Finding Life in the Shadow of a Narcissist

Written by Dr. Eric Perry
Image Credit: Pixabay

“Happiness must be grown in one’s own garden.” ~Mary Engelbreit

Life is complicated. One day we open our eyes and find ourselves in a life that we have no idea how we entered into willingly. We have painted ourselves into the proverbial corner with no window or door for escape. This is how many people describe feeling when they come to realize that their life partner is a narcissist. Perhaps you have a family and co-own assets with a narcissist and like many, feel you cannot leave or are not ready to leave your narcissistic partner. Life is never as simple as walking out a door and finding a new life waiting. I propose that whatever present situation you are in, you can regain your power and learn to enjoy and live your present life. Don’t give up and think this is all life has to offer.

Here are 5 things to remember.

1. Manage the narcissist
Learn to manage the narcissist in your life by gray rocking (To see my post, “How to Gray Rock a Narcissist” click here) them and cutting the narcissistic supply. Find someone that specializes in narcissists that can help you learn the necessary tools.

2. Nurture yourself
BE SELFISH. It is time that you focus on your own life. If you have been in a long-term relationship with a narcissist, you have probably forgotten about your own dreams and plans.

3. Be aware of assets and debts
Make sure you are aware of all family assets and debts. If you have assets together in California, all property is subject to community property upon divorce or death. This means you own half of all assets as well as debts. One spouse can never give away or sell any community property without the other spouse signing off on the transaction. Consult with an attorney in your area to learn your rights.

4. Never sign anything without proper counsel
Never sign anything that your narcissist is pressuring you to sign without consulting with a licensed attorney. You must remember the golden rule. The narcissist only cares about himself and will not be thinking about what is in your best interest.

5. Seek individual therapy in your area
Therapy will help you remember who you are. After years of narcissistic abuse, you are likely to feel lost, defeated and confused. It is important that you get your bearings and start empowering yourself.

You need to remember that you are stronger than the narcissist in your life. Initially, the reason he or she chose you to feed on is because of your strength. You need to take your inner strength and energy and start feeding yourself.

The thoughts expressed in this blog post are my own and are not meant to create a professional relationship with the reader. This blog does not replace or substitute the help of a medical professional. Please note, I am unable to answer your specific questions as I am not fully aware of all of the circumstances.

Dr. Perry

Copy of Dr. Eric Perry

“I help ambitious and high achieving individuals manifest a life of success and fulfillment in order to achieve the life they truly desire.”

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The materials and content contained in this website are for general information only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users of this website should not rely on the information provided for their own health needs. All specific questions should be presented to your own health care provider.

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If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.


87 responses to Finding Life in the Shadow of a Narcissist

  1. Another well timed, and well stated post. It’s almost as if you’re standing beside me as I take the steps to become me, again. Thank you for your insight and reminder to feed myself. After feeding a narcissist all these years, I’m practically starving.

    Liked by 9 people

  2. This Mamma says:

    I cannot believe how accurate a description you give of my narcissistic husband in these posts. And of my responses. I entered into our relationship eagerly and blindly, and only now, as I’m going through a painful divorce process (which is even more hard because nothing can be negotiated with the narcissist), do I look back and think “how did I ever end up with him? Why didn’t I see”. Thank you for your help. I can’t envisage what it will look like when I’ll be able to find me again, but I hope it’s soon.

    Liked by 8 people

  3. Brilliant post. As always, your advice is invaluable. I find the concept of Narcissism both fascinating yet disturbing. I am also currently working on a post about Narcissism but from a more personal angle. Great post😄

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I grew up with a parent that was a narcissist and still is he still finds ways to abuse me even though I’m 100 miles away I’m In counseling and trying to work through it all but I don’t know if I’ll ever be over it

    Liked by 5 people

  5. rkjoshi1984 says:

    Excellent!! I would say that your blogs are no less than a therapy. Please keep sharing your thoughts..As famously said in India that reading a good write-up is like interacting with an intellectual himself. I have always found your posts like an inspirational conversation. God Bless You.

    Liked by 6 people

  6. Cosmic Traveller7 says:

    Hindsight is a wonderful thing, amazing how you can spend years with someone but not know them.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Eve says:

    Excellent advice, as always! While reading this, I can envision following through while being mindful to remember important details. A person in a relationship with a narcissist already has a lot to handle. Your article is practical and supportive.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Lisa Rene Delgado says:

    Thank you Dr.Perry for coming along side me, via internet, I needed this to keep pressing out of my beautiful prison.

    Liked by 4 people

      • Eve says:

        I like your terminology! “Gilded Cage.” I just busted out of mine. I’ve gone back 8 times in 4 years. NOT THIS TIME! I stopped doing everything I love, including blogging! I finally accept how being manipulated and made to feel small, insignificant and crazy has had such a negative impact on my mental and physical well-being AND hurt those close to me. Though this is difficult, it is much better than living in a “gilded cage!” Thank you for the comment and for being so supportive to those who are struggling.

        Liked by 4 people

      • Lisa Rene Delgado says:

        Dr.Perry, I mentioned you in a post I wrote, The Beast of Shame. Thank you so much for your helping me on this path to recovery

        Liked by 3 people

        • Dr. Perry says:

          Hi Lisa, I have just read your post. I am happy to hear you found my video on negative core beliefs helpful. I wish you the best on your healing journey. Kindly, Dr. Perry


  9. Such a great post. In my personal experience, therapy really helps as a filter. After a while you lose yourself and a good therapist can help you decide if what they are saying/doing is healthy or questionable. I feel like you lose your compass and they help you get direction but eventually they also help you find your own again.

    Liked by 5 people

  10. I have had my own share dealing with narcs. Didn’t know what a narc was until I ended a relationship with one. Yet, was reared by one. They are the most manipulative people.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. Been there done that! This person is out of my personal life, but I still have to have regular contact for other reasons.
    I do not want to see it so much as being selfish, but putting myself first! I deserve it!

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Thank you for understanding that it is not always possible to leave immediately. There are strategies to help in dealing with these people. I actually had managed to keep reasonably firm boundaries in place, once I had understood at least to some extent what I was dealing with. It is very hard work and not something I would recommend but it can help get you through in the short term. I had underestimated the effects of the gaslighting, even though I did my best to keep ahead of it.The number one priority is to stay as safe as possible, whilst you put long term plans into operation. I was quite up front about this but of course they believe they will always get their way.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Joyful2bee says:

    I survived a 35 year marriage to a narcissist. He had diabetes and as he got older had mini strokes until he had a Wallenberg stroke. He recovered from that and lived another 6-8 years until he died at 59. I lost a lot because of him. If it hadn’t been for my friends’ support and seeing what the destruction was doing to our son, I don’t know how long I would have stayed with him. But my son refuses to be like his father. I have started a new life since his death 8 years ago. I am happy, single and growing wiser and more confident. My friends had abusive husbands and knew what was going on before I did! If I can ever help anyone through my story I share with them. Thank you for what you do.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. “One day we open our eyes and find ourselves in a life that we have no idea how we entered into willingly.”

    Bang on. I woke up one day and it smacked me in the face… relationship with a narc, job which was not nurturing, living in a foreign country… how did I get myself into this!!?

    Great post.

    Liked by 5 people

  15. Tatjana Ostojic says:

    We have to love ourselves and leave the toxic relationships. Yes, it will hurt, but not as much as waking up beside the person who will never give you the love, respect that you deserve.

    Liked by 5 people

  16. Toortsie says:

    What I especially like about this post is that we have our own strenth, even in our worst situations and that we must use our own strength to make life good and worthwile, even in bad situations.
    We don’t always have to leave, but to search, in our current situation, what is good for ourselves. Strong boundaries definately helps a lot.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Toortsie says:

      And now, two years after I wrote this comment, after 4 years dating and nearly 35 years of marriage, I need this post more than ever. Suddenly the strong boundaries I had in place don’t work any more. Thank you for this blog post.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. Excellent commentary and fortunately, I left the narcissist I was married years ago. What concerns me is the narcissus who is running are country, promoting greed and hate. I only hope that he will not be reelected. Thank you for an inspiring post and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! K. D. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  18. karen says:

    I never had a name for the behaviour before. I have a friend who is married to a narcissist. I can tell you it is so painful to watch someone being destroyed by narcissistic behaviour. He would insist on her spending hours putting on makeup and wearing sexy low cut dresses. And then when they were out, he would blame her if anyone looked her way. So much unhappiness and cruelty. It is puzzling behaviour -until you have a name for it. She always insisted he was like that because he adored her so much. In the end, I was literally her only friend, and that was because I agreed to meet her in secret. But I would lie awake worrying about his bullying, emotional cruelty called “love.” I could write a book. Thanks for writing about this subject, if I ever encounter anyone like it again, I shall know better now to deal with it.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Because I was young and inexperienced, I foolishly mistook arrogance for confidence–and married into a bad situation.
    If a narcissist is a spouse, as he (in my case) was—learning to nurture yourself and eventually seeking counsel (seen as ‘trying to find a way to escape’)–is rather dangerous. But those really are the best things to do.
    After 17 years, I did finally find the strength to run away from him. I ended up in a shelter. That all happened 27 years ago now. Looking back, I can truly say that I am glad I left when I did. I was still young enough to rise back up and reclaim my life. And life is good.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. I think (one of ) the worst thing(s) about being in a relationship with a narcissist is their ability to make you feel oh so guilty if and when you can’t comply with their “needs.” That and deliberately hurting themselves / putting themselves in situations where they suffer so everyone around them takes notice (e.g. not getting treatment for an ailment). In an attempt to force you to drop everything and be by their side, not eventually, not tomorrow, but now.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Channel Baez says:

    Narcissistic abuse changed me to the core. It traumatized me in ways unimaginable. I am not the same person I once was. Grey rock and no contacts are useful tools however wounds of unrequited love, rejection, abandonment etc are not easily forgotten. Quite possibly never but the hope is internal and eternal healing.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Researching everything I could about narcissism and then using that knowledge to take back my power, not only led me to a safer place mentally, but it also opened a doorway through which I could look at some of the other relationships in my life. Recognising that I was not just a boat bobbing on the waters of other people’s lives, that I could choose my own direction, has been most empowering, and changed me to my core.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Chosen says:

    As a survivor of an ex-husband who is a narcissist I was surprised that there was no statement for those who are grateful to be free. I would never go back. If my ex-husband chooses to interact with my children it can be done through a 3rd party. The day he left meant the beginning of breathing again. I have cut all ties and am better for it!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Sarah says:

    Very well articulated. I have always been a very huge believer in neuroplasticity and the ability for the mind to heal. Whether it’s narcissism or any other psychologically related disorder, I’m very much a fan of the mind and body connection and the power of change. Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

  25. SuZan RiLey says:

    This was very helpful to me In my time of self discovery. Ive been doing a similar type of action for myself for some time now. My father was a narcissist and so is my husband go figure. Its ok though because I finally stopped giving them my all. And started working on me aka why I started my blog and joined a gym and etc; Although living in these arrangements my whole life has pretty much made me an expert lol and you are spot on thank you for your information.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. curious•pondering says:

    Great post! Have you ever heard of or read the book Emotional Vampire? It is all about different personalities and wow… things become so clear!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dr. Perry says:

      I have not read it but will be adding it to my list. Thank you for the recommendation✨

      Liked by 2 people

  27. Jordy says:

    Thank you, Dr Perry. I grew up with both parents who were narcissists. It took me well into my forties to figure it out but only after successive relationships with narcissists did I have the where with all to figure it out. Would that be the pattern, parent narcissists then partners? How does one ever relearn not to give their soul away?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dr. Perry says:

      Your question requires a more complex answer than can be expressed through a comment. My recommendation is always that people seek the support of a mental health professional to identify past problematic patterns in order to make the necessary adjustments in the direction of better health.

      Liked by 3 people

  28. yazminwrites says:

    I have been following your blog for less than 10 minutes and I already love it. I’ve quickly read through a couple of posts already and I think they’re great. You’re really helping a lot of people with your posts and they are in fact very uplifting! (Please take into consideration I wrote this at 4am so if it doesn’t make complete sense that is why haha)

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Milena Alien says:

    Working with teens in a high school setting I have to be armed with some good advice, thank you Dr. Perry!

    Liked by 3 people

  30. MConnearney says:

    I love the advice given here. My ex-husband has narcissist qualities and trying to get along with him for our children is beyond frustrating. I appreciate what you are saying here. Thank you.

    Liked by 4 people

  31. I have no words for this detailed and so accurate information about narcissists. I had been in a trap of narcissist, which lead me to major depressive disorder. Then i couldn’t make out reasons behind his such behaviour, but when i came to know about personality traits of narsiccists, i found all the answers. By God’s grace, i was able to get rid of that person by dealing in the manner similar to your suggestions.
    I highly admire the content and presentation of your posts sir.

    Liked by 5 people

  32. PaulaG says:

    Great advice! I am a survivor! 🙏. There is life after a narcissist…it’s never the same but you can live better! Self love is mandatory. Thank you for this article 🙏

    Liked by 2 people

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