How to Recover after a Narcissistic Relationship
One of the defining characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a lack of accurate perception of reality. The narcissist sees the world through a self-absorbed lens in which they are the stars and others are there to support and serve them. Those attracted to the narcissist are dazzled by the superficial self-confidence, convincing opinions, charming personality, and shocking persistence. The non-narcissist frequently abandons their personal beliefs, standards, morals, and values in exchange for peace within the relationship.
But this is where the seeds of dysfunction are laid. The non-narcissist is unaware that their desire for peace is actually a slow corrosion of their identity. As a person becomes relationally entangled, the distorted perception of the narcissist now dominates nearly every aspect of their life. There are new expectations for what to wear, how to act, who to spend time with, when to engage, and where to be. The more the non-narcissist follows the rules, the less clearly they see reality.
Life becomes a filtered lens controlled solely by the narcissist. This foggy view limits a person to see real danger and keeps them on high alert. The survival instinct kicks in as they settle for an anxious environment wrought with fear of disappointing the narcissist sadly believing this is living. So when the relationship ends, it is no wonder the non-narcissist struggles.
The stages for recovery are slow but well worth the effort as in the end, a person can regain their identity and thrive. Erik Erikson’s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development is used as the foundation for recovery because it highlights the need to begin from the beginning and rework nearly every aspect of a person’s life.