'I stayed with my narcissist husband. Even when I knew better.'


Validation is something the prey of a narcissist craves.

If only one person believed us. If they witnessed what we did. If they could just understand. Sure, it doesn’t sound that important to the average person. Most would say, “who cares!” and “why does it matter?”

But to anyone who has experienced this altered universe, it’s necessary for our sanity.

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As if a rational human being finally stepped into the room with us.

And saw our world as clearly as we did — actually spotting the narcissist.

It did ultimately happen for me. And I was thrilled to let that rational human being into my room.

“You’re not crazy,” he said.

“How do you know I feel crazy sometimes?” I asked.

“Because your husband is two different people but the majority of the world will never witness it,” he answered.


I should have run for the exit the minute my marriage counsellor uttered those words. I should have slammed his office door, raced home, packed our bags, grabbed my kids, and headed on outta there.

But I didn’t.

Instead, I felt oddly validated. This person recognises my truth. He isn’t fooled by this master of illusion. My husband’s charm and humour are no disguise for this professional psychologist.

I felt my shoulders drop and I comfortably sank deeper into the couch. A release of years worth of emotions abandoning my being. I could stop fighting now. To be heard. To be believed.

This person could wholistically see my entire picture. Everything I had been living with.

The struggle of the narcissist’s spouse.

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I not only didn’t leave that day, but I also stayed for many more.

In truth, I didn’t have the energy to leave. I was depleted from years of narcissistic Yin and Yang. Staying because most of the time he was the happy good guy and wanting to flee when he was beyond the polar opposite.

I also stayed somehow believing one person knowing my reality would free me.

As if the biggest of the narcissistic monkeys had been taken off my back. AKA, what I said really did happen. The narcissist had not been an irrational hallucination. This charming and equally terrifying personality lived in one human being.


This emotional Big Foot truly existed. Even if most could never see nor catch him.

So I remained.

And I hovered in this fickle and defiant stance. Alternating between wanting to leave and wanting to believe I could reverse the non-reversible.

Rescue the unreachable.

Even though I was told narcissists are not treatable.

I craved validation because…

We want the world to understand. Who we are. Who the narcissist is. Why we stayed.

We need people to know these creatures really do exist… even if most could never see nor catch them.

This post originally appeared on Medium and has been republished here with full permission. For more from Colleen Sheehy Orme, you can find her on Instagram and Facebook.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.