Therapy Session #1: Narcissism
Remember when I told y’all I don’t see a therapist anymore? Well, here you are…about the kill it as my new confidant. Let’s put your mad skills to use. Pen and paper out…session #1 begins now.
I am divorced. Quite happily, actually. The fifteen-year relationship I deemed the most important in my life at the time was dark, unpredictable, unhealthy, and fake. I stepped into the light…tentatively and with lots of hesitation, but stepped nonetheless…and have never looked back in longing or regret. Not ever.
My ex-husband and I dated for seven years before tying the knot. I knew. I knew he wasn’t the one. I knew he had a major issue. I knew I was going down a dark path…possibly one of no return. But, I’m stubborn. I’m not a quitter. I like to be right, to prove people wrong, and to fix problems. He was a problem that I couldn’t fix, but I wouldn’t accept that for fifteen years.
Narcissism. I didn’t know the term until waaaaaaay after I left our home and our marriage. My old therapist probably said the word…may have even explained the signs and the damaging effects it was having on me…but that part of my life–almost all 15 years–is filled with a thick fog. To backtrack just a bit, I dated my ex for 7 years and was married for 6 years total (almost 2 of those being the separation and divorce process). We had two kids in the middle there somewhere. One day, a bomb went off…quite literally…there was a slow downward spiral and then we hit rock-bottom. Or I did. I don’t remember being fully aware of what was happening; I wasn’t able to express my feelings or thoughts at the time. I just knew I needed to get out. So I left. Just like that. Packed bags for me and the kids, grabbed a few toys, called my parents, and I walked away. No real explanation to him…I couldn’t put it into words yet.
During the separation and divorce process–which is long in the state of South Carolina–I was overwhelmed by emotion, beat down from his hate, and lost. I had lost myself. I was going through the motions. I was experiencing life through somewhat of an outer-body experience. Looking back, I guess I was protecting myself…or what was left of my self.
I read this article a while ago, and it slapped me in the face.
Y’all. This article. THIS ARTICLE! This chick lays it out so perfectly and professionally. Read it. If you know someone who’s in a relationship like this, read it. If YOU are in a relationship like this, read it. Read. It.
Narcissism is a scary thing. And the author of that article states that 1 in 6 people are narcissistic. Whaaaaaaaat??! I mean….what?!
Here’s my personal breakdown…5 years out, 3 years of therapy, thousands of prayers, constant family support, a couple unsuccessful relationships (learning experiences), daily reflection, and an increasing self-love. Let me say this: I am not a doctor, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a counselor, a therapist, or an expert. I lived this. I’m going to speak from my personal experience. No names.
A narcissist (like my ex) is incapable of empathy. He manipulated me. He devalued me. He masterfully exploited insecurities, strengths, and the desire I had to please him. He knew my deepest fears, my biggest insecurities, my flaws, my secrets. He filed those away in his mental drawer, only to pull one out at the most opportune moment to deliver a crushing blow to my ego and send me to an emotional cave to put my pieces back together. The emotional and psychological devastation he was creating and causing (on purpose) was damaging and chronic. He strategically cut me off from friends and family, filling my head with manipulating lies. He talked down to me, called me names, blamed me for everything, laughed at me, made fun of me. There was no limit to his meanness. He had all the power. All. The. Power.
To everyone else, I was the “crazy one.” To hear him tell it, I was always mad or upset about something, ruining his fun, making rules. He was charming and charismatic, fun and full of energy. That mask hid the cruelty I got at home. He never took responsibility or accountability…was never forced to because he was living two personas. To say I lived on my toes does not even begin to describe the mess I was in. My old therapist (remember, you’re my therapist now) said I had PTSD. Yes, PTSD. From my husband. The person who was supposed to take care of me, to love me, to cherish me. PTSD.
It is abuse. It is a cycle. It’s magnetic and feels unbreakable.
I broke it because of my kids. I feel very confident that I would still be a Mrs. if I didn’t have these two precious boys. These two little BOYS looking at me for everything, needing love and guidance during their most formative years of development. These two little boys watching their dad yell, demean, belittle, and hurt their mom…all the while filing away their own take-aways for future relationships, self-talk, and core values. I couldn’t have them ending up like that. I could not produce another him for society. I couldn’t have that for them, for me, for their future girlfriends and wives, for their bosses and employees, for their friends, for the world. I could not do that. So I stopped the movement. Broke the cycle. Changed our script.
Y’all, I start my blog with this deep personal hurt because I am standing in the light now. This is part of my story…my fabric…my purpose. I see it more clearly now. I have put words to the pain and the process. I’m on the other side. Read that article. Really read it. Make mental notes. Look at the people close to you. ONE in SIX, y’all. Check on your friends and family members. I was too scared to admit where I was…it took someone telling me what to do. Keep it real for your peeps, y’all. Nobody deserves this.