Narcissistic abuse, codependency and the trauma bond

One of the most difficult things to recover from after narcissistic abuse is the trauma bond.  Mainly because it doesn’t make any sense.  Your brain cannot comprehend why on earth you would want to have anything to do with them, miss them or even still love them.  

The truth is that narcissists are like a drug and so getting over them is like recovering from an addiction and anyone who knows anything about addiction will know that that is no easy gig.  Our body craves the drug (in this case it is the chemicals adrenaline, cortisol and some dopamine) and withdrawal is painful.  So painful in fact that we think the only answer to recovering is to take the drug (get in touch, go back, sacrifice ourselves).

It is therefore important that you have a plan to cope with the withdrawal phase.

  1. Get specialist support.  There is a reason that addicts do better in rehab.  They are surrounded by people who understand the addiction and the cycle.

  2. Make a commitment to live in the here and now.  They were future faking at times so try not to get caught up in the fantasy they created.  Make a list of the reasons you are better off out of the relationship.

  3. Try to meditate to slow down your nervous system which will give you some relief from the constant flow of thoughts going through your head.  They are leading you down a dark path.  Meditation helps to slow that down and also can help you to sleep better.

  4. You don’t need to have all the answers right now.  Be kind to yourself.  Make one decision at a time.  Praise yourself for the good ones and look at what you would do differently if you aren’t happy with the decision you made.

  5. Be selfish!  This is your time to heal, don’t let anyone interupt that with their own demands.  Make a mental note of who isn’t supporting your self care time. 

  6. Accept that you probably will relapse at some point. Be kind to yourself.  You are in recovery and it isn’t linear.

  7. Find things you love doing.  Taking a bath, going to bed early.  Anything that you couldn’t/wouldn’t do in the relationship, take real pleasure in having the freedom to do it now.

  8. Make friends with your emotions.  They are your guidance system.  Be aware of any urges to reach out to someone else when negative emotions strike.  A huge part of recovery from codependency is being able to take care of yourself and that includes self soothing when we are in emotional pain.

  9. Don’t fight the grieving process.  It might feel strange because you know this person wasn’t good for you but it is a loss, even if it is a beneficial one.  Don’t deprive yourself the chance to grief but have support in place for those tough moments when you think it is the narcissist you are missing.

  10. Decide on some boundaries for yourself and others.  Use this experience as an extreme learning experience and take what you have learnt to rebuild your life.  Boundaries are supposed to keep us safe, not imprisoned though so remember that one day you will want to connect with others.  Don’t put barbed wire on your walls!

  11. Start to think about YOUR future.  What would you like to do?  What would bring you the most happiness?  This can be especially tough for codependents who have spent most of their lives thinking about what others want so start in the moment.  Are you warm enough?  Do you want to carry on doing what you are doing or do something else?  One step at a time remember.

  12. Find people who support you rather than lead you back into temptation.  This could be a new relationship, friends or family who have similar toxic traits.  Now is a great opportunity to break that pattern.

If you are struggling with releasing the trauma bond and feel you would benefit from specialist support, book a consultation with our narcissistic abuse recovery expert Janine