Women and men I've worked with have gone back time and time again to their Narcissistic Abuser, before they finally said 'Enough is enough!' and reached out to me. Previous to that, even though they knew that going back would just keep on breaking their hearts, the compulsion to go back was irresistible. Even even when they knew that, within as little as a couple of days, the agony and abuse would start all over again - they still went back. But there is a REASON why this happens, and here's why...
So many people go back to their Narcissistic Abusers several times before they finally know that they MUST leave for good, and they go No Contact. But every time they do go back, before they reach that pivotal point, they are subjected to more aggravation from family and friends who tell them how stupid they are, how they’re to blame, and that they’re asking for it, or worse, ‘enjoying’ all the drama!
Often though, your family and friends are supportive to start with, and they offer sympathy and support but they get totally fed up with you when you go back, and you end up, as one of my clients put it, 'totally burning your bridges'.
Unfortunately, people are very quick to do this. What they fail to understand is you can’t measure other people’s lives with your own yardstick.
If someone is judging you harshly, clearly they have no idea what you’ve been through, or are going through, and they are no friend to you, so decide that their opinion of you is totally irrelevant to you and your reality.
Only you know the pain you’ve suffered, and even you are probably only just beginning to understand it yourself. Narcissistic Abuse is a very complex from of emotional (and often physical) abuse, and unless you are directly involved and suffering the consequence, or you’re involved as a therapist, as I am, you really have no idea how much damage a Narcissist can inflict. So most people out there just don’t get it.
Whenever I discuss what I do with people who don’t know about Narcissism, I promise you they cannot believe what I’m saying, and usually pump me, in fascination, to learn more about this insidious, reprehensible form of abuse.
Narcissists destroy their targets emotionally, psychologically, financially, and often even physically. They rip families apart, turn their children against their other parent, lie convincingly to Police, Lawyers, Judges and Therapists, and successfully in most cases, fool them with their fake charisma and charm. They don’t care how much they hurt their victim. They’re like a runaway train that’s going to annihilate everything in its path. And in spite of all this hurt and pain, something very complex happens that keeps the victim trapped, and going back... and that something is..
Trauma bonding is now a recognized condition, one that keeps the victim going back to her (or his) abuser. There is a raft of scientific research into what is going on in the brain when Trauma Bonding occurs; IT’S REAL! And the person suffering can’t break it alone. They need professional help, as the ‘addiction’ to their abuser is akin to alcohol or drug addiction. I'll be doing a separate Q&A on Trauma Bonding, and sharing some tips on how you can recognise it, and start healing. In the case where you have the strength of will to stay away, you're eaten up inside with the agony of wanting to be back with that person. You could find yourself sleepless, crying a lot, unable to get out of bed, or spiralling into deep depression. None of which you, or anyone around you, understands. It's a hellish place to be.
So people who judge you for ‘going back’ or tell you to just 'Get over it and move on' just don’t understand. Most people who are involved with Narcissists are successfully ‘hoovered’ back into the relationship at least once, and often it’s several times (some I know have even married the same Narcissist twice), but this goes to show their manipulative skills are superlative – not that their victim is stupid or weak.
Just like the alcoholic falling off the wagon, or the drug addict leaving rehab and heading straight for his/her dealer, unless – and until - the addiction is truly broken, shattered, conquered, the victim will keep going back.
So when someone judges you, accept that they just don’t understand. If they’re a true friend, they will be open to learning more about this form of abuse, and be willing to support you by their growing understanding.
But if they are not, give them a wide berth, avoid them or keep your contact with them brief.
The only judgement that matters is your own, and you will break free when you are ready. When you make that decision, your journey to healing will really begin. And when you are ready, get a therapist who understands what you are dealing with and can help you to recover from Trauma Bonding.
If a Narcissist is ruining your life, you might want to join my closed Facebook Group, Infinite Self-Worth after Narcissistic Abuse, specifically for women who have been dealing with Narcissists:
Guys: I know there are plenty of you suffering too. I'll be starting a new group for Men very soon.