After you have divorced your narcissistic spouse and not discounting all the psychological, mental and financial hell you have endured, you are free to drop the image that he imposed on you, down a bottomless well, watch it go up in smoke, wave it an eternal goodbye, say the hell with it, yell with abandon–that was not me!
Narcissists wear their image like the skin on their bodies, the hair on their head, in their innards, especially their cold, reluctant hearts. They forced you to keep a perfect appearance and watched every hair on your head to make sure it was tilting in the just the right direction even when breezes blew. Some spouses say that they were forced to be made over by the narcissistic spouse. Under duress they went through all sorts of aesthetic procedures to make themselves look more perfect. Women who think they have a free will become enveloped under the power and force of the personality of the narcissist. They don’t know their own minds anymore and wonder if they ever did. Some are so enthralled by the life styles they have found with this new union that they are psychologically drunk with the material pleasures that they can now have. If they were raised in a poor or low middle class family this need to have more is part of their definition of “making it.” This of course does not fit all woman. Many of them understand that financial success is not the sine qua non of life. It is essential that we use as many creative and intellectual gifts that we are given and expand and deepen them throughout our lives.
Life is not about coasting along–”Summertime, and the living is easy..” Great lyric but not a blueprint for a mindful life.
When we become only pleasure seekers and avoid pain and the hard work of knowing ourselves, we are going nowhere. We are moving in the worn old tracks of repetition. The outward trappings look different but we are repeating over and over again, going in circles. I have known women even today who have dropped entire careers and found their prince. He adores her and she feels that every wish she drempt of will now come true. He will give anything to her and does. She has landed a very big fish–a prince charming with lots of monetary security and a bulging open wallet and a loyalty to her that will never quit–he needs her that much and she knows it and uses this to the hilt. All she has to do is look pretty, give him plenty of sex and be open to his “brilliant ideas.” She has bought the entire package. These marriages are arrangements not true relationships. There is nothing deep going on here. No psychological or emotional growth is taking place.
Getting back to unburdening yourself of the narcissistic image demanded in your past marriage. You have defied the narcissist by divorcing him. You are saying: “I won’t live your delusion anymore or play your game.” “I owe myself my authenticity, my inner and outer voice, the use of all of my gifts and the freedom to express myself as a unique individual.” After the divorce deluge and the waters have receded, you look around as you heal and put your life back together in your style and way. Maybe this time you long for simplicity–no frills, no fancies, no trips to the moon.–Just you–that wonderful person you were always meant to be–that baby smiling and laughing because he or she exists right now in the world, that compassionate soul with the open heart that warms yourself and others. You are treading lighter on the earth. You feel flexible, supple, more grounded and surer inside yourself. You will learn to treasure your solitude, to embrace your creativity and to find others who are taking a similar path on the best road–the one less traveled.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.