I’m appreciative of the emails, comments and messages that I’ve been getting lately. Many of them are thought provoking and some are somewhat difficult to answer.
This question came through today as a comment on my blog:
Have you figured out why you married this man? What was the issue with your self esteem, your sense of right & wrong, and your boundaries that led you to marry someone who behaves in this way? The reason I ask is because – if you don’t figure this out, you may make the same sort of mistake (or a similar mistake) in the future.
- Why did I marry this man?
He was charming, sophisticated and intelligent. Those were all qualities that my previous partners lacked. I obviously don’t have the credentials to diagnose him however, I feel with every ounce of my being that he is narcissistic in every sense of the word. I recently stumbled upon a website which I’ve connected with deeply– The Path Forward: Surviving a Narcissist by Lisa E. Scott. To the public, he was a Knight in Shining Armor. It was the fairytale romance– my friends were jealous of the lengths he went to in order to woo me. My family was impressed by the stories (flowers, vacations, cars, etc) that I told of our dating life. I was so enamored by who he claimed to be and the life he claimed we would have that I brushed the other issues aside. I told myself that no one is perfect and if I expected perfection then I would end up alone. He would shower me with compliments when I was feeding his ego and then break me down in small, subtle ways. He slowly (over time) led me to believe that I would never be loved or wanted by anyone else. Essentially, I was lucky that he chose me.
- What was the issue with my self esteem, sense of right/wrong and my boundaries that led me to marry someone who behaves this way?
At the time we met, I was actually in counseling to work on myself. I hadn’t dated for a year and devoted that time to understanding myself and learning to stand on my own two feet. During that year, I worked on childhood issues and other things.
I remember telling my counselor a few months into my relationship that I just didn’t have feelings for him– I wasn’t physically attracted to him at all…I wasn’t “head over heals” in the way that I would expect to be. Her answer to me: “Just because this feels different than what you are accustomed to doesn’t mean its bad. You haven’t been in a relationship with someone who dotes on you and buys you things/does nice things for you so it feels odd. Don’t be afraid of something just because its different than what you are used to”.
I second-guessed myself constantly and didn’t go with my gut feelings. I brushed the comments and criticisms to the side because I started to believed that he was right and I was wrong. I wasn’t as educated. I wasn’t as smart. I wasn’t physically what he wanted. I wasn’t athletically what he wanted. I began to see myself as his charity case– he was settling for me and I felt lucky to be the one. Looking back, it was sick and twisted. It happened slowly and over time.
I have spoken with women across the country who are all smart, beautiful and intelligent women who have also fallen victim to narcissists. Before you know it, you wake up one day and realize that you are living a nightmare and have become a shell of the person you once were.
I do know that I am very aware of red flags now. Heck, I’m sensitive to orange flags and yellow flags at this point!