Article (part two)

What does it mean to live with someone who is driven to preserve an inner image? 

Consistently inconsistent.  Helpful and callous.  Sweet and resentful.  Charming and childish. 

The child-man.

I think he is just as driven to keep his inner image of himself, maybe more driven, than to have that image for others (although that has always seemed pretty important to him).

For someone who is on the receiving end of this, it means that you’re almost constantly unsure.  You come to rely on an inner kind of radar, sending the waves out to check for sincerity or deception, and amiability or resentment.  Picking up on resentment means an instant heightened alert, feeling unsafe, feeling unsure, and running an emotional recon to check for stepping on hidden landmines.  It’s discouraging, it’s draining, and it’s diminishing.

Back to the article referenced here:  “In this paper, we assume not only that narcissistic personality organization can appear in many different clinical manifestations, but also that narcissistic defensive operations are common in people whose basic personalities cannot reasonably be construed as narcissistic.”

Okay.  I’m neurotic enough to always be checking on ‘self’ for blind spots, wrongs, need for ownership and accountability.  I also see that someone can be narcissistically driven without being a bona-fide narcissist.  I might just be in denial or blind, but I don’t think my husband is a narc.  He was raised by a clinically diagnosed narc though. 

“Reluctance to Choose” [reluctance to commit? plan?]   “Narcissistically defended people frequently find tacit ways to get others to resolve ambiguities, to protect themselves from the possibility of turning out to be wrong.” 

Raising hand.  Throughout my lifetime, I struggled with being afraid to be wrong.  I have some serious compassion and empathy for this one.  What I don’t like is that his seems to take a direction that feels attacking and diminishing to me.

“Criticism… “There seem to be at least two bases for the criticism that narcissistically defended people repeatedly direct toward those with whom they live. The object may be seen as a narcissistic extension; hence, any imperfection in the object reflects in an unseemly way upon the self. Or the object disappoints by not being the counterpart to the grandiose self; i.e., the omniscient, all-empathic Other, who effortlessly divines one’s needs and meets them, without the narcissistic person having to ask for anything, thereby admitting to an insufficiency in the self.”

Without the narcissistic person having to ask for anything… which would be admitting to an insufficiency in the self?  Whoa.  Yeah… this definitely seems like it could partially explain why he typically has rarely (and I mean going back to what should have been honeymoon days) expressed attraction to me, or desire for me.  Clarification: He’ll compliment me, he’ll express things in complimentary form, but not in the preliminary way that means he’s actually going to act on it.  Expressing a desire for intimacy to him is almost a guarantee of impending distance between us.  I used to tell him that I felt like it was all on me to create some kind of safe space so we could be intimate.  I hated it.  I just wanted it to be simple.  I wanted to be wanted. 

It also could explain why the resentments pop up like whack-a-mole, draining to predict and keep track of.  I did figure out that ‘need’ or ‘want’ seemed to be unacceptable for him.  I wonder if in some weird way this explains why he’d leave a spoonful of ice cream in a carton and put it back in the freezer?  Or a miniscule bit of milk in a carton and put it back in the fridge?  He’s also famous for eating part of a banana and leaving it on the counter… for someone else? 

I’m going to stop here and keep addressing the article in increments.  I’m really eager to hear feedback from all of you that resonate with the article.




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15 Responses to Article (part two)

  1. Expressing wants and needs: I’m tempted to say that my husband couldn’t do this if his life depended on it. Except if he’s expressing a want or a need for something that he himself has made it impossible for the desire to be fulfilled: e.g., he has expressed a desire for physical intimacy and but he has a job as his parents’ caregiver, requiring him to live with them 24/7 in a city 150 miles away.
    Once, our car got stuck in a snowbank. We tried for awhile to get it out. A man walking by offered to help. I accepted the offer. We then were able to get the car unstuck. Afterward, my husband kept saying to me, “I could have done that. I almost had it out.” Not “Wow, that was nice of that person to help us.”
    A few years ago, my then-therapist (she has since, to my regret, retired) asked me what my husband wants. I said I don’t know. She said I should ask him. My therapist was so skillful and helpful that I didn’t want to tell her what I realized the moment these words left her lips: my husband would be unable to answer this question. He would freeze. He would say he didn’t have any desires. And guess what, that is exactly what he told me when I asked him.


    • Exodus says:

      You make a very good point about how we don’t really know our husbands and how they always seem to not know themselves. My husband can never answer a direct question with a direct answer. He was so angry at our therapist for asking him to tell me what it was he wanted. He rambled on and on about topics that had nothing to do with answering her question. She was very respectful, gentle and kind toward him but he just refused to stay on course. When my husband accuses me of doing something wrong and I ask him to show or tell me how he would have preferred that I do it, he has nothing to say except, ‘ forget it, you’re right, never mind’. When I ask him what I can do to make him feel happy and secure, he changes the subject entirely.

      The hardest thing for me to wrap my mind around is that most everything my husband does or says is just a knee jerk reaction that occurs without any thought. He flounders through life completely controlled by his angry demon that lives inside. He’s so out of touch with his emotions and I’ve often accused him of being completely delusional. My husband is like two opposing people living in the same body. One minute he loves this and two hours later, hates it. He truly has no realistic perception of himself or the world around him.

      I learned early on that it’s impossible for me to buy him a gift because no matter what I get he will automatically hate it. One year he wanted a camera and he even showed me the camera he wanted. For months he raved about the camera. It was very expensive but I wanted him to have it so I saved and saved for it. I was so excited that I could get him something that he really wanted. Christmas morning came and he received his camera. He acted like it was just a pair of socks. He didn’t even say thank you and he has made several negative comments about how it’s difficult to use, etc…and that he really wants this other one. The issue is not about the camera..the real issue was that I had showed him love by listening to him and caring enough to plan and save for something that he really wanted. He can’t handle anyone truly caring about him because it frightens him and triggers feelings of insecurity. He immediately responds with negative ugly behavior in order to avoid and deny his vulnerability and support his feelings of unworthiness.

      It’s interesting to note thought that when other people treat him the way he treats me, he notices and he will ramble for hours or days about what a selfish jerk someone was or how they are always late or how they dismissed him in some way. Yet, he doesn’t even realize that he does the same things to me. This is also characteristic of narcissism.

      Liked by 1 person

    • WritesinPJ's says:

      marriedwithouthusband, maybe we should have a share frustrating therapist moment post one day!


  2. Exodus says:

    You’ve been mighty busy here PJ’s… I was working all day yesterday and I’m just now catching up. I’ve only briefly scanned some of your posts relating to Narcissism but I wanted to respond with some of my immediate thoughts this morning.

    I think we need to understand that there is healthy narcissism and pathological narcissism. A person with healthy narcissism might be a person who chooses a job that challenges them and provides opportunity for advancement while also realizing that they are not entitled to anything they have not earned. A pathological N will choose a job that makes them look important but doesn’t really believe they are worthy of it so, in an effort to deny their insecurities, they develop a very unrealistic sense of superiority and entitlement and will bully coworkers into submission in an effort to make themselves appear more important. When N’s marry, they usually choose someone who is very nurturing and who appears vulnerable and needs them and will make them feel important and worthy. This is why they appear to be very attentive and nurturing in the beginning. They are NOT insane. In fact they are intelligent observers of human behavior because they are chameleons that need to alter their persona in order to capture their victims.

    Narcissists do not love themselves. They just appear to love themselves because they are always in a state of seeking a narcissistic supply of attention that supports what they need to love themselves. They organize everything in their lives and relationships in order to deny any negative feelings about themselves. Their constant need for N supply from others will literally exhaust everyone that deals with them. Their victims become as confused as the narcissist because they have become trapped in the mirror of the N’s internal self hatred. Children of N parents usually grow up with identity issues and this my dear friends is what I have suffered from all my life. Narcissists use people until they use them up and G-d forbid anyone even slightly cross their path by criticizing them or offering an opposing view because they perceive that as a threat to their image and they will dump people that they perceive as threats without any warning or explanation and certainly never an apology. They have no desire to resolve anything because they MUST deny that they have done anything wrong. A very very good book on narcissism is called ” The Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists” by Eleanor Payson. I highly recommend this book. It helped me to work out a lot of my issues with my NPD mother and understand my husband in more depth.

    PJ’s….the icecream example that you wrote about…….my husband does this ALL the time. When he makes coffee, he will leave one teaspoon in the bag instead of just adding it to the coffee pot and adding more water if necessary. He will leave one pickle in the jar, one spoon of icecream, one cookie in the bag, one cracker and when he does laundry, he leaves one item in the dryer or he will leave one item on the bed to put into the closet. He leaves everything unfinished and incomplete because he can’t fully commit to anything completely that relates to me or our marriage. I have called my husband the ‘ king of half-baked everything’ If he were to complete something then that makes him fully and completely accountable for whatever it is he did and even worse, that might make me happy and even worse, would keep harmony flowing through our daily life. One of the most common characteristics in PA behavior is the incessant need to leave everything open-ended so that if and when anyone questions their behavior, they can come back with, ‘ I was going to do that, I will do that, I wasn’t finished, etc..” They are wimpy inside and have such a fear of commitment and accountability because they fear being judged negatively. They also prefer drama and discord with people they want to care about because unfortunately, that is how they perceive social cues on how they are performing and protecting themselves. Are they making us happy and strong? STOP THAT! Are they keeping us weak and confused? GOOD! Like the N, PA people want to love but they fear that it will result in more shame, more pain, more hurt. These are people who have been so betrayed and neglected by those they loved and depended on that they simply cannot even admit they are in pain. It seems insane that the PA person would treat their spouse so badly and treat everyone else with more respect and kindness but they don’t perceive the others as a threat because they don’t need them.

    Once again..for any of you interested in learning more about narcissism, PA and how it affects us, read the book I mentioned above. It’s about narcissism of course but PA behaviors are most always intertwined with narcissistic characteristics.


  3. newshoes says:

    oh that might explain why there’s always one last piece of bread left in the bag but another loaf has been started. Or why the things he starts to do are often left just a inch shy of being complete.

    If you read narcissistic charateristics and PA behaviors, they are most definetely intertwined. And I also think it takes a special kind of person to be with these people. I’ve met many women who’s partner has had similarities but not all of them are PA, some of them are just misguided but they have hearts of gold.

    I think the child-man act is prevalent in most of these but they appear to the outside world to “have it all together”. And the thing is they gather fans in their paths that actually believe all the crap they tell about what a “good husband or father” they are by playing the victim, and of course the fans (I was one of them at the beginning of course) goble it all up.

    When I tell people the types of things that my pah does, they cannot believe it could be true and that I would accept crap like that in my life because I appear to have it all together and I’ve played that card for a long time. My closest friends don’t even know the extent of what I have gone through and I will keep a lot to myself because I don’t want to face the sorry stares and hurt eyes I get, I certainly do not want to “play” the victim.

    Instead, I have you guys who not only understand but offer support and information and reiterate in my mind when I read the blogs and the comments that, “hey, it’s not all in my head”. I know now that I’m not imagining all of this up, it’s real and it hurts.


    • Exodus says:

      NewShoes, As far as other people understanding, I can relate to everything you wrote including not wanting to appear like a victim..but maybe it’s more about not wanting to appear like a pathetic helpless person??? There is a stigma attached to people who get involved with abusive partners that no one wants attached to them. It’s shameful and humiliating. We should be stronger and wiser and intelligent enough to know it’s wrong. It’s really difficult for me to imagine myself in this situation. I was always the one who was so strong and righteous and intolerant of other abusive behavior. But, PA behaviors are very disguised and become abusive only after it’s repeated over and over again. I only have one long distance friend in my life that understands what I go through. she’s known me for almost 15 years- even before I knew what was wrong with my husband. There are no bruises or visible scars and even worse, much of what our husbands do can often be interpreted as a ‘ man thing’ or a personality quirk. I’ve often asked other people if their husbands do this or that in an effort to be fair and to determine if I’m over reacting. Journaling is absolutely necessary in order to keep a realistic perspective on our husband’s behaviors and our own reactions and tolerance. With any abuse, the longer we stay, the more coping mechanisms we develop to tolerate it and before we know it, we’ve been buried alive.

      I don’t want to discuss the truth about my marriage with people but on the other hand, I don’t pretend that things are fine anymore. When I worked at the university, it was very difficult because I was surrounded by people that were happily married and who navigated everything in life as a team, not opponents. Husbands would call our lab all day to just say hello to their wives or to find out what their wives wanted for dinner ( they cooked for their wives) and if they needed something from the store. Husbands would drop by to chat and drop off lunches and even help us with some of our work. Husbands would come to me to help orchestrate surprise birthday lunches. I felt so ashamed that I was married to my husband that I would sometimes just make up lies about what we did over the weekend. Once I started lying on a regular basis, I began feeling extremely unworthy of my job and the stress of worrying that anyone might find out the truth became almost unbearable. My husband made it very difficult for me to work and so I found myself making up lies to cover up why I was late or why I was crying or why I couldn’t stay for the picnic or other functions. Then I had to lie to cover up lies. It’s MOST important not to lie!!!!!! Lying only devalues us even further. We don’t need that!! I realize that no one has a perfect marriage but I was working in ivy league academia with highly educated and very successful professionals that at least behaved like civilized ladies and gentlemen toward their spouses. I couldn’t bear for them to think I was just po white trash that couldn’t do any better in life.

      So, I don’t attend functions with my husband as his wife and I won’t allow him to disrespect me in public anymore. If we must attend the same function, I drive a separate car. Enough is enough. He says some pretty ugly and arrogant things to me in public and I just let him have it right back. I don’t care what anyone thinks because they are going to think whatever they want to anyway. A couple of weeks ago we were in the grocery store check out and I was bagging. Another elderly bagger man came by and was chatting with me and we were laughing and having a good time. The cashier had shoved the huge case of toilet paper rolls up under his keyboard. When I went to pull it out, the keyboard moved and I immediately grabbed it to make sure it didn’t fall. My husband got the most evil look and said, ‘ slow down! this is what happens when you run your trap and don’t pay attention’. I looked up at him and said, ‘You truly are an ugly hateful hick when you talk to me like that’ and the cashier ( a nice young fellow) put his hand on my wrist and said, ” You didn’t do anything wrong..don’t let him get to you.”

      There are a lot of people- both men and women- that live with PA abuse. I notice it more and more in people and we live in a culture now that tends to promote it and narcissism. There is a book ..something like…how to live with the PA man. I have the book and I read it several years ago but I hated the book because it seemed truly insane for the author ( a man of course) to be teaching a woman how to tolerate her PAH’s abusive behavior! Granted, there are varying degrees of PA but no one should tolerate it on any level.


      • lonelywife07 says:

        Exodus…is the book by Scott Wetzler? I’m reading it now…only about half way through…
        And YES your husband is an ugly, hateful hick! What a jerk for talking to you like that…so disrespectful!
        Last year we were at a friends house for the Super Bowl…and one of the teen girls. V, decided to leave early, and as she was backing out, she accidentally hit my oldest sons car, she barely scratched it, but she was really nervous that he’d be mad….now you have to know my son, he’s very mild mannered, likes to joke around with people, etc…Kinda like his momma! LOL
        So anyway, I was outside, along with PA Man and a couple of the other MEN, who had flashlights out, examining my sons car, and talking amongst themselves like guys do… and V was standing there…and I KIDDINGLY said to her, “Oh boy, you know how S can be…he’s gonna be upset!”….and I hit her with my elbow, just joking around, and V looked at me and said,” Really??” To which I responded, “No. You know S….he’ll be fine.”
        And he was….he looked at it said he could hardly see anything and went back to watch the game….And then PA Man starts in on me, “I can’t believe you so as that to V…you upset her!”
        He freaking said that to me THREE times in about 30 mins!! I finally told him to SHUT UP!!!
        I mean seriously….he was MORE concerned with a 17 yr olds feelings…than with mine!!
        And the way I look at it those stupid guys with their flashlights made a MUCH bigger deal out of it than I did, and they embarrassed V by drawing attention to her mistake!! Jerks! They’re all jerks!!


        • Exodus says:

          lonelywife, yes, that is the book! ..scott wetzler. To be fair, the book was a very good intro to PA behavior but I didn’t like the title at all- especially after reading the book- and as PJ’s so eloquently stated, ‘ Seriously? I’m supposed to be responsible for this and manage this?”

          My husband does the same exact thing as your husband did about joking with V. It’s just like my grocery incident. My husband can’t stand for anyone to be laughing with me or having a good time and he tries so hard to make me look like an insensitive jerk but really it’s he that is the jerk.
          Before we got married I had several good friends that were involved in my life on a regular weekly basis. After we got married, they invited us to functions, picnics, board games, and out to dinner. One time, my friend wanted us to meet his new girlfriend and invited us to dinner. I loved his girlfriend. She was hilarious and she was from VT one of my hometown states. The woman and I just hit it off and were laughing and having the best time. My husband slammed his glass down and scolded me about being so obnoxious and beause he was so ugly and obnoxious himself that my friends never invited us to dinner ever again. I don’t blame them one bit. Who the heck wants to have dinner with such an angry negative person? I know I don’t! As the years passed, I lost more and more friends. Only one of them had the courage to tell me that they simply could not be around me when I was with my husband anymore. It’s very uncomfortable being a guest in our home and observing my husband being ugly and watching me try to deal with it without making a scene.

          Excellent post below and excellent points about therapy. Fortunately, I had a very good therapist a couple of years ago who understood Narcissistic and PA abuse. She was a very wise therapist for someone who was so young- actually, she wasn’t even a licensed therapist. She was getting her masters in Education but did an internship in Christian counseling. I got very lucky when I got her as my therapist. Anyway, she also told me that most therapists are inexperienced because they never deal with N’s or PA people because it’s only their victims that seek help. I do remember one therapist many years ago who would ferociously chew her nails around my husband. It was so bizarre that I began to wonder if she was stable and qualified to counsel us. I soon realized that it was that subliminal anxiety they create in everyone trying to figure them out.

          PJ’s…excellent outline of the Newshoes transition. The two of you should write a book about PA abuse and the permanent damage that can result. This is very real and I would bet that a lot of folks on disability are or were married to PA abusers.


      • newshoes says:

        Agreed. No one should be made to feel like they belong on the bottom of a shoe.
        For myself, I didn’t know I was being abuse for many many years. I knew something was wrong with my relationship but I honestly thought that I was a bad wife and that I didn’t know how to love my husband, that I didn’t understand him. But there was always something on the back of my mind that told me that I was wrong, that I wasn’t that bad. No one is perfect and I assumed I was probably worse than other wives. I tried everything in the book from being extra loving and nice, gave him everything he wanted but something inside wanted to fight him when he was mean, wanted to let out a blood curling scream because I was so frustrated. Even when he got what he wanted, he still found a way to be abusive towards me.
        I found out finally when I was googling online marriage issues and when I found it, the light when on and I cried for days. Mostly because I was mad at myself for accepting this for so long. And sad because I couldn’t see how I could fix it. I couldn’t understand why I loved him so much anyways and I stayed to see how I could fix it.
        Later, I just couldn’t allow it anymore, I had had enough, then the shit really hit the fan. I started to fight again and that didn’t do of course.
        I have forgiven myself and him of course, but I have a lot of work to do to get myself to a better place. One day, I’ll get there, I’m hopeful.
        The trouble with therapist and counsellors is that a lot of them do not understand the intricaces of pa behavior and the trauma that it causes over a long period of time. And it’s difficult to diagnose properly due to the fact that the pa person is good at covering their tracks and looking good in front of others.
        I have a friend I’ve know for 30 years now, she is surprised that I’m still with my pah, she doesn’t understand knowing who I am and what I’ve become and why I have accepted this behavior for so long. Honestly, I do not know either. But I’m on the mend. And I’ve decided to wear newshoes (they make me happy and I still choosetobehappy) 🙂 I hope one day, you get there too, I know how you feel, how all of you feel. I’m living your lives and you gals are living mine. We are all sisters and I’m so glad for all of you.


        • WritesinPJ's says:

          newshoes, you just did a pretty accurate timeline:

          “I knew something was wrong with my relationship”
          “I…thought that I was a bad wife”
          “I didn’t know how to love my husband”
          “I didn’t understand him”
          “something on the back of my mind that told me… wrong… that I wasn’t that bad”
          “I tried everything in the book”
          ” something inside wanted to fight him when he was mean”
          “he still found a way to be abusive towards me”
          “the light when on and I cried”
          “I was mad at myself for accepting this”
          ” sad because I couldn’t see how I could fix it”
          “I couldn’t understand why I loved him”
          “I stayed to see how I could fix it”
          “Later, I just couldn’t allow it anymore”
          “then the shit really hit the fan”
          “I have forgiven myself and him”
          “I’m on the mend”

          This would apply to so many women who have been abused!


      • WritesinPJ's says:

        Yep, yep. Been there and done the pretending, and now just can’t anymore.

        What an odious way to behave to you in the store!

        While I felt I learned a fair bit from Scott Wetzler’s book (is that the one you referenced?), it also left a bad taste of in my mouth. Seriously? I’m supposed to be responsible for this and manage this?


  4. A few years ago, I made a list of the major things that have occurred in my life that either were caused by my husband or to which he did not contribute assistance in resolving. I picked as the starting date the day that he was fired from his last (i.e., second) decent job of our married life. I have shared this list with a few people, including my husband’s therapist (I think). It is a very useful reminder to me that I”m not making things up or exaggerating. Below are a few items from the list, which does NOT include any of the day to day things for my family’s support that I regularly do all by myself:

    H receiving a complaint that he sexually harassed a health-care worker
    H lying about his work situation
    Daughter 1 choosing to miss a DUI class and having to be returned to California on short notice
    H getting two speeding tickets
    (Me) doing all the taxes and financial aid forms in 2013
    (Me) Doing all the travel preparations for the trip to Daughter 1’s graduation
    H driving a long distance while not wearing pants


    • Exodus says:

      Married, Keep making or adding to that list! GOOD FOR YOU!! I know it may seem so childish and hateful to have to keep a list like this updated, but one day you may need that list and trust me, the longer you endure this abuse, the worse your memory will get. I think I’ve even reached a point where I block things out because of the PTSD. I’m even going to copy my posts on here and put them in a word doc.

      I’ll be blunt …People do desperate things when they are feeling desperate. I didn’t know how much danger I was in and I didn’t know if I might kill my husband one day or if he might kill me. I started keeping my journal because if anything happened to me – whether I was dead or in jail, I wanted everyone to know what I was dealing with. If my friend, the woman that worked for me and who is jail now had kept a journal of her abuse, I think it would have helped her defense. If her husband had murdered her, the police would have found the journal and it would incriminate the husband and at least let others know what kind of man he was.

      Oh bless your heart Married. What a nightmare to live with. Stay strong and keep doing what you need to statements, taxes, etc.. I made the mistake of giving up and I’m paying dearly with all kinds of overdue everything.

      Your husband sounds like he is a pathological liar with some other personality disorder. That’s a very dangerous situation Married. Does he lie about just anything? Everything including petty things? I don’t mean to scare you but do you remember the Mark Hacking murder trial? He was a pathological liar who ended up getting backed into a corner and out of sheer desperation, murdered his pregnant wife. He was a healthcare worker who had lied about being accepted to med school and all sorts of other things.
      Then there was the Scott Peterson trial…same type of pathology and pathological liar.


  5. Pingback: The hand that hurts is the hand that helps | my life in pajamas

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