So, my new love and I are doing great and we are so freaking compatible. Meaning, I like to sing and he doesn’t cringe when listening, and I like to be busy and he’s more then capable of keeping up. He’s like a ‘saint’ almost to me…he listens, cares, asks about me, worries about me, etc. and even though you might be thinking “This is the way it should be”, I’m thinking “This is the way I haven’t experienced in a very long time.”
My last partner is formally diagnosed as having Borderline Personality Disorder which is characterized by instability in mood, relationships, self-awareness, etc. and I saw all of these in our 3 years together. However, I also firmly believe he has characteristics of Narcissistic Personality Disorder too (although I’m not ‘diagnosing’ him…only correlating his behavior with the disorders ‘symptoms’) which often co-occurs with BPD and is in the same ‘Cluster’ of personality disorders ( 😮)
Anyhoot, there has been so much writing about narcissism in the last few years and people with NPD have the following (per the DSM V):
- Inflated sense of self-importance
- Lack of empathy (when my nephew was killed, he said, while ‘hugging’ me: “I don’t give a fuck…I didn’t know him.” Those words devastated me and this is the first time sissy and ma will know he said this. Had they known while we were together, they would have hog-tied me and gotten me away. And, he didn’t go to the visitation or funeral with me…I just had ma and my sonshine.)
- Attention seeking behavior (we were at Kohl’s one day and he started spitting on the floor just to get my attention, make me mad, and give him an excuse for raging at me later.)
- Takes advantage of others
- Has a feeling of entitlement
- Are great liars (to be honest, I don’t think he ever told me a ‘truth’. Ever. Certainly not about loving me.)
- Has no boundaries (zero…zippo…)
Now, partner had all of these and I’m not going to rehash our history…been there done that. However, the lack of empathy, lying, and taking advantage of others is something I experienced time and time again while we were together. The serial cheating he did after looking me in the eye and telling me there was no one else he was communicating with showed his lack of love and respect for me and taking advantage of me financially is something I’m still recovering from. I also saw his sense of entitlement in that he could cheat and still string me along…in other words, wanting his cake and eating it too. And self-importance? Uh. Yea. Thinking he’s God’s gift to women when in fact he’s…well…not 🙄
So, why am I bringing this up now? Because after being in this relationship for 3 years and experiencing the gaslighting, lying, cheating, etc. day after day after day, I still have effects from it. Bigtime.
There’s actually a condition that’s referred to as Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome and I’m struggling with it in my new relationship. People who have experienced loving a narcissist might have these things:
- Question their sanity
- Mistrust those who support them (every time ma and sis told me how horrible my situation was, I just thought they weren’t able to see the ‘great’ guy I thought he could be)
- Feel worthless (yep…anyone who gets cheated on multiple times feels this way…)
- Doubt their abilities to think or make decisions
- Disconnect from their own wants and needs (what are those again? According to narcs, we don’t have any 😯)
- Give in to what the narc wants (New car? Check. New motorcycle? Check. New clothes? Check. And on and on and on…)
- Devalue their contributions (I never ever thought I was doing enough…because if I had been, he would have been better to me…right?)
- Obsess on their faults and mistakes (I would ruminate over things I said and did again and again and again when he would rage at me, cheat on me, give me the silent treatment, etc. because there just HAD to be a ‘reason’ for this and it was undoubtedly my fault.)
- Make excuses for the narcs actions (“But ma…he’s a vet with PTSD and had a shitty childhood…he can’t help it.”)
- Spin their wheels trying to gain the narcs favor (I did ANYTHING I possibly could to make him see how important I was in his life and how much he ‘needed’ me.)
- Obsess on how to the make the narc happy (they are never happy…ever.)
- Idealize the narc (Ohhhhh…I definitely did this.)
Now, why in the name of all that’s holy did I ‘put up’ with this? Well…because narcs are ‘master manipulators.’ You see, they go through a pattern in relationships that involves 3 stages:
- Idealize (when we first got together, he was EVERYTHING I needed and wanted him to be. He made me feel like I was a ‘Queen’ and he held me on a pedestal that I thought would never tumble. I truly believed he was my soul-mate and couldn’t imagine my life without him).
- Devalue (as time wore on, he started to slowly pick at me…criticize me…hurt me…until I felt like ‘NOTHING’. But see…he did idealize me so I had to have done something for him to devalue me…right? 🙄)
- Discard (again and again and again…)
So why am I bringing this up now? Because this pattern and the Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome still lingers. There are actually ‘boot camps’ and classes and support groups and therapists who specialize in this type of abuse. Because it is abuse. It’s emotional manipulation, gaslighting (big time), and with me, some physical abuse. You just can’t ‘get over that’, and to have someone hurt you to the core where you question your own worth and sanity is devastating.
Here’s another secret ma and sissy don’t know: The first time I cut myself was in front of him…and he said this: “You can’t even do that right…it’s not deep enough.” So, later that week I made a 4″ cut that needed stitches (which I didn’t get since I didn’t want the docs to see it 😔) and the scar will never fade. He seemed pretty proud of that one.
How sick can you be to do that? I didn’t start the relationship out wanting to cut and commit suicide. But as I got deeper and deeper into thinking there was something very wrong with me because of his treatment, my self-worth and meaning vanished. Here’s what a lot of people say who were abused by narcs: ‘These people (and yes, women can be narcs too 😕) don’t just break your heart, they actually break your spirit.’ I believe this. The other day I was going through photos and came across a pic of me during the time of my breakdown (he was living with his other woman during this time and didn’t give a rat’s ass about the suicide attempt, etc.) and my eyes look vacant. Lost. Dead. Literally. It broke my heart to see how broken I really was.
I know Bill isn’t like this at all. He’s full of empathy and understanding and compassion and kindness and sweetness and he is open and genuine with me. I love this and feel like I’ve waited all of my life to get it. But here’s the thing: I don’t feel worthy of it. I really don’t. Partner did such a number on me I still feel ‘broken’ in a way…still feel if only I would have been good enough…still feel ‘bad’ about myself…am still struggling to understand why he targeted me. What is ‘in me’ that makes someone like him hurt me so bad? How he could do this to someone who loved him so fucking (sorry, ma…but you’ve said that word in reference to him too…just sayin’…😲) much. How in hell could he manipulate me so easily when I should have seen all of this coming?
In my heart I know Bill is different…I’ve even talked to 2 of his ex-wives and they have nothing but great things to say about him. He’s the real deal. But… and there’s always that BUT…how do I learn to trust again? Give myself totally when my heart has just healed from shattering? Believe his promises? His words? Feel worthy of having such a terrific man in my life? I wish I knew the answers to these.
Bill is aware of all of this…I’ve told him more about the partner than I’ve told anyone else and he has cried because of how I was treated. Even ma and sis don’t know the seriousness of things I experienced. Bill is giving me all of him. Everything inside of him. He’s putting it all out there.
I want to as well. And I’m trying my damndest. But I know it’s going to take time to fully trust and believe and understand that Bill won’t do what partner did. I hate that Bill has to almost ‘prove himself’ to me when he’s done absolutely nothing wrong, but it’s the baggage I carry after such a relationship. But you know what? If anyone can help me unpack that baggage and lay it out bare and get rid of it once and for all, I think he’s the guy. And I feel so fucking (sorry again, ma…this was just because…🙄) lucky because of that.