real life

'I was married to a narcissist. I was left emotionally scarred but I couldn't find any help.'


I sat in my marriage counsellor’s office. In between snatching tissues and sniffling I muttered these words.

“Where can I find my people? Where are the resources to help my children and me?”

This seemed a reasonable question.

After all, there are Alcoholics Anonymous and Adult Children of Alcoholics and Gamblers Anonymous and so on.

I was feeling isolated and frustrated. Wondering where my people were. The others like me who had inadvertently stepped into a narcissistic sinkhole.

Mamamia Confessions: The moment I knew my relationship was over. Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

It’s important to point out there are several types of marriage counsellors. Mine is a psychologist. I wish he had been the first counsellor my husband and I had gone to see.

Our first counsellor was a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) who we saw for nearly a year. He was excellent and for several years after our marriage improved.

But then the distressing underbelly of our problems resurfaced.

Our second marriage counsellor as a psychologist quickly diagnosed the troubling malady that plagued our relationship. All those years in between I spent confused and troubled that I appeared to have married one man who was two very different people. As a doctor of psychology, he was trained to see beyond the obvious.


If only we had seen this counsellor first.

My face may not have been crowded with needless tears.

I wouldn’t have spent years baffled how such an otherwise great guy could be so cold, cruel, and ruthless.

Listen to Mamamia’s podcast, The Split, on surviving separation. Host Mandy Nolan chats to counsellor Melissa Ferrari about the difference between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one. Post continues after podcast. 

The reason my counsellor provided for few resources will make sense to anyone who has loved a narcissist.

The reason a narcissist can’t generally be rehabilitated is that they do not have the ability to step outside of their own world. So in essence, the narcissist does not view a problem. They do not recognise or identify they have a personality disorder.

Ironically, this dual personality produces a lack of duality in resources.

There is only the significant other who recognises and identifies the problem.

Thus, you won’t be finding any Narcissists Anonymous. A narcissist never arrives at the ‘emotional sobriety’ necessary to identify a problem. This is because they lack empathy, a development trait received in childhood. They won’t feel the pain they’ve inflicted on others enough to feel remorse.

I explain it this way.

People with other types of addiction may have moments of either physical or ‘emotional sobriety.’


The instance when the alcohol wears off or the bank account is zero when the alcoholic or the gambler may feel sadness over what they have done.

This does not occur with a narcissist. Likewise, it is the reason they are nearly impossible to rehabilitate. Their world does not produce an opening to even temporarily allow the feelings of the outside world in.

It is also one of the reasons those who love them feel crazy when trying to speak rationally to them. The narcissist does not live in a rational world. They live in their own perception of the world.

Therefore, those involved in narcissistic relationships can feel isolated.

All the more reason to see an extremely good counsellor who is a doctor of psychology. They can provide therapy and literature.

Especially since narcissism is now a popular buzzword being freely tossed around.

It is a mental health disorder and should be diagnosed by a doctor.

If someone believes they are in a relationship with a narcissist this would be the individual who can provide the answers and support which is necessary.

I couldn’t find my people.

So I use my words to help pull others out.

The ones who inadvertently stepped into a narcissistic sinkhole with me.

This article originally appeared on Medium and was republished here with full permission. For more from Colleen Sheehy Orme, you can follow her on Instagram and Facebook

Feature Image: Getty.