Getting your emotional security back after leaving the narcissist.
Depending on who you are and the situation you’ve been in, you might be able to work on overcoming triggers for yourself. Whatever way you approach it, the only way is for you to work through it, if you need extra help, talking with others about those triggers, those who’ve overcome it, that understand you and can validate you in how you feel, give you helpful tips, also EMDR treatment is an excellent treatment if you’re finding it difficult to do it alone.
When you were living with the narcissist, did you have a particular sound you feared, like the sound of the car pulling onto the drive? What mood they were going to wake up in, slamming of doors. Worrying what time they were coming home, even though nothing was actually happening at that moment but you just had fear as to what could happen. Just being terrified of them coming home and building yourself into a state of hypervigilance. Dreading what kind of mood they were going to be in. Were they going to wake up or come home on some form of an attack? Or were they going to be in a good mood? What could you do so they were in a good mood? Do you ever get any flashbacks of these fears? Were you’re suddenly in fear or have dread and terror? This is normal and is usually because of your nervous system. While been with the narcissist, Your body is trained to tense up and go on guard because you could never predict what was going to happen when you saw them or spent time with them. Were they going to be happy? Will you get a hug or a kiss? Or would they be on the attack? And just stab you in the back even though you didn’t think you’d done anything wrong. The sound of them shouting your name used to send shivers down your spine. As you’d no idea if it’s good or bad and you’d just tense up. You’d not done anything wrong that you could think of, yet your heart was pounding.
You’ve left that person, and you have new happiness in your life, then a car pulls up that sounds the same as the narcissists, or you see the vehicle make the narcissist drives everywhere you go, you suddenly find yourself looking at them. Say they drive a BMW, and suddenly you notice every single BMW that drives past, you’ve never noticed BMWs before, and now there are millions of them everywhere, and it puts you on edge until the car comes closer and you know it’s not them.
What can you do?
Start making your thinking work for you, looking for Audi’s instead. If you do this, it helps if you find yourself noticing the vehicle they drive. Make a mental note to look for a different one. Or start looking for the car you’d like next, focus on a vehicle you want for yourself and consciously look for it, doesn’t matter how you end up getting it, know that one day you will be pleased for those who drive the type of car you’d like, and keep a lookout for the vehicle you’d like in your future.
Even when you know it’s not them because they’re miles away, your body goes into that panic and that stress. Your adrenaline starts pumping, and it can last for hrs after you heard the sound or whatever moment reminded you.
Becoming aware that this happens and why it happens is a good start to processing it and moving forward. It’s rediscovering that it’s just a memory and your imagination is just sending you on edge because of the past. Tell yourself that nothing is about to happen.
It could be the stress of it all now you are out and dealing with it all, the anger, the shock of everything that happened to you, now you are back to reality.
So the anxiety creeps back up from when you were with the narcissist even though you are no longer with them. Sometimes instead of dealing with it, you can just keep trying to push it away, or avoiding triggers.
Do you do the whole oh no, I do not want to go there, go away please to your own feelings? Let those feelings come out and when they do, reinforce them to yourself by telling yourself over and over. “I am safe, I am safe, “every time until it sinks in. If you wish to tell yourself also “ it’s just a memory” because, in your new-found reality, it is just a memory.
Straight after you break up, as your subconscious got trained into thinking that way over months or years of abuse, so now you need to retrain that subconscious with your conscious, so whenever you get those thoughts or feelings, you have to tell yourself the truth about the situation you’re in right now.
At the start, try telling yourself now that where you were, however many months or years ago when it comes up. You’re no longer in that place, and you’re so much better and so much safer now.
When you first got out of the relationship, you may not have allowed all your feeling to come out. Survival instinct, denial, you push them all down and away. Then all of a sudden, you get to a safe place, and it all comes out. That’s fine. It happens with the body and mind. It’s a survival instinct. It takes time as for how long that’s down to you to start taking steps to allow yourself to feel what you need to and talking to yourself kindly. Everyone handles it differently. Whatever the feeling you get after leaving or however many months after. Allow yourself to feel it, then correct yourself. With “understandably, I feel this way after what I went through, but I’m not in that place anymore. I’ve got this now.”
You got out, and you got to a safe place, then it all comes out, all of a sudden, and you feel like you’ve taken a step backwards, you haven’t taken a step back, this is normal for moving forwards. It takes time, it takes patience, and it takes practice.
You are allowed to let it all up and out in order to recover.
All the emotions you had in that relationship have sunk in when you leave you to bury them deep, but they are still in there. Now it’s time to let them all back out, and you are allowed to feel them so you can let them all out, let them go, train your brain to know you are safe again.
It took time to change yourself for who they wanted you to be slowly, now you can take your own time without fear or pressure to become who you want to be for yourself.
You might start off with a sense of relief and peace when you are first free. The rest will follow in time, it gets easier every day, you may have a moment where you think it’s got worse, but when you stop and think of how far you’ve come since the days of the narcissistic relationship when you remember what that relationship was honestly like how it made you feel then to who you are today. Look for the positive in today.
It’s ok if you’ve got other stuff on and think I can not deal with this right now, but when you can deal with it, let it out and give yourself and emotional peace.
You can sit and reflect, dance to some music, talk to friends, go for a walk, paint and let them out. Or write it all out. Then write about what’s good in your life now.
It will not last forever if you let it all out. Once you acknowledge it for what it is, sometimes we can be scared to look at it for what it is, bringing up bad memories, but it’s better to let them out then let them go than keep it buried. You observe it and look at it being aware of it, and it’ll already be changing. Don’t be afraid to look at it as you’re taking steps to change it, and you’re doing fantastic. Remember, now you can start taking actions for yourself, then you’ll start getting results for yourself, then you’ll gain new perspectives on your own life and your own new belief systems. You’ll be encouraged within yourself to achieve more positive outcomes for yourself.
So when these fears crop up, remind yourself, “ it’s just a memory I’m safe now.”
Even if they are throwing threats your way at the moment because you’re co-parenting, remind yourself of threats they’ve made in the past that they never carried out. Obviously, some will have bigger safeguarding issues where the children don’t see the narcissist, therefore stick with the no contact“ it’s just a memory I’m safe now.”
Narcissistic abuse affecting our memories and emotions.
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach. She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.
Protect yourself from gaslighting video.
Video to explain more on why you might end up with anxiety around the narcissist, and after narcissistic abuse.