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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 thing that I have noticed in most of the people I talk to who have been in a relationship with a narcissist for any length of time is that we are looking for some sort of validation from the narcissist. We feel we need it for closure. We fantasize about him suddenly becoming aware of how he treated us and coming back to ask forgiveness. In some small corner of our hearts we believe that somewhere deep inside he is ashamed of the things he did and aware of what he stole from us. Somehow, even after all of the lies, the criticisms, the shaming, and the manipulation we still believe that he harbors a spark of goodness and kindness deep within his being.

Stop it. Stop it now. You’re ten times more likely to travel through an antique wardrobe and find yourself having tea with a faun in Narnia than you are to get any kind of apology from your narcissistic ex-husband.

You know that so why do you keep allowing that one thought to flicker to life?

Repentance Is Validating

If your ex comes to you with his hat in his hand and gives you a sincere apology you will be able to get closure. You will feel validating. After all of this time his apology will mean that you weren’t crazy, that your feelings do matter, and that he recognizes you as a living thing with needs of various sorts.

He will also be admitting that he is responsible for hurting you, causing trauma, and breaking your heart.

When someone admits that they have wronged you it is a relief. You can stop wondering if you really are overly sensitive, if you really did imagine things, and if everything really is you fault. There is a huge relief that comes with that and you deserve to hear the apology and experience that relief.

But, deserve it or not, it isn’t likely to happen.

Brainwashing Is Hard to Overcome

The healthy thing to do would be to accept that you are not going to get an apology, have the self-confidence to trust you own perception of what you lived through, and move on regardless of what he does or doesn’t do. You can’t do that because you have been carefully and systematically brainwashed to depend on his definition of who you are and what you can and cannot do. You have been programmed to need his validation and affirmation as much as you need air to breathe.

So, even though you know that you have been the victim of narcissistic abuse with everything in you that is logical you still need confirmation from him that you have indeed been treated badly. As long as you have that tug of war going on you are going to have a hard time moving forward.

Accepting That Your Story Is Your Own

A friend and I were chatting recently about a time in our lives when we were being manipulated by a variety of people and situations. To my knowledge not one of the people involved have admitted any wrong-doing. I don’t expect them to and neither does she.

However one thing she said stuck in my mind. It’s my story and no one else needs to like it, agree with it, or judge it because it is mine.

I don’t know if every single moment with my ex was as I remember it. I was not, and am not, perfect. I am capable of selfishness, unkindness, and irresponsibility. What I do know is that I am left with complex PTSD, a number of symptoms commonly found in those people who have come out of narcissistic relationships, and some disturbing memories. I know what still goes on to this day despite having been divorced for over four years.

No one has to believe my story, it’s not up to them to judge it, like it, or agree with it. It is what I experienced and more and more I am able to give myself the confirmation and validation that I am looking for. Yes, it happened. Yes, it was wrong. No, it wasn’t my fault.

It is my story just as your story belongs to you.

Understanding Is the Key to Overcoming

Once you understand why you are holding the door open a crack, hoping the he will come and apologize, you can slam that thing shut and lock it down. It doesn’t matter if you are remembering 100 percent correctly or not. It’s your experience – you lived it and you don’t need anyone else’s opinion of what happened.

Now I don’t second guess myself as much. It still happens but I am better able to remind myself that it is my story. I am not going to be getting any apologies and he won’t be admitting his abusive treatment of me and the kids but it doesn’t matter anymore.

You don’t have to defend yourself. As a matter of fact, when you find yourself on the defensive it’s time to walk away from the conversation. No matter what happens it will always be your fault according to him but you don’t need to be in agreement!

The more you trust your own feelings and perceptions the easier it is to accept that you won’t get the apology you deserve and it’s time to stop waiting for it.

We all need perspective now and then. Join First Wives World and get affirmation and encouragement.

Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, User: Mizrak 

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7 comments

  • Comment Link loribebe Tuesday, 08 September 2015 22:19 posted by loribebe

    No more profound words than these:

    "You don’t have to defend yourself. As a matter of fact, when you find yourself on the defensive it’s time to walk away from the conversation. No matter what happens it will always be your fault according to him but you don’t need to be in agreement!

  • Comment Link marye Tuesday, 29 July 2014 02:16 posted by marye

    Dawna get out of there and go to the police. They should be able to hook you up wiht a domestic violence center. You can also call 1-800-799-7233 if you can get to a phone

  • Comment Link dawna lindley Monday, 28 July 2014 21:41 posted by dawna lindley

    I quess this is what he is. I am loosing my mind there isnt room for all my paid. He cheats n then tell me everyone is lieing or its mistaken identity. I can hear him say something and he says I didnt hear it. I can see him and he says it wasnt him. He hits me rapes me has a new thing now of choaking me till I pass out. Its terrifying he says he lives with me but will bring one srt of clothes n put everything in his pockets at night roll his pants up in a ball n put them under the mattress. im crazy rite. I can never see his phone but mine is taken away n he says ask for it back bitch n its shattered he never gives me money in 4 years for bills his mail goes to a po box his clothes r in a storage building he never keeps a job n I have never seen a pay stub. When I ask him to leave he says he will burn my house down or my rental properties. I dont know whats real one of m y renters told me she n her husband have seen him out several times with other women n they talk to him. N he says they r lying. He has been to jail for assault and battery by strangulation n forceable oral sodomy n has a court date for tring to feel up his sons 17 year old girlfriend n when she tried to tell me what he did he slammed her to the ground. And will scream at me n say he didnt touch her I saw him slam her down. Help me I dont know what is real. There is a name for a person like him help me should I go to the police I am scared

  • Comment Link NWBiblio Saturday, 26 July 2014 22:58 posted by NWBiblio

    Well, I just cried my way through this article, so I guess I"m in the right place. (My first time on this site.)

    I think this is exactly where I am today. Short version: About 3 months ago, my husband announced he was leaving, our relationship was not worth working on. Nope, no doubt. Nope, no separation. Nope, there's no one else. The divorce was final one month ago (I requested an expedited trial, because "get busy livin', or get busy dyin'," right?)

    So yesterday, I was at our best friends (as a couple) house for dinner (he's living there now, but he was at work), and they volunteered that he has said he wishes he could take the pain away for me. At the moment, I responded (appropriately, I think), "F--- that! He HAD his chance to make this less painful by working at fixing us instead of just walking away!" Today, I am not sure. I have, as Marye said, left the door open a crack. Or, more accurately, reopened it. Slam it shut? I know I know I know I need to, but it's so hard!

    Thank you for these words of support and strength on a day when I feel like I have none.

  • Comment Link susanwilliams Saturday, 26 July 2014 04:57 posted by susanwilliams

    I think what Marye has written above is key. The hardest thing to accept is that he doesn't care one iota and you are unlikely to ever receive an apology because he does not perceive he did anything wrong.
    Letting him go comes down to letting go of the need for closure.
    Closure comes when YOU don't care or need to have him saying sorry or begging for forgiveness, it isn't going to happen.
    Give yourself the closure you will never get for him.

    I am not sure if I am allowed to post this here but I kept a journal throughout my time with a narcissist and this was the most empowering thing I could have done because it allowed me to go back and read through and see that I was not crazy. I have turned my story into a book that I self-published with verbatim journal entries on Amazon. It's called Planet Ben, Inside the World of a Narcissist. If any of you are seeking validation of your own story, you might want to check it out as I am sure you will find distinct similarities - after all they all seem to have been given the same Narcissistic Handbook.
    I encourage you to keep notes on what is happening with your ex as you move forward because it is easy to forget how bad it was (a bit like childbirth!) I am so glad that I wrote it all down - unfortunately it wasn't until the 3rd year that I actually read my journal back and realized how much I was deluding myself but at least I had the journal to refer to. It helped me to start make sense of it all.
    Good luck on your journey into health and happiness.

  • Comment Link SharP Friday, 25 July 2014 16:43 posted by SharP

    Yes, it happened. Yes, it was wrong. No, it wasn’t my fault. 1) "Wait for it." Time is my friend. Time exposes lies/make-believe and truth is made solid by time. 2) Set boundaries and go NO CONTACT 3) Be consistent in your truth. People and kids listen first and get it later. That is the closest to closure I think that I will ever get. Thank you Mayre for saying what I am thinking. You so nailed it again!!

  • Comment Link Michelle Friday, 25 July 2014 16:36 posted by Michelle

    Wow, this one was profound for me to read today...it's my story, not open for "debate" or "judgement" from anyone else. It's the reality that I lived, so stop telling me it wasn't my reality, stop the crazy-making, and stop trying to make me believe it wasn't as bad as I remember (and yes, I'm telling my inner-gremlin to stop this too). Actually, now that I think about it, my inner gremlin is always at the ready to side with anyone else who tries to tell me my life with my ex-Narc couldn't have been that bad...I mean..."you" had a beautiful house and...well, yeah, that's it.

    Nobody dwelled inside my 4 walls with that man longer than I did, and in spite of it all, the inner-gremlin and outer critics still try to convince me that it wasn't THAT bad...he didn't, like, hit you or anything and wasn't a raging alcoholic or gamble your money away. Hmmm, I guess someone's always there to let you know just how 'lucky' you had it with a man in the house. Lawd awmighty... :-)