If the narcissistic relationship was so destructive, why in the world would we feel a sense of loss afterward?
It’s generally understood from researchers that when we have a big loss in life we’ll walk through a 5 stage process before we come to grips with the loss and feel we’re moving on.
Those stages are commonly known as:
It can get complicated though because so much anger, pain, and emotional abuse (perhaps even physical abuse) was involved, so there’s significant additional twists and turns in the grieving process.
Having walked through this myself and after coaching so many others who have experienced it, I developed a modified framework of grieving to help people understand what’s “normal” and what’s not when moving through the process.
Here’s a snapshot of the 5 Stages:
STAGE 1 – Shock & Dissonance
STAGE 2 – Truth-Seeking & Outrage
STAGE 3 – Depression & Anxiety
STAGE 4 – Healing & Affirmation
STAGE 5: – New Purpose & Beautiful Life
The goal is to grieve well so what you went through becomes a point of reference rather than enslavement. The outcome is that you’ll emerge on the other side stronger, wiser, and even better than before.
“Grieving well” is not…
…Stuffing, dodging, minimizing, and avoid the emotional fallout
…Stoically trying to hold it all together (“No really, I’m fine”)
…Self-medicating and anesthetizing with substances, distractions, and activities
…Harboring fantasies of payback
… Filling the void with a new relationship
The mental and emotional fallout of a narcissistic relationship from the past doesn’t just evaporate. It changes you in not so great ways unless you’re deliberate about a healing process.
I’ve worked with women who escaped the narcissistic relationship 3 years, 5 years, 10 years prior, yet are still noticeably haunted by the echoes of it.
You can’t outrun and outwork it.
You have to choose to turn and face it to find your freedom.