Why Did I Marry A Narcissist?


As I reached the top of the hill, she approached from the other side.

“Hey, you!”  Even though I knew she walked in my neighborhood, we’d never run into each other before.

She said, “Hey, yourself!  I never walk this time of the day.”

I said, “I usually try to walk in the morning, but the day got away from me.”

She said, “I didn’t walk this morning because I finished your book.”


(Later, when telling a mutual friend of that afternoon’s chance encounter he said, “I suppose you both saw significance in running into each other at the top of the hill.”  I laughed and said, “Well, of course we did!”


She is an acquaintance and a published author.

While I wholeheartedly subscribe to the idea that we ought not write to please mom, or a partner or whoever we are trying to please at the time, there is something unsettling about having an author read my first book.

I wanted to plug my ears at this point, or at least run back down the hill to avoid hearing what she had to say.

Before I could turn to run she said, “I loved the format!  The quotes and pictures round out the whole message.  How is it selling?”


Then she said, “Your message will find the right people.  You explored the healthy side of selfishness – about how many of our difficulties can be linked to our not taking care of self – putting ourselves last.  You showed how that balance is necessary.  There’s a lot written about that right now.  It’s a good time for your voice on that subject.”

We spontaneously hugged as a I breathed a sigh of relief and thanked her profusely.


As I walked her back to her house, she said, “You know why you ended up with him, don’t you?”

Because I was still riding the high of her kind words – and admittedly not listening –  I said, “Huh?  Who?”

She said, “The narcissist.  Do you know why you ended up with the narcissist?”

My usual answer to this question is, “I ended up with Mark so that my life would be graced by the presence of Will and Jenny.”

What other sane reason could there be?

This time I didn’t offer that explanation.  I said, “Why do you think I married a narcissist?”

She said, “Because you needed to learn self-care.”

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  1. What a great insight. The people in your life are absolutely amazing!!

    Me included….


    (Sorry. Please attribute everything from the second line down as goofiness….)

  2. WOW!!! I mean, we all know there is a bigger reason to our struggles, but when someone points it out to you like that, it is a bit surreal. It’s like when you are looking for something important and after 10 times walking past it, looking elsewhere, you realize it has been there in front of your face the entire time.

    This same thought has been on my mind the past couple of days. I have had to evaluate my life as I am about to start grad school. In the past, I have thought about it, wanted it, tried one semester, but it was never the right time. I didn’t have time for ME! Before, I had to put my goals on the back burner to keep moving his forward. Now, I prioritize my own life….finally! And not only is it time, but it’s the perfect time. It will actually catapult my career now, where before it was just about getting the extra initials. The kids are a bit older and life will be settling down a bit…after Christmas, of course. :)

    It also attests to how well you write, Jesse. Sharing your journey through the narcissism has enlightened all of us on the importance/necessity of self-care. The only reason any of us were able to have a relationship with a narcissist is because we were willing to give up a part of ourselves, even if temporary. But the format you chose, allows for much reflection and soul searching. I am sure I am not the only one that thanks you endlessly for that. xx

  3. Donna,

    Yes, Goof, I do know some amazing people, including you. ;)

    We all know amazing people.

    Ain’t that grand?!

  4. Z,

    Oh!! I’m excited for you. That’s wonderful. And what a great example for your kids.

    And I liked what you said about walking by something 10 times…

    You know, I think we all need to keep hearing the same messages until the time is right to receive them. That’s why it’s important to keep reading, keep connecting, keep searching. One day, it will finally hit home.

    Thank you, Zaira, for always being so supportive of my writing. You know, this blog wouldn’t be what it is without your contributions and those of everyone who comments here.

    Thank you EVERYBODY!!!

  5. Jesse,

    I could not agree more with Zaira, Donna, and your fellow walker! The expression of your experiences through this blog and your book is VERY affirming and encouraging! It has been such a help to me as I struggle through the process of extracting my kids and me from a toxic home life with my ex N.

    Thank you again and again!

    I really think the encounter you had was not an accident–it seems like one of those winks from the Universe to let you know you are on the right path.

    All the best . . .

  6. Lynn,

    I really like the way you put that – “winks from the Universe.”

    The trick is to be aware and pay attention. ;)

  7. Out of the mouth of a stranger, words of wisdom shining the light on your blindspot. A gift.

  8. Sandi,

    Thanks for writing. So true.

    In fact, this blog (and your blog and so many others, too many to mention) is a testament to the wise words of strangers (many now friends) shining light on blindspots – mine, my kids’ and the blindspots of those reading this blog.

    Gifts, indeed!

  9. I feel we need to go through certain experiences to become fully self aware of who we truly are and what we truly need. I would not know myself in certain ways, if not for those experiences. In the moment those experiences for me were emotionally draining, consuming at times and in some instances unbearable. Reflecting back now, those were tough life lessons, but I like to think they have prepared me for what’s to come, and what I truly need for myself.

    Your lesson was to learn self care, among many other things I am sure, but there’s an inner strength you gained from your experience.

    We get messages from everyone and everything around us, when we fully, truly listen. For me it’s in every conversation, book, song, etc :). Tonight I got a great message from a radio show I accidentally was listening to this evening. It said “the hardest thing we learn is patience, patience in what’s to come. We seek answers to questions that sometimes warrant no real answers. Instead embrace the experience of each moment, be patient and allow understanding to come later”.

  10. Kira,

    I seem to have a great deal of patience with my kids, and zero for myself. Must work on that.

    Love what you said about getting messages everywhere. Isn’t that what sprinkles a little magic in the day… wondering what the next message will be, and where it might come from.

  11. It’s the hardest thing we do, learning to be patient with ourselves. I think as individuals we tend to be less forgiving with how we act & react to things. I don’t know why that is. I think kids have this natural ability to aid us in that learning process. I get what you mean completely about having a great deal of patience with your own children. I am sure if they make mistakes, in your response there are no harsh criticisms, rather comforting, encouraging words, and hugs if needed :). When you attempt to work on being patient with yourself, think about how you respond to your little ones. It may help.

    & yes, I often wonder what messages I will get next, & how it will be relayed to me. Being on the receiving end is magical in itself. I am always thankful.

  12. Totally have tears in my eyes after reading this, Jesse…

    I received a text from my N friend yesterday….. and after fretting about what to do… should I say something?… If so, what?…. for about an hour, I had this epiphany. All I should do/say was what would be best for ME to do/say. As it has been so many times in the past, that turned out to be saying nothing. I realized that I had nothing more to say to her. And that no matter what I said, it would be wrong, and somehow it would be twisted. I am sure that saying nothing makes me heartless or something like that in her eyes. But I know what happens to my spirit when I connect with her. And I know that she is still trying to manipulate me. I know she has no respect for my feelings or boundaries I have set.

    I can clearly see her destroying her own life. But I can’t step back into the quicksand, I just can’t….. I have felt somewhat tormented about that, having perspective, so clearly understanding the problem for the first time ever & being unable to share that with her… being unable to SHOW her.

    I just keep coming back to the fact that it’s no longer my problem, my concern, or my worry. So, I guess that is what self-care means. And it was definitely something I needed to learn.

    I do not believe in accidents. I do not believe in chance. I believe that we are to learn from all our experiences good or bad. I believe you were meant to meet your neighbor on that hill. I believe that you were meant to hear those words. I believe that you were meant to share them here. And I believe that those words “self-care” gave me some closure and peace on a difficult situation this week. Thank you.

    hugs, NM

  13. NM,

    Speaking as one who has been there…

    I know how hard it is for you to not respond. I know that it’s difficult to stop yourself from trying to SHOW her. I know it’s nearly impossible to not try to help her see ONE MORE TIME – because this might be the time that your message gets through.

    We don’t give up. We believe there is goodness in everyone. We always try one more time.

    But enough is enough.

    Congratulations!!! Way-to-go for putting yourself first. You aren’t being selfish. You aren’t being mean. You aren’t being heartless.

    You are taking care of yourself.

    I’m proud of you.

    Enjoy your family and your weekend.

  14. Thank you, Jesse. You too!

  15. Great story Jesse. That’s a beautiful metaphor of two authors meeting at the top of a hill.

    It seems like quite a bitter pill to swallow in the name of self-care, but like you said you have two beautiful children as a result.

    I hope you’re very proud of yourself–and I’m sure your eloquent and honest words will help others in narcissistic relationships for years to come.

    Your message WILL find the right people:).

  16. Linda,

    Thanks for reading and for being so supportive.

    That bitter pill becomes more palatable as time goes on.

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