Home » divorce » 10 Things I’ve Learned After Divorcing a Narcissist


Where I Am Now- One Year Later

Its been a year now, after divorcing a narcissist, and Its the strangest feeling ever. I’m sorry for being10 things i've learned after divorcing a narcissist silent for so long, I just needed space to get through this last part without trying to explain it to anyone.

Im doing really well, I have a great job, a great financial footing, a great direction and I’m in a happy, healthy relationship. I feel like I’ve left the pain behind me, and taken the lessons. Sometimes it feels like it happened to someone else, and I guess in a way it did. I was a very different person then, I shut myself down a lot to survive everything and I’ve come back to life now.

I think for a lot of my life I let things happen, life happened to me, it was almost never something I chose or planned. I put way too much faith in “fate” and I dont do that anymore. I still belive in a higher power working for me, very much so in fact. I wouldn’t be where I am without some kind of divine providance, however, I dont blindly follow life anymore. I make damn sure I can see where I am going, or at least know all the posibilities of where it could end up.

I think I am pretty much at peace with it all after divorcing a narcissist. It sucked, really really bad. I would never reccomend living with a narcissist. But, I wouldn’t be who I am now, or where I am now, without having lived through it, and I really like who and where I am, so how can I be bitter? Sometimes I am still sad, heartbreakingly so, because I know I never deserved to be treated like I was, and I still worry about my kids, but I really believe its going to be ok in the end, and as strong as I have become, they will become as well.

I know you caught it, and are dying to know, I have met an awesome guy. He is sweet and caring and my opposite in a lot of ways, which is actually great! And at the same time, he is dangerous and strong and exactly the kind of guy who makes me feel safe. It’s really different being in a realtionship with no mind games, someone who actually likes me and wants me in his life, someone who I can actually respect. And its challenging too, because old habits die hard, and I question everything after divorcing a narcissist, sometimes more than once.

I think thats good, actually, I know I’ve chosen him and not just “fallen” in love, and I know he’s done the same with me. He actually encourages me to be more of myself, supports my dreams, and wants me to do well on my own. Which is a total departure from being with someone who hated me for my sucesses, and wanted me to be nothing without him.

And its freaking amazing to be with someone who is also your friend, who you want to talk to and tell about your life. It’s such a simple thing for most people, expected. But for me, for people who have been with someone who was your enemy, its like breathing fresh air for the first time in years.

All that said, there are a few big lessons that have stuck out over this last year after divorcing a narcissist, and I feel like this is important. The aftermath doesn’t have to be total destruction, life can happen again. You can get better!

10 Things I’ve Learned After Divorcing a Narcissist

#1. He Wasn’t the Cause of all my Problems

So this might be hard to explain, but while he definitely encouraged problems and made things hard for me, and did cause quite a few problems, some things I struggled with were my own issues. Weather they were reactions to my ideas of how he might react or just fear of failure myself, he didn’t cause every single issue, and so when I left things didn’t magically set themselves right. I still have had a lot of work to do on my own, on myself.

Its been much easier without the constant criticism and with being able to enjoy some of my successes. But I think a HUGE key in recovery is to accept responsibility for your own life, and that includes some of the things your not proud of. When you can do that, you can shake the victim label and mentality and get on with your life. I love the quote “I am not what happened to me, I am who I choose to become”. Yes it shaped me somewhat, and it will always be a part of my past, but I am responsible now. Thats freeing, if you let it be.

#2. I Am Stronger and Smarter Than I Thought I Was

I don’t know that I ever totally doubted my ability to make it on my own, consciously anyway. I think I thought I could do it but it would be really hard and I didn’t know how. Even still, it was super terrifying to go for it, and turns out, I can do it. Granted, I have had help, which has made all the difference. Because at first I don’t know that I could have made it without a helping hand. It did take me a few months to get back on my feet, but here I am, doing pretty great! Obviously things could always be better, but I am pretty proud of how far I have come and the stability I have managed to create for myself and my kids.

#3. Freedom Can Be Overwhelming

So, on the flip side, the idea that you can now do anything you want is a little scary. Somehow it feels like you “should” do all these things and you might not be ready to do them. Even if you want to. Thats ok.

I think I had big ideas and plans and some of them I accomplished and some I haven’t yet, but some I decided I just wasn’t ready for, or it wasn’t actually the person I wanted to be and I discarded the idea altogether.

I think it takes a while for you to come back to yourself after divorcing a narcissist, and for me, it had been 15 years since I had been my own person, and at that time I was still a teenager, so was I really myself yet even then? Figuring out who I am has been fun and scary and crazy and I have made some missteps, but for the most part I think Im settled now. And Im happy with who I have become. Its a process, don’t expect to suddenly figure it all out and be all set. Have patience with yourself, you’ve been through lot!

#4. Most People Can’t Understand What You Have Been Through

Psychological abuse is tricky, and sneaky, and hard to explain and pinpoint. But the truth is, unless you have lived it, you don’t really understand what its like. You can empathize and you can try to imagine, but really, its impossible.

It kinda used to bug me that no one “got” how bad it was, until I realized that in order for them to really get it, they had to have lived it, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. So I have had to let that go, I don’t want the people I love to really get it. They should know the facts, for sure. But the understanding, that I don’t want.

Being able to talk to friends who have gone through this is amazing, having you all is amazing, but support is still valid even if there isn’t full understanding. And really, I don’t need them to fully live my past with me, Im not going that way. The future is ahead of me and as long as they can forgive occasional over-reactions when something triggers a reaction to the past, we will be fine.

#5. Sometimes Other People Can Erase Bad Memories

For me, I have found that the best way to diminish the power of bad memories after divorcing a narcissist, is to make new ones! With new people, and new experiences. I started dating a little earlier than I thought I would and while none of them (except one!) was a keeper, I think it was important for me to shake off all the old feelings around being in a relationship. I had a lot of negativity in my thinking about love and relationships and dating really helped me to separate that and stop making generalizations that weren’t true.

I would caution that there are a LOT of frogs out there and if your still feeling emotionally fragile than don’t jump in the pond, you will get your heart broken. For sure. But if you feel like you can catch and release as necessary, its helpful. Plus, there is always the chance of finding a good one!

#6. I Still Have to Deal With Him

Just because the divorce is final doesn’t mean he’s out of my life. We have kids and so I still have to see him and we still have to talk. Or at least text. And we still have to make decisions together regarding the kids. Its frustrating for sure, especially since working together has never been something that happened, ever.

So the dream of “freedom” after divorcing a narcissist, well, its pretty much just a dream. I am free in regards to my life, and he obviously can’t control me anymore, but he’s still on the fringes, and will be forever. Kids bind you and figuring out a way to be ok with that is a big step for recovery.

#7. Its Okay to Want What You Missed Out On

I kind of thought that after being married to, and after divorcing a narcissist, I would NEVER consider anything like that again. I was going to be alone and happy forever. No man, no problems. Yeah, that wasn’t real. The truth was I just never wanted to be with a Narcissist again, still don’t. Who would?

But everything I thought I was getting into when I got married? Yeah, I do still want that. A partnership, a best friend, someone I can laugh with and build with and grow with? Someone I can respect and count on? Definitely.

10 things i've learned after divorcing a narcissist#8. Privacy and Boundaries

I learned to hide everything that was even a little bit important to me while I was married, and at the same time I couldn’t ever say no without consequences, so learning how to rebalance all of that has been tough. I think the knee jerk reaction is to always comply and I really resist that now, I want to actually want to do the things I am doing. I feel like Im pretty successful with that.

But the privacy part, thats harder. Talking about feelings has really never been something I was super great at, and after years of having my feeling ignored or mocked, I got really good at keeping things to myself, even after divorcing a narcissist. But being in a relationship with someone who actually wants to know whats up with me and cares, well, I have to talk. And its tough because I got so good at not talking about myself, sometimes I don’t even realize Im not sharing. Im definitely still working on that.

#9. Its Never Too Late for Dreams to Come True

Just because you may have lost years or decades in in a terrible relationship, doesn’t mean I can’t still achieve amazing things in my life after divorcing a narcissist. Many times success comes after a youth spent in hardship or struggle, and I are far wiser now than I was when I was younger. I won’t discard my dreams just because of my age. Its not too late!

#10. I Haven’t Really Changed

I haven’t really changed. All the crap I lived through may have matured me, may have made we wiser and more cautious and maybe less trusting. But I am still me, even after hiding myself as long as I did, even after living with the depression and fear and sadness, now, being out of it, I am me again. I didn’t lose me. Im still kinda goofy, little crazy, not afraid to try (some) new things, I still love my friends with all my heart, I still spend way too much time inside and work too hard sometimes, and forget things and never forget other things and love to learn and dream big. I haven’t really changed, and that makes me really happy.



Join over 2,500 visitors who are receiving our newsletter and learn how to rebuild, resist, and avoid Narcissists in your life
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Article By :

13 thoughts on “10 Things I’ve Learned After Divorcing a Narcissist

  1. Rachel says:

    Thank you for writing this! I started following you last year right as you were leaving and I pretty much binge read everything you had written within a few days. I had just realized that my husband was a narcissist, after years of torment and feeling so confused and alone. Reading through your words, I literally felt as though I was reading my own diary. You do not know how much comfort your words brought me in some of the darkest nights I have experienced, they were the only thing that validated what I had been living through and gave me the comfort knowing that I was not crazy after all. You have given me so much hope and I still ponder back on the words you have written now, as I still battle with leaving my husband. We have been married for 10 years now, with two kids (5 and 2). It has been such a horrible experience, and I am just now coming to realize that he is not responsible for my happiness! I am in control of me, and he cannot take that away from me. Reading what you said tonight, just confirmed this even more for me. I left my husband about 4 months ago, only to be hoovered back in with his love bombing and empty promises. Things are drifting back to the way they were before and I am confident that I must leave him for good. I am working on getting all my ducks in a row and trying to figure out the best way to minimize the collateral damage that it will cause my children and me. Anyways, I just wanted to let you know how grateful I am for your strength and bravery, and that you have given me the validation that I needed when nobody else could. I am so happy to hear that you are doing well and that there is goodness on the other side. Thank you and God bless.

  2. Carol says:

    Your life is a reflection of what you think you deserve. Many hugs from across the ocean, I hope you continue to grow in strength and love. Xxxx

  3. Kim McCulley says:

    I am so happy for you. I left John 8 months ago and am going through the divorce proceedings now. I don’t miss him at all, I am so much happier now, and I know it will be awhile before I find Kim again.

    #4 of the things you learned is hard for me. I can’t explain what I’ve been through to anyone. It’s true, if someone hasn’t been through it, they can’t possibly know what you’ve been through. The heartache, being yelled at for hours and feeling worthless.

    I thank you for sharing your story because without it I would still be feeling worthless. I want to thank everyone for sharing their stories because I am stronger.


    Kim McCulley
    Ex-wife of a narcissist

  4. ChrisisChris says:

    Congratulations on your new relationship! I just found you on Pinterest. 🙂

    I could have written this. And that whole wait before jumping into the pond? Yes! I didn’t and it was a nightmare. By the time I met my current, WONDERFUL husband I had sworn off all men. It took time to learn to trust myself again and my gut feeling.

    It will be five years April 6th since we split. He filed for divorce April 22nd, my birthday. I celebrated the best gift I had ever received at the time. Three years later the pain of such cruelty crashed over me and I felt like I was drowning in a sea as wave over wave of pain enveloped me.

    We have two boys – 15 & 17 – together. Life is hell. What a narcissistic person will do with your children to hurt you is beyond belief. He continuously turns our older son against me, my husband, and my younger son. He has refused to our younger son for more than two years. He grabbed him by the throat. I filed a police report. “It never happened.” He told our son he could never return or see him until he tells the police it never happened and has the report rescinded. I could write for days. You are right when you say no one who hasn’t lived this will understand. They won’t! Until he turns on them. Oh, like he turned on his parents. Now they realize everything they heard about me was a lie. We get along quite well now. (He hasn’t spoken to them in 30 months.)
    All this to say please be careful still! I don’t know how old your kids are but life will be in constant turmoil until you can grey rock him. I look forward to the day when I can completely ignore his cruel words (and those of his wife, his last girlfriend our marriage).

  5. Chandra Baker says:

    Thank you for sharing! This gives me hope and inspiration for the stage of recovery I am in.

  6. Tricia says:

    Thank you for sharing. I can relate so well to each point. Big hugs!!

  7. Renee says:

    Thanking you for validation… That we aren’t all crazy like they make us feel and not being able to explain our situation to anyone because they don’t know what it’s like to live with a narcissist.
    I’m coming out of a 26 year marriage, I’ve left 3x
    and it is the last …. Divorce filed for but he keeps delaying with excuses thinking I’ll give in ..Guess what I have nothing but time…
    I will survive this I am strong…but I appreciate your words of encouragement, strength, just life in general because it’s not over…it’s just beginning I still hurt, I have bad dreams, I have lost my children and grandchildren he’s in their
    heads and has them thinking the same thing I’m crazy too, but I have to take care of myself now
    they are grown and have to make their own decisions and choices I’ve always tried to keep my family together they mean everything to me
    and that is how he controlled me….
    I still doubt myself, feel odd going out on my own
    I take one hour at a time everyday.. I will over come !

    Blessings for you and your family and all who have been subjected to this emotional abuse that no one deserves….


  8. Anna P. says:

    You have no idea how much your blog has helped me lately. I’m in the process of divorce, was married for 1 year and 7 months, had a beautiful baby. I know I was with him for a short period of time, but his emotional abuse was the worst that has ever happened in my life, he was driving me crazy (doubting absolutely everything in my life). I was depressed and anxious all the time, I was isolated from my family (wasn’t allowed to see them), I couldn’t drive, had no access to money and of course I was a retard, good for nothing, piece of $h!t (all the names you could think of I was called). I’m still working on myself but reading this update has given me hope that I’ll be fine. I’m just worried about my baby, she’s only 1 year old and I fear that he’ll treat her the way I was treated.

  9. Mary says:

    I have been so fortunate to find a long time friend, who it turns out went through the exact same thing with her divorce and reasoning behind it. We plan on making sure we get together once a month at least now. I can tell she totally understands by her mannerisms/reactions to things I say.

    Reading this is hopeful for me, just in the beginning stages of the divorce process. I had left once before and was lured back in by his promises which never happened, just like my counselor had said it would. But of course I had to give it yet another try.

    Discovering there was a name-narcissist, to what he was, has helped me learn so much as I keep studying.

  10. Poppy says:

    Thanks for sharing, I’m so much hopefull after reading this and believe that I will get through….

    1. Ro says:

      I am still waiting for the divorce to be final. I am now living with my mother for a month now supporting each other emotionally ( mostly me) and financially. I never new I was living with a Narcissist until I started reading articles and quite honest I am confirming it through this conversations. This is my third and final divorce attempt. The prior two ones I guess I wasn’t ready to be strong enough to fight and like one lady commented before, I believed in his empty promises and changes.Things happen for a reason, because it has been quite the battle. A Narcissist is a coward person that uses all the possible methods to turn you in and to put you down. He cowdarly uses the children (the oldest) to play mind games with just one purpose…to destroy you. I am fighting for the love of my daughter who is 12, who has turned againts me. My son 7 is a complete sweetheart and firm with his feeelings despite his age.. I still have a lot to go through ….I know, but I rather to be free now that to live the rest of my live with a man that never saw me as a person that could do better without him. I felt dead and unloved. A machine working for my family without much consideration, responsible for pretty much almost everything. I appreciate the words of encouragement and the “10 things learned after divorcing a Narcissist”. I will keep them as my goals. And Yes! I felt the same. Thank you!!

  11. shelldog20 says:

    I am ending a 31 year marriage and could relate to everything you wrote. Even at 64 I know my future will be brighter than my past. It is so good to have my life back. I don’t know the woman I was in that horrific enmeshment. Thankfully so many lessons learned about people and myself. Thank you and much happiness in your future. I think you’ve got this!!

  12. Beth says:

    I could have written this! I left my narc husband of 17 years for another relationship. The other man was so mind glowingly wonderful. Together we did so much to undue all that hurt and self doubt in me. Unfortunately he died. I am in utter despair, yet recognize that my life is better than with the narc. I would never go back. Problem is, he psychologically kidnapped my teenage kids. I have had. no relationship and very little communication with my children in over a year. I have taken him to family court, but this is not being recognized as child abuse. My kids are miserable and have gained significant weight. Instead of seeking refuge with me, they blame me for “breaking up a happy family because of my selfishness”.

Leave a Reply