Some nights while sleeping we have nightmares. When we awaken the experience can be so powerful that it takes us a while to get our emotional and psychological bearings and to step out of the horrid dream. Some people find it helpful to take time to understand the language and meaning of their nightmares and other dreams.
(This post refers to male and female narcissists.)
For those who are married to a narcissist–waking life is a nightmare. Patterns of emotional and psychological cruelties prevail. Some spouses become accustomed to these patterns and live in these hell zones for decades. Others wake up and recognize that they don’t deserve this dreadful treatment, the eclipsing of their lives and the oppressive fight or flight mode they are in all of the time.
Begin by not minimizing the narcissistic spouse’s chronic cruelties and don’t rationalize them with: “He’s having a tough time.” “I am making it harder for him/her by not understanding deeply enough.” “He is more powerful than I am.” I am enjoying this lifestyle and cannot leave him/her because of this.” “My family is insisting that I stay married to keep us all together and not cause gossip.”
You have been victimized for years, even decades by the narcissist with gaslighting that makes you feel crazy; you have been blamed for everything that goes wrong so you are in a chronic state of guilt; you are criticized and beaten down so that you have no physical or emotional energy. You go through your days putting one foot in front of the other, looking at the ground beneath your feet. There is no bright sky for you, no positive expectations about your life. You are so involved with the narcissist’s psychological imprisonment of you that you don’t even think of taking good care of yourself.
When the narcissistic spouse suspects –and they are very cunning–that you may be approaching the truth about them, they initiate a change up play: “Let’s go into couples counseling.” This will not work with a narcissist since this is an unchanging personality disorder. He or she goes a few times, thinks he has you off the scent and reverts to his old abusive patterns.
A time of reckoning comes when you awaken from this sleeping/waking nightmare. You now know that you are married to a NPD, a serious disorder, a person who is exploitive, duplicitous, betraying, cruel, cold, vindictive and completely lacks empathy. In addition you are the recipient of horrendous primitive projections that are vomited on to you from the narcissist’s toxic unconscious. Sick and exhausted from this emotional and psychological putridness–you have come to a huge fork in the road.
Now you are fully awake! You are taking action. Read about the true nature of the NPD in-depth to become fully educated. Find an excellent family law attorney who will be your true advocate maneuvering these rough waters to your freedom. Become highly informed about your financial assets and who is controlling them. Do not share anything you have learned with your narcissistic spouse. Never confront a narcissist with his or her diagnosis. This will inflame them and ring the alarm that you are planning to get out of the marriage. This can cause you undo distress and can begin a process of their concealing assets from you and planning their counterattack. You want to catch them as off-guard as possible.
Practice taking very good care of yourself. Find healing modalities that work for you including guided meditation, acupuncture, exercise that works for you, gentle hatha yoga, listening to music that is healing, spontaneous writing, spending time in Nature, etc. These practices become part of your daily life and your lifelong healing.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.