So I wrote the prologue to Married to a Narcissist the other day and thought I’d share the first draft with you, dear reader. It’s likely to change in the future but I’d love to know what you think. Would you want to read more? If so, why? If not, why not?
Married to a Narcissist
Getting started is always the hardest part of any project. The truth is, I’ve probably started this project half a dozen times in my lifetime. It’s taken the form of a memoir so many times I’ve lost count. I wrote over 180 pages when I was in my early twenties and then set it aside as being too melodramatic. I was still working to develop my writing voice.
Now, over fifteen years later, I’m still working on my voice but I seem to have found it for the most part. While my voice is still evolving, it’s pure and honest and clear. It’s free and unflinching. And in this book, my goal is to share that voice with you as clearly and as unadulterated as I can. Most importantly, this book is to share hope.
“It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader.” ~ Paul Gallico, Confessions of a Story Writer
I’m thirty four years old as I write this. I am not sure where this journey will take me. I’m not sure how long it will take me. All I know is I want to lay my soul out on the page for all the victims out there in the world, so they may experience peace, love and freedom from the shackles of abuse. I’ve endured far more than my fair share of abuse in my lifetime. I don’t say that out of self-pity but to be quite frank, because it’s true. My life has been full of pain, tragedy, sorrow, and heartache. It’s taken me almost my whole life to this point to understand and accept the truth of that statement. It’s taken years and hundreds of hours of therapy and self-analysis. If I can save even one person from that, lessen it in some way, or give someone the strength to start their own journey, then my suffering will have all been worth it.
I have overcome over thirty years of abuse. And you can too. The power is within each of us. And maybe sharing my story will help someone else find the strength to take that first step toward finding themselves. I was fortunate to have a lot of help along the way. This isn’t a book about using God or faith or spirituality to give you purpose. This is about looking within, doing the hard work to overcome what’s keeping you from being who you truly can be. This isn’t about religion or twelve steps. This is about my journey to find myself. It’s about doing the hard work, the sweat and the tears that go along with tearing yourself down and starting over.
For me, I suppose it started simply enough. But first, you have to know where I’ve been before you can understand how I got through and how I’ve gotten where I am now, which is happy and healthy for the first time in my life.
November 20, 2014, Euless, Texas
It’s been eight months and two days since I sat down at our dining room table and told my husband that we were separating. I said it matter-of-factly but in a gentle soft voice. In fact, my husband didn’t react at all, probably because I was so tightly in control. It had taken a year and a half to reach that point and the gravity of the situation was not lost on me, even then. Now, I look back at the scared, timid, frightened woman I was and I smile. How courageous she was! How courageous she still is!
Inside, I was shaking and terrified. I was a complete, utter wreck. I had spent weeks visualizing what I would be doing to my family, this family I valued more than life itself but was coming to realize was all an illusion. I had sought counsel from a few select, trusted advisors: a Christian and fellow writer, my surrogate father, and my husband’s former best friend. To say I was on a slippery slope would be an understatement.
I was going to singlehandedly dismantle everything I’d built over the last four years and it would require some impossibly painful choices. I was filled with dread, grief, panic, and a sense of impending loss, yet on the surface, all was calm. I knew I faced the very real risk of losing my thirteen-year-old stepdaughter who I loved as though she were my own.
For months I considered staying in the relationship until she was eighteen, in the hopes I might keep my relationship with her. I realized how selfish it would be to do so and that in the long run, I would be modeling the wrong behavior for her. I knew I could lose my home, my car and a significant amount of my possessions, not to mention current and possibly future income. I would once again be a single parent, this time of a seven-year-old first grader.
My future was completely uncertain. I had no job, no financial resources, and no family. My car was repossessed five months earlier and my husband had borrowed money from a family friend to get it back. I had spent the last seven years as a stay at home mom and part-time self-employed for whatever work I could find. I had gone from a self-sufficient confident single mother to a burned out, exhausted shell of my former self. I had completely invested 100% of myself into this life.
All I knew was I desperately needed out of the relationship I was in. We would have celebrated our second wedding anniversary in a month but I knew that if I didn’t end the relationship and soon, I might not even be alive that long.
I was suffering a slow, horrible, internal death. My strength, which had seen me through countless tragedies, was gone. My will to live was a small flickering flame, dangerously on the brink of being extinguished. The emotional vampire sitting across the table from me was slowly consuming all the things that made me who I am – my very identity and soul. I contemplated suicide on a daily basis. I fought to find my will to live. It was a gargantuan effort to get out of bed every day. I spent most of my days doing everything I could to find an answer to the problems of my life. I was taking 200 mg of Zoloft every day just to get through it.
Why was my marriage falling apart? Why was I so miserable? Why did I feel so lost? What was the point of life? What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just be happy for once in my life? I had everything I thought wanted but suddenly it wasn’t good enough anymore. These questions plagued me every moment of every day. I stopped functioning entirely. My business began to falter and then outright fail. My depression grew worse with every passing day.
At the time, I was a somewhat successful fiction and nonfiction writer who had just won a major fiction award the previous September. I’d finished my second book tour and done pretty well for a new independent author. On the surface, I had the perfect life with a husband who, by all outward appearances, adored me and who I adored, and a blended family that seemed to have nothing but bliss. Under the surface, was an insidious darkness that I had never even considered. Moreover, it was slowly but surely destroying my spirit in ways nothing else could have. I had been abused almost my whole life, raped, beaten, molested, mugged and more but this man, who I had married and trusted with my whole heart, and who had never lifted a hand against me physically, was almost my complete undoing.
I married a narcissist. And I had no idea he was one.
I was completely fooled, caught unaware and flat-footed, despite over three years of intensive cognitive behavioral therapy before meeting him. I didn’t even know what a true narcissist was, other than my mother was one. But on that fateful day of March 18, 2014, I demanded more for myself and my daughter. My life would never be the same again.