by Amy Lawson, MBA, CDFA®
He was the life of the party. Charming and fun and funny.
You were immediately attracted to his good looks and charisma. You admired that he was great at his job, at golf, and at just about anything he attempted.
Everyone was drawn to him, it was clear, and those who weren’t, he – and you, at first – wrote them off as jealous.
You were thrilled when he turned his attention to you
You lived on breath mints and breathless kisses the first two months; he made you feel special, and perfect, and worthy of his love and adoration. You found the one. You found love.
After the first two months, something changed. Any happiness the two of you shared turned fragile and temporary, like a yo-yo on a string; or, picking petals from a daisy – he loves me, he loves me not. You could have about three good days together, then BAM! That love would turn to hate. Where you were once special and perfect and worthy, you are suddenly flawed and worthless, you are garbage.
It was always your fault, even when it wasn’t. Because nothing was his fault, he never apologized. The closest thing to an apology was a guilty-present. Be it grand or a trinket, life (for him, at least) would go on as though he hadn’t spewed his hatred all over you for something as innocuous as adjusting the rear view mirror in his car when you took it to the mechanic for servicing so he could make his tee time with his golf buddies. The present was his proof, he loved you again… completely.
When you didn’t act just right, or say the right thing at the right time, every good thing you’d done for him, every good thing between you, was completely gone from his awareness and he hated you… again… completely.
But you stayed; the good was so good, and you hoped that if you worked really hard to keep the good, good then he would recognize how good the good was and he would appreciate you and your life together. And, you loved him, after all, and believed that love could conquer all.
Then came the children, and you poured your love into them – the bake sales and school plays, the piano lessons, the soccer games, telling yourself they would be enough (even then they started treating you in the same disrespectful fashion) right up until they went off to college.
It’s been YEARS now. The shiny is long gone and the underlying hard realities of his personality have worn you down. Your head reels like the left-to-right-to-left whiplash of watching a sped-up tennis match from the net post at the center of the court. Or, worse, being repeatedly slapped across the face – first from the right, then from the left., then from the right again.
You walked on eggshells in your own life, bewildered as you looked past his “human-ness,” the shortcomings shared by all, as he seemed unable, or unwilling, to look past yours. Surely, he didn’t believe that just because you didn’t say anything negative to him, about him, that there was nothing you could say, did he?
Yes, my gray girlfriend, hear me when I say that he did believe, and still believes, just that.
A narcissist believes he is unique; he believes he is smarter/better looking/more deserving/more ______ (fill in the blank) than everyone else.
He believes he is special
If only he realized how predictable his behavior actually is – not that you could ever convince him that he is a narcissist, mind you. Remember, (as I roll my eyes) he knows more than you do therefore, if he was a narcissist, he would know. Yeah, sure.
His behavior is so predictable that if you go to Amazon and type in the word “narcissism,” 5,000 titles will pop up. Not 50, not 500, but 5,000!
You have to laugh in that big-eye-roll kind of way, dear friend, just knowing that your “special” soon-to-be ex-husband is not special in the least. Difficult? Definitely. Special? Definitely, not.
Hopefully, this nugget of knowledge will help you temper some of the emotion so easily triggered when dealing with your narcissist during the divorce process. Please understand, this is NOT about you. You didn’t make him this way. You’re incidental to his self-preoccupation – he’d be this way whether he’d met you or not. Now, THAT’s a reason to exhale.
Divorce can be daunting dear friend, so don’t try to navigate this path alone. Employ a professional – a therapist, not a hit man. You’ll gain some valuable insights and develop some valuable skills, plus your conversations with your therapist are privileged. But, remember this, your journal is NOT privileged, so do NOT keep a journal. Anything you write, whether it be electronic or old school, may be read in court and subsequently become public record. You don’t want that.
At the end of the day, you’re going to be OK. Learn all you can, do all you know that is right and good, and then let go.
Wishing you peace and plenty!
Your gray girlfriend,