Living with a narcissist (N) wether its because of marriage, or a boyfriend/girlfriend situation, or even a parent/child relationship… It is tumultuous and the impact is long-lasting.
Not to say that women cannot exhibit (N) behavior too… They can. I’ll be writing from my own experience, in which the (N) was my now-ex-husband.
When you’re married to an (N) you take on the role of “a perfect teddy bear.” And when you deviate from being “a perfect teddy bear” it sets off a rage in the (N). The (N) also uses his teddy bear to “project” his own imperfections and shortcomings onto. And trust me, there are plenty!
You may recall the scene from Mary Poppins as the family prepares for the “master” to come home from work. Or the movie, Sleeping With The Enemy, where the labels on the cans in the cupboard have to be placed “just so.” That’s what it’s like living with an (N), day in and day out.
You ask, why would anyone marry someone like that? The (N) has a very sneaky way of hiding their behavior until they’re sure they’ve “got you!” As for me, less than two months after we said “I do” the guillotine slammed down, unleashing a rage like I had not seen during our 18 month courtship. What started in 1997 would not end until 2009.
Six months after our marriage, I started counseling.
Twelve years, 10 counselors later, I finally discovered the word to describe my daily terror.
Narcissist are brilliant, high-functioning people. Most of the people we knew, never suspected anything was wrong. Why? Because of the phony, perfect teddy bear persona.
In 2002 when I decided to go back to college and earn my bachelors degree, (N) tried to make it impossible for me. He refused to give me money for gas or books. I had to take out tens of thousands in student loans. He would not allow me time to study at home. And did not want me staying late at school. He would tell me every chance he had, “you are selfish for going back to school now. I should be the one going back to school.” He did everything he could to sabotage my chances of finishing. And he nearly won! Nearly! But he didn’t!
One winter while I was still in school we attended an employee Christmas party for the bank he worked at. Several of his coworkers made comments along the lines, “oh (N) tells us you’re working on your journalism degree… He’s so proud of you… He brags about how well you’re doing all the time.” After I nearly choked on my cocktail, my first reaction was to ask if they had me confused with someone else?
Beaten, belittled, defined, a shell of my former self, I crawled across the finish line of that nasty marriage. Spent two more years with the greatest councilor, joined an online support group for women just like me… And emerged… With the knowledge that I will be made whole again! This experience will not define the rest of my life, though it will help shape future relationships for the better.
– J. Ela