In the US we are currently witnessing a narcissistic, powerful, wealthy man lose his status. Many have wondered if his young wife will divorce him. My children were laughing about how well off she’d be if she did divorce him. Having divorced a narcissist, I’m very aware of the price we pay, and the actual outcome; not the perceived outcome. I’d like to clarify, for those going through it, the impact of divorcing a narcissist; debunk some of the more popular beliefs.
There is no negotiation. Once you have declined the narcissists’ settlement offer, there will be no true negotiations. Counter offers sent by your attorney will be met with stubborn insistence that the initial “offer” is final. You will end up in court/master/arbitration; whatever your states’ final step is. Accepting this early on will save you heartbreak and money.
While there are two sides to every story, here those sides are the abuser and the victim. Our current culture tells us that each person is to blame in a failed relationship. In reality, the relationship with the narcissist has been built, by him, on the foundation of you being the person at fault. Through love bombing and devaluation, gaslighting, projection, circular arguments, diversion, threats, and more, you have come to see yourself as the person to blame for all of the issues in your relationship. Remember that two sides to every story does not mean that you are any of the things you’ve been told. You are a victim. You have been used and discarded. That is your side of the story.
Your children will be dumped. In the initial stages of separation your ex will maintain his relationship with his children as a way of establishing his reputation. Once this is done, he is done with them. This might take a while for them to understand. Unfortunately, this is their process, not yours. You can not help them speed this up. They will come to see him for what he is, and they will learn the limits of the relationship. Some will chose to salvage what little they can; others will walk away. You can not make this easier for them. Attempts to soften the blow will be met with suspicion. While your union created them, you did not create the situation your children are now in. You have no control over how the narcissist behaves, and you will never be able to rescue your children from the aftermath. They will fight this battle alone.
He will barely miss a beat. From the outside looking in, it will appear that he has rebuilt his life while you have stagnated. This really hurts. In reality, he has moved on to his next victim, while you have retreated inward to dissect and understand your wounds. You are growing; he is repeating. There will be times during which you hate yourself for not “moving on” as he has done. Eventually you will integrate true growth, and you will understand that you have stepped off of his merry-go-round of smoke screens.
You won’t trust people. This is simply a fact. Once you understand what he did to you, it will be extremely difficult to look at others as anything other than predators. Each person in your life will be passed through the lens of your abuse. Each statement, action, behavior will be compared to him. People that resemble him will become suspect. Right or wrong, you will become overly discerning in who you associate with, perhaps to your detriment.
You will struggle to fill the void. Life with a narcissist is like the jumble of wires found in the junk drawer that houses your earbuds. You have spent your days pulling the wires apart, trying to get things straight, smoothing things out, undoing the tangle of lies and deception. Suddenly, there are no more jumbled wires to untangle. Your life feels empty. You feel like you’ve been punished for stepping away from the insanity. Initially you will speed through each day, filling your time with projects and activities designed to fill the void. Eventually, you will find peace in this void, but it will take time.
You will settle into the fact that life is unfair. My children think that this wife, in divorcing her narcissistic husband, will come out ahead. They think she will continue to live a life of wealth and glamour. On the surface, this is true. Outsiders will consider her to be very well off. The reality is that she will never be made whole. She will never live the life she thought she had secured.
There is no winner and no loser. To the outside it will appear that he has “won” and you have lost. Initially, you might think this yourself. In time, you will feel better. You will start to like yourself, you will feel joy, you will feel calmness and peace. As these feelings grow, so will your understanding of his pain. Happy people do not resort to the tactics used by the narcissist. Narcissists are damaged people trying to minimize their pain. While the world might view them as “winners”, you know the truth – they are eternally encased in a false image that they have created.
One day your divorce will be final, but your life will never be the same.
One thought on “Divorcing a Narcissist: The Aftermath”
100% true, thank you. My (adult) children are slowly coming to terms with the fact that their father never really loved them. I value your writing and have been interested in your journey and growth- please don’t stop!
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