What I Thought Happened
I met my narc in 1988. I worked with him for 6 months, during which time I came to see him as a total dick. He treated me and other employees terribly. He was rude, sullen, uncooperative and unavailable, until he needed me for something.
Once he realized I could help him, he started the love bombing. I went from seeing him to be a total ass, to believing I had misjudged him.
Over the next several months I fell deeply in love. I discovered that he liked all of the things I liked. He loved to read, and he brought me books about “soul mates”. He loved all types of music, including jazz and classical, which were some of my favorites at that time. He was very religious, and it was essential to him that he be a good father and a good man. This was why he was struggling with his marriage. You see, he knew when he was getting married that he shouldn’t have. He knew he didn’t love her, and it was clear she was a pathological liar with a spending problem. He was trapped in an unhappy marriage, with a disturbed woman, because he wasn’t the type of man to walk away, and he couldn’t leave his son, who was 9 months when he started love-bombing me. He was victim extraordinaire. I had never met a person in such dire circumstances, especially one who held his head as high as he did.
When ruminating over the demise of his marriage his exact words were this: “I’m afraid I’ll go to pick my son up and he won’t recognize me. He won’t come running up to me yelling daddy, daddy”. At the time, this broke my heart. This poor man might lose his son because he made the unfortunate mistake of marrying a psychopath. All he wanted was a nice quiet family life, with a woman he loved and children who adored him. All he wanted was to come home at night to family dinners, then watch some family shows before bed time, at which time he’d pull out his current novel and read till lights out. All he desired on weekends was to get through household chores, and move on to family time and church. My heart broke for him. How could such a caring, sincere, intelligent, steadfast man be caught in such a predicament? What was he supposed to do? How could he leave his 1 year old son, and how could he justify leaving his son with his crazy wife? Clearly, he could not. It was his plight to live his life in misery, honoring the commitment his younger self had mistakenly made.
Over the next 6 months it became clear that he loved me. It was intoxicating. It was unlike any “romance” I had ever had. Our first kiss was the most perfect kiss I’ve ever had. I remember it as if it was yesterday, and I don’t think I’ll ever experience that type of kiss again.
That kiss sealed the deal. That was when I came to acknowledge that he was, in fact, my soul mate. It was that night that we both knew he would leave his wife and we would be together.
Thus began my life with my soul mate, the perfect man, the man who would love me more than any other human being ever could. At least that’s what I thought happened.
What Really Happened
I met my narc in 1988 and he was the King of all dicks. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to take responsibility for his job, it was that he simply didn’t care. For us over-achievers this is an alien concept. We can’t begin to fathom what goes on in the head of the narcissist. We that are sucked in by these people honestly believe that people are, for the most part, who they present themselves to be. We believe that, with the exception of the occasional Ted Bundy, most people have at least a shred of decency. We believe that if they are difficult they need better training, or they are overwhelmed by their responsibilities, or they are just in over their head. We believe that most people, even as they are stepping on you, will feel some remorse and perhaps try not to do it again.
For the narcissist though, none of that is true. He is not thinking of his job. He is not overwhelmed, he is not unaware, he is not overworked. The people around the narc are nothing more than random players in a game, playing the roles he assigns them. We are the chess pieces in his game of life. When things go awry, all he needs to do is rewrite your part, stand back and watch you acquiesce to his will, which of course we do.
His love bombing happened quickly, and I did fall deeply in love. He did pretend he liked all of the things I liked. He brought me books to read, because I loved reading and they were his “favorites”. I have since found out that he has probably never read an entire book in his life. Reading for him is torture. His taste in music is fluid, which enables him to listen to whatever his current girlfriend likes. His religion was nothing more than childhood brain washing. While I was impressed that he knew each book of the bible, he could have cared less about the bible, or any other aspect of church. Yes he taught Sunday school with me, but not for the reasons I did. He had no desire to “spread the word”. He wanted donuts and a class of teenagers looking at him with reverence.
He claimed he had never loved his first wife and, as I look back I see this is true, but not for the reasons he says. She was crazy about him, so she would accept him coming at going at will, with no accountability. She was ideal. She could cook and clean. She might have spent too much money, I don’t know. He was trapped in an unhappy marriage and she might have been a disturbed woman, but not for the reasons I believed. She was disturbed because he simply didn’t care. He didn’t care that she was home alone with a newborn. He didn’t care that she needed to put food on the table and feel good about herself. None of this mattered; all any of this did was interfere with His Wants. When she spent money it meant he had less to spend. If she got her hair done he couldn’t put the gas in his car for our long drives. If she bought a new dress he had no money for golf. If she made the down payment on a sofa he couldn’t buy drinks at the bar.
Yes, he couldn’t leave his son, but again, not for the reasons I thought. If he walked away two things would happen.
1. He would have to support his ex-wife, a stay at home mom
2. He would have to make an actual commitment to his infant son, both financially and emotionally. He’d have to be fully present during visitation. He’d have to have visitation.
None of this was acceptable.
That’s where I came in. I became his savior. I was the one who would support him financially, take care of his child and keep him in good standing with his family. Not only would I do those things, and not only would I do them without question, I would do them while reinforcing his script. I would tell the world what a victim he was. I would shout it from the rooftops that he was a spectacular man who had done nothing wrong but marry a woman who had bamboozled him. I played my role perfectly. It was I that got up at 5AM every morning, exercised so I looked good, showered, got his son ready and off to day care, worked full time and payed half of the bills, then picked his son up, brought him home, cooked him dinner and got him off to bed. I will grant that there were nights he gave his son a bath, and there were nights that he read him a bed time story. But mostly what he did was wait to come home until after the work was done, then came into our bedroom looking for sex.
Narc’s are extremely careful with their words, but not for reasons we might think. They don’t worry about offending anyone, or saying the wrong thing, or not being sensitive in a dicey situation. They are cautious with their words because they know that if they don’t use the right words, with the right inflection at the right time, they will not get what they want. I admit, I am somewhat jealous of the mastery they have over their language. While I am vomiting words, leaving my feelings on my sleeve, crying or laughing for all the world to see, they are carefully crafting each sentence to ensure that their ultimate goal is achieved.
His words told me that all he wanted was a nice quiet family life, with a woman he loved and children who adored him. His words said all he needed was to come home at night to family dinners, then watch some family shows before bed time, at which time he’d pull out his current novel and read till lights out. He words told me that all he desired on weekends was to get through household chores, and move on to family time and church. He told me he believed in children doing chores, and fidelity and frugality. I believed it all. I watched his actions, yet believed his words.
While I watched him sneak around, I listened to his words. When he called me at 3 in the afternoon and said “She thinks I’m going to home depot. Meet me at the mall” I saw the tortured soul, unable to leave his poor child despite his psychopath wife, not a cheating ass who had no compassion for anyone other than himself. When he knocked on my apartment door late at night, unannounced, I reveled in the fact that he sought me out in all his despair, that I was the one who gave him comfort in his hour of need, ignoring the reality that he couldn’t bother with calling ahead or asking my permission. When he told me stories of his wife’s reckless spending I ignored the fact that he had just bought me lunch and himself a new pair of sneakers. I believed his words. I forgot that Actions Speak Louder than Words. I wanted him to be real, and so he was.
Our first kiss was unforgettable. It was never repeated, but it was unforgettable. As I look back I see his studied mannerisms. He spent his formative years watching classic movies with his mother, and I’m guessing he based his first kiss on a Carey Grant move. Decisive, masculine, yet romantic and sensitive. Assuming I don’t die of Alzheimer’s I do think I will go to my grave remembering that as the best kiss I ever had. Many other women have experienced that first kiss. From that kiss on, I played a different part in his play. He had caught me. I was obviously his. The love bombing phase was complete.
We moved in together on his son’s 3rd birthday, a few days before his 1st wife simply left, moving across the country to get away. How I envy her right now! I adore my children and my friends and family and my dog, but there are more days then not when I’d rather board a plane and leave it all behind. She had the balls to do it. For me, even if I had the balls to do it I wouldn’t. I couldn’t. I know that for me the only way to get out of this is to get through it.
Now that I find myself in her shoes. I am the crazy one, he’s telling his new girl. All of our problems were my fault he is telling anyone he needs to tell; anyone who questions his actions. It is humiliating, painful, confusing, and scary. I gave up my career for him to follow his dreams, and now I have 3 children, terrible health, no job and debt. The past 25 years have reinforced all of my old tapes, all of my insecurities and fears. These are the feeding ground for the narc; the more of these you have the stronger he gets. The stronger he gets, the weaker you get. Until you wake up one day and can’t figure out who you are, what is right, what is true and honorable, what is good and bad.
Now, I’m trying to fix myself. I’m going to therapy, writing, meditating, and will soon start EMDR. I’ve come a long way in the past 2 years, clearing my mind, seeing events for what they actually were, accepting my role, and healing physically. It feels like an endless journey. Every good moment is followed by a bad moment. Every tiny personal victory is soon dashed by some divorce drama.
It is hellish, yet it is still better then what I had with him. Nothing describes it as completely and simply as this:
When his sun shines on you, you feel it. But when the sun is shining elsewhere, it’s cold. He can cast quite a shadow. Jennifer Garner