I’ve learned recently that narcissists are very concerned with their image, how the world perceives them, and the things attached to them… like their cars, homes, partners…
I was a narcissist’s partner. I didn’t know he was a narcissist when I chose to be with him but I figured it out in time. Just like I figured out that he viewed me as an extension of him, a representation of him, something that was a part of him; but never just as my own unique, autonomous spirit.
I remember he immediately wanted me to get a job when we got together so we could get a place. It seemed totally normal, albeit fast, at the time. I started looking for waitressing jobs because it was easy, fast money. He was fine with any job but he started pushing me to try to find “better”, like an office job. I got two waitressing jobs in the next few months but eventually ended up in an office job. I was really good at it, so it worked out. Nothing wrong there, right?
He always hated my car. It was a 2004 Mazda Protege. I remember him constantly talking shit on it. When it finally gave out he gave me his old car and leased a new one for himself. This coincidentally happened right as I was about to leave him because we were fighting constantly. I didn’t stay with him because of the car; I had chosen to stay before he ever told me his idea. But I couldn’t help but wonder if he was giving it to me 1. So his girl wasn’t seen driving a “piece of shit” and 2. So I would feel like I had to stay with him because he gave me a car. Immediately after that I got pregnant though, and everything was great for awhile. No harm, no foul… right?
Next was my credit score. He did all these things because he was so concerned about me building better credit. I’d been on my own for a lot of years and had been fucked over a few times so I didn’t have the best score. He added to me to his credit card, only after telling me I couldn’t use it unless I was absolutely fucked though (not that I ever would’ve). Then the clutch went on my car (his old one) and instead of fixing it he decided that I needed to lease one so it could go towards my credit score and so I’d a nice four door for when the baby came. That’s a good thing too, right?
Then he set up my car payment and car insurance through apps on his phone. I was putting up the money for everything but he was the one actually making the payment. It saved me the trouble, but it bothered me. All of our bills were already in his name and I just gave him the money every month. I felt like a fucking tenant. But he really wanted to “take care of it for us”, so I let him. But the car and insurance payments bothered me. I have always been very independent. I’ve always taken care of all of my own responsibilities. I told him this and he asked me to “please let him do this for me” and for me to “think of him as my lawyer who’s just looking out for my best interests.” So I let it go. Takes the stress off of me, right?
Then I got laid off and went on unemployment. You have to refile your claim biweekly when you’re on unemployment. He said he would do that for me too. I pointed out that that was ridiculous. This isn’t a car that he’s a co-signer on, it’s something that’s solely on me. But he said he would feel better if he just did it and that then I “wouldn’t have to worry about it and could just take care of the baby“. We had an argument over it and he ended up being the one to file it. But hey, I couldn’t possibly ever forget to do it then, right?
Then we broke up. And he threw every single thing that he ever fought to do for me in my face. And in retrospect, he always did. He always talked about how much he “did for our family”. All the things he achieved for us. And he did do a lot for our family. That’s an admirable thing. I will always be grateful to him for helping me better my credit score, get a reliable car, and making me more conscious of how I spend my money. Those are good things. But he wanted constant gratitude and validation for it. And any time we fought he acted as if it was him paying all of our bills himself and providing this life for us. He was making the payments but I was giving him 75% of my income towards them. I pulled my weight until I gave birth to our daughter and then she became my full time job. Then even when I was the only one caring for her 99% of the time he still felt the need to minimize it and act as if I wasn’t doing anything to “help him”. He would “suggest” his way of doing things (what had worked for his first daughter) weeks after I’d found the perfect way for our daughter, and when I didn’t take one suggestion or another because I’d already found my own way he’d accuse me of “acting like I knew everything” and “being close minded”. There were suggestions I did take when I needed them though and it was like he needed me to constantly praise him for doing another thing for me or for us. I told him how proud of him I was all the time. I thanked him constantly for doing the things for me that I had told him I was more than capable of doing myself. But no, he had to do it; he just also had to receive constant admiration for it too. Somewhere in all of this I realized that it was all about control. Control of his responsibilities, my responsibilities, our life, me.
I wonder if he ever saw me as the person I am or if I was always just a thing to be had. Something to check off of his five year plan. Girlfriend, apartment, nicer car, mortgage, house. Check, check, check. I loved him for who he was when his narcissism wasn’t running his life, our life. But he lost to his ego and I lost him. Then I walked away, because I had to. I am not a thing to be controlled or owned. I am a strong, resilient woman; made of fire and iron, compassion and love, empathy and scars, past and present, venom and fangs. I am so many fucking things and I just couldn’t fit into the box he wanted to keep me in. I couldn’t love someone who didn’t seem to love me for who I truly was. I couldn’t love someone who couldn’t truly see me. So I walked. And it hurt, it still does. I see him in my daughter’s face everyday and I’m reminded of all the good times. But the man I fell in love with is not the man he is anymore. And I didn’t sign up to spend my life with his body; I signed up to be with his spirit. And his spirit is being suffocated by his narcissism and ego.
by Ashley King
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