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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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I have been sitting here, staring at a blank page for two hours. Normally, writing articles comes easily to me. The words flow onto the page and sometimes it seems like my articles write themselves.

Not tonight. Tonight my brain is skittish and moving from one thing to another so fast I don’t have time to really even be aware of the images and thoughts before they change. So, I apologize in advance if the words come out a little, or even a lot choppy. You see, I have court in the morning and there is no way I am going to be able to pretend my ex-husband does not exist in my world. My Complex-PTSD is slithering around the edges of my consciousness – still under control thank God.

My heart is pounding. I have fluctuated between eating junk food and throwing up all day long. I want to scream. I feel that dark foreboding hovering over me. And through it all I keep asking myself, God, and the universe one thing.

Why is it taking me so long to get over this?

It Has Been Five Years

I try to reason with myself. It’s been nearly five years and I certainly have no affection for him, no longing to be back together. He can sleep with whoever he wants and it doesn’t affect me anymore. I truly don’t care.

Yet my psyche believes that he poses a threat to me. It is so convinced that there is danger that I struggle to function when I know we are going to be in close proximity. No amount of telling myself to get over it, no amount of reminding myself that it’s in the past, and no amount of being logical makes any difference to my fight or flight reflex.

I want to run.

It makes no sense. Five years is a long time – certainly long enough to get over a toxic relationship. I am resilient. I have lived through many difficulties and gotten over them much more quickly. It is frustrating to keep coming up against this wall and not be able to get past it.

Every time my emotions take over because I am threatened that I may feel like a drama queen, a failure, a weak creature, and I see myself as something akin to Golem in Lord of the Rings. Years of living in heavy stress, of being manipulated, and broken have taken a toll.

People who love me tell me to just stop. They can’t understand how out of control I feel when this happens. Surely five years is more than enough time to move on?

Understanding and Accepting What Happened

It’s time to be real about what happened to us. Every cell, every fiber of my being was affected by the trauma of narcissistic abuse – and so was yours. We can pretend that it was just a “bad marriage” all we want. I have since seen many people who’ve gotten divorced and, oddly enough, not every woman walks away with Complex-PTSD.

In fact, my husband and his ex-wife can actually talk on the phone without calling each other names or making critical comments. That is normal. Things happen, you forgive, you heal, you grow, and you move one.

A relationship with a narcissist isn’t normal. You’ve been lied to so much that you don’t know what the truth is anymore. You have been taught not to trust your own perceptions, and you’ve been led to believe that you are not very important.

Healing is long and drawn out because it has to be done on such a deep level. You have to learn to trust yourself again, to see the truth and not be dissuaded from it, and to accept your value.  You have to learn to be gentle with yourself.

Watching the Narc Get Away with It

One of the hardest things of all is watching the narc skip off into the sunset while you struggle to find your footing. It isn’t a lack of forgiveness, it’s a matter of knowing someone committed acts of violence against you and walked away untouched.

Narcissists are good at getting away with things. They seem to be able to create chaos and then give the world a charming smile and walk away leaving their victims dazed, wounded, and confused. There are no consequences and therefore it seems as if the world is allowing his behavior. Maybe it even condones it.

And that makes you and I feel that we are unimportant. We are not worth being championed and so, obviously the narc was right – we’re worthless.

Healing Is a Process

I wish I could end this with a simple formula that, when followed, would give instant healing and get rid of the crow’s feet around your eyes in one fell swoop. I can’t. All that I can offer to you is the knowledge that it’s common among everyone who has had a relationship with a narcissist. No one comes away unscathed and no one heals overnight.

Rather than looking at how long it is taking you to heal why not look at each small success and celebrate your progress. You aren’t a failure, you aren’t too broken to ever get better. You are healing on your own schedule and that’s OK.

Stop beating yourself up over how long it’s taking. You don’t need to step into you narcissistic ex’s shoes and keep the abuse going – become your own advocate. Join First Wives World and talk to others who are slowly healing, too. 

Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, User: Dee Ashley 

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  • Comment Link Casual Observer Tuesday, 22 September 2015 08:26 posted by Casual Observer

    It is amazing how you feel and how I feel are so similar. Although the perpetrators were different, their actions generated the same feelings. I have a 'spider sense' for my ex-spouse. There is a sense of impending doom when I feel my ex near.

    I am going through that phase of feeling ugly, unloved, loathing etc. I dislike 'myself' very much. My ex triggers a lot of self-loathing behaviour.

    There is one thing that I cannot agree with. We too have ourselves to blame but it isn't for behaving the way the narcissist did. We have to take responsibility for our co-dependent behaviour. We need to own that - that our lack of boundaries and self-love put us into this position

    It is very important to be compassionate to yourself. You must learn to love yourself. This is what my therapist has said. I have a long road. During that time, I hope I find someone who can appreciate me.

  • Comment Link deejaycee Tuesday, 28 April 2015 11:19 posted by deejaycee

    I was married to a narc for 30 years, I divorced him last year, I feel humilliated by his lies, as I thought I was a pretty smart switched on woman, but I fell for the lies, Narcs are very convincing, and make you question your own impression of things. I repeatedly took my ex back, stupidly thinkingg this time it will be sorted, but it never was. He waited for the dust to settle, then got back on the dating sites etc. He said it made him feel wanted. I had never rebuked him so this was his get out of jail card when he got caught. I miss my ex, but I know that he will never change. That makes me so sad, but I now face reality. I am now with a man who is wonderful and totally trustworthy, I have known him since school. I will not let my new b/f move in and have turned down his marriage proposal, as I find I cant have someone around me constantly, and to be honest I am enjoying my freedom. I find it difficult to come into contact with my ex, my whole body shakes and I feel sick and I don't know why. Perhaps it is my sub conscious telling me to run ! It is getting easier and my life is so much more calm without him in it.

  • Comment Link Lynn Thursday, 09 October 2014 04:28 posted by Lynn

    I just got divorced after 25 years with a narcissist, who also has borderline personality disorder and a host of other personality disorders (the tests even showed he has absolutely no conscious-Like I Needed a Test to Know That!)

    I have one sister who is a great deal like him, and I am utterly alone. I hurt so bad I don't know if I will ever heal. I am broke and he has made both our children believe that I am the problem so I feel as if I have been abandoned all around.

    I just found this site and would love some advice.

    I realized tonight that his control and manipulation is still running my life, while he is out making a new other people the things he refused me for 25 years....

    I want to move on without anger, bitterness, or pain, but I don't seem to remember how to do it.

    I've spent the bulk of this marrige trying to find a way to fix it..and him...and the last 7 years he has lived in our travel trailer all over the place, including our backyard for the last 3, while i have gone to college, went to work, finished raising my son, and went back and forth from extreme anger to gut-wrenching pain...and I love the line about him gettting off scott-free, because that's exactly how I feel!

    I absolutely feel emotionally battered, and everyone says that "I'm too negative and just need to 'get over it'". I can't even feel the real pain and express feels like twilight zone.

    How do I heal, get out of this house and make a life?

  • Comment Link Gina Saturday, 27 September 2014 12:11 posted by Gina

    Thank you for writing this, it has helped me a lot. I myself am having a hard time & like you said there is no affection or wanting to get back together it just hard to explain & now I see I'm not the only one . Only others who I have lived through a divorce with a narc can understand. Yes, we do not need to be so hard on ourselves & try to get back to bring the person we were before life with a narcissist. My ex was not physically abusive in any way but the mental abuse left me scarred , but I refuse let it define me & thank goodness I have found The fist wives club.

  • Comment Link leslieA Monday, 22 September 2014 02:17 posted by leslieA

    It is amazing the similarity of emotions and view. It gives me hopes that moving on is possible. It is so true how this kind of person walks thru life with out any remorse for what they do. But when they don't get their way they seem so hopeless. That they can convince anyone to feel sorry for them. I am going on five years since my divorce and I can not shake off the feelings he brings me when I know he could be near me. I can not understand how could we had been together for so long and end up with such an emotional distortion. Thank you

  • Comment Link Saane Tuesday, 16 September 2014 07:49 posted by Saane

    Thank you for sharing, I am going through similar things but it has happened recently and is very much raw as you described in your other articles. My heart hopes that he is better than this, but my brain tells me Im fooling myself. I have heard the same lies too many times God Bless you abundantly through your future!

  • Comment Link cad2462 Sunday, 14 September 2014 18:02 posted by cad2462

    I´ve been divorced 10 years, and I still can´t talk to him without my heart pounding and my stomach aching. I think it´s my body´s alarm systems going off screaming get away! He talks to hi sons once a year, just to tell them that they´re unworthy of him. It takes a very long time to heal after being married to a narc. Be gentle on yourself.

  • Comment Link SharP Saturday, 13 September 2014 05:14 posted by SharP

    I know you cannot say. But I am hoping you coped well and have weathered the storm that seems to keep repeating itself. Breathe. Sleep. And hug your loved ones. Good night.

  • Comment Link SharP Tuesday, 09 September 2014 22:44 posted by SharP

    I have had confrontations with my ex where he backs down or the judge didn't let "narc" plan go through 100%. I don't see that they do go on unscathed. They have never delt with their inner "stuff". You in all your brokenness and PTSD are more whole than they will ever be. Boundaries are my friend. I win what I can and work around what I can't. The judge has given my ex more than he deserved but I win some stuff too. I am feeling bold at the moment. My exNarc's gf threw him out. Now he is moving back to my city. Crap!!!! We will see how bold I am around Christmas. I am anticipating and preparing to see him more often at the kids school, he'll skip payments and want to change rotation. But only two more years left. My kids are rotating into college and adulthood. I hope your court goes well. And yes, we divorced Narcs and survived Narcs. But a Narc doesn't have to victimize you any more. Let it go if you can. He really can't hurt you any more besides he has new supply else where.