One of the reasons I hung out so long with That Narcissist is that it was inconceivable to me that anyone could be as __________ (fill in the blank with any number of derogatory adjectives) as he proved to be.
Most of my friends dismissed him as an asshole early on when he joined a conversation they were having at one of my parties which involved getting seats at a movie theater. My friends don't move when someone comes in after the movie has started and expects people to move over so that s/he and his/her friend can sit together. If you want the seats of your choice, you get to the theater early. If you get there late, you take what you can get. Expecting people to move is churlish unless it's a situation where an usher is helping folks find seats at very crowded movies. A few of my good friends have been in arguments at movie theaters because they wouldn't move.
The Narcissist was of the opinion that they were jerks for not moving. They, naturally, believed he was a jerk from that day forth. It's a good thing they met at a party and not at the movies.
My friends never gave me a hard time for dating The Narcissist since they knew I was sexually intoxicated and in sober moments I was fully aware of his _________ (pejoratives). As it happened, he and I generally stayed in when we saw each other, so I only saw the way he treated people in service jobs the time we went to Florida and he was rude to the woman checking in the rent car and the driver of the airport shuttle. Otherwise I was merely stunned into disbelief occasionally.
What continues to boggle my mind is the way he could take a discussion about something that bothered me and steer it so that I ended up doubting my own judgement. Actually, the time we broke up for good is the one time I held firm in my opinion that he had mishandled a situation with his oldest son.
The boy had been with his mother to get a hair cut. The Narcissist thought his son's hair wasn't short enough since he'd need another hair cut in a month. Hair cuts cost money. The Narcissist took the boy back to the barber shop and demanded that the barber give the child another, shorter hair cut for no charge. The child was mortified by the experience and hated his hair. The mother was furious. I took their side on a Friday night in July and by Sunday afternoon, the Narcissist and I were no longer keeping company.
If I hadn't been engaged in the Battle of the Incest Issues, I would be more concerned about doubting my judgement after he said his shrink said I was wrong about the narcissist idea. I got that information while I was examining my tendency to hear neutral remarks as criticism due to erroneously believing I'm bad at heart. And I'm not surprised that I had a hard time letting go of the relationship since I had confused the Narcissist/Supply Source relationship with a true emotional connection. Now that I think about it, I was certainly connected emotionally. He wasn't attached to me personally; he was attached to being adored but I didn't understand that at the time. I'm not so sure I fully understood it until last week.
I've always believed that whenever there is a conflict, an individual must look at the situation to determine what his/her own role has been, accept responsibility and respond accordingly. We need to be willing to hear what other people have to say in all kinds of relationships - friendships, work colleague, students in your classroom, your kids, and with romantic partners and spouses.
Some of us will go overboard, however. Some of us tend to believe that if we were better, somehow, there would have never been a conflict. If we could be good enough, we would be loved. I am only just emerging from that category.
Dr. Richard Grossman discusses Narcissist/Supply Source relationships on his website Voicelessness and Emotional Survival:
People who have not been given "voice" in childhood have the lifelong task of repairing the "self." Much of this repair work involves getting people to "hear" and experience them, for only then do they have value . . . However, not just any audience will do. The observer and critic must be important and powerful, or else they will hold no sway in the world. The observer and critic must be important and powerful, or else they will hold no sway in the world . . .Who, typically, is more than willing to play the role of power broker in a relationship, doling out "voice" only insofar as it suits him/her? A narcissist, "voice hog," or otherwise oblivious and neglectful person. . . . A narcissist is often expert in yielding just enough "voice" to keep his or her victim from leaving. They grant a place in their world, if only for a day or two. The wish that this change is permanent sustains the voiceless person until the relationship regresses back to its usual pattern.
Talk about an Existential Crisis.
I'm delighted to have finally broken this pattern, but it's going to take some time before I've integrated all this experience and insight. I feel like all the ingredients are there, they just have to simmer for a while or sit in the fridge over night.
Every now and then, I catch myself back in the old pattern, wondering how I might have been better. That's when I think of his wife.
On Thursday, I learned that The Narcissist never got divorced.
He says it's too expensive, but that is blatant bullshit because they had already paid the mediator and had a signed, legal separation document. He paid her the lump sum she accepted as opposed to alimony about a year ago - right before he and I went to Florida. Under New York State Law, once a couple lives under the terms of the separation agreement for one full year all they have to do is file the papers with the court to be officially divorced. It's no big deal. Establishing the terms of the original separation agreement is the tricky part. So, clearly, he's full of shit on this score. That divorce should have been finalized months and months ago.
Since The Narcissist a confirmed control freak, we can conclude that he won't sign off on the divorce simply to torment the woman who had the nerve to want a him out of her life. It's a testimony to what a miserable human being that man is, and I'm sorry for her.
When I told my mother about seeing The Narcissist and our subsequent conversation, she said that if I had to find one man on whom to dump forty years of accumulated rage, she was glad it was him. I'm glad too.
I will be forever grateful for this experience, but I can't say I'm happy to have known The Narcissist. He has a number of attractive qualities if you're not around him much. He calls our relationship significant because it lasted so long. Other than his marriage and a college girl friend, he's never seen anyone longer than a couple of months.
I'll try to figure out the positive things that says about me so I can add them to the list of qualities that make up my identity.
Other Narcissist Posts:
Patricia and The Narcissists
Patricia and The Narcissist, part 2: or Why I Obsessed on an Asshole
Light, Shadow and Internet Porn
Life in Cinemascope
Or find the whole story at Redemption and Retribution on the Bluestar Trial
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