From the ashes – How to break free from a narcissistic and abusive husband and find beauty in the end.
Despite the abuse in my past helping to create who I am today, I refuse to let it define me and I refuse to live my life labeled as a victim. So I choose to share these stories in hopes of helping other women but I don’t let it over shadow the light and joy that I have in my life now. How to break free from a narcissistic and abusive husband.
Today we will be talking about the following:
- How to Break Free from a Narcissistic and Abusive Husband
- Common Traits of Abusers
- Setting the Stage
- Common Traits of Abusers
- An Abusive Father
- Warning Signs of an Abusive Husband
- Protecting the Children from Spousal Abuse
- Marital Counseling Specializing in Domestic Cases
- What is Emotional Abuse?
- The Cycle of Emotional Abuse
- Alone Powerless and Abused
- Once again I felt completely powerless and alone.
- Coping with Anxiety and Emotional Abuse
- How to stop Engaging with a Narcissist
- Standing up to a Narcissistic Abuser
- You are not Alone
Setting the Stage
I grew up in a very angry and dysfunctional home. I can remember from such a young age that I seemed to think differently than my family and they never understood my dreams.
Thanks to National Geographic, my sister wanted to go to Africa to see the Gorillas and I wanted to go to Africa to take care of the sick children. My parents thought both of us were crazy but for very different reasons.
I wanted so desperately to be a care taker, to have a husband and a bunch of kids and the house with the white picket fence. The “perfect life”.
I met my ex-husband when we were teenagers at the same high school. We didn’t date until much later, after we had graduated. When we did become involved is was at rocket speed.
Common Traits of Abusers
He came into my life like a savior, something I would later come to learn is common among abusers. My home life was a mess. I wasn’t welcome there anymore and in the heat of a big argument my mother and step father kicked me out when I was 19.
So we naturally moved in together, it was July. I was taking summer classes and working multiple jobs. I was depressed, burnt out and suicidal. I thought his charming love was all that I ever wanted and his love would be unconditional. I never thought I would have to learn how to break free from a narcissistic and abusive husband.
By the fall we were engaged and pregnant by the New Year. Like Lightening I had set a path for the next 20 plus years.
Desperate to be Loved
In those early months the warning signs were there of the manipulative behaviors and the control but I was too young and to naïve to see it. I was just desperate to feel loved and to have white picket fence.
Because of my upbringing I didn’t recognize behaviors that were abusive. I just kept thinking that as long as he doesn’t hit me than this is just normal life living with someone angry. In our home growing up we never knew when our father would snap and get angry with harsh words and back hand. What we did know is that we tip toed and protected one another from the wrath. We all knew not to be angry back.
Somehow the same rule applied in my marriage. Early on it was. just an under current of me knowing that if I got angry about something, or heaven forbid angry with him, things would escalate quickly. Years later he actually expressed that I wasn’t allowed to get angry. He said since he worked so hard and provided I had nothing to be angry about, and how dare I get angry with him when he was so stressed. I would have to how to break free from a narcissistic and abusive husband
Protecting the Children from Spousal Abuse
In the early years I thought I could protect the kids from his anger and behavior but as the kids got older I realized that it was effecting their behavior as well. About ten years into the marriage he went away for the weekend and the kids and I felt like we could breath.
The atmosphere in the house was completely different when we weren’t anticipating when he would come home. I knew that I needed to leave him, it wasn’t just about me anymore. I thought I could come up with a plan, maybe even stash some money.
He returned home and was in pain from a motor vehicle accident they had on the weekend. I was standing in a pharmacy at 2 in the morning trying to find muscle relaxants or anything for pain so he would stop ranting and scaring the kids. I knew that there wouldn’t be any waiting. I had to learn how to break free from a narcissistic and abusive husband.
Marital Counseling Specializing in Domestic Cases
Telling him was a disaster but he agreed to leave and said he would go to counseling. I had no idea what the future would hold.
The kids and I sought out counseling as well. Due to an incident where he had lost his temper and terrified our daughter the counselor opened a child services case and set the kids up for additional therapy. She set me up with a counselor specializing in domestic cases.
When that therapist told me that I was victim of abuse and that she wanted me to attend group therapy. I was horrified and told her she was completely wrong. I knew what my home life looked like and my marriage didn’t look like that. He had never laid a hand on me. I had yet to learn how to break free from a narcissistic and abusive husband.
At group session all I could think is that I wasn’t like those women. Looking back I can’t believe the judgement and condemnation I felt for those poor women. If I had acknowledged that I was in the exact same situation as them I would have had to face the ugly truth and I definitely wasn’t ready to. I think now, when I look back on it, most of the women in the group were stuck in the mindset of victim.
I just couldn’t accept that I was a “victim” of spousal abuse
Ultimately I reconciled with my ex by his manipulation and coercion that he would destroy me and take the kids since I couldn’t support myself. There was a lack of support from my family to be a single parent. My parents had no idea what was happening in my house. My siblings were concerned that I couldn’t support myself and of course no one likes to see a broken family.
What is Emotional Abuse?
The horrible truth is that emotional abuse can be so invisible and the abuser so charming that no one outside the home has any idea how volatile or oppressing the situation is.
I felt alone, without options and so desperate to keep my children that I felt my only option was to agree to reconcile.
The Cycle of Emotional Abuse
For a short while things were good. He was charming and on his best behavior. But like all abusers that faze didn’t last. The cycles of escalating anger, culminating in giant blow outs followed by peace and apologies became the norm in our house. I just kept thinking if I kept the house clean enough, or made sure the kids behaved, or whatever his request was, that I could make him happy.
What I now know is that you are never responsible for someone else’s happiness.
We made a giant move as the kids were getting older and we started over in a new state with no friends or family. I had finally gone back to work. We had a house I loved and I didn’t want to move. His arguments were plenty and then he used guilt. Statements like “I have worked so hard and you can’t ask me to start a new career at this age. I’ve worked for this and we will finally have all that I ever wanted.”
In hindsight it was the final success of my ex separating me from the influence and eyes of my family and closest friends. There wasn’t anyone to hold him accountable.
Alone Powerless and Abused
For several years the emotional abuse, cheating, lies and manipulation increased. I was alone and powerless to do anything about his behavior and he knew he could get away with what ever he wanted.
Our oldest was struggling with depression and anxiety over her fathers outbursts. I found a therapist for her. She helped my oldest to understand the cycle of abuse and why I couldn’t get out. About 6 months into counselling the therapist announced she was retiring and recommended another psychiatrist for her.
At our introduction he said I don’t use any of that psychology mumbo jumbo. I liked him instantly. Just a few months into her therapy we had one of the scariest nights ever in our house.
Earlier in the evening I caught my ex in a bold faced lie and not only did I get angry but I did it with an audience. He stayed out drinking until the early morning hours. When he got home he came into our bedroom and locked the door. He proceeded to rant and destroy the bedroom around me. He screamed at me for entrapping him and how dare I question him.
My daughters cowered at the other end of the hall and called my friend. She quickly arrived and banged on the door. He was so surprised by her that I jumped past him and unlocked the door running down to the kitchen. Just moments later the police arrived on our doorstep. My ex went and spent the night at my friend’s house. It was a domestic disturbance call but all he did was destroy common property. Even if I had wanted to, there wasn’t anything I could charge him with.
Once again I felt completely powerless and alone.
I insisted that we all go for a family session with the therapist. The kids decided to continue with their own sessions and we set up a schedule for some marital sessions.
In our very first session the Dr said, “I call bull when I smell bull.” I knew I was going to like him. He made my ex feel uncomfortable on many occasions. He called him out repeatedly on his behavior until a point came where my ex just refused to go and endure it.
Coping with Anxiety and Emotional Abuse
This Dr became like family to my children and me over the years. He taught my girls how to cope with anxiety and emotional abuse, how to make better decisions than I did. He even taught them to have grace with me and the situation I was in.
That might not sound like a miracle unless you too have raised teenage daughters.
My girls loved on me and encouraged me through some of the worst of it.
How to stop Engaging with a Narcissist
This therapist taught me how to set up healthy boundaries and how to stop engaging with a narcissist. I suspected the cheating but anytime I thought I had evidence, he would spin these incredible detailed stories and make me feel like I was the cause of his behavior. He convinced me that my questions were my own insecurities. Or he would say how dare I tell him he couldn’t stay out drinking and unwinding with this co workers since he worked so hard to provide.
At one point I opened his phone while he was intoxicated and discovered that he was deeply involved with a co worker.
We separated but had to live in the same house. Ultimately I agreed to reconcililation because I continued to feel like I didn’t have options and ultimately the church encourages saving the marriage.
Crazy moments continued to happen but it seemed tamer than previous years, I had huge walls built up around my heart and felt like we could just coast along for a while.
Standing up to a Narcissistic Abuser
As with all narcissistic abusers, he could only control his behavior for so long. With a narcissist, it’s usually only a matter of stress increasing for their true nature comes back through.
This time though I was prepared. I had learned healthier boundaries and how to stand up for myself. I had already grieved the marriage years before when I caught him blatantly cheating.
This time when I stood up for myself he fled like a chicken.
The interesting thing about emotional abusers is that they are almost always scaredy cats. The moment you discover that you can change the interaction and not allow them to be in control any more, they don’t want to play the game anymore!
He left and I’m pretty sure moved right in with the latest in a long line of girlfriends.
I had no idea where my life was going or how I would provide for myself. I had put all my eggs in that one really crappy basket. But despite all that, I felt like I could breath. I could fall asleep without the tension and anger hovering in the room. For the first time in my life I felt free.
Through faith, a supportive therapist and having the strength to use the tools I had been provided I changed my life.
You are not Alone
The reason I share all of this over in the dark corner is so that you too can know that you are not alone in this. There are other women who know exactly how you are feeling.
You are not crazy. Unfortunately you are being taken for a ride on the crazy bus, and the abuser is the driver.
Have you ever seen landscape in Colorado after a forest fire?
It’s ash, blackened, barren land. The forest inhabitants moved on and appears as if it’s without any life left in it. But if you return to that same landscape years later, after it’s had time to heal, you will see that the fire actually enriched the soil The vegetation is back, growing stronger than ever. From the ashes new life has sprung.
You may be in the fire right now. You may be like me and on the other side of it, but still healing. What I can assure you of is this. Good things rise from the ashes.
I invite you to watch the FREE GIFT video on this page. You can find true freedom today.
Yours with love,