how to stop trauma bonding

The Time I Agreed to be a Second Wife

I am going to share something with you today.

Something I’ve only shared with a few of my clients.

Something that takes a lot of guts to disclose, and in fact, that I’ve debated doing for some time.

Something that is alarming when I reflect upon the potential repercussions I might have suffered had I stayed in my marriage to a Narcissist.

It’s embarrassing, awkward, and makes me feel a little nauseous and highly vulnerable in the sharing…

I once agreed to be my ex-husband’s second wife. 

How did that happen?  The same way it happens with other narcissistic abuse victims when they attempt to go No Contact and then, aren’t able to manage the cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with trauma-bonding…and agree to “be friends” or consciously make the choice to be with that person regardless of the fact that the narcissist has a new partner.

Those who find my page often don’t realize the extent to which I was once addicted, sick, and suffering from the absolute worst forms of cognitive dissonance, emotional regression, repetition compulsion, and learned helplessness

By all accounts, I was a hopeless basket-case.  My friends and family had given up any hope that I would ever leave.

So had I, for that matter.

Back then, I didn’t know anything about narcissism or how to stop trauma bonding.  All I knew was that I was unhappy, sometimes suicidal, and that it appeared my life would never change.

My husband and I separated when our son was almost two.  I was the one who asked for it.  His response was to go back to his country.  In about a month’s time, I later discovered, he was already married to another woman. 

Initially, I was glad that he was gone.  I began making positive changes in my life.  My relationship with my children improved.  I started going out and enjoying life again.

Narcissistic Abuse Causes a Biological Addiction

That all lasted for about four months.  Then, the withdrawal kicked in and I spiraled into a path of self-destruction of the worst kind.

I started sending occasional emails, which then turned into a campaign of trying to convince my husband that we should reconcile.  (Note – you should NEVER have to convince anyone of your worth).  At first, he declined, but after persistence on my part, he finally agreed to give it a try…with conditions, of course.

  • I had to accept all responsibility for our separation and the events leading up to it and admit my “crimes” to his family
  • Since he had no plans on returning to the US, it was up to me to buy a plane ticket for myself and our son (with no financial assistance from him)
  • I had to agree to be a second wife since he’d already remarried
  • Since I was finishing classes to be an Elementary school teacher, I had to obtain special permission to do my student teaching in his country. I contacted about thirty different schools, and had to arrange the whole thing through my college’s placement department
  • I signed a post-nup basically waiving all of my rights to any type of support, insurance, property, etc.

Sick, right?  Yep, I was as sick and addicted as they come…

That wasn’t the end of it.  Once I arrived at his home, the worst was about to happen.  He began to leave me at night to go out with his other wife.  Imagine, being in a foreign country with no means of transportation, and waiting around for the person you love to come back home to you.

I bet you can imagine it.  I’d further bet that some of you have acquiesced to similar situations with the narcissist in your life.  That’s how some become the Other Woman (or the Other Man).

But, what once seemed like the worst rock-bottom I could bear turned out to be a blessing.  It was my catalyst for waking up and taking my life back into my own hands.

And you can, too.  Below is how I was able to finally break free:

How to Stop Trauma Bonding

  • Realizing I deserved more than being someone’s second wife
  • Accepting that I am a precious being who deserves respect and compassion
  • Understanding I’d had the power to leave all along
  • Acknowledging that while my then-husband treated me like an encumbrance, there were lots of other people who recognized my worth
  • Discovering that I’d contributed to this because I’d failed to establish healthy boundaries
  • Vowing to stop putting his needs before my own
  • Making the choice to set a healthy example of relationships for my children – by LEAVING the person who mistreated me
  • Remembering the person I was before I met him
  • Understanding that I had issues that needed to be resolved within myself so that I’d NEVER stand for such mistreatment again
  • Letting go of his perceived opinion of me
  • Recognizing that things would NEVER change

A dysfunctional relationship is very damaging and unless the dysfunction is acknowledged and corrected, you will likely go from one toxic relationship to another, because that’s what feels most comfortable to you on an unconscious level.  I mean, we wouldn’t consciously choose to be mistreated, right?  But feeling unloved can cause you to act irrationally, and normalizing abuse is very irrational.

I’m living proof that trauma-bonding and Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome can be overcome.  If my story sounds similar to yours, it’s time for you to seek a professional counselor and a coach who has survived this type of abuse.  Recovery requires correcting codependent thoughts and behaviors, healing wounds from childhood, and rewriting your narrative script.

Of course, in order for any of the above to be helpful, you’ll first need to break free.

Learn how to start healing from trauma bonds.  Register for the free Master Class:



  1. Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing your story. So glad you got out of there and are doing this work to help so many people. I’ve closed all my social media loopholes and have had zero contact for eleven days. Mine was a six month relationship and now that I’ve read a lot about narcissism, he fits the bio of an altruistic narcissist to a tee. I’m doing art therapy at a centre for abuse survivors, will get into a group on interpersonal relationships and am going to al-anon because I believe he was a functional alcoholic and he reminded me of my father in that way and workaholism.

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Anon, sounds like you’ve mapped out a great recovery plan for yourself. Wishing you all the best!

      Kim XoXo

  2. Irene


    I was not a “second wife” but I lived with him and at one point when we were on our typical “break-up and get back together again” cycle he started telling everyone we were just friends (even though we lived together and shared the same bed). I allowed this because I thought that if he felt less burdened by our relationship that we would get along better. But what it really meant was that he was entitled to have whatever he wanted from me and that I gave up expecting or asking for anything from him. And I agreed to it. Because I loved him and I wanted it to work out. It took me some distance to be able to see this and admit it to myself. Thank you for your post–I feel a bit less pathological after reading it.

  3. I thank you for sharing your experience. I’ve been working my way up to sharing the full story about the relationshit with him, stalling out due to some shame, and fear of judgment. The bits I have shared in groups, and with one of my friends, I’ve realized that what I initially agreed to is not unusual for them. I will write it out.

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  5. Laura

    Kim can I ask are you therapist?

    I really need to seek talk to someone but in my country pretty hard to find someone who is Professional and empathic… important!

    yes those are my issues too I need to solve

    1. Kim Saeed

      Hi Laura, thank you so much for reading and reaching out.

      To answer your question, no I am not a therapist, though I am considering that path. I was with a Narcissist for 8 years, came close to destruction, and found my way to happiness on the other side.

      It wasn’t an easy journey. It takes dedication, time, money, and commitment to heal oneself from this type of abuse. There are some great therapists out there that are helpful in this specific situation, but normally they are better at helping with depression, anxiety, and PTSD that stems from the abuse…though not really helpful with healing from the abuse itself.

      Transformational healing is the best way to heal from Narcissistic abuse. Methods for this include activities such as meditations, energy healing (reiki massage, chakra balancing, accupuncture, etc.) and subconscious mind healing, among others.

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  7. Surayya

    I will share this to all here. My uncle had behaved in such bad manner too,but with him it was the other way round. He was married to my aunt, in his country, and they have two kids. He came to United States for opportunities and married an american woman from here.. His family , his wife were not aware but close family friend ,upon visit to States, saw him with his new wife and was shocked. He informed his family back home , all were devastated. It has been nine years, he now has kid with his new wife, but he refuses to divorce his first wife so she can go back to her parents and who knows re marry, it is her right! Since he refuses to divorce her and has not gone back to visit his family and his kids, she has to stay with her in laws. How fair is this for his first wife. And yes his new wife here is aware of it but cares less . I don’t communicate with him because I am disgusted with this behavior and I feel so sorry for his wife and kids. There are other ways the women can ask for divorce without having his approval since he has not been with her for all these years. My family are very good , they want her to be free, but I guess they were all hoping he will realize he has family there and will return but it did not happen and it does not seem likely he will in near future. Down to such men or women out there who play with other’s lives and emotions.

  8. Surayya

    I know of someone who ended up like your situation and than ended up in another relationship with a narcissist and now she is with him , aware he has his other supplies I thought one would learn lesson from one bad experience , only lord knows why she stays in another bad relationship.

  9. Surayya

    Kim, thank you for sharing your story. I was like” NO WAY!!” but I know what you mean and what type you talking about! they believe they can have more than one but they use it to their use and manipulate their women. Only for sexual pleasure. I am surprised how you managed to return back to States. For some it isn’t easy and they get stuck there. Did he let you go easy? Well whether anyone agreed or agrees to be second wife, it is not different than them having more supplies when they were with. But you were his first anyways and his other wife back home was his supply. Wow I felt the chill when I read your story, you went there and I felt relieved you came back. I just want to awake one day and have no thoughts of his existence and that one day where i say to myself I don’t care if he is alive or dead. No sympathy nor condolences from me.
    My question though, how long ,until we recover , we can start dating? Can anyone of you share your experiences Dating after a relationship with a narcissist ? Are you able to trust again? Did anyone of you find love again? Will we ever find true love ?

    1. Surayaa,

      What I can contribute to your post is that you can find love again. I was with my ex for about 7 years or so. It was a roller-coaster ride. But today, I am married to a man (for almost 12 years) who is pretty much the opposite. He is my best friend, my confidante and I trust him with all that I am. He is very understanding regarding my PTSD, depression, anxiety and chronic pain and is constantly supportive as I told him all that I’ve been through – with my parents and my ex. So there is hope. 🙂

      1. Surayya

        firenice84 thank you so much for your encouraging words and vote of confidence. I had read somewhere what you vibe is what you attract. I am sure at some point of time in my life I was weak and had no self worth and I sent the vibe out there I am vulnerable and I will settle for anything , thus this horrible good for nothing narcissist came into my life. How far this is true I don’t know. But yes because I had absolute no self worth I settled for very less when I my have missed the person who was standing right there in front of me who would have loved!! wow I now can smile and chuckle and nurse my broken heart that it will beat again but the right man will come for me thanks to you. I don’t plan to stay single. If our Lord has encouraged for us to settle with a life partner and encouraged us to seek companionship than why should I not? Oh firenice84 YOU MADE MY DAY. I can now smile

      2. Surayya

        how long until you found your true love , the man of your dreams who treats you right?

        1. Kim Saeed


          I didn’t find the man of my dreams until I’d healed my core issues, which included codependency, fear of abandonment, and the low self-esteem that comes with those two conditions. Until we heal ourselves from those, we keep attracting toxic people.

          I’m happy to say that I now have a very loving and caring partner who treats me like a queen 🙂

      3. Surayya,

        I am so glad that I managed to make you smile and made your day! Hearing that has certainly made mine.

        My husband and I were friends while I was with the narcissist. He helped me through a lot. After I broke the engagement to the narcissist, we ended up taking things to a new level and here we are together.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this, Kim! It provides a great sense of hope that we all can move on from where we are right now if we put in the work, just like you have spectacularly done!

    I can only imagine how hard it would have been. Apart from being abused by narcissists in my family of origin, I also had a toxic relationship which lasted 7 years. I remember the countless times forgiving him for his straying. His excuse was pathetic “Her name was your middle name and she looked like you”. We had broken up at that time. He eventually offered me a job. Because I was the only one responsible for running the whole office, I came across the business registration. One of the owners was a woman who had his last name. I asked him about it and his response was “If a woman wanted to take on my last name, what can I do about it?” I cried to my best friend over the phone. She offered to check the registry of marriages, but I said that there was no need. I believe that I had secretly known, but I didn’t want it to be confirmed so that I could stay blissfully unaware (somewhat). Imagine being told by the landlord of the business premises that he and his wife were celebrating their son’s first birthday and asked if I was going. I was gobsmacked. A very good friend kept me company that evening. Because I was staying in the apartment that was rented by his company, he had stored his alcohol there. He almost physically abused my friend, just because he was male and I had to placate his jealousy. Looking back on it now, how stupid was I? He was collecting alcohol from the apartment because he was celebrating his son’s first birthday with his WIFE. It hurt more because of the pregnancy terminations I had when he deliberately made me pregnant to stay with him.

    1. Surayya

      OMG firenice!!!!! you too went through something similar to what Kim did? when you say his wife middle name was same as Kim’s I know where you getting. You mentioned alcohol. Sad is it not. I know my religion well and these men think they can take only what is to their benefits and say but God allowed it. I have heard so many times same s…from men I have come across at my workforce and where I used to go to college. I turn around ask them okay so according to you guys God has allowed multiple wives, so you go out and get yourselves multiple partners , but firstly you guys use it to your advantage ,for physical pleasure , when that is not the true reason it has been recommended. Secondly God has forbidden alcohol so why don’t you follow that rule? Shame on such men. All I know God is watching, and in our language a proverb, God gives a person long rope to finally hang himself or herself at the end of the day. What you sow so shall you reap. Very tragic for such men to use other women and say God has allowed it. God has titled a whole chapter in our Holy Book, THE WOMEN, God has stated how to treat WOMEN. Another title in our holy book, is DIVORCE. another full chapter, pertaining to rules for divorce and how a man should treat his women during separation period and even after divorce. Such men don’t follow these rules but when it comes to having more than one wives, they jump into it than turn around and hurt their first women! I have absolutely no sympathy for such men and If i was to hear such men are going downhill in their lives i can only say I will celebrate.

      1. Hi Surayya,

        Yes, unfortunately I have been in a similar situation to Kim. Sorry if I was unclear, but what I meant was that my ex’s excuse for having an affair was that the woman he was having an affair with had the same first name as my middle name. He was implying that he was only with her as an extension of me because we had broken up. I’m not sure when exactly he got with her.

        Karma’s come back to bite him in the ass right now, but I don’t feel like gloating. I’m actually feeling sorry for him. The woman from all those years ago has still been in his life even though he’s married. She is creating all sorts of hassles for him. He was recently in police custody for a few days.

    2. Laura

      “Apart from being abused by narcissists in my family of origin, I also had a toxic relationship which lasted 7 years”

      Oh YES too familia here too…

      But you see… when we get out…and I hope that I will too. cause I was broken so many times so many ways that I feel my lives :)) joke almost over… but I keep fighting! 🙂

      sme here similar story..we are so used to …sometimes I wish I had a Gun

      I know what Id do with it 4 sure. there are creatures so black in thiw world…. so sad, bad many of us had to meet So many of them

      But when we DO GET OUT… we have more experience depth compassion strength… that 50 y old has…our OWN story. And it deserves to be told

  11. Carrie Reimer

    Kim, thank you for sharing, it takes courage to share honestly but it is so helpful for other people going through it to see they are not the only one who has done “crazy” things in the name of “love”. I too have pondered on whether to share certain details but have never regretted it because whenever I do the response from readers is always understanding and gratitude.
    I think every single victim of abuse (narc/psycho) has done things they are ashamed of, to know we are not alone is a huge step in recovery. Losing the shame and knowing we are all human.
    Good on you! Hugs

  12. May Desert Flower

    Thank you for sharing this Kim and I applaud your courage.
    I’m really glad I found your blog :)))
    I’m ashamed to admit that I almost also found myself in a similar situation…except having already known I was the “other woman” based on mutual codependency and countless promises. But seeing that no serious steps from his side will ever be taken to leave the first one, I distanced myself, and it is one of the reasons why I took the decision to leave my country very soon.
    The main narcissist in my case is my father so that will take a while to recover from

  13. You only shared that you’re human, but the integral and gripping part of your story is the immense power of trauma bonding. I don’t believe anyone wants to be abused, or to continue being devalued, neglected, or diminished. Calling this kind of thing brainwashing is such an understatement.

    You’ve not only moved on, you’ve revealed your battle scars as markers and trails of hope for others. Well done, you.

  14. This scenario is so familiar to me. I thought I was alone in agreeing to a similar arrangement. I thought I was alone in the shame. It’s odd how we come to live as if these situations are acceptable. I don’t want to risk falling back into something like this, so I stay alone with my three black cats. I feel safe and content. And no more shame.

  15. Donna

    Thank you Kim. There are those people who will say to me, “How COULD you have put up with this or that?” You know how we could, and did, put up with so much. You are helping me move ahead. It hurts, it’s painful, but with no contact for 3 1/2 months I can see how much better recovery is then if I were talking to him. I have a restraining order and he is a coward, only praying on women and children, so he won’t break it. He did call and email at first, but I had my attorney remind him that he can’t do that. Still no court date–and I wake up at night in a panic that he will somehow lie his way into getting money from me.

  16. Reblogged this on myplace2spu and commented:
    So a huge ginormous thanks for your courage to share. you are helping. you are changing lives. you are making a difference. Thank you.

  17. Laurie Julie

    Brave, insightful, worthy of true love, tough as nails. You are a strong and beautiful soul. As one who knows the horror and viciousness, the indifference and pathological behavior of this sub-human who steals our souls, I applaud you loudly.
    The key is understanding why we allow this treatment. Recognize where the insecurity and low self worth came from and work like mad, like our life depends on it, to understand our past traumas. It’s quite a process but so, so worth it.
    Thank you so much for opening up about this and trusting us to understand it all.
    All the best-

  18. Thanks so much for sharing such a deeply private experience from your past, you are always an inspiration for me to try even harder.
    I have recently started my journey back to myself and it is scary and unfamiliar territory!

    Can’t go no contact coz i’m under husband’s sponsorship, but i would love to be able to do it. Meantime I’ve distanced myself from him as much as possible mentally, physically etc. for the last 3 weeks and he has suddenly turned into somewhat of a gentleman again (trauma bonding techniques i recognize) with slip-ups now and then.

    Reading your material is motivating and educational.
    Thanks again <3
    Liz the Slayer (Inner-Revival)

  19. healingfuture

    First and foremost I want to sincerely thank you for this website! I have been in abuse counseling for almost 2 years with a local abuse shelter and they are fantastic although nothing has every rung more true than what I have read on this site. Often I feel like you are writing about my own experience and it confirms to me that he indeed is a Narc and to work to fully accepting that he will never change who he is – not with me or anyone. I look forward to every post because it affirms how I feel and in moments where I fall into “abuse amnesia” I re-read different posts to ground myself again, When I read them I know that I too had exactly those feelings – the indescribable pull towards him, feeling the loneliness in a crowd of loved ones, taking responsibility for problems in the relationship that I actually don’t own – all in the hopes that I might be able to make him see just how much I loved him and that somehow he’d appreciate all that I have ever done for him and apologize for all the harm he’d caused. I spend so much time trying to convince him that I loved him to a point that I felt so desperate inside. Nothing describes that pain and the ache of not receiving from him what I needed so desperately (yet displayed he could give so easily to his mistresses). It ended a 14 months ago and I am really scared sometimes how this will end – meaning if it will end (the discarding cycle, the manipulation, the feeling of loss of being with my children’s father forever). As much as your story my seem extreme to some, I can totally appreciate where you were when you made those choices. It’s scary but I get where any victim can get to that point where they will take anything just to have them in their lives…you crave that interaction with them. It’s awful.
    On a positive note, I have seen the value in no contact. It is one of the hardest things to do….you feel lost and panicked at first but then it becomes freeing. My trouble has been shared children where I can go an extended period of time but then he will engage my young children and manipulate to get me on the phone where she starts dangling false carrots again that he has no intention on following through on (part of his bait then the discard once you start to let your guard down). It’s really tough and has forced me to limit interactions with the kids because he has been behaving similarly with them too now. Thank you again for this site! Could you maybe write an article on how to co-parent with a narc ex? How to allow healthy access esp while going no contact?

  20. Great and brave post. Thank you for sharing. I recognize myself in your words though my issues and addictions played out differently. Thanks again. What you do is very meaningful and helpful.

    1. Kim Saeed

      Thank you so much, Inspired. It was hard to post this, but I thought it needed to be shared with my readers and followers. No matter how hopeless life can seem at times, there’s always hope for redemption (metaphorically speaking :D).

  21. No one can really see how bad we have suffered unless they have lived it. Many people shake their heads at me for staying in my emotionally abusive relationship, yet I have my reasons and I am fine. You are brave to write the words that needed to be said. It sounds like a soap opera. Sorry, it is sad. You are a survivor. Applause is needed. Meghan

  22. Grant

    Kim. Your posts continue to be central in my recovery. Congratulations for putting out the truth of co-dependency. You are a model for others, showing that life can be different and happy.

    1. Kim Saeed

      Thank you for sharing that with me, Grant.

      Many people have shared their stories with me, so as a coach, I felt it was only right to let everyone know the place I’m coming from. I hope that in doing so, I can shatter any feelings of shame for others that may be going through similar experiences…as well as highlight that escape and recovery are possible.

      Thank you for being a dedicated follower. It means a lot…

  23. aves

    Thank you for demonstrating so much courage by sharing your story, Kim.

    One comment: it’s so difficult to find any professional psychotherapist or mental health professional who can effectively help one with recovering from narcissistic abuse. For me, energetic healing seems to be the only way to go ie Melanie Tonia Evans’ NARP. Hers of course, is just one of many energetic shifting methods that are available.

    Seems to me that recovery from an experience so destructive is an inside job, not based on cognitive processing, but on energetic shifting.

    Thank you again for sharing your story.


    1. Kim Saeed

      Thank you for being so kind, Aves.

      You are correct. It’s often very hard to find a traditional therapist who can help in narcissistic abuse recovery. I typically recommend them for conditions such as PTSD, depression, phobias, and the like. But, to be fair, there are some great ones out there who know all about Narcissists, but they are difficult to find. Personally, I went to about seven before giving up and taking matters into my own hands, which included energy healing.

      Yes, many people have received great relief from Melanie’s program. I really like that she offers a 30-day guarantee. I also believe whole-heartedly in healing codependence and childhood wounds.

      Thank you for stopping by…always a pleasure.


  24. This is an incredibly brave thing to post Kim. I’m at a loss for words to say more…

  25. jess

    You are brave, and you are amazing. Thank you for sharing this with us:)

  26. I applaud your courage and willingness to be vulnerable. I know the struggle to heal and to reacquaint yourself with you. You have clearly done the hard work. Thank you for sharing your journey wth us.

    1. Kim Saeed

      Thank you, 1smiles…I remember your story, too, and the struggles you faced in your own journey. You’ve shown great courage and I hope it’s all paid off for you. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It means a lot.

  27. lizztheslayer

    Thanks so much for sharing such a deeply private experience from your past, you are always an inspiration for me to try even harder.
    I have recently started my journey back to myself and it is scary and unfamiliar territory!

    Can’t go no contact coz i’m under husband’s sponsorship, but i would love to be able to do it. Meantime I’ve distanced myself from him as much as possible mentally, physically etc. for the last 3 weeks and he has suddenly turned into somewhat of a gentleman again (trauma bonding techniques i recognize) with slip-ups now and then.

    Reading your material is motivating and educational.
    Thanks again <3
    Liz the Slayer (Inner-Revival)

    1. Kim Saeed

      Thank you very much for your kind and encouraging words.

      I truly hope you can make it through your sponsorship with as little upset as possible. I also hope I can continue to provide encouragement in a way that helps you on a day by day basis.

      Best wishes! <3


  28. Only Me

    Thank you Kim. So courageous of you to share your story with us. Thank you! Reading it, I was thinking “OMG, she didn’t!…uh, she did!”. Well, we’ve all done things we’re not proud of, me included! Amazing how these people manage to bring out the worst behavior in us. After my D&D, I sent mine a couple of the most angry emails, and boy did I engage in narcissistic injury! LOL. This was even after he’d suggested we remain friends. I expressed my doubt that it was even possible, but I’d try. Then I began posting him on Cheater websites, exposing his pathology to the world on a blog as well. Some friend I was huh? I never asked for his worthless behind back, but I sure missed him, and goggled his name endlessly after he went low profile on me. It was painful, but I learned. I’ve worked hard to move on! Going on 3 yrs, 8 months+. I still have moments I miss him, but no, I realize I deserve better! It’s still hard sometimes, but I’m doing okay.

  29. alienorajt

    Very very brave share, Kim; thank you so much – today, this was exactly the message I needed to read. You are so right: It IS an addiction – and, like all, addictions, terrifyingly hard to break out of. But your story gives me hope, and allows me to see that there CAN be a life beyond the castles we build for ourselves and the dungeons we allow others to lock us into. xxx

    1. Kim Saeed

      Thank you for your very kind comment. Alienorajt. Looking back, I don’t even recognize myself.

      I’m very glad to know my story has inspired you. Perhaps it might give you the courage to one day cross your own bridge into a new life <3

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