It takes approximately 12-24 months to heal from these encounters, so while frustrating that it takes two years, blocking off that time frame is a step forward. Once you awaken from the “fog” that you’ve been in for so long, you can see for yourself the lengthy time it will take to heal and untangle yourself from them. For me, it’s taken three years already and I’m still healing. These types don’t just hurt you and leave, it’s a pattern of insidious abuse, played out over and over again that degrades and belittles you. By the time you are finished with the abuse, then the recovery begins. The first thing you encounter is disbelief as you lose or have lost most or all of your friends to the insidious smear campaign, (rumors told about you behind your back which paints the abuser as the victim and you as the abuser), cognitive dissonance which sets in during the relationship/friendship where you believe in the fake persona so much that you do not believe in the actual unmasking that you see once they are done being fake and nice. The problem with this, that they go from mean and sweet so many times in one cycle that you have no idea which is up nor down, or what to believe. This is intentional to throw you off balance and confuse you, as confusion weakens people. Some develop PTSD or C-PTSD by this point as well.
Once you have established that it’s time for some self care and healing, then you can begin to slowly piece your life back together. This is where I’m at currently. At this point you begin to think also of self protection and establishing some firm boundaries to protect yourself from these types in the future so you avoid them. Educating yourself on these types goes a long way in aiding that and connecting with others whom have been in a similar situation as yourself is healing in and of itself, as you feel heard and can give voice to your feelings, the confusion, the abuse and get it out of your head and onto somewhere we you can finally hear “Me too, we’ve been there and we understand, and no, you’re not crazy, and we believe you.” From there you can start moving forward again and get excellent tips on how to heal. You also may begin to experience the emotions you were denied while around the abuser, such as anger, rage, frustration, exhaustion, disbelief, confusion, fear, anxiety, panic, insecurity, and the deep hurt that is underneath all of those emotions. All of these are perfectly normal after dealing with these types as they manufacture, intentionally, these very emotions. In this stage you may also learn about others that have been hurt or will be…..however, resisting the urge to contact them with your newfound information is key. They’d make you out to seem crazy, therefore adding to your pain, or do something to spite you. It’s not worth it.
Eventually you find that life goes on…despite all obstacles. Eventually you will find yourself at the place where you can move forward in life, have more energy and begin to focus on other things besides the disordered person. Learning about trauma bonds during this point helps you to sever them as well. Creating a calming, healing environment is an option to heal, calm sounds, dim lights, healing music, whatever fits best. Also this is the best to get much needed rest, as our bodies are stuck in flight or fight with heightened levels of cortisol which deplete us. Patience during this time in our lives is crucial…as this is the stage that can take the longest.