Making new friends and developing real trust after narcissistic abuse can be challenging. It requires an awareness of the very real fear that continues to reside in the body and in the mind. We must consider the impact of trauma on the foundation of the victim who has been repeatedly exposed to the following during the duration of the intimate relationship with the narcissist.
This includes but is not limited to:
- an unpredictability with blame-shifting projected onto the victim
- reactivity/anger that is completely blown out of proportion
- a self-centeredness with no concern for the feelings or perspective of others
- no compromise
- winning at all costs
- put-downs, insults, and unwavering disgust directed at others
- lack of personal responsibility even for the slightest action that may be considered “wrong”
- a temper that can flip like a light switch in reaction to the slightest perceived “slight”
These repeated abuses directed at us by someone we think we can trust and who we think we love create an unstable foundation and shatters an individual’s sense of safety, security, and sense of trust.
Years of hyper-vigilance and abuse leave victims with high levels of anxiety, worry, negative thinking/spiraling and fear in the mind and in the body.
This creates isolation.
Victims feel alone. Victims feel isolated. No one could possibly understand, right? No one can be trusted.
There is a need to control and predict the environment because of this difficulty in trusting. There is this need to be guarded. You are looking for any signs or evidence that will support your feeling that “no one can be trusted.”
The body and the mind may continue to constantly scan for threat and look for clues and signals that support and confirm these feelings of distrust.
There is a difference between being cautious and knowing one’s boundaries in balance and being taken over by fear and anxiety.
This may keep us in our own prison preventing us from moving into the fullness of life even after we are no longer held frozen in fear by the narcissistic abuser.
This would include an inability to truly connect and trust others because of these feelings of instability and insecurity.
This could make it difficult to make new friends after repeated exposure to abuse by a narcissistic abuser.
What does it require to make new friends:
- emotional risk-taking beyond slight pangs of fear
- energy and focus
- sense of trust in our own boundaries
- pushing ones self out of the comfort zone
- sense of self/some confidence
- self-regulation that allows for setbacks and disappointments
- discernment between real kindness and masquerading phonies
- an ability not to get swept away by sparkly objects (people who appear to be the life of the party but lack a substantive core)
- responding versus habitual reactivity or pushing away and isolating
What is the most important requirement?
An ability to begin, to try, and to accept some failures.
An ability to learn from these lessons and to start again. Making new friends requires courage, a first step, and a resolve to stay on the path.
One small step at a time.