life advice
Essay: Married To A Narcissist
Author Catenya McHenry's new book unwinds the unsettling reality of being married to a narcissist and the fact that you may never know what will suddenly make them snap into a cosmic realm of a false reality.

When youíre married to a narcissist, situations that seem normal and a reasonable way to handle things will be completely opposite to them. Their response to events and everyday life happenings will be so shocking, youíll be left speechless. They donít think like reasonable people and they canít function unless they see themselves. If they canít see themselves or see how something will ultimately benefit them, then their behavior is spastic, wild, juvenile, and overall erratic... but theyíll accuse you of being erratic. Itís rather hard to explain to someone who hasnít experienced this first hand, but to someone co-existing with a narcissist, you know exactly what Iím describing.

Over time, I settled into a silent cocoon because I never knew what would upset him and make him turn on me. I stopped telling him things because I was afraid of how he would react and ultimately, I wouldnít say anything because I didnít know if I would upset him and I wasnít strong enough to not be afraid.

My soul became mute because the narcissism was deafening. The only thing listening was my journal. Writing it was not hard because it was my reality. The emotions, the pain, the sadness, it all spilled out onto the pageóitís all I had and the accidental chapters kept piling up. Realizing that this was a book and not just a collection of diary entries, but what I actually lived, was the excruciating part. The emotions are raw and some are still there. The sadness is there to an extent, but the calcification of my heart, the ability to trust and the fear and desire of wanting to do this again is the collateral damage I harbor.

While finding the words and ideas for this book were not a strain, reading it, seeing the memory, and knowing I was alone through all of it is whatís heartbreaking.

My cache of raw writing is what I penned because I had no one else to talk to. I had no one else to tell and at the time and I knew no one else who could relate to the horror I was enduring. I wrote because my pen and the page were my best friends and my solace. There was no peace in the pen and page because every time I gripped the two, there was more pain to pen. There are things no one knows except me and them.

I went through it all alone. No one knew what was happening. I didnít know how to talk about it. I didnít want to talk about it because I felt panicked and helpless. I didnít know how to even bring it up and if I did, how could anyone help me? I figured I would be advised to get out, but how do you do that? People offer well-intentioned advice about how you should handle a situation. They have tons to say, but are they there to help you with the same fervor and energy that they gossiped about you with? No. People are dealing with their own hardships and so I tried to handle mine. Taking care of my children, work, running, and him being passed out repeatedly, were my distractions from what was happening.

I sometimes look away and stop short of reading an entire chapter. Itís too emotional. How could I have gone through that? How could I have lived in that; and how did I survive? Itís a wonder, but I did. I also realize that some people are and have lived in worse. Iím thankful for my internal strength and the extra strength God gave me. Iím thankful for those who quietly prayed for me. Iím thankful for a system that allows you to get out of an abusive existence, but getting out doesnít mean the abuse disappears. Narcissists try hard to continue their abuse, especially if they know where you are and because of your children, they usually do know where you are.

There is hope and sun outside the cloud of the distress of a narcissist relationship. There is clarity of heart, soul, and mind, and there is peace. Iím living proof. You will be able to deal with the narcissist on a different level than before because your internal mental power will be re-energized and strengthened. You will be able to walk away when theyíre verbally attacking you and, at some point, youíll be able to laugh at how insane their behavior has become. Remember, their motivation comes from your reaction and you physically and/or verbally reacting to their lashings. If you donít react, youíve deflated them. Rather than give them your energy, save it for your children and yourself. Invest that same energy in healing your being. Youíve been through a lot and you are not alone.

Catenya McHenry is the author of Married to a Narcissist: Enduring the Struggle and Finding You Again. The book is divided into three sections: Marriage, Separation, and Divorce, in which Catenyaís entries are riveting. Although she writes about circumstances that are dark, drawing anger and disbelief, the chapters are approachable. Her disappointments and frustration are validating to others suffering similar abuse. Part Two, Lessons Learned, is a valuable resource for those needing realistic and practical guidance through the emotional warfare of leaving a narcissist.

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