For years I felt I had been treated unfairly. You did this so me, you destroyed my life, you destroyed our family. I was all about blame. Blaming the other person absolved me from any wrong doing. Blaming the other person kept me stuck in neutral. Blaming the other person made me both the victim and the hero in my own mind.
After years of losing money, stuff, a cohesive family, my self-esteem, I finally said enough and began to move away from the problem – my husband. I knew something was wrong but I could never put my finger on it. There was no real diagnosis. I was not married to an alcoholic or a wife beater. But life kept spiraling downward. Where does it end? How many times do I need to feel the floor fall drop out from under me?
So I began to strike out on my own and separated from my husband. And it felt like the right thing to do. I was saving my family, I was saving myself. I was the hero. Recently our family therapist informed me that my husband exhibited narcissistic behaviors. Not the typical grandiose “Donald Trump” type of narcissism, but the shy/covert type narcissism. I had no idea narcissism came in a variety of flavors.
Shy/Covert Narcissist is characterized by vulnerability and sensitivity which manifest itself in defensiveness and hostility, and is characterized by worry, ineffective functioning, unfulfilled expectations, and vulnerability to stress.
Ah ha! There it is! This was the validation I had been seeking for so many years. This was the man I was married to. I desperately needed to point to something, to assign blame for the mess that my life had become. And I did and I felt some relief… for a bit.
And then life took another swing at me. It knocked me down hard. It was the kind of hit that rearranges one’s perspective. When I finally got up, the mirror was waiting for me and I finally saw the narcissistic in myself. I was not blameless. I had been selfish, self-centered and self-absorbed. I too had contributed to the demise of my marriage. Taking an honest look in the mirror has been painful, maybe one of the most painful things I’ve ever done.
But with that pain came growth and isn’t that what life is all about?