HELPING CLIENTS HEAL FROM NARCISSISTIC ABUSE – Wendy Blanchard, M.S., CHHC, CPS

I recently began working with a client who is being pulverized by her ex, a narcissist. She arrived beaten down by this man who is a master manipulator, abusive, and relentless. She came to me with the awareness that she needs to learn the tools that are imperative for her to allow herself to be released from this toxicity. However, she, like myself when I was in my former relationship with a narcissist, S, is making excuses for him, giving him pass after pass while he is mentally abusive towards her in his own unwell mental health. We began to explore what her own inner dialogue was when this man lied, manipulated, cheated, love bombed, and then more of lying, manipulating, cheating, and yes, more love bombing.

What is love bombing? Here is an excerpt from Psychology Today:

“Getting hit by a love bomb feels glorious. The lavish attention and affection seem to answer our prayers. We’ve found Mr. or Ms. Right — our soul mate — unsuspecting that we’ve been targeted by a narcissist. The bomber abruptly changes colors and loses interest, and our dream comes crashing down. The rejection is excruciating, especially at the height of romance. It’s a traumaticshock to our heart.  What we thought was real was, in fact, a mirage.

Sometimes, partners are ghosted by their disappearing suitor, or are dumped by text, email, or a call. If they’re rejected in person, they’re bewildered by the coldness of the narcissist, who just recently expressed love and promised an amazing future together. They may discover that they’ve been disposed of for a new prospect, cheated on, or two-timed all along. It’s devastating and can be hard to let go, because all of their memories are happy and wonderful. It takes time to accept the truth of who the bomber really was. Denial protects victims from the painful truth that the relationship was not what they imagined.

Love bombing and narcissistic supply

Research shows that love bombers have low self-esteem and are often narcissists; although not all narcissists are love bombers, and some non-narcissists are. Despite a façade of confidence and independence, narcissists feel insecure and empty. They require constant reassurance or “narcissistic supply” from those around them, but like vampires, it’s never enough to fill their emptiness or satisfy their hunger.”

(I once asked my ex why all of his 200+ Facebook friends are women, some putting kisses and hearts on his posts who knew he was in a committed (not so much) relationship.When I asked about one in particular, he said she was his “realtor,” and two years later, this woman showed up at my condo to represent the buyer. I recognized her, and she told me the truth. They had dated.

He had one male “friend,” that he talked to once in a blue moon, but was always surrounded by women on social media, phone calls, texts. He also “lived” on almost every dating site known to man, even in our “committed relationship,” and justified it. And, when we had just decided to try “one more time,” on Valentines Day, as I sat next to this man, he received a “Happy Valentine’s Day” text from another woman with a kiss and swirling hearts. He justified it, said it was “just a friend,” and changed the subject. This became a pattern, or actually, looking back, it was his MO all along.)

“Rather than confidence, they actually fear that they’re undesirable. Their sense of self is determined by what others think of them; they try to control what others think to feel better about themselves. Thus, love bombing is a means to seek attention, boost their ego, and fulfill self-enhancement needs for sex, power, and control. When they’re depressed, have suffered a loss, or are disenchanted with their last conquest, they look for new narcissistic supplies.

Many narcissists engage in game-playing, and use relationships for self-enhancement. Dating is intense and moves quickly. The attention can be dizzyingly exciting to the recipient. There’s frequently excessive communication, reflecting bombers’ neediness for affirmation, usually by text or social media, where they can exercise more control at a distance.

Idealization and devaluation

Narcissists idealize prospective partners to augment their own lack of self-esteem. The thinking is, “If I can win over the admiration of this very attractive person, then I must be worthy.”

Their low self-esteem is also raised. They finally feel seen and appreciated, unlike in their childhood.”

I lived through all of this with my ex, who is still ghosting me 3 years after I found the strength and self love to leave. He reaches out every few months. (Absolutely no respect for boundaries) He blocks and unblocks me every few months, or as it so happened yesterday, I received a notification on Twitter that he was now following me, but this is only his attempt at control after I believe he was triggered by a blog that I wrote about a friendship which I cherish with a man. When I clicked on the notification, I learned that I have been blocked. And it works in reverse. I received a notification a few months ago that he was requesting to follow me on Instagram, which was his sneaky way of letting me know that I am no longer blocked. Again, when I clicked on it, he had withdrawn the request. When he was following me for a time on Twitter, he does not “LIKE” any of my posts, or comment, he just lurks in the background. Can you say, “Stalker?” I have finally reported this creepy behavior. I have had to document so much, and have had a secret account during the times he has blocked me. He had been writing the most vicious untruths about me in my years of living with substance use disorder and using hashtags that are so degrading to myself, and to the entire recovery community. Yet, when we were together, he sang my praises for my hard work in my own recovery, and for all of the hundreds of people I have helped in their recoveries as I worked in the field. He eventually made his account private, as is mine now due to his stalking. He keeps our “song” posted in his IG profile which is still accessible for anyone to see, all for my entertainment. Please…

When we were together, (he told me he was obsessed with me) he would read and repeat every comment on my Facebook posts from any male acquaintance, friend, and in his delusion and thirst for control, spin the comment to make it look like I was hiding or guilty of something…anything he could conjure up, putting his own “meaning” onto the innocent words. I was so taken aback at first, but soon realized this was “projection.” I was being accused of ALL of the things he was engaging in, and there was not one ounce of truth to any of the accusations he directed at me. He was projecting all of his cheating, lying, embellishing, “white lying” which was a term used often by him, and manipulating to deflect from his own behaviors.

Due to my own volatile and abusive childhood, and young adulthood, I confused this toxic behavior with love. It was all that I knew “love” to be…controlling, nasty, manipulative, secrets, silent treatment, withdrawing any affection, explosive, hovering.

My client has a similar story as do so many women. We feel that the more loving and empathetic that we are, the more we will encourage them to change…to “fix” them.

NOT TRUE…

And let us look for a loving partner, not a “project.” I now look for a partner who comes fully assembled.

And, when I finally put an end to all communication, my ex wrote me an email that was evil and abusive, just like his Instagram posts, this is his attempt at engaging me. No surprise at all. I expected his response as it has been a pattern of behavior when he feels threatened in losing his control in our connection. I lived with this behavior for 5 plus years. This email has absolutely no impact on me as I am no longer phased in the least by this man’s words or opinions. I stand in my power. I know the woman that I am, and love the woman that I am. He can no longer infuse doubt and hurt. He is mentally unwell. This I have known for years.

As I explore with my client the underlying self talk, and self worthlessness, yes, worthlessness, I encourage her to “Remember the Five A’s…”

A healthy relationship encompasses Attention, Affection, Appreciation, Acceptance, and Allowing. (What we allow will continue.) Are you experiencing this in your current relationship?

Have you set healthy boundaries in place? What is one healthy boundary you can implement today that will begin the process of releasing this toxic relationship?

What does your lifelong relationship look like, sound like? Are you receiving any of this in your current relationship?

Do you believe you deserve to be loved in a fulfilling and exciting way?

What will bring you peace in a relationship. Make a list.

What in your past are you still attached to that was traumatic, or chronically stressful, yet was your safety net? What is your “payoff” in choosing to remain in this toxic relationship? We carry our traumatic childhood experiences with us into our present as these experiences have shaped our “normal,” yet as we mature, we begin to see other healthy relationships and understand that what we are experiencing is all but normal.

What is one baby step, one small action step, a healthy practice, that you can implement this week, and continue to practice every day for the next 2 months that will offer you wellness in relationships, and with self? If we choose a healthy practice and implement this practice/mindset for 2 months, research shows that it will become a new healthy habit, and lifestyle. Using self care practices to achieve wellness, and where we work on resetting our mindset to a healthy mindset where we only allow others in who enhance our lives, is where we grow and evolve.

Write down your top 10, non negotiable, relationship must have’s. Are these desires being fulfilled?

For me, as I continue to date and hope to find my life partner, I share my top non negotiables, in addition to the “5 A’s”: (in no particular order):

Honesty

Intimacy

Family oriented

Trust

Spirituality

Ongoing Communication

Vulnerability

Empathy/Kindness

Fun loving

Total commitment/monogamy

Forgiveness

Transparency

I now support this client and other client’s through my lived experiences, as well as through my training that I apply in my own life.

I stand in my power. I am awake. I am keenly aware of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder within the first few meetings with a potential partner, and I run, not walk, to the nearest exit.

It is a privilege and an honor to guide others away from the beast to the beauty of self love, self preservation, and self respect.

“No,” is a full response, and does not need any further explanation.

People look so different once we become awake and aware and truly see who they are. #TRUTH

I have seen first hand what happens when a narcissist is confronted with facts and evidence. They deflect, they get angry, they get nervous, and throw a tantrum, and attempt to make their victim feel that they are delusional. No babe, it is NOT you. The narcissist is a pro. They do not have the capacity to love, only the capacity to control, if we allow it. Their actions and words, love bombing included, are robotic.

A narcissist does not feel love, or loyalty. They do not encompass empathy or compassion. They cannot make a commitment, or meet obligations or responsibility long term. After about 3-4 months, the reality slaps the victim in the face. Wake up babe. The narcissist can no longer wear the mask. It is suffocating them. They become uncaged. They have no remorse, regret or shame. My ex never voluntarily apologized. Only when I complained enough, I got a barely audible “apology”, and once in a “heartfelt text” that was part of his MO. Please, not an ounce of sincerity. Narcissists (men and women) target those who encompass a high degree of empathy and compassion, and lacks the ability to enforce healthy boundaries. LEVEL UP.

Part of our healing is being willing to reset our mindset, and to reshape our nervous system which shows us that the past is over, and that we can make healthy choices in the present to support our overall health, and safety and connection with ourselves, and those with whom we are connected.

Stand in your power. Do not disrespect, dishonor, disgrace or disown your own needs, and desires. Do not minimize and diminish all that you so well deserve…in love, in peace, in joy, in freedom. THIS IS YOUR RIGHT.

Do not offer this personality type negative attention, as this only fuels their hold on you. Ask yourself, “What will bring me peace in this moment? DEEP BREATH, CHANGE YOUR ACTIVITY, THOUGHT, ENVIRONMENT. SELF CARE.

Do not feed their ego. It is like feeding a caged “wild” animal. They seem fine behind the fence, but that fence is a false sense of security. DO NOT BE FOOLED.

Do not sink to their level. Narcissists love a good fight. It gives them power to push your buttons. Then if they are successful, they regain their control. TAKE BACK YOUR POWER.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is considered to be a mental illness. Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is 1 of the 10 clinically recognized personality disorders listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,Fifth Edition (DSM5).

As I continue to do this work, I learn more about some of my own deficits in giving away my power, even after years of recovery under my belt, and I am grateful to have this awareness. Being awake and willing to do the hard work in order to become the best version of myself is a Divinely guided blessing. And, it is a lifelong process.

In serving others, I learn, I grow, I evolve. And, I pass it on.

And, we create a ripple effect of wellness.

Love and blessings,

Wendy