Signs of Narcissistic Abuse
The following signs will indicate if you are a victim of narcissistic abuse, this was posted by a participant on a narcissistic forum, but gives a very good insight on how to identify if you are in a narcissistic abuse connection.
You Doubt Yourself
Do you recognise that you’re doubting yourself more than you ever have before? Victims of narcissistic abuse often appear uncertain of themselves, constantly seeking clarification that they haven’t made a mistake or misheard something. This reactive adaption to narcissistic abuse is because the narcissist is always finger pointing and shifting blame to You for all of the ups and downs both in the relationship and in the narcissist’s personal psyche.
Because the relationship has non-existent boundaries, you will find yourself constantly put upon and forced to accept responsibility for things you didn’t do or say. This borrowed humiliation and shame is exactly what the narcissist intends for the victim to take from the narcissist. Their own un-felt core of shame.
Just refer to the above explanation of self-doubt and boundary transgression if you want to understand the confusion that is part and parcel of narcissistic abuse. Daily boundary transgression and crisis crossing of responsibility start to wear on even the clearest minded of targets. Suddenly you wake up and realise that all the realities and borders between yourself and others are not only blurred but missing. It’s confusing to know that you aren’t responsible for someone else’s behaviour, thinking and feeling but to be constantly scolded for behaving, thinking and feeling as if you are.
It’s crazy making, and a narcissist purposefully causes this confusion. They know that a divided and conquered mind is their most vulnerable and susceptible target who won’t be able to identify that their confusion caused by an abusive technique called ‘gaslighting’. Gaslighting is a method of psychological abuse used by narcissists to instil confusion and anxiety in their target to the point where they no longer trust their memory, perception or judgement. With gas lighting, the target initially notices that something happens that is odd, but they don’t believe it. The target attempts to fight the manipulation, but are confused further by being called names or told that they’re: ‘Just too sensitive’, ‘crazy’, ‘imagining things’, or the narcissist flat out denies ever saying anything hurtful.
Gradually, the target learns not to trust their perceptions and begins doubting themselves. Broken and unable to trust themselves, they isolate further. The target now doubts everything about themselves; their thoughts, opinions, and ideals. They become dependent on the narcissist for their reality. For it is in your confusion and acceptance of responsibility that belongs to the narcissist, that a narcissist can successfully control and use you as a scapegoat for their problems.
Every minute if every hour of every day of every year, a Narcissist, who has a DSM classifiable personality disorder (i.e., not playing with a full deck) is projecting their disorder onto those around them. If you don’t think that having a crazy person continually blaming you for being “crazy” will make you crazy, I’d like to introduce you to a narcissist that will convince you otherwise. This disorder isn’t a relationship gone wrong. This disorder isn’t kid stuff. It’s malevolent. It’s a transference of malevolence and mental disorder from the person who has it to the person who doesn’t. Frankly, before a narcissist, I’ve not once in my life, felt crazy. Neither have I even been told by a psychologist, and I’ve seen a few – that I had anything wrong with mymental health. Personally, I always had it “together”. I was resilient, mentally tough, and withstood many events in my life that would make others crumble. When I unwittingly dated someone with this serious mental health malady, I wanted to slam the entire set of broken porcelain down his throat sideways and every obtuse moron that believes the garbage that comes out of this mouth. No, it’s not that I suddenly became a person interested in physical violence, I suddenly became a person who was witnessing a DSM category all wrapped up into a physical being – who turned his mental health problems on me. I became a target of a person with a problem. They say, “Hurt people, Hurt people”. I say, “Narcissistic people destroy people.”
Emerging Cluster of Symptoms that have no other explanation
All I could muster to the narcissist in my dear john letter when I broke up with him that wonderful New Year’s Eve, was “I don’t know what’s wrong!! But I just don’t feel like myself. Something feels extremely toxic, and I don’t know why”… This should be the alert when a victim of narcissistic abuse presents themselves to therapists. The inexplicable “complaint”. My first visit to my therapist were those words exactly, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but it’s serious!” I felt it. I did – I felt bewildered inside, but I could not articulate what it was (another red flag for someone usually able to articulate every feeling and explanation about myself in-depth). How was it that after 43 years of explaining, analysing, and discussing my deficiencies quite well, I could not for the life of me explain to my therapist what was so “wrong” with me that it was palpable. His answer, set me free, it did. “You have been in a domestically violent relationship with a narcissist.” My therapist has some background with this person. He’d witnessed the narcissist calling me, berating me during sessions. I held the phone away during one session so that my therapist could hear the narcissist on the other end questioning me about cheating, “accusing me of having an affair with the therapist”. Grilling me about what the therapist looked like and would speak to me like. He even accused the therapist of wanting me sexually, and that was the reason the therapist spoke so lowly of the narcissist (of course it couldn’t just be that the narcissist had a bad reputation and the community was on to him). Sufferers report that their spark has gone out and, even years later, find they just cannot get motivated about anything. Unaware that we’ve been living in a war zone with a tyrannical narcissist, we can’t quite grasp the words to articulate the abuse, yet at the same time, we very much feel it.
We present ourselves to the mental health community, incapable of speaking about an abuse we yet know nothing about. Until that word, “Narcissistic Abuse” is given to us, we have no idea that is what’s causing our pain. That’s why it’s so important to get the word out there, what narcissists look like, their modus operandi, the words and phrases they use so that when a victim of their abuse begins looking for answers, they quickly will be able to identify that they are involved with a narcissist. In Narcissistic Victim Syndrome you are looking for a cluster of symptoms to emerge many are the symptoms of trauma (avoidance, loss of interest, feeling detached, sense of limited future, sleeping or eating difficulties, nightmares, irritability, hyper-vigilance, easily startled, flashbacks, hopelessness, psychosomatic illnesses, self-harming, thoughts of suicide, etc.) Some victims develop Stockholm Syndrome and want to support, defend, and love the abuser despite what they have gone through.
Victims tend to ‘dissociate’ or detach from their emotions, body or surroundings. Living in a war zone where all forms of power and control are used against you (intimidation, emotional, physical and mental abuse; isolation, economic abuse, sexual abuse, coercion, control, etc.), the threat of abuse is always present. Dissociation is an automatic coping mechanism against overwhelming stress. Symptoms of dissociation resulting from trauma may include depersonalisation. (Disconnecting your body awareness from your physical self) Psychological numbing, disengaged from life and passions, or amnesia regarding the events of the abuse. It has been hypothesised that dissociation may provide a temporarily effective deference mechanism in cases of severe trauma; however, in the long-term, dissociation is associated with decreased psychological functioning and adjustment. Other symptoms sometimes found along with dissociation in victims of traumatic abuse (often referred to as ” the from sequel to abuse”) include anxiety, PTSD, low self-esteem, somatization, depression, chronic pain, interpersonal dysfunction, substance abuse, self-mutilation, and suicidal idealisation or actions. These symptoms may lead the victim to erroneously present the symptoms as the source of the problem.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Let’s face it. If I didn’t mention PTSD, or complex PTSD, I would not be doing the topic of narcissistic abuse syndrome any justice. PTSD, in layman’s terFroma fellow sufferer? A cerebral anxiety attack that makes your whole body come alive with palpable fear. The rapid heart beat, the intrusive and spinning thoughts and fears – just like the abuse is currently happening sequentially all over again. This is called re-living. It’s as if the traumatic abuse event is occurring in your present tense. All the emotions of fear, shame, shrinking, wincing, looking over your shoulder and walking on eggshells waiting to be attached ruthlessly again.
- Physical Numbness – (toes, fingertips, lips) is common, as is emotional numbness (especially inability to feel joy).
- Avoidance – of places, sounds, tastes, and songs that remind them of their abuser or the abuse. Intense feelings of anxiety even in anticipation of having to revisit the memories.
- Memory loss – Almost all targets report impaired memory. Partially due to conscious avoidance as well as from the damage done to the hippocampus, and area of the brain linked to learning and memory.
- Need for Solitude/Tendency to Isolate – We’re exhausted after narcissistic abuse. Feelings of withdrawal and isolation are common; we just want to be in our own head for a while, find our own answers; thus, solitude is sought.
- Lack of Joy and Hope – Inability to feel joy (anhedonia) and deadening of loving feelings towards others are commonly reported. One fears never being able to feel love or trust again. The target becomes very gloomy and senses a foreshortened future sometimes with justification. May targets ultimately have severe psychiatric injury, severely impaired health and/or stress related illnesses.
- Sleeplessness – Melatonin became my new best friend after narcissistic abuse. The nightmares and night terrors can be overwhelming that good restorative sleep becomes impossible. Napping became my new favourite passion. Sleep becomes almost impossible, despair the constant fatigue; such as is obtained tends to be unsatisfying, unrefreshing and non-restorative. On waking, the person often feels more tired than wheen they went to bed.
- Depression – Depressive feelings arrive very early in the morning, making falling back to sleep an impossibility. Feelings of vulnerability and loneliness may be heightened overnight.
- Anxiousness, Guilt & Disturbing Thoughts – Targets have an extremely short fuse and are easily irritated. The person frequently experiences obsessive visions of violence happening to the narcissist hoping for an accident for, or murdering the narcissist; the resultant feelings of guilt further limit progress in healing.
- Fight or Flight Response – With your system on alert for ever-present danger in the environment, it’s easy to react sensitively to sudden changes – causing the startle response.
- Awareness of Symptoms – It’s very harrowing to realise that you are different from who you were before the narcissist; FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT. When you are very aware of PTSD has replaced the narcissist, it emotionally drains the target of any home for being PERMANENTLY NARCISSISTIC FREE. We don’t want to be constantly reminded and away of the person, we escaped. We want to live freely, however, symptoms, are a constant reminder that we DON’T.
Here are some useful Tips for healing the emotional hangover from Narcissistic Abuse:-
- Show up for yourself by repeating over and over, “I am worthy”, “Sad feelings won’t last forever”, “I will make it out of this”, “I’m doing the best I can do”.
- Feel good about your decision to leave.
- Invest in yourself by learning about narcissistic abuse and codependency
- Give yourself a break from intimate relationships until you have healed and are comfortable being alone.
- Invest in your self-acceptance, protection, and emotional growth.
- Know you will survive the abuse, learn from the experience, and have a deeper self-knowledge.
- Force yourself to develop new interests and social outlets.
- Give yourself permission to seek the help of a therapist familiar with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
- Acknowledge the anger that you feel so you don’t accept behaviours that hurt you.
- If you are feeling depressed ask yourself what you might be angry about.
- Examine your fears and insecurities with compassion, not terrorising yourself with shame.
- Make a commitment to take care of yourself even though you may fear in your ability to do so.
- Believe in the ability to competently deal with feelings, solve problems, and take responsibility for your life.
- Be open to what you are doing to create your life situation instead of being a victim.
- Spend time each morning focused on forgiving your partner for not being able to love.
- Let go of resentments so you can be free from obsessive thoughts.
- Learn to trust yourself by finding out what is right for you.