Isolation, Loneliness, and Disconnection in the Aftermath of Narcissistic Abuse
Written by Randi G. Fine, Author of Close Encounters of the Worst Kind
Every survivor of narcissistic abuse experiences feelings of isolation, loneliness, and disconnection in the beginning stages of the healing process. This is perfectly “normal” and to be expected. If you are feeling this way and concerned about it, it may help to know that you have a lot of company. Nearly everyone recovering from narcissistic abuse feels exactly as you do.
After coming out of a war zone, shell shocked, disoriented, and confused, it is only natural to seek comfort, support, and validation from friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. It is painfully disappointing to discover that those you counted on for support have turned their backs to you when you need them the most. One or two people may stick by your side. Most will minimize the severity of the experiences you claim and impatiently tell you to “just get over it.”
You wonder how people who claimed to care about you can act this way; if the situation were reversed you would never turn away from them. And so, after reaching out to people for support and being rejected, shamed, and blamed every time you do, you are driven into solitude and silence.
The people who have let you down may seem heartless, but often their reaction is based on ignorance. They have no reference point in regard to the traumatic effects of narcissistic abuse. Having never witnessed your abuse or seen your abuser’s true nature, it is nearly impossible for them to believe the outrageous stories you are telling them. Should the situation have been reversed, and without having personally experienced this bizarre behavior, your reaction may have been the same. Nothing about narcissistic abuse makes sense to the logical mind.
It is generally believed that it takes two to make or break a relationship; a legitimate belief in regard to legitimate relationships. This is the standard you are unfortunately being held to. But there is nothing legitimate about a relationship with a narcissist. Though it may appear to be a typical relationship, it is not. It is a predator/victim situation.
The victim enters into what he or she thinks is an honest relationship with a sincere person. Had the victim known that the person was an imposter/actor/con, he or she would never have not gotten involved or allowed themselves to be brainwashed and manipulated. Once sucked in, the campaign of abuse begun, they are trapped.
Once victims muster up enough courage to leave their abusers (or they are thrown away) they are further punished through the narcissist’s smear campaign. Flying monkeys are rounded up, lies are spread. They are falsely blamed for the distress their abusers allege to be suffering from by people both familiar and unfamiliar. This assault campaign makes it nearly impossible for them to go about their normal daily routine without someone sneering at them and making comments to or about them. Furthermore they feel triggered by everything and everyone. Isolation seems to be the only option.
Other factors contribute to the isolation of a survivor. Those with empathic sensitivity find the energy overload of the outside world impossible to bear, especially while trying to heal from their trauma. It is much easier to be alone.
Empath or not, the emotional safety survivors feel when they are alone and unchallenged is a welcomed relief. While the rest of the world seems frightening and dangerous, home/solitude feels safe and secure.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling safe in solitude. The first stage of healing from narcissistic abuse can only occur in a bubble of protection; no threats, no triggers. In this way solitude serves an important purpose.
Allow the peace and calm of your solitude without concern of what everyone else is doing. For now you are exactly where you need to be. The time will come when you will feel ready to integrate yourself back in society. You don’t have to force interactions with others until it feels natural to do so. Ignore the pressure people put on you. You have spent enough time succumbing to the requirements of others. Now you get to decide what is right or wrong for you.
Healing from the trauma of narcissistic abuse is your primary concern now. Love yourself. Respect yourself. Trust your intuition. The world will just have to wait. You are in recovery.