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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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A light bulb turned on today. And, I feel empowered.

I was reading an article online called, “The Surprising Reasons Women Get Hooked on Narcissists”, and I related completely. The article discusses why smart and ambitious women fall for Narcissists. I struggled with the why. Why did I ignore the red flags? Why did I try to make my marriage to a narcissistic abusive man work? Why didn’t I end it sooner? Why did I give up my career so his could thrive? Why, why, why? And I was afraid that if I didn’t know the answer to the Why, that I’d end up falling for another Narcissist if I ever tried dating again.

And I also needed to know how to get out of the funk I was in. The feelings of hopelessness, trying desperately to feel positive about my circumstance, attempting to understand what to do next, frustrations from having to co-parent with a bully, assessing the financial and emotional damage I suffered, reading stories of women who never get free of their narcissist, wondering if I’ll ever get my life back.

What I know for sure is this: certain great qualities about me attracted him to me. But these are qualities that, when put in the wrong hands, can be used against me. These qualities are empathy; extraversion; loyalty; competitive nature (work hard to move up in my career); sentimental (I’m big on traditions, and spontaneous displays of affection); motivated to help and please those I care about (helping elderly, sick, or needy family member); and excitement-seeking (naturally curious and disliking boredom, I hated sitting around the house all day and love just getting out).

With a normal person, these qualities would thrive, but narcissists cleverly seek people out with these qualities and exploit them. And abusive narcissists take pleasure in tearing successful women down. Imagine if Solomon (in the bible) was strangled by his long hair; or if Superman’s laser-beam eyes were mirrored onto himself. Our strengths are used to hurt us.

So I know why my narcissistic ex was attracted to me. And I know why I let him into my cushiony and heaven-like, peaceful life. But now that he has turned my heavenly life into a life of hell, how do I climb out? How do I use the strengths that got me here to get me out?

Empathy – I first will have compassion for myself. I am no different from a victim of burglary, mugging, or identity theft. I was targeted and victimized. So I will have patience with myself and nurture myself (healing doesn’t happen overnight). When I’m healed, I can climb out of my narc hell faster.

Extraversion and excitement seeking – I will no longer hide out in my home, too depressed to go out. I’ll go for walks, have already planned a spring trip to Europe with some friends, took a cruise to the Bahamas, go to the movies, etc. I plan and do fun things, especially with the kids (zoo, museum, etc.). When I remember how fun the world is, it motivates me to want to keep climbing towards the light!

Loyalty – I remain loyal to my dreams and goals by going back to school to get a Masters degree and focusing on re-establishing a successful career and salary. I took a lower-paying job when married, but I can get a higher-paying job. I did it before and I’ll do it again! And I get myself up in the morning and get to work, regardless of how depressed I feel. And I’m also loyal to my true friends, family, and my children. I’m loyal to those who are loyal to me. That support base will help cheer me on in my journey.

Sentimentality – My ex would be nice to me after abuse and I’d sometimes forgive him and “see the best” in him. I would hang on to the memories of the one time when he brought me chocolates for “no reason” or wiped up my puke after a bout of morning sickness. But those tokens had strings attached. Now, I hold on to my kids’ drawings from daycare and create true memories for myself. I buy myself flowers and chocolates and taught my kids that, “mommy’s favorite special treat is a box of chocolate.”

Motivation – I surround myself with positive affirmations that “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” “My mind is brilliant,” etc.

I’m following the rules of no response and no contact and am ignoring (but documenting) his continued attempts to abuse me via text, e-mail, and threats of court. By not responding, that window is closed. I told my attorney to ignore any e-mails from him unless they are actual motions filed in court. I’m not wasting money addressing his e-mailed threats to sue and modify, even when he sends them directly to my attorney. That door is closed. We only recognize and respond to court orders and court-filed motions, not a lunatic.

When he doesn’t pay for certain expenses, I pay it, document it, and move on. I don’t beg him for the repayment (he loves to see me grovel). He desperately wants his successful, beautiful, and ambitious source of narcissistic supply to rejoin him in hell. Each text, nonpayment, e-mail, public tantrum, is like the finger of the devil beckoning me to come in to the heat. No thanks. I can stay cool by being cool, even when my ex is obviously overheated.

So, I have my game plan. I know how I got in and how to get out of hell. I don’t know how long it will take, but I’m climbing up. And I will not turn back.

Originally written by a community member here at First Wive's World — a supportive community that cares deeply about your experiences. Register today to share stories about your struggles and victories during divorce.

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8 comments

  • Comment Link janie123 Wednesday, 04 January 2017 22:51 posted by janie123

    Gods girl - it's like I'm looking in a mirror. I've lived in this hell for 31 years. After reading and re-reading articles on Narcs I see all of his character traits. The worst thing is that I feel guilty because I think I even enabled his behavior just so that in return I could get him to be nice to me....have some peace at home, even if it was just for a little while, until the next time I didn't do what he wanted. He will not leave, our kids are grown but still in college and living at home. I wish I could just walk out but I have nowhere to go with my kids in tow. There is no way I could afford it. I feel stuck and Lord knows how much longer I can hold on. I've contemplated just killing myself so many times, he has hurt me so much. If it weren't for my kids and because I know I would cause them great pain. I swear I've already would have done it. I see no end to this pain.

  • Comment Link domomomo Monday, 02 January 2017 17:12 posted by domomomo

    I agree with you ladies! I have been with my narc husband for 20 years. We separated 6 years ago and I bought my own house and moved out. I went back after 3 years and spent the worst 2 years of my life living in that house. I have been out 4 months now and I can't seem to get away from him. He comes over to go repairs and the next thing I know he has keys to the house and just coming in at will! This is a new year and I want to end this cycle all together.

  • Comment Link ponderpie Monday, 19 December 2016 20:48 posted by ponderpie

    thank you for sharing your story, very inspirational

  • Comment Link nilsen3 Friday, 09 December 2016 12:29 posted by nilsen3

    going from a flattened crushed crawl , to an upright walk- albeit a slow walk- is a blessing indeed.

    thank you for sharing the voice of strength.

  • Comment Link Gods girl Friday, 02 December 2016 15:46 posted by Gods girl

    Thank you for your post. It's very inspiring. I'm currently trying to divorce an emotionally abusive, passive aggressive narcissist who has bullied me and used me for 29 years. He's already dragged this divorce out since March and there is no end in sight. He, of course, won't leave the house and I have nowhere to go that I can afford with my children (he'd love it if I left without them). So for the time being, I'm condemned to hell. He's made sure that everyone sees him as the good guy and me as the bad guy. My greatest fear--especially after reading your post and the article you referenced--is that I'm doomed to unwittingly choose men like this. I just keep praying that God will direct my path this time (I didn't consult God 29 years ago--I just "knew" he was the right guy).

  • Comment Link Kitty Sunday, 20 November 2016 17:12 posted by Kitty

    I can see so clearly myself in this text .
    How on earth we get out I've no idea but we do and that is the first day of the rest of our lives

  • Comment Link Lea Fallin Tuesday, 15 November 2016 01:26 posted by Lea Fallin

    This sounds just like my life!! I literally could have written each and every word! Thank you for sharing and showing me that it isn't just me caught up in that hell. I'm crawling out myself too! Thank god for that.

  • Comment Link lagirl50 Monday, 14 November 2016 18:47 posted by lagirl50

    Great plan and I pray that God gives you the strength to hold on and don't as you say turn back. Be Blessed.