Ever try to approach your narcissist calmly about something important only to have things end up in total chaos with you standing there, in shock, wondering: What the hell just happened? I have the utmost compassion for those of you who have experienced this first-hand.If you’re married to a narcissist, this is a guaranteed reality. If you’ve never experienced this first-hand, then let me paint a picture for you.
Yesterday was my daughter’s 8th birthday. My husband took her out to the park, as I wasn’t feeling entirely well, and needed to take a rest. While they were out, he bought her an ice cream (my absolute FAVORITE kind of ice cream) and when they returned home, I had asked if he had, maybe- just possibly- have thought to bring me home a small cup of ice cream, too. He explained that he simply didn’t have enough money for two cups of ice cream, and so the birthday girl got one, but I didn’t. No biggie, I say, that is as it should be. And while I was now desperately craving the damn ice cream (LOL), I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Fast-forward to 9PM that night. My husband is already slithering off to his room, so he can “go to bed”. Hmmm….interesting. I think that he seems awful eager to go to sleep. I brush it off.
10PM- I go into my husband’s room, and I lightly brush the calf of his leg. See, I’ve been dealing with a scary personal problem and, lately, he hasn’t been exactly sensitive to my distress (OMG- We’re all shocked about that, aren’t we?! NOT!). The reason I went in there was because I had been brooding a bit, and I thought that I would attempt to give him a chance to handle the situation with love, and caring, and sensitivity. And, no, I’m not crazy…he had, lately, been trying to convince me that he would “be there” for me. And that he was going to do “whatever it took” to make things right, and to do right by me. I simply decided to see if that was true.
So anyway… I went in, lightly gave the calf of his leg two strokes, and when he made a noise- indicating that he was awake- I said to him, “I’ve been thinking.” He made a questioning noise, and so I went on. I told him that I wanted to give him a second chance- to be there for me, like he said he wanted to be. He hadn’t exactly done a bang-up job, so far, but since he said he wanted to do better, I wanted to give him that opportunity. I wanted to give him the chance to be there for me, when I was scared, instead of abandoning and dismissing (as usual) when I really needed him.
His response? “Awesome. I’ll take that second chance first thing in the morning when I wake up.” (Did I really expect anything different? No.)
I said to him, “Well, hon, that’s not really the way it works. It’s kind of a choice. You can choose to to stay asleep, or you can be there for me. I’m afraid you’re going to have to choose.” He said that he would choose both. First he would sleep (the selfish narcissist who can’t stand to meet a need, or be there for me), THEN he would be there for me, in the morning. You know, when it was too late.
Well, seeing as how this was pretty much what I thought he would do. I let him know exactly what I thought of his selfish, neglectful behavior. I told him that all he had to do was sit up, put his arms around me, and tell me that I had no reason to be afraid. Everything would be alright. But no…. Mr. Selfish Snarky Narc had to do for HIM, first and foremost- as ALWAYS.
Well, of course he didn’t appreciate my honest review of his behavior and so the next thing you know he is sitting up and yelling at me, asking me how I expect him to react when I come barging in, “jabbing at his legs”, and yelling at him! I can smell the alcohol on his breath from several feet away. (So THAT’S the REAL reason I didn’t get an ice cream!) No wonder he was so keen to “go to bed”. He was excited to go get his buzz on….ALONE. (But, he’s NOT an addict, of course! Whatever!)
Well, I’m not exactly pleased with his dismissal of my needs and feelings, so- in a moment of pure childishness (yes, I’m still vulnerable to those now, and again- LOL) I pulled his covers off, threw them on the floor, then pulled his pillow out from under his head and gave him a whack with it. Neglectful coward.
As I’m walking away, he’s yelling that I’m a psycho, and that he’s afraid for his safety because I punched him in the head. I assaulted him… Ummmmm…..WHAT?! He’s going on- again- about how I barged in, jabbing his leg and yelling at him. And, because he just wanted to sleep, I “attacked” him. And now, he’s afraid for his safety and he’s curled in the fetal position on the bed, holding the portable phone, threatening to call the police, if I don’t let him go back to sleep.
Now, as crazy…and even ridiculously farcical as that may seem, here is the very serous problem: In the narcissist’s mind, that is EXACTLY what happened! His delusions are THAT REAL! Remember my post on how the narcissist’s brain is wired? If not, you can read it here. Well, because of the way his neural nets are wired, every situation where I react in the least bit upset- or even angry- to his emotional neglect and abandonment, he experiences it as a literal attack. In his mind, I came in angrily- accusing and attacking- and he, attempted to do his best to give me what I wanted/needed. In his mind, I flew into a rage because he didn’t do what I demanded of him, and he was forced to retaliate to protect himself.
Fucking scary, right? Tell me about it. It’s even more mind-boggling to witness first-hand. But, this is how gaslighting is accomplished. In the mind of the narcissist, his behavior is all a response to your unreasonable belligerence. He is unable to see your hurt, upset, angry, sadness, or insulted-feeling, as a result of HIS behavior. It’s completely delusional, but such is the iron-clad defense system of the narcissist.
My mistake was allowing my fear- over my own personal problems- to weaken my integrity in dealing with him. This doesn’t happen often, as I’ve already dealt with these issues within myself, but on the rare occasion, when I’m not at my best (like I was in this situation- already emotionally depleted), I’m susceptible, like anyone else.
Of course, had I been dealing with a normal husband (one that wasn’t a narcissist), the whack with the pillow most likely would have simply served as a wake-up call, and that person would have most likely seen that they were being insensitive to the one they loved. They would have been able to see that I wasn’t reaching out for comfort, and their actions were dismissive and unloving. They probably would have just said something along the lines of, “I’m sorry, honey. You’re right. I was being insensitive. Let’s start over. Come here, tell me what’s bothering you. I’m here for you.” (or something along those lines).
That’s what healthy people have the ability to do- change direction mid-course, when they see that their actions are inappropriate to the situation. Reconsider. The narcissist can’t do this. They are hard-wired for victimization, and once set in motion, they have no choice but to see it through to the end. No matter the cost- they have to WIN. In that moment, I could have given him an ultimatum- be nice, or we’re getting a divorce- and he would’ve chosen the divorce. Seriously- that’s not even a slight exaggeration. We would have got divorced in that situation. Freaking crazy.
So- what are you supposed to do with this type of behavior? Well, stay tuned for my next post: How to Handle the Narcissist’s Delusions in a Way That Will Shut Him Down. Definitely a valuable skill, if you have to deal with a narcissist.
Tell me, have you ever had this experience? How did you handle it? I’d love to hear your experiences. Comment below…
To delusion-free living,
~The Narcissist’s Wife