Updated: Jan 13
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The emotional hangover when we’re undergoing recovery from a narcissistic relationship is typically profound sadness and secondary to this feeling is rage. Rage that someone who professed to love you could suddenly turn around and treat you so entirely without empathy. The rage quite often is disguised as depression. The grief heals slowly and leaves scars. When the numbness has worn off there is deep pain and then there are attacks of emotional distress. Feeling desperate for the pain to stop, panic about never ending loneliness and doubt about leaving are common.
You might find yourself caught in the compulsive mental replay of the injustice you endured. The grief stages can last for several weeks gradually becoming less frequent for up to a year or more. The pain and fear that has been bottled up inside from a restrictive, growth-inhibiting relationship comes to the surface. Anger, blame, and helplessness, feels unmanageable and depressing. You might be asking yourself. “Where do I go from here?” “Will I ever find real love?” Confronting the pain and fear from two, ten, twenty years or more can tempt you to run for cover, withdraw into darkness, jump into a new relationship (unwise choice) or decide to do the serious emotional work of completing yourself.
It is important that you mourn the ending of your relationship because grieving is essential to healing. No matter how intense the painful emotions become you can endure them. You have to break away in as healthy a manner as possible so that you are no longer emotionally available. If you don’t make a clean emotional break you are likely to go back for more abuse. This can happen because codependent love has an addictive emotional character which results in withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal is similar to symptoms from stopping substance abuse. After the break-up, people will experience an obsessive longing for their abusive partner (drug), debilitating emotional pain, and often engage in self-destructive behavior. This emotional response is why some people feel incapacitated by the hurt and obsess about hooking up with an ex-partner for more abuse. In order to accept years of rejection the “victim” develops an insane tolerance for emotional pain. The high tolerance for abusive behavior is a coping strategy to protect the psyche and is often learned in childhood. This obsession can be changed when we learn to love ourselves. When you accept that the way you treat yourself is the problem, the temptation to go back to purgatory will end.
Staying in a destructive relationship is more painful than the temporary pain of healing from the abuse. The emotional hangover will end and you will feel the immense relief of no longer walking on egg shells, needing to justify, explain, or apologize to anyone. An abusive partner sucks the energy and joy out of your life. The tension and conflict is exhausting. Making a commitment to be kind to yourself through this process is life affirming and energizing. It is also protection against tolerating abuse in future relationships. Your grief will change when you understand your needs and how to get them met while learning to have fun without an intimate relationship.
Research tells us that long-term happy marriages/partnerships are formed by people that were already happy before the relationship started. When you complete the grieving process and learn to love yourself you will find a new partner who is capable of love.
Tips for healing the emotional hangover from narcissistic abuse:
● Show up for yourself by repeating over and over: "I am worthy," "Sad feelings won't last
forever," "I will make it out of this," "I'm doing the best I can do
● Feel good about your decision to leave
● Invest in yourself by learning about narcissistic abuse and codependency
● Give yourself a break from intimate relationships until you have healed and are comfortable being alone
● Invest in your self-acceptance, protection, and emotional growth
● Know you will survive the abuse, learn from the experience, and have deeper self-knowledge
● Force yourself to develop new interests and social outlets
● Give yourself permission to seek the help of a therapist familiar with narcissistic abuse
● Acknowledge the anger that you feel so you don’t accept behaviors that hurt you
● If you are feeling depressed ask yourself what you might be angry about
● Examine your fears and insecurity with compassion, not terrorizing yourself with shame
● Commit to taking care of yourself even though you may fear in your ability to do so
● Believe in the ability to competently deal with feelings, solve problems, and take responsibility for your life
● Be open to what you are doing to create your life situation instead of being a victim
● Spend time each morning focused on forgiving your partner for not being able to love
● Let go of resentments so you can be free from obsessive thoughts
● Learn to trust yourself by finding out what is right for you