I recently read an articles that said the secret to happiness is being flexible and adaptable. That makes sense, being adaptable means you make the best of a situation and you do not rigidly insist on things always going as you plan. The ability to go with the flow can make for a happier life it can also be the trait that keeps you with a narcissist. Out of curiosity I Googled “Personality Traits of Happy People” because I wanted to see if my theory was correct and…….well……. I rest my case. The exact same traits they say a person need to be happy are the same traits that kept us in the relationship with the narcissist.
Be Expectantly Patient
Many victims are ashamed they got involved with a narcissist, society shames the victims and the narcissist shames the victim, pretty hard to not feel ashamed when so many people are in agreement.
But the traits needed to stay with a narcissist are the same traits we are told we should have to be happy and to lead an exemplary life; so how can it be shameful to have these traits? The very same traits that made it possible for me to care for a 5 week old baby while having my husband in the hospital dying enabled me to stay with JC. The traits of forgiveness and being non-judgmental were the same traits that made it possible for me to stand by my brother when the family turn their back on him and the same with my son. Or when my mom and dad split and my mom was a basket case and needed a shoulder to cry on every night for months on end, it was me who was there for her. The very traits that I was criticized for with JC were the traits that have made it possible for me to assist other people in my life when they had no one else and got me through some really tough times in my life. It was fine for them when they needed these characteristics but they were the first to criticize me for them when I wouldn’t give up on JC.
JC used to complain I was too demanding, too inflexible, and that I needed to be more adaptable and learn to go with the flow and that I should be more grateful for what I had and not always be so negative. I had never been called negative in my life, in fact I had always had a very positive attitude and looked forward to the future with anticipation of what was to come. But I was very organized and structured, meals were at a certain time, I went to bed the same time every night, I had to work, I had a son to raise and I had a mortgage to pay, time was limited and I had a lot on my plate. I was not spontaneous, my 1st husband complained because he would want to do something on the weekend and I would want to stay home and clean the house. In my family we decided at Christmas dinner who was cooking it next year, my whole life was planned.
JC challenged all that and I didn’t mind that he was a free spirit, he was kind, loving, sweet and had a great sense of humor; so what if he was a little scattered and usually late, he always called if he was late and all the good things about him outweighed the couple of annoying things about him, I was at a point in my life where a little spontaneity was welcome. My son had moved out, I no longer had to be home for a child, I was ready to enjoy a bit of freedom, I thought, how wonderful that I would find someone like JC at this time in my life, I knew it never would have worked had we met any earlier because I would have been too regimented because I was a single mom with responsibilities.
I think in the past I had intentionally picked men who were passive because I had watched my mom being controlled and was determined to stay independent and in control and consequently I had packed the load in most of my relationships, always been the strong one and I was tired and ready to allow a man to “take care of me”. I had been making all the decisions for so long, carrying the load financially and emotionally I didn’t fight giving up some control.
Life was an adventure! I was SO happy with JC, I stopped planning suppers because i never knew what to expect when I came home from work, he would want to go somewhere and always wanted me along. I learned to become flexible about when we ate and when I did cook at home it was usually late and we would eat and just talk. When we went out we would stop at a bar or pub somewhere and share something, I usually let him choose, I wasn’t picky. We would blitz Vancouver, I didn’t know Vancouver so I relied on him and sort of played the role of tourist as he took me to this place or that, to visit friends of his.
I came home one day after work, the apartment was torn apart, there was water every where, stuff spread all over the floor and he was in the living room putting together a huge aquarium. I had always loved aquariums and had one for years but it was nowhere near that big. This was a 90 gallon aquarium that JC had found and somehow managed to get up 3 flights of stairs all by himself. My irritation at the apartment being a mess dissipated with my joy at seeing the aquarium. He was so knowledgeable about how to set up an aquarium and I love to learn about stuff I don’t know. I watched him setting up filters and pumps with fascination and a growing appreciation for this man who continually surprised and impressed me. We would spend our Sundays cruising pet supply stores looking for unique fish and thought nothing of spending a couple hundred dollars on a fish. I loved watching him with the fish, he even gave CPR to a fish that jumped out of the tank and cried when it died. Such a sensitive guy, I could not believe how I fell in love with him more the more I got to know him.
I always wanted to make love with him and he could make love over and over again, he always wanted me and I always wanted him, I had never wanted a man more in my life, never slept wrapped up in a man all night before in my life. THIS is what love feels like, nothing else mattered as long as he was by my side. I fell in love watching him get lost in playing his guitar, I fell in love watching him fix my car, I fell in love with every love note I woke up to and every bouquet he brought me home for no reason. I fell more in love every time I got upset about something and cried and he would pick me up and pack me to the bedroom and lay me beside him on the bed stroking my hair. When I came home one day and he put a song on the CD player and held me close while we danced (he hated to dance) and his tears slid down his face onto my cheek and he told me he had never loved anyone like he loved me and it scared him, we kissed through our tears and made love on the living room floor. When I cried because I didn’t have a garden to dig in he took me to the nursery and bought big pots, potting soil and all the plants I wanted and packed them up 3 flights of stairs so I could have my garden on the deck. He made me a pond with a water fall and then took a picture of it and had it blown up and framed for me as a surprise. Who cared about Valentines or Christmas gifts when someone was so sweet for no reason? I felt so blessed.
But he never seemed as impressed with the little gifts I got him, I just thought he felt awkward accepting gifts.
He was always wheeling and dealing but he always made money, on the weekend when the Buy and Sell came out he would get up early and run down to the corner store, coming back with two coffees and the paper. I was amazed at how he could horse trade and get something, put a bit of work into it and double his money.
Gradually, oh so gradually, his living on the edge started to scare me. I remember standing in the kitchen one time upset because I didn’t want to him spending money because we needed groceries and he had said to have faith in him, hadn’t he always pulled the rabbit out of the hat? So I conceded, he had always found a way to make money, we always paid the mortgage payment, we always had food, I thought “I have to learn to give up some of the control and trust him.”
A couple of years later we were basically homeless and he managed to find us a hovel to live in, I had never lived in conditions like that in my life, but I adapted because; as long as I could put my head on his chest at the end of the day I could over come anything. Only problem was, he had stopped coming to bed unless he wanted sex and we didn’t have a bed, only a couch for a while. I couldn’t cook suppers anymore because we didn’t have a kitchen. Before I realized what had happened I had nothing that was familiar to me, I did none of the things i used to excel at, there was no point in cleaning the house, what house? it was a dump, i had none of my possessions, none of my family photos, no kitchen to cook, no tub to bath, no gardens to putz in then my vehicle broke down and I had to walk every where,, but I adapted. I always found a way of making the most depressing place a home. I learned to paint to entertain myself and keep my sanity, I read, I stopped making plans, I gave up everything that made me me. But I decided I would treat it like research, I would use what i learned to help people later when we were back on our feet. I always believed we would get back on our feet, I truly believed in JC. I believed in God and a purpose and I believed he had a plan for JC and I and when I prayed for a sign telling me if I should stay or leave I could always find a “sign” to stay.
As we all know, if the N had treated us in the beginning like he did at the end we never would have dated him past the first date, we aren’t stupid, we don’t “like” abuse, we didn’t go looking for a man who would scream at us that we were psycho, paranoid demanding bitches, we didn’t want an STD, or a black eye. We weren’t looking for someone to give all our possessions and money to. We were trusting people who had no reason to believe the N was anything other than what he said he was.
Because we are caring, non-judgmental people who have screwed up in our own lives and we think everyone deserves a second chance, (after all we have ourselves hurt people when we didn’t mean to), everyone can make a mistake and everyone deserves a second chance right? Who are we to judge? This is the love of our life, for months he/she has been everything we ever wanted in a partner and more, they gave us more than we ever knew existed in a relationship, of course we are going to give them a second chance! Yes we were strong when we met them, we had never taken abuse from anyone in our life, we were independent and nobody’s fool; BUT we had never been in love like that before either. When you find a love like that you don’t just throw it away, in our minds the N’s behavior was totally out of character; we didn’t yet know that it WAS his true character and the man we met was a sham.
Most people don’t figure out they are with a narcissist until they have split and they go looking for answers, for certain; no one goes looking for answers until they are so invested in the relationship it is very hard to extricate themselves. Plus, it is human nature to cling to a losing proposition the more you have invested in it whether that is emotional investment or financial investment.
Anyone who wants to judge the victims is naive and obviously never been in the position themselves. It is easy to see all the red flags when a person hears about the relationship after the fact when retold by the victim. When you are in the middle of the smoke screens, gas lighting and love bombing it is almost impossible to think straight and logically. The N does it on purpose to keep the victim off kilter. It’s hard to be strong when you can’t get your balance.
Now, unfortunately you will recognize the signs soon enough to protect yourself and you know your natural personality traits that can work against you so you will be more careful who you bless with your love and understanding.
But don’t ever stop being you, don’t let anyone tell you that you are to blame and that to be a caring person is wrong. Remember a narcissist has to have the best, they don’t pick losers. That is why they are driven to destroy their victims, they know they do not deserve them and the victim is so far above them they can only pretend for a short period to be like them and then they can’t keep the mask on.