Remember the old threat from years ago: ” If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about.” Those two sentences ring through the decades, spoken by mothers, fathers and spouses in so many different ways. When you are married to a narcissist, you have something very legitimate to cry about, scream about, rage about. As have I stated before and you know from real life experience, these individuals are impossible.
Children of narcissistic mothers are particularly vulnerable to marrying narcissistic men and women. Being punished is a daily routine in the narcissistic household. Whether it is covert–lying about you behind your back, subtly stripping away your self confidence, demeaning you in front of your siblings. The imprint of the psychological pain is always there. If you get out of line and express your true feelings, watch out–you can hear the words in your mind: “You’re going to get it.” After years under the roof of a severe narcissistic personality disorder starting as a small child, it is not unusual that you would believe that you are “bad” and deserve to be punished. You have internalized this false belief about yourself.
Years later, enter the charming narcissist filled with magnetism, high level confidence, success. He/she finds you irresistible and you believe it. Who wouldn’t. Very few people can ward off one of these brilliant method actors, especially when they have all their lights turned on.
Before very long you are married and ready to share the rest of your life with this person. The real self of the narcissist is carefully hidden at first but the day comes when his darkness reveals itself in all of its ugliness. The narcissist doesn’t make mistakes according him. He is impeccable. You are the one who is deficient. Whatever you create is imperfect and filled with flaws. You are inherently defective—That ‘s what the narcissist believes about you and screams at you frequently. You believe him because that is what you have been told all of your life. Deep down regardless of your accomplishments–personal, professional, creative–it doesn’t matter. You are an inadequate human being that cannot change. This is the message projected on you. The childhood and adult messages fuse and resonate and reinforce one another. So many children of narcissists who marry narcissists believe this about themselves. They suffer horrible emotional pain. Many of them finally start to search for answers and discover that they are married to a narcissistic personality and that their parent(s) is a narcissistic personality disorder. It all comes together. The puzzle has been solved. What is left is the healing. You can heal and restore the real genuine self that has been waiting for so many years to be loved and cared about.
Always know that you are entitled to be treated with respect and that you deserve to lead your life in inner freedom and to use all of your creative gifts and talents. Many spouses sever their relationship with the narcissistic spouse and find that they have begun to restore their lives. It is a process that requires patience with yourself and perseverance. When you have a setback, don’t blame yourself. Remember you don’t deserve to be punished anymore by anyone. Find friends who have staying power. They will not abandon you in a crisis. They have deep compassion and the capacity to listen.
Part of the healing is to find out what creates relaxation and calmness inside of yourself. For some it is practices like gentle hatha yoga, walking or guided meditation, journaling, sketching, cooking, gardening, experiences with your animals, listening to music. Take special moments for yourself in solitude each day. You deserve it. It is part of your new self care program.
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.