Once I realized my husband had #Narcissistic Personality Disorder, deciding how & when (or sometimes even IF) I should leave the marriage, became one big, long mind-f*ck. Little did I know that, even if I made the decision to leave him, that I would still be subjected to the final stage of the #narcissistic abuse cycle. Narcissists will ALWAYS find a way to discard you. Their ego can’t handle not being the one to “end it”. Truthfully, I guess I’m pretty glad I didn’t know this, at the time. It would have just made things even more confused…and that was not a good thing.
I mean, I had vowed to that man, before God, that I would love, honor & cherish him- in sickness & in health, through good times & bad- and stay by his side until death do us part. I felt like a traitor, contemplating jumping ship, the second I found out that there would probably be more sickness than health. More bad times, than good. And anyway, it wasn’t my husband’s fault that he was like this. After all…
[clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”KnowYourNarcissist” related=”” layout=”” position=””]”Narcissists aren’t born- they’re created. “[/clickandtweet]
For almost two years, I struggled with what the right thing to do was. On the one hand, my husband has a personality disorder (PD), which makes him severely abusive… and, the abuse automatically releases me from any vows, commitments, promise, or soul contracts I might have in place, for my own protection & that of my children. So, really, my conscience should be crystal clear on that point.
On the other hand, though, my husband (whom I deeply love) has a personality disorder– through no fault of his own- and it makes him unconsciously prioritize his entire life around maintaining a false image of superiority, special-ness, and being without blame… even at the expense of intimate connection, personal fulfillment, peace, family, and love.
He has a disorder that compels him to act in incomprehensibly painful ways towards the ones he is closest to, which then leads to him feeling deeply ashamed & intensely self-loathing and thus, reinforcing his urgent need to protect that false image of being set apart & blameless… and perpetuating a vicious downward spiral that he has no idea how to extricate himself from. I kept asking myself, “Since he’s completely unconscious of the whole PD thing (even though he IS aware of his actions) wasn’t it my sworn duty, to do everything in my power, to help him heal this incredibly painful part of his self, thus saving us both?”
And, what if the roles were reversed? What if I was the one with the disorder? Would I feel as though he just turned his back on me? I know I wouldn’t blame him for protecting himself- in that scenario- but, at the same time, I could only imagine that, coming from a shame-based consciousness, it would feel like I was being rejected and abandoned. And, that abandonment would only serve to cement my belief that I was unworthy of love & forgiveness.
I wondered if I chose to leave my husband, would I be putting another nail in the coffin of his skewed life-view? Would I be inflicting a narcissistic injury on him that could only worsen his condition, and make it all the more harder for him to escape his mental prison? Could I live with myself, knowing that I had done something like that to someone I truly loved and cared for?
And then there’s the “#narcissism is incurable” thing. My issue is that I really do NOT believe- not for one second- that my husband is a lost cause. At all. In fact, I know the opposite to be true. I KNOW that he could heal. I know it! The problem is… I believe that, since it was a damaging relationship that created him (in my opinion), a narcissist must be healed through a restorative relationship. Of course, at this point, our marriage could hardly be called restorative. As it stands now, though, he’s thoroughly devalued me…so the my once rather potent influence is, well, it’s non-existent, to be blunt.
Maybe, had I known, from the outset, about my husband’s disorder, maybe things could have been different. Maybe I could have helped him. I would have been much better prepared, at least, to combat the onslaught of abuse with strength, and love. I wouldn’t have spent so much time wandering around in a state of shock, wondering what the hell just happened.
Maybe, had I known what I was dealing with, I would have known what to do. Narcissist’s are deeply unconscious of their state, and the conscious awareness of their true self is buried so deep inside, and so far beneath a tangled mess of psychological defenses, that no ordinary means of self-reflection, or therapy can crack through those defenses.
Then there’s the fact that narcissists/psychopaths, or ‘malignant narcissists’ are vengeful. They don’t act like it on the outside, of course, but if you listen to their words, and watch their behaviors, you’ll see it. If you refuse to let them exploit you- basically, if you tell them ‘No’- they will rage, and punish you in some way. They will teach you a lesson on how saying ‘no’ is really NOT in your best interest. With that considered…would it be safe for me to leave the marriage? Would my kids be safe? (I remember a narcissist who murdered his own 4-year-old little girl, just to hurt the mom, the narc’s ex, and get back at her for leaving him).
That thought alone terrifies me, and too many times I just gave up on the whole “leaving and trying to start a better life” thing. I’d convince myself that things weren’t that bad….not all the time, anyway.
But, obviously…things just aren’t that simple, are they?
I also felt enormous guilt over the fact that, by leaving him, I would be effectively unleashing a known predator into society at large…and the chances of me being able to warn his next victim were slim-to-none. Besides, even trying that would earn me the title of “crazy stalker”. (Oh, wait! I’m already that anyway. Duh…What was I thinking?) And, while I understand that, logically, his behavior is not my responsibility- in my soul, I am keenly aware of the depth of pain this man can cause…the unbelievable level of damage… the unimaginable havoc he is capable of wreaking on a person’s mind, body and soul. Could I really damn another woman to the same suffering that I’ve endured?
And what if his next victim has kids? After our youngest son was born, my husband had vowed to get a vasectomy. (Seriously, I have him swearing an oath on the birth video. A very overwhelming experience.) My pregnancy was difficult (to put it mildly), the delivery was traumatic, and the damage sustained by my body was irreparable. We had both considered the vasectomy as a life-saving, preventative measure. Of course, he never followed through, and so I’m also left with the weight of the knowledge that he is still capable of bringing more children into this world. Children he will care nothing for, above what ends they can serve as a means for.
I know that sounds harsh- and I don’t intend it to be. But, once you’ve witnessed, first-hand, the depth of commitment the narcissist has to protecting his pride, and to punishing anyone who has injured it, you know that children can (and absolutely WILL) be used as weapons of vengeance. Merely collateral damage… and the malignant narcissist will feel no remorse for doing it. In fact, they’ll feel justified. His offspring are simply one more accessory; They may enhance his image, or be used as manipulative tools.
This ‘stay or go’ conundrum plagued me constantly. Day and night, until at times I felt completely paralyzed by indecision. I knew I had to make a choice- either stay, or go… but, BOTH options were unacceptable to me. BOTH options, I knew, were painful. And dangerous. Leaving an abusive marriage, or divorcing an abusive man, isn’t the cure-all for the abuse itself, that lots of people seem to think it is. It’s a well known fact, for those of us who know such facts, that leaving isn’t just the hardest part… it’s also the most dangerous.
Leaving a malignant narcissist very significantly raises the level of danger to the victim- and I’m not just talking physical danger. There is the guaranteed smear campaign- meant to destroy (or severely debilitate) any support network the victim might have, so that she has nowhere, and no one, to turn to for protection, help, encouragement, support, or healing. Smearing the victim also serves as a subtle threat to the victim… to remind her of how vulnerable & isolated she is and, of how masterfully the narcissist can pull off the ‘con’…. how easily he can manipulate her circumstances- and not to her benefit.
In addition, before you consider leaving a psychopath/narcissist, you better make sure you’re ready to deal with the backlash. These ‘cluster B’ personality disordered types don’t take kindly to being cast off, so to speak. It’s a major hit to their ego- the unholiest of unholy sins against them. You’d better be prepared to deal with humiliation, degradation, constant devaluing, and absolute objectification because, narcissists will NOT bear that sort of injury without massive retaliation.
[A Warning: No matter how prepared you think you are, to deal with whatever your abuser has to throw at you… no matter how much you’ve done your due diligence by deactivating triggers, and detaching, and all that… It still comes as a shock to the system. In truth, nothing can prepare you for the utter dehumanization you will inevitably face, when you leave a narcissist. I don’t say this to discourage anyone from leaving but, only to prepare you for what you will inevitably face, unless you’ve an awesome, rock-solid support network to act as a buffer.]
Even after almost two years of cycling through guilt & shame, and hope– guilt over wanting to leave, shame that I got this tangled up, and hope, that maybe there was still a chance that things would work out, in the end (that “hope” stuff is relentless!)– I still felt as clueless as ever. I seriously loved my husband. And, I had already sacrificed so much for this marriage. I didn’t want to have to consider leaving, especially if I thought there could possibly be ANY hope that he would heal… and, I knew that there was hope.
These last few months, my husband has become rather adept at tricking me into thinking he was aware enough of his narcissism, that I fell prey to believing if we just had the proper method, and he had the proper support, then he could heal. But he had none of the critical support he needed. There were only enablers all around, making any attempt at healing more damaging than helpful. And anyway- in the end- it was just a trick and, imagine my humiliation at falling for his love-bombing tactics…you know, being who I am and writing about what I do.
I tried to tell myself that there was no way I could have known that a narcissist would use the process of #healing narcissism, as a weapon. I mean, a narcissist even acknowledging his narcissism is supposed to be extremely rare. I thought the sheer impossibility of the situation made it real. I was only kidding myself though- I have to confess to that now- I just wanted my husband to be “better” so desperately, that all the detachment, and deactivation in the world couldn’t save me, once he dangled that hope in front of my face.
So, finally…after years of painful indecision… I decided to give my husband one last chance to save our marriage and, our family. I gave him one week to write a letter of apology, for anything he felt that he ought to apologize to me for. He named some things, and I said yes, that’s fantastic. Write anything you feel is necessary.
I needed to be safe. I needed this proof that I wasn’t just an object for his entertainment.
If you can’t do this one thing, to save our marriage, and show me that I can be safe with you, then this has to be over. For good. It hurts too much. I tell him very clearly.
He’s got it, he tells me. I will have a beautiful letter of apology in one week’s time.
One week later: No letter.
I even confronted him about how hurtful and insulting it was, for him to just sit there, right in front of my face, and blatantly do nothing, when he promised to write that one, lousy letter to save us. I told him it really felt like he was trying to shove it in my face, that he didn’t feel I was worth the paper he promised to write the letter on. He said he was sorry, and that he agreed- the behavior was absolutely mean and insulting. He could see that…
… then went back to watching the iPad. (Ouch!)
I realize in that moment that I’m less than a dog, to him. Like maybe, one of those pet rocks. Maybe.
This is not how I want to spend the rest of my life. I can’t do it. I just can’t.
I tell him that he can wait until he starts getting paychecks at his supposed new job, and then maybe start looking for a place of his own nearby- where he can still be close to the kids. I tell him that I really hope we can handle this kindly…. for the kids sake.
His response- no matter what I said, or asked- was just ‘OK’ in a completely neutral tone. No explanation. No requests to make things right, or try again. Nothing.
Absolute, complete, and utter nothing.
This is it…I did it. I told him it was over, and that we needed to split.
Ok…That was- and still remains- the only explanation I ever got as to why he felt his wife, marriage, and family wasn’t worth a letter- apologizing for things he said should be apologized for anyway.
A few days later, he leaves for a 1-week training for his new job. He stops by twice to “see the kids” – and just so happened to remember that he also needed this, or that from me- what a coincidence, huh? He stops by on a Thursday, dressed in work uniform, and in a rush to get back before the end of his lunch break. He came by again, “to see the kids”, so I gave him whatever he asked for, listened to him make false promises to our kids, again, saying he would be back the next night to see them… and then I watched as he drove away without another word (and why would there be? He got what he wanted anyway. I was useless to him now).
That was the last I heard from him- besides a one line email claiming he wasn’t near a phone to call us- until the following Tuesday.
Well, true to Narcissist form, realizing that his meal ticket and cozy situation had been sucked dry, He went out to find new supply. He left us without so much as a cowardly text, created a whole reality where I kicked him out onto the streets and was mentally unstable (there’s THAT playbook tactic, right on cue), and had his Mom tripping over herself to rent him a new apartment, buy him a new car, and new clothes, etc… he got himself a whole new life handed to him, on a platter, and never once mentioned a word to us- his “family” that he wasn’t coming back.
Looks like he found a way to discard me after all….even after I had said ‘the end’. What did I really expect? That he would just discuss things honestly, and amicably with me? (Talk about having delusions!)
When he shows up acting like nothing whatsoever happened, and that this is how husbands handle their families all the time- only to find me hopping mad about being lied to and jerked around, and smeared- he says he must keep his new residence a secret because my anger means I’m obviously mentally unstable, and so he doesn’t want me to know where he lives.
(Like I don’t catch on that he’s doing his best to set up the scene to make himself feel like HE chose to leave ME, and not the other way around. The fucked up part is….it actually feels that way. Like we were all discarded, the second he found someone who could cater to his special need to be provided for- someone with a healthier cash flow supply then the one he’s bled dry.)
Every time we talk, it’s just put downs and insinuations that I’m a bad parent. Or continuously insisting on picking up the kids, so he can have a visitation, but without me knowing where he lives or how to find my children when his “possession is 9/10 of the law” moral code kicks in. That’s insane. Seriously.
I can feel the energy around him. And I’m not going to lie… it’s frightening. That’s the worst thing about leaving a narcissist/psychopath… you have no idea what they’re capable of. Their promises mean less than nothing. Where once he promised that no matter what, he would always love and respect me as the mother of his children… now he only speaks to me, or gives me the silent treatment, based on which one he knows will cause the most frustration, and which he might be able to twist around to his advantage. They will say or do anything to get their way, or to get back at you. And the scene I can sense him setting up is downright terrifying.
To be honest…I’m scared…but I’m determined. I’m tired of being bullied and taking it. It’s about time I take a stand and do something…otherwise these people who like to be hurtful…well, they’ll just keep on knocking me down until the day I just don’t have the strength to get back up.
I refuse to give them the satisfaction. And one day, the truth will out, and they’ll see what it is they are enabling…. and I’ll already be well on my way to a happy, healthy life- filled with peace, laughter, love, and joy…..and best of all? No narcissists!
~The Narcissist’s Wife
It occurs to me that my husband was lying to me from the very start of this marriage. After all, he promised to love, honor and cherish me, until Death so us part…. when what he really meant was he’d use & abuse & extract supply from me, until something more convenient came along.