one battle in itself. The other is accepting what happened while simultaneously dealing with the trauma that can surface days, weeks, or years later.
None of us will be the same person after our experience with narcissistic abuse, and that is okay. If we put in the work, we can come out of the flames with stronger boundaries, self-awareness, and a refusal to tolerate anything less than what we deserve.
Here are the signs that you are becoming to heal from the narcissistic abuse that you endured.
#1. That old sparkle begins to reenter your life/eyes
It was impossible for me to feel peaceful during the narcissistic abuse and I was even on edge several years after leaving.
It is painful to look at old photographs from when I was in the relationship because I can see the sadness I’m trying to hide. In those photos, my smile is forced, and there is pain behind my eyes that had never existed before the narcissistic abuse.
The moment the relationship ended, peace began to settle back in my body. A month after the break-up, my friend took a photo of me while having dinner.
That is the first photo I saw where I realized that I looked like my old, happy self again. In it, I am glowing and clutching my stomach from laughing so hard.
#2. You can entirely go no-contact
After a healthy break-up, two people can often stay friends/cordial.
This is not possible with a narcissist. If there were one rule that I could give you after the break-up, it would be that you need to go no contact. This will ensure that the trauma bond is entirely broken and true healing can begin.
However… that is easier said than done.
Even after months had passed, I thought about running into the narcissist everywhere. I would look out for his car on the commute to work because we took a similar route. As much as I wanted to stop thinking about him, I struggled to keep myself from reaching out and telling him that I missed him.
It took around a year, but a day came when I realized that I was no longer thinking about contacting him.
#3. You no longer have that horrible gut feeling
Time and time again, we are told to listen to our intuition. Ignoring it can be devastating.
During my abusive relationship, I refused to be rational and admit that something was wrong even though my body was screaming at me to open my eyes.
Anxiety and depression were a constant cloud. My body felt heavy and exhausted every day (partly due to the sleep abuse/deprivation), and nothing helped.
After the relationship ended, the horrible gut feeling faded away instantly. A few months after I was free, I woke up and realized that I no longer felt heavy. I felt light again.
#4. Relief washes over you instead of sadness
The heartbreak that I felt in the aftermath of my narcissistic relationship was unlike anything I had ever experienced.
Part of it stemmed from the future faking and the realization that everything the narcissist had ever said or done was a complete lie.
At first, I tried to rationalize it as a normal break-up. Over time, as I learned about the psychological manipulation inflicted on me, I realized that I had escaped a situation that could have eventually claimed my life. There were several situations where the narcissist laid his hands on me, almost driven off a cliff, and spoke of how he wanted to inflict more violence against me.
All of the abuse impacted me deeply and it took many years before I was able to work through the narcissistic abuse.
As time passed, I continued to heal from my trauma, but I learned to take it one day at a time, and eventually, the sadness was replaced by extreme relief and gratitude. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Just remember that everyone is on a different pace to arrive there.
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