I am going to share something with you today.
Something I’ve only shared with a few of my clients.
Something that takes a lot of guts to disclose, and in fact, with which I’ve debated doing for some time.
Something that is alarming when I reflect upon the potential repercussions I might have suffered had I stayed in my marriage to a Narcissist.
It’s embarrassing, awkward, and makes me feel a little nauseous and highly vulnerable in the sharing…
I once agreed to be my husband’s second wife.
How did that happen? The same way it happens with other Narcissistic abuse victims when they attempt to go No Contact and then aren’t able to manage the cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with trauma-bonding and being a codependent…and agree to “be friends” or consciously make the choice to be with that person regardless of the fact that the Narcissist has a new partner.
Those who find my page often don’t realize the extent to which I was once addicted, sick, and suffering from the absolute worst forms of cognitive dissonance, emotional regression, repetition compulsion, and learned helplessness. By all accounts, I was a hopeless basket-case. My friends and family had given up any hope that I would ever leave.
So had I, for that matter.
Back then, I didn’t know anything about Narcissism, nor of the numerous toxic dynamics involved that drove me to stay. All I knew was that I was unhappy, sometimes suicidal, and that it appeared my life would never change.
My husband and I separated when our son was almost two. I was the one that asked for it. His response was to go back to his country. In about a month’s time, I later discovered, he was already married to another woman. Initially, I was glad that he was gone. I began making positive changes in my life. My relationship with my children improved. I started going out and enjoying life again.
Codependency is an Addiction
That all lasted for about four months. Then, the withdrawal kicked in and I spiraled into a path of self-destruction of the worst kind.
I started sending occasional emails, which then turned into a campaign of trying to convince my husband that we should reconcile. (Note – you should NEVER have to convince anyone of your worth). At first, he declined, but after persistence on my part, he finally agreed to give it a try…with conditions, of course.
- I had to accept all responsibility for our separation and the events leading up to it and admit my “crimes” to his family
- Since he had no plans on returning to the US, it was up to me to buy a plane ticket for myself and our son (with no financial assistance from him)
- I had to agree to be a second wife since he’d already remarried
- Since I was finishing classes to be an Elementary school teacher, I had to obtain special permission to do my student teaching in his country. I contacted about thirty different schools, and had to arrange the whole thing through my college’s placement department
- I signed a post-nup basically waiving all of my rights to any type of support, insurance, property, etc.
Sick, right? Yep, I was as sick and addicted as they come…
That wasn’t the end of it. Once I arrived at his home, the worst was about to happen. He began to leave me at night to go out with his other wife. Imagine, being in a foreign country with no means of transportation, and waiting around for the person you love to come back home to you.
I bet you can imagine it. I’d further bet that some of you have acquiesced to similar situations with the Narcissist in your life. That’s how some become the Other Woman (or the Other Man).
But, what once seemed like the worst rock-bottom I could bear turned out to be a blessing. It was my catalyst for waking up and taking my life back into my own hands.
And you can, too.
What Helped Me Leave
- Realizing I deserved more than being someone’s second wife
- Accepting that I am a precious being who deserves respect and compassion
- Understanding I’d had the power to leave all along
- Acknowledging that while my then-husband treated me like an encumbrance, there were lots of other people who recognized my worth
- Discovering that I’d contributed to this because I’d failed to establish healthy boundaries
- Vowing to stop putting his needs before my own
- Making the choice to set a healthy example of relationships for my children – by LEAVING the person who mistreated me
- Remembering the person I was before I met him
- Understanding that I had issues that needed to be resolved within myself so that I’d NEVER stand for such mistreatment again
- Letting go of his perceived opinion of me
- Recognizing that things would NEVER change
A dysfunctional relationship is very damaging and unless codependency is acknowledged and corrected, you will likely go from one toxic relationship to another, because that’s what feels most comfortable to you on an unconscious level. I mean, we wouldn’t consciously choose to be mistreated, right? But feeling unloved can cause you to act irrationally, and normalizing abuse is very irrational.
I’m living proof that the sickness of codependency and Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome can be overcome. If my story sounds similar to yours, it’s time for you to seek a professional counselor and a coach who has survived this type of abuse. Recovery requires correcting codependent thoughts and behaviors, healing wounds from childhood, and rewriting your narrative script.
Of course, in order for any of the above to be helpful, you’ll first need to go No Contact.