The narcissistic personality disorder is fixed but not static. (This post refers to male and female narcissists.) As the narcissist becomes more successful in the world, he/she activates greater and greater grandiosity, extreme self entitlement and ruthlessness. If he is at the top of his profession—finance, medicine, science, academia, entertainment, entrepreneurship, politics, media, etc. he is surrounded by a circle of people who believe that he is superior. This protective golden circle provides the high level narcissist with a continuous circulation of narcissistic supplies: adulation, praise, accolades, multiple perks, high monetary compensation.
(There are narcissistic personalities who are not successful in their professions or work who wreak havoc and destruction in the lives of their spouses and children.)
As narcissists move to higher tiers of power and influence of great reach, they become untouchable in terms of being held accountable for their personal misdeeds and treacheries. The narcissist is emboldened by his increasing reign of power, his control over others, his capacity to destroy them. He assures himself that he can make or break anyone. And often this is the case. Does it matter to him if he destroys someone else’s career. Absolutely not! This is business—hardball. Those who side with him (not knowing that they too are disposable) will vanquish his enemies. The narcissist becomes more and more ruthless and inhumane as he grabs more power and becomes more maniacally delusional.
If this narcissist is a waking nightmare at work, he is hellish at home. In the private space there is no need wear his false mask. It is ripped off by the time he reaches the front door.He screams, taunts, threatens,demeans, humiliates his spouse and children. The reign of narcissistic terror is endless. He has his spouse in a psychological stranglehold. If the marriage is going badly and the spouse suggests a divorce, the decree of threat comes down—“You will be left with nothing.” “I will get full custody of the kids.” “Everyone will know that you have instigated the divorce and take my side.” “I will hire attorneys who will defeat you at every turn.”
These threats are continuous and terrorize the non-narcissistic spouse. I have been in communication with men and women who are so frightened that they feel that their only recourse is to stay in the toxic marriage. If you make “nice” with the narcissist, he will always find ways to belittle and threaten you. In some cases he has complete power over the finances, leaving the non-narcissistic spouse at his mercy. Some spouses reach a breaking point—They are in severe distress–they cannot sleep; they are on red alert free floating anxiety all of the time; their physical health is suffering; their children are enduring emotional stress as a result of the narcissist’s constant eruptions of rage, outrageous demands and ongoing cruelties and humiliations.
Don’t wait for the narcissist to change course. He knows he can control and manipulate you at any time. He is eclipsing your life–taking more of it away day by day.
Some spouses listen to a final wakeup call and take the step to sever their relationship from these highly disturbed individuals. They strengthen themselves physically, mentally, psychologically and spiritually. They surround themselves with a supportive group of people who understand and care deeply about them. I have heard from many of those who made this decision and successfully severed their relationship with the narcissistic spouse. All of their efforts—well thought out and skillfully done—paid off. This was not easy. It takes great courage and an abiding confidence in the self. An essential part of this process is to learn to take very good care of yourself. Learn to heal the body and mind through practices like gentle hatha yoga, guided meditation, spending time in Nature, listening to the music you love that you find is healing and other practices that bring you a sense of growing peace and groundedness.