Kick It with Donna V. episode 10
Did you know that narcissistic personality disorder affects an estimated 1 percent of the general population? It sure seems like more than that are affected. At least it feels that way when you are married to one. A pre-warning. This is not an ex-husband bashing.
I lived with it for twenty- seven years. How many of you are living with it? Are you married to one? Do you have a sibling with it? A parent? A friend? Whoever it is, you are not crazy! You are not the one with the issue. You are just the unlucky recipient. So, what are your choices? Continue to stay because you are afraid to leave. Leave because you do want to be free from it.
My goal today is to help you understand what narcissism is and how it affects your well-being. Living with it for as long as I did makes me somewhat of an expert because of my life experience. To be honest, I never that there was something wrong with me. I felt that there was something wrong with him, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. The things that he did and said were hurtful and made for a very rough family dynamic for me and our two kids.
It took me many years to understand that my ex was a narcissist. There were issues in our marriage that could never be resolved because of it. I stood by and watched him bully our kids and me too, now that I think about it. We fought over it many times to no avail. I suggested we go to a marriage counselor to help us out. He refused because he was never wrong. The issues in our marriage resulted in a divorce. I was dating someone who took a few night classes. One of his classes was on psychology. He had a study sheet on narcissism. He said, “this is your ex-husband.” As I read it, I realized he was right. Hindsight is a beautiful thing.
When you’re in something that is messed up, you are too close to the fire to have any objectivity. When you remove yourself from it, you start to see the light. A few years later, I was taking a trip to New York and bought a book called Assholes, A Theory by Aaron James. No, this was not a picture book of people’s assholes. Instead, it was a book about placing assholes into different categories. The first category was narcissism. Little did I know that on my trip to New York I would be reading about my ex-husband! I learned so much and it all finally made sense.
Through Wikipedia, I found the following. What is the definition of narcissism and where did the term come from? Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own abilities. The term originated from Greek mythology where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. The psychological definition is extreme selfishness with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration. It gets more interesting with the synonyms. Vanity, self-love, self-admiration, self-absorption, self-obsession, conceit, self-centeredness, self-regard and egotism. As you can see, a lot of “selfs” in there.
There are traits and signs of narcissism that some narcissists have some or all of:
1. Self-focus in interpersonal relationships
2. Problems in sustaining satisfying relationships
3. Lack of psychological awareness
4. Difficulty with empathy
5. Problems distinguishing self from others
6. Hypersensitivity to all insults or imagined insults
7. Vulnerability to shame rather than guilt
8. Haughty body language
9. Flattery to people who admire or affirm them
10. Detesting those who do not admire them
11. Using other people without considering the cost of doing so
12. Pretending to be more important than they think they are
13. Bragging and exaggerating their achievements
14. Claiming to be an expert at many things
15. Inability to view the world from the perspective of other people
16. Denial of remorse or gratitude
So, what are you supposed to do with all this information? You know the adage knowledge is power? Now you have the power to make a choice. I know this choice isn’t easy. I’ve been there. Do you think I instantly decided to get a divorce without seriously thinking about it? I had two kids to consider. I was afraid of the unknown. Now, I know what you’re asking. How did I make the decision to leave and follow through? I haven’t walked a mile in your shoes and you haven’t walked a mile in mine. I am headstrong by nature. If I stay, this is what I will deal with the rest of my life with no rainbow at the end of the tunnel. If I leave, I release myself from being a prisoner to someone else’s narcissistic behavior. I struggled with the all the what ifs. What if my ex poisoned my kids against me? What if my kids resented my decision? At the end of the day, I knew the answer. You need to go Donna. Save yourself. I made the decision and have no regrets. Leave behind what you can’t change.
You know what I did change? My ex can no longer control me. I am free.
Let’s talk about my kids. How did the interaction my ex had with them as young children affect them? Here’s the deal. It does affect them. Are they strong enough to see their dad for who he is? Are they capable of leaving what they don’t like and taking what they do like to carry on? Can they raise their own children without the baggage given to them and create a positive, loving home? I pray the answer is yes.
I hope my decision to make a change is an example to my kids and to you on how to deal with uncomfortable issues so you can free yourself. By not setting this example, I do all a terrible disservice.
If you are in a relationship with a narcissist and want to seek out advice, please visit narcissisticandemotionalabuse.co.uk.
I hope that by listening today you learned everything you need to know about narcissism. I hope it helps you make a choice.