Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?

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There it is…the million dollar question: If things are so bad, Why don’t you just LEAVE him?!

And it seems like such a reasonable question, doesn’t it? If things are so bad, why not just leave? I wish I had a reasonably easy answer for you, but I don’t.

The reasons I stay are as varied as the stars, and half of them (or more) will most likely seem as stupid to you, as the fact that I haven’t already left my dear husband. Yes, I realize fully that you think I’m an idiot for staying…or for continuously going back. I’m not completely ignorant, you know.

So why do it, right? Well, I’ll do my best to try to explain it. Though I can’t imagine what good it might do. It seems we’ve become a society that insists on shaming the victims of brutality- even as we reach out a hand to help. We lost our patience for having compassion, or even just staying neutral instead of making the situation harder.

And there you have the very first, and most basic, reason why I stay. I stay because, given the choice, I’d rather not be shamed any more than necessary. Shame and I are already close friends. I’m not really interested in being BFF’s, if I have a say in the matter. And, yes, I realize what a cop-out, stereotypical “victim statement” that is… it just doesn’t matter much, all things considered.

The fact of the matter is, if I chose to ‘just leave’, I’d deal with more garbage from the people who, for all intents and purposes, should be the ones supporting me. I just don’t have the the strength to face that.

We’ve heard this before. How are you going to support yourself and the kids without him? How can you just tear your family apart like that? Your kids need their father. Are you really going to deprive your children of a father? You’re being too sensitive. You’re so dramatic. Here we go again…Why should we go through all this trouble, when you’re just going to go running back to him tomorrow anyway? You’re the one who took him back, remember? You made your bed…

And, to be perfectly fair, and honest, these people…they have every right in the world to say/think/feel these things. We HAVE been through this before. Several times. And I DID go running back. But does that mean that I should be doomed forever? Yes, I made bad choices…but they were the best, bad choices I could make, under the circumstances. I know you don’t really get that… but, believe me when I say, I’ve really, truly, in my heart and soul, done the very best I could, or knew how to do. And for those who have never been in my shoes…I challenge you to do any better. Then again, you probably wouldn’t have got yourself into this mess in the first place.

I digress…

I also stay because, he’s my husband and I love him. I swore before God that, for better or worse, in sickness or in health, that I would stay by his side, and love him. Yeah, but surely that didn’t mean….what? That vow didn’t mean I should stay if my husband was ACTUALLY sick with some horrible personality disorder? Or things were REALLY worse, rather than better? I see. Well, someone forgot to give me the memo on that one.

I stay because I have hope that he will heal. That he’ll get better. I know they say that narcissism is incurable, but what if they’re wrong? What if there is a way to release the demons from inside my husband and set him free, but I just decide to walk away instead? How could I live with knowing that? How could I look myself in the mirror, knowing I abandoned the man I love to Hell? What if I haven’t exhausted every option? What if I can carry him out? How am I supposed to know when I’ve tried everything? How are you supposed to know that NOW is the right time to give up on someone? To abandon them as a lost cause? What if, when the man you love was in the midst of that vulnerable moment, you swore- you gave your absolute word- that you would NEVER give up on them? What if you looked them in the eye and SWORE that you’d never abandon them? That you’d NEVER just leave them in that Hell? Tears start to sting my eyes, just from thinking about it…. I don’t know…

You’re still thinking I’m an idiot…. and I get it. Truth be told, I’m kinda with you on that point, at the moment. But I’m not done yet. There’s more.

I stay because, if you’ve never loved (or been love-bombed by) a narcissist, you have NO CLUE as to how magnificent it feels to be the center of someone’s universe. To be the thing that made them ‘good’…to be their one hope for salvation. You have no idea how the sun can rise and set in the way he looks at you- like you are the most precious being…like he is in awe of your goodness. And the way he makes you feel as though he feels he isn’t worthy of your devotion…oh- that breaks  your heart open into a million pieces, and somehow, you love him even MORE for that vulnerability. However fake it may be…. because, you see, you don’t know it’s fake at the time. He makes you believe, with every fiber of your being, that it is real. More real than that little voice, in the back of your mind, that insists it smells smoke….

You also have no idea what it’s like, to look at a man- broken, a bottomless void- after he’s had a brush with his True Self. You don’t understand the look of fear, panic, and pain in a man’s eyes when he sees inside his own soul…and finds it not just lacking, but empty. You don’t know what it feels like to have him cling to you- your hand pressed to his heart- as if to try and convince him that he does, indeed, have one. You don’t know what it’s like, to watch the man you love try desperately to fight the grip of darkness, as it tightens its grasp on him. You don’t know the ache in your heart- the acute pain in your very soul that comes when you ask him what he’s feeling, and he answers “Like the happiness just isn’t for me.” You don’t know how your heart would break for him.

You just don’t know….

These moments, they leave a mark on you. It does something to you. It stays with you through the bad times. It’s these moments I remember, when he’s giving me the Silent Treatment, or when he walks away, as I lay broken and crying on the bathroom floor, after a particularly harsh verbal beating. It’s those moments that come to me- like a warm embrace, like comfort- when he is cruel. I think, He doesn’t mean to do this. He doesn’t want this. I know it. I’ve seen it. This is his fear.

Yes, I know that its a stupid rationalization. But if you had been there for the other moments…it wouldn’t seem so black & white to you. I can promise you that.

Still not getting it? Well, maybe I can give you some reasons that you’re more apt to understand. Even without living through all the rest.

I stay because I’ve reached out for help. I’ve tried to talk to his family, and friends, and have had people who never had a problem with me before (and dare I say, perhaps, even liked me?) turn their backs. I’ve listened to my husband tell me how they secretly believe me to be a junkie- or worse- because I’ve lost so much weight. Not that the abuse would explain that… I’ve listened to these people tell me that I’m f*cked in the head. And maybe they’re right….but still….

I stay because I have heard his mother vehemently declare how she knows for sure, that my husband loves me. FOR. SURE. How can I tell her that, in fact, he NEVER loved me? That he doesn’t have that capacity, without coming right out and saying that her son is, what most people would label, an unfeeling monster? Think she’ll just believe me? Do you honestly think that any of these people my husband has charmed so thoroughly, will just put aside everything their heart tells them is true about him, and believe the wife that he “almost had to Baker Act” (or so he told them), when she says he is really pretending? That he is really an abusive narcissist? Think they will believe that his goodness is all just an act? Would you?

I stay because I’m too ashamed to tell my family, or friends (what friends I’ve got left, anyway) that I’m leaving him…again. They know, as well as I do, that most likely, I won’t really do it. And they’re tired of hearing me blabber on and on about my problems, as though I was the only person in the world whose life mattered. (Maybe I’m a bit of a narcissist, after all?)

I stay, because the shame of admitting that;
(1) I couldn’t make it work
(2) I was wrong about his ‘sincere’ desire to change
(3) I couldn’t ‘fix’ my marriage
(4) I wasn’t good enough/strong enough/responsible enough/smart enough/whatever enough to get through to him
(5) He really doesn’t- and never really did- love me, at all… He just tricked me into believing he did

… it’s just too much.

I stay because my husband is a narcissist. I stay because I’ve seen the utter contempt, and indifference, in his eyes when he devalues me, and I know that he believes every, last, horrible word he says. I’ve felt the coldness in his voice, when I beg him, sobbing, for love- for simple, human kindness- and he explains why I make that so hard for him to do.

Do you know what it feels like to beg another human being for love, and have them list all the reasons why you simply aren’t worthy of that effort? Can you even imagine such a thing?

I didn’t think so.

And I’m sure you’re wondering why that counts as a reason to stay. So, I ask you- Did you miss the part where I said ‘indifference’? Not hate. Not dislike. Not anger.

Indifference.

You feel indifference towards your refrigerator. Or maybe a piece of trash, lying on the ground. Not your wife. Not a human being.

I stay because I’ve tried to leave before. I’ve read the nasty, emails and texts, filled with lies about me- particularly my mental stability- that my own husband wrote, to convince the world of my faultiness, and his goodness. I’ve watched him try to hold back a smile- or maybe outright laughter- as I screamed and sobbed, releasing the pain and anguish in my very core, from his abuse. Apparently, that was amusing to him, in some way. I’ve watched in utter horror, and disbelief, as he pulled out a tape recorder, and started telling it how he was afraid for his safety, because I had just hit him in the face, when I threw his phone charger at the car’s passenger-side window. I’ve seen the dead-serious threat in his eyes, as he explained to me how, if I said one more word, he would take my children and leave…

I believed him.

Do you blame me?

I’ve read the text messages, where his friends call me a “crazy succubus”, and he laughs with them, then laments having to make the decision as to whether he ought to Baker Act me, or not. The funny (not so funny, at all) thing is…I don’t ever recall having a psychotic break…at least, not yet anyway.

I’ve watched him lie, to my face- looking me straight in the eyes- as he tried to convince me that what I know to be true is actually false. I’ve defended myself against his insistence that he never once acknowledged his narcissism….and that it is really me, who is the narcissist. It is I, who is the cruel one.

I’ve gone days without the slightest acknowledgement that I exist, from him. I’ve been accused of cruel and unusual punishment, for getting upset over being treated like I was disposable. I’ve felt the fear of losing his ‘protection’. I know what it feels like, to fear losing everything that matters to you.

I know the fear of losing my self.

I know shame and humiliation. I’ve sat in a car, outside his brother’s apartment, waiting for my husband to come out because he forgot to give me the key to my van. He doesn’t come out though. He instructs his brother to ignore my texts… as though I’m some psycho ex he must hide from. And this was just minutes after he said he loved me.

Let that sink in…. that is how he treats me…when he LOVES me.

Can you imagine what treatment I can look forward to, on the day he decides he no longer ‘loves’ me?

Can you honestly say you’d be so cavalier? That you could ‘just leave’ so easily?

Maybe you can….but me….I feel the courage build up inside me, and then I hear this voice in my head. This low and venomous voice that whispers….

If you say one…more…word….I’ll take the kids….and leave.

Hi. I’m Story Lynne, (a.k.a. The Narcissist’s Wife). Nice to meet you. I’m the mother of 4 amazing kids, the (soon-to-be-ex) wife of a narcissist, and the author of this blog. I’m also a teacher, a healer, an intuitive empath, and Angel Card Reader.
I love fairies, angels, the color pink, anything sparkly, and Legos. (the Elves are my absolute favorites). I also love fixing cars, building shit, and shooting my bow (as in, bow and arrow).

15 Comments

    • It doesn’t have to be. You deserve to feel safe and loved. And, you’re not obligated to stay in a relationship where you’re being abused. Don’t doubt that.
      It’s a hard decision to make but, your life is worth it. Truly.

  • Anonymous

    I’m in the process of divorcing my narc husband. I feel nothing but pity for him now because he was so irreparably damaged as a child. I can see my life on the other side of the divorce like a shining beacon in the distance. I can feel my old self bubbling away under the surface. I am strong in my resistance and you can be too. Face him and be strong. Show him the woman you were when you first met him. The one that bewitched him enough to marry him in the first place. I have seen my husband deflate in front of me when I finally stood up to him and said he was no longer permitted to speak to me in the way he had before. Your husband will never get better. Sufferers of NPD are missing grey matter in the part of the brain responsible for empathy. That cannot be fixed.

    What can be is your children and their own development. Witnessing a narcissistic relationship will damage your children permanently. They will never recover, either becoming NPD sufferers themselves, or individuals who seek out NPD sufferers in the future. I have two daughters who I will do everything in my power to make them see loving healthy relationships. I’ve asked my friends who have kind husbands to make sure they are demonstrative in front of my kids so they see the gently love and kindness a good man can give a woman. I help them deal with their own feelings of shame because NPD may have a hereditary root and I dont want this for my kids.

    I hope you find the strength to realise that your husband does not love you any more than he values an inanimate object that he has dominion over. You serve a purpose in his life – a punching bag to inflate his wounded ego – nothing more.

    You were ‘you’ from the moment you were conceived and should be valued for that. By others, but especially by yourself. Don’t let this situation continue. You have a good life on the other side. A life of peace with yourself and maybe a good man who will hold your heart with care.

  • I can’t save you… just like you can’t save him. Maybe there is a decent human being deep inside him somewhere, but you can’t force him to let it out. You can’t kill his demons when he loves them so much. I feel for you. I was there, too, and I’m still trying to understand how it went so bad.
    I’m glad you are writing and I hope you make some true supporters online. May our healing be swift and complete (:

    • Thank you so much for sharing.

      I am doing my best to heal- a little at a time. It’s, of course, more difficult when you’re still married to the narc, but I’ve been destroying all those addictive pep-tide pathways, and I find that it is less often now that he can get to me… I actually can go days without calling or having to text, or speak, to him. That’s HUGE progress, from where I was standing just a couple months ago. I’ve gained back about 10 pounds, too- which is also amazing for me.

      And just for the record… I’m not under any illusion that I can force him to heal. Believe me- I tried…. A LOT. It was NOTt pretty.

      And I don’t want to make excuses for him, because truly, I don’t feel there is ANYTHING that excuses abuse- ever.
      I simply empathize with him, I guess.
      I’m an intuitive empath, and a healer, which makes it hard for me to walk away from someone in pain- even if it is causing me pain as well. It has hurt me deeply, in the past, when I’ve tried to leave before… Yes, some of that was my own inappropriate guilt, for having “abandoned” him to his demons (or so my ego tried to guilt me into thinking), but most of the pain was his pain. His overwhelming fear, and shame, and loneliness. His anxiety, frustration, contempt, guilt, rage, insecurity, self-righteous indignation…and it goes on. The loss of a main source of supply is damn near traumatic to the narc- at least, if they are like mine…which of course not all are.
      In any case… I’m rambling (I do that a lot)…
      That doesn’t mean I’m not hauling ass towards the door as fast as I can, in the safest way possible for my children and me.

  • Even with being the wife (aka victim) of a narcissistic husband myself, could I ever intentionally want to put myself through what you’ve just admitted as being the reasons why you stay. In my opinion, I feel like you’re making excuses for the way that he treats you and that you’re allowing him to continue to do it.
    Of course you love your husband, but how long are you going to ALLOW him to keep treating you this way?
    I’ve asked myself countless times, why are you ALWAYS the one who ends up hurt, does that sound fair to you? Why does he get to have his cake and eat it too? Why does he get to be comfortable in the marriage being the way that it is, and I’m sitting here depressed and it doesn’t seem to matter to him?
    Do you ever feel this way or ask yourself these questions?

    When I turned 40, that is when it was like someone through a brick at my head and asked me, “Do not realize that you’re allowing him too much control and the selfish thing is, he knows it.”
    Narcissist people may have a mental disorder, but they’re NOT stupid. I believe that they know how far they can push the envelope if you “allow” the to.
    Do you know how I found this out? I found this out just before I left him when after he got “raging angry” at me and slipped and said, “I’m going to break you once and for all!”
    This is when I felt like a f*king fool, that had hung around for 15 years waiting and praying for him to change.

    • I think all these things too. And I don’t think/feel like I’m making excuses…at least, that is not my intention. I mean, nothing excuses his behavior, and I’m solely responsible for making the decision to not have divorced him yet.

      My main intention was to simply share all of the thoughts, and feelings that have, at one time, or another gone through my head… and show people that the situation isn’t always so cut and dry. “Just leaving” is not always as simple as all that.

      Very often, the abuse escalates when a woman tries to leave her abuser. And I’m not, in any way, advocating staying in an abusive relationship out of fear… but I do feel it’s fair to say that preparation is essential to leaving a narcissist successfully. If you leave and find you have no resources, chances are, you’ll end up right back where you started…. even more so, if you have children to care for and support. A narc wouldn’t hesitate to jump on ANY tiny opportunity to hit you where it hurts, and so, just leaving, with no plan, or means of financially supporting your children, is just begging for the narc to haul your ass to court to take them from you.

      I guess, while no one should stand for abuse- I also think that, sincerely, neither should anyone judge, so quickly, another person’s situation. It’s not always as black and white, as a narcissist would see it 😉

      • I never said leaving was simple. I’m still here because it’s NOT that simple. For if it were, do you think I’d still be here? Hail no! Hahaha!! I’m just saying the I am glad I finally came to terms or basically opened my eyes and realized that what was happening to me was not entirely his fault. It’s mine to. I allowed it to happen. So that’s all on me.

        • Well, , I definitely agree that we have to take responsibility for our part in what has happened to us. I believe that we have inner-wounding that we never healed, or never even knew existed before the narcissist, and it was the narc’s job to mirror that to us, so that we could be aware of the things, inside of ourselves, that needed attention. Once we hold ourselves accountable, for attracting the narcissist in the first place, and do what needs to be done so that we can heal those inner-wounds, then we will no longer feel such a strong pull towards him.
          By healing our inner-wounding, we raise our vibrational level, and therefore also change the level of things that we are able to attract into our lives.
          Which is why that is exactly what I’m working on right now…
          It’s the Law of Attraction, you know?

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