The majority of decent (dare I say “normal”) human beings are driven by a complex mixture of emotion and necessity. We do the things we do for the good of not only ourselves, but of those we love. We work because we need to support our children/families and want to contribute to society. We play because we need balance and want to see the smiles on our kids faces. We love because we crave emotional intimacy and have a responsibility to teach our children compassion, empathy, and acceptance. These things all come naturally to us – we do not do them because we have a hidden agenda or ulterior motives. We aren’t calculating some master plan here – we are genuinely living and loving because it feels right.
Bring on the narcissists…. Narcissists lack the ability to feel true emotions and are therefore driven by the need for power and control. Whether it’s in the workplace or their own home, their decisions are based on what is best for them – how they can achieve status over those around them. And when their master plans backfire (as they often do when their masks slip and they are seen for what they really are), things can get ugly. When this happens, it will be the fault of everyone around them, of course.
Over six years ago, my ex took a job out of state. In a matter of weeks, it was as if he had developed amnesia, completely forgetting he had left a wife and three children behind. He stopped visiting, stopped calling, stopped caring altogether – his only focus was impressing his boss, climbing that ladder at work, making the big money. Troubles at home? He couldn’t be bothered to pull his head out of his boss’s ass long enough to help resolve them. The kids missed their dad? Well, he couldn’t take a week off to see them or he may not get that supervisor position. His only concern was work and putting in the hours to prove he was the best worker, to achieve a higher status than his coworkers, to be the most valuable to his boss.
In the meantime, I was doing everything myself. I was taking care of three kids, a big house and it’s maintenance, doing the yard work, the grocery shopping, making sure the bills were paid, helping the kids with their homework and meeting with their teachers, making sure everyone was happy and healthy, while writing my first novel. I was even wasting my time trying to defend his actions, assuring the kids their dad still loved them, he just had other “obligations”. I think that was the most exhausting part of it all – convincing them of something I myself no longer believed.
After four years of this nonsense, I was over it. He had proven to me that we were no longer a priority and we would never be able to compete with the power-trip he got from being a “boss”. The minute I told him I’d had enough, the switch flipped. Me leaving him??? No way, that couldn’t happen. Not because he loved me and wanted to save our marriage, but because he had no idea how to proceed in life without controlling my every move and decision. In an instant, his focus switched from his job (where he had already established his power) to me (where he was losing his power).
When narcissists feel you are slipping through their fingers and are no longer willing to be their puppets, they employ a little tactic known as “love-bombing.” They will send relentless messages proclaiming their “love” for you, full of insincere (nauseatingly fake) apologies, begging you to give them another chance. And another. And another…. My ex has been in the love-bombing stage for so long that it is almost laughable. All those words and not a hint of action to back them up. Thankfully, I’m a fairly intelligent individual and I see what he is doing for what it really is – trying to regain control. Not happening.
While he has been so encompassed in trying to get me back under his thumb, he has seemed to completely forget about the three things he should be focusing on – the children. While he drunk-texts me almost daily in a pathetic attempt to reel me back in, he hasn’t seen his own kids in nearly six months. He has been “too busy”. He will give every excuse in the book for why he has so sickeningly neglected his parenting duties, but what it boils down to is this – they are pawns, and at this point in the game they can’t help him win. Several months ago, I made it clear to him that he was more than welcome to come home (to what is now my home) and spend time with the children, but I would not be present. I would be staying with friends in the event he were under my roof. In his mind, spending time with his kids no longer meant weaseling his way back into my life – it meant giving me a few days of freedom to do as I pleased without the responsibility of Mom-ing. If he came to see the kids, he would have no control over what I did during that time. And to him, it wasn’t worth it.
So, here we are. Six months of no contact with his children. I’m curious as to how he is going to try to turn this into my fault when he finally comes to the realization that those divorce papers were real and he has no chance of ever regaining an inch of control over me. I know the kids are going to be his next love-bombing victims. Maybe if he can somehow regain control over them, it will trickle down to me in some way? (I can guarantee it won’t!)
The point of this rambling post is this: when dealing with a narcissist (or, more importantly, when attempting to break free from one) it is sooooo very important to educate yourself in order to be immune to their games and realize what their true intentions are. Know that “I love you” means “I need to be your puppet master,” and decide if you’re willing to play that part. Find the courage to leave them in the dust, wallowing in their own self-created misery that is not your responsibility to fix.
Be your own person. Create your own happiness. Live and love and work and play because you are driven by healthy emotions and the desire to achieve your goals. Never be a puppet. Cut the strings and do your own dance. You are more than worth it.