“Get inspired by those who speak out. Whether through blogging or marching, make your voice heard.”
I remember when it hit me hard. Smack dab in the middle of the forehead. I had wondered for years…
What’s the matter with him?
Why can’t he behave like a decent human being?
On a day in 2009, I finally realized I had been living with a narcissist for almost 30 years. One with a personality disorder. Someone who was probably not going to change his ways any time soon. It was gut-wrenching and it was an epiphany. I had already learned of my own co-dependency through counseling and made the decision to file for divorce. Now I had the knowledge that this decision was correct and there was no turning back.
Readers, you may have already asked yourself how narcissim is related to speaking out. Friends, I feel the need to write about a very personal journey and how it affected my vote for U.S. President last November.
No, I did not vote for him. I could never and I knew this early on in his campaign.
From the Mayo Clinic website: “Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.
My former husband had a severely fragile self-esteem. It was about as thin as one can see with the naked eye. He didn’t accept criticism well, opting instead to project himself as the victim or lashing out at the other person with anger. There were many days the floor of our apartment was covered in eggshells while attempts were made to not further break any of them. It’s difficult to live with the uncertainty of thin skin, not knowing what would set him off next.
If the ex-husband would have been tech saavy, I’m positive he would have been proclaiming his “poor me” victimization on Facebook and Twitter.
Instead, I had to listen to the rants or be the brunt of his angry sputtering.
“If you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may feel a sense of entitlement — and when you don’t receive special treatment, you may become impatient or angry.”
Lacking in empathy and belittling was huge. It drove me to distraction. The words that came out of his mouth about people of color, people of differing sexual orientation, people of all sizes and shapes, people who didn’t matter to him…were horrible. Remember the low self-esteem? Yeah, the words were said in order to make himself feel better. Bashing other people that he didn’t know somehow made him smarter, better looking, and more important in his own mind. To me and to others around him, it was pure meanness.
If he had been President, he would have also built a wall and sent people back to their country of origin.
There is no doubt in my mind.
DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder includes (but is not limited to) these features:
- Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations
- Taking advantage of others to get what you want
- Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
Unquestioning compliance, taking advantage, inability to recognize needs and feelings…this was him in a deeply personal way. He wanted and expected sex all of the time. When he didn’t get it, there was something wrong with ME. “Don’t you like men anymore? What’s the matter with you? Are you gay?”
No, I’m not gay. I found out after I left you that I simply didn’t like having sex with you. Period.
In a normal, loving relationship, a man will put his arm around his wife and speak of his love for her. He will give her hugs. They may hold hands in public. I had always wanted that from the former husband, but there was no hand-holding, never a hug without wanting more. An outstretched hand meant “copping a feel” to suit his needs and desires.
If the former husband would have had money and power? He would have offered an outstretched hand to any woman he deemed worthy.
The former husband had neither wealth nor power, only me. I was the sole target, although I found out years later he had cheated on me with a neighbor. I should have left him then, but the co-dependency held me in, kept me trapped until I came to my senses a little too late.
There were additional shenanigans attached to this narcissism. Much of it surrounded his need to control me in the form of emotional abuse. I’m not proud I succumbed and gave into his will for so many years and I wonder how I stood it for so long.
There are no medications to treat Narcissistic Personality Disorder, only for the depression it can cause. Treatment of NPD is centered around psychotherapy. Because personality traits can be difficult to change, therapy can take several years.
I was not prepared to wait several years. I had talked him into seeing a counselor and I was going to one as well. While I was learning about co-dependency and how to appropriately reflect my desires and feelings to him, he was telling his counselor, “I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t know why she wants to leave me.” When I would return home from a counseling session, he would ask, “Did they fix you yet?”
The former husband felt he could say and do as he pleased without ramification. If any of the “say and do” blew up in his face, it was never his fault. It was my fault or the neighbor’s fault or the cat’s fault or the dust bunny’s fault. Never his.
If he were President, there would be no filters. He would most likely piss off every ally of the U.S. with the words that would come from his mouth.
I am not writing this to anger supporters of our current President. I respect their freedom and right to vote for whoever they choose. However, I am writing this so that they know my experience with narcissism and what it is, what it looks like. I felt narcissism in our President long before he was the Republican nominee…from living with it for 30 long years. It was like jumping on a bicycle after six years of not riding – the knowledge of it stayed with me, not allowing me to forget, always spinning its wheels.
On election night and into the next morning, I didn’t sleep much. I kept looking at my phone.
No, no, no, no, this can’t be right. It can’t be true.
In a way, I felt the pain of those 30 years all over again. The memories with the former husband came flooding back in a way I was not prepared for. I kept hoping I was in a bad Star Trek dream and would wake up in a different reality.
This is why I must speak out. Narcissism in the form of a personality disorder is a serious matter. It negatively affects and hurts people and the narcissist doesn’t have a clue because, after all, the universe revolves around him. It does not belong in the hands or heart or psyche of any human being, especially a world leader.
That being said, if the former husband were President, I’m sure the tweet about this post would not be kind.