I am married to a narcissist. At least, I believe I am married to a narcissist. It’s hard for me to be sure of anything anymore. Truth is I have been under the influence of narcissists since before I was born.
From what I can tell, my grandfather was a narcissist. My stepfather was an un-medicated bipolar and a paranoid schizophrenic and I believe, narcissistic as well. My ex husband is clearly a narcissist. And just recently, having discovered what NPD really looks like (despite having a master’s degree in counseling), I believe I am, once again, married to a narcissist.
The problem is, I have been so twisted and manipulated and victimized by narcissistic abuse my whole life that I have been trained to not be able to see the truth.
When they distort my words, and negate my feelings and point the finger at me for all the things they are doing, I believe them. I wonder if I am the narcissist. I know I feel upside down and crazy half the time. I know my relationships are on roller coasters. I know I feel abused and confused when I try to express myself and end up walking away thinking that I have done something or am something or am not something I am supposed to do or be.
In the beginning, my relationship was magical. He was the white knight that swept in and saved me from my narcissistic and abusive ex. He was romantic, charming, confidant, charismatic; he was a Harvard law school graduate and had accomplished wonderful things. He was educated and brilliant (he said his IQ was that of genius), and we could talk for hours. At least when we weren’t having phenomenal sex!
That was new to me, and I couldn’t get enough of him.
But the truth I have come to discover is none of this was real; he was not real. He was two-dimensional; a cardboard cutout of a man. His emotions didn’t ring true; didn’t match his behavior. His need for approval and praise began to swallow me up. He was my Velveteen Rabbit. If not for my belief in what he wanted me to see (and what I desperately needed to see), the man I thought he was; the relationship I thought we had was not real at all.
Looking back, I can see that slowly, indecipherably over time, something changed; something else swept in and replaced that magical time. I don’t think it happened all at once; at least, I didn’t see it happen. I just know that more and more often I noticed myself feeling like a dethroned princess. Here and there, I discovered him flirting with other women; trying to rekindle the flame with his ex. When I confronted it, I was the problem. If I showed him more affection. If I didn’t argue so much. If I…
And then there were the times he abandoned me. But that’s another story. I felt consumed, digested and regurgitated. And my response to abandonment was never freedom, but to feed myself back to the narcissist, when he would take me, like a mother bird to her baby.
Still, it is crazy in my head. He tells me he’s done; he won’t take the abuse any longer; not interested in going to counseling. We have a two year old, and now we find ourselves trying to figure out what to do with the broken pieces of a fantasy that just don’t seem to fit together anymore. If you don’t believe, the magnificent Velveteen Rabbit is just a pile of tattered cloth and old stuffing. And for all my years of deluding myself, now that I have seen the face of NPD, I can’t make myself believe anymore.
Every sing-song happy utterance out of his mouth makes me cringe. I think that is even worse than the coldness and finger pointing and twisting of words. Over the years, I have mastered the silencing of my gut and I could never figure out how to leave. Now, I’m not sure how to stay.
But it scares me to death to trust myself with this important decision, or really any decision at all. Do I take a leap of faith and listen that gut inside me? Or am I truly the crazy one; the self-deceived? The more I read and learn and listen to the stories out there just like mine, the more I connect intellectually with the truth that I am married to a narcissist.
As Sam Vaknin says: “Narcissists are narcissists. Take them or leave them. Some of them are lovable. Most of them are highly charming and intelligent. The source of the misery of the victims of the narcissist is their disappointment, their disillusionment, their abrupt and tearing and tearful realisation that they fell in love with an ideal of their own making, a phantasm, an illusion, a fata morgana. This ‘waking up’ is traumatic. The narcissist is always the same. It is the victim who changes.”
For me, the facts are there, but this awakening is such a bitter pill to swallow that I keep choking it back up in self-doubt.