The Show Must Go On…

We have all heard the phrase, “the show must go on.” But the ones who really understand it are those people who lived it by being stuck in a toxic relationship with a Narcissist. When you find that you need to put on a show whenever your partner is around, that is big sign that you are being controlled by a narcissist.

I am now three years removed from being submerged in a suffocating marriage with a narcissist, however, when I think back to what I went through and how I felt, I had an epiphany. I distinctly remember whenever my ex walked through the door, I had to prepare my 3 year old and 6 year old to treat their father a certain way in order to stall their father’s bad moods, suspicious antics or lecturing behavior.

I found myself telling my children that “Daddy’s going to be coming home soon and they better smile, and give him a big hug” and I would plead with them to be on their best behavior. I quickly learned that we had to go through this role playing because in the past, if my narcissist were to come home and we were all doing something other than waiting there to greet him with smiles on our faces and our full attention, he would be offended and feel that we “did not appreciate him.” He would then go on a pity trip and lecture us, scold us and say that we did not love him, etc. It was ridiculous, but true. It would put a dampener on the rest of the evening and we all walked on eggshells.

So, I would find myself trying to prepare my little actors to put on a show for Daddy. A show that would hopefully, delay the narcissist’s antics for a later time. But it was never for long. The children and I were always in survival mode, just waiting for the next little thing to set him off.

During the marriage, I didn’t actually see what I was doing, or how his behavior truly affected us because when you are living it, it can be difficult to see through it. However, now that I am safely away from my narcissist and in a healthy relationship full of mutual respect and adoration, I can easily see what lengths I went to in order to try to protect my children from their narcissistic father.

If you find that you need to be anyone other than your true self when your partner is around, that is not a good sign. Be aware that all of life is not a stage, or at least it shouldn’t have to be. My advice as someone who has lived through it, lower the curtain and walk away and it is best to ignore the curtain call, let the narcissist get the bows he craves from someone other than you or your children.

Narcissists treat you like a child

When I was a little girl, I remember thinking that “I cannot wait until I grow up because then I can make my own decisions without always being told what to do!” Well, now that I am a woman in my mid thirties, you would think I had been living the childhood dream of ultimate freedom. However, up until one year ago, I was not. I finally put my finger on it! My narcissist treated me like a child at all times. He continuously questioned my choices, making me overly cautious and dependent upon his opinions. I felt like he knew better, not just because he persistently said that he did, but also because I was always wrong in his eyes. When narcissists continuously abuse you to think that you cannot even make the smallest decisions without their input, your confidence and sense of self is stripped away and your inner voice becomes childlike.

When I was married to my narcissist, I lived in a state of constant frustration. I was frustrated at not being heard, I was frustrated at never being right, I was frustrated that I could not make a normal, healthy choice about my life without his “permission.” He had overwhelming control over every aspect of my life. I even had to ask him for his consent to visit my parents, or go to the store, or even to the bathroom. If I didn’t, and I started to walk out of the room, he would shout at me “Where are you going Mommy?” Then I would get irritated after being so micromanaged in every instance that I wanted to scream!

The reason that the narcissist treats you like a child is because s/he is threatened by you. You outshine them in every way and they know it deep down because narcissists have low self esteem despite the fact that most display an overabundance of confidence. It is just for show. The narcissist chose you to be their victim because they thought that you were a valuable asset to their image. They were so impressed by your amazing qualities, they wanted to capture you and bottle you up in order to keep you all to themselves. Then they chip away at all those qualities that drew them to you in the first place because they are intimidated by you. You are their property now.

Looking back, I still remember the sick, sinking feeling I endured when I knew my narcissist was displeased with me. Which was a daily occurrence. I felt like a child who was in trouble with it’s parent and was awaiting the punishment that was sure to follow. I wouldn’t treat my own two children like he treated me, I respect and trust my children and love them for the wonderful individuals that they are. That is how love should be, unwavering and forgiving. It is sad but true, if you are involved in a toxic narcissistic relationship, get out! They will suffocate your soul and reduce you to a fraction of yourself.

Narcissists Create a Parallel Paranoid Universe to Supplement their Pathetic Existence

In the doomed relationship with my narcissist, I noticed that I couldn’t help but feel like I was stuck living in a made-up fantasy world of his own creation. But that was before I learned about narcissistic personality disorder, I had no idea at that time that narcissists straddle two different worlds. First, there is the “real world” and then there is “his world.” But I learned quickly that I could not remind him of the “real world” or else he would claim that I was just like “everyone else” who were conspiring against him. (Yes, it was as crazy as that sounds!)

My narcissist husband honestly believed that the world outside of our “family” was full of people out to get him by being “passive aggressive” or through outright attempts to destroy our “happiness.” (For example: He would say that his problems at work were the fault of other people or co-workers.) He would blame his parents for “causing trouble” for him or his work because he believed they were in co-hoots with his ex-wife, and many times he would even cast the blame directly at my parents. I would be so upset that he would feel that way that it would make me sick to my stomach. I could not believe that he could blame my amazingly supportive parents of ever trying to cause trouble for him at his workplace. They don’t even know his co-workers, they lived in another state for God’s sake! Nonetheless, he tried very hard to get me to buy into that delusion that all of his problems were the cause of other people who were dead set to see him unhappy.

Looking back, it was as if he created this parallel universe in which he played the omnipotent victim. He wove a web of deceit that would make him seem like the lord of his kingdom. He seemed so smug about other people and would even proclaim to have a superior knowledge of how to get people on his side. He always felt that he knew people better than they knew themselves. I thought that strange because he never knew what I was thinking, he seemed clueless. I would refer to him “Captain Oblivious” privately to my parents. In yet, he acted like he had an insider knowledge of how the outside world worked. He referenced a book called “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie. He would tell me that I needed to read it if I ever wanted to get people to do what I wanted. I thought that a really strange comment. I never had problems making friends in the past and I did not use them as minions to do things for me.

He did not even have any friends other than two college buddies that lived across the country that he only saw once a year. I was not impressed with them either. One was a crazy Russian doctor who would fly across the ocean to bring back a series of young girlfriends who were only interested in getting a green card. Enough said. Perhaps he is the one who encouraged my ex to get a 25 year old Ukrainian “au pair” to live with him and take care of the kids on the two weekends a month that he does see them.

Now that I have left my narcissist, I have happily reentered the “real world.” It was smothering to live in his carefully crafted world that centered around him and his warped beliefs and entitlements. If you feel like you are stuck between two worlds while in your relationship, be careful! You are being dragged into the dark, dank, delusional hell of the narcissist where nothing makes sense. Gather up your strength, get someone who will listen to you and run to the light!  The sooner you plan you escape, the better.

How to Save Your Children from a Narcissistic Parent?

When you are involved with a narcissist, the effects on you are bad enough, but when you have children with one, it is truly a sad situation. This is the case because the children will eventually suffer the same abuse that you do as soon as they develop their own thoughts and opinions on life. So if you decide stay involved in a relationship or marriage with a narcissist, you must become aware of the harsh reality that your children will become the sacrificial lambs.

Whilst they are still young, the narcissist views the children as little extensions of him or herself and their image. The children are a grand source of narcissistic supply because whilst young, they idolize that parent. During this stage, there is no difference in views or clash of opinions. However, as soon as they grow and become little independent thinkers, all bets are off! The narcissist parent pushes his or her views onto them and expects the children think and behave exactly they way he or she does. If the narcissist does not value a particular sport or activity, the child will not get to play or engage in it. If the narcissist has certain beliefs of what job that child should have someday, he or she expects the child to pursue no other career.

The narcissistic parent will often try to have the children team up with them to abuse the other parent. They put false notions into the children’s impressionable minds that the other parent is lacking in some way. In my case, my narcissist would try to make me out to be “no fun” to the children, which couldn’t be further from the truth. He would repeatedly try to make me out to be the “bad guy” so that the children would see him as the “good guy.” The burden of the disciplinarian was always put upon my shoulders.  When I tried to have any kind of order, he found it hilarious to try to create chaos just to rattle me.  Then he would turn around and blame me for the very chaos he cheerfully created.  He hardly ever was on my side and usually let the kids get away with bad behavior because he wanted to be the “fun dad.”  Then when I would try to get the kids to behave, he would say that I was being too harsh.  He didn’t back me up, which is what good team parenting should always do.

The narcissist wants the children to “love them more” and to act as his or her minions. The narcissist is so insecure that s/he is desperate for validation and needs to feel like the children needs them more. However, the children frequently find themselves struggling to identify with that parent because of the strings-attached love.

I could see that my little ones often felt unheard and inconsequential, and tense in the presence of their narcissist father. My six-year-old son would try to tell his daddy something about his day and the narcissist would just say “Uh huh, that’s great” without actually hearing what my son was telling him. My narcissist would not even try to really listen to the children, then he would talk over them. He always interrupted them and me. I could never get a word in edge wise. It drove me to the brink daily. Finally, I just stopped trying to even talk anymore, because it was just easier not to.

While staying in a relationship with a narcissist, the children will inevitably pick up on the abuse you suffer even if they are not yet the targets. It is unavoidable that the children will notice subtle hints of your suffering, no matter how hard you attempt to hide it. They will witness you walking on eggshells, they will see how you strive to avoid conflicts with Daddy or Mommy. They will learn how to play the game. Those eager little learners will eventually observe how they have to “perform” in order to reduce the negative reactions of the narcissist parent. And even more tragically, they may also learn from the narcissist parent how to manipulate others to bow down to their will. Regardless, the result of staying in a narcissistic relationship has terrible consequences to the children. Either they will be taught how to become the perfect victim for narcissistic abuse or they will become narcissistic abusers themselves.

This was a big reason why I chose to leave. I had to save my children from being groomed to be future victims of narcissists, or becoming narcissists themselves. I realized that leaving my narcissist was the only option if I wanted to save my children. At least they will spend the majority of their time with healthy, unconditionally loving relationships, which will help make up for the little amount of time that they have to spend with their soul sucking, emotionally absent father.

Everything is your fault. Even if the Narcissist forgets something, it is your fault…

Narcissists are incapable of taking responsibility for their actions, unless it is advantageous to them. They will ALWAYS take the credit when something good occurs, however, if it is something undesirable, they shirk their responsibility and shift the blame to everyone else. It is a mind numbing experience to witness. Every time this occurred during my marriage I felt like I wanted to bang my head against the wall, somehow I was always the one to blame.

Well, I am separated now and going through the divorce process and I still undergo the same treatment, however less frequent. The latest head banging occurrence has to do with my narcissist’s daily phone call to our two beautiful children. He has difficulty remembering to call our children on time, and when he is late, he always asks me why I did not call him to remind him to call. He blames me!

I have repeatedly explained to him that it was not my responsibility to make the call and remind him that is was his time to speak to our children. However, he sees it quite differently. He said that I am “mean” for not having the children call him if HE forgets. One night, he forget to make his call and the kids were already in bed. He actually wanted me to wake them up after I had tucked them into bed 30 minutes before his text. After I refused, he went on a texting diatribe blaming me for not reminding him to call his own children. He vilifies me for not being responsible for him.

In the early days of the separation, I would call him at his appointed time if he was late and he chastised me for “not being patient” and said that I was “pressuring him.” At the time, I thought I was doing him a favor. So, I stopped. I realized that it was HIS responsibility to remember to call our children, not mine. Then later he got mad at me for NOT calling to remind him to call. So, I gently explained to him that I had tried to help remind him before, but instead got yelled at by him for “not being patient.” He denied ever reacting that way.

So, this is just another prime example of how you cannot ever win with a narcissist, you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Narcissists Rationalize Their Mistreatment of You and Belittle Your Concerns

I have come to the conclusion that a narcissist has the emotional equivalent of a 4 year old. It is as if they are a child trapped inside an adult’s body because everything is all about them. They are the sun and the whole planetary system revolves around them. They walk all over you as if you were no more than a blade of grass under their foot. If I ever had a legitimate concern about my health, (for example, I would experience strange pins and needles in my extremities) my narcissist husband would dismiss it as nothing, however, his plantar fasciitis (annoying heel pain) seemed to be the end of the world!

Even issues I had about our relationship were played down by him. One time, I expressed concern to my husband by saying that I can’t help but feel like I am “walking on eggshells around him.” He looked indignant at me and callus. He scoffed at me without any concern for my feelings and said, “that sounds like something your Mother would say.” Then he asked, “Has she been filling your head with this kind of psychological jargon?” This is just another example of a narcissist showing his lack of empathy. He never asked me any deep questions about WHY I felt the way that I did. He was just offended that I had anything to say that made it apparent that our relationship had issues that he was ignoring.

The vasectomy talk went much worse. When we were first married, he told me that he would have a vasectomy after we decided we were done having children. Well, when that time came after our second child, he refused to get the surgery. He put it off and said maybe in a year. Then after that year came and went, I brought the topic up and he said that he still was not ready and that he didn’t appreciate me pushing him!  I was sick of being on birth control pills and they were making my hair fall out in clumps. So, I expressed my sincere concern about the serious side effects of pills, like cancer as well as stroke and deep vein thrombosis for women over age 30, but he did not care. He is even a doctor and knows the risks but still downplayed them. He made me feel like I was making a big deal over nothing. He insisted that I just stay on the pills anyway. He was really upset that night, so I just bit my lip and let it go. I waited yet another year, then all hell broke loose.

The night I dared to bring it up for the third time in a 2 ½ year time span, I was in tears because I already knew how he would respond to me pleading for him to get the surgery. He reacted with no emotion except irritation and anger. He was offended, indignant and upset that I brought the topic up on a “weeknight when he just wanted to relax and watch TV with his wife.” I was having medical problems at the time and serious anxiety symptoms that I contributed to the pills, as well as the continued hair loss. I was really meek and tried to convey my depth of concern for my health by continually taking the pill. I humbly asked him to reconsider and have the surgery. He responded with no concern for me, no hugs, no understanding, no empathy. Obviously. Instead, all he thought about was himself and how this conversation was “ruining his night.” He even went as far as to say, “we have discussed this before, you are pushing me again and now I may never be ready to have the surgery. But if you want to go ahead and have your tubes tied, then be my guest.” I was horrified, not because of the $10,000 price difference between a tubal ligation vs. a vasectomy, but that he would suggest that I was the one being unreasonable.

He had a warped way of thinking that I could not wrap my head around.  I then asked him why I should continue to risk my health by taking the pill and he responded by saying that “he risks his life every day driving to work” and he has a much higher likelihood of getting killed on the road than I do of having complications from the pill so I should just “take one for the team.” I was flabbergasted at his comments, then it got even worse. He continued to elaborate that if he got the surgery, I would be able to get remarried and have more children with someone else if I ever decided to leave him, but that he couldn’t if he wanted to. I could not believe what he was saying!  Up to that point, I never even considered that possibility as an option. He thought so little of me and did not trust me, which was the real reason he refused the surgery he once promised to have. He was a liar, a fraud. He thought only about himself and his needs and wants. It was abundantly clear to me how our marriage would be moving forward at that point on. It wouldn’t.

I then said that if he refused to get the simple procedure, I was going to go off of the pill, and we would just have to use condoms. Boy, he hit the roof!  He was horrified that I would even propose such a solution. He said that he would not even consider using condoms with his wife. So, I was held hostage, I had no choice but to stay on the pill because at that moment I realized that he did not care one ounce for me, for what I wanted and whether I felt healthy or not. It was his way or no way!  As such, I decided that as much as I love my two children, the only thing worse than staying on the pill was having another child with that man who cared nothing for me.

The whole night was an eye-opener, my narcissist had the cunning ability to rationalize his mistreatment of me in the most despicable ways. I learned that I may have no choice but to leave him at some point, but the final straw was yet to come.

So, the moral of this memory is…if you feel like your concerns go unheard by your partner, than it is time to consider the worst. He or she does not really love you or respect you, this is a common indicator of a narcissistic relationship.

 

 

 

 

Narcissists Have Unrealistic Expectations and Do Not Believe in Change

One of the biggest indicators of narcissism is a preoccupation with things staying the same. They operate the same in every relationship they enter and narcissists do not believe in change as an individual. The reason for this is because they feel that they are perfect and have no reason to change. One time, I made a comment of how “relationships change and people grow as they go through life” and he could not comprehend what I was saying.  Instead, he got irate and said “I like what we have, our relationship should always be in the honeymoon phase!” I responded with a gentle laugh and said that he cannot be serious, but sadly he was.  It is nature’s truth that nothing stays the same, even a child can figure that out by witnessing the leaves changing from green to brown, and falling down.  I went on to say that it is not natural to never alter your views on life as you grow older. The people you meet, the places you visit, the successes as well as the failures all teach us about who we are and how to better ourselves. Personal growth leads to a more fulfilling life.  But in that moment, he looked at me like I had spiders crawling out of my ears.  I knew right then, that it was going to be a bumpy ride!

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A typical trait of narcissism involves the “preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love” according to Sam Vaknin, self proclaimed and clinically diagnosed narcissist. This preoccupation manifests itself throughout everything narcissists do. Their view on life is considered by them to be the “correct” view, no matter how distorted their opinion of the world actually is. Thus, we the victims, must go along with the narcissist’s beliefs or else face punishment which may consist of silent treatments, rages, attacks, put-downs, pouting, guilt trips, etc.

Whatever your situation, the narcissist is obsessed with his or her idea of success. Whether the success be financial, supreme intelligence, gorgeous looks, or even relationship status, the ultimate control is key. In my situation, my narcissist was certainly obsessed with his retirement portfolio. He researched stocks and bonds every day. He spoke about retirement a few times a week despite the fact that he was 43. He defined success as retiring at 50. He was in a big hurry to go nowhere.  I always supported his goals, however, my family does not believe in retirement and feel that when you retire, your mind shuts down and you die sooner. Anyways, the thought of him not going to a place of work during the day and being around me even more, I admit sent shock waves throughout my system. I would push that thought as far away from my mind as possible. I desperately clung to the hope that he would change his mind as he was so prone to do.

We must learn to recognize that narcissists have a preoccupation with things staying the same. They are stagnant, repetitive creatures. Have you ever noticed that your narcissist constantly repeats him or herself? Mine was so predictable, I knew what he was going to say before he even opened his mouth.  And if you choose to stay with yours, it is a certainty that you will never be able to change your situation or to grow as a human being. I needed to break free from the chains my narcissist clamped around me, so that I could be unrestricted to grow and thrive as an individual has a right to.

 

The Narcissist has no empathy, however, you seem to have an endless supply, even for him…

It is a big sign that your partner is a narcissist when they appear to have no real empathy for you, or others. They appear indifferent and cold as ice. If the situation or topic is about something that they do not value, they shrug it off as inconsequential. Of course, narcissists sometimes simulate empathy, by using stale words with no real emotion behind them because they have learned the socially acceptable vocabulary for particular situations, however the real substance of emotion is missing. Actions speak louder than words here.

In my case, I told my narcissist husband about my dear friend’s mother dying when my friend was just a little girl. I told him that her mother had a long battle with a debilitating illness and a kidney transplant, but then passed away. I was overwhelmed with sadness for my friend and was telling my husband how I was in awe of her amazing life story and how she kept a positive outlook on life, despite her horrible loss at such a young age. His response was a bland “Oh that is too bad,” then he changed the subject. He had no expression on his face, in fact he started eating. I again asked him what he thought about my friend’s story and he had no other response or insight. I was appalled by his emptiness.

The real truth is that you and I are people with an overabundance of empathy. This type of person is called an “empath.” Narcissists choose highly compassionate, considerate and understanding individuals as their victims. They know that they have a much easier time manipulating a person who always looks for the good in others. You are a beautiful person with a beautiful soul, that is the upside. However, you have to look at the whole picture when looking at a person and not just the good pieces. All the pieces, good and bad, fit together to make up the puzzle of the person they are.

You know deep down that you overlooked the red flags that have been there since the beginning of your relationship. You either saw them and disregarded them because you felt that he had too many other good qualities to balance out the odd behaviors. Or you saw them and was afraid that acknowledging the problematic behavior meant that you had to confront him and you did not want to hurt his feelings, or risk losing him. As a result, you find yourself making excuses for his bad behavior by thinking that everybody handles emotions differently. You look for the good to balance out the bad, thus you are fooling yourself on a daily basis.

I will never forget the huge altercation my narcissist had with my parents Easter weekend, which happened to be my birthday this year. My parents were visiting for the weekend and after I spent all afternoon cooking a homemade dinner, my parents offered to get ice cream at the local store and my Dad wanted to take me along, for a one on one for a few minutes. However, my narcissist was offended that my dad wanted time with just me. So, he picked a huge fight with my wonderful, loving parents, he belittled them, and he put me down in front of them. He couldn’t be reasoned with and they had no choice but to leave early and drive three hours back to their house, and missing out on the holiday and my birthday, because he was so horrid to them and they did not want the children to witness anymore of their father’s antics. Basically, he cut my parents out of our lives that day, then he expected me to act like it did not matter to me.

Then the day after the confrontation, my narcissist expected me to act as if nothing happened. He wanted an automatic return of the status quo after the confrontation. I was not allowed to have lingering sorrow. He said that he thought we resolved the problem and he did not want to see me sulking. I responded that he could not expect a person, especially a woman, to go about her life as if nothing ever happened. I told him that I am entitled to my feelings of sadness, that I could not simply put a smile on my face and pretend that life was ok. This is an example of no empathy, and being out of touch with others feelings. My parents are the biggest parts of my life, they made me who I am. They supported every decision I ever made and had been nothing but supportive of us, then he treats them like garbage! Well, I made a choice that day, I was going to organize my plan to leave my narcissist husband.

If you have discovered that you are the victim of a narcissist, you must be a fabulous lady, because a narcissist only chooses the best for himself. You are probably asking yourself how you could have gotten into this situation with this hollow person? It is not your fault, so stop beating yourself up over it. You were deceived by a professional liar and manipulator. The valuable lesson is to learn the traits of a narcissist, so that you will never be fooled again.

The Narcissist’s abusive control can cause physical illness in the victim

The Narcissist’s abusive control can cause physical illness in the victim

The control they exert over you is so smothering. To me it felt like he had both hands cupping my heart and would squeeze it when he was asserting his will. I could not catch a deep, fulfilling breath in his presence. I felt like I was drowning on a daily basis.

The constant pressure of perfect performance gets to you after a while. The stress is ever present. I have always prided myself on being a “type A” personality, I get things done. I am a perfectionist, I am a neat freak, I cook and clean and do what is asked of me, and have not had a babysitter in over 3 years! I am a non-practicing attorney because I much prefer to stay at home with my children and watch them grow into amazing individuals. So I have been a full time homeschool mom these past 7 years. That can be a strain at times as any woman knows, but it is worth every minute!

However, if I ever voiced any of my tensions from that day, my narcissist would say “What’s wrong with you Mommy? Can’t you handle the house and the kids, or is that just too much for you?” Then he would go on about how stressful his job was and that my job at home was not stressful and that he would gladly trade his job for staying at home with the kids and putting me to work anytime. He belittled me so often like this that I could never have a qualm or complaint without him accusing me of being “ungrateful” that I got to stay at home.

All I wanted was to vent and to be able to talk to him about how draining it can be when you have a toddler throwing massive tantrums and a 5 year old fighting for attention all day long without even a second for me to decompress. He never wanted to hear about my day, even though he would ask sometimes. His eyes would glaze over and he would not pay attention to one word I said. Then he would ask me questions that I had already answered earlier in the conversation. I became furious with him at the drop of a hat because I was so horribly frustrated at not being heard by him. I felt like I was talking to a hole in the wall. It is a sad truth that narcissists don’t listen or pay attention to anything that is not related to them directly.

Believe me, I know pressure, I know stress! I went to law school and even passed the bar the first time. However, the pressure and stress that the narcissist applies was a dose that I could not withstand any longer.

My health was suffering and I started getting tingles in my legs and arms. I thought I had Multiple Sclerosis. I had five MRI’s that said nothing was wrong, thankfully! The neurologist asked me if I was an “anxious person” because he could only deduce that my body was responding to extreme pressure and stress with physical symptoms. Knowing what I know now, I believe that I had a nervous breakdown from all of the worry and upheaval that we have had the past 7 years of marriage. I noticed that the tingling got worse when my narcissist was around me, especially if he had “an issue he wanted to discuss with me.” That was one of the ways he framed his abusive diatribes.

During those times, I didn’t know what Narcissistic Personality Disorder was, but now I wish I had. It would have saved me so much pain and worry and youth. Time is something that you cannot buy and if you choose to waste it, you can never get it back.