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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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In a world with so much beauty and so much love, how did I end up in a relationship that lacked each one of those?  Tears, hatred, guilt, blame, anger, resentment - these are not words of love, and these are not words that build up a relationship. These are words that can crumble a mountain and end a marriage.

I remember back to the day when we first met.  You became my instant friend.  We shared so many common interests, and our friendship quickly blossomed into something more, something we both knew wasn’t a good idea. Through all these years, you gave me beautiful children who have the most amazing personalities, each unique to themselves, but these gifts of human life are the only thing I was blessed with in this marriage.  I was given emotional pain, verbal and hateful words, and an unapologetic lifestyle.  Just this once, I want you to look into my soul, give me this moment, this day in time without your brutish glares, feel my tears, feel my pain and understand what you took from me.

But before I finally say all of the things I’ve wanted to say to you for a very, very long time, I need to admit: I wasn’t perfect either. I’m not perfect. I never will be. I lied. I hid things. I shut down to avoid you. I told you want you wanted to hear instead of what I truly felt. I didn’t trust you like you didn’t trust me, and this wasn’t going to sustain our marriage.  But I loved the idea of it. I loved the idea of you. Or the idea of everything you could give me. So I ignored the panic in my heart. And I ignored the pit in my stomach, every time I realized that it wasn’t right. And every time I chose to ignore it.

But that’s all I’m apologizing for.  Because the rest?  The rest of it is on you.

You have no idea how many times you have stolen pieces of me, leaving me at times wondering how much left of me there really was and if my life was even worth living beyond those moments.  Thoughts of ending my life often felt like the biggest reliefs.  I was held under water, where my breaths of life disappeared each and every moment you took it upon yourself to suffocate me with your hurtful words, the unappreciative demeanor you carried about yourself and the shame you cast upon me.  

You devalued me. The way you would say unimaginably horrible things to me, and mock me as I cried.  And then I would always forgive and forget, every single time. How could I have been so weak? So easily manipulated? How dare someone say the things you said to me, and how dare I let those words sink into my soul? I let those demeaning phrases take hold of me. I let them convince me that I was everything you told me I was. I let them convince me that I was monster you told me I was.  Each time I allowed your voice to be louder than mine meant I lost one more ounce of myself. 

How is that you can say you love me, but yet are capable of leaving me in tears, having no mercy, because in your mind, I was always the problem, not you? For some reason, I stayed. I held your hand and smiled for pictures. I even went as far as believing that you were the man for me, my very own prince charming. But you weren't and I knew it, but held on for shame. 

I have never had sex with complete disgust willingly before, and to be honest, it wasn't willingly at all. It was out of fear & guilt and often ended with tears flowing across my cheeks.  You laid next to me, physically satisfied while I lay helpless and alone, which brought back suppressed memories of my childhood.  Memories you cared nothing about. 

I put to the side my hopes and dreams in favor of helping you reach yours. I sacrificed my education and any work experience I could have gained if I hadn’t stayed home to mother you and our babies. I have no 401(K), no pension plan, no nest egg of my own. I essentially did not exist.  When I exerted my opinion, you retaliated with anger and force. You verbally abused me when we’re alone together and then made jokes at my expense when we were with friends.  You verbally & physically abused me in front of our children, which I have seen within their own behaviors. Shame on you. My apologies to them for your actions will never be enough to make up for it, and I can only pray they chose to never act like you, never date someone like you or think that a narcissistic abusive relationship is acceptable.

You are a coward. You make the people who love you most hurt in small, mean, cowardly ways. You undermine. You mumble. You insinuate. You are a bully.  When you would come in the room I cringed. Everything in me tightened, and I couldn’t relax until you were gone.  You took nothing as your fault, and blamed each person in the house for the problem.  You continually blamed me for everything, no matter what it was and made me believe that I was the cause for the problems in our life. Money, sex, kids, jobs; it was my entire fault. My self-esteem was so low, for so many years, that I would have rather endured the abuse than to be alone. I felt that I was letting everyone down, including myself.  

I remember the way you would talk about my friends. How I couldn’t tell you anything about their lives because you would be so quick to judge. I remember how you told me I was a bad person for associating with bad people. I remember you insisting over and over that they were terrible and never being able to understand your reasons. I remember the way you would shut me out whenever I went to spend time with them. How I had to close my world up just to keep our home peaceful.  We were in a relationship that was damaging, unhealthy and painful. I can remember it now. The feeling that I couldn’t really talk to anyone, that no one would understand, of feeling too embarrassed or ashamed to tell anyone how the man I adored and who claimed to adore me could hurt me so much, in so many ways. The way in which I cut myself off from loved ones so I didn’t upset you or make you angry.

Then it happened one strong day, I stopped forgiving and realized the truth. I stopped giving in. And I stopped letting you run and ruin my life. I’ve been to the edge of suicide, raped, abused, choked and dragged though life with your words, but leaving you, of all the things I’ve done in my time on Earth, that’s one that I’m most proud of; that I got out, that I got away, that the clouds parted, even for a second, so I could see clearly enough to leave.

And thanks to you, I learned what a true man is. It isn’t someone who picks up flowers on the way home or buys the most expensive meal on the menu. He doesn’t have the best car and he doesn’t have to be perfect. He doesn’t have to buy my love or bribe my forgiveness. He would never call me names. He would never make me feel bad about my past. And he would never hurt me.  He doesn’t have to be perfect, but he will be absolutely perfect for me.  He will love me unconditionally, without judgment and will tell me everyday that I am beautiful, amazing and that he knows what my worth is and will appreciate it each and every day.  

I hope and pray that something in you changes, that maybe one day you will realize that loving someone really is worth it. No woman deserves what you have done to me. I doubt this letter will make any difference, as someone with your behavior traits sees themselves as the victim and not the perpetrator. You need help… but I am free!

(originally posted by a member of our community - First Wives World is a private network filled with women supporting women through challenge. We are a free community, wholeheartedly dedicated to empowering women through troubled relationships, divorce and other life challenges. Visit our community welcome page and join to find inspiration, encouragement and strength.)

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  • Comment Link Nay Friday, 02 February 2018 01:26 posted by Nay

    It is so helpful to hear I’m not crazy by reading such similar stories. I’m still in the marriage. Terrified to leave it. I’ve seen a lawyer and was ready to make that step to freedom. He now has my children believing I am mentally unstable, insufficient as a mother, and need mental help. He acts like a different man with them. I really do look crazy.
    I also wish I would die at times and could see how a cancer can grow so rapidly in a body so full of stress and disharmony. Praying for restoration for us all.

  • Comment Link Hillary Monday, 15 January 2018 14:17 posted by Hillary

    This is my life! I live this every day!!
    I have to get out for me and my two precious children!!

    Thank you for sharing!!!!
    It helps to know others have been there too!

  • Comment Link Danielle Saturday, 30 December 2017 12:34 posted by Danielle

    After reading this letter, I have come to realize that I am truly blessed and thankful that I am a very strong woman and got the courage to leave my marriage of 12 years to a person exactly like in this letter. I am currently in a new relationship with the man I should have been with years ago. However, I still feel myself struggling with the after effects of the unhealthy relationship I was in for years. I find myself having great difficulties dealing with unfair issues in our separation. But I know it’s not worth getting down over. I am thankful I am getting treated with respect and love and kindness. I am happy that I was able to get out.

  • Comment Link saymarina Tuesday, 12 September 2017 08:28 posted by saymarina

    yes, everything sounds the same. The difference is, that I was ignoring all of it thinking that it is the " way he loves me' and he doesn't know anything better. I would cry out of the hurt in the evening, in the morning I would be really cheerful and enthusiastic about the life and our family, because I could do it. Thank to God he gave me so many talents that I would haul us from everything. But there came an age (not only the age, but he became more aggressive)that I could not do it as much as I can, and then at the 28th year of hope and struggle (yes, I am slow!)I realized that one day we will be sitting on the couch and we will not have anything to talk to each other, that he doesn't love me, our children and the family is a burden for him.
    The other women, the "friends", the "money" are his world and calling.
    Now he does everything I begged him to do together, but with another woman. He even dresses the way i was asking him to be dressed, and was never doing it before. Other woman, you deserved it! lol I know for sure that he spoils everything he touches...
    It is already ten years I am without a husband and a man. I can't talk to men, I can't let them touch me. I am mourning and grieving as if I lost my beloved husband that was a world for me. Yes, I have a big imagination and was imagining that he will become one day.
    I am so glad to find this site, and understood what I really had for 35 years until now.
    Still hope to be recovered by the grace of God! Alelluya!

  • Comment Link Eliza Sunday, 26 February 2017 03:07 posted by Eliza

    Every word was my life...

  • Comment Link sbrownne8 Tuesday, 25 October 2016 04:29 posted by sbrownne8

    You hit on so many points. I am trying to get free. I know the coward isn't capable of love. You just don't do those things to someone you love. He has never apologized for the affair or he even let me get busted with his pot. I don't smoke pot but they found it under my seat, which he threw under there because he was getting pulled over and I got arrested with it. He is a liar and a cheat. . Why do I stay in a loveless relationship with a coward and it's the worse thing for me. I am putting my faith in God's hands. I know he will do what is best for me. I think he has sending me signs I just need to follow them and trust my intuition. There will be a better life for me, just got to get through the bumps.

  • Comment Link Ree holt Sunday, 07 August 2016 14:43 posted by Ree holt

    in my situation I learned to feed his ego to keep the peace until I found a way 2 getaway the ball is in my court no, it's my life and he's not allowed to live his life through me I'm God's child not his and to this day he still makes plans for me to be in his life now how narcissists is that? My independence my emotional freedom is my reward

  • Comment Link basil0707 Wednesday, 09 March 2016 08:28 posted by basil0707

    I kept wondering if the ex was really a narc or was it me? NPD seemed so extreme. It was a real disorder and no cure. I was sure it was me being too demanding and unrealistic.

    For 22 years and I lived in a "happy valley" making excuses for his behavior even when it crossed lines of what was illegal, unethical and mean.

    I really thought our marital problems were a result of me being inadequate and worthless dealing with someone who was dealing with depression.

    Then when I started talking divorce two years before I filed, he became threatening and malicious in his behavior with me. After I filed in 1/2015 and the stupid rookie judge let him remain in the house until the divorce was finalized 5 horrible months later, I was so frightened. I couldn't even stay in the same room as him. I had panic attacks at the Walmart.

    He has attempted to carry through, somewhat successfully, his threats towards me. The thoughts of suicide throughout the marraige, the anger I released at the gym for years in classes, the many failed jobs due to low self-esteem and his insistence that public assistance was better than work so I could stay home with kids took a terrible toll on my self-worth and my wallet.

    But I just kept getting another job, took xanax for anxiety, hid money, garnered support from my family. I found a tough but very expensive lawyer who crudely reminded me many times, that I was dealing with an abusive bully who needed the hammer to keep pounding down on him or he would take advantage of me. Without the hammer of Motions filed and followed through, he duped and tricked me over and over again.

    Now almost a year out, I do have hope that I can heal. I am starting therapy and am enrolled in a divorce workshop through a church. I have lost a lot of weight (you would be surprised at what you can skip at the grocery store to reduce costs), manage my finances so tight, work everyday knowing that I will not stay in a go-nowhere job forever.

    I date quite a bit but nothing serious ever. Just casual dates where I get to eat steak (plus keep some for lunch the next day) and spend some time with men who are 1000 times nicer and more kind than my ex ever was to me.

    I don't know if I will let myself be vulnerable enough to have a another marriage. I don't know if there is a man who could and would truly accept and love me unconditionally without thinking "This woman is damaged goods. Estranged from 2 of 4 kids, broke, stupid job, dealing with drama. There must be some reason why she is where she is today. Don't need this hassle and headache."

    Nevertheless, I am free. Freedom doesn't come cheap, financially or emotionally. But I don't constantly ask myself what I am doing to wreck the marriage, to destroy his career, to wreck our children, to take away from our family. I don't wonder if I am crazy and what is real and not real anymore. I do have hope that I can rebuild my life in many different ways at freaking 50yo. And that is worth everything. You can't put a price on freedom from divorcing a man who has NPD. And I don't need to have an advanced degree to recognize that I lived it for 22 years.

    Thanks for listening.

  • Comment Link Been there Tuesday, 02 February 2016 17:17 posted by Been there

    I had tears reading this since it perfectly describes the so called marriage I had. I am left now very bitter and find "wife" a horrible word. It is getting better with time and trying to get back to the old me. Thank you for such a wonderful article. It is so hard for a lot of people to understand being married to a narcissist. And a nightmare with lawyers and the legal system.

  • Comment Link Christine Monday, 25 January 2016 00:48 posted by Christine

    wow. just wow. you just described my marriage. my old life. you wrote the letter of my life. i left but i am still not free of his abuse. though i am trying.

  • Comment Link annie Saturday, 23 January 2016 08:54 posted by annie

    Thank you. I could have written it myself. Unless you have been narcissistically abused it's very hard to understand. It's hard to be validated and often I find I am wondering if I was the perpetrator. My sanity was my husband's second wife who went through exactly the same as I did. Sadly, I supported my husband believing she was the problem. It wasn't until I saw a break in the clouds and left I realised she had endured the terrible abuse I'd endured. The only thing I think is terribly unfair is the suffering she and I have endured and he will go through life continuing to abuse. He abused his children from his deceased first wife and then pitted them against me. He did it to his second wife. He had a 4th child with his 2nd wife but blamed her for getting pregnant and told the community she did it deliberately to fleece him. His first wife died from cancer and his second wife got cancer too. I recall his daughter from his first marriage when she was 7 bragging that her step mother had cancer and she hoped that she would die. At the time I thought it was funny as she was such a 'terrible woman' after his first wife died and she had deliberately trapped him by getting pregnant. But indeed his 2nd wife no different to myself but thank GOD I didn't have a child with him. His daughter will be probably a narcissist as well. She is studying law now. She is a dangerous young lady. I will never forgive her for the abuse she laid onto me which would have been all learned from him. Her mother would be turning in her grave if she knew how calluce her children had turned out due to their father's abuse. For years I pitied him that his first wife died leaving him with 3 young children until I now realise it was probably the stress of living with him that killed his first wife, made his second wife ill and me currently in such dispair. I really hope that somehow I can find an end to this dispair.

  • Comment Link PJ Saturday, 23 January 2016 03:08 posted by PJ

    I felt like some one read my mind and wrote my thoughts. I have and am living this right now. Am glad you got out. No one deserves to live this life.

  • Comment Link sand4865 Monday, 18 January 2016 19:08 posted by sand4865

    I could've written these exact words myself....

  • Comment Link Sunshinne Tuesday, 12 January 2016 03:35 posted by Sunshinne

    I love this, it's like you took the words right out of my mouth. I have thought these things, felt exactly the same, experienced the same things, etc. I find it amazing. I have gained so much from FWW, thank you.