Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Narcissistic Spouses--Go into Training for the Divorce Wars

I know several people who have trained for and run marathons. This is a tough, disciplined process that takes many hours and hard grinding work. The goal is incredible--over 26 miles of running--one footfall after another. I have seen great runners reach the wall and writhe in agony. I have watched them gather their strength and the benefit of their training and grit and move through this tremendous barrier that is reached around the twentieth mile. I had the thrill of watching part of an Olympic Marathon and saw the leaders near the finish. It was like viewing a grand performance of moving art. At that distance these athletes still looked fresh, wearing their dripping clothes and glistening bodies with grace and beautiful motion. They appeared to float over the surface of the ground. They seemed invincible.

Divorcing a narcissist can be compared with training for a marathon. Having listened to and read innumerable life stories from those who have suffered marriage to and divorce from narcissists, I daresay the marathon training and performance is easier.

Once you know that you are married to a narcissist, you have been given a number of warnings--a series of red flags that most of us ignore. There are so many signs that we override. We are being treated with disrespect, chronic lying, cruel control tactics, psychological ambushes, humiliations, torturous gaslighting, constant manipulations, psychological stalking. You name the nasty tactics and can attach most of them to the narcissistic personality.

The next phase is a big wakeup. You can no longer live with the narcissistic spouse. What are you going to do? What are you options? I will say this again: The Narcissist is Not Going to Change!!!
This is a fixed personality disorder that does not make characterlogical shifts. You can change your actions, thoughts, attitudes toward yourself.  That is good news even though you feel like hell. There are those who never get out of this horrendous loop and stay with the narcissistic spouse much to their detriment.

Awake now, you go into training mode. The basics are learning to take very good care of yourself. As I said in my last post---You Come First (Often for the first time in your life). Focus on nourishing yourself with good sleep, eating healthy foods that give you energy and health, exercise that works for you and is consistent, a type of quieting the body/mind, setting limits on your narcissistic spouse and others that break through your private psychological space. Talk to someone if you can who has been through this process before. Each divorce from a narcissist is different but when you speak with someone you trust, you don't feel alone and this person has had a tough time and there is the empathy that helps you stand together. Find an excellent therapist if you think that you can use professional help---You deserve this---You are entitled.
Pick a very tough attorney who is psychologically grounded, an excellent communicator and is skilled at understanding the real person behind the mask. He or she has to know family/divorce law hands down and be very confident of his/her legal acumen and performance in court. This is Your Advocate from beginning to end. This person takes your phone calls and doesn't pawn your questions off on someone else.

Don't share your plans in advance with the spouse whom you are divorcing or who is divorcing you. This is kept very close. Only your attorney and certain friends can know about your strategies. Save money or have money that you know you can use for this purpose ahead of time. When the marriage begins to crumble, think about your divorce plan and take actions that will protect you financially if you can.

Generally, it is unwise to mediate with a narcissistic spouse. In some states this process is required. But with a narcissist---they want it all. That's why you need to be very well prepared for the "Everything is Mine" syndrome.

Work with your inner self. Find a few minutes when it is quiet. Pick a time that works for you and practice quieting your mind and body. This can take a number of forms including guided meditation, yoga poses with emphasis on the breath--activities that help you to get back to yourself. Know that you deserve this time and the inner peace that you can have if you keep a practice going. Don't expect calmness immediately.  Congratulate yourself each time that you make the effort.There is no perfection seeking here. If you miss days or weeks or months--get back on it without judgment.

Moving through a divorce from a narcissist is a tremendous achievement so give yourself credit every step of the way!!! (Especially when things go wrong.) 

Remember you are a unique valuable individual. Don't lose sight of this---Keep this in the front of your mind and in your heart. Some of the finest human beings I have known have been married to narcissists. Now they are free and seek the pathway of inner peace and the discovery of their true self.

Visit my
Linda Martinez-Lewi, Ph.D.
Telephone Consultations: International
Book: Freeing Yourself from the Narcissist in Your Life

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