Tales From Moving On

She hadn’t written him a letter explaining. She hadn’t told him she was leaving. She didn’t realize – until she saw her hands putting her journal, a laptop, and some clothes in a box – that she was leaving.

As she packed, her mind wasn’t going over the possibilities of what would come next.  She hadn’t made a six-month plan or a five-year plan.  She hadn’t given serious consideration to finding work or a house.  She didn’t know what she’d tell friends and family.

She needed to breathe.

In order to breathe, she would have to leave her marriage.

As she packed, her thoughts were consumed with, “What do I need to take with me because I am never coming back here.” Her hands operated as if on auto-pilot. Her demeanor was calm and determined. She didn’t frantically start grabbing things from the kitchen cupboards. She methodically filled one box with a few necessities for starting a new life.

For the first time in months, she knew what she had to do. This was what it felt like to have a purpose.

She no longer questioned the decision to move on.


The First Tastes of Freedom

She was surprised that she didn’t cry.  She felt the need to apologize for not being more emotional about making such a life-changing decision. She realized that she had done all her crying in the months and years leading up to leaving.

She thought she would miss the security of marriage – the constancy and the plans that come with a stable future. She knew, however, that while other marriages might feel secure, a marriage to a Narcissist is anything but secure.  A gambler has a more stable future than a woman married to a Narcissist.

She found it easy to put her feelings aside, because she’d been doing that for years.  Focusing on the children made it easy to avoid thoughts of dashed hopes and dreams – the fallout that everyone tells you to expect when you leave.  She had come to terms with the failed expectations for her marriage long ago.

She watched the kids for signs of distress.  She observed their sleep and eating habits closely.

The youngest called out for Daddy at bedtime only a couple times in those first weeks.

The oldest immediately seemed less anxious.  He often asked what the plan was.  She reassured him that he would see his dad, but that he’d no longer be living with his dad.  Each time she told him this, she saw her son’s shoulders relax.

When she got around to explaining to friends and family, she heard either one of two comments.  Those she was closest to told her they didn’t know how she had made it as long as she did.  Those she didn’t know well were stunned because her marriage looked so good on the outside.


The First Year

Immediately after moving out, she tasted the deliciousness of a full night’s sleep.  Now after a year, she and sleep had become best friends.  She no longer woke in the middle of the night with fears of what the next day would bring.

She noticed the kids slept better and complained less often of scary dreams.

The stomach aches were gone.  She was relieved to see that both kids had healthy appetites.

She couldn’t remember the last time she took a Pepcid.

It got easier explaining her decision to move.  At first glance, others would comment on their happy dispositions.  That was all the explanation necessary.


The kids’ bedrooms were full of their favorite things, beds were hardly ever made and projects rarely put away.

Their cozy home nearly burst with contentment and happiness.

Even so, after a year, she’d catch herself looking over her shoulder to ask permission when she was about to put a new hole in a wall to hang one of the kids’ masterpieces.  She’d pause with hammer in hand, look to see if he was there, and then laugh and relish the prospect of putting up as many pieces of artwork as they liked.

It was their home to live in and express their creativity in.  He could no longer expect them to reign in their personalities to suit his needs.


Five Years Out

The house still swells with happiness and projects and artwork.  Once in awhile the beds do get made.

They are allowed to have pets in this home.  They’ve opted for a cat and a fish – all the while loving the delicate balance necessary in having both in a small house.

She parts ways with sleep once in awhile now.  Her thoughts swirl around the expectations of turning 50.  She wonders if she’ll be a single woman for the duration.  Most of the time she’s content with the idea of remaining single, until she looks around at all the couples and wonders about the prospect of companionship again.

Long before she was married, she knew a woman who raised a child by herself – from conception.  Later, she came to know another woman who moved on when her youngest of two was only nine months old.  She can remember thinking those two women must be blessed with the kind of bravery reserved for warriors.  Now she finds herself raising two on her own, and she thinks bravery applies to those who stay married.  She had been doing all the raising of children when she was married.  Now she gets to thoroughly enjoy the process without having to placate her narcissistic husband every step of the way.


There are still fears and anxieties and disappointments in this new life.  Those can’t be erased by leaving a lousy marriage.  After all, they are still dealing with a Narcissist.

Now, however, their house has become the safe place where they can talk freely of why their feelings are hurt.  They can get away from the picking.  They aren’t constantly being manipulated.

They can breathe in this home.  They can be who they are in this home.





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  1. How good to see what a comforting place you and your kids are in now, Jesse. You have each other, and each of you can be yourself. And in your hearts you know that each of you will be accepted and loved and celebrated for who you are. Your family is an inspiration.

  2. I am sure it’s not just me that thinks this post is about their life. And now, after yesterday, I can breathe free for a while longer. I know that it won’t be the last from him, but after now, life will be a lot easier. He was forced to settle it with no changes in custody. Can you imagine the narcissist losing??? Well, they do! :) Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers as I am absolutely certain that is why the events played out as least damaging as possible. xxx

  3. Pat,

    Thanks for your unwavering support. It’s good having you in our camp. ;)

  4. Z!

    Hooray!! I’m sitting at my laptop throwing virtual confetti.

    How is your son doing? Is he relieved?

    Damn, that is good news! Your hard work, tenacity and commitment to your son paid off!

    Thanks for the bright spot!

  5. I’m so glad that Drew pointed the way to you………..I’m in love with this entry. I’m two years out myself and just now have that comfort of looking around our happy home and thinking “Wow…..this is mine” without doubting it. <3

  6. C Lo,

    Hi, and welcome!

    It’s good to take deep breaths again, isn’t it? ;)

  7. Bad sleep and stomach aches. Been there, done that, twice. Still learning. Getting smarter every day. I love you, Jesse!

  8. Alyson,

    Maybe that’s the best we can hope for – getting a little smarter every day.

    I love you, A!

  9. He was so relieved to not have to say anything. I felt a little sorry for the N since he wanted our son to have a say in his move because as a young boy (the same age as our son) he didn’t have a say in his parents abandoning him to set up a life in a new country. Baggage….but that’s the problem, he is an extension of him, not a boy who moved with his mom, making new friends and adjusting just fine with no abandonment issues. I am the extension that was amputated and without that limb, there is bitterness, resentment and anger. 3 times in, 3 times my favor. Whew!

  10. I love the insight about doing it all alone while married. Something so simple, yet profound about the realization that you’ll have the same responsibilities as before, but without the colossal stress and overwhelming weight of the Narcissist.

    And how beautiful that people like CLo find you, Jesse :).

  11. Zaira,

    I can completely relate to feeling sorry for the N. Yes, there are contributing factors (from the childhoods of narcissists) that cannot be denied. However, I still don’t understand how zillions of folks rise above a crappy childhood, and narcissists seldom do.

    I’m hugely relieved for your son. No kid should ever be put through that.

    Here’s to the continuation of your streak. Yay!

  12. Linda,

    I believe that many in lousy relationships stay because they fear the prospect of doing everything alone. They don’t realize that they already handle everything alone and do so under unbelievable stressors.

    I love how the internet (especially Twitter in my case, since I’m not on Facebook) brings the right people together.

  13. Wow. Great writing. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Hi Jim,

    Thanks for stopping by.

  15. Jesse, SO glad to hear of your progress at 5 years.

    I’m at almost one year, and really can’t wait to cross that milestone. It’s amazing to see the difference in my own family, even though it was just a close friendship. I’m so much happier, more at peace, and more focused on what really matters! :)

    The ill effects of Narcissism are far-reaching. When you are constantly in fight-or-flight mode (on an emotional level), always analyzing each new situation trying to understand. When you realize your own life takes a backseat to theirs, you may have a Narcissist in your life. A Narcissist who really wants to OWN you. And if you refuse to be owned? Well, you will pay. With your self-esteem, self-respect, and self-worth. Also by becoming someone that you don’t recognize.

    I look back and am ashamed of myself, for going along with things I opposed, simply to appease an N. Feeling like I couldn’t take any more abuse, so I’d just do what she wanted in hopes that would get her off my back. Taking responsibility for my own actions in the relationship, and learning to set a new compass for my life have really helped me process the past and set a new path where I listen to my instincts and emotions, has been incredibly healing.

    It’s funny I had the same feelings when it came to leaving. The day I decided, I felt so calm- so reserved. No tears over the ending of the decades-long friendship, no regrets. It was right. It was the right thing to do. The feelings were the exact opposite I had when in the relationship. Even in considering all the drama, the fallout, the loss of another friendship, having to defend myself, my character, my life; it was so worth it!

    To anyone struggling with a Narcissist, I wish you peace in your heart.

    Looking forward to the five year milestone. Congratulations on reaching yours, Jesse!


  16. NM,

    I greatly appreciate your comments. They provide a different – equally important – angle on this whole narcissism thing.

    How many of us put up with these kinds of relationships because we don’t want to appear like the bad person for putting an end to it?

    Your experiences validate the choice to stand up for ourselves, and the healing that comes from making that choice.

    I’m happy for you and your family.

    Cheers! ;)

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