Narcissistic Abuse Wears You Down

Maybe you’ve tried setting boundaries, making compromises, thinking, “If I act nicer, things will get better.”  Maybe you vow to be a survivor, not a victim, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Narcissistic abuse wears you down. Therapists and family think it is your fault. It’s time to take control and take back your life. If you had a narcissistic parent, you may still be dealing with the anger and shame from long ago.

Finding ways to take control is the beginning of the end of the abuse. Changing the way you think is  the beginning of changing your life.


If you are here, you probably have been hurt by someone with narcissistic personality disorder or another form of abuse. It is painful to be deceived and in chaos from their manipulations. Waiting for them to get better is futile.

I was married to a narcissist, but I didn’t know it until we got divorced. That’s the kind I call stealth narcissists.  They are in stealth mode until challenged. Other narcissists may show themselves in other ways. Divorcing him took strength and I had to learn about abusive divorce attorneys as well as abusive spouses. But you don’t have to go through this.


I did graduate work at Stanford in psychology and it was there I learned about learned helplessness.  Learned helplessness is the concept or belief you hold that nothing you do matters, that you cannot change anything.

I forgot about learned helplessness until one morning I woke up and it was on my mind and with an “aha” moment of clarity I realized I only thought I couldn’t change anything. From then on, I decided to change my beliefs, and from that change my actions.

ABC: Adversity, belief, consequence.  From then onward my divorce changed. Not overnight, but crushing weight of stress was gone. I knew I could no longer see things as impossible. I had to change my beliefs about fear of abuse, and take action.

Waiting Won’t Help, It Makes Things Worse

Unfortunately, waiting makes you older, not wiser in this situation. The longer you are in a relationship with a manipulator or a verbal, physical or emotional abuser, the harder it is to leave. Information is your friend. If you don’t take action now, tomorrow may be too little, too late.

Ann Bradley


  1. I have spent my entire life trying to be “perfect” for my parents, so it was not easy for me to see how easy it was for me to fall in love with another narcissist, for whom I would never be good enough. He uses break-ups because he says it’s the only way to get my attention. I’ve been trying in vain to change myself to please him, and it’s cost me dearly. I need the support and strength of others who have been through this before. Going back is not an option.

  2. Hi, It’s me, Ann Bradley. We are using a new email system and I’m not sure if my name comes through yet. You have a world of people who have been here before you. You are not alone. One book that helped me tremendously was Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman, PhD. Reframing my thoughts made all the difference. Look at what you have done this way – you have found the strength to leave and survive not one, but two abusers. Controlling parents was bad enough, then you had a relationship with one. You are strong! You are wise. Just keep going. And if you think about him too much, ask yourself, “How much rent is he paying to take up this space in my head?” or think of your thoughts as airplanes and say, “Time to land those planes.” Questions? Ask here and I or others will find you and be happy to answer.

  3. I’ve made it a lifetime habit to become trauma bonded in repetitive compulsive relationships with narcs. Ive been on one too many support groups where I get lambasted just like a narc would yelling at people posting like ” have some dignity!!!” “Just leave!!!” They know nothing about intermittent rewarding, conditioning, ptsd and trauma bonding with cognitive dissonance. It’s extremely hard for me to get out unless physical abuse or my children become involved in the abuse. I have left many narc relationships only to jump into another.

  4. Hang in there Jessica. You sound like you know yourself and what can be done and what can’t. This is wisdom. Nothing is static in life, not us, not our relationships or the world around us. Keep on being wise in the varying circumstances – bravo to you for seeing what’s up.

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