Getting too close to a narcissist, particularly if you marry one or are one of his/her children, can cause you to become ill—psychologically, emotionally or physically. It could take some time but eventually your life will be turned upside down and your stress levels will increase and your life will become more difficult. There are exceptions—those who buy in to the narcissist’s delusions and become true believers. Many of these individuals are narcissistic themselves or hangers on who are too impressed with the narcissist’s power to manipulate and overwhelm people to get what they want. They believe in trickle-down–that some of that over-confidence and extreme self entitlement will rub off on them. Those who live with the narcissist who are on the receiving end of the harshest of treatments. They survive behind the gates of a harsh ruler. They may be leading a decent lifestyle on the surface but there is no comfort, empathy, kindness or understanding from this dictator. Some narcissists buy off their marital partners so that their image is protected. I know of several narcissists who have given their wives “shut up” money after they have been exposed of infidelities. These women go along with this program because they are terrified that if they leave or are shut out they will be living in more reduced circumstances. They have gone down the road with the narcissist too long to pull away now. These spouses pay a very high price for their decision. They are not free to lead their own lives. Their thinking is constrained –they are constantly at the call of the outrageous demands of the narcissistic spouse—day and night. When they comply, it is not good enough. Even if they are very ill, this is no excuse for the narcissist. He demeans them, calls them weak and worthless. Some spouses force themselves, regardless of their emotional, psychological or physical state, to be ever-ready for the phone call, the scream, the threat that will come at any minute. They must be ready at all times to serve this tyrannical person. These ugly scenarios occur all of the time–they just aren’t public. Some women are physically hit by their narcissistic spouses time after time. The feeling of threat throughout the household is palpable at all times. This is a toxic atmosphere for raising children. Their father is a cruel patriarch who is only interested in how perfectly they produce perfect school grades, how well they perform athletically, if they have music talents or dramatic talents that can be exploited as narcissistic supplies to the father. How much is misery worth? Are you willing to exchange your peace of mind and well being and that of your children, for the lifestyle. When will the time come when you have had enough. Will it take getting physically ill to make the decision? Will it involve your child’s stress level becoming so high that he/she can no longer function at school? Are you willing to exchange your identity, inner self, peace of mind, the opportunity to express and be your true self and use all of your creative gifts for the outer trappings of the narcissistic lifestyle. What we know for sure is that these individuals do not change——ever! This is a life sentence for you and you never know when you will be discarded and/or replaced with someone else who is younger, prettier, more compliant, a better puppet. Take a long view of your life. You have much to contribute. You deserve to express your ideas, feelings and to use all of your creative gifts in freedom. Think about the lives of your children. They know that you love them and will protect them. For you, this can be the time of reckoning–changing your life, separating yourself from the narcissist to reclaim you own identity.