My last post was perhaps my most controversial ever. I realised when I wrote it, that I was potentially victim-blaming. A family member struggles through and manages to flee relatively intact, from a horribly abusive narcissistic family unit. Here I am pointing out their responsibilities. Hardly anybody escapes the narcissistic family dynamic without at the very least a few narcissistic fleas. It is also extremely likely that they (the “escapee”) yearn for acceptance from their narcissistic siblings and parents. It is this yearning which leaves everybody exposed. Thus instead of having made an escape, all they have actually managed to do, is bring fresh victims into the fray.
My belief these days is that protecting your family, even from blood relatives, is a primary responsibility. However too often, integrity can be compromised, in order to obtain a few meagre crumbs from the table of narcissistic siblings and parents.
The narcissistic family often looks perfect from the outside. Lots of family unity and togetherness. I have had trouble discerning what level of family interference is just the normal, annoying stuff and what isn’t. I mean everybody struggles with in-laws at times but the narcissistic dynamic is something else. If you don’t bend to their will, they relentlessly seek to cause trouble. I watch a lovely guy on You Tube, who believes he is protecting his family from narcissistic in-laws. I want him to be right but feel his in-laws are just waiting for an opportunity to pounce. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, which can unfortunately tend to be, the partner with the narcissistic family.
No contact would have to be complete and total, for a relationship to survive narcissistic in-laws untainted or they will continue to find weaknesses and cause trouble through anybody they can get to.
I have seen it not just in my own relationship but also in the relationships of others. I am coming to believe that sometimes those family members who appear relatively untouched by narcissism, potentially do the most damage, effectively luring the unwary into their disordered situation. People from narcissistic families who enable the behaviour and who do not protect their partners and children adequately, using very strict boundaries or no-contact, are no longer innocent victims of their family of origin’s abuse. They further perpetuate it.
Being a migrant anywhere I believe you seem to be automatically at a disadvantage. I found a website called Expat Online or something similar. I was surprised to discover many women in a similar situation to myself. The plight of an Australian girl living in Europe had particularly caught my eye. Her experiences had very much mirrored my own and like me she had had no success reaching out for help. In fact her situation was worse than my own. She could not speak the language. When she had tried to get help, the men(including her partner) had stood there chatting and she had had the distinct impression she was being portrayed as crazy.
We did go for several bouts of couple’s counselling. That was a mistake. In fact attending counselling with him was so traumatising, I had flashbacks for ages. I had soon realised he was so plausible, nobody was going to help me and if we split up, he and his awful family would get hold of the children. I was not going to surrender my children to him under any circumstances. I have since read the book The Sociopath Next Door and have decided my instincts were probably correct. I made the decision to sit it out until the children were old enough to be allowed to make their own choices. In the meantime I set about doing my best to make it work. I had even read Dr Phil’s Relationship Rescue. The best advice was to really study your partner. I did this with gusto. I had tried to discover what his needs were and did my best to meet them. I became interested in photography and had become meticulous about storing our photos as one consequence of this.
The photos had really helped me too. I had focussed on the good times and developed strategies to manage his behaviour. By and large this had actually worked really well and I had managed to be relatively happy most of the time. I was open with the children about their dad. I have since discovered Sam Vaknin says much the same thing -basically tell the children the truth His rages in my eyes were the tantrums of a three year old and I would not give in to them under any circumstances. He had improved significantly, although mixing with his family was a major trigger for him. One family member in particular had known exactly how to push his buttons. I ended up going no contact with most of his family. This was not because I had known anything about “No contact” I had just realised it had felt so much better having nothing to do with them. It still does.
I came to feel a bit sorry for my ex at times. I had watched his relationship with his family and had tried to learn from it. I could see he had not really been allowed to develop his own seperate identity. I had recognised he had no idea who he really was. I thought how lucky I was to have been allowed to develop my own seperate identity. I thanked my parents for this many times. He did however triangulate me with his family all the time. As I largely ignored them, it bothered me less and less.
Things had deteriorated again when he had changed jobs and had started to move up the corporate ladder. I had hated the whole corporate wife thing and had refused to conform. My ex had found this frustrating but our children were really well-liked as I had done my best to bring them up with minds of their own. I think this was to some extent respected. They were polite but they did not conform either.
My relationship with my ex had deteriorated on joining the new company. The blokey, chauvinistic culture had really got up my nose and I did not hide it. However I was now fighting to keep things stable on too many fronts. I became deeply unhappy. He had started to completely disregard my opinion on anything. He now had to make absolutely all the decisions. He would sit on his laptop and later his phone and simply plan our lives with no consultation. I had periodic problems with flying monkeys but I would basically tell them to get lost. I have zero tolerance for flying monkeys. I learned to laugh at the narc’s harem. I thought if you are dumb enough to put up with what I have had to, good luck to you. The whole time I had kept my eye on my timeline. If things had not improved by the time the children could make their own decisions, then it would be over.
The end had come a little earlier than I had intended. It was God’s timing which mattered in the end. I had told him his threats no longer intimidated me. I think that was it in his mind. He had then planned a scene.
When I had sat there listening to Desperado that day, I had decided it was better to take a chance and just live life. I knew love lives seemed to be a hassle but I had recognised, I had to take a chance on love eventually, even though I feared the drama and hassles of serious relationships. When I analyse things, I wonder if that was why I had ended up in a relationship with a narcissist. Somehow dealing with somebody of so little depth, had perhaps not appeared so overwhelming. Still I believe narcissistic relationships may be becoming the norm. I believe vastly more people are dealing with narcissists than realise it. You know the stories, people suddenly discovering their partners lived double lives. I certainly believe narcissism has probably infiltrated just about every family somewhere. I was surprised to learn that the brother of a dear friend of mine had been caught up in a terrible situation with a narcissistic partner. My friend had known little about narcissism and what her brother was going through, why he had appeared so trapped and why he had appeared at times to reject them. I was able to explain things to her. Another friend has a sister struggling to escape in a long term narcissistic marriage. I was able to help her understand too
I believe this is a spiritual thing and that only God can truly deal with a narcissist. Our job is not to fix them, it is just to get away and stay away.
I do have some advantages as a survivor of narcissistic abuse. I have a fantastic long-term memory-not quite Sheldon Cooper’s but getting there. I vividly remember almost every horrid thing he put me through, which is why I could never contemplate going back for another dose of the same and yet he still seems to think that one day I will welcome him back into my life in some capacity. I have explained to my youngsters, in pretty lurid terms, that it’s not happening but he still periodically attempts to hoover through them. I am so grateful to all the You Tubers, bloggers etc who opened my eyes to what was going on. Without you I might have been stuck on the same dizzying merry-go-round forever.
I do hope that my story may also help others,
It was easy to let him do all the talking. I just thought, let him do the work for a change. I had had a surpringly lovely time, even though those early red flags were clearly there, I had chosen to ignore them. I did notice he seemed to be calling the shots but I was not unduly bothered. I had just viewed it as an adventure. I was in the mood to take a chance, considering I had nothing to lose. How wrong could I be?This journey has just about cost me everything.
We went absolutely everywhere on trips. We had ended up buying a car together, when his car had died while we were away on a holiday and we had barely been able to limp home. It was becoming increasingly clear to me that he just could not hear the word NO. I just mistook this for a little immaturity and had shrugged my shoulders. I had only started to get irritated, after I had explained how I really had not wanted to go away for two weeks and but had still somehow, found myself on a two-week trip. This time I was actually pretty angry yet had no idea that his behaviour might be a sign of anything sinister. He had started to deliberately push my buttons by this time. I would squawk and he would then smirk. I did eventually start to push back. Realising I was getting nowhere asking him to stop poking me, I had poked him back. He had not liked it but it had seemed to deter his behaviour. I finally realised patient explanations were usually a complete waste of time. At some point after we had been married many years, I had decided he was a sociopath and had started fighting back. I would go on strike or remove any objects which had appeared to cause problems from the house (making it clear what I had done and why I had done it) once I had begun to understand how little he actually cared about anybody. He had seemed to care much more for objects than for people.
One incident I will never forget is being away in a hotel. The alarm had gone off in the middle of the night. I went straight into teacher mode and we had started to evacuate. He had suddenly decided to go back for his glasses. Against my better judgement, we had waited for him but he had not reappeared. Worrying frantically I had made the children the priority and headed off through the fire escape corridors. I was shaken and upset that I had had to leave him behind. When we had finally reached the hotel lobby, I had found him already standing there drinking and chatting happily, clearly completely unconcerned. I was livid. That and several other incidents of that nature, caused me to have my own private name for him.
You know the cat who wasn’t there. I do not believe for one moment that he would have acted any differently, had there been a real fire. He could be very caring towards the children at times but then callously indifferent at others.
I did not want to believe the behaviour was entirely deliberate. I just thought he didn’t get it but he sure seemed to know the right way to behave when he thought he would have an audience.