How very far I have come

Its is now 12 months almost to the day since I ended my relationship

I have come a LONG way since then

Back then it was a huge burst of frustration and anger: the culmination of several years of unhappiness, increasing frustration, and inability to communicate that drove me to change to lock on my front door and call time on what I had hoped/ believed would be my relationship for life. I knew it was right, a bit like stopping drinking, but It had been very hard to do.

I surprised almost everyone with that decision. Even my closest friend K, who had listened and held my frustration and anxiety over the destructive elements at home had not expected me to be so abrupt and determined; I think my brother (perhaps) was the only one who was less surprised. He knew, to some extent, all was not well and he knows that I can be pushed a LONG way, but that eventually I will snap.

Back then, I was so sad about it. Back then I thought I had a loving partner who although he had some problems with my children; problems with his business / earning a living; problems with his relations with his own children; was basically a lovely man who I just couldn’t get through to.

I see him very differently now. Now I see what others saw. I see what K saw, my brother saw, and bless them for their diplomacy in not ever trying to force me to see what I could not, until I was ready.

Now I see a bullying, insecure man who at least borders on narcissism. I see a man with delusions of grandeur and arrogance that mean that he listens to NO ONE, talks a LOT about respect and integrity but has none himself. Now I see a man who probably had such an issue with my eldest son because he saw reflected back at him some of his most deeply unattractive traits. I see a man who had so little regard for me, that despite the fact I had 100% financially supported him for 5 years, refused to even TRY and support himself financially when I struggled to service the debt I had incurred by taking on HIS responsibilities. I see a critical, unkind, self absorbed person, unwilling (or unable) to compromise on anything, and I shudder.

The best decision I made in the immediate aftermath of the split was to find a therapist I could work with. I saw one, who I am sure was perfectly competent, but I felt no empathy. Then I saw Angela, my current therapist and knew that here was someone who could ‘cope with’ me (Because I recognise that I’m not the most straightforward, with my alcohol addiction, eating disorder, propensity to attract men who are damaged / damaging) – but ‘cope with’ me in a kind and supportive way. I knew I needed this support and space to be honest, to be able to hold on to the decision I had made.

In retrospect I can’t believe I was only about 24 weeks sober when I did this. Of course I was committed to being sober, and of course I had negotiated the very hard early days.. but 24 weeks ?? That seems very early in sobriety to me now, to make such a big change to my life and expect me to see it through. Reflecting on it, I’m proud of myself that I did it, and prouder that I a) stuck to it and b) stayed sober.

For several months I struggled with the decision, I ‘knew’ in my heart it was right (at least for the children) but struggled to recognise or accept that I too had been badly treated, that I deserved better. With patience, lots of conversations, reflective discussions, and time –  I came to see exactly that. That he treated me very badly – the emotional abuse he dished out was not confined to my children ( not by  along chalk); that expecting to be ‘fully funded’ by another adult rather than pulling your own financial weight is a form of abuse in itself (if not a negotiated and shared decision between a couple), I tried ‘seeing’ him a bit in the early part of this year –  coffee here and there, the odd day out / walk with the dog. One part of me enjoyed this, but there remained a part of me that felt uncomfortable; and eventually at LAST I recognised that there were things done (or actually not done) that I could not forgive. More than that, it was ok that I could not forgive them. That I had a right to my own boundaries and he had crossed them, I had a right to say ‘no’ that is not acceptable TO ME.

Oh yes, I have come a LONG way. And this shows in many other aspects of my life. I dont always find it easy, but I’m learning to set my boundaries with my kids, my mother, and my work colleagues. Im learning (about 30 years late) that it is healthy to respect yourself, your time, your person, your beliefs.

Angela said to me, early in my therapy with her that she had heard a good expression, that when you are psychologically ‘well’ with good boundaries and a healthy self respect ‘What is not good for you wont LOOK good to you’. All through the Winter and Spring I wondered why ExP still ‘looked good’ to me… it was because I was focussing on his negative features with respect to my children, not with respect to ME …. once I “got” the latter – he no longer looks ‘good’ to me in any way, shape or form.

 

Life is immeasurably better now. I have learned to be more open with  people close to me, and to ask for help when I need it. I have been on a couple of dates, and decided I can’t be bothered at the moment! My kids are happier, my home is calmer, I am restarting painting classes next Month. I will continue with my therapy – I don’t know how long for, but you don’t correct the poor self esteem from many years in a short year… I will stay sober and I will build myself, am building myself, a contented, safe, peaceful home.

I do, actually genuinely feel proud of myself for achieving this. HE said I would never cope without him… well I have, I am and I will continue to do so.

bleeding eyes

Not any more……

 

 

Narcissistic personality disorder

I dislike “self diagnosing” patients who come to me and tell me they have “bipolar” because they are a bit moody, or lupus because they have a spot on their face.

And I try hard not to diagnose myself – I have a wonderful GP and I trust her 100% tomake sensible decisions about my health. She is secure enough not to be challenged by the fact I am a colleague, humble enough to come to joint decisions when required and mature enough to be firm ! 

BUT. I’m now going to do exactly what I hate others doing and do a bit of armchair Psychiatry with respect to my ex P

Narcissistic personality disorder: wiki definitions in italic, my observations in plain type

According to the DSM-5, individuals with NPD have most or all of the following symptoms, typically without commensurate qualities or accomplishments: 

1. Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from others. Yes yes yes. He expects others to treat him with the utmost respect and deference, yet shows little to others. He really believes he’s had a successful career when he has sold two works in the last 6 years, and has earned no money

2. Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc. He has  a whole load of completely unrealistic expectations as to how he can take small comments forward, believes he will be a global success without putting in any of the spade work

3. Self-perception of being unique, superior and associated with high-status people and institutions. He was once and I don’t think he has got over the loss 

4. Needing constant admiration from others. Always always, especially me. Have to tell him how wonderful everything he has done is…

5. Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others. Enormous sense of entitlement to be supported financially whilst he does very little. Expected everyone – including me – else to do as he wishes. Shows no respect to my kids, but excpects them to respect him

6. Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain. Hmmm 6 years or not working not contributing and having everything paid for, absolutely no remorse or understanding as to how that could have been detrimental to me. Note debt in the 10,s of thousands … 

7. Unwilling to empathize with others’ feelings, wishes, or needs. They are so unimportant to him he won’t even discuss them

8. Intensely envious of others and the belief that others are equally envious of them not so sure about this one

9. Pompous  and arrogant demeanor, Oh yes, extremely 

So where does this get me? I sent this to my friend K ( without the annotations) and she saw immediately the traits within ExP. I also asked if it mattered what you call it ? She thinks it does, and I’m beginning to believe her – it helps me to know I’m not going mad, that this is him not me, that he will never change because these are fixed personality characteristics and he doesn’t not, cannot , see where he is wrong ? In which case I have to give up any faint hope that he will change, do anything different, understand what I’m saying and why I am upset. 

I have to let go, and understand that I can’t win. K also pointed out to me that I sound like I do not LIKE him much, and I realise I don’t – he has few of the personality traits I admire and many I positively dislike ; and that I don’t have much respect left for him. 

So maybe I’m going to go ahead , inside me and say that I believe my ExP has a narcissistic personality disorder. And that just maybe I’ve had a lucky escape.