Mod 7: Knowledge

I’ve referred to the process of healing from abuse before as “cleaning house.” Rather than considering yourself as broken and needing repair, you look at yourself like a house where there’s been some sort of toxic spill. You play the role of the guys in hazmat suits, cleaning out the mess and getting it sparkling clean again.

At this point your house is probably not looking brand-spanking new again, but it’s well on its way. So the last thing you want now is to have some jerk fling open the door and track mud all over the place, am I right? You never want that to happen again.

Meanwhile, you are determined to employ regular cleanings to maintain your house in good order. You take new pride in the condition of the place and want to keep it that way.

In this Knowledge section we’ll go over some info that will help you with both goals.

Circle-slash toxic people

By that subhead I mean, of course, no more toxic people allowed in your life. Having recognized you are prone to codependent behavior, now you know the importance of saying no and setting boundaries. If someone comes into your life who gives you grief, you won’t be like in the past, giving in to them in order to be “nice.” You will remember that your needs and wants matter, and it’s your responsibility and duty to look out for yourself first.

Many people recovering from narc abuse are understandably fearful they will fall prey to another narc in the future. They don’t trust their judgment of people, and are paranoid that another smooth-talking narcissist will get the better of them, bringing about a rerun of the horrible experience they are just now putting behind them.

Narc-darA little of this fear is probably a healthy thing, because it keeps your guard up. As far as I’m concerned, everyone should be on the lookout for narcissistic behavior in others and be ready to resist it or distant themselves from it. Now that you know how NPD works, you are very well equipped to recognize trouble when it comes your way. Narc-dar should be activated at all times, my friend. (This great illustration was created by a friend of mine on–love it!)

Of course that doesn’t mean these sadistically talented people won’t sometimes fool you. It’s certainly happened to me. But trust that before they really get their hooks on you, you’re going to sense something is wrong and flee. In the past, having icky feelings of being somehow violated didn’t really impact your choices. You were nice all the time. You felt that suffering the cruelty of others was a part of life to be endured, not resisted. But now you know better.

When “charming” and “nice” give way to “pushy” and “mean,” you will see through the narc’s trickery. It won’t be too late to escape, and you’ll know how crucial it is that you do.

One of my daughters started a new job she expected to be fun and a positive experience. Her new boss seemed to like her a lot and flattered her on her performance from time to time. However, she could also be distant and neglectful. At first my daughter found herself determined to please this supervisor, to convince her she’d hired a talent. And for awhile that feeling seemed to be normal, healthy ambition.

Then things went off the rails. The boss started to be abusive, demanding, cold and mean. It was then that my daughter and I realized what she was dealing with: a narcissist. The fake charm. The utter lack of empathy. The craving for power. The inability to feel any remorse.

My daughter’s supervisor had both the owner of the company and the head of human resources in her pocket. With my daughter’s history, it was becoming downright traumatic for her to be exposed to narcissistic abuse—her emotional well-being was deteriorating by the day. That left no recourse for dealing with the abuse other than to quit, which is what she did.

Like us, you know now that narcissism is not something to toy with. You too will not get so far down that torturous rabbit hole that you can’t pull yourself safely out. Don’t worry—there is wisdom a-plenty in experience, and this is one benefit that your abuse brought you. You know the score. You’re going to be fine.

So give any and all toxic people in your life the heave-ho. It’s not your job or responsibility to fix them if they have chosen to be cruel to you, or even merely to be negative and suck the joy from you. Save your time, energy and effort for yourself and those people in your life who need your support and deserve it.

Future relationships: the prognosis

Another typical concern of recovering narc victims is that they will never be able to form a healthy romantic relationship. Whether their abuser was a parent or a partner, they feel they may be ruined as far as all future dealings in the romance department.

Again, these concerns are understandable and even helpful. You do want to watch yourself so that old patterns don’t repeat. But trust that what you’ve been through has changed you significantly as far as your discernment of both narcissistic and codependent behavior patterns. Remember, I hadn’t a clue what made Max tick, but I certainly knew how to pick out someone who was nothing like that for my new life partner. You can do the same.

Also keep in mind that no one comes to the romance game as a perfect, flawless partner. Every single person to ever go on a date brought along some baggage. You don’t have to be perfect to be a good partner: you just have to be a real human. You just have to care, have empathy, be able to love. There’s effort involved in making it work, but if you and your partner put in that effort, you stand a very good chance of living happily ever after.

So what specifically can you do to continue living a peaceful, successful life? I’ll give you some suggestions in the Mod 7 Concepts for Healing

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