Sunday, December 15, 2013

Narcissists, the Chump Lady, and King Henry

I had plans to write tonight. I have some thoughts that keep peeking out at my from the shadows of my soul, and I have been avoiding them, but I felt like tonight I needed to write them out. To face some truths. But I managed to procrastinate dealing with them. Instead I talked on the phone with my sister, texted back and forth with a friend in crisis, consoling each other in these "depths of despair" as we would both call them in an AoGG reference (though neither of us actually did), watched not one but two episodes of the Tudors, got disgusted with King Henry and Anne and then wrote the following letter to the Chump Lady. I don't know why I needed to share with her, but I did get some feelings out. Not the ones lurking in the corners, those are big thoughts, still to be dealt with. Here's what I told her:

Dear ChumpLady,
I LOVED this piece. Thank you for finding a way to make me laugh at all this. I had just the night before sent the following text to a couple close friends:
Sometimes it's the trivial details that make me angry. The day-in day-out single handedness of it all. NOT doing the dishes while someone else takes out the trash. NOT going to swim lessons while someone else does a load of laundry. NOT reading bedtime stories while someone else brushes teeth. NOT going and getting milk at the store while someone else outs a load of laundry in. And on and on and on. Just makes me want to say, "you fucking self-centered bastard." Of course he's doing it all single handed now too (in his 35% of the time), and it wasn't like he was such a super great help before anyhow, but he was better than no help, and I'm mad in principle anyhow. Logic doesn't matter.
Like the writer you responded to in this piece, I also have 3 boys, and your response buoyed me up and got me through the next day.  I particularly loved the bit about the free-range lepers and translated cookie recipes.  And like the letter-writer, I'm struggling to know how to accept help as I'm accustomed to being the caretaker and not the one taken care of.  So thank you.  I've been appreciating your daily emails as a source of strength.
Which brings me to my second point, I've read a little bit online about narcissism and some of it describes my STBXH so accurately, but then other qualities are not so at all.  I find myself regularly wondering if he would be classified as a narcissist.  And then I wonder if it really matters.  What's done is done. (Our marriage, by his choice.)   I feel almost guilty thinking of him as a narcissist because it seems like that's just an easy way for a rejected hurt abandoned spouse to answer all the unanswered questions about what happened.  What a convenient little analysis. Sort of like giving me the last word, even if I never say it out loud.  But then I think maybe he is a narcissist and there's something I need to explore about myself for being in a relationship with him.  But then I think that's just ironic narcissistic self-reflection on my own part.  I need to quit dwelling and looking for answers and just heal and move on.  
As you can see, I can't quite turn off my thinking brain about all this, and it spins and spins until I'm emotionally exhausted.  Easier to just put one foot in front of the other and cope with my new reality than to try to figure it all out.  And then tonight I just needed to veg a little and a friend turned me on to the brainless series of the Tudors on Netflix.  But it came a little too close to home this evening.  Watching the triangle between Henry VIII, Queen Catherine, and Anne, seemed frighteningly familiar despite the vastly different context.  Watching Henry and Anne justify their love was so sickeningly reminiscent of things my STBXH said to me last year during all the meltdown.  How their warped minds can convince them of anything.  Henry convinced himself that his marriage was an abomination to God.  My husband's faith in God was shaken because as he said, "how could God make me fall in love with her like this?" Barf.  It wasn't God you idiot. It was your own lack of willingness to have a mature relationship with your wife.  Anyhow, this isn't a letter you need to respond to on your blog, I just wanted to say thank you for your blogging and draw your attention to episode six and seven in season one for a good description of a narcissistic cheater.  
Thanks, I.G.B.  

I do really wonder about the narcissism issue. Part of me wants to get one of the recommended books such as Stop Caretaking the Borderline of Narcissist, Why Is It Always About You? : The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism, or The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists: Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family. When I read that the seven signs of narcissism include: Shamelessness, Magical Thinking, Arrogance, Envy, Entitlement, Exploitation, Bad Boundaries it makes me curious. I think he definitely had arrogance, envy, entitlement, but he also had low self-esteem, and shame. I'm not sure what magical thinking is technically, but he did have some very unrealistic expectations about how his life was going to play out. As I wrote to the Chump Lady, I worry that I'm wrongly accusing him of narcissism just because it's an easy lens to use to understand all this. How tidy to explain the whole thing like this. Are there degrees of narcissism? Is every cheater a narcissist? Is my sister a narcissist? Is my father? On one hand it seems like a gross oversimplification. Surely I can imagine hypothetical cheaters who aren't narcissists. And I certainly don't want to think of my dear sister or father as such, but, and this is why I haven't even told my closest family or friends what the name of my blog is… I think there very well might be a little bit of narcissism in both of them. But then I feel like the pot calling the kettle black. Surely calling everyone a narcissist can't be accurate and therefore isn't the answer. What's that old saying about pointing fingers and how four of them point back at yourself? Do I have narcissistic tendencies? I generally have a pretty good self-esteem. I think rather highly of myself. What's the difference? But no. I don't think I'm a narcissist. This hints however at the persistent thoughts lurking in the corners. I need to address some of them soon, before my next therapy appointment. Need to explore why I'm scared of acknowledging certain traits as weaknesses instead of strengths. Or even rather of claiming certain descriptions of myself, such as "a giver" because I fear that seems boastful or prideful when I can think of SO many ways I'm not a giver and so I don't take on that description out of embarrassment or…. don't know exactly, fear of evidence to the contrary? I'll think on this more tomorrow and write then...

No comments:

Post a Comment