Many victims hear the phrase “What were you thinking?” when you tell them what went on in the relationship. If you are anything like me, half the time you were so busy trying to figure out what the narcissist was thinking you weren’t thinking, not with a clear mind anyway.
I do have a bit of an advantage over many survivors of narcissistic abuse because I had several opportunities to get into the mind of a narcissist when I read James’s journals and the blog he had while we were together.
When you read what they are truly thinking, when they don’t think the victim is going to read it you can see how lacking in normal human emotion they really are. To put it plainly, they really are disabled in the feelings department; they simply don’t get it. Intellectually they know that things they do are wrong, that people get hurt and angry, but they really do not understand why many times. They really don’t care because they ……….. well because they really don’t care, they can’t care, it is beyond their capability to care. It is like asking a fish to fly, even if he wanted to, he couldn’t.
I remember doing a post and comparing it to someone telling you to jump off a building and fly, no matter how hard you might want to do that, you know it would kill you and you just can’t do it. That is like us asking the narcissist to feel, even if he wanted to he just can’t do it and to him, feeling, having compassion or empathy would be the same as jumping to his death. Control is everything to a narcissist, he uses peoples emotions to destroy them; to him emotion, caring equates to being destroyed. Why on earth would he put himself in the position of being destroyed? He can’t relate to the feelings of euphoria that a person in love feels. He gets those feelings from being in control of a person, getting one over on someone, owning someone and manipulating them like a puppet gives him those same feelings of “all is well in the world”. When we love someone, we often love them for the simple fact that it feels good to love someone. I loved loving James, even if he didn’t love me back, i remember praying to God to just let me continue loving James, I didn’t care if he loved me as much as I loved him as long as I could be in his life and love him. That is how I eventually was able to move on, I gave myself permission to continue to love him, I told myself I didn’t have to stop loving him I just had to do it from afar. But no one could make me stop loving him, not my family, friends, or even him, my love was mine to give. Once I told myself it was ok to love him I was able to let him go.
My love was real and it didn’t matter how many people told me his love was never true, that he was a facade, it didn’t change the fact that my love was real and deep and had nothing to do with being loved back. i thought about all the people who have someone they love die. When the person dies they don’t stop loving the person because they are no longer there, the grieve the loss of that person, they feel they can’t go on without the person in their life but they do and very many of them love again, not exactly the same as they loved the person who died but they love again none the less. I thought, I can deal with that. So far in my life, James is and was my greatest love, I sacrificed every thing I had for him, often knowing that it was not in my best interest to do so, but isn’t that what love is? True love doesn’t stop to think, what’s in it for me? When my son was involved with dangerous guys and his life was in danger, I was prepared to face any guy no matter how big and scary he was, I was scared, but there was nothing that would have kept me from going and pleading for his life. I would never have run and left him alone to deal with them, no matter that he was in that position of his own doing, no matter that I could be killed because what was life worth without him in it?
I will never regret loving James, I will not feel shame for loving him, I loved him well; there is no shame in loving well. I used to pray that he would kill me so I would not have to make the choice to leave. What hurt the most was that he didn’t have a clue. He has no idea how much I loved him because it is out of his comprehension. He doesn’t know what it feels like to really hurt either, everything is visual to him, on the surface, there is no depth, he doesn’t pick up on the subtle signs of love, he mimics love, he realizes it exists, he can watch a movie and see how people are supposed to act when they are in love, but he hasn’t a clue what it feels like inside. How horrible to go through life and never know true love, to always be on guard because you think everyone around you thinks like you do; “get them before they get me.”
Can you imagine living your life that way? never believing anyone, living constantly plotting, stalking people, afraid of being exposed for who you really are, have such a fragile orchestrated life that if anyone gets too close they could bring you down in a second just by exposing that you are a sham. Is it any wonder they murder their victims? It is like someone insisting you jump off that building, if they just would not accept that you can not fly; you just might kill them to save your own life.
When it was ending this last time, just before I moved out, in a moment of calm, and I mean moment because once it was obvious I was moving out and it was over, things got really hostile and weird. But I asked James if he had ever been faithful and he said, “I was as faithful as I could be.” And i believe that.
Another time, on a New Year’s eve he was coming to BC from Alberta, he had a delivery in Vancouver. He had called to say he was getting close and I had made a beautiful dinner for him, was wearing one of his shirts, with a garter belt and stockings and nothing else. I made sure that every time he came home I greeted him in some new sexy little thing. His reward for remaining faithful while he was trucking, I even made a video for him for while he was away (it is a totally different thing if I choose to make a video and him taping us without my knowledge and it was VERY difficult to do, it was done out of a deep love for him and desire to help him remain faithful to me) I walked up to greet him because he couldn’t park at my trailer and as he pulled me close to give me a hug I opened my long trench coat and he got a glimpse of what I wasn’t wearing and he couldn’t wait to get me home. We never made it past the front door and ended up making passionate love on the living room floor, moved to the couch at some point, I don’t know how long it lasted but I do know that after we ate I was exhausted and fell asleep on the couch. He went on the internet and was chatting with one of his many women, she was in Whistler with girlfriends for New Years Eve celebrations and he was saying, “Be good, save it for me.” and she was reassuring him she was being a good girl.
I didn’t discover their messages until months later, but the date was on them and of course I put two and two together. I also discovered that on his way to my place he text messaged Bridget in Sudan to say he loved her and was thinking of her and would call later.
In his mind he did nothing wrong, intellectually he knew I would be upset of course as would the other women but the way his mind works, he was giving us all what we wanted and we should be happy with the illusion he was creating. He was proud of himself, he was managing to keep 3 women on the hook and happy, thinking he was being faithful to all of them.
When I discovered the text message to Bridget and confronted him on it he looked surprised I was upset and said,”But I wasn’t with you at the time.” I had said, “So if I am not in your direct line of vision it is not cheating?” If we are not physically in the same place, it is not cheating?” he was blank, he was blinking but there was nothing behind those eyes, he did not compute.
I read on his blog how he would call all three of us every night, i remember those calls, he would tell me how much he loved me, how he couldn’t wait to get home, to make sure I was in something sexy when he got there and then he would hang up from he and call the next one. One time he was writing about being away and one of the women was doing something with a single guy and she had reassured James that she would not “do” the guy because the guy was the ex of one of her friends. James had commented, “She had better not sleep with him for more reasons than just that.”
Whenever he was away from any of us he worried about us screwing around on him, well not me so much, he wrote I was his sure thing, he knew I would never cheat on him.
When we were splitting and I was crying over discovering he had these other women in Alberta he tried to make me feel better by saying, “You were top on the list for a long time.” I said, “top of the list?” He said, “Yeah, when you were greeting me in the garter belt and stuff you were beating them all out.” I said, “I didn’t know I was in a competition. I don’t compete for any man, I shouldn’t have to after 10 years.” he again looked confused and said,”But knowing there are other women should make you want to try harder, not get mad.”
Because in his sick mind, it is all about winning and nothing to do love, because he doesn’t know what love is.
In his mind, as long as he was creating the illusion the women wanted he was doing his job, where was the harm? She wasn’t with him, what she didn’t know should not upset her. If he called and said he loved and missed her and told her he was going straight to bed and was being faithful, she should be a happy little clam at home waiting for him faithfully. She had her wish, he was being faithful, or acting like he was and after all, isn’t that what life is all about? presenting an image, giving them what they want so you can have what you want? a game of strategy, smoke and mirrors? Isn’t everyone doing the same thing? Why wouldn’t they?
After we had split and he came to me full of apologies and admitted that I had worked very hard at the relationship and he said he just wanted to change his life not lose me, he had loved me just not where he was living or how his life was going. I said, “So you dumped me instead of saying I want to move?” He said in what appeared to be all earnesty, “You knew I had lost my job, you know that trailer was infested with mice. I had to get out of there.” I really think he expected me to go, “OH!! now that you put it that way I understand, it was nothing personal, you just needed to find a woman with money and a home, I feel so much better.”
He also seemed genuinely shocked at losing everything because of him and even made reference to the fact that I could have found a man with money and solved my problems and if I didn’t that was my own fault. He can have sex with any woman without loving her, because he has never known it to be any other way, it is a natural necessary bodily function and it works to hook victims, win win in his mind. When you never truly love someone and you are only going after what they have that you need, when life is all an illusion, things like making love, saying I love you, pretending to be in love all become “the things you have to do to get what you want” and mean nothing.
So often a victim will lament that the narcissist is giving the new woman everything she had wanted. I had always wanted to ride the Rocky Mountaineer Train but we never had the money. Shortly after he started dating Marisa they took the Rocky Mountaineer Train to Whistler. After we split he became the person I had always wished he would be (the person I had met and even better), all of a sudden he was so moral and law abiding, he told me he couldn’t keep talking to me because it upset Marisa, and then he said, “How would you feel if the roles were reversed? You wouldn’t like it either.”
Excuse me??? no I didn’t like it, I hated it but you would never stop, I was being unreasonable, I even had said to him, “How would you feel if the roles were reversed” and now he was using MY line on ME. He does it partly to get to the victim I am sure, a way of rubbing salt in the wounds but I also believe that he knows what you wanted and what would have made you happy so he thinking the new woman will be won over by the same thing. He doesn’t view women as having separate personalities and likes and dislikes, if something worked on one it will work on another and you are what is fresh in his mind so that is his frame of reference.
I noticed once he got with Marisa, when we talked it was like he hadn’t known me for 10 years. He had known me better than anyone ever had, he knew exactly how I would react to things, he knew all my beliefs, desires and what I stood for, yet he would say things like he thought I should be impressed or whatever and it was nothing close to what I would find impressive or of interest. Hard to explain but for example, he was telling me they went to visit his mother and he was pissed because on the Sunday she had dragged them to church and it had been so boring. He wasn’t there to go to church, he was there to visit her. He told me that she had apologized and said the minister usually had better sermons. I was appalled! He had obviously shown his displeasure enough that she felt she had to apologize. I said to him, “I can’t believe you! who are you? You haven’t seen your mother is how long and she asks you to go to church with her, the place where all her friends are; so she can show off the son that she loves more than anything in the world and you denied her that and complained about it so badly she felt she had to apologize? how could you do that?”
He was obviously shocked, I don’t know why, when we were together he never would have done that but I guess the new woman had no problem with it. I found the whole conversation was about stuff I really wasn’t the least bit interested in, at ALL!! and I found myself thinking, “Does he even know me, how could he not know I find this totally uninteresting and materialistic, does he not remember that he has told me this lie before?” But I don’t think he did, I think once he is done with a person and he moves his focus to another victim and he has morphed into her ideal man, it is not so easy for him to switch back, he forgets his roles, gets confused who likes what or the ex doesn’t matter any more so he doesn’t really concern himself with remembering what she likes. I can understand that, from a removed and logical way; if that is the way you have to live, it must get very stressful and tiring trying to keep all your persona’s straight and remember who you have to be with each person. It is no wonder he needs a “sure thing” sitting at home where he just takes his mask off and lets it all hung out.
I can relate. I remember years ago working in the bank and walking through the door at home and the first thing I would do, before anything else was take off my pantyhose. OMG! it felt so good to just let everything hang out, not have them squeezing the life out of me, I would sigh in relief and dread putting them on again in the morning. That must be the way a narcissist feels when he gets home and he can take that mask off and let it all hang out.