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Author Dr. Diane England
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Does your husband have Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD? Okay, perhaps he hasn’t been diagnosed with the full-fledged personality disorder, but does he display a level of narcissism that could be described as unhealthy or pathological? And, as a result of that narcissism, does he fly into rages? Then, doe he engage in verbal abuse that makes no sense? After all, you likely believe you’ve done nothing other than to be supportive of both him and the family.

If your partner suffers from substance use disorder, or he's addicted to, let's say, pain pills or alcohol or both, his abuse of such substances likely exacerbates his abusiveness. You're probably in severe emotional pain because of all that the trio of narcissism, addictions, and abuse have dragged into your relationship. Sadly, you may also wonder how much longer you can withstand being slammed by his harsh words and put downs.

It makes sense to feel this way. The verbal or emotional abuse your partner undoubtedly engages in regularly is extremely hurtful. (And it's harmful as well, but I'll save that for another article.) Instead of facing up to the fact yours is a verbally or emotionally abusive relationship, however, do you start thinking about all you’d lose if you left your narcissistic partner?

In fact, if  you have children, you may feel it would be unfair to them to leave your husband and deny them a more affluent lifestyle.

By thinking such thoughts, you might be inclined to convince yourself that things really aren’t that bad. Furthermore, you might convince yourself that if you'd only do a better job of doing whatever your beloved asks of you, things will undoubtedly improve despite his narcissism, addictions, and abuse.

Meanwhile, to deal with your constant emotional pain and butterflies of anxiety, you probably seek pain relief in ways you might also secretly suspect aren't healthily or seriously helping matters. They might even make you feel like your behavior is getting out of control, or you've no longer living in accordance with the values you once professed would define you and your life.

What type of things am I talking about? Well, you might join your partner in drinking too much or taking drugs. You might lose yourself in shopping (as I know I so often did when my own seemingly good life felt bad because of my partner’s narcissism, addictions, and abuse). You could  elect to take refuge in food and hence, overeat regularly. Also, you may decide to have an affair.

Whatever you're doing--or contemplating doing--to better manage your emotional pain, it’s time to stop and listen to the messages that pain is trying to deliver. Yes indeed, wake up and hear the message that it might be time to make some serious changes. After all, what you're doing now is essentially joining your partner impacted by the trio of narcissism, addictions, and abuse on a downward slide into oblivion.

Really, don’t you have better places to go?

Making New and Better Choices

Have you ever considered that it's possible to take too much pride in one’s pain management skills—to the point of your own detriment, in fact? Well, it's easy to take pride in how well you're able to play the role of martyr, too. I understand. I have been there. I realize that with regard to the latter, it can seem so noble. However, while perhaps such self-sacrifice would be commendable if you were putting your own life on hold to nurse someone back to health who was going to go forth and serve others afterward, let's say, you're likely making sacrifices for someone whose intentions are much less honorable. Indeed, when it comes to your partner suffering from pathological levels of narcissism,  aren't you handing over your personal power, your life energy, and your non-renewable time to someone who has no respect for any of these things? 

The truth is, the narcissist will use you up and totally destroy you if you’ll allow him to do so. Remember, you're in an abusive relationship because your narcissistic partner needs to control you so that you'll do his bidding. Everything is for his own benefit, not yours!

I have said it before, and I will say it again: The narcissist sees most people as objects to be used for his own selfish ends. And my dear, despite the fact you're his wife, this  undoubtedly includes you.  In fact, if the day comes when he decides that you're of no further use to him, he'll likely toss you aside with no concern as to your future well-being. Remember, the narcissist is devoid of empathy. He does not care that you were the mother of his children. For that matter, if he has found a new woman he wants in his life, he might become oblivious to the fact he even had children with you. Sadly, those children may cease to be of concern to him, too. 

So, I just want you to be clear that if your partner truly suffers from a pathological level of narcissism, you could be sacrificing your mental, emotional, and physical well-being for someone who is certainly not going to do the same for you. Therefore, you may want to seriously ponder what you're doing. Again, listen to your emotional pain. Realize it's trying to awaken you to a healthier and more satisfying way of living. Sure, it may not be played out on as grand a stage as your narcissistic partner has likely chosen for you and the family, but you'll be the director. No, you'll no longer be merely a stagehand or a prop.

Doesn't that excite you?

Embracing the Need for Change

After you’ve decided to embrace your feelings of misery and to hear those messages, ask yourself this question: Is how I’m living my life now also how I want my life to both look and feel tomorrow? If the thought of things unfolding this way forever fills you with anxiety, you have your answer. The healthier side of you wants something better.

So, at this point you'll want to start visualizing what you'd like you life to be like. For example, what type of a person would you be? That said, focus more on how you would feel versus what material things would surround you. In other words, , would you be surrounded by people who are happily being of service to others, or would you be surrounded by silence and taping into your creative side? Or, for that matter, would you prefer to have the time to do both?

Also, you might want to explore and do things you never tried previously. So, what might these things be?  

Make yourself the center of this new story or film script you’re writing for yourself. Forget about pleasing others. Instead, focus on how you might become your authentic self versus merely allowing yourself to be shaped by your narcissistic partner. (You're imaging making a shift from being what some would label a codependent person--someone who seeks to find herself through another, a lifestyle, or things--to someone who turns inward and strives to know and honor who she is at her core.) By the way, this doesn’t man that your life is going to be all about fun and escape. Rather, it's going to be about personal development and spiritual growth. And while these can bring their own challenges, by striving to move forward on this new pathway, you'll likely discover that you've climbed out of the abyss that your partner’s narcissism, addictions, and abuse seems to have created.

By the way, if you've been in a relationship with a narcissist for years, it's never too late to change yourself and your life. You could start by making personal changes and seeing if you're able to craft a satisfying new life for yourself while maintaining remnants of the old life with your narcissistic partner. That said, you should be prepared that your spouse may respond in ways that make it obvious that to craft a new life that meets your needs, you're going to have to leave him. But again, you can always try to create less drastic change first. It just might work.

Of course, change is not easy. It can be quite scary, in fact. So, while I don't know if you'll be comfortable with what I'm about to suggest, I am going to say it anyway. And what is that? Well, I'd hope you can believe that when you make a commitment to walk this new path, you'll not be alone. Call it a higher power, the universe, the Creator, of God—or, for that matter, whatever other name or label you might prefer to use—but believe you will be helped. In fact, I suspect new people will be placed in your life to provide comfort and support. However, you must be open to receiving gifts such as these. You must have trust and faith that you're moving forward on a pathway to your highest good. After all, you're apt to discover that acting in ways that signify you have faith and trust may actually prove to be the most challenging of all things that you ultimately must do.