This is a hard pill to swallow. I would rather erase the fact that I have suffered from emotional abuse, but I have come to acceptance.
Acceptance comes in stages and this is true in any major life loss or trauma. Experiencing emotional abuse brings both — losses and trauma. It is a time to wake up to something or someone being unwell. This takes time, education, often a professional therapist or coach who understands the pathology, and can also help you come to understanding as you tell your story of what you have been feeling and perceiving. Usually there is much confusion, hurt and anger.
Coming to terms that the partner, family member, or co-worker fits into a list of criteria or is on the spectrum of narcissism possessing the characteristics or traits of narcissism or antisocial personality disorder (a sociopath) is the first acceptance. After this it is time to do some deep soul searching and assess how debilitating the abuse is to you, and your children if you have them, presuming this is a partner. This may take time and it is possible to be in denial too.
If you love someone, have years and a life invested, and find you need to make big changes there will be grief involved. If you do not love the abuser anymore and have invested a lot into a life with them there will be still be grief. The depth of that grief will be different for everyone.
This is a natural process that may need grief support.
The ending of a relationship with someone with narcissism is not a normal break up, so the grief may become complicated. There can be many losses to acknowledge. The end stage to any grief process is acceptance and the process can not be short changed. All of the difficult emotions must be felt, it needs to be talked about and you need to take very good care of yourself with compassion and with understanding about a normal grief process. The second stage of acceptance begins to come when the hardest passage of grief lightens up. You will feel new energy and strength. Here you are beginning to accept the losses.
After these two important pieces of acceptance after narcissistic abuse you are ready to begin to tell yourself that this journey is a part of your story now. For myself I like to say that the being married to man who became emotionally abusive in our marriage was part of my path — and this is my truth and my experience whether anyone else understands or not.
There is no need to explain yourself when you have done the hard work of knowing your truth and getting clear. It is normal to doubt your truth at times when the trauma bond is creating the maddening back and forth thinking of cognitive dissonance. Continuing your own work with support, including releasing the trauma, will help your truth become more solid and the dissonance to fade. Accepting that the abuse, and the lessons and growth have become part of your path is the third piece of acceptance. By this time you have done a lot of work.
Finally, my favorite part of acceptance after narcissistic abuse is that you have a new acceptance of yourself. You have transformed through all those earlier pieces of acceptance and can hold your head high. You have a new strength within yourself that has been born out of all the suffering.
With this final stage of acceptance of self you can do anything. If you are a woman of faith and love God, no doubt your God has been with you offering grace and strength to carry you through. Not only have you been transformed you have transcended and risen above the abuse from someone who did not love or see you like you deserve to be loved. Cheers to you!
With light, love and strength,