I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I actually made the decision to leave The Narcissist and what my mental and emotional state was like during that time frame. I think that I had my own preconceived ideas of what it would be like when I knew it was time to leave… that it would be some sort of empowering event, that the stars would align and everything would be perfect… that I would feel absolutely sure that I was doing the right thing… yet the reality of that period of time was much different. I think this is an important concept to understand for those people who are still in an abusive relationship and looking for a way out… or even just toying with the idea.

The reality is that it is never going to be the perfect time to leave, there will always be ‘reasons’ to stay, and you are probably going to feel like you are screwing up your entire life in the process. It is going to be one of the most difficult things that you do in your life, and you won’t be able to see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow from where you stand. The healing takes some time, and it takes some effort, and it happens when you don’t even realize it… but eventually you will be standing on the other side and you will look back and wonder how you ever lived that way. You will be so content with your life and so happy with who you are that you will be eternally grateful that you made the decision to leave. It takes strength, but so does surviving in an abusive relationship… you have it in you, you just need to make the first move.

So, here is my attempt to summarize what was probably one of the most confusing times of my life in hopes that it will help give others some strength when I know that you need it the most.

  • I reached a point where I felt like I was living two lives. I realized that I was being a completely different person when I was around The Narcissist than I was in any situation where I was away from him. Being at work literally felt like a vacation and I was frequently finding excuses to be “stuck at the office” until 8:00 pm because I absolutely dreaded going home. I felt like I could speak freely, eat freely, laugh freely, converse with whomever I wanted, represent myself however I wanted… all without fear of judgement from The Narcissist. I can still remember one day when The Narcissist surprised me at work by popping in unannounced to visit me… he just strolled into my office and sat down. (Our security guard obviously had no idea what was going on in our marriage, and knew he was my husband so let him into the building.) I literally experienced a feeling of pure panic… I didn’t know what I had around my office that might upset him, or what visits from my co-workers might bring up. It was a feeling similar to having your parent attend a teenage party with you where you just don’t want them to know anything about that version of you. I knew that this was not normal, and I knew it was bad… I just still thought at that time that the problem in this situation was with me and not with The Narcissist.
  • I was so depressed I was not functioning. When I was at home with The Narcissist I was sleeping ALL THE TIME. I know for sure that a big part of this was the depression I was experiencing, but I think that I also felt that when I was asleep I could avoid the criticism and the arguments and the endless circles of conversation with The Narcissist. I would get home from work at 8:00 pm, eat something and fall asleep on the couch like 10 minutes later. I was falling asleep a few minutes into a movie I was dying to see, I was sleeping through hair appointments, I would sleep all night and then wake up on Saturday morning and fall back asleep for most of the day. I felt so exhausted all of the time… and I hated being at my own home. I hated that we had no social life, that we were never going out and doing anything fun, that I couldn’t even find the energy to do a workout… yet every time I had the chance at any of these things I would opt out and say I was too tired. I was literally sleeping my life away and enjoying my time in dream land more than in reality.
  • I started to entertain the idea that I would be happier alone than I would be with The Narcissist. Somewhere during this time period I started thinking about what I would be doing and how I would be feeling if I lived alone. What would I make for dinner? what would I do with my free time? What would I wear? If The Narcissist was not here and I could do anything I wanted… what would that feel like? I started thinking more and more about this concept and realized that even though I felt like I would die from the pain of losing The Narcissist…. this new reality of having my own freedom might be worth it. This thinking eventually led to me resisting The Narcissist in a number of what now seem like little, insignificant ways… but at the time they felt like enormous rebellious activities. I would stop at the store on the way home from work and buy something I wanted to eat… Thai food or Pizza or a bottle of wine and some cheese. I would come home, prepare my food and go lock myself in the bedroom and enjoy my meal without The Narcissist. I would binge watch the Lifetime channel’s cheesy romantic Christmas movies and ball my eyes out. I would wear the most comfortable and un-sexy pair of sweatpants I could get my hands on…. and it felt GOOD. Even though The Narcissist was playing the victim, even though he was trying to guilt me about being a horrible wife, even with all of the gaslighting he was throwing my way, these acts of defiance felt GOOD.
  • I tried to reach out to lost contacts to feel like I had a safety net in place. By this point I was feeling like I could go back to my family with my tail between my legs and tell them that I was leaving The Narcissist and have their support. I was still looking for some other reassurance that people I once knew would take me back… that I would be able to have people in my life. I think it was a way for me to feel safer in making the decision, but I ended up sending Facebook messages to a number of people I hadn’t talked to in years… my former best friend, my deceased high-school boyfriend’s mom, the guy I almost left The Narcissist to be with, my former college roommate… the list was a little bit scatter-brained but at the time it was a way to re-establish some connection to the life I used to have. Their responses and the outpouring of love I received were huge in helping me find the confidence to leave.
  • When I left, I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing. At that point in time I was the opposite of sure of anything. I was turning my entire life upside down. I was scared… I was not confident… I second guessed myself at every turn… I cried a lot. Mentally I told myself that maybe this would be the action that would save my marriage. That maybe if I moved out The Narcissist would realize what he was losing and he would change his ways, that maybe this would inspire him to take therapy seriously and get help for his issues, that maybe away from him I would be able to fix myself enough to make our marriage work. It was like I could only digest this change in little pieces… I could accept in that moment that I had made a decision to move out of my home… but I hadn’t yet accepted that this decision meant divorce, that it meant never being with The Narcissist again.
  • It took about 90 days before I started to know that I was doing what was best. In the early days I went back and forth a lot. I had a few slip ups where I went and saw The Narcissist and even where I slept with The Narcissist. I wasn’t feeling totally sure that I had done the right thing. I was absolutely in mourning and it was a difficult place to be. This experience was different than the normal heart break of a relationship ending… it was an awakening, a shocking awareness that the reality that I thought I had was just an illusion. I definitely felt lost in that time… I didn’t know how to make decisions on my own… I didn’t know how to do life without the filter and perspective of The Narcissist still impacting me… I was lonely… I missed the life I wanted to have but never really had with The Narcissist. The good news is that all of that started to shift slowly. The sad was replaced with new happiness. The lonely was replaced with so many new and old people. The uncertainty was replaced with a confidence in myself that I have never had before. I started to realize that I survived… and that took strength! I chose to leave… and that took strength! I chose to put myself first… and that took strength!

If you ask me today what the most heroic thing I have ever done in my life is… I will immediately tell you that it was leaving my marriage. What I never realized is that sometimes in life when you are doing that heroic thing you can feel your absolute weakest. The point is to just keep going… just keep moving in the right direction… just keep working on the healing.

Everyone deserves to be safe and happy and healthy in a relationship. It doesn’t matter what you have done in your past, it doesn’t matter how unlovable you believe yourself to be, it doesn’t matter if you have settled for being treated a certain way for a long period of time. You deserve better, and lighting that spark inside of yourself is the very first step to creating the life you deserve.

39 thoughts on “#whyileft

  1. Hi- a ‘like’ is insufficient here as I identify with so much that you have written. I drove around for about two years just wishing he would magically vanish or die- you think it would have given me a clue, wouldn’t you?!!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Paescapee, it’s horrible but I also used to think about The Narcissist dying a lot… I thought maybe I could hang on until that happened and somehow I wouldn’t feel like I quit?! It’s crazy how you can play out every scenario except the most straightforward one which is to leave! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Me, too! There were days before I got served divorce papers when I pray to God to take him out of my life. By take him, I would mean him dying. I’m embarrassed to admit and confess this. The things they drive us to think can be terrible.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Yes, it’s so crazy to reflect back… so many of the things I was ashamed about thinking or doing were only happening as a result of having The Narcissist in my life. I really do not like the person I became when I was with him.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Oh, me neither! There were times when I detested who I had become, which actually made me fall deeper in my depression. I think the only reason why I started to dig myself out of the misery was my daughter. I found the strength to start doing what I needed to do because I didn’t want to be a bad role model to her. How is she going to be able to fend for herself when her own mother was not able to stand up for herself?

        Liked by 2 people

  2. You made me cry a little today! I felt so validated by your post. In my particular case, I stayed longer because of our daughter. But I was already contemplating the idea of leaving him. I was just going to wait another year until my daughter would be a bit older. He discarded me first and I got served divorce papers.

    But for a few differences, your story sounds like mine. I was also living two different lives. I would even dare to say three. I got my job and my life with my mother and our daughter without him.

    My husband travels for work sometimes and I would count the days for him to be gone so I could be me and not have to worry about him or be anxious because of him.

    Me either, I wasn’t functioning due to the depression. I would dream about all the things I could do if he were out of my life. I was happy before him and I was sure (and I’m still sure) I could be happy again without him in my life.

    Since I’m still living with him, I spend most of the weekends in bed taking naps while our daughter is napping. If I can’t sleep, I read about NPD or try to entertain myself and keep my mind busy watching videos on YouTube. But I have the opposite problem: While I’m still exhausted, I spend a lot of hours not being able to sleep.

    I put a lot of weight because of inactivity and I was an emotional eater at some point. Before our daughter was born, I would find excuses to stay late at work.

    I’m currently in the process of reaching out to old friends to whom I have not spoken in a very long time. It’s very sad how we isolate. I still don’t know if I can reach out to them or not. I’m not sure if he has made flying monkeys out of some of them.

    The one thing I differ from you is that I have absolutely no desire of having sex with him. In fact, I don’t even remember when it was the last time we had sex. I lost interest in that when I realized that I wasn’t connecting emotionally with him anymore. And I’m a very passionate woman. I cannot provide the physical connection if I don’t feel an emotional connection.

    Thank you so much for posting this. I hope you don’t mind my sharing it on my blog since I think it’s fantastic and very assuring and more people should read it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    By the way, my husband showed up at work one day. I felt just like you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Nomorenarchole, thank you so much for sharing your version of this! I think that sharing these experiences and fears and the process with others is so important, please feel free to share!! So much of this abuse is about isolation and silence and the abuser being infused in every part of your life until you literally feel like you are losing your entire life to lose them. I can’t even imagine going through this with children and having to be strong for them as well. I truly hope that you find a way to get your life and happiness back. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much for your kind words! Yes, it’s harder and more difficult to make the decision to leave when there are children involved. And the future can seem bad, too since you can’t stop worrying about what he will do when you’re not around to protect them. But as a friend of mine says (and she went through a nasty divorce from a narc, too) you have to pray that God will take care of them and that you will be able to provide everything that the other parent won’t provide, not so much on the financial and material aspects, but the spiritual, moral, mental, emotional aspects. You’re basically stuck to be father and mother since you cannot count on the other parent to do their part. Anyway, thank you so much. I already included a link to your post on my own blog. We need to keep spreading the word. And for us parents, the battle is a two-face battle because the courts do not care for NPD. Children should be protected in court and not handle like a property to be shared for a certain number of days. The courts won’t think twice about letting a child spend time with a child molester or a murderer, but they don’t give a damn for NPD since it doesn’t leave you with visible scars. There were days when I pray he would hit me so I could file a report. You can’t file a report for a broken soul.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so beneficial to read. I’m in a toxic relationship and there is so much here that I can say, “Been there, done that”. The hardest part for me is knowing that I’m a caring person and somehow buying into the message I receive that I don’t care enough…It’s like I’ve taken some twisted interpretation of love and tried to accomplish what I cannot…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tarnishedsoul, The Narcissist’s weapon of choice against me was always centered around how he loved and cared about me so much more than I loved him. He would use it to justify the manipulative things he did “I did x,y,z because I love you THAT much” or to get me to feel guilty “if you loved me as much as you should you wouldn’t even want to do those things.” When I left I really thought that I was doing The Narcissist a favor… that maybe he could actually be happy without me ruining his life all the time. It’s all part of the brainwashing and gas lighting that they do, and kind and empathetic people will bend over backwards trying to be all those impossible things for them. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I keep making excuses too. Yet I knew after a month of married life and living together – when he first hit me – that I had married a bully who is never wrong.
    It’s nearly 5 years later and I’m still stuck here. His sibling has died so I can’t be the bitch who leaves (even though he isn’t even talking to me right now saying I don’t understand his pain nearly as much as I should).
    Then there’s family weddings coming up so I have to keep up appearances. Oh and the new bride to be is just so much better than I am.
    He keeps telling me how I’m not a real woman, I have no feelings, I don’t do enough for him etc etc
    I wish I find my strength one day, like you did. X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You never ‘have’ to do anything. You’re full of excuses as to why you want to stay with an abuser. And you do want to stay with him – because if you didn’t, you would leave. NO EXCUSES.

      You’ve been brainwashed to worry what people will think – if you take one honest friend away from the whole experience, you’ll have achieved something great. All the rest can fall away to hell – what do you care?

      Liked by 3 people

    1. onedayatatime, yep – they don’t like it when you do anything for yourself that isn’t about them… I bet your ex called you selfish for that one. The only way I was able to convince mine to let me go to therapy was saying that I wanted to get help with my depression and anger issues so that I could be a better wife for him. ❤


  5. Right, like holy crap!! I knew my parents were narcissistic but not my ex until recently. Minuchin the father of structural family therapy’s question isn’t what is depressing you but who? Very appropriate for my situation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Onedayatatime, I went through an anger stage… mostly because The Narcissist would never let me express anger or frustration so I had a lot of it built up. I have found therapy to be helpful but I also started martial arts and have found that one to be a huge help, particularly with the angry feelings! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I feel for everything you wrote. The question that I ask myself frequently is – how does the Narcissist manage to trick their environment so ‘wisely’. You will not see this part of him when he is at work. How can one be built emotionally like this? it is a kind of insanity.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m at the point of divorcing my npd husband , but it is hell. I’m having anxiety attacks, crying all the time. I really don’t have any support, as people say they are there for you, but they are not.. these blogs are the only thing getting me through this part of life right now. I can’t even think or know how to write exactly what is going on.


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