I've read books and watched videos about Narcissistic Abuse, but I'm still miserable...will coaching even help?
When asked this question, I am reminded of my assumptions as I exited from my first marriage of 17 years to a narcissistically abusive man. I accepted that I might need "a little therapy," and maybe take an antidepressant for a few weeks until I was "back on my feet." But then "I'll be fine....right??" Uh....no, I wasn't.
While I'm not saying that it is impossible for some abuse survivors to re-establish balance and mental well-being quickly -- that wasn't the case for me. I discovered that the after-effects of the narcissistic abuse I endured from age 16 to 39 ran very deep. I also came to find that my abuse trauma was exacerbated by childhood developmental trauma and attachment wounds. Even still, I read every book I could get my hands on and viewed countless YouTube videos. I binge-watched Julia Roberts in "Sleeping with the Enemy" and Jennifer Lopez in "Enough."
While these activities were cathartic, validated my experience, and even helped me gain language and labels for the madness I'd lived in, it wasn't healing. Supplemental materials can certainly help, but they alone are not the answer. And therapy isn't the complete answer, either (Please read "How is Trauma Recovery Coaching Different from Therapy?").
Narcissistic abuse is a "relational trauma" -- it happens in a relationship you're invested in. It strips a person's sense of self-worth and ability to trust, creates a deep fear of conflict, and causes problems in all aspects of their relationships. It also creates psychological and emotional trauma that imprints on the survivor's central nervous system. To heal and recover, we must learn (or relearn) the dynamics of a safe, supportive and healthy relationship, re-establish central nervous system regulation, and reconnect with ourselves on a deep level.
These things cannot happen from reading a book...or a hundred books. But they do occur in the safe, supportive, eternally non-judgemental, empathy-filled relationship a Trauma Recovery Coach builds with her clients. The title "Trauma Recovery Coach" says it clearly – we specialize in trauma and employ methods that bring about real and deep healing.
"Repeatedly in the testimony of survivors there comes a moment when a sense of connection is restored by another person’s unaffected display of generosity. Something in herself that the victim believes to be irretrievably destroyed---faith, decency, courage---is reawakened by an example of common altruism. Mirrored in the actions of others, the survivor recognizes and reclaims a lost part of herself. At that moment, the survivor begins to rejoin the human commonality...”
― Judith Lewis Herman, Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence - From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror