Severing ties with a narcissist is a very difficult thing to do. Not only telling the person you are done with the relationship, but the aftermath. It can come with a plethora of challenges. One of them for many people is extreme anxiety.
Many people who have left a narcissistic relationship have discovered that once they are safely away from the narcissist, their anxiety gets much worse for a while.
On the surface, this doesn’t make sense. They’re safe, the narcissist hasn’t tried to contact them in ages. They haven’t even seen the narcissist in passing at the grocery store or on the road. Why would anxiety be bad when it should be so much lower? I think this happens for a few reasons.
When in a relationship with a narcissist, you learn to function in survival mode out of necessity. Your entire universe consists of thoughts like what can I do to please the narcissist, what can I do to make sure the narcissist doesn’t get angry with me, what needs does the narcissist have that I can anticipate in the hopes of gaining some favor from this person. When you think this way, it’s as if there is simply no room in your mind for anxiety. All the space in your brain is taken up with those thoughts, & there is no room for anything else. I really believe narcissists do their best to keep their victims busy in this way so they don’t have the opportunity to see the abuse is wrong or plan their means of escape.
If you were romantically involved with a narcissist then begin to get involved with someone who isn’t a narcissist, that can create a lot of anxiety at first. It feels so foreign to be with someone who is healthy when you are so accustomed to abuse & dysfunction. You also naturally can feel like you did with the narcissist, waiting for the next bad thing to happen. When it doesn’t, that can be unnerving simply because of what you were accustomed to in a relationship.
If the narcissist in your life was a parent, then you grew up in an extremely abnormal environment, which means you grew up to be a bit abnormal. You couldn’t see life as a normal child does when growing up. You have a skewed view of the world. When you escape your narcissistic parent, you suddenly have to function in a very different environment. Even though it’s healthier, it’s still different than what you are used to. This can create anxiety, even though it’s a good thing.
You also grew up with this way of thinking like, “I’m supposed to do this thing, so I’ll do it.” No further thought happened. As an adult free of that abuse, now you see things as you should have seen them as a child but did not have that opportunity. It can create anxiety, & sometimes even shame for the things you did simply because you were told to do them.
The best way I know to deal with anxiety like this is with reassurance. Ask God to reassure you & to help you with the anxiety for starters. Also, talk to yourself. Remind yourself that the danger has passed. Those terrible things that once happened to you are no longer going to happen. That abusive person is out of your life, & you’re safe now. If you’re dating someone, remind yourself that this person isn’t the narcissist, but an entirely different person. You can’t expect the same behavior from this person that you got from the narcissist, because healthy people do NOT act like narcissists. And thank God for that!