As part of our Stowe guests series, we are joined by Louisa Hope from Therapy Knutsford, who shares her simple yet extremely effective tips to help people cope when separating from a narcissistic, abusive relationship.
Build a strong support network
Narcissists are controllers, they try to alienate their victims from their support network. (Read here for seven signs you are in a relationship with a narcissist)
They don’t like their victims to be strong and supported as this threatens their hold over you.
Gather your supportive tribe, people that really understand what you are going through, whether it be a friend, a therapist, a specialist lawyer, a Women’s Aid advocate or family member; the more supportive the network you have the more empowered you become.
Understanding is power. Once you know what you are actually dealing with you can predict the next move of the narcissist.
Narcissists don’t like being discovered, they lose their edge. You can better prepare yourself when you understand the tools narcissists use to control their victims, you gain the upper hand.
The less contact you have with a narcissist the better. They are toxic and you can recover and heal much quicker with minimal contact.
If you can find a mediator or family member who can buffer the exchange of contact it can reduce anxiety levels and the narcissist is more likely to behave better.
Use the written word for contact if and when you need to. If you share children with a narcissist, co-parenting isn’t effective and the minimum contact that you have the better.
Narcissists can’t co-parent. Set up new secure contact information, even devices/sims if needed. Have a cheap, pay as you go phone for just dealing with the ex when the children are away, this creates distance and protects your personal space.
Victims of narcissistic abuse are experiencing emotional, domestic abuse, often in denial of the abuse as a coping strategy and in a highly anxious state.
Divorcing a narcissist can be extremely stressful. Victims often suffer from very low confidence and are dealing with extreme anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
This kind of abuse can even become addictive as the brain secretes chemicals when in this heightened state of fight or flight, leading to victims allowing the abuse to continue.
Healing these wounds is a superpower. Narcissists lose their power when their victim starts to heal, becomes self-assured and develops phenomenal coping skills. They are no longer a host for toxic emotional destruction. Narcissists lose their interest when their manipulative behaviours no longer work. You will thrive moving forward.
Become aware of your self-talk
If you are feeling depressed you may be using critical self-talk. Start to use mantra’s that affirm positive self-talk like,
‘I’m doing really well’, ‘I’m good enough’, ‘I’m resilient’,’ ‘I have all the skills and support to get through this’.
If you are feeling anxious that’s often future based, try and live in the ‘Now’,
Try guided meditations, body scanning and relaxation techniques to help you calm your mind. Try playing empowering, uplifting music, like, ‘This girl is on fire’ or ‘Let’s get it started’.
Create a playlist of songs that uplift you and empower you. Remember, the mind responds to the pictures you make in your mind and the words you say to yourself, make yours work for you!
Make sure that you spend time looking after yourself.
Take care of your diet, your sleep and your emotional health. It’s easy to want to move away from a bad feeling by comfort eating or drinking too much but you will feel much better if you can prioritise your health and wellbeing, tell yourself that,
‘First you make your habits, then your habits make you’.
Create habits in your life that move you towards your goals of empowerment. When you take care of yourself, you create a safe and strong platform for your children too.