The Secret of Happiness – Adaptability

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 Humble

Be Courageous

Be Grateful

Be Tolerant

Be Loving

Be Forgiving

Be Selfless

Be Honest

Be Persistent

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.

12 thoughts on “The Secret of Happiness – Adaptability

  1. Tifa

    Thank you Carrie for this. 🙂 An inspiring read yet again. Although crushing to learn of just how heartbreaking another’s experiencing has been. We all had what we thought to be the most perfect love that became a living nightmare. But I do have faith that our initial “love” with these characters can exist with a normal and healthy human being. I have had good relationships before. And I am actually (and surprisingly even to myself) proud to own some of the traits listed in this article to what makes for a happier person/happy relationships. I have had some people suggest that I should “toughen up”, and ultimately be a little bit more selfish. But that would go against my morals and essentially the person that I am. Like you say, why should we feel blamed and stop being who we are simply because we choose to care? I couldn’t be any other way although recognise that I too often put others’ needs before my own to the point as I’ve learned of being taken advantage of/abused by another. I guess it is striking a healthy balance with it all.
    I actually honestly feel that had I not located your website those months back that I would not be on the road to recovery right now… Rather weaving on and off of it! 😉 Am still a long way to being fully healed I know, but am thankful to you Carrie for enabling me to come out of my hideous experience with my ex N so much more unscathed than I know I would have been had I not discovered this website. And I’m grateful also to not have become bitter with my experiencing either. I actually feel no anger towards my ex N anymore. While I know that is probably all he feels towards me I’d rather not do the same and waste anymore time and energy.
    On a side note I’ve been reading about “hoovering”? He messaged my phone two days ago to ask how work had been. I ignored it and heard nothing more. Hadn’t heard from him for a week so it could be he meant to send it to someone else. I haven’t blocked his number as didn’t want to lose abusive messages in case he did try to cause any trouble at a later date. I guess that’s the main struggle right now.. While I’m happy keeping motivated etc the intermittent contact and potential for him to do something to execute more abuse does keep me somewhat uneasy at times. But the more I ignore am hoping he will simply move on and get bored. Might be wishful thinking! 😉
    Here I go rambling again..sorry! X x x x x x


    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Tifa, first off; don’t ever apologize for rambling, I am the queen of ramble! lol
      it is very hard to stay motivated if the N is in your life to any degree simply because they want to keep you down, keep toying with you, always keep you on the back burner. The danger in just not replying instead of blocking him so you can’t get the message is that some day he might catch you at a weak moment, or even at a time you are feeling so healed that you think you can talk to him “just to see what he is up to” and end up getting hurt again because we are never immune to the pain they can dish out.
      Is there no way you can say those messages somehow, have you Googled it? It would be so much better for you if he could not get through to you at all. After a while those messages become obsolete simply because they are so old, especially if he has stopped sending them.
      Just a thought. I worry about anyone that has any contact whatsoever with their ex N. It spelled nothing but disaster for me and so many others I have talked to .


  2. Kate

    Carrie, so much of your story resembles the details of how my relationship with a narcissistic psychopath began. Truly only those of us who have lived it can really understand the craziness of it all. Reading your story I cannot help but recall the old example of the frog who slowly boils to death. Nobody can understand why the frog doesn’t jump out of the pan as it nears boiling point to save his own life. Well if you threw him in to an existing boiling pot of water he would naturally, instinctively jump out. But when you put him in cold water and slowly increase the temp to boiling he has no idea he’s being slowly boiled to death. Crudely worded as I outlined it but I think you get the point. Seems very apropro of a relationship with one of these freaks of nature…..


    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Kate, I used that exact same analogy on one of my posts, I can’t recall which one now, I think it was the 3 phases of a relationship with an N. funny thing is, it is that analogy that JC used to explain why he stayed with ME so long. Projecting or what?!
      Thanks for your comment.


  3. Gabrielle Mayfair

    I think I was raised to be narcissistic supply and looking back I know now that I was involved with various narc men. I recognized the signs of addiction vs. love but the seduction of their fairy tale promises was something that felt like a magical journey for a while. Until you realize that you’re inventing the magic yourself because it’s what you really desire!


    1. Carrie Reimer Post author

      Gabrielle, so very true, they start the fairytale and we keep it going. Like I have said before I was 9 and 1/2 years too long in a 10 year relationship. It is amazing how we can excuse, refuse to see, or explain away the abuse when we are determined to not face the truth. I have said that the worst part of the relationship was not the lies he told me, it was the lies I told myself.
      Thanks for commenting


  4. flowersfromapsycho

    “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.”.. Worth the price of admission, right there.



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