Where to begin? I can attest to the fact that my body suffered every single one of the things in the image above. The first step was not to share. I was feeling so out of it, that I was losing my mind, that something was wrong with me that I couldn’t figure out how to make my marriage work.

I would spend endless nights up, not being able to sleep at all. I used to read when I couldn’t sleep. However, I would be so tired that I would not be able to read and I certainly could not fall asleep. My brain kept on working and working and working. This would happen most especially after a fight, argument, or discussions that would end up once again nowhere. The only thing that would come out of those circular arguments would be my apologizing once again for some crime that I had not committed at all.

“Brain, go to sleep. I’m tired. I need my rest. Let me figure it out tomorrow; not at 3:00 in the morning.”

The knots in my throat before even bringing something up would end up in anxiety attacks. And God knows how much I missed the days when we were in joyful bliss. Why couldn’t those days come back? What was I doing wrong?

“I can’t breath. Not again. I need fresh air. I’m losing it. There is again. Breath! Breath! Breath! Don’t lose it. Legs, please, hold me. Don’t let me fall! I can’t breath!”

Lack of knowledge of my situation was also turning into one mistake after another one. The worse one, not reaching out and not trusting my gut feeling that was telling me that I was living a lie; that I knew that I hadn’t move this object or said this or that. My husband had the ability to misquote me to myself and be so adamant about it that I would eventually doubt myself to my very core. After all, I was the one who was losing her mind and not remembering what I had said the day before or 5 years ago. If he said it, and he seemed so sure about it, then I needed to trust him because my mind was no longer trustworthy, or was it? And the way he would explain it to me, with so many facts and long sentences. And he was my husband, the person who had vowed to protect me, be by my side, in good and it bad. He wouldn’t lie to me, or would he?

“Did I actually say that? Is he even listening to me? My English is not that bad. My English is really good. I don’t think that’s the problem. He’s not even paraphrasing. He’s not even trying. But maybe because he doesn’t need to since it is my memory the one that is failing me; therefore, he has to be right. He’s my husband. A loving husband would not fabricate facts and events, right?”

I remember when some of my friends got married. My husband would always find a reason why their marriages would not last and ours would. He would say things like “They both profess a different faith; their faiths are incompatible.” “He is so controlling. I feel for her.” “He doesn’t want kids and his wife wants a kindergarten. They are not going to last. You can’t marry someone who does not want children.” And he would close his declaration of future failure of those marriages by saying “They don’t have what we have.”

The more he would say that, the more I started to get this weird feeling I was not able to explain. I would feel so uncomfortable. I had already started to feel uneasy about my marriage, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Besides, the longer my friends were married, the happier and in love they seemed to be. Meanwhile, I kept on feeling that something was missing in our marriage. The longer we were married, the bigger and deeper the whole in my heart and soul.

But I had zero doubts when I walked down that aisle. Why am I doubting so much now? Everybody keeps on telling me how fortunate I am to have such a man by my side. I must be ungrateful and I may not know how to appreciate what I have. On the other hand, who is this man they’re talking about? It certainly doesn’t sound like the one who shares my bed with me every night.

The doubts started to pile up. I needed to talk to someone, to see if I was wrong. And I did, only that I talked to the wrong people and I didn’t know it at the time.

They advised me to loosen up; that I was seeing too much into it. He was a good man. Maybe I expected too much and marriage is work after all.

But I have already given up so much. I gave up time with my friends, my mother, even church. I changed jobs twice already. I have given up my sports and activities that I loved and made me who I was. I gave up my individuality and my independence. Aren’t you supposed to have some of that to some degree, even in a marriage? How much more am I supposed to give up? Meanwhile, I don’t see him giving anything up. He still has his track-and-field, scouts, workout time, cycling time…

Taking a job almost 80 miles away one way didn’t help, either. He had promised we would move closer to my job. In bad winter conditions, it would take me almost 3 hours to get there.

I’ve been almost a year at this job. He says he doesn’t want to sell quite yet. To save some money, he says. But I’m spending in gas a lot more than what I used to. And he works from home. Why do my friends move around so they can be closer to their jobs? These are the couples who were not supposed to last and they’re building a life together. I’m sure they have some problems and differences. But they’re happy. They’re making it work.

I kept on trying to talk to friends, but they couldn’t understand. They couldn’t relate. Therefore, I stopped talking altogether.

I started to see a therapist. The reasons, the anxiety attacks were getting worse; the communication was getting worse and I would start to have anxiety attacks even before bringing something up; I needed someone to give me the tools to communicate properly since I was clearly not reaching out or making him understand what I was trying to say. That’s what I thought back then.

(Update: He also had a hand in this. He convinced me that I needed therapy. It’s something else these narcholes do. They gaslight you to the point that you can no longer distinguish the truth and, since you are having so many issues, they will tell you to go see a therapist. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have done that. He’s now using it against me to tell the court I’m unfit to take care of our daughter when, in fact, he’s the one who is unfit and doesn’t give a damn for our daughter. Be aware: They will use everything and any little thing against you, whether you end up in court or not.)

The therapist didn’t help. She gave me and taught me some tools to deal with the anxiety attacks; however, you cannot treat a symptom forever. You have to get to the root cause and she was not equipped for that.

That’s the problem with many therapists out there: They are not trained to see or look for Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. They don’t dig enough looking for other possible symptoms suffered by the abused person. They see depression; they see anxiety or panic attacks; they see rapid weight loss or gain; they see ticks, phobias, fear, insomnia, nightmares, even drug or alcohol use in some cases. But they are not trained to seek for the possibility of the other symptoms that are part of a cluster of symptoms that most NPD victims may display.

I am not talking to anybody anymore. Nobody can help me. What’s the point? At least he’s not hitting me and he’s not doing drugs. It could be worse, right?

I buried everything deep inside of me. I even lost my faith. I stopped praying. I stopped talking even to my most trusted friends. I stopped talking about anything related to my husband to my family abroad. Actually, they don’t even know we’re getting divorce, yet. At this point in time, I don’t want them to worry. But back then, I was extremely embarrassed.

I made it across oceans. I made it from almost nothing to be able to provide comfortably for both my mother and me. I have a lot of things I didn’t have while growing up. I made it against all odds. I was living my American dream. Why can’t I figure this out? What am I doing wrong? I’m so useless. I’m a failure. Something is definitely wrong with me. Everything I worked for, all the sacrifices I made… for what? My mother even followed me here. What have I done to her?

Guilt, fear, embarrassment, shame… They became my daily companions. I lost all hope. I was just existing. And that’s no way of living.

And then… I got pregnant. And slowly, my eyes were open. I’m now starting to believe that my daughter was the catalyst I needed, to draw strength from deep inside me. I needed to do something. My daughter deserved the woman I once was, not this shadow, this empty shell of whom I once was. If I wasn’t going to stand up for myself, then this little human being who kept growing inside of me was going to make it possible.

I swallowed my pride and I reached out to a friend to whom I had not spoken in almost 2 years. And she gave me the key I needed. Not only she didn’t mind that I had not kept in touch, she didn’t have any hard feelings for my having done that. Moreover, she said “he’s a narcissist.”

He’s a narcissist… He is a narcissist? Narcissist? What is that?

That, my friend, is the light you have been searching for all along. Now walk to it. It will be hard and painful at times, reaching for that light, walking to it. But you will be in the light and the light is warmth and love and hope. Now go. And do not look back. Only do so for your own healing and growth. You will blame yourself. You’ll be mad at yourself. You’ll have trouble forgiving yourself. But you will, eventually. And you’ll understand that it wasn’t your fault. You were trusting and you were deceived. You were taken advantage of and as a whole: Your body, your heart, your mind, your soul. But you’ll build it all up, piece by piece. One day at a time. Walk. Go. The light. There. Reach for it. For you, for your daughter, for both your futures. Now, go, steady, go.