The very first session I had with my therapist, about 6 months after marrying my second husband, after listening to me tell her what life was like with him, she said, “Kendra, you are married to a Covert Narcissist (CN). Our work together will be you deciding what you want to do about that.” I was in denial. I figured she just didn’t understand and that after a few more sessions she would understand more and we would figure out how to make it all work. Every few sessions she would remind me that he was a CN. It took me YEARS to finally accept and understand what she was telling me. Honestly I didn’t want it to be true. I wanted there to be some type of help or fix for us. But there was literally nothing I could do to change the way he treated me.
Even after I “knew” what/who I was dealing with, I still couldn’t bring myself to leave him because in my mind nothing he was doing was “bad enough” to justify divorce. I really didn’t want to get divorced again. I didn’t want the stigma of others knowing I was twice divorced. I mean, afterall it was my fault for picking him right?! I thought I should have been able to know better ahead of time. And I had worked really hard to blend our 7 kids, and I had done a great job! The kids were blended and they LOVED each other!
Fast forward to March 2021. I had been working really hard in our at-home online resale shop and had saved enough for us to take all 6 kids who were living at home, my husband, and I to Mexico for 10 days. Everyone was so excited! I had put in the work, and it was paying off. After months of planning the day had come to go. I was in the BEST mood ever, absolutely nothing could get me down. My parents had come to our house to help drive us to the airport at like 5:30am. While my husband and the kids worked on loading luggage in the van I went back in the house to make sure that all the lights had been turned off. I found the basement toilet continually running. I was so glad to have caught that before leaving for 10 days. It took me a few minutes to fix and I felt so relieved to have taken care of that. I was feeling on top of the world. After months of hard work, I was making this amazing vacation happen for my family!
That is, until I got back upstairs and outside to the van. I found my husband outside the van barking orders to all the kids inside the van, telling them they were loading the luggage wrong, meanwhile he was still outside the van not helping them. I approached, calm as could be, and asked what I could do to help. I was feeling on top of the world, and loading luggage was totally not going to change my mood.
My husband got right in my face, in a way he never had before, and in front of the kids and my parents and said “oh really, you’re going to be like this?!” I said “be like what, I’m here to help.” And he said “If you are going to be like this, you should just stay home!” That moment, a bolt of lightning shot through my entire body. And in a mere moment I had like an hour’s worth of thoughts. I was enraged and at the same time calm. I knew that I had spent months preparing for this trip and making it happen. I knew I had worked hard to save the money. And I knew at that moment I had genuinely, calmly offered to help. And he told ME TO STAY HOME! It was so far beyond what is acceptable for another human to treat me. I remember having this clear thought and decision wash over me, “this is done.” And so without another word I helped the kids load the car, and got us off and running. My parents dropped us off at the airport, and after a crazy ticket issue (that’s a story for a different day), we got everyone on a plane and headed to Mexico.
At this point my husband and I had been in-house separated for about 4 months. We had already booked our hotel rooms for me and my 3 kids, and him and his 3 to be staying in different rooms. I was able to decide that this trip would be the final hurrah for our blended family. I quietly kept that information to myself and was able to have a great trip, and stayed in a happy mood. While writing in my journal on this trip I clearly remember writing the words “I can’t believe he would treat me like that,” and then pausing, and said “no, I CAN believe he would treat me like that, because he did. And today I will accept this as a gift from him, of him showing me his true colors of who he really is and what he is capable of. He has given me the gift that I am SURE I want to end this marriage.”
This thought shift was huge for me. I have never once regretted my choice. I think back to all those times that my therapist told me that I was married to a CN and I didn’t believe her. Well, now I did. I believed her, and him, and I was going to take charge of my life. I didn’t feel like a victim to his behavior, I felt like the owner of my life. We took that trip in March. My kids and I moved out in June of that year, and our divorce was final that October.
Dear reader, I know that being treated poorly is hard. That we can be in denial even when we are experiencing abuse. AND I know that when we can pause for a moment, and take our partner’s behavior as the truth of who they really are, that’s when we can see clearly to make our best choices for ourselves. I didn’t divorce in anger or blame, I divorced with a deep sense of self-love. I knew that I deserved to be loved better, and I was the one who was going to give that love to myself.
You may not be able to see someone else’s behavior as a gift in the moment it is happening. That is ok. And it may take you waiting years, like I did, until things get “bad enough” until you finally decide to leave. What I want you to know, no matter where you are in your relationship and trying to decide if you should stay or leave, I want you to know that you deserve nothing less than LOVE. And YOU are the best person to be filling that need for yourself. You can stay in your marriage and love yourself, or you can leave and love yourself. Only you will know what is right for you. But I want you to know that love and peace are possible in your life! You truly can create whatever life you want. And it is possible to see, even the WORST days, as a gift that sets you in motion to your beautiful new future.
If this story has resonated with you, and you’d like help finding your own emotional freedom, I’d love to help you. I have devoted my Life Coaching practice to helping people just like me find the freedom and happiness I now enjoy. I’ve been in your shoes, and I know it can be hard to find help. No worries, I’m here and ready to help you. Schedule a FREE 60 minute call to learn new tools you can put to use right away, that will help you make clear choices in your relationship and help you find emotional freedom. I believe in YOU and I’m excited to share these tools with you for free. Sign up for your consultation session HERE.
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