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 to you at all? After all, you likely believe you’ve done nothing other than to be supportive of both him and the family.
If your partner has substance use disorder, or addictions perhaps to both pain pills and alcohol, for instance, these may exacerbate his abusiveness. Since many of those with pathological levels of narcissism do have what is also referred to as SUD, you are probably in severe emotional pain because of all that the blend of narcissism, addictions, and abuse have brought forth into your relationship. You may also seriously doubt if you can continue to be slammed with his harsh words or put downs.
It makes sense that you might feel this way because the emotional abuse and verbal abuse your partner undoubtedly engages in quite regularly are both extremely hurtful—and harmful to you, too. But rather than face up to the fact yours is a verbally abusive relationship, for instance, do you start thinking about all you’d lose if you left your narcissistic partner who may, in part because he is narcissistic and willing to do whatever it takes to gain power and have financial success, provide you with a nice lifestyle? If you have children, you may also feel it’s unfair to your children to deny them this more affluent lifestyle—one you’ll be unable to afford and sustain as a single mom.
Indeed, thinking such thoughts, you then probably go forth and convince yourself that things really aren’t that bad despite your partner’s narcissism, addictions, and abuse. Furthermore, if you would only do a better job of doing what your beloved asks of you, things will undoubtedly improve. Meanwhile, to deal with your constant emotional pain and butterflies of anxiety, you probably seek pain relief in whatever ways you’re discovering work for you.
You may join your partner in drinking or taking drugs. You may 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 may take refuge in good and overeat as a result. You may turn to an affair.
Whatever you are doing, or contemplating doing to better manage your emotional pain, it’s time to stop and listen to the messages that the emotional pain is trying to deliver. Wake up and hear the message that indeed, it is time for a change. After all, what you are doing now is joining your partner with his narcissism, addictions, and abuse on a downward slide into oblivion. Don’t you have better places to go?
Making New and Better Choices
Have you ever considered that it is possible to take pride in one’s pain management skills—to your own detriment? Indeed, it is easy to take pride in the role you’re playing as a martyr, too. It can seem so noble, after all. 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, for example, you are making sacrifice for someone whose intentions are less honorable. Indeed, when it comes to your partner suffering from pathological levels of narcissism, you are handing over your personal power, life energy, and non-renewable time to someone who has no respect for any of it—who will use you up and totally destroy you if you’ll allow him to do so. You are in an abusive relationship because your narcissistic partner needs to control you to do his bidding—all for his own benefit, not yours!
Remember, to the narcissist, most people—those he does not see as players like himself, that is—are merely objects to be used for his own selfish ends. If the day were to come that he decided you had no more use to him, he would toss you aside with no concern as to your future well-being. Really, this is what narcissism is about—essentially no empathy, essentially no conscience.
For a man like this, you are currently sacrificing your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. So, you may want to serious ponder what you are doing. Again, listen to the cries of your emotional pain. It is trying to awaken you to a better way—a better way of life than living it perhaps on a grand stage, but on a grand stage that your narcissistic partner will command while ensuring you remain merely a stagehand or a prop.
Embracing the Need for Change
After you’ve decided to embrace your feelings of misery or hear their 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 fill you with anxiety, you’ll have your answer. The healthier side of you wants something better. So, take some time to start visualizing what that life would look like—the type of person you would be versus the person you’re being now. In other words, focus on the emotional side or your feelings rather than the material things that would surround you. Would you be surrounded by people where you are out there helping others, or would you be surrounded by silence and taping into your creative side, for example? In addition, would you be exploring and doing things you would never have tried previously?
Make yourself the center of this new story or film script you’re writing for yourself. Forget about pleasing others and instead, focus on how you might find yourself and be your authentic self instead of continuing to be what some might label as a codependent person—seeking to find yourself through another, a lifestyle, or things versus turning inward and striving to know yourself at your core. By the way, this doesn’t man that your life is going to be all about fun and escape. Rather, it is going to be about personal development and spiritual growth—which can bring their own challenges, certainly. But while these can be painful too, as you manage to take one step after another, you should discover that you have climbed a mountain versus fallen into the great abyss—as you likely feel you’re rapidly on your way to doing because of your life encased in your partner’s narcissism, addictions, and abuse.
It’s never too late to change yourself and your life. However, since change is not easy and can be quite scary, remind yourself that when you make a commitment to walk this new path, you will not be alone. Call it a higher power, the universe, the Creator, of God—or whatever other word you might prefer to use—you will be helped. New people will be placed in your life to provide comfort and support. The thing is, you must be open to receiving gifts such as these. You must have trust and faith that you are moving along a pathway to your highest good. And, quite frankly, sometimes you’ll discover that acting in ways that signify your faith and trust are the most challenging of all that you ultimately must do.
Besides writing on narcissism, addictions, and abuse, Diane England also writes on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. If you know of someone whose partner is displaying PTSD, addictions, and abuse--since we often see this trio exist together, too--do that person a favor and buy him or her The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Relationship today. It has been designated one of the "Best Books of 2009" by theLibrary Journal.
Universities, nonprofit organizations, churches, psychotherapists, physicians, support groups, and others seeking to purchase quantities of this book at a discount should contact Customer Service at F&W Media by calling 800-289-0963.