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My Narcissistic Ex-Husband

Reflections on loving and living with a Narcissist.  Let our experts guide you toward the healing power of moving on and allowing yourself some time in the spotlight.  Get advice on healing from his behavior and finding yourself again.

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One of the first things everyone wants you to do after your release from the clutches of your narcissistic ex-husband is to move past it. If you talk about your experiences you are told things like:

  • Forget it – it’s over.
  • Leave it in the past.
  • Forgive him and move on.
  • But your life is so much better now!

While those are truly well-meaning statements from people who love you those sentences will keep you locked in your pain and locked out of healing much longer than if you give yourself permission to hurt, to wallow, to dissect your relationship, and to study your experiences.

People, for the most part, are seriously uncomfortable with other peoples’ emotions and pain. Most of the time they feel that it is their duty to sit and listen to you but very few of them will be comfortable about it.  It’s much more comfortable for them if you just get over it and stop crying, being depressed, or having those pesky Complex PSTD symptoms. Their main concern isn’t your healing – it’s your getting back to “normal” so that your emotions don’t make them uncomfortable.

Time to Reprogram Your Brain

Most of us have had a computer crash so badly that the entire thing had to be rolled back to the stock settings and all of the information had to be reinstalled and reprogrammed. Your brain is a brilliantly created computer and living with a narcissist corrupts most, if not all, of your files. You are going to have to take the time to reinstall healthy thoughts and reprogram your brain to think in a positive way.

The first thing that you have to change is the idea that your relationship was average, healthy, or normal. It wasn’t.

Average, healthy, normal relationships are not built on a foundation of lies.  As soon as you can grasp the idea that everything your ex said or did was shrouded with deception then you can begin to heal. You’ll realize that it isn’t, nor was it ever, your fault.

The door to healing starts to open when you realize that you are not a disgusting, completely flawed chunk of humanity that is unable to do the simplest activity without making a mistake. You are human, brilliantly and beautifully created, highly capable and accomplished in some areas and weak in others. You are not perfect by any means but, as my dad used to tell me, “You aren’t perfect but you’re close enough to it for me.”

You, my friend, are close enough to perfect just the way you are right now.

Spend Time with Your Memories

Has someone told you to stop obsessing over what happened?

It’s important that you look at every memory with the magnifying glass of your new knowledge that you were not in a normal relationship. You need to understand what really happened rather than maintain the corrupt perception of your life that you had. Depending on your spiritual beliefs you may want to read one of the numerous books on inner healing and breaking unholy ties. Meditation and prayer are both ways to remove the smudged glasses you’ve been wearing and see clearly.

My ex once paid well over 1,000.00 for a bike he wanted. We did not have much money, we were behind on bills, and our property taxes were due within a month of his purchase. Needless to say we didn’t have it, either.

I was scared we would lose the house over property taxes and I was angry that yet again he had put his wants in top position while needs went unmet. I remember standing on the stairs and looking down at him.

“Where’s the money for the tax?”

He glared at me. “I don’t have it.”

“You bought that damn bike. You can pay for the tax.”

“I don’t have it!”

I was cool, calm, and I wasn’t backing down. I didn’t care if he sold the bike or sold his body on the street. I wanted that tax paid. I kept asking and he kept getting angrier and angrier until at last his face was bright red, he was screaming at me and he was literally jumping up and down like Rumplestiltskin in a rage.

Then I felt guilty for days because I had pushed him over the edge.

Guess what, y’all? It wasn’t my fault! When I looked at it through my new, magic, reality glasses I saw that he flew into a rage because he was wrong, I was unemotionally demanding he do the right thing, and it caused me to back off. He wanted me to believe that it really wasn’t so bad he had bought a bike that he wanted and $1,000.00 wasn’t enough for a full payment on taxes anyway.

Is there anything logical about that line of thinking? Now that I see it for what it is my eyes have been opened to other times that I blamed myself for his actions. Once I can see those lies I can send them packing like the winged monkeys they are.

When You Lie Down with Dogs…

Have you heard the old saying that when you lie down with dogs you shouldn’t be surprised when you wake up with fleas? In other words, it was your choice and you need to deal with the consequences.

That may be true about dogs and fleas but in this case you were duped. You had no way of knowing that you were entering the twilight zone. You went to bed with a prince and woke up to a frog. It’s not your fault.

Here’s the thing. You weren’t any more in control of this relationship or the things that went on in it than you would be in a rowboat in the middle of a hurricane. You learned to react rather than pro-act because nothing that happened was logical, nor was it predictable.

So many websites about divorce, broken relationships, and especially infidelity have you look at yourself and fix a part of the blame on you. This doesn’t work in a relationship where narcissistic abuse is present because circumstances are extreme and abnormal. There is no one that can tell you how you should feel or how long your healing should take. 

You sure as hell don’t have to “be friends” with the person. It’s not immature to protect yourself from further abuse!  You have been shattered and it will take time and patience to heal.

A lot of that will be moving through the process of reprogramming your brain. It’s nearly five years post-divorce for me and I am still taking the blame for things that aren’t my fault. I still see myself as a screw-up, an inept problem to be dealt with, and someone who believes a twisted reality – which I do. The thing is that my being accused of believing a twisted reality (that the ex is a narcissist) makes me believe a twisted reality (that I am wrong).

If you can wrap your brain around that statement you’ve been there. Lots of women have been there. Join First Wives World today to get connected to a group of women who understand what you’ve been through.

Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons, User: Patty Maher  

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  • Comment Link Naana Efua Wednesday, 22 March 2017 12:17 posted by Naana Efua

    I have read many articles that say that Narcissists tend to be drawn to codependents. I therefore disagree that the victim does not need to look at themselves in the mirror and understand how and why they fell for the narcissists. I do however disagree with the victim being blamed for the issues the narcissists has. As someone who was married to a narcissist, I can honestly say the signs were there from the beginning but I ignored them because I had an intense fear of rejection which stemmed from abandonment issues in childhood.

  • Comment Link honey Monday, 27 April 2015 17:45 posted by honey

    thank you for these articles,

    it feels almost impossible to comprehend that the person who you gave everything to .. is not real.

    my ex would tell me that he had a five year plan and we can make it but it's not going to be easy, but he wants this more than anything and it's the reason he works all the time. that i should be patient and soon he would be making more money and we'll have time to spend with each other. so in order to not feel isolated, lonely, unfulfilled because he was gone so much and i cared for our toddler that required extra attention. i had to create a new meaning for my life and so i decided that my goal would be to do everything i could to bring happiness and health to our family and home. outside of my partners willingness to participate or even acknowledge. so i researched everything else other than relationships. i was exhausted and so i wasn't always available when my ex wanted attention, usually after he was gone for a couple days and our son finally went down for a nap so i had an hour of me time which i wanted to use to clean something i was told needed to be improved or else. wrong answer. so after a short time, i guess my ex contacted his ex and began a emotional affair. she was in another state but had planned to visit local friends in november, before the holidays. so he left me a week before her arrival but as usual he just went to his parents house to get sympathy and came home later that evening. but this time it was different. he brought flowers and promised me that he would always come home no matter what he did or said and he needed me to believe him. in fact with tears in his eyes.. he looked at me and said … promise me that you believe me and that you won't ever give up on me because i will always come home no matter what ok.. no matter what i say or what i do … know that i love you and will always come home. and that my friends is what we call evil genius. because a few days later a day before the person he wanted to be available for was to visit .. he left again and this time he didn't come home. he took everything tv blender my clothes and some of his and what sparked his leaving. i took to o long in the restroom and it just shows that i don't respect him since he would have to pay attention to our child for those 15 minutes .. the only 15 minutes i had in three days and i felt guilty but i was so exhausted that i didn't question his leaving. he managed to meet up with this other woman and went to an event that i had wanted to go to as a family .. he took our son and her after two days of our separation and a mutual friend called me to say that he was bragging that he was now a single father and he left me. i was still in denial after all he promised me and i promised to believe in him so i know he will come home soon. of course i didn't know that he had hopes of beginning a new relationship. nor did he know that his ex was married. that didn't stop him of course. during the first weeks of seperation, i felt like a ghost. my whole identity was my family, our dream as we called it. i felt like i was mourning a death and was in such pain and when i reached out for some compassion from my ex , he made me feel worse. as weeks went by he told me that our relationship was a lie and that he never loved me and that he was self medicating and that he just didn't want to be a failure. i didn't believe him? why would someone have a child with a person they didn't love after knowing that i had no plans to have more children since i had kids at a young age and was a single mother for most of my life i had not wanted to put a child through that again but he promised that he would not leave me and wanted to start a family with me and was elated. you can't fake wanting to have a child? can you. . . can you? can you really. it's just so impossible to comprehend. that someone could con someone out of their love and break apart their spirit in an attempt to create an image that feeds their ego and master plan .. that may or may not include you depending on your use. it's impossible? everyone has a heart a soul a understanding that love and creating a life is sacred and shouldn't be used for personal gain… at least for those who aren't royalty or customs dictate arranged marriage but even there it's disclosed and known.. i just can't wrap my mind around it but it's beyond clear and if i talk about it i sound like an idiot because why would anyone love someone who tells them they are a sorry excuse for a human being or that it's my fault our family is torn apart because i'm not good enough for him to love but maybe one day. splat! i've always said "it's like arguing with make believe" when describing how it felt to disagree with my ex. but i had no idea it was actually all make believe. i still don't get it but this site has helped me by describing it as a reprograming and to go back and with my new understanding .. to re evaluate things that i accepted responsibility for or felt shame or guilt or humiliation or crazy… and i tried it out and it's mind blowing. but i have a lot of demolition to continue before i get my mind back i think … when i do …

  • Comment Link Rebecca Friday, 01 August 2014 15:26 posted by Rebecca

    Have you ever tried to take a shower and the water is ice cold? And you know you need to take the shower. Then you try a bit get out and at some point it starts to fee comfortable a bit then you shower

    That is exactly how I feel now.

  • Comment Link SharP Saturday, 19 July 2014 20:03 posted by SharP

    Yep! Well said. I just know that the longer I am away the better I feel. And the more things I do for myself the better I feel. The truth is he was a Narc. I cannot loose sight of that, ever. I changed car insurances last week. I asked myself, why am I still using the exact same company and coverage that the ex Narc picked for me when we were married almost five years ago? 47 years old and have now had the experience of shopping for my Very own home and auto insurance. I am not broken. I can answer the question, "what do I want?" It was enjoyable. I don't have to do it his way anymore or listen to his voice in my head that says I cannot. He didn't put me first. So, yes, my coverage is different.