What was I thinking?

By Learning2Swim

What was I thinking?

“What do you do when you’re in a relationship with someone who’s always right?” This is the question I asked of a friend of mine when I was dating my NPD.

It was not a criticism of the woman I was dating, rather, it was praise. I actually believed that she was always right. She was so good that even though I observed the pattern of “outcomes” from our disagreements, and further, even though I observed the unlikely nature of her perfection, I still believed it. She had me from the beginning.

When an outsider sees the details of an abusive marriage they often wonder how the submissive partner would ever choose to be in a relationship like that. On some level, they ask themselves, “How could they be so stupid?” The usual answer is that the aggressive partner is not always that way, or at least did not used to be that way.

“They used to be so wonderful and charming.”

In my case, and I think probably in most cases—even those that rationalize with the above explanation—this is not true. It is true that my NPD is not always demonstrating manipulative, dishonest, self-absorbed, emotionally destructive or any of the many narcissistic disordered personality characteristics… but she always has.

A key characteristic of NPD is that they put others down in order to elevate themselves. Usually, it is only in the mind of the NPD that they are shown more favorably (even if they think that everyone sees it), but as it relates to why I married my wife it worked on me too.

I did not get married to my NPD because I though she was wonderful, I married her because I thought I was awful, or at least that having any doubt that I loved her meant that I was a bad person. But I didn’t want to be a bad person, so I thought, “I must love her.”

When I came to this realization, I shared it with a few people that I had been confiding in. They looked at me like I was crazy (well, like they were trying NOT to look at me like I was crazy). I don’t think they believed that what I was saying was real. I don’t think they understood it because I don’t think they thought it was possible. I have a feeling that the readers of this website will understand because they know it’s possible.

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7 Responses to What was I thinking?

  1. PhoenixRising says:

    This is an interesting post, Learning2Swim, and I thank you for sharing it.

    What was always ironic to me was that when my Ex would lie, cheat or make choices that were clearly hurtful and selfish, he would harbor resentment for me for “being right” to object or upset. I had that accusation “you’re always right” thrown in my face like a judgment, as if it were a fault…like I was selfish for not pretending what he did wasn’t wrong, so I didn’t have to be right again.

    Like being right had nothing to do with what choices we made, but who’s turn it was!

    What’s so frustrating about narcissistic relationships is that they are CONVOLUTED. With regular selfish folks, there’s at least some line of logic or agreement on what’s real or not. With narcissism there is no agreement, except the agreement that the narcissist is without blame, without flaw and always justified in whatever they do.

    You’re right. It is hard for others to understand unless they’ve seen it or been in such a relationship. But for those of us who have, you have an understanding audience.

  2. Learning2Swim says:

    Ahh, the narcissist’s projection… I know what you’re saying, Phoenix. Somehow, she was always right, everything was always my fault, but she accused me of never admitting to being wrong and never accepting blame. I’ve been vaguely aware of the term “narcissism” for most of my life, but it wasn’t until my NPD labeled me a narcissist that I really looked into what it was. At first, I was terribly disturbed because I did see elements of narcissism in myself, even though my therapist assured me that everyone has narcissistic characteristics to some extent or from time to time. But the more I learned about it the more I thought… “wait a minute… I recognize this personality very well… I married her!”

    Your statement about NPD’s being convoluted and completely lacking in any kind of logic or even reality really hits home. I’m going through a divorce right now. WOW! She’s even surprising me with some of the stuff she’s pulling, and her “rationale.” Divorcing her is even more draining that being married to her.

    Your statement that the “narcissist is without blame, without flaw and always justified in whatever they do” reminded me about when she told me that “the difference between us is that I choose not to be a victim of my life.” I laughed out loud at the (presumably) unintended truth of the statement. She’s absolutely right… she not only chooses, she INSISTS that she is not a victim of her own life (or choices) but of MY life. Oh… that was a hard one to resist the temptation to engage with her, but I’m proud to say that I let it go. (Admittedly, there are plenty of other instances that I’m not so proud of because I didn’t let it go.)

  3. hangingbyathread says:

    Oh. You are SO right Learning2Swim…divorcing a narcissist is far worse than being married to one. I cannot get my NPD to compromise on anything such that divorce can be had. He is draining me financially as well as emotionally. He is the one who initially protested that we could not resolve matters of parenting/custody etc out of court, and yet, he has been the one “taking me to court” ever since, at every opportunity. Part of the reason, I am certain, is that I am a licensed attorney,albeit unemployed at this moment, so come hell or high water he is going to beat me, “the lawyer” at “my own game”, or what he thinks is my game. And sadly, he has been winning every court battle so far, why I don’t know, as my lawyer is excellent. win the battles, lose the war? All I want is a divorce, but he can’t seem to let me/things go for the sake of our little girl. It is, after all, ALL ABOUT HIM.

  4. Learning2Swim says:

    Fortunately (sort of) for me, we haven’t been in a court room. We did go to “mediation” in which literally every issue that was discussed was resolved exactly the way she wanted it to be. I went into that meeting feeling bad for her because I thought, “Finally, someone with real sense will tell her what an idiot she’s being–albeit diplomatically.” The mediator did agree with me, that she’s being an idiot (at least on some issues) but was adamant that she has every right to be an idiot. I told my lawyer after that experience that I will never again participate in a process that is more concerned with finding *A* resolution than finding a resolution that is in the best interest of my kids. They didn’t even pretend they were interested in the kids best interests.

    My lawyer tells me that’s pretty much how the courts deal with it too. They take a quick, “cookie-cutter” approach rather than considering any reasonable arguments. In fact, my biggest issue with the whole process is that I present what I think is a reasonable, logical solution or idea and it’s shot down with no explanation. I’m confident in my ability to find fair and reasonable answers, but I do know that I can be wrong. In fact, I spent five years thinking I was always wrong. So, while I’d still be upset if I “lost” an argument for a reason I disagreed with… it’s an entirely different matter when I’m not given a reason at all, and there was no counter-argument.

    Anyway, now we’re going to try financial arbitration. I’m hoping that an accountant, used to dealing with numbers, will appreciate logic. We’ll see.

  5. Survivor says:

    Someone said something recently to me that you can always change the gender and it will work for whomever. ” I met Mr. Right, but didn’t realize his first name was Always.” That is true narcissism for you. I found out my exNPD cared about two things, control and money. The entitlement for both was always there. Be strong. I am always reminded by those around me that the situation is not permanent. I try to remind myself of that when I am very frustrated with the NPD’s mentality.

  6. jonsid says:

    Well of course by saying you thought she was always right you are actually saying you thought you were always wrong, or at least you were prone to having doubts about your “rightness.” I hope you don’t think I’m being critical because I’m not. I’ve been through what would seem to be almost identical experiences, albeit a few years ago. It was frankly a nightmare and I really don’t want to go into the court appearances, CAFCASS, psychiatrists etc that I had to tolerate in order to have just some time with my kids. The only crime and weakness I was actually guilty of was choosing the wrong person to get involved with and certainly to share children with.

    My belief is that people (like us?) who are perhaps over dependent on approval and acceptance from others, but especially from those we believe are “on our side” are like lambs to the slaughter when we encounter those with possible personality disorders. I know now that what I needed was someone who would understand me and help me gain some self-confidence and self-respect by showing me support, encouragement, love and acceptance.

    What I got was someone who I suspect understood me but saw me as someone to be dominated, humiliated, manipulated, used and very nearly destroyed in the process. I STRONGLY recommend that you go to very minimal contact with your ex, insist all communication is by text, writing or email, refuse to engage in any communication whatsoever but especially when the kids are there and get written confirmation of all handover times, holiday contact etc.

    As your ex senses her ability to control or manipulate you is weakening her tactics will gradually start to become more obvious, veering from anger to blame to guilt-tripping to friendly approaches, sometimes all in the same day. Simply refuse to react or engage and gradually (and I mean gradually) you will become free of her control.

    One of my ex’s favouraite sayings whenever I confronted her on something she’d said or done was an absolute refusal to discuss it, explain it or even admit it had happened, always hiding behind the blanket statement “I’m stronger than you.” Looking back this perhaps demonstrates that with people like this EVERYTHING is about control and domination.

    Well I now see she wasn’t stronger, merely more unreasonable, self-centred, uncaring and probably damaged. She’s someone else’s problem now, my loyalty and commitment now is to myself and my kids and ensuring they have as balanced an upbringing as I can. Good luck with yours too.

  7. PhoenixRising says:

    Hi jonsid, and welcome! I am SO sorry! but your comment never made it to the email account all first time comments go to. It wasn’t until I was updating this blog’s software this evening that I discovered this comment waiting to be approved within my admin panel so…I am SO sorry it’s taken this long to post!

    Anyway, I do want to welcome you, and thank you for sharing your insights here.

    You are so right about “lambs to slaughter”, when dealing with people with personality disorders. Because they do understand people. Just because they are not capable of empathy does not mean they don’t understand need or what people desire and how to manipulate that.

    Personality disordered individuals can smell vulnerability like a bloodhound on the scent. It is all about control, and as they sense they are losing it, they will intensify in their reactions to your growing empowerment.

    Like you said, jonsid, you need to take precaution not to react. As hard as that seems and is, it’s really one of the most important things you can do…unless another response is called for.

    I think what’s important is that whatever you do you do without emotional attachment. I actually kicked my ex out of my house the other day when he started into his verbal abuse. It really caught him by surprise, but I did it without any emotional response. Just cut him off and told him to get out, and when he looked at me stunned, I said he didn’t get to come into my house and unload on me like that, and to get out.

    He left…not without making a threatening statement, but it was lame, and he did decide to go into a “victim” mode afterward a week or so, but it was kind of amusing in a rather sad sort of way.

    Anyway, it’s back to “normal” again…not sure if that’s good or what.

    And I hear you when you say your ex is someone else’s problem now, as is mine. I do feel sorry for her at times, and sometimes it’s so weird to have this perspective on how he used to treat me.

    But like you, I have to focus on myself and my children. And create a place of peace within me and in my life. I’ve lived with the stress and anxiety of being in such relationship for too long.

    I deserve better.

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