Updated: Oct 29, 2020
When I googled ‘NPD’ after hearing about it on a Lifetime movie, to say I was floored is the understatement of the year. NPD is the abbreviation for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I’m not going to lie, I dug into narcissism after the movie because the woman was batsh*t crazy. She was vindicative, evil, and got pleasure making other people feel like crap. There was no line she wouldn’t cross or person she wouldn’t betray.
I’m a teacher and lifelong student. I spend endless hours researching the most random stuff anything from Autism to rare medical conditions. My boys always tell me I read too much. Setting off on my new learning adventure into NPD, I quickly stumbled upon Quora. There appears to be an endless supply of information from both narcissists and those who have lived/survived being in a relationship with a narcissist. Soon, words like supply, gaslight, stonewall, and discard took on a new meaning. I read story after story, plus all the comments on I could get my hands on via Quora.
It was a truly eye-opening experience for me. Just as God said ‘Let there be light’ at the beginning of all creation, in an instant I was blinded by the knowledge. In no time at all, I was knee deep in people’s stories and their unique experiences with a narcissist spouse, parent, friend, family member, etc. I was drawn to those stories from women who suffered through emotional trauma after romantic relationships with a narcissistic partner. I could have written many of the stories myself.
I literally saw myself and read my story authored by another woman. At that point everything between my ex-husband and I finally came into focus. I read those women ask the same questions I had been asking myself for over a decade. What’s wrong with me? What could I have done differently? Do I really deserve something better? Will I ever be ‘enough’ as I am? Why wasn’t I enough for him? Why did he cheat? Why did he stay out all hours of the night? Why did he never spend time with our boys? I could go on and on here, but I think you get the point.
My 19-year-old self, just a sophomore in college, met a guy at a bar when she was out with her boyfriend of the time. That guy seemed perfect and had her questioning the relationship she was in that had stalled. The ‘dating’ phase was intense. He remembered the small things and showered me with gifts, even leaving my favorite snacks in my car before my night classes. He brought me out of my shell - before I was a relatively quiet, shy, do-gooder type and he was the guy with blue hair and tattoos. He was the life of the party and always cracking jokes. Everybody loved being around him.
In no time at all, he was staying over every night at my mom’s with me instead of his apartment. 4 months into the relationship, I moved in with him and 3 shorts months after that we started looking for a house. I’m from the South and literally had no idea what he was doing with me. I was focused on college and working full time at the bank, trying to make the right choices as I entered adulthood. He encouraged me to let loose and have a little fun. I started drinking alcohol (everyone in our group was older). I craved the social life he brought into my life.
We bought the house after only dating 10 months and on our one-year anniversary he proposed with pancakes - my favorite. Looking back, it was too much, too fast. A few months before meeting him I was still nursing a major broken heart when my high school boyfriend and I finally called it quits. Soon I was engulfed in planning my wedding - something I never thought I’d have growing up as poor as we were. He did really do much to help out and I started noticing some red flags, but I assumed it was just stress from planning a wedding, taking night classes, and my new job at the local military base.
I was brought up Southern Baptist and throughout my teen years we were at the church every time the doors were open. I was super active in my youth group and most of my friends (& that high school boyfriend) were Christians as well. My fiancée did not believe in God at all. Looking back, my involvement in church activities and fellowship ended as I got more serious with my ex.
My ex was a spender and I was a saver after having grown up so poor. Warning bells were echoing one night we were supposed to go have dinner with friends. He is an avid mountain biker and broke some part on a ride earlier in the day and called to ask if I’d put in on my card until he got paid. I asked the amount so I could figure out which card to give him. He called back almost immediately upset that the card was denied. I asked him how much the charge was, and he said a number over double what he had told me. Mind you I’m scraping pennies to buy flowers and monogramed napkins for the wedding, and he wanted to max out a credit card for his BIKE.
I should have pulled the plug there, but I continued on with the wedding planning. I kick myself for not entertaining the idea of meeting up with my high school boyfriend shortly after he finished college a few weeks before my wedding. I can honestly say I never really got over him - seriously I still have dreams about him, and we broke up over 15 years ago. How different my life would have been? He was a good Christian guy I met at church - the kind of guy I always thought I’d end up with to be honest. But I chose the bad boy with blue hair. Dumb*ss.
Red Flags I missed or explained away
- He never really did anything with my family. I’d always have to give some excuse as to why he wasn’t here this time.
- He loved staying out all hours of the night. I mean rolling in after 4 or 5am was a ‘normal’ thing for him.
- I got in the habit of leaving him wherever he was and going home so I could be ready for class/work/mummying
- Most of his friends were single - no married couple friends or friends with kids
- He frequently posted photos after midnight with other females. I literally had to explain to him that it was inappropriate to have his profile pic with him kissing another girl.
- I was never affectionate enough and he complained we weren’t intimate enough (I had a gyn issue that made it painful and unbearable)
- He would never really answer a question - just kind of talked around it
- He lied about the smallest of things even if you had proof
- He took several solo trips a year without me or the kids
- He never, ever did anything with the boys and once mentioned he was afraid to be alone with him
I don’t think I would have been able to leave had he not asked for a divorce first and the evidence of his cheating. He sucked me dry - financially, mentally, physically, and spiritually. I was a shell of that 19-year-old girl ready to take on the world. Left in her shadow was a very insecure, vulnerable girl who thought she was worthless and defective in some way. He convinced me I was less of a woman not worthy of any male attention. I’d never be enough for someone else.
We were married for almost 10 years and have been divorced for 3 years now. I’m in a much healthier romantic relationship. I still suffer from what he did to me mentally. I realize now that much of depression and anxiety remain because I lived so long in such a stressful environment. I’m working on healing, but it’s all too easy to fall into negative lines of thinking. I still do not see myself as ‘enough’ or ‘worthy’ most days. I’m a work in progress.