Survive 6 Stages of Grief After Narcissistic Abuse (EXCERPT)

Uploaded 6/10/2023, approx. 25 minute read

And there are six stages of grief.

There are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance and hope.

I'm going to touch upon each and every one of them briefly.

They were first described in 1969 by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. She proposed five stages.

She interviewed patients who were dying of cancer.

And then over the years, the theory has been expanded and so on and so forth.

And in 1992, Dr. Kenneth Doka, D-O-K-A, added hope to the five stages of grief. And he recognized that many people find it helpful to have something to look forward to after a breakup or death in the family or any type of loss that provokes mourning and grilling.

So he added hope.

Each stage involves a set of emotions and people often move back and forth between the stages. But it's important to remember that ultimately you have to cycle through all the stages in order to reach hope, in order to reach healing, reconciliation with yourself and reclaiming and regaining your true you.

Because immediately after the shared fantasy, having been discarded or broken up with the narcissist or even walked away of your own accord and volition, immediately in the aftermath, you are a snapshot. There's no you. You exist only within the shared fantasy. Shared fantasy defines you.

You need to move on by finding, rediscovering, reinventing if need be yourself.

And this can be done only through the stages of grief.

Now, breakups, especially breakups of shared fantasy, provoke a grieving process which is not very different to grieving over death or an extreme loss, loss of freedom, loss of your entire wealth, loss of a workplace that meant a lot to you and so on. Loss.

And so you need to self affirm. You need to validate your grief. You don't deny your grief, but accept that you have lost not only something external, but you have lost a big part of yourself.

Grief is the recognition that you had been amputated. It's the phantom pain of a missing organ or a missing, you know, the part of you that's been snatched and sliced off and carved off to use sanguine metaphors. It's a recognition of that part. It's mourning that part.

Your identity would never be the same in the wake of a shared fantasy.

You need a lot of self compassion and you need other people's compassion.

So networking and socializing and connecting with others and nurturing your sense of self via other people's input and gaze, not in an addictive way, not via fantasy. These are all very important. We'll discuss these in detail a bit later.

So the loss of the narcissist

and the loss of yourself are inextricably linked. They are one and the same.

The narcissist had come to be your substitute self.

Now, that's a very, very important distinction.

In a typical breakup, you're able to tell apart yourself from your lost partner. You know where you end and the father began when you ended in the part that began. So when the father walks away, when you dump the partner or you lose the partner, you know where you end when you still retain yourself.

So the dual mourning or the dual grief in a typical breakup is for the lost partner and for yourself.

And these are two concurrent parallel processes.

Not so in a shared fantasy. In a shared fantasy, there's been an enmeshment, merger, fusion. You've become one with your tormentor, with your abuser, with a narcissist.

So when he's gone, you're gone, but you're not gone. Partly, you're gone. You have been vacated.

So it's much more terrifying than just a typical breaker. It's you mourn him and you mourn you in him.

And he's still in you. You can't tell. You can't cut yourself off. You can't tell. There's no boundaries. You can't tell both of you apart.

There is sadness, anger, negative effects.

But because you're one with the narcissist, they're often self-directed.

So in a healthy or normal relationship, when the partner walks away or when you dump the partner, you can be angry at the partner.

But you'll never be. You'll not be angry at yourself or not to that extent. You will not be angry at the partner. You will not be angry at the partner. You will not be angry at the partner. You will not be angry at the partner. You will not be angry at the partner. You will not be angry at the partner. You could have been, you idealized you.

The narcissist slithers over you and fits you like a glove. He kind of slides all over you and engulfs you and encompasses you. And then he fits you so snugly, he becomes like a second skin.

Breaking up with the narcissist is the same as skinning yourself alive. It's debt onerous. It's debt tumultuous. It's debt torturous. It's a horrible process to go through.

And so we need to understand that in a shared fantasy, there's no harmony. There's no community. There's a hostile takeover. There is body and mind-snatching. It's a horror movie. There was no comfort. There was no happiness.

What is it that you are mourning, if not him? What did he give you in a shared fantasy, if not your own thoughts amplified, your own wishes fantasized, and your own image idealized? There was nobody there. That is the harrowing truth. That is why your grief can never end, because you are grieving a non-entity that has never been there, coupled with you.

You, who have been snatched and had been rendered in absence. The narcissist's emptiness and absence are contagious. You had become a null proposition. You had become a null sentence. You had become a nothing, a black hole, exactly like the narcissist.

And any needed craving you have for the narcissist is a needed craving for becoming, for being again. Not being something, being. I mean, you just want to be again.

Because when you are in the shared fantasy, you are not. That's a non-existential statement.

So, this loss of self, which comes from enmeshment and suspension of being, doesn't foster strong inner harmony. You are in the position of no longer recognizing yourself, and no longer comprehending what it is that has happened to you. It's a whiplash. You are totally disoriented.

And this loss of identity is the ultimate form of grief. We grieve over losses. We mourn absences.

And what is bigger than losing yourself, and what is harsher than being absent in your own life?

And it starts with denial. That's the first stage of grief. It's an important part. It allows you to accept that he is gone.

You need to accept his departure. It's not about forgetting. It's not about pretending that he may be back.

You need to understand that he would never be back. Even if he were to try to over you, you need to have boundaries and say no.

So, he's gone. He's gone.

And this lacuna, this void that he has left behind, is a black hole. And if you get too close, it will suck you in. And you will never, ever escape. Never. You can't escape a black hole.

Except as some form of radiation.

So, there's disbelief. There's shock. There's numbness. There's derealization.

You feel that your life has become a kind of nightmare or dream. A fantasy.

You know, in the stage of denial, that's the stage where you realize that you are living in a That you've always been in a fantasy with this man. Or woman. With a narcissist.

It's always been a fantasy, but the denial is so powerful. The shock is so externally enormous that all your defenses are down. You decompensate.

And then, when the defenses are down, you're face-to-face with reality. And the reality is, there has been no reality. It's always been a fantasy.

And so, you feel like you're in a dream. Trapped in a dream. A bad dream. A nightmare.


That is when you get your first chance to process what's happening.

Because you keep telling yourself, "This isn't happening to me. I know this isn't happening to me."

And it is a fantasy response, of course, because you are still embedded in the shared fantasy. You reject the idea that it's over. You believe you create an alternative fantasy of him coming back to you, or you going back to them, or this kind of thing. This is proof positive that the shared fantasy does not end when he exits your life. Does not end when he discards you. And it's not over when you dump him.

Because the first stage of grief, denial, exposes to you unequivocally and unambiguously that you're still in a fantasy.

And then when you have realized this, and when you have accepted that you had been imprisoned, that you had been shackled and incarcerated and brainwashed and entrained, and that you had been subjected to an invasion of your mind and very frequently your body, then you transition to anger. And feeling angry is normal and healthy.

Be angry with everything possible. Be angry with yourself. Be angry with him. Be angry with God if you are delusionally inclined.

You're feeling abandoned. You're justified. Your anger is justified. You're right to be angry.

Now in the shared fantasy, there's a complication.

Do you remember the dual mothership?

The narcissist is your mother. It is not okay to be angry at mother. It's not the dumb thing. You're a bad girl if you're angry at mother. You need to overcome this.

In your primitive reptilian stem brain, the narcissist is your mother because he gave you unconditional love and he has idealized you. And during the love bombing phase, he acted as a motherhood. But he's not your mother. He's never been your mother. It's all been fake.

So you need to overcome this and you need to validate your anger and direct it at the right target.

And the anger is also often hampered by the need for closure.

Like there are unsaid things between us. There's still an unsettled account and there isn't.

Within the shared fantasy, you had all the information that you would ever need. The narcissist ironically is very honest. He may lie about facts or about behaviors, but emotionally at least, he's very honest. He's openly abusive. He is clearly in training. He is brainwashing. Everything he does is very open in the open. He often discusses these things with you. He agrees with you in advance about everything from sexual fantasies to who's in charge.

So you need to accept this. There are no unsaid things between you. There's no agenda left. There's nothing more to talk about, let alone do together.

So feel angry towards him. Feel angry towards yourself. Accept and validate it and allow this anger to cut him off. Allow this anger to dissipate the shared fantasy.

The shared fantasy cannot survive or subsist in an angry environment. The shared fantasy requires the pretension of love and compassion and affection and acceptance and empathy and support and sakor and so on. It's a piece of fiction. It's a theater production, but it cannot tolerate anger coming from the intimate path. It can tolerate anger coming from the narcissist, but never from the intimate path.

So need for revenge, feelings of rage, resentment for having disrupted you.

You are now a person interrupted. Resentment for this, not allowing you to attain inner harmony and to cultivate yourself. Resenting yourself, being angry at yourself, even self-blaming.

You need to let all these happen.

I'm not saying you need to act on some of these things.

This anger often leads you astray into dangerous and risky situations. Don't. Do not succumb to your anger. Don't translate your anger into action, but live with it.

Embrace it. Accept it.

Immerse yourself in it. Allow yourself to fully experience it and direct it at him as well.

Tell yourself, "I never want to go through this again, so this is the end. I don't need closure. I don't want to talk to him. I don't want to ever see him again.

And that leads to the next stage.

The next stage is bargaining.

You start to feel that there's something you could have done differently. You wish you had done things differently. You wish you had tried harder, spend more time, be more understanding.

There's a sense of guilt for things you didn't do and things you did do. There's a sense of shame and blame for things you didn't say and things you did say.

And this becomes overwhelming very quickly.

So you need to start to bargain with yourself.

Or again, if you're delusionally inclined with a higher power.

You need to bargain with yourself. You need to say, "I will do anything if only this doesn't happen." Or, "I will do this and this if God gives me another chance or life gives me another chance."

The bargaining stage is about making deals not with anyone out there. Not with the processes, heaven forfend. Never.

It's striking a deal with yourself, creating a new bargain with yourself, allowing you to find a way out of the pain you're feeling.

It's comforting knowing that you have learned your lesson and that you've incorporated your lesson into your thinking and that therefore the chances are this will never happen again.

Ruminating on thoughts like, "I could have done this or I should have done that." This is a waste of time. All the coulds, could have's, would have's, should have's. It's a waste of time unless you derive lessons and then you implement them within a grand bargain.

A grand bargain with yourself to salvage future relationships and your identity and to regain yourself.

And so bargaining is just an insurance policy, a self reassurance as to the future.

But of course it has very little application to the present.

Okay, it won't happen in the future. I won't do this in the future. I've learned my lesson. Great.

What about now? I'm angry. I'm mourning. I'm grieving and I'm helpless. I'm impotent. There's nothing you can do to the narcissist really in the vast majority of cases. There's nothing you can do.

He passed through your life like a hurricane, like a twister, ruining everything in his path and then exited as disinterested and as indifferent and as inhuman as he has been when he entered.

And he left you with a legacy of a shared fantasy, inability to interface and interact with reality properly and impaired reality testing and a view of yourself that is highly skewed and unrealistic.

These are the gifts of the narcissist.

And all the closure, all the bargaining in the world and all the anger in the universe will not help you.

And so when you realize that, when you finally understand, comprehend the extent of the ruinous damage, you develop depression. Depression is an integral phase of grieving and you should let it happen.

Do not fight it. Do not medicate it. Depression is super important in healing from grief and overcoming mourning. It's characterized by intense feelings of sadness and emptiness. You might feel loneliness, existential loneliness.

And again, it can provoke anger. Why do I still want him? You know, why can't I live without him? Why when he's gone, I want you back? What's wrong with me? I've just struck a bargain with myself.

And minutes later, I'm again violating, I'm again breaching the covenant with myself that I've made.

And so forgive yourself for being human. Depression is the crux and the gist of mourning. It's the unmolested and uncontested understanding that you are alone. All of us are alone. That you are the only one responsible for your emotions. You can't be responsible for anyone else's emotions.

And therefore, you should own your sadness and your emptiness. And even sometimes your suicidal ideation, you should own them. You should embrace them as yours. You should integrate them. You should leverage them to accomplish good outcomes.

So there's disbelief, there's numbness, the shock at who your narcissist, your intimate partner, your narcissistic intimate partner, at who he really was or is, and at who you had become in order to accommodate him.

It's exceedingly depressing because in placing yourself in this situation, consenting to become a part of a shared fantasy is the mother of all self betrayals. You have betrayed yourself. It's as if you have cheated on yourself.

Of course you are depressed. Of course you are depressed because you have discovered that you are not a good friend to yourself and possibly you're your worst enemy. That is a terrifying thought, a paralyzing thought. Depression is a form of self-directed aggression in some schools of psychological thinking.

So these intense and overwhelming feelings of sadness, isolation, hopelessness, you begin to develop automatic negative thoughts. You're new ones. Like, I'm deserving of happiness. I can never get anything right. No new relationship will work and you need CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy.

You experience these emotions and they're not bad for you. They're cathartic. They purify you. They purge you. It's detox.

Your job starting, your own sense of self and putting down the foundations of healing. Detox. Ask any junkie, is horrible, cold turkey, you know, but it's normal.

Come to terms with who you are, your grief, your sadness and move on to the next stage, which is acceptance. And that's the final stage of grief, one before hope.

It's a newfound understanding that he's gone and the ability to discuss the relationship and the narcissist who used to be, who you, who you used to believe was your intimate partner.

So to discuss all this openly, finally feeling that you're able to start to move on with your life, maybe date again, maybe regain trust in other people.

You start to accept the reality and you realize that you can't change what has happened. Your magical thinking is disabled because throughout the previous stages of grief, there's magical thinking. I could have done it differently. I can change the past. I can affect the future. I can make him come back to me.

That's a child's defense against a world, a world that is unforgiving, unrelenting, impartial and indifferent to you. Magical thinking is the illusion that just by thinking, you can change external reality. And that's the magical part.

But it's nonsense. And the acceptance phase is giving up on the enchantment of the past, on magical thinking. Youthinking.

You will still feel sad. You will still miss the narcissist, the good moments with the narcissist. You will miss the shared fantasy itself. It's very intense. It's very colorful. It's all consuming. It's wonderful.

It's like being in a movie or an everlasting vacation. You will miss the shared fantasy and you will miss yourself in the shared fantasy. You're a delist image.

The fact that you could relegate all decision making responsibilities to someone else.

The fake feeling of stability and safety and inner harmony. The loss of all these will never go away. Yes, never go away.

But you can and should accept that this is the case.

Show yourself self compassion. Feel more courage. Be more courageous, both for yourself and for other people. Feel more clarity about yourself, who you are.

What do relationships mean for you? How do you perceive other people? What is your concept of intimacy? What is partnerships in your eyes? What is your relationship, not with others?

With yourself, first and foremost, do you love yourself?

It's a chance to recognize that you can, if you wish, repair yourself because yes, you have been damaged and maybe even broken by the shared fantasy, no matter how brief it has been.

And that hopefully transitions you to hope.

Hope is when you start to see the future in a new light. You begin to plan for the future. You think about ways to extricate yourself from the last vestiges of the shared memory. You silence the introjects. You silence the voice of the narcissist in your mind. You pay attention to your authenticity and authentic voice.

Life is worth living and there are things to look forward to. You're not in denial. You're still sad. You're still missing. There's still a sense of loss.

But you are capable of happiness and pleasure, finding pleasure again.

Talk all the time. Talk about your grief and what has happened. Seek professional help if you need to, but ask for assistance even from strangers.

Share, share, share. Accepting the demise of a shared fantasy is possibly the most difficult imaginable human experience.

I would rate it as the most traumatic experience ever. Yes, more than divorce. Yes, more than the death of a child. Yes, more than the death of a loved one.

The death of a shared fantasy is all three of these things. It's the death of your loved child, the death of a beloved child, your narcissist, the death of a fantasy itself, the death of the entire world, the whole universe is vacated and abandoned and empty, swirling around nothingness.

Do not compare yourself with others and never be ashamed to talk to people. Your feelings are valid. They're not wrong just because someone else handles loss and grief differently.

There are 8.2 billion people on the planet and 8.2 billion ways of handling grief and mourning.

Take, in this case, it's your way, my way or the highway. Take your way.

Accepting the ending of a shared fantasy is challenging even for professionals. It's super, super difficult. The grief gets worse because even when the abuser is gone, his voice is here, his introject is tormenting you day and night and it's very convincing because it knows you like no one else. It knows you intimately because it is you.

The narcissist's introject had become you in the shared fantasy. So it's you tormenting you and you know yourself so well, you know which buttons to push and you never cease pushing them.

Hope is never lost. I'm a great opponent of hope. I think hope is opium for the massesBut in this case, I advocate it. It's self-deception. It's a lie.

So what? So what?

The shared fantasy is a lie.

Sometimes you need a lie to counter a lie, to counter a greater lie. Sometimes you need a little evil to counter a greater evil.

So hope is not lost. You will be happy again if you give yourself the chance, if you love yourself sufficiently.

Watch my video on the Four Pillars of Self-Love.

There is life after death, even the death of a shared fantasy. And this life could be as rewarding and as beautiful as before or even more so because now you're wiser and older and more mature.

Give yourself the time to heal.

You cannot bounce off grief overnight. Do not impute to yourself grandiosely the powers of a superhero. No one is a superhero except me, of course.

Grieving takes time. Grieving takes patience. Grieving takes self-care. Grieving takes honesty. Grieving takes courage. Honesty with yourself. No spin, first and foremost. No lies, no deceptions. Courage. Truth demands courage.

Feel your emotions. Allow yourself to experience them for as long as needed and as intensely as needed. Don't be afraid. As long as you truly experience your emotions, the risk of suicide is minimal.

It is when you repress and suppress and reframe and deny your emotions that suicide becomes a possibility.

Healing is not a straight line. It's a jagged line and this jagged line cuts into the flesh.

Self-compassion, time, kindness, patience, self-affirmation if it works for you. Listen to uplifting music. Watch funny videos. I don't know.

Love yourself. Love yourself as a mother would. Mourn yourself as a mother would. Your feelings are important. They do matter, first and foremost, to you.

But share them with others. Connect.

You have a need for community. It's part of who you are.

We always need and gravitate towards other people. We connect with other people. Misery loves company. Don't we say this?

Fortunes are mass events. Dozens of people, if you're lucky, attend your funeral. The support systems we have should foster the sense of belonging and assure us that it's okay to need other people.

You need to nurture yourself. Nurture yourself. Process the grief. Affirm your experience. Believe in your own power. Empower yourself. You're an agent. Believe in your agency. You can ground yourself. And you do not need to ground yourself in grief-free territory. You need to ground yourself in your grief.

You need to confront your grief head on, eye to eye, duel at noon.

Okay, choir. You need to fight your grief as if it were a gunslinger.

So you need to ground yourself in your grief. Light a candle, go to nature, read a book. I don't know.

But in your grief, even in your mourning, you need to exit it. Never develop a relationship with your grief and mourning, as many people do. Never affect them. Never emotionally invest in them. Never get committed to your grief and mourning. Never promote it.

You need to be the most important thing in your life, the thing that organizes your existence and makes sense of it. Never transform your grief and mourning to an organizing principle or an explanatory one.

Life is meaning outside your grief. Grief is about the loss of meaning. The opposite of grief is excitement. The opposite of grief is happiness. The opposite of grief is contentment. The opposite of grief is life.

These are grounds for a new beginning.

And so, grieve your own way. Experience your own grief. Be your own friend. Become your own community. Self-nurture. Strengthen your relationship with yourself. Find your self-identity outside youroutside the self-doubt.

But also, do all these things with other people. Seek other people. It's a very real process, grief. It's a real and valid and harsh and difficult and breaking process. It's not an emotionally positive state. It's a very negative state.

And you could easily become lost in these myriad internal processes. It's intense. It's overwhelming.

But that's okay. Understand the stages of grief that are described and the uniqueness of the shared fantasy.

Experience your body as well.

Some people vouch for body therapies or mind-body therapies. Try it. Try it. Exercise. I don't know. Try to see whether your body can help you. It could be your greatest ally in some cases.

Take your time above all. Don't expect immediate gratification and results. Feel your emotions slowly as in a European movie. Validate each stage. Process everything. Again, process the processing. Process the process processing. Do it over and over again. Regurgitate. Chew on the food. This food. This bitter food of grief and mourning.

There is no time line for healing. Take as long as needed and be extra kind to yourself during this time. And allow yourself to connect with friends and family. Seek support. And do everything you can to attain wellness. Above all, expel the narcissist's voice from your head.

Begin to see the details on separation and individuation in the wake of narcissistic abuse and implement the steps there to the letter.

I wish you success.

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