February of 2016 began the final phase our complete marriage breakdown. By this point, I had begun reading about narcissists and gas lighting. I convinced myself that my husband was a narcissist and that I should consider divorcing him before he totally brainwashed me into thinking I was a complete and utter failure. Worthless. Unloveable.
The internet is saturated with an abundance of articles regarding narcissists.
- 10 Signs You Are in a Relationship With a Narcissist
- 18 Ways To Spot a Narcissist
- 7 Narcissism Signs You Should Watch Out For
- 11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting
- How To Know If You’re a Victim of Gaslighting
I could go on and on, and as a matter of fact, I read these articles plus many more. I was convinced my husband was not only a narcissist, but a malignant narcissist. The more I discussed my husband with my closest friends, the more we were all convinced I was married to a narcissist. My daughter was adamant I had to leave him, he was a narcissist, he was gas lighting me, he alienated me from my family.
From the articles I read, I determined he had a grandiose personality. He was smarter than everyone. He had an exaggerated sense of self importance. Appearance is everything to him. He didn’t have to play by the rules. If they said it, I believed it applied to him.
I also determined I was being gaslighted. We’d argue, he’d say one thing, then say he never said that. He would hurl insults and derogatory comments about my family. He would say I could never hang on to any relationship because I was crazy. He said no would ever want to put up with me. Without him, I would be incapable of taking care of myself.
I could look up narcissist and gas lighting and convince myself that my husband was the poster child for these articles.
After the cloud of anger and emotions began to dissipate, I went back to these articles again. I found elements that also could pertain to me. I found ‘evidence’ in my husband’s good deeds and self-less behavior which disproved him being a narcissist. Some of his words spit out at me in frustration and anger were just that, frustration and anger; not gas lighting. I would sometimes hear what I wanted to hear, not what actually was said. I was a nasty bitch to him, so of course he’d say no one would put up with me. Truth be told, I didn’t like myself, not just because of what he said, but what I said in return.
My husband is a good person. He has always helped people. He once stopped to assist a blind man who found himself in the middle of the street walking to a convenience store. He took that man to the store and drove him home. He will stop and speak with homeless people, making them feel like a person after giving them a few dollars. He teaches tolerance to my sons. He encouraged me to have my friends over. He has let his business suffer in order to help his parents and our children through medical emergencies. He would take time out of his day to help me. The truth is, it’s not all about him. It’s all about others.
My husband is very intelligent and knows it. He is arrogant. While those qualities are used in portraying narcissists, possessing them doesn’t automatically categorize a person as a narcissist. In all honesty, if we analyze ourselves, I’m relatively certain we all own some ‘narcissistic’ qualities.
I know many of you with whom I interact, are in fact dealing with narcissists. I believed I was one of you for over a year. Viewing my husband as a narcissist and myself as a victim was vital in justifying my decision to end things and file for divorce. My pain and frustration drove my pursuit to portray him as such, just as his pain and frustration drove him to say some horrible things. I saw myself as the victim. I was gas lighted by a malignant narcissist. He was deliberately trying to put me down, control me, isolate me, then discard me for another woman.
Two years ago I would have sworn the two quotes above about narcissists most certainly described my husband. A year ago, as the affair was outed and the dust began to settle, I would change this perspective to say the victim quote described me and the second quote described my husband. (We both are ‘narcissists’?)
Sometimes we set the narrative to suit our purposes. We spin our story in a way we can try and make sense of an incomplete story and one we certainly can’t understand. Our communication post D-Day has allowed my husband and I to express ourselves in a way we were incapable of for several years. We have learned to listen to each other and understand the other point of view, rather than make assumptions and interpret what we think was said or meant.
In retrospect, with a clearer frame of mind and honest reflection, I now can emphatically state that I am not a victim and my husband is not a narcissist.