Dragon Heart here. This is a post that I wrote in response to a "yahoo answers" Question in 2008. Here is the Answer I wrote which I think still works well today. It also reflects the recovery I was able to gain after 10 years of working at it.
Can Children of Narcissist Parents Ever Recover?
YES, you can recover from NPD Parents!
First of all you need to learn about recovery and what recovery really is.
There is 12 step recovery and then there is therapy and then there is Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT or "Tapping" is a technique to relieve emotional disstress and clear the issues that are stuck), and there is the Recovery Model in the mental health field.
There are stages to your recovery:
First you realize something is wrong and you go about searching for answers.
Then you discover what NPD is and it is a devastating stage to go through as it is like losing a parent that never existed in the first place. Seek support from someone who will listen and validate you and not deny your reality. It is extremely hard to find someone who can supportively listen to someone talk negatively about a parent to the extent of never wanting to speak to your parent ever again. This is shocking to people who had loving parents. Thus, your reality is invalidated which causes further injury, emotional abandonment and rejection.
Then one may look further to either find a therapist who "gets it" or to seek your own kind - to see if there are any other adult children of NPD parents. The sad yet good news is that there are many of us out there and they are forming online support groups more and more. Just do a Google search on what you are looking for, like "narcissistic parent forums" or something like that and do some research. If you found your way here, you know enough to do some searches.
There you will find support and MOST IMPORTANTLY - VALIDATION. It is the one major thing we did not have growing up, we had no voice, we had no boundaries, we had no loving care and our reality was invalidated so much we were left not knowing what to believe, even our own gut intuition. Thus we had to guess at what normal is. And so forth.
Then the next stage of recovery once you have found your "tribe" is the stage of just being able to finally talk about it, hear how others are talking about it, hear how others are dealing with it, etc. etc. This is a bittersweet stage but it can bring a sense of a new freedom and renewed hope. You get what you never had - support, validation, listening. It's like the family you never had. You may not like everyone but you know they "get it" and that forms a special bond that helps repair the fact that you had a mother/father who could not bond.
When you start to get the feeling that you are starting to get tired of hearing all the venting and complaining and realizing that the focus is still on the NPD person, past or present you may be one of the lucky ones to look for further recovery. I don't mean this in a bad way - we all need the venting stage, it can take years, but we don't want to be there forever. There is more than just being validated and seeing how wicked and bad the NPD is.
That is when you begin to look at you. This can be done in therapy and or via 12 Step, say Alanon or Codependency type recovery or Adult Children type of recovery. It's not really enough, but close enough. Some of them don't really "get it" either because their focus is on alcoholism/addiction typically, of course, and most people in society don't even know what a Personality Disorder is. But there is alot to be said for the unconditional support there and there are alot of simularities as well.
But if you take the Pro-Active suggestions for SELF-CARE you will be recovering. You will be recovering yourself and your self-neglect behaviors that you internalized from having a parent that programmed you to love them but not yourself.
Self-Care is extremely important - I can't emphasize this enough.
Because when you take care of yourself and all your needs
(1.) you are providing what you did not get as a child and
(2.) you are experiencing what you did not get as a child.
There is a healing magic in that experience.
OK, back to recovery. There is also The Recovery Model which is relatively new and it's in the Mental Health field and it's about Wellness. So you can search for WRAP - Wellness Recovery Action Plans.
Basically it's about self-care to stay well and knowing your triggers and red-flags and having wellness/healthy strategies in dealing with them in new ways.
This is great because you are creating your own individualized recovery program. Your recovery can include going to 12 step, or not, or other support type meetings - support for emotional abuse, childhood abuse, relationship abuse, etc. etc.
Your recovery is really about taking a look at yourself and stop blaming the NPD for all your problems which in turn helps empower you to make changes to be more in control of your life and your reactions and not feel like a helpless victim anymore. (Yes, the NPD did cause you alot of problems, but its our responsibility to recover so those problems don't control us.)
Once in Recovery, alot of emotions come up naturally.
The best, easiest, painless, fastest way I have ever found - and I've been looking for a good 20 years now - is EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques).
They don't call it Emotional Freedom for nothing. (By the way - I will be posting up Free Tapping Diagrams to this blog soon!)
It truly helps relieve you of distressful, intense feelings and the body sensations that go along with them when you are triggered and upset.
All those fears and anxieties, all the regrets and resentments, the rage, the deep sadness and pain, all the shit you put up with, all the sick dysfunctional relationships you wasted your love and energy and time on - ALL of these things can be "Tapped" on.
You Tap on 14 acupuncture points while feeling the distressful feeling - you don't even have to get all the way into the feeling, you don't have to have a breakdown or breakthrough or whatever, and you don't even need to analyze or figure it out and all that. All you have to do is Tap (which stimulates your positve energy to clear out the negative energy that is stuck) and your body relaxes, the emotion subsides and your brain then naturally sort of processes the issue and you can think clear and you sort of feel like it's behind you now a little more. Sometimes alot more. Sometimes you feel like you're over it completely. Depends on the issue and how much you Tap on it.
You can learn EFT for FREE right from the source at emofree.com where it's creator Gary Craig offers a FREE manual of how to learn it - it's really very easy, you just memorize 14 tapping spots, and the site has hundreds of pages of examples and tips etc. all free. Note: (Gary Craig has since retired and this site was bought by a group. There may still be a free Tapping book there - but if not, I can get you one.)
So I thought, "why not use Tapping on NPD Parent Recovery issues"? You can use it on anything. You can also search YouTube for videos showing you how to use EFT/Tapping and find some great Tap-A-Longs. It may look or feel weird at first, but once you have a Tapping experience, you realize suffering is optional. It's a great feeling to finally have a tool at your fingertips that makes a real difference.
So that brings us to the final stage of recovery which is basically getting a life and living it for the rest of your life. It is about creating your life the way you want it:
learning how to socialize with the good people,
learning what to do with your triggers and issues,
learning what you enjoy in your life,
taking actions that are positive and have positive experiences and results for you.
And therein lies the recovery life - you do things that give you a positive experience.
Notice I said DO things - you don't wait until you "feel like it" or until you are recovered or healed enough or until your depression goes away or whatever, you are Pro-Active and you take Action and you "just do it" like Nike says.
You can Tap, you can read spiritual and recovery material, you can pray, you can work the 12 Steps, you can devise a WRAP, you can go to therapy, you can read books on your disorders, you can express yourself in groups or in journals, but until you begin to IMPLEMENT healthy actions into your life not much can or will change for you.
Why is that?
Well, what the heck do you think you are recovering? You are recovering your life and yourself.
It's more than what you are recovering from; it’s what you are recovering to. What are you moving toward?
What action can you take today that will make you feel good, valued, special, loved, healthy, well?
What are you even like when you are well?
What actions do you have to take every day to stay well? Every week or month or once in awhile?
Because if you did not take these actions what would happen?
You would relapse, whatever relapse means to you. You can relapse into old behaviors, old ways of thinking, depressions, fears, addictions, isolating, and N relationships, etc.
You know how you've been dealing with the affects of NPD, the best way you could given that you had no knowledge or resources.
But now you do have knowledge and resources and though you were not in any way responsible for what happened to you, you are responsible for yourself and your life and your recovery now and for the rest of your life. So you might as well make the best of it.
Recovery is the reward for all your hard work my friends. Who deserves recovery or self-esteem? Anyone who works for it, that's who.
Recovery is more than the absence of pain, it is the new freedom and joy of life that you never even knew you could ever have.
It's new friends, its peace and serenity, it's what you make it and many surprises along the way as well.
Life will not always be great, no one said you are exempt from further traumas, tragedies, illnesses, hurts, losses, etc. life is still life, the good and the bad - but - you don't have to trudge it alone and you have tools now to help you get through.
Then when you are there, you will turn and look and see how far you have come and you will see and know that there are so many more out there still suffering that you may want to share your recovery with others so that they too have a shot at this thing. I always take a moment to remember those still suffering.
Lastly, one huge aspect of NPD recovery for adult children is the topic of relationships. Here we go...
It's not bad enough we had NPD parents, but guess what? We get to have all the fun of marrying them and working for them and having them as best friends until we have hit our bottom and take a look at why we are always victim to them, attracting them or attracted to them in some unconscious way.
This is a big part of the recovery process, too much to write about here, but it includes taking a look at what you were thinking when you first met the N's in your life, and challenging beliefs you have about yourself; (I'm too damaged, Healthy people are boring, I can fix him, I'll be rewarded for all my sacrifice, He'll love me more when..., I can get approval from her if I try harder, and finally I will be alright then.)
When this survival plan does not work it is a devastating place to be in. You've tried your upmost best, given all of yourself and all of your prime years, your energy, time and money into trying to make these relationships work.
Of course you did, you were programmed from the cradle to do so. It's ok that you did this, but now it's time to take a look at it and learn about choices you have, learn new ways of being in the world, new ways of relating to others, etc.
And the reward is real, supportive and loving relationships in your life. Don't be surprised if this takes a bit of getting used to. You're not used to love and support. But my friends, you deserve it. You have been giving it your whole life - just imagine someone like yourself giving that love to you! Hopefully you are smiling with tears in your eyes right now because I am. I am smiling because This response to the question "Can we recover" is the result of my recovery and I'm so grateful I have so much to give to you.
Feel free to leave me a comment, I'm working on doing more of this - giving recovery tips and teaching people how to use Tapping for emotional freedom, healing, growth and recovery. It will be a work in progress so more will be added over time.
If I can recover, you can too. I ran away from home at 14 and then lived in a foster home, then a group home. I never went back home. My mother ended up homeless for years and alot of other drama. I've been on my own since age 17 and went to community college because I was so interested in psychology to try and figure out what the hell is going on here. Is she crazy or am I?
I suffered great depression, ended up married to an N, lost everything after years of hard work to make it, and hit my bottom hard. But that question also led to a life-time of social work and a Master's degree in Psychology.
My love for my son refused to let me give up. I attend 12 step meetings. I got fed up and left 12 step meetings for not "getting it". I've done some great therapy and some not so great. Since 2002 I've been ‘Tapping’ my problems away to a new life. I ‘Tap’ on my fears when I want to take a healthy risk. I practice self-care and take recovery actions on a regular basis.
After many years I've come full circle and still get to a meeting here and there. I Tap at least every week or whenever an issue or stress builds up, I still have to remind myself of my Recovery Action Plan and update it once a year. I live on.
The most important thing I think that I have learned - for me - for someone who thought noone cared and saw no meaning in life - is that I DO MATTER. You Matter. We can find and create our OWN MEANING in life. Love Yourself. Take Care of Your Body. Live, baby, live!
My recovery has been a combination of these things, and your recovery will be a combination of things that will work for you. Take what you can use and disregard the rest.
Dragon Heart //.
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