Today, one of my coworkers walked in my cube and she pointed out at two wooden quotes I have on my desk. She said that she loved both of them.
I had completely forgotten about them. They had been sitting on my desk for almost 3 years now. I remember when I bought them. Now I know it, but back then, I didn’t know that I was at the peak of the devaluation phase with my husband.
When I saw those two quotes at the store, I felt I needed to get them to remind myself of the following:
- That happiness and what you make of your life is a personal choice and that you had to work at it
- That I needed to stop comparing myself to others
During that time, I kept on asking myself why I couldn’t be happy; why I couldn’t be the person I once was; why I couldn’t communicate with my husband, understand his point of view. Why after he would give me these lengthy explanations as of why I should feel this or that other way, I still felt that something was off. Why I couldn’t remember where I have put my things. Why I kept on feeling that I was losing my mind and life was getting completely out of control; that there was not one thing I could control anymore.
I got to a point that I actually hated those two wooden signs. Because they reminded me of my failures. I felt like such a failure. I was supposed to be happy. I had a husband. I had a baby. I had a roof over my head. Even though it wasn’t the original plan for me to go back to work after having our child, I was back at work, which was giving me financial independence. However, I was very resentful about having gone back into the workforce because the original plan was supposed to be my staying at home with our child until she would be 1-year old and I would work at getting my business launched.
Instead, I was back at an 8-5 job and not being able to dedicate myself to launching my business, something that would have allowed me to have more flexibility, too. Either way, I should have been happy, I thought, because of having a job when other people were unemployed. Because of the latter, I also felt guilty. Moreover, I started to know what envy was, something I had never really felt in my life. I was so jealous of other families, of other working moms, of other women I knew. I would overhear conversations at work from other women and they all seemed so happy with their lives and they had more or less what I had. Therefore, why couldn’t I feel happy?
Time went by and I eventually started to learn what I know now. And with my coworker pointing at those two quotes, I realized that they have a completely different meaning for me now.
Life is as sweet as you allow it to be
Indeed. I have a child to think about it. I have the rest of my life ahead of me. I’m looking forward to a life of freedom from narcissism. I can now make my life whatever I want it to be, with a little bit of a detour since now I have a child to think about. But at least, I’m now starting to feel a sense of ownership about my life, something that was completely gone during the devaluation. Nonetheless, being the master of your life comes with the price of having to work at it. It won’t happen on its own. But the beauty is that now I can pursue some of those many dreams and goals that I had completely given up while being with my husband.
Concerning the other quote,
A flower does not think to compare itself to the flower next to it.
It just blooms.
… it is time for me to bloom once again. I don’t need to compare myself to other people. They are not me and I’m not them. I have my own blooming timeline. They have theirs. Life won’t be sweet if I’m busy comparing it to the lives of those around me. On the other hand, my experience has taught me that we don’t know what other people may be dealing with behind closed doors. I seemingly had the perfect life for many of those who knew me. I, supposedly, had a loving husband, a good job, a child on the way… If people would only know.
Those other women at work, the friends and acquaintances on Facebook, yes, they may all have a husband and a life that they seem to be enjoying. I’m sure they do struggle in other areas that perhaps I never had to struggle with. But it’s their path, it’s their lives, and I have my path and my life.
Of course, when I walked down that aisle to say my I do’s, I was not expecting that my marriage would turn out the way it did. How could I! He was putting such a perfect act. Robert De Niro would probably be jealous of him. But it was not my fault.
For the longest time, when I finally started to come out of the NPD fog, I blamed myself. I tend to be a little hard on myself. My closest friends and even some of my bosses have said so to me more than once. So the failure of my marriage was no different. For years, I blamed myself for my marriage not being what I thought it would be. I never imagined it to be la vie an rose. I wasn’t that naïve. But I was hoping that we would both work at making it work. I never imagined that I would be subjected to gaslight, be served the coldest of word salads, that I would suffer from anxiety attacks, or become an emotional eater. No. I always thought that marriage was supposed to be a means to become a better version of yourself while being vulnerable with someone who respected you and loved you and that you both would help each other follow the road to salvation.
Life has a strange way to detour us sometimes. At this point, I’m still learning about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and I’m trying to look deep inside of me to find out what has made me the subject of this kind of treatment that no one ever deserves. On the one hand, I’m learning to love myself again, with all my broken parts and my good parts. I’m learning that, for me to have become prey to a narcissist, as a matter of fact, I’m darn attractive and have great qualities. What do I mean by that? That I attracted him because he lacks the qualities I have. I’m smart, I’m friendly, I was confident and I still am in some aspects and I’m working to get my full confidence back; I’m self-sufficient, independent, and I can communicate clearly. I have accomplished things in my life. I have set up goals for myself and pursued them, something that many of the narcissists out there will never be able to. But most of all, I’m an empath and I put other ahead of me; I’m compassionate.
Empathy and compassion are lacking in an individual with NPD. They actually are so numb to their own emotions that they have to seek those in other people. At least, this is the conclusion I’m arriving to. Opposite attract. Paradoxically, for some twisted reason, they want what they don’t have and once they have it in the other person, they crash it and trample all over it. To some degree, I think, it’s as if they felt threatened by those qualities. Since they lack the qualities their targets have, it’s as if they have to destroy them. They have to conquer them so they can feel better about themselves, superior, in control.
How sad is that, that you have to destroy others around you so you can feel better about yourself? How insecure are you that you devote your time and efforts in making those who love you insecure about themselves so you can get your narcissistic supply? The problem is that, I hope, the designated victim will one day say “enough is enough” and will start questioning the narcissist in his or her life. Unfortunately, for many victims of narcissistic abuse, when they finally start questioning, that’s when the narcissist will start devaluing them even more and eventually discard them. But maybe it’s not that bad being discarded. I rather be discarded than stay in a constant state of suppression and victimization.
I’m getting sidetracked and I could keep talking about some of those things for hours. Summarizing, I’m finally happy with those quotes and I can finally use them as the motivation they were supposed to be from the beginning, only that at that time, I was not ready for them and it was not the right time, either.
So today, don’t push yourself if you’re not ready. Everything happens at the time when it’s supposed to happen. At least, that’s my truth. I didn’t move across continents until I was ready and things were in place. I didn’t land certain jobs because it wasn’t the right time or the right jobs, even when I might have not known that at the time. I didn’t become a mother earlier because I was not ready. Can you imagine if my baby would have been born at the worst of the devaluation phase? Instead, she was born when I was already opening my eyes and I was already saying to myself that I had enough and that what I was living was not a normal marriage.
If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, don’t try to accomplish everything at once. Nobody can do it like that. Take small steps. Do not force yourself thinking that you have to be happy today. Healing takes time. Don’t make it any harder than what it is or needs to be. Divide and conquer. You want to the narc
hole in your life to be gone, do something today that will help you get to that point when he or she will no longer be in your life. Learn about NPD. That’s the first step. Learn as much as you can so you can put your finger on what is going on with you and your particular situation. Not all narcissists are created equal. Some gaslight more than others; some will destroy your finances or make you completely dependent of them financially. Some are violent, in which case, I recommend you get out of that situation now. Even if you don’t have a job or income, there are shelters you can go to where they provide all the support you need, from housing to teaching you tools and trades so you can find a job sooner than later. If you have children, more so: Get out of there now. Call the Domestic Violence Hotline and ask them for tips for your particular situation. Reach out. You’re not weak for reaching out. In fact, you’re stronger for reaching out. Change is scary. But staying the same can be scarier. That was what prompted me to go back to work, even when I didn’t want to do so, and to reach out to a couple of friends. I realized I couldn’t do it on my own. And that takes courage and strength and you’re stronger than what you think since you already put up with the narc hole in your life long enough. Right there, it proves your strength.
The future is scary sometimes, but I rather face the unknown than stay with my husband and face a future that doesn’t look much different from the present. And I am committed to try to make my life as sweet as it can be. I just have to try. And you’re not alone. There are many people out there who will understand and who know you are not crazy because neither were them. You’re a beautiful flower and you deserve to be kissed by the sun and cherish by the breeze. You deserve to bloom and you are already beautiful and strong. And so am I. Let’s get out there now and bloom and make life sweet again.