Arc of Life

Reach • Grow • Evolve

Category: Letting Go

The Narcissist In Me Sees the Narcissist In You

images-2For 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?


Stuck. I so wish I could wave a magic wand and magically be transported to a new life, a life where I am not tethered to my husband, a life where I have learned to stand on my own and achieved true independence.

The decision to split was made a little over a year ago and now we are marking time together, waiting for our youngest son to finish high school. But I know in my heart that a dysfunctional dependency exist between us that will make the final break incredibly difficult.

To be honest, I simply do not want to go through all the messy work of dividing assets, dealing with lawyers and mediators. I want to keep my family intact. In other words, I want to have my cake and eat it too.

Ideally I would like this to all go smoothly. I would like to forgive and forget the past. But I am not there yet. And I am beginning to wonder if it is possible to get there while still living under the same roof with this man.

We have both made mistakes, we have both contributed to the demise of our marriage. And while he thinks he has taken ownership of his mistakes, I don’t believe he really has. He has committed major financial infidelity. While he acknowledges he has made mistakes, he has not changed his ways. I believe he lacks the ability to learn from his mistakes.

I also feel a responsibility towards this man, I feel I need to take care of him. And I believe he in turn wants to be taken care of. A family therapist informed me last December that he can indeed take care of himself. So perhaps I am enabling him.

As for me, I raged on and on about money for years, allowing every trigger to send me into a panic. Fear has been my constant companion when it comes to money and that fear has totally exacerbated our situation. And try as I might to change the tapes in my head, some of them still continue to play, especially when I am left with minimal financial resources. In the past, my husband has been my scapegoat. I have blamed him for my inability to move forward to change myself, to change my thinking. By blaming him, I have kept myself stuck. I need to take full responsibility for my actions, my words and my thoughts if I am to truly move forward with my life.

I am determined to make peace with money. I have experienced the power of changing my thinking. By focusing on what I want to bring into my life instead of on what is missing, I have brought about significant changes. I know this is possible.

What Does Life Want From Me?

where-in-the-universe-140What does the universe want from me? Interesting question.

For some time, probably the better part of my life, I’ve been asking myself – Who am I? And what do I want?

This morning I was reading an article on the NY Times on Mindfulness. Soren Gorhamer, the founder of Wisdom 2.0 was going through a soul searching period in his life and turned the question around: Rather than asking, “What do I want from life?” he asked, “What does life want from me?”

Mr. Gordhamer’s response to this came five years ago while residing in a double-wide trailer in remote Dixon, N.M. He was newly divorced and had lost his job organizing events for Richard Gere’s Foundation. At the time, Mr. Gordhamer was reading a lot of Eckhart Tolle and kept returning to one idea: Rather than asking, “What do I want from life?” he asked, “What does life want from me?” Convinced he had settled on an answer, Mr. Gordhamer withdrew the last $10,000 from his bank account and started Wisdom 2.0.

Maybe that is the question that I need to start asking myself – What does life want from me?

Writing has been this ever present desire in my life and I have been writing in one form or another for most of my life. My eight grade English teacher put me on the path to journaling and I have – for the most part – continued to journal ever since. It has been a way for me to express, vent, unravel, reframe and try to understand myself. My journals have always been for my eyes only – although I suspect (know) that some curious eyeballs have trespassed.

As each day, week, month and year pass, the things that seemed to matter most to me keep slipping further into the background of my life. It is time for me to ask the question – What does life want from me? – in earnest and then I must be ready for the answer.

Perfectly Imperfect

broken-woman-e1426973298379I don’t want a cognitive therapist, I simply need to talk, to unravel the tangled mess of yarn that my life has become. Changing my behavior is not going to get me out of my current predicament. I need to somehow understand why I did all the insane things I did over the past three years.

I lost myself. Anyone who knows me well would probably say I dove off the deep end. I did things that I could never in my wildest imagination imagine doing. Just saying those words causes a deep feeling of melancholy to wash over me and I am not a melancholy person. Where to begin? I’m not really even sure I want to. Perhaps it would be better to just keep it all in the vault and keep moving forward. It is painful to look at my actions.

Why? Because I know in my heart they were motivated by a deep sense of insecurity. I am sad for this woman, this girl, this incomplete person. She is pathetic and I don’t want to be pathetic any more. I want and need to grow beyond this person. I have this sense that I am going to have to go back and pick up my broken pieces and own them before I will be able to reassemble them into a new perfectly imperfect person.

Perfectly imperfect. I have grown very fond of this term and it has been running through my mind over the past few months. It first entered it one day as my 18 year old daughter was telling me how much she enjoyed events and happenings where things somehow went awry, especially when the intention is for everything to be just so, to be perfect. I loved that she saw the beauty in imperfection, that she could appreciate this element of life.

This comment arrived at time when I had started taking a hard look at my own tendency to be quite hard on others – a fact that I had been oblivious to previously. It is funny how our children have a way of reflecting our behavior back to us in a very honest and profound way.

My nightly rantings about a coworker at the dinner table eventually caused my daughter to bring up the fact that this is something I had done before. In fact it was something I done during every job I had had since going back to work seven years ago. Hmmm. Could she be right. Initially I balked, No, not me. I’ve got legitimate things to complain about here.  But as time progressed I could see that, yes there was indeed a pattern.

In fact in my heart of hearts I wanted the perfect life for many many years. Perfect husband, perfect children, perfect home…perfect me.  And pretty much everyone and everything came up short, especially myself. My expectations were not met.

So I have veered far from the path of perfection, I have fallen from my perch from which I judged others so harshly. But I now have a new vantage point to view both myself and the world from, and things are looking perfectly imperfect.




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