I was married to my ex-husband for three long years. It was just roughly three months into our marriage that I first caught him in a huge lie that threatened our livelihood.
During those three years of being married to a narcissist and compulsive liar, I lost myself. I became someone I am not — snappy, rude, judgmental, angry, withdrawn, and the list goes on…
Being in a relationship with someone who has these disorders is a form of emotional abuse — one we often don't discuss. The manipulation, lies, deceit and control shatter your self-esteem. The process is humiliating, and often crippling. While we were married, I spent many nights crying myself to sleep asking what I could do to make myself feel whole again.
My marriage ended the day I found out that my husband was having an affair, on top of everything else. I remember weeping the day I knew he was actually gone, not for the loss of our marriage, or the fact he had a new lover, but for the loss of myself. I knew that it would take some work to find myself again after the years of abuse at the hands of a compulsive liar, and that I would need to find some mechanisms to cope, and to restore my former self.
A narcissist is someone who exaggerates his or her achievements or talents, requires constant admiration, has the inability to recognize the needs of others, changes his or her identity frequently, and uses people for his or her own gain. Being with one can tear at the very fiber of who you believe you are, and cause you at times, to behave like a shadow of the person you know you can be. In fact, if you have ever been in this situation, you know that they often make you out to be, "the crazy one." They talk themselves into believing things and situations so much, that you start to question yourself, and your own sanity.
How have I been able to move on and find myself again, and how can you? Here are 10 tips to help you pick up the pieces:
Accept yourself, accept the situation. You did not cause what went awry, despite the impulse to want to blame ourselves and make sense of our suffering through analysis and self-criticism. Then recognize that you were in a relationship with someone who has a personality disorder. That is not your fault.
2. Take responsibility.
Balance out your acceptance by taking some time to realize, realistically, that you chose this person. At the same time, know that narcissists and compulsive liars are often irresistible; this is part of their charm, and the persona they create.
3. Cut off all contact with your ex.
They will try to suck you back into their web of lies and at some point, will move into attack mode, blaming you for their faults, and projecting them onto you.
4. Learn to direct your kindness inwards.
Often times, we are kind people, who just want to help someone. So this time, start by being kind to yourself.
5. At a certain point, STOP.
When you are beating yourself up over the choice you made, STOP. You are not to blame for being manipulated by this person. Change your words, and you will start changing how you feel about yourself and your worth.
6. Tap into your passions again.
Remembering what activities and people make you feel fulfilled is a crucial step in regaining your sense of self in a deep way. Plus, you will feel happier, which will then help you regain your confidence.
7. Learn more about liar behaviors.
In doing so, you'll also learn how to see the signs before you enter into another relationship.
8. Give yourself time to breathe.
It's often a strange transition to go from all of the chaos to normalcy, and it can feel frightening and unfamiliar to have this calm.
9. Know that it's OK to grieve.
There is no shame in grieving the person you were and who you left behind prior to the relationship. Know that you will be an even better version of yourself soon.
10. Take one step forward.
Every day. It may be a small step, and that's OK. The main goal is to listen to your heart and remember, however many times you need to remind yourself, that you will find yourself again.
Sometimes, I look back upon those years of my life that I spent with my ex-husband, and I can't believe that I was in that relationship. However, now that I'm on the other side of it, I am grateful every single day.
I'm here to tell you that you are not alone, unfortunately, being in a relationship with someone like this can happen to anyone. Narcissists search for people who are strong, compassionate, kind, and who can take care of their demands and child-like needs – they don't choose a partner who can't look after them.
Know, and have faith that without the chaos and trauma that comes with being someone who is a narcissist and compulsive liar, you are whole and are worthy of having a healthy and loving relationship. Plus, you will learn more than you can even imagine from the process.