I have 23 years of a relationship with a covert narcissist (CN) to dissect, and the question I keep asking my therapist is “are you sure?” How can you be sure he really is a CN, and I’m not just re-writing our story? What proof do you have that I didn’t deserve to be treated the way he treated me; that I wasn’t the real problem; that I hadn’t driven him to stray with my crazy behavior?
I think I will forever be questioning the middle years, wondering what happened and why. There are 2 things I know for sure though: His actions at the start and the end of our relationship were despicable, and are indicative of a narcissistic personality. This is how I’m sure.
I worked with my CN for 6 months before he started love bombing me. During those 6 months he was a total asshole. He was sullen, uncooperative, demanding, blaming and cold. This, in and of itself, should have been enough to make me question the person he became once he targeted me. It didn’t, because he’s a pro at love bombing. During the love bombing phase he convinced me that he was a stand up guy, victimized by his wife who was “crazy”. It’s really as simple as that. There is so much more that happened during the grooming phase, but none of it matters, at least in terms of me understanding what I’ve been dealing with. A good stand-up guy does not cheat on his wife, who is home with an infant. A stand-up guy doesn’t lie to his wife to spend time with someone else. A good guy doesn’t tell his new girl (i.e. me) terrible stories about his current wife.
Yes, good guys get divorced. Yes, stand-up guys have new girls after they have ended things with their wife. A good guy, though, accepts responsibility for his part in the demise of his marriage. A good guy doesn’t tell terrible stories about his ex; he doesn’t present himself as a “victim” of his ex. When a healthy, stand up guy is getting a divorce he acknowledges that he played a role in things going wrong, and he certainly doesn’t “kiss and tell”, which the CN can’t wait to do. Not only did he kiss and tell, he told such crazy stories that I am now certain they were just flat out lies. Because that’s what the CN does: he lies.
Marriages end, relationships end. Things go awry and people grow apart, leading to divorce. How do “normal people” handle this? Well, I suppose I can’t answer that. What I can tell you is how the CN handles it. To begin with, he announces that he doesn’t love you, then acts is if everything is normal. In my situation, he announced he didn’t love me but he would continue to take me to Dr’s appointments and errands on his day off. Then…..he offered to cook my breakfast. Then he lied.
– Of course there’s no one else he says.
-Of course I never cheated on you.
– Of course I’ll take care of you and the kids.
– Of course nothing will change, you & the kids will stay in the house and I’ll pay the bills I’ve been paying.
One by one the lies are revealed to be what they are: Lies.
You find evidence of the current affair. Once he’s busted on that he’ll do something no decent human being would ever do a month after leaving his family: he introduces her to his children and his extended family, and she becomes a constant presence, even when he is with his children. If you doubt the selfishness of such a thing, google “when should a parent introduce the children to the new mate”. If you can find a source that says “immediately introduce the children to the new girl” send me the link; I’d love to see it.
Then you find evidence of other affairs, like receipts for the track phone’s he’s been buying for years. When you find that he might initially admit to other affairs. This will soon change though, when he realizes that this can be used against him in divorce proceedings. Then he denies, even going as far as to deny what he said the day before.
Then he starts NOT taking care of you and the kids. Some just walk away, but mine did it gradually. One day he was no longer paying car maintenance. A month later he was cancelling the car insurance. Next was the heating oil and the mortgage, of which he would only pay 1/3. Eventually he stops paying all but the minimum amount – the amount that won’t necessarily get his wages garnished without a hearing. Definitely amounts that the children don’t see, aren’t aware of.
Here are a few facts I’ve learned that help me keep a clear head about what has happened to me, of who he is.
1 – Decent people do not denigrate their ex to their new person. Think about that for a while. I had 2 long term boyfriends before my CN, and I never said a single bad think about either one. In fact, while I was in the break-up stage with each one, I never said a bad thing. I took responsibility for the part I played in the demise of our relationship. That is what a normal person does.
2 – Decent people don’t tell intimate secrets to their new “love”. I would never discuss my sex life with my any of my ex’s with a new love interest. I would also not discuss emotionally laden issues, like how they responded when they thought they were losing their business, or in some other terrifying situation. This is not because anyone should be ashamed, it is just common courtesy. If you loved someone, you don’t talk shit about them, you don’t reveal their deepest, darkest secrets and fears.
3 – Good people don’t cheat. Period. If the relationship is over, and they find they are attracted to someone else, they end the relationship BEFORE engaging with someone new.
4 – Good people, especially good parents, don’t foist their new love on their children a month after leaving their 23 year marriage. It just doesn’t happen. Anyone with even a tiny smidgen of a conscious would never consider doing that.
5 – A good person doesn’t refuse to pay basic bills, even though he/she can go out to dinner weekly, afford vacations, and spend copious amounts on holidays and pedicures.
6 – A good person doesn’t claim to be a victim. This one has been a real eye opener for me. My ex was victim extraordinaire when he began love bombing me, and I suspect he is the same with his current new girl. A decent person though doesn’t think they are a victim. They find the idea that they have been victimized repulsive. They think “I’m not a sucker; I couldn’t be taken advantage of, year after year”. The CN though, can’t wait to declare himself a victim.
7 – A good man doesn’t see his children 1 night a week, and often not even then because he’s on vacation with his new girl. A good dad doesn’t forget to invite his older children to the barbecue he’s having with his new girl. A good dad doesn’t miss every single concert. A good dad is in constant touch with his children, even those over the age of 18. Why? Because he actually cares. Those children are not just pawn pieces, to be pulled out on holidays, they are human beings who he is so crazy in love with, and the thought of not being in touch with them is completely unacceptable. The CN, on the other hand, will not only not maintain contact with his children, he’ll actually complain when they don’t stay in touch with him! This will be one more example of how he has been victimized.
The rest of it, the 23 years in between the start and the finish, might remain questionable. I might spend the rest of my life wondering what I did wrong, thinking about what I screwed up, ruminating over what I might have done differently. A good friend of mine recently said “there were some good years”, and I will always think about that. Were there good years and if so, what happened to them? Were they real or an illusion? And if they were real, what role did I play in their demise?
The beginning and the end though, are all the proof I need that my ex is not a stand-up, normal guy. My ex is a Covert Narcissist.