Mr. Stingy.

Originally posted on June 10, 2015

stingy
I remember one of my narcissistic lovers. He was a textbook example of a malignant narcissist, and a mean one at that. Although he never became physically violent, I think he would have if I hadn’t ended that relationship.

One of the strangest things about him was the way he gave me gifts. The guy had plenty of money–he had a trust fund and owned his apartment free and clear, and he was always traveling. He never asked me to go with him though. Instead, he’d bring me back “gifts” from his road trips. I remember he’d make a big show out of presenting me with these gifts as if he was giving me the keys to a new car. They were never wrapped nicely, but always stuffed in a paper or plastic bag.

So what sort of gifts did this narcissistic trust fund jerk give me? Jewelry, chocolates, books, candles, clothing?

No. He’d give me gifts of trash. The stuff he didn’t want. You know, like the free samples they give out in hotels–tiny bars of hotel soap, shampoo, a wrapped glass with the hotel’s name on it, even a “Do Not Disturb” door sign. Once he gave me a gift card with about $2.00 left on it. I couldn’t even use that because it was for a store they don’t have in this area. Thanks, Mr. Generous! The most extravagant thing this loser ever brought me back from these trips was a keychain that was probably free too. One of his gifts was half a Stuckey’s nutty bar, that he’d already opened and eaten part of. How cheap can you get? He was the stingiest POS I ever knew.

tiny_gift
A ring or earrings maybe? Think again, chump.

It wasn’t like he didn’t have the money to buy me something nice. He used to show me, with great fanfare, all the nice things he’d bought for himself. A leather jacket, a framed picture, a box of homemade peanut butter and chocolate fudge. I remember asking him if I could have a piece of the fudge and he said no.

For Christmas that year he actually bought me something. It was a “Toonces The Driving Cat” coffee mug. Although still a cheap gift, it was thoughtful because he knew I loved that Saturday Night Live skit.

About a month later, we had a fight. We were arguing more frequently by then. Then he said something that made me wonder if I’d heard him right. He said he wanted the Toonces mug back. He told me to go get it and give it to him. I said no. Shooting me eye-daggers, he said through gritted teeth, “I never gave you that. I only let you borrow it.”

Wow.

Livid, I went and found the mug, pretended to hand it to him, saying “Here!” As he reached for it, I threw it hard against the floor in front of him, shattering it into bits. He stormed off in a rage and slammed the door on his way out. As I swept the pieces of broken ceramic into a dust pan, I heard the squeal of his tires as he backed out of the driveway like a bat out of hell. He always did have a problem with road rage too.

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“No one will ever love you like I do”: NPD men in love.

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With Valentines Day coming up in a few days, I think it’s time to talk about narcissistic men in love.   I think I have enough experience with such men to be able to write about them and talk about some of the red flags to look for in a new relationship.

Narcissistic men can make the most ardent lovers and define the cliche, “he swept me off my feet.”  Relationships with narcissistic men, in the beginning, can be truly fairy-tale like, and a narc man who’s chosen you as his prey will stop at nothing to make sure you know he’s the most romantic, giving, attentive, unselfish, committed man you’ve ever met.   He’ll profess his eternal love for you, wine and dine you, present you with expensive chocolates and roses,  never forget your birthday or Valentines Day,  take you on weekend getaways to romantic locations,  and talk about marriage and even “making babies with you” early in the relationship.   Narcissistic men can be intense and women who are drawn to emotionally intense relationships (often Borderlines)  are like putty in their hands.  Narcissistic men are often drawn to BPD women too, because a BPD woman is most likely to give them exactly what they need, at least in the beginning.   Occasionally, a narcissist man who has proposed to you might actually stay true to his word and marry you.  But that doesn’t mean you’ll live happily ever after–anything but, in fact.

An NPD man’s intensity, which can be incredibly alluring to certain types of women, is exactly what makes them so dangerous.  Their “love” for you is feigned.  They are not capable of love.   They are predators.  All you are to them is supply.  Every last one of my lovers, including my ex-husband, was a narcissist, and almost all of them seemed incredibly romantic.   A couple of them eventually D&D’d me (devalue and discard), with no explanation or reason, shattering my heart into a million bits, while others became increasingly possessive to the point where I felt like I was suffocating and couldn’t wait to get away.

One of two of these narc men were covert, but most of the ones I knew were more the overt, grandiose type. Pretty much all my relationships with men followed this same sorry pattern, which I am going to outline for you.

The storybook romance.

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The narcissist is very insistent about getting to know you, and wastes no time making his first date with you.  You will notice how intensely he gazes at you and that can make you want to swoon, but make no mistake–it’s really the look of a predator stalking his next meal.

He takes you out to an intimate, expensive restaurant and buys you anything you want on the menu, no matter how expensive.  Typically, he’ll offer you bites of food from his own plate, sometimes feeding you.    (He’s luring you in, setting you up for the kill later on).

He calls you daily, always seems to have time for you, seems like the most romantic, understanding, sympathetic man you’ve ever known.  He always listens to your problems, and seems to empathize.  (He is anything but these things, but he is a very good actor).

He is always buying you gifts, sometimes very expensive ones.  He can seem like the most generous man on the planet.  (Keep an eye on your finances here–mine bought all those gifts for me using MY credit card).

He tells you he loves you early in the relationship, maybe even in the first few weeks.  He may even get tears in his eyes while he tells you this (blech).  He might tell you you’re the only woman he’s ever loved, and how lonely he was before he met you.  (WATCH OUT.)

Sex with him is emotional and intense.   (Oh, honey, he’s got you trapped in his lair now).

He begins to complain and berate his former girlfriends, and talks about how deeply they’ve all hurt him (right, because nothing is ever his fault).   If he never seems to take any responsibility for the demise of his former relationships (or if he’s the type that gloats about how HE dumped THEM), that’s a huge red flag.  Don’t ignore it.  He’s telling you something.

He may propose to you at this point, or talk about what beautiful babies you’d have together (any man who doesn’t really seem to like children, but still wants to “have babies with you” because the combination of your genes would be “so beautiful” is almost certainly a narcissist).  Blargh.

The narc begins to show his true colors. 

hoovering

At this point, he may suddenly start seeming colder or pulling away.  He stops calling you as often, or seems annoyed when you call him, giving you some vague reason why he’s “too busy” to see you or scolding you for bothering him when he’s in the middle of an important meeting.   This is the beginning of the discard, which means that you’ve sated his supply and he’s grown bored.   He needs the challenge of the hunt again, and will probably dump you soon.  There is nothing more he needs from you.

Other narcissists tighten their hold on you.  If he senses you beginning to pull away, he’ll up the ante and take you on vacation or bring you roses every night.  This is called “hoovering.”  He’s sucking you back into his den of doom like a Hoover vacuum cleaner.   Most likely you will fall for it, and once you’ve reassured him you still adore him and think he’s the smartest, handsomest, sexiest man you’ve ever known,  the abusive behavior begins.

The dream becomes a nightmare.

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If the narcissistic man you’re in love with doesn’t D&D you, then it’s common for them to begin to abuse you once he’s certain you will stay.  Often, this begins on your wedding night, when it’s too late for you to escape without enormous expense and inconvenience.   I don’t have to go into the various forms of abuse he could use–they could be mental, financial, emotional, and sometimes physical.   The man who seemed like the most understanding, romantic, empathetic, attentive man you’d ever known has transformed into a coldblooded, unfeeling, abusive monster.

Early red flags.

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There are many red flags I haven’t listed here, but the following tend to be the first ones you’ll notice before any real abuse begins.

  • He complains about his exes and seems to blame them for everything that went wrong in their relationship, without ever admitting anything was his fault.
  • He moves in too fast, declares his love or proposes marriage too quickly for your comfort
  • His intense look unsettles you a little.
  • He has mysterious “meetings,” friends and “family matters” that he doesn’t discuss with you or seems annoyed when you ask about them.
  • After seeming to want to be with you all the time, he suddenly seems to lose interest in you, and never explains why.  If you try to pin him down, he becomes angry or irritated.
  • He’s always talking about what a perfect couple you are or how beautiful the two of you look together, sometimes even wanting to look at both of you together in the mirror.
  • The intensity of his ardor or attention overwhelms, scares or disgusts you.
  • He brags about how many women have fallen in love with him (overt N).
  • He moans about how no other woman has ever loved him (covert N).
  • He begins to question your whereabouts or why you don’t spend more time with him.
  • He accuses you of looking at or flirting with other men.
  • He uses tears to get sympathy or get his way.
  • He likes to play cruel jokes on you, just for fun of course.
  • He acts jealous or seems upset when you want to spend time doing anything that doesn’t include him.

Further reading:

The Narcissistic Lover’s Playbook

All My Narcissistic Lovers

Narcissist Man in Love

 

 

 

 

Narcissist man in love.

rumi-lion

One of my narcissistic lovers was a man I’ll call Daniel. I met him during my divorce proceedings. It was a short lived but intense relationship. As short lived as it was (it lasted all of 3 months), I decided to go into more detail about this particular relationship because of all my narcissistic lovers, Daniel was the most classic (and possibly the most malignant) textbook example of the course of a typical relationship with one.

Daniel was actually as bad a malignant narcissist as my ex, but of course I didn’t know it at the time. I met him while I was still married but the marriage was, for all intents and purposes, already over and we were separated. Daniel had that intense predatory stare, which I took to mean sexual and romantic interest, but it was really his way of sizing up me as prey.

I met Daniel at work. He was several years younger than me. I had been training him, and our eyes kept drifting to each other. He wasn’t the fastest learner but he seemed very friendly and always pulled his chair as close to mine during training as he could. Because I found him so attractive with his large liquid brown eyes, long eyelashes, and curly dark hair with its hints of gray, I didn’t mind the close physical proximity. I still remember the way he smelled–clean, like soap and shampoo, with a hint of muskiness.

Daniel became irresistably attractive to me. Narcs have a way of doing that to people like me. Although not all that intelligent, Daniel was actually a cerebral narcissist who had very little interest in sex after the initial physical passion of the first month or so. He thought of himself as very smart and after a while his know-it-allness became all too apparent.

Not long after meeting, Daniel approached me on break and told me he found me beautiful and kind and he’d like to take me out to dinner. Of course I said yes. That evening I went home walking on air and found my sexiest dress to wear. He picked me up on time, armed with a bouquet of red roses. We had a nice dinner and Daniel was attentive and romantic, gazing into my eyes, holding my hand across the candlelit table, and constantly telling me how beautiful I was and that he couldn’t believe my husband didn’t appreciate me more.

After dinner we went back to his apartment and he just held me and kept gazing into my eyes and telling me over and over how beautiful I was. He closed his eyes when kissing me. He didn’t push for sex and even said he wanted to wait until I was ready. He was perfect! I felt sexy and needed. At times when declaring his undying love for me, his eyes even got a little damp which I took to mean he was overcome with emotion and his feelings for me. This “vulnerability” I perceived made me fall harder for him. I couldn’t believe anyone could love me this much. He made me feel so special. I didn’t know it yet but I was falling into a yet another narcissistic predator’s trap. I should have suspected something fishy when he didn’t bat an eyelash when I told him I was still legally married, even though separated from my husband at the time.

We made love on our 3rd or 4th date and he told me he loved me and then held me all night as we drifted into sleep. For about two weeks I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. We couldn’t get enough of each other and would spend every free moment making love. It was all so magical I hadn’t even noticed he’d stopped taking me out or spending money on me. His abuse had already started but was so well-camouflaged by his physical ardor that I couldn’t see it.

love_bombing

Two weeks after we started dating he told me he wanted to marry me. He didn’t have a ring to give me, but promised he would get one later, when he had the money. (He had the money–the guy was living on a trust fund left him by his wealthy parents and had bought his expensive apartment and he was always buying himself expensive toys). The funny thing was that I never actually said yes to his proposal. I told him I’d have to think about it, although a part of me wanted to scream “YES” from the rooftops. Something–I wasn’t sure what–was holding me back from accepting his proposal. He kept talking about how he wanted to make me pregnant (I was 42 years old) and how beautiful our children would be. He even told me he wanted to see me give birth. But I noticed whenever we were in public together, he seemed annoyed by any children who happened to be around and complained about parents who “couldn’t discipline their children properly.” He also criticized my parenting skills, telling me I let my kids “control me,” even though he’d never met them or seen me interact with them.

Daniel complained about his ex lovers, and although in his late thirties, he had never been married. He told me terrible stories about the women he had dated and how they had all been cheating whores, heartless Jezebels, or how unattractive, stupid, or crazy they were. He told me the most intimate details about them–one woman had a “smelly vagina” and another had acne all over her backside. Another had been in a mental hospital and embarrassed him in public with her crazy outbursts. I didn’t want to hear these details but he assured me I was perfect and different from all those other women.

After a few more weeks I noticed Daniel seemed to be easily bored and prone to fits of unreasonable rage. His rage toward others around us began to turn toward me, and he started to become very critical and controlling. He had stopped buying me things, but one day told me he was taking me to Victoria’s Secret to buy some new lingerie because he thought mine looked frayed and ill-fitting. Of course I was thrilled to be taken shopping, and when in the store, began to pick items I liked. I found a black satin teddy with lace trim and he grabbed it from my hands and put it back, saying “I don’t like that color on you. It makes you look too pale.” He seemed to be getting impatient with me in the store and disapproved of anything I pulled from the rack. Finally he made his own choice, and insisted on buying that for me, even though I wasn’t impressed with his choice. We drove back to his apartment in silence. He seemed so angry but I couldn’t figure out why. I noticed his road rage too–he seemed to get impatient with other drivers easily but was constantly cutting off and tailgating people himself. If I told him to take it easy with his driving, he would get even madder and tell me I was trying to control him.

The night after the shopping spree, he said he didn’t want to have sex because he was too tired. I took this at face value and figured he was just in a bad mood and would be over it the next day. But he had changed. Or actually, he hadn’t changed–but was now beginning to show his true colors. Whenever I tried to initiate lovemaking or even touching, he began to pull away, making excuses that he didn’t feel well or was too tired. When we did have sex, it felt rushed, as if he wanted to get it over with. He stopped telling me he loved me.

One night he received a phone call from an old girlfriend and spent two hours on the phone with her while I pretended to read. I wasn’t really jealous, but was annoyed and found it strange that this was the same woman he had told me was crazy. I asked him about that and he got enraged, telling me to mind my own f–ing business.

Daniel liked to travel around the country and never once asked me if I wanted to go. He’d always announce these trips a day or two before he was set to leave. He’d always return with shopping bags full of goodies–for himself. His idea of “gifts” to me were the freebies they give out in hotels–tiny bars of soap, shampoo, or dollar keychains or even hotel “Do Not Disturb” signs. Once he brought back some homemade fudge and I asked him for a piece of it. He said no.

The silent treatments and verbal abuse became nearly constant. I felt like I was walking on eggshells and it seemed I could do nothing right. Once I asked him why he never wanted to kiss me anymore and he said it was because of my breath. (No one had ever accused me of having bad breath and I even tested it by blowing on my daughter’s face and she said it was fine). I remembered the woman he’d dated who had a “smelly vagina” and realized that he would be telling some future lover (because at this point I wanted to break up with him) about my horrible, stinky breath and “controlling” ways.

He seemed to hate me, but also became upset and angry when I told him I wanted to spend time with my kids (who were living with their father for a short time during the divorce proceedings). He told me they were spoiled brats who would grow up to be criminals because I always gave into their wishes. I know now he was jealous of them. He always wanted me around, but was always so mean. I was always short on cash because I didn’t earn that much but he didn’t seem to care. Once I needed some gas money and he said no, even though he had stacks of $100 bills all over his apartment and in drawers.

We broke up on my birthday. He had come to my house late, and his gift to me was a “Toonces the Driving Cat” coffee mug. Although he obviously didn’t pay much for it, I thought it was a thoughtful gift (for him) because he knew I loved that old skit from Saturday Night Live. He took me out to dinner, which had become a rarity. He was very rude to the wait staff, but he always had been (that’s another red flag to look for–narcissists are notoriously rude to service personnel).

Shortly after we got back to my house, we got into an argument and he shoved me so I fell onto the couch. That was the first time his abuse had become physical. I knew it was a matter of time before he would start hitting me. I told him I would not tolerate physical violence and he started making fun of me for being such a baby about a “little push.” We kept arguing. He told me to give him back the mug he gave me. I told him no, because it was a gift and I liked it. He insisted.

I went and fetched the mug from the kitchen, and brought it to him, sweetly saying “here,” before smashing it on the floor as he reached for it. He stood there staring at the shattered remnants on the floor and then looked up at me with his mouth hanging open, said “You’re too crazy and too violent for me,” and stormed out the door, slamming it behind him. Me? Violent? I didn’t realize he was projecting his own violent tendencies onto me.

soulmate

A week later I found out I was pregnant. I called him to tell him I needed money for an abortion. He said he would not help because there was no way it was his! This from the man who a month earlier had told me he wanted to watch me give birth.

Fortunately, I never had to have an abortion because a week after that I miscarried. Daniel kept calling me, acting as if nothing had happened, and would tell me all about his life, never asking how mine was going. He acted like we were best friends. He even told me about a woman he was dating who was “perfect for him,” with no thought given to my feelings about this. Of course I really didn’t care and just felt sorry for the poor woman who didn’t know what she was in for yet. I wondered what he was telling her about me. Probably that I was insane, violent and a bad mother who had terrible breath.

I’d listen patiently to Daniel ramble on and then tell him I had to go. After about six months of his weekly phone calls, I finally worked up the courage to tell him to leave me alone and never call me again. I also blocked his number. That was the best choice I made in that relationship.

My MN ex’s weird attitude to his son.

bad_father

My malignant narcissist ex bullied our son without mercy through most of his childhood. I wrote about that in this article and a few others, so I won’t rehash it again here.

My son is 23 now and lives in Florida. He moved there, in part, to escape from his father and our dysfunctional, sick relationship. He always hated our almost constant fights. He lived in Illinois before he moved to Florida. He hasn’t lived in North Carolina since 2010, when he was still 18. I only see him once a year, if that. I try not to let the huge distance between us bother me, because he is doing so well, has many wonderful friends, and is involved in so many activities that make him happy.

Financially, my son is doing better than I am because of his drive and ambition and he’s doing light years better than his helpless narcissistic bum of a father, who still lives at the Salvation Army, even though he gets disability now and could get a small apartment if he got himself put on the list for available apartments. Once I asked him why he didn’t do this, and he actually said he would rather live in a shelter than in the projects. He said he thought he was too good to live in the projects. As if the Salvation Army is any better! I think the real reason he refuses to do what he needs to do to get an apartment is because he’d rather be homeless so everyone can feel sorry for him. Other people’s pity gives him an excuse to act entitled and needy. He takes a perverse pride in acting as pitiful and helpless as it’s possible to be.

None of his immediate family feels sorry for him anymore. Not even his daughter, who was his only defender for a long time. He has lost her too.

My ex has a weird attitude about children. He says he hates kids, which isn’t such a terrible thing (lots of people don’t like kids–I’m not even overly fond of them) but I remember him getting annoyed when I put up the kids’ baby photos and photos of them as children around the house. It angered him. He also got upset when I would talk about something the kids did when they were younger. He accused me of being too sentimental and living in the past. I thought his reaction was strange. I just thought wanting to put family photos up around the house was the normal sort of thing any mother would do. He always hated any displays of sentimentality or nostalgia. The only thing he told me when I questioned him about his strange attitude was that he hated thinking about the past because of his own painful childhood.

I have noticed many narcissists have a bizarre aversion to sentimentality. My mother is the same way. She hated displaying family photos around the house (except in bedrooms) because she considered family photos in public areas tacky. She actually said she threw away most of the family photos, when I recently asked her if I could have some. She might be lying or she might have actually thrown hem away. I would not put something like that past my cold fish of a mother.

greek-nostalgia
Maybe this explains it.

When I was living with my ex, I remember his strange Jekyll-and-Hyde attitude about his estranged son. Most of the time he acted like he didn’t care about him. He never seemed interested in his activities, watching his Youtube videos (which are very good), and would change the subject if I talked about how well he was doing in college or in his job. It seemed as if he was envious of his son for being more successful than him, instead of proud of him. He really just never wanted to talk about him at all, except to make inappropriate and sometime lewd jokes about him being gay (he always insisted it didn’t bother him Ethan was gay).

He never seems to really miss him, and almost never calls him. Once Ethan left the state, to my ex it was almost as if he never existed. If Ethan had died, I doubt Michael would have cared much. He cried more when our dog Daisy died than I think he would if something had happened to one of our children, especially our son.

One time when they did speak on the phone, Ethan said something Michael didn’t like–he disagreed with him about something political (Michael spent most of his time ranting on political websites against anyone who disagreed with his views and trolling conservative websites). For months after that, Michael refused to talk to him at all. Ethan tried to call him a few times, but was always hung up on rudely. When I asked Michael why he did this, he just said his son was an “asshole who doesn’t deserve the time of day because he doesn’t agree with me.” True story.

But occasionally Michael could get all maudlin and weepy. Many narcissists do that. It’s weird. Usually it’s when they’re drunk. In Michael’s case, it happened when he was stoned (his main goal in life seems to be procuring weed). These tearful, sentimental moods came randomly, for no reason.

crocodiletears2

One day I came home to find the news channel he always watched off (for a change). I found Michael standing in front of the bathroom mirror, sobbing in an exaggerated way like the baby he is. Crying uncontrollably to the point he was actually choking and gagging. I asked him why he was crying. He told me he needed a hug. I complied but felt repelled and held my body stiff. I did not feel empathy or much concern, mostly just disgust and annoyance. At this point I hated him so much after years of his abuse and constant gaslighting that touching him, especially touching him when he was this vulnerable, with snot and tears all over his prematurely aged face, made me feel a little sick to my stomach.

He never told me what was bothering him. He probably didn’t even know. He went into a diatribe about how he wanted to buy Ethan the best camera he could find and it made him feel terrible that he was unemployable and so poor he couldn’t buy him even a cheap camera. I reminded him that Ethan already owned several cameras that he either bought or his grandfather had bought him. Michael continued mopping at his eyes and interrupted me, talking about the brands of cameras he would buy Ethan if he could.

I don’t think that’s what was bothering him. But he did get maudlin like that occasionally and it was always strange and disturbing and just happened out of left field most of the time.

I’ve noticed that about narcs. Most of the time they look down their noses at normal displays of sentimentality or the normal expressions and feelings of love parents have for their children or other family members, but when under the influence of alcohol or drugs they get maudlin and weepy to a disgusting level over inconsequential things that really don’t matter. I always felt myself recoiling at these over the top and inappropriate displays of emotion.

Michael wasn’t actually an emotional person at all but used emotional displays to get attention and pity, or to hoover me after he’d been abusive. When we were first dating and “in love,” he would frequently become all teary eyed when he told me how much he loved and needed me. He cried when he asked me to marry him. He cried when we were having sex. At the time I was incredibly moved and overwhelmed by feelings of love when he did this. I thought it meant he was a big sensitive softie with a huge heart. I loved his “vulnerability.” God, I was so naive. I read somewhere that some narcissist men act like this when wooing a woman trapping their prey.

Why are narcs so creepy?

Forever alone.

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I have always been attracted to narcissistic men. And them to me. I spent 28 years (7 of those AFTER we divorced) living with a malignant narcissist substance abuser and raising children with him. Before Michael, I had three serious boyfriends, and only one was not a narcissist (but was severely bipolar).

When I was in my twenties, all I wanted to do was marry and have babies–this wasn’t considered cool or forward thinking at the time (the 1980s). I wasn’t really focused on having a career like most young women my age.

I think my oddly timed longing for normal family life was because more than anything in the world, I longed to be part of a family that would not be like the one I came from, a close, functional family whose members truly loved and cared for one another. I had grand fantasies of Perfect Family Life–3-4 perfect, normal kids; a perfect, normal husband with no serious mental disorders or drug or alcohol issues; and a beautiful home with plenty of old school charm in a safe neighborhood. My Perfect Mate would be an honest, loyal husband and father who loved animals and long walks and would care deeply about all of us. Of course there would be pets too, probably a large friendly dog like a Golden Retriever. I wanted the damned Brady Bunch.

I know, you’re probably ready to vomit all over your keyboard. Chill. I’m stopping right here. I cringe when I think about how naive and clueless I was.

Does anyone remember this commercial from about 2007-09? If you’re a nausea-prone ACON you may want to take some Pepto first.

Well, this was the family I wanted to make, back in the 1980s.

30 odd years later: I hate that damned commercial with its perky, perfect, cute-but-not-beautiful soccer mom–a woman who undoubtedly had loving parents who raised her with consistency and lots of hugs and support, a woman who has extended family members like cousins or aunts or an uncle she is close to, and also has lots of friends. She also has an advanced degree in something like sociology or art history. She was popular at school, not Mean Girl/cheerleader-popular, but the next tier down from that–she was one of the honor roll kids where the girls all played volleyball or were in the Drama Club, and the guys all looked like Ferris Bueller and were Theater Nerds. But these second-tier, almost-popular kids were actually nice to everyone (unlike the top tier of popular kids who really weren’t so much popular as they were feared and respected–because they consisted largely of narcs and their sycophants) and you wanted to hate them but you couldn’t because they were always so darned nice.

Instead of pursuing her career in art history or writing a book about The Sociology of Art History, this perky redhaired 30-something has chosen to stay home with her growing brood of ginger kids, each one more red haired than the last. Her infuriating announcements of big moves (to MEMPHIS!), promotions at work, home enlargements, weeks-long family vacations, learning how to speak French, and especially…ESPECIALLY!..the group shot at the end showing the whole family focusing on Perky Soccer Mom bouncing the the new baby on her hip at the end–not just any baby, but a gorgeous fat healthy good natured baby girl with an adorable grin who probably sports fire engine red hair under that white cap–made me want to throw a brick at my TV screen.

I know this is just a commercial and those people are actors, but…I ACTUALLY KNOW FAMILIES LIKE THIS. Of course I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors (and everyone has their dark secrets), but because the members of these families always seem happy and relaxed and everyone seems to love everyone else, with not a molecule of narcissism anywhere to be seen, the skeletons in their closets don’t come out to haunt them all that much. They are probably covered with dust from disuse.

I’m assuming here that the reason this thoroughly obnoxious commercial was so popular (it ran for almost 3 years), is not because it depicts the idealized family everyone strives to create, but rather, because many people can actually relate to this smugly contented woman and her tall, dark and handsome husband, their perfect dog, their big colonial house, and their large brood of gingers.

I longed for this family because having this family would vindicate my dysfunctional and narcissistic family of origin. It was the family that would bring me Justice.

I never got that family, because I fell in love with a malignant narcissist, who in every imaginable way at the beginning, convinced me he was the Perfect Boyfriend, and later the Perfect Fiance. We made two highly intelligent but troubled kids (well, one is a lot less so but lives almost 700 miles away).
And now I am Forever Alone.

foreveralone

But I’m alright with that. More than alright.

In my past relationships, I never saw any of the red flags. I knew nothing of red flags back then other than the physical kind that signal physical danger. The most useful psychological advice about men and relationships I got in the early-mid 1980s was from articles and fluff quizzes (such as “What Does his Lovemaking Say About his Character?”) in magazines like Cosmopolitan and Glamour.

I was never attracted to “bad boys.” I chose men who had good jobs, prospects and didn’t stink or break the law. But sometimes these “perfect” guys can be anything but perfect, and because they put on such a convincing and impressive mask of normality, you don’t suspect their true motives until it’s too late. I always seemed to gravitate to the devils dressed in white.

I’m not going to recount the downward spiral that led to the dissolution of our marriage, drug addiction, troubled kids, and all the rest because I’ve done that already ad nauseam (if you must know my story of being married to a malignant narc, click on the links under “My Story”).

So I’ve done a 180 from the naive, romantic starry eyed girl I was in the 1980s–the girl who was uncool enough at the time to want a family and babies and a normal life with people who were not psychopathic or addicted to drugs or alcohol (today that would make me Taylor Swift–how times have changed). I no longer want a relationship. I relish my solitude.

I still get crushes, and plenty of them (I have one now), and just as in my teens and twenties, they still tend to be intense. My crushes are pleasurable to me but they are mine alone to enjoy, not something to be shared with the object of my infatuation. I know, I’m weird. I have an excuse to be weird and avoidant though, because I’m Aspie with Avoidant Personality Disorder. I enjoy my dreams and fantasies far more than my reality, and why ruin a good fantasy by trying to make it real?

crush

That’s why I think my mind makes sure my crushes are never on people I know personally or have to see all the time, and instead chooses men who are inaccessible for one reason or another. Famous people are the safest of all, because I do not ever not have to meet them and either (a) face rejection; or (b) worse: not be rejected but gradually find out they are really just another sick malignantly narcissistic tool who will fly me to the moon and feed me fresh blackberries dipped in cognac, and then ever so insidiously proceed to turn my life into one resembling incarceration in a Turkish prison before I know what even hit me.

I’ve been there, done that. I am no longer of childbearing age, and though I look far younger and fitter than my 55 years, I realize I’m not going to look this good too much longer. At my age, there’s a feeling that you just don’t have what it takes to attract a man anymore, even when it’s not true. Because I look better now than I have since my mid-late 30s. Sure, maybe a woman of a certain age can’t attract the 20-somethings anymore, but what middle aged woman in her right mind really wants a 20-something for anything but a quick fling, anyway? In my case my wariness and self consciousness is due to the low self esteem that’s lived with me my entire life like some parasitic twin I’ve grown so used to I sometimes forget it’s there. Hating yourself is a tough habit to break.

But the real problem isn’t my fear of losing my sexual desirability (which is already well on its way over the other side of the mountain), it’s the simple fact that I don’t trust men (or anyone) enough to become intimate with one. As an Aspie, I have trouble reading social cues, which means I often miss the important red flags and warning signs of a narcissist who is love bombing me and wooing me into his black den of misery. And more than that–I want to believe them. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. I never learned from my past mistakes.

So no longer is “love” my passion in life or my goal. I figure I will die single and alone, but very possibly, happy. Hopefully by the time I die, I will have written a book or two that helped others, gave others joy, and brings me a nice income so I can buy my own small, quaint, quirky home near my son in Florida, somewhere near the beach.

oldwoman

Twenty or thirty years from now: I see myself–an old spinster (I love the strength that word conveys–we need to bring it back!) wearing a long brightly patterned madras-cotton dress or jeans and a slouchy, comfy sweater in cooler weather, walking barefoot along the Gulf Coast at sunset, feeling wet sand squeeze between my pale toes, waves lapping at my feet, the salt air breeze making me smile and my eyes water. I’m tossing small pebbles into the golden waves, a large dog with a cool name like Hector skipping along by my side, occasionally running ahead of me when he sees a seagull land on the darkening sand. I’ll be thinking about my grown son and daughter, and their families and satisfying lives, and my only worry would be the two-month deadline my publisher has given to finish writing a groundbreaking new book about something that matters. I’ll be Forever Alone. And like it.

All this being said, if an attractive, genuinely nice man comes along when I’m not looking, and maybe I’m feeling more strong and confident, I might venture into the ocean again, or at least get my feet wet. So sure, it could happen, but right now I’m just trying to get to know myself.