Heartbreak and Healing from Narcissistic Abuse
by Eric Casaccio
Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Expert Kaleah LaRoche and acclaimed author Gregory Zaffuto bring inspirational hope to the used and the abused.
From the independent professional to the codependent personality, narcissists can extract the vulnerability from anyone. In fact, Psychotherapist and Founder of World Narcissistic Abuse Day Bree Bonchay examined the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and concluded 158 million people in the United States have been affected by someone with narcissistic personality disorder.
Falling in love with a narcissist is like a quick fairytale come true. Their appeal makes them impossible to resist. “There is the initial investment and energy that we call love bombing,” says LaRoche. “This is being charismatic, charming, romantic, giving, loving, empathetic, compassionate and all the things we think we want in another human being but that is not authentic or genuine, it is part of the dynamic to secure that energy source.”
When narcissists obtain the love and faith of another, their manipulative tactics soon begin. “They typically imitate love, and they gain your trust and acceptance,” Zaffuto says. “From there, the abuse happens where it turns into a controlling situation when they are manipulating you, and it breaks a person down, which defines the emotional and psychological abuse.”
In the early abusive phase, victims overlook red flags and become too understanding and forgiving. The love for the narcissist blinds them, and it becomes an unconscious addiction.
Eventually, the narcissist’s self-projection, triangulation, and gas-lighting schemes begin making the victim feel like everything is their fault until they are devalued and discarded and left with an emptiness to deal with.
“It’s horrifying, it’s traumatizing, it destroys the fabric of their reality, it destroys their self-confidence, and ruins their sense of self-worth,” says LaRoche who describes the experience as a soul rape. “I look at the soul itself as the storehouse for your essence and your energy. If your essence has been taken from you through manipulation, game playing, gas-lighting, and making you think you’re going crazy, you lose that essence little by little.”
So, what is the first step towards healing? Going “no contact” with a narcissist as feasibly possible. Block them on social media, e-mail, and phone. If a letter comes in the mail, don’t read it. If a mutual friend brings him or her up, change the subject. If there are children or family involved, do contact through a third party. Cut off all unnecessary information about the narcissist, period.
“You pretty much have to keep yourself unavailable to the narcissist because they will do whatever it takes to get in contact with you again to pull you back into chaos and abuse,” says Zaffuto. “It’s all about boundaries in every aspect of recovering.”
At the beginning of recovery, expect to feel obsessed, anxiety, and longing for the narcissist. These normal emotions are all part of the post-traumatic stress. Ultimately, these emotions line up with the truth. “Educate yourself. Know what you’re dealing with,” says LaRoche. “To heal, you have to stop being a victim immediately. It’s like licking your wounds through experiencing your anger, your rage, your pain, then take your power back.”
What kind of healing actions can one take to numb the pain? Write a letter to the narcissist. Do not send it, but safely burn the pages afterward. Allow grieving to happen because there is a love loss here. Love from a narcissist is never real, but love one has for another is always valid.
“It comes to you that this person has totally lied, has completely betrayed, and has totally used you. There’s a sadness that comes with that, but again, what you’re actually doing is purging more of the truth out. That hurt has to be there for you to keep moving to a higher level,” says Zaffuto. “The middle phase of recovery can be like two steps forward, one step back, but going in the right direction at the same time.”
The abuse is never the victim’s fault, but self-reflection is essential. One could spend the rest of their life trying to figure out a narcissist, but it’s crucial the victim goes inward and heals their own wounds that may have attracted the narcissist into their lives, to begin with. That’s where counseling, coaching, and community is most effective.
During Zaffuto’s personal healing process, he partnered with the original creator of the Facebook community page After Narcissistic Abuse There Is Life, Light & Love and connected over 125,000 people around the world. “In my community, it’s just really about validation to get people to go from the abuse situation to start the recovery situation,” says Zaffuto. “It’s a forum where we are there for each other. I’m not just the person that runs it; I am part of that community and every other person that is there is also a contributor. Everything they have to say is important and validating.”
Zaffuto’s community inspired him to write the best-selling book From Charm to Harm and Everything in Between with a Narcissist. This accomplishment would not exist without his personal romance with a narcissist, and that goes for LaRoche’s success as well.
“The people that do the healing work have potential to have these great spiritual awakenings, to develop this really incredible self-awareness and live from a much higher place,” says LaRoche. “If you’re willing to walk through the fire and the darkness, the end process can be great self-actualization, self-love and most the empowering relationship with yourself. Listen to your intuition, be true to yourself, and follow your own inner guidance.”
Bonchay, B. (2017, May 24). Narcissistic Abuse Affects Over 158 Million People in the U.S. Retrieved from: https://psychcentral.com/lib/narcissistic-abuse-affects-over-158-million-people-in-the-u-s/