When you remain married to a narcissistic personality and you have spent years psychologically dancing on hot coals for him or her, you are injuring yourself. It is not only highly unpleasant–which is a gross understatement–it is chronic misery and even torture to continue to share your life with this highly dysfunctional person who will not change. Don’t let him convince you in a moment of vulnerability that the life that you share with him/her is ever going to be any different. As the years roll by, it gets tougher because you are becoming more exhausted from the cycle of abuse, distress to your psyche, a body and mind continually in fight or flight mode. Some spouses expect to be treated this way because they never had a different life experience starting in childhood. Being treated with disdain, cruelty and deception was part of everyday reality in their family. Life at home was unpredictable, could not be counted on to be steady and warm, was filled with wrenching criticisms and created deep personal feelings of psychological unsteadiness and free floating anxiety.
After leaving the family home and being relieved that the physical tie had loosened it didn’t take long for many of us to find ourselves hopelessly attracted to an individual who at first was so mesmerizing that we were reeling with excitement and runaway desire. If there is a strong sexual chemistry, the pull can be insurmountable. This is especially the case if the man or woman who will become the victim of a narcissist once again has not been able to work through narcissistic family issues and to recognize that they were abused throughout childhood and the years growing up.
We are drawn to what is familiar to us if we remain unconscious of the forces that lie below the surface of our life experience. We all have a tendency to repeat what is familiar even if it is disastrous to us. Marrying and re-marrying narcissistic spouses is a common thread that runs through the lives of many people.
For many, a series of moments accrue into an awakening—“What the hell am I doing to myself/” This man/woman doesn’t give a damn about me.” “He lives only for himself, lies continuously, exploits me, psychologically weakens me, baits me so that I can’t think straight, makes innumerable broken promises that I have believed in the past.” Finally this person awakens and realizes that the nightmare ride with the narcissist will have to stop—Now! No more of this hellish existence you say to yourself. Many victims of narcissists realize that they must stop harming themselves by severing the relationship with this person who is sucking the life out of them every moment they continue their involvement.
They gather their courage, make a firm commitment and specific plans to leave, make arrangements for a divorce, find an attorney who is up for the battle and be prepared to make the life changing transition from victim to victory of the self. This is not easy work but your emotional, psychological freedom and your physical health are worth all the effort. You will persevere and prevail. Reach out to people whom you trust and are with you for the full race and victory at the finish line and the beginning of your new life. You now know that you are entitled to the full use all of your gifts, to have access to your own thoughts and feelings without intrusion and to learn for the first time how to let down, to be at ease within your own being–body, mind and spirit.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.