Sometimes you have to wonder if they even think at all. I had a small argument with my soon-to-be ex-husband this morning. I’m going to spare you the details of what prompted the argument apart from the fact that he wanted to do something that would change our daughter’s night routine. But what does he care? He never did. So why would he start caring now?
Anyway, our daughter is still a toddler and anybody who truly understands babies and toddlers knows that they strive when parents stick to a routine since they know what to expect to some degree.
For young infants, everything is a little bit like chaos and consistency and routine gives them some sense of control. Eventually they grow out of that phase. But in the meantime, they go from cold to hot and back and happy to sad and back in a split second. As they grow and internalize the love and care from their parents, they don’t tend to have these drastic mood swings.
Every time my husband changes the routine in the middle of the week, my daughter gets overexcited and then has trouble to eat and sleep. And who is the one who has to deal with an overly tired kid? Me, of course. Her father snores through the entire night.
Going back to my main reason for this post, I reminded him about our agreement to not change her routine like that because then she stays up all night. (And so do I and I’m not a stay-at-home mom; I work full time.) Below is part of the exchange ensued after that.
My Husband (MH): It was YOUR choice to move into her bedroom.
MH: If you can’t sleep at night because she makes noises it’s your fault because you decided to move into her bedroom.
Me: My choice? You didn’t give me any other option, did you?
MH: What do I have to do with that?
Me: Did you seriously expect me to continue to share the bed with you after you had me served with divorce papers?
MH (The sounds of silence)
ME: If that’s the case, you’re delusional.
More cricket sounds…
ME: I didn’t pursue divorce, neither did I want the divorce. So don’t say it was my choice.
ME: In fact, my moving into her bedroom has nothing to do with whether I can sleep or not at night since I could always hear her from our bedroom and took care of her while you kept on sleeping. At least I take responsibility for my actions and decisions and don’t project or blame other people for them.
And I left it at that. It’s useless talking to him. Like I said before, the walls were always better listeners than him.
What stayed with me after that exchange was that he seriously thought I would continue to share the bed with him until this would be all over. And yes, I moved into our daughter’s room because my other option was a pest-infested basement (long story for another day.)
While driving to drop our daughter at my mom’s so I could go to work, I remembered the surprised look in his face when after 2 or 3 weeks of having been served divorce papers I spent a weekend clearing one of the closest in our daughter’s room, then moving all of my clothes and a few other things from our bedroom into hers, and putting an inflatable mattress on the floor. I’ve been sleeping like that ever since; five months to the date.
Narcissistic individuals have no concept whatsoever of other people’s feelings and how their actions affect other people. For several months, my husband started to act almost as if we were dating or like in the days when we were in really good terms. He would come up with plans for all of us, wanting to take us out, hanging out with family, opening the doors for me, offering to carry my bags from my car to inside (he never once offered to do this before filing for divorce,) things like that. In fact, he started to do things I used to beg him to do before and he would never do, all of these without my even saying a word now. It was a little disconcerting to me.
At some point, I started to think that he seemed to be putting an act together for some eyes I couldn’t see. I started to frantically look for hidden cameras. In case you were wondering, I didn’t find any. Then I started to think that perhaps he thought we were going to be amicable, like some couples who decide to get a divorce because somehow the love between them died, but they still genuinely care for each other and their children and they are and always will be in good terms after the divorce is finalized. If you think that’s the case with your narc, give that up sooner rather than later. There’s no such thing as a normal relationship with a narcissist, before, during, or after divorce.
I don’t want to sound like I am better than him or I don’t know what. Well, in fact, we all survivors are better than them; I just don’t want to sound arrogant. I think that’s what I mean. But I’m coming to the conclusion that many narcissists are not that bright. Otherwise, they would realize that we don’t want to have anything to do with them. Furthermore, the excuses, lies, and stories they tell us are many times incredibly stupid. They are almost as bad as that one children give to their teachers about the dog eating their homework.
Talking about lies, I don’t know how many times I caught my husband in one. Some examples,
- For the longest time, he pretended he had gone to see a customer one evening and instead, he went to see the third new Star Trek movie. One day I purposely said something light about Star Trek and Star Wars and, bam! He fell in the trap and started to talk about that movie like someone who had actually seen it. He tried to catch himself by saying something about articles criticizing the film, but it was too late and I’m not that stupid.
- The day of my birthday last year, it was opening night for a movie I wanted to go see really badly. He suggested I spent the night with my mother and our daughter, instead. (This was several months before I would be served divorce papers.) I decided to forego the movie because it wasn’t the type of movie my mom would enjoy and it was not appropriate for a just turned 2-yr old. While my mom and I were trying to make the best out of last-minute plans (since my husband “had not given me permission” to spend time with my own mother until the very last minute,) he went to see that very same movie with his father, with whom he doesn’t like to spend time together. Again, I caught him in the lie a couple of months later while making small talk.
- At some point when I needed very urgently to buy new shoes and clothes for our daughter, he kept complaining about not having money because his company had not reimbursed him some couple thousands of dollars of expenses (he’s always submitting them late and his company has a rule of making them wait if they don’t submit them within two weeks of incurring the expense, but he still blames the accountant and keeps submitting them late.) I was tight with money and I went and bought the clothes and shoes out of my own pocket. Not that I mind, but I needed help that month. A couple of weeks later, I found he had a new cell phone. He tried to make it look like it was borrowed while his was being repaired, only for me to find a receipt for over $800 for the cell phone. The list of excuses and lies for that cell phone is endless and boring and I’ll spare you from them.
- Food is another thing he lies about. He may say that he didn’t find this or that other product I had asked him for and go as far as to say that he couldn’t even find something similar that he wanted for himself, only for me to find that he did buy what he wanted and it is in the back of the cupboard or cabinet, out of sight, so I would not find it easily. Funny thing, I am the one who cleans the cabinets and fridge on a regular basis, not him. I’m bound to find things there. He should look for a better place to hide them, don’t you think?
- Subscriptions to magazines. He says he receives them for free. And then I find the payment coupons on the stairs or in other places. I swear that I’m not looking for these things. I just find them because he leaves a breadcrumbs of things as he walks by and he’s always misplacing everything.
- Here are the top-2 biggest lies in the last year. I recently found out that he has a life insurance policy and a 401(k). While I was begging for clothes, food, formula, shoes, and furniture for our daughter for the last three years counting the pregnancy, he set money aside and then started a 401(k) a few months after our daughter was born. There are about $20,000 in it. I found out because of a tax return issue. Meanwhile, he had been insisting that he didn’t like or want 401(k)s since we first met.
- He would insist that he worked hard on this or that other day, only for me to cross paths with a neighbour at the store or the parking lot outside our building and him or her to tell me that how come I never go mountain-biking with my husband. It seems that he would leave in the middle of the day to go to the park mountain biking while I’m at work and he’s supposed to be visiting customers or working from home. And yes, the bike would be loaded in mud. So there’s no denying it, even if he tries to say that it was mud from last summer… yeah, right! First of all, you expect me to believe that the mud is from over 12 months ago when I clearly remember seeing it clean a week or two ago (this is another example of gaslight, by the way.) At least try to clean the bike before I see it, as well as the tracks you left on the dining floor while trying to take the bike to the basement! Oh, and let’s not forget the clothes left in a corner of the bedroom (we were still sharing the bedroom at the time) or on the bathroom floor right next to the bathtub.
I could go on. But basically, these are lies like when you catch your child with chocolate all over his or her face and you asked him or her if he or she has been eating cookies and they say no.
Anyway, this whole ordeal this morning made me be late for work. It’s really tiring to have to be running from one place to another because they are irresponsible, don’t keep track of time, expect everybody to cater to them and drop everything they are doing for whatever it is they want, when they want it, how they want it, where they want it. And as soon as you put your foot down and start confronting them, you’re a bad person, you’re controlling, you are in their hair, you never let them do anything, and you are crazy, or worse.
Please, don’t fall for that. They are projecting their own shortcomings and everything else they do or fail to do on you. Start to set limits and boundaries or continue to do so if you have already started. From my own experience, I know how frightening it can be sometimes to confront them. But gosh! It can be so liberating, too!
What helped me to start setting boundaries again when I was in full-blown devaluation phase was when I started to see my husband not as a grown man, but as a child. Because that’s what they actually are: A child in a grown man or woman’s body. They never really grew or matured. I must confess that having to do this is a little bit sad because, when I first saw him like that, I realized that I might never really have the relationship I always wanted to have with him and which I thought I was going to have. Worst of all, I realized that I was not going to be able to respect him anymore. And for most part, in my experience, men want us to respect them, not just love them. Sometimes they even desire respect more than love.
Me personally, I cannot love a man I don’t, can’t, or won’t respect. And my respect for my husband started to die actually when I started to accept the fact that he didn’t respect me as a separate,
individual independent human being from him. I completely lost respect for him when I couldn’t see him as a full-grown man anymore.
Losing respect for him does not mean that I treat him disrespectfully. I just cannot respect him like I would someone I admire or is a role model to me.
Grieving what the relationship will never be is one of the hardest things I ever had to do. Because I had to learn to let go of what it could have been and accept the fact that it was never going to be. I was able to start healing when I accepted that I had fallen in love with a person that never really existed. However, until this realization, I hurt all along because I kept on remembering how happy I was in the early stages (idealization) of our relationship and I wanted those days to come back so badly.
I think this is what is the hardest for any survivor of NPD and why it is so difficult to heal. In a normal relationship, you just accept that things didn’t work and you get closure. There’s never a possibility for closure with a narc
hole. Therefore, we have to grief not only the loss of the relationship, but also the person that never really existed and with whom we fell in love. It’s a double loss.
In order to heal, we need to accept that fact and then we will finally start healing. It may take a long while for some and it may take less time for others. But we all have to accept these two facts. I just hope that we all do eventually. I know I did and, once that happened, I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I started to have some happy moments, even days. I started to reconnect with myself. I am not quite there, yet. But at least I know that I may be moving in the right direction.