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.
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.