It is dreadful enough being married to a person who is constantly criticizing you, emotionally bludgeoning you,humiliating you in private and public, lying about his secret forays and generally causing unbearable stress and chaos in your life. What makes it worse is the way that this sadistic cruel pattern of treatment activates your old self destructive patterns of thinking, feeling and behavior. If you feel “less than” deep inside his/her attacks and onslaughts cut to the quick and you are back into your four year old skin, listening to mother screaming at the top of her lungs: “You are worthless.” Why did I have you?” “You are stubborn and stupid and will never learn.” And on and on. You feel these old etched words and her horrible looks viscerally as if it is happening right now. You become a frightened little child all over again. You were never enough—not pretty, bright, energetic, social, –That’s what you are hearing as an adult decades later when your narcissistic spouse starts one of his chronic verbal attacks. It reinforces the misbeliefs you have about yourself.
When you can finally recognize who the narcissist is, identify him without a doubt and separate who you are from him/her, you have begun the process of healing. Now you can work with your core psychological issues. Until you make that distinction, you are left trapped in his/her toxic projections.
First, recognize that you are entitled to lead your life as an evolving human being, using all of your gifts, enjoying your own company and that of others, being independent and strong within yourself, feeling the healing grace of solitude, the excitement of learning something new and appreciating life in the moment.
You are up to this challenge. You will do the hard work of healing yourself. Some turn to psychotherapy but it must be highly skilled and the therapist must be truly empathic. Others find healing modalities like gentle yoga, tai chi, forms of meditation that work for you, finding a trusting support system and using creative gifts that are now open to you. You can win your real self back. This lovely person has been waiting to give you a hug and many blessings for a long time.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.