Narcissistic Abuse and Recovery: Our Interview with Kim Saeed
Kim Saeed is someone I’ve followed online for over a year. Her blog articles are amongst the top searches for all things related to healing from narcissistic abuse. She is unique in her approach because she focuses so much on the healing process which is considerable. Experts say it takes more time to recover from a breakup with a narcissist (be that a friendship, colleague, family member, partner, or spouse) because you have to grieve twice. You grieve first for the person the narcissist pretended to be (your most loyal friend, soulmate, perfect boss) and then you grieve yet again about the horror of who they actually are: your worst nightmare.
Exactly like drug addiction you are high from the intensity during the initial stages of the relationship. You spend the rest of the entire relationship wanting to get back to that initial high that never comes. Being in a relationship with a narcissist is akin to being addicted to heroin. It will slowly kill you. Every time you leave and are wooed back it is worse which is why the term “No Contact” is the crucial point of Kim’s practice.
I am honored to have her as a guest on Mental Health News Radio. We go in depth about what these relationships are like, why it is imperative to cut off all contact for good, and how important your healing process is so you can recover.
Life truly does begin after No Contact.
The most common questions/topics Kim hears from clients in her coaching practice:
What if he/she isn’t a narcissist and I’m giving up too soon?
Other than using your emotions to determine how your partner makes you feel, a good practice is to refer to the power & control wheel, created so that people could determine if they are being emotionally abused. If the manipulative cycles on the wheel are symptomatic of your relationship, then your partner is manipulative and very likely disordered in some form. More importantly, however, is recognizing a situation in which your confidence, self-esteem, and joy for living are reduced due to your relationship with an unstable individual. Is that something you are willing to continue participating in?
What if I’m the narcissist?
This is a common question because targets of narcissistic abuse often hear this from their abusive partner, especially if they’ve tried to “educate” them about his or her behaviors. On that score, it doesn’t do any good to suggest to a narcissist that they have a personality disorder because it only makes them vindictive. To answer the question – narcissists are incapable of self-reflection because 1) they lack empathy and 2) their self-serving ways benefit them quite well, so they have no reason or desire for self-reflection. If you self-reflect, you’re not a narcissist.
There are many articles on the internet (some written by licensed therapists) suggesting that there is a possibility for a Narcissist to change. However, I’ve not encountered a single case where this has proven to be true. This can be largely attributed to the fact that if their current supply doesn’t reflect back to them what they want to see, they simply go out and find another target.
I‘ve been in therapy for years, but I still don’t seem to be healing.
There are many well-educated therapists who are skilled in treating people who’ve suffered narcissistic abuse, but they’re difficult to find. The best therapeutic approaches focus on cognitive behavioral therapy, corrective emotional experiences, and treatment for emotional trauma.
It’s very important that patients seek out another therapist if they feel further invalidated or traumatized after sessions due to a lack of properly trained therapists, who can often contribute to victims of narcissistic abuse not being able to heal.
That being said, the best programs for recovery include transformation healing activities such as guided meditation, reiki, yoga, journaling, etc. These modalities address the subconscious wounds. Our subconscious is where true healing occurs.
Is this my fault?
While narcissists do target people with a particular personality profile – empathic, highly sensitive, intuitive/feeling on the MBTI, codependent tendencies – that doesn’t mean that anyone with those traits deserves to be abused or brought on the abuse. These traits are admirable in the context of “normal” relationships. However, it’s very important that if one finds themselves being taken advantage of, they should establish boundaries that are healthy for them. Turn red flags into deal-breakers and be willing to walk away.
It feels like no one is interested in me. Maybe the narcissist was right about me.
The way we feel about ourselves is the single-most factor in how we perceive our attractiveness as it relates to others’ opinions. If you go out believing no one thinks you’re attractive, you’ll look for clues that will confirm this belief. Our perception can be extremely deceiving. We have a thought and we turn it into our reality, when the fact may be that people find us very attractive, even if they perceive us as being unapproachable due to the way we carry ourselves.
How important is it to learn how to modulate/regulate emotions in the first step in healing? Otherwise, staying in constant fight-or-flight hampers and reverses any esteeming/healing activities.
The first step in healing that’s not widely discussed is learning to regulate our emotions so that we can move forward to healing. When we’re in the first stages of No Contact, we are in a persistent state of fight-or-flight, which makes objective, rational thinking impossible, as well as any sort of meaningful healing on a subconscious level.
The best modalities for self-soothing are ones used in PTSD treatment because the same bio-processes are happening in our brains/bodies. Our subconscious mind detects a threat to our safety and cannot differentiate between being on a battlefield or being emotionally abused and manipulated, including the physical symptoms we experience after going No Contact.
How is the term ‘grey rock’ helpful and why it should only be used in cases of shared custody/shared employer. Otherwise, full-on No Contact.
This one is a delicate topic, mainly because No Contact is so difficult. However, as humans, we are very creative in finding reasons why we should remain in contact with the narcissist (shared residence, shared accounts, the narcissist owes us money, etc.) However, “grey rock” is typically only necessary for those who share custody or work with the narcissist in question. Otherwise, full No Contact is recommended because having any sort of interaction with the narcissist has the potential to cause us to revert back and stay stuck due to severe trauma-bonding and psychological conditioning. I have found that those who haven’t enforced No Contact in its true form are those who stay stuck and are unable to heal or experience tremendous delays in healing and moving forward.
Kim Saeed, B. Ed., is a survivor and thriver after narcissistic abuse specializing in No Contact coaching, relationship coaching, and self-care. She is the founder and editor of the narcissistic abuse recovery blog Let Me Reach and author of the book How to Do No Contact Like a Boss!, which helps readers detach from toxic relationships and begin their journey of healing. Kim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All of Kim’s articles are excellent. We’ve included 2 that focus on the healing we all need after this type of abuse.