I hear from many spouses and ex-spouses of narcissistic personalities. They found it difficult to identify that the person they married had a serious personality disorder. Some of them took decades to realize that they were married to someone who was psychologically and emotionally abusing them. They kept normalizing cruel, controlling and exploitive behaviors. Most of these spouses blamed themselves for the marital problems. Many went to couples therapy and had no positive results.
My clinical experience and that of many others is that the narcissist is a fixed personality disorder that does not change. This psychic structure develops early and the defense mechanisms that the narcissist uses are like concrete. They include massive denial and primitive projections that provide the narcissist with a bulwark of protection against changing his/her psychopathology. The narcissist develops a false self as his/her response to the parent/parents during the early years. This structure grows over time and becomes firmly consolidated within the narcissist. If this individual is the chosen child, he allowed to do whatever he wishes, is given no sense of limits or guidelines for treating others with respect or empathy. Children who are not chosen can also become narcissistic as well.
If you have been through a series of ordeals with your narcissistic spouse you understand how stressful, painful, confusing and disturbing this experience is to your life each day. You are paying the price of not having a self that belongs to you. The narcissist without a sense of healthy psychological boundaries is constantly criticizing you, demeaning you, humiliating you and trying to break you down. Then when you are at the point of giving up, it is not unusual for him to use all of his gifts of persuasion to bring you back and make promises (empty ones) that he/she is definitely going to change and wants to remain your partner. This is a dizzying merry go round ride that does not stop.
Unless you are discarded by the narcissist, which happens in some instances, you are the one who must make the decision (or not) to finally disengage by separating from and divorcing them.
Your self healing is the essential issue. You have been living in the fight or flight mode of the sympathetic nervous system for too long. Your nerves are frazzled. You catch yourself constantly in a state of free floating anxiety. You feel self hatred arising. You feel like giving up. Don’t! Get well and put yourself first.
Create a detailed plan for getting out of the marriage. Interview several attorneys. Make sure that the professional you choose is well trained in divorce law, has strong credentials, an excellent reputation, good character and will be your true advocate as well as understanding the manipulations and tricks and ruses of the narcissistic personality. It is very important that this individual have you best interests in mind throughout the entire process.
Make a list of everything you need to do before the divorce papers are served. Make sure that you have the financial resources that you need in the interim.
As you go through this process, develop a practice of self care. Exercise in the way that is best for you, get the sleep that you need, eat healthy, take time in solitude and quiet, journal if that is helpful to you; listen to short guided meditations, practice gentle hatha yoga to calm the nervous system and strengthen the body/mind, listen to your favorite music that is a source of beauty and peace, spend time with a few friends whom you trust and can count on. Maintain a practice of self care now and throughout your life. You deserve to heal and you will. Healing and evolving are lifelong processes.
Disengaging from the narcissist and moving forward with your own life is waiting for you. I hear from so many individuals who have taken this route to freedom. They are so grateful and happy and lighter and inspired and creative now with their lives. You are on the right pathway–the one that leads to inner peace and your healing.
One thought on “Focus on Your Healing–Disengage from Narcissistic Spouse”
Comment: From Doug
Thanks for your post. I’m the middle son of a covert narcisistic mother. She is and always has been in very deep denial and lives in a fantasy world she constructed in order to protect herself. This expresses itself in many ways…the do-gooder, the righteous one, the helper, the noble spirit…and no one but me, not even other family members can see through her disguises. I have always been able to see right through her, but as a child, even though I sensed something wrong, she tried to make the her golden child and I played right into it, but when puberty hit, I was having a more and more difficult time accepting her masks. I didn’t know what was wrong, but I knew something was wrong. For the rest of my life, she always knew how to bring me in, keep me under her thumb, as much as possible. We never got along well, but she saw it differently. She never thought we argued, she didn’t see that her kicking her 13 yr old son out of the house frequently was us arguing. I had always partied, but always held great jobs. When she finally moved to florida several yrs after my father died, never telling me about. I came home one day and found the house had been cleared out and everything I owned, everything I held Precious was in a garbage heap…I believe my severe hatred for this women began then. I think I always hated her, but not to this level. Of course I was never allowed to show my anger towards her. She later wrote in a letter after I wrote her how I felt abandoned that she never saw it that way, she only saw it as an Escape for her. She has never thought about anyone before herself. She would say she always put her children first, but it was fake. She played the roll of a good mother..we were a burdon and I felt it everyday of my life no matter how hard she tried to show the world what a great parent she was. I used drugs and alcohol to survive, but eventually they almost killed me. I quit cold turkey, went through the most severe withdrawal imaginable…months in my room, screaming, vomiting, kicking,,hallucinating but as I slowly came out if it and realized I had the strength to do that, I found the strength to defy Trudy. Her control over me was slowly disappearing. I no longer responded to her button pushing, her snide remarks to make me feel small. She was losing. And understand, it was always a battle between her and I and she always new how to win, but no longer. It’s still a process because I love her, but hate her more. I can’t allow myself to begin thinking well maybe I can give her another chance, because I’ve given her millions of chances and each time she couldn’t help herself. This truly is a pathology that is carved in stone for these people. It will NEVER, EVER change and I have to be aware of that all the time. I use this blog frequently to keep strength. I had been seeing a wonderful counselor for sometime and she early on mentioned Narcissistic Personality, but I dismissed it because I thought being a narcissist was someone who loved themself, but this kind of narcissism hides a deep hatred for oneself and I knew intuitively my mother had a deep hatred inside, put there by someone, maybe her mother, or born with a perpencity for the disorder, I don’t know. I wish I had not so easily dismissed my counselor, she knew, but I think she also knew I had to find my own way to it. Then I found this blog, read it and it described Trudy exactly! I immediately went back in my mind to that one session when my LCSW said the words..Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I just wasn’t ready to hear it yet, I was still coming out of my drug fueled days and thought I knew everything. Anyway, thank you, Linda, without your blog, I may never have gotten it and THANK YOU, ANN, if you should ever read this please know how much I appreciate you.
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