Is There Such A Thing As Narcissistic Abuse Recovery?

Is there such a thing as recovery from Narcissistic Abuse? Is it even possible?

I keep thinking I’m there and that I’ve recovered. I’ve posted about it. I’ve had long periods of time where I thought I might be back to normal again.

I wrote a post about journaling a couple of weeks ago. I started looking through my old journals and blog posts after doing so.

One of the things I found was a post I wrote in May of last year, in which I told my friends and family about depression, about how bad things had gotten for me, and how scared I was at the time. I included a link in that post to this article: 11 Signs You’re The Victim of Narcissistic Abuse

It was an article I once appreciated but forgot about over time. In fact, I haven’t read anything about Narcissism or Narcissistic Abuse in months.

I haven’t thought about Narcissistic Abuse much lately at all. In retrospect, I think I went back into denial.

It’s not abuse recovery. It’s depression and anxiety, and it was present long before the relationship. In fact, it was always present. It doesn’t actually have anything to do with him. He isn’t important in this.

Except, I now realize, I was wrong. I was mirroring what the Narcissist always said to me, and likely still says about me to others.

“She has severe depression. She has always been depressed, since long before she met me. It’s the main reason our relationship didn’t work. I just couldn’t take it anymore.”

He likely tells people that he was a prince to me and I was unappreciative. Anything I tell people about him is just a figment of my imagination and never happened. I’m just someone who is terribly troubled. A lost soul. He wasn’t able to save me.

I know the speech. It’s what he always said of anyone from his past he didn’t talk to anymore. He never said anything else about them. Just, “They’re a lost soul. I wanted to help, but I couldn’t. They were just too troubled.”

I believed him about me, though, and have carried that message forward over time. I didn’t realize I was doing it, but I was. Subconsciously, I was thinking of him as blameless. I was thinking of my depression and anxiety as something outside the relationship, something unrelated to my relationship with him.

Except now, I’ve read through my old journals. The first one is from when I was ten years old. I’ve written in them consistently, volume after volume, filling every page with penmanship that’s gotten far worse over time but insights, even from my teen years, that are stunning.

Thus I can now say for certain that I was never like I currently am before the relationship with the Narcissist. I had periods of sadness and loneliness, for sure. I definitely had some amount of anxiety. But I never was like this. I never before had this overwhelming sense of worthlessness, of disgust with self, of total and utter hopelessness.

The aftermath of narcissistic abuse can include depression, anxiety, hypervigilance, a pervasive sense of  toxic shame, emotional flashbacks that regress the victim back to the abusive incidents, and overwhelming feelings of helplessness and worthlessness.

11 Signs You’re The Victim of Narcissistic Abuse

All eleven items listed in that article still describe me perfectly.

It’s not that recovery hasn’t progressed at all. I’m better than I once was, absolutely. But I’m losing hope I might ever be my normal self again. I don’t think I actually remember what “normal” is anymore, anyway. Or, perhaps, I don’t think there is a normal. Or, maybe I think there’s a new normal?

The old me is gone. That’s what is important. That version of normal likely is never coming back. The Old Self I write about and long for doesn’t exist anymore, and this New Self is still someone whose skin I feel uncomfortable in.

I don’t have a game plan for continued recovery. I am doing all I can think of to try to move past this. I’m continuing with therapy. I’m taking anti-depressants. I’m trying to live my life and move forward.

I’m still focused on survival, though, on making it through each day and each week, rather than simply living my life and enjoying it and my freedom.

And yet, it’s been almost three years. Almost three years, and I still feel all the shame and disgust and fear I felt during the relationship all the time.

I can’t get him to understand that it’s okay to be wrong sometimes. He doesn’t think anything he ever does is wrong. If I feel otherwise, he insists it is because I am looking at things the wrong way.

It’s convincing sometimes but sometimes it’s just enraging to always be told I’m doing things wrong, talking to him wrong, even feeling things wrong. If I feel an emotion he doesn’t like, have a thought he doesn’t approve of, am in a mood he doesn’t want me in, I am doing something terrible and unfair to him.

He says he feels my feelings acutely, so I’m doing something mean to him if I have any negative energy while I’m around him. I have to be sure to be pleasant all the time or it makes him upset and angry because he is so highly attuned to people’s moods that he takes on my emotions.

And yet, if he is in a mood, he is allowed to stomp and be surly and I should be understanding and supportive, and really, what the hell is wrong with me that I can’t just take better care of him? He tells me these are easy, basic things. Doing the things he asks of me really shouldn’t be this hard for me.

I can’t understand why everything always is so hard, though. It feels like I never do anything right, and I’m just so incredibly tired all the time. When I tell him I feel this way, feel so worn out and like everything I do is wrong, he says it is because I do too much and try too hard and should ask for help more. Somehow whenever I ask for anything I never ask the right way or at the right time, though, and I always make him angry.

When I try to talk to him about this and about feeling like he criticizes everything I do, he says I’m not remembering things accurately or seeing him clearly. He says he compliments me and tells me he appreciates me all the time, but I don’t remember it. He says I know he isn’t an asshole, so something else must be going on.

I must only be remembering the things he does that make me feel bad instead of seeing and feeling all the positive things about our relationship. He’s probably right; it’s all just stuff that I need to work on in myself, not anything that he can help change for me.

(I wrote about my story and the day I realized he was gaslighting me in the post titled My Story. In brief, he was horrible via an online chat, so I knew it wasn’t in my head. When I tried to get him to look at the chat and talk with me about it, he threatened me. We broke up two days later.)

I still long to be held and rocked and told everything is going to be okay, that I am okay, that I am enough, that I am loved. I want the antidote to the abuse. I want someone to look at me with love and kindness instead of disgust or anger. I want open arms instead of slammed doors. I want compliments and appreciation instead of sneers.

I want to set boundaries and see them respected instead of used against me as a personality flaw.

I want to be able to tell someone they have hurt me and not get told it is my fault. I want to have conversations where someone believes and credits me, rather than telling me my memory and sanity is flawed and nothing I say can be believed.

More than anything, I suppose, I just want to stop feeling so afraid all the time.

It’s so hard to reach out to friends, to ask people to get together, to be around people. It’s not as hard as it once was, it’s true. I don’t shake anymore. I don’t get home and rock myself and wail as I once did.

But I’m not yet as okay as I’ve been trying to make myself and everyone else believe. I know my trajectory is good, and I know everyone heals from things at their own pace. I know telling myself, “But it’s been almost three years!” isn’t in any way helpful and I really should knock it off with that shit.

And yet… goddammit I’m just so sick of feeling and acting like someone other than myself. The authentic me is in here, somewhere, and comes out to play once in a while. But, shit, it’s so infrequent and unpredictable and I’m so frustrated.

I want to be my Old Self again, consistently. I want to be able to make plans to talk on the phone or hang out and not have to just hope I’ll be capable of talking and being normal that day, but actually know it, because who I am at my core is someone who is capable of talking and being normal.

I’m just so fucking sick of this. I want to be recovered from what that asshole did already. I’m angry that, three years later, I’m still impacted by him. He doesn’t deserve to be that important. He isn’t worthy of having this much of an impact. I want him to get away from me, get out of my psyche.

I want to be and live as though I never met him. And, dammit, that’s simply not going to happen. But fucking hell if it doesn’t piss me off.


  1. I remember the wailing. Mine was in fetal position. I cried so much I lost my voice. I lost 80 pounds in 4 months. I didn’t want to love any more.

    I was married 29 years, ghosted overnight, no warning. It took me five years to get back to me, but not the me. I realize that I lost myself, piece by piece, day by day for 29 years, until I had no voice. I now have it back.

    Honey, don’t you let anyone determine how long that process ‘should’ take. It takes as long as it takes. And when you don’t hinder the process, it will finally be over you’ll know a new normal. You’ll look back with no more reaction that “oh yeah, that guy”, but it takes a long time sometimes.

    Sending you a virtual hug. That’s all I wanted, more than anything … to be held again. But, you can reparent that wounded part of yourself. Be kind and understanding to yourself. Know that The Committee Inside Your Head lies. Tell them to shut up. You’ll come out strong and a much better new ‘normal’.

  2. Our life experiences indeed change us, as you describe in your post. Those negative experiences, like narcissistic abuse, can be very damaging and difficult to recover from. I’m sorry to hear about your abusive relationship and the difficulty you’ve encountered while trying to heal. I’ve been there, and it is no fun!

    I try to think of myself as an improved version of my Old Self, and that seems to help. I hope that next time, I will notice the red flags in people early and avoid another relationship with a narcissist. I still miss the feeling of peace I had when I was my Old Self. Sure there were struggles, but I was blissfully ignorant of how bad things could get.

    Healing is not easy, and, like you, I’m still angry that I had to go through this experience at all. I am curious if you feel your recovery/healing has been steady or if you’ve experienced gains and losses along the way?

    1. Thank you for your kind words. “blissfully ignorant of how bad things could get” really resonated.

      I think my recovery/healing has been the same as progress on anything. There are ups and downs, gains and losses, but the net result over time is forward motion. You?

  3. Hi! I was reading this, because I just started my blog and it’s all about my recovery from an abusive relationship. One thing that has REALLY helped me is not trying to go back to who you were before the relationship. In my experience that will never ever happen again. I have been working on REBUILDING myself. Figuring out what sorts of things bring me joy now. I guess it’s a different way of looking at it. Let me know if it helps. 🙂 I wish you all the happiness. You deserve it!!

    1. Congrats on your new blog! That’s great advice and something I’ve been challenged to attempt. Accepting who I am now rather than continuing to long for who I once was is absolutely a futile effort. This week marked three years since he and I broke up, and the rebuild has been slow, but successful. I wish you well in all your efforts, and thanks for commenting here!

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