The After-trauma of Narcissistic Abuse
Updated: Oct 19, 2021
Predictability is important to our mental health. We like knowing what to expect especially in relationships. Having consistency in our lives and relationships helps us to know what to expect and makes us feel safe. In a healthy relationship partners should be able to function in all aspects of their lives with or with out their partners. Meaning focusing on their careers their children their hobbies and self care. When their is inconsistency even a little inconsistency in a relationship the impact it has on the mind and what the mind will do to try to correct the inconsistency can cause a considerable amount of trauma. The ups and downs, the knowing and not knowing is nothing short of drama. No wonder the narcissist/psycho falls into the dramatic and erratic cluster of personality disorders. Being in a relationship with one of these personalities causes chaos and it spreads. The survivor starts to form inconsistencies in herself, the way she views her partner and about the relationship.
According to the Institute of Relational Harm the inconsistencies happen on many levels
First: the relational dynamics
Luring phase > Love bombing phase > Bad event > Gaslighting > temporary insight to his bad behavior > back to love bombing phase
Second: Inconsistency in the way she views the relationship
I want this relationship yet I need to get out of this relationship
I feel safe yet. I feel unsafe
I feel supported yet I feel no support
Excited yet Exhausted
Bonding and abandoned
Third: the way she views him:
Angry yet loving
Attached yet abandoning
Sadistic yet kind
He is bad yet he is good
Fourth: the way she views herself in the relationship
I would never put up with this but I am putting up with this
I have standards but I feel I'm losing them
High achiever but lacking self discipline
When Ann met James she was working on important life goals to further her independence. She had friends and went to social events a few times a week. She loved to cook and met her friends at the gym about four times a week. She had also been in counseling for about three years and had never felt stronger or better about her self.
James immediately took over her life. He wanted to see her constantly and even moved in to her place after two weeks. Eventually Ann lost her friends, did not socialize with anyone but James, gained 30 pounds, started eating out a restaurants and quit going to the gym. You can imagine at the end of this relationship Ann did not recognize herself anymore.
Ann realized James was moving to fast but she allowed it
Ann valued time with her friends yet she allowed James to isolate her
Ann always took pride in her appearance but she allowed James needs to become more important than her own.
Ann was working on life goals to better herself but began to put James needs before her life goal
James sucks the life force out of Ann leaving her unrecognizable to herself and replaces her with a new source of supply.
Ann is left in a state of inconsistencies about who she was and who she has become, about James being good and bad and about the chaos of their relational dynamics. This is called cognitive dissonance and is the hallmark trait of pathological abuse. It is the number one reported symptom and most detrimental symptom of pathological abuse. It causes persistent intrusive thoughts because your mind is desperately trying to work out the inconsistencies.
Going no contact is only the first step of getting out of this type of relationship. I am trained and experienced in dealing with the after-trauma of these relationships. Please contact me to begin healing.