Saying "Yes": How I Got My Life Back After a Marriage Filled With "NO"
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By Mary Russell, Guest Author - August 16, 2017


Being married to a narcissist meant that I became more and more isolated because me having fun was not fun for him.


Last night I went to a concert with some friends and their kids, it was a last minute invitation and not really a concert I would have gone to by choice. My old self would have said no, as it would have been too much effort and I would have convinced myself I wouldn’t really enjoy it. But recently I have made a new policy of saying yes to every invitation and boy am I glad I went! It was so much fun to dance and sing, wave my hands in the air (like I just don’t care) and to let go and enjoy the moment.

In my marriage, I had a lifetime of saying, "no."

Being married to a narcissist meant that I became more and more isolated because me having fun was not fun for him. There were numerous times when we did go out that I did something wrong (walked too far ahead of him going into the venue, spent too much time talking with someone he didn’t like, drank too much wine, etc.) and what should have been an enjoyable evening ended up feeling uncomfortable and tense. 

I would always have to be on my best behavior so as to not ‘embarrass’ him, so it was easier not to go out. My children knew that if they asked Daddy for anything the answer would invariably be ‘no’, so they would always try to get me to intervene and get the answer to ‘yes’ – I did sometimes succeed.

I went from isolation and depression to an active social life.

When we finally separated, I initially isolated myself. I needed the time and space to recover from the shock of finally escaping an abusive marriage, adjusting to single living and having my kids only 50% of the time and to getting sober. But then the loneliness kicked in and with that, I felt my depression kicking back into gear, so I decided to start getting a life again. In the beginning, I was quite picky as to what I would say yes to – partially because I was in early stages of recovery and needed to avoid situations where alcohol was available in abundance. But then I started to emerge from my shell and decided to get out more. I joined an online dating site, I went to AA meetings, volunteered at school, I attended parties where I hardly knew people and slowly I found myself being invited out more and more often.

At first, it was hard to find the motivation to go out. My old self would try and convince me to cancel or reschedule, and that is still often true now. But I decided that I could not hide anymore. I needed to bring joy back into my life so I began to accept all invitations. There were parties where I left early because I wasn’t having so much fun and dates that I knew were going nowhere, but mostly I found I was having a great time and I rediscovered my social self.

I found myself feeling valued as a friend, a companion, as a person – something I never felt in my marriage. I have found new friends, become closer to old friends and rediscovered things I used to love to do that I didn’t have the energy to enjoy before. I am able to go out without having the specter of my ex hanging over me, judging me, making me feel like I don’t really deserve to have a nice time.

Now I never turn down an invitation if I can make it, I say yes to everything. I don’t think about whether or not it will be something I will like or not because you never know until you try it. And that is how I ended up in a Boogie Wonderland last night and it was wonderful!

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