May 15 2003
It has been so hard, the story so long and painful (especially the last three years) that I'll spare y'all the details of it unless you ask, but suffice to say I am vindicated to have had a therapist hear my story, in front of my husband, when he cannot rationalize, justify or dispute with any reasonable credibility. And didn't, ultimately, except on a couple of points - and he was soon redirected to reality.
Wheww. Relief that someone knows the "dirty secret" of his crazy-making emotional abuse.
Possibly it is a mistake, but I have never really told anyone what it's been like except on support sites where I have anonymity. I have been loathe to damage his reputation, as it would not at all help him improve - much of his "stuff", I am convinced, stems from his unremitting fear that he is "bad" and "defective", "flawed", "unworthy", "unloveable", etc., and to "tell on him" would create worse problems. Maybe a part of me hasn't wanted to be labeled "stupid" or "nuts" for trying.
In any event, the long journey is beginning. I can't say I am truly hopeful (experience has taught me not to be too optimistic), but a spark of hope remains, undaunted.
I do love the man, and I hurt for him, too.
May 16 2003
I hope you remember to take the time to take care of your own needs and nurture yourself through this process. I think it is wonderful you are doing the joint therapy. Maybe that is a way for people with NPD to feel less threatened in therapy?
I understand your concern about him receiving a negative label. In the eyes of many NPD is about as negative as it gets. At the same time the realization that I was NPD was the first identity I had in my life and it served a more or less positive purpose for several years.
Once again, good luck and I hope you are both strong enough for whatever is coming over time.
May 16 2003
May 20 2003
I've come to realize her problems are majorly N related. I thought finding an explanation would be the end of my problems, but, in fact they just open the door to many, MANY concerns. My hubby is a clear example of a N personality (in a mirroring sense). I saw it immediately when I starting reading the info available on the internet. Hubby seems happy to find something that defines him so clearly, since he's always suspected something was "off". Finally something that helps explain how he could leave his wife at the E.R. without a car because her "needs" interfered with his sleeping schedule . . . "You'll probably not be able to drive when they release you, right? . . . so I'll just take the car home then, o.k.?" he asked me as the doctores were working on me . . .
I just so know what you mean . . . finally VALIDATION . . but a lot of hestitancy too . . . who knows how this is going to be misconstrued given the chance??. . . and always the underlying feeling of concern for the man you truly love on some level. ..
Good, good luck to you!!
May 21 2003
Not the first time - we tried once about 1.5 years ago, but he wanted to quit after a scheduling mix-up. He "seemed" to take that way too personally, but in retrospect, I think he wanted to avoid an issue that I was about to bring up. I caved because the stress was unreal for me, too, as I was also (beyond the specific issue) dealing with some very real rage and fear of my own (resulting from his previous betrayals, stalking, gaslighting, threats, etc... long story). I found my own feelings so frightening that I just went along with it - plus he's a little scary when he puffs up about "minor" problems. Which he tends to do.
But lately, I'm running out of patience - and sadly, if measurable changes aren't made soon, I won't be able to continue the relationship.
He does not believe that he is NPD. I did not bring it up with him, but he noticed some of my internet activity and questioned me about it. I simply said that what I was reading gave me pause and made some sense of my experiences, but I was not qualified to make a diagnosis - and that it really wasn't relevant what the name of the problem was - just that there's a problem.
He got pretty angry that I would consider it. I didn't defend myself nor did I "take it back". He has his own therapist and said that he asked her and she said no. But I doubt he's entirely truthful with her about his behavior.
I truly don't know if he's NPD, but based on the reading and experience comparing I've done this year, I'd say it is the only plausible explanation for some of his behavior - especially given his background. Classic neglect to the point of abuse, abandonment both ohysical and emotional, both parents cold and self-absorbed.
I'm in a really tough place with him - I DO love him, I want him to be happy and whole, but I need a chance to be those things, too...and I'm not getting what I need 85% of the time.
But I'm willing to try a little longer.
It's been a really tough week.
May 21 2003
Sadly this is a common reaction among people who have this disorder. We tend to view any slight, real or otherwise, as a rejection of our worthiness. It is a form of acting out that is important to try and work through in therapy. For a lot of reasons it seems almost impossible to address these actions at the time they are happening. It is not always the fault of those in therapy that it is not addressed, as some therapists respond much better than some others do. It is understandable that you agreed to discontinue. My guess is that at some point in the future you could see this or some other similiarly small issue used as a reason to discontinue again. Are you using the same therapist? If so it might be a good idea to at least talk about this and have a plan of what will happen if he tries to play this game again. This could be tricky by itself as it could be used as a reason for him to get mad and quit.
From what you've shared it is certainly possible that your husband does suffer from NPD. We've talked some in the past about the level of honesty that someone with NPD has with his therapist and I would guess it is highly likely that he has secrets. That's not a bad thing, but a therapist should be aware enough to be aware that he is still holding back. Healing may not require the label of NPD, even if he does have the disorder. The most important thing is to address the issues regardless of the label they fall under.
While I believe very, very deeply that NPD can be healed it takes time and a committment from the person with the disorder. I have no way of knowing how serious he may be about his therapy. I tend to be somewhat pessimestic about fast change ,although it can happen. It is important for you to know what you need and keep telling him and the therapist. I think it will help him to hear it because it suggests you think he is human. Only you can know when the line has been crossed and the relationship cannot continue.Hopefully that will not happen.
May 22 2003
I'm sorry to hear you're going through such a difficult period. I am beginning to look for signs of up and build on them wherever possible. I see hope that your husband is in therapy and at least making an effort. There is little chance of healing without asking for help.
We (my family) are wrapping up an extensive outpatient therapy session and will be headed home tonight. I never would have dreamed that it was possible to fit so much into such a short period of time. I am not sure what the long term effect will be either for my son or for the rest of us. At this point we are all so drained that it is hard to think about what we've been through. Right now I think I'm most grateful that it is almost over.
I'll probably be on line again this weekend. Until then I hope everyone stay healthy and happy.
May 23 2003
Husband's therapist (individual) may not know "all the truth", but I'm committed to bringing it all out with the joint therapist - even if it makes me look bad. Can't say I've always handled it like a "professional" - badly, at times. He can cut so deep when he's in an episode, and he never seems to lack for salt-on-hand. Sometimes he's remorseful, but more often he rationalizes. Sometimes he's remorseful at a much later date - distance can sometimes open his eyes a little. Occasionally he's just plain frightening. As I said, it has escalated tremendously in the last few years.
But then, when he DOES face the issues, he's crushed. He can no more accept his own humanity and imperfections than mine. I don't hate myself for mistakes I make (though some make me madder at me than others) - but he either overestimates or underestimates both of us routinely. Hardest of all for me is the sinking sensation I get when it looks for all the world like his only real concern is his imperfection -nothing is there for how I am affected.
Lately I've been looking also into Borderline PD - much of that fits when he's in "full-blown" mode (and more of that in the last few years than ever), more quiely NPD the rest of the time.
I read a book recently, "Narcissism", (don't recall author's name - will get it next time) that sent me veering off in this direction a little. The author is a bit on the "touchy, feely all-is-sex" Reichian school side, but he had an item that interested me: a table showing his notion of the continuum between "Phallic-narcissistic, Narcissistic Character, Borderline, Anti-social Personality, and Paranoid Delusional". He put forth that the differences were largely a matter of degree, with Phallic-narcissistic being at the "low" end of the scale, more a personality type than a disorder, and Paranoid-delusional being the "high" end - for obvious reasons.
Thought it worth considering - I can see how that would work. What do you guys think? I get the book details, if you're interested.
Two of my husband's four siblings have been institutionalized at some point or another. His older sister is stabilized after years in/out, but his younger brother is still on the state "payroll". I wasn't around when his sister was at her worst, but I was able to watch the downward spiral of his younger brother. It is a little eerie in it's similarity to my husband's deterioration in the last few years. Sister has been variously diagnosed as Paranoid Schizophrenic, Bi-Polar, et al - Brother is simply "Transient Psycotic", though it's going on 5-6 years now since his "break". He is better, though.
The brother was committed after assaulting his mother - rupturing her spleen. He had no previous history of physical violence, outside verbal and "boy fight" stuff, albeit more than most boys.
I had "run-ins", years ago - being screamed at in a mall and in my home - with the brother that caused my husband to tell me "never open the door if he comes when you're alone - call the police". I think jealousy, insecurity - maybe even hatred of women were at work there. Their mother is one bitter, cold woman. We're not sure Brother has ever had a girlfriend. He's 34? 35? We live in another state now, for other reasons.
I dunno. As I said, tired already. Actually, exhausted from three-four-more years of increasing turmoil and unpredictability.
It tears me up to watch him - for me, for him, for our daughter - who fortunately, is not as (visibly) affected so far. But she's nine. Just wait 'til he personilzes the teen girl years - when she's a twit, arrogant, sulky and rude - and she looks just like a grown woman, instead of a harmless little girl.
May 26 2003
Borderline is often a result of sexual or physical abuse, although it can come form emotional abuse as well. Is your husband a big risk taker? There are many instances where those who are Borderline will take risks that seem unnecessary to others. (Hitchiking, sex with prositute, the list goes on depending on circumstances). of course there is also the tendency to do self-harm if one is Borderline? Does he crave into his skin or make real efforts at suicide? Borderlines are much more apt to do this than those with NPD.
Most of the time people with NPD are considered to be higher functioning than those with Borderline. BPD has ALMOST has bad a reputation as NPD and anti-social in terms of how others see them. It might be worse if people had a better understanding of what Borderline really is. I would suggest that if you think your husband really is Borderline that you read "Stop Walking on Eggshells" which is actually written by someone who claims to have recovered from BPD. It is also now displayed on certain victims boards in the NPD community.
Good luck, I truly do not envy what you and your family are facing.
May 26 2003
We're in a "good behavior" lull right now, so I'm feeling slightly less down, though still...angry? scared? hurt? compassionate?...I wish there was a single, succinct word or phrase to describe how I feel!
The author of "Narcicissm" is Alexander Lowen.
I've read "Eggshells" reccently. It is helpful and cautiously optimistic.
My husband is not an overt risk-taker, nor is he self-injurious in the accepted sense of the phrase. He is a little odd about it all, in fact - he is less "experimental" and more fearful than I have been, say with substances or "cutting up" socially, but whereas no matter how much I may enjoy something, I am ultimately very "Take it or leave it" and don't indulge at all if there are other things to take care of (which is most of the time, at his point in my life). He, once he establishes he "likes" something, he will do it at every opportunity - to his detriment or mine. Drugs, internet porn are the two biggies. The internet porn cost him a job 3.5 years ago, - because he frequently stayed up 'til 2 - 4 am and/or went to work one-two hours late so he could indulge himself. I caught him a couple of times at 10am when I had to get something from home - work I had forgotten to take to the office, something for my daughter's school.
I had major surgery in December (knee reconstruction)and he not only took percocet from me without my knowledge, but he acquired more from elsewhere and did not inform me/replenish my supply - even as I was running out on a weekend when I could not get a new prescription. I was in terrible pain, but this had no impact on his decision. He counted on the fact that I could get a less effective drug to get me through the weekend. I found out later from the person who supplied him, quite by accident. On the other hand, he does not look for it on the street - it was a random, one shot deal that a friend of ours had some. It was a gift.
His self-injury is more in refusals to take care of himself properly (sleep, exercise, nutrition) and in alienating the people he needs most.
All in all, I've always been more of an "out-loud" risk-taker, mainly in the interest of silly fun. He sometimes seems too hesitant to me - only to embrace it completely later on.
He occasionally, when times are tough, speaks of suicidal thoughts but does not "threaten".
He has long periods of being very high-functioning in some specific areas, but periodically becomes low-functioning in all but one - his musicianship (which is quite extaordinary), though he even messes that up a little from time to time, just not completely.
His overt, scary-looking acting out is exclusively with me - no one else see this side of him, until now - in the sense that he does not deny it in front of the joint therapist.
Don't get me wrong, here - he is not exclusively "evily-behaved"- he can be quite loving at times, and when times are good I've found no better intellectual/artistic companion ever.
I guess this is the hard part for me - I face choices that involve a periodic loss of dignity and personal well-being, and possible eventual loss of safety, or a permanent loss of a (in good times) very dear friend.
Among his more subtle threats is that if we split, he "sees us as mortal enemies". I feel very, very trapped sometimes. When he left me abrubtly a few years back, for a "friend", he harrased and threatened and stalked while alternately trying to make friendly overtures. He recommended early in the separation that I "get a lover, you'll feel better". I wasn't ready or interested at the time, but after six moths I tried to "date" a little, not seriously, but in order to help me regroup, see myself through someones else's eyes. That just seemed to make him worse, irrespective of his "liason" and his directive.
When he asked to try again after a year, I think I was so overwhelmed and unable to think clearly that it did not dawn on me that I was suffering a little from a kind of "Stockholm Syndrome". I think I believed it would all be "over" if I let him come back. I was so incredibly exhasuted.
I've really never been able to recover. I am very changed by these experiences. I am not performing well at work, where I used to be dedicated and absorbed, my self-esteem is in tatters - I could not have imagined that he could be more capricious, cruel and threatening (than before and during the separation) if I let him come back, but he is.
I still am a good parent, though, if not perfect - and when we are "getting along", my musicianship is still good. But unlike him, my creativity and my desire go down the hopper when things are ugly between us. My writing suffers because I don't quite know what to say and my feelings so oppressive that I don't want to commit them to tracks. And of course, he complains about this.
Unlike him, I do not, at near-40 and as a parent, live in a dream of being "famous" Never have much liked the idea of fame, even - I am an artist for the sake of the art, first. I'm happy playing some jazz standards for pay and recording original works for my own benefit and that of anyone who wants a copy. Whatever.
He dies a little death each day that his dream does not happen. I just want to write some songs, get dinner on the table, be sure the homework is done, in whatever order is applicable at the time.
The difference between us is that he is defined by his dream, I am defined by my life.
I feel for him - he deserves, based on ability, much more. But it just didn't play out, despite his, and my, bet efforts. So ok.
I'm rambling and I need to stop. I'm just so down so much of the time now; I barely laugh. Even he notices this. Watching a funny movie or program, I make a "mental note" - that was funny - but not a peep comes out. He says, "Don't you find this funny?" I say "Oh, yeah, I do - but I'm just tired."
May 27 2003
As I read some of your reflections I find some hope in the fact that you have some feeling for a person who has engaged in this kind of behavior. I understand NPD to be first and foremost a tool which allows people who have experienced some level of trauma to survive in the world. I see some of that survival instinct in what you've described about your husband. That is not to suggest that living with or around someone who feels a frantic need to survive is pretty, let alone pleasant. I also see a different kind of survival (maybe a desire to live rather than merely survive) in what you are saying about yourself. I am beginnng to understand that healing this disorder suggests that we move from survival mode toward active participation in living life to its fullest. This is a big risk for a human being suffering from this disorder, maybe the biggest we will ever face as it means we acknowledge that other people are important (much, much more later).
Going only by what you have shared it seems possible, maybe likely that your husband is NPD. Probably the most important thing for both of you is doing the work of healing regardless of what label might or might not be appropriate. The wounds are tender and real regardless of whether they have a name. There is a growing part of me that questions the wisdom of putting the NPD label on someone who is already very wounded because of the negative meaning this label brings forward. The other side of the coin is that the idea of being NPD was probably the first identity of any kind that I ever had, which is why I embraced it. More recently I have a need to move to another level where I am not defined by NPD. Maybe others can skip the step of needing to find their identity in the NPD label? More power to them if the way opens for that to happen.
Good luck with your healing efforts.
May 27 2003
I just want to say how grateful I am to be able to come on this site and tell the truth about my husband and our "stuff".
On the other sites out there, I can't spill my guts entirely because I know that the responses will include indictments of him as "evil" and "unsalvageable" and me as "misguided" or "foolish". When one has a goal to improve the situation, those kinds of catch-all reponses are at best unsupportive, at worst insensitive and - the big bug-a-boo here - dehumnanizing. Even for us NONs.
Even when I feel I can't live with him, I still have love and compassion for him. As large as my own pain is, I know his has deep roots that stretch beyond me.
I feel my needs, and the needs of my husband thriogh me, are much better met here. In fact, I've stopped visiting those other sites altogether.
Thanks again for creating this site and allowing me a "resting" place where I can be honest without fear of unreasonable judgment.
May 27 2003
Athena- I've been trying to take in all that you have talked about with your husband. Its hard to get all the details, but I think the big picture is all to clear. I agree with Tc in that it is probably more important to heal the wounds as opposed to worrying about what to call them. I can't help wonder if NPD had this much of a negative reputation before the internet?
I'm still processing everything that happened over the last couple of weeks. I have a growing doubt about whether or not I may also be NPD. Needless to say my son is throughly enjoying this period of self-doubt and doing his best to help put a label on me. I look forward to having time to "catch up" on some of what I missed during our little trip to Colorado.
See you soon