You can’t imagine how proud I am of myself right now. I have purged from my life, the fifth narcissist with whom I’ve had a romantic tryst with over the last couple of years. Why is expunging the man from life such a huge deal? Well frankly, after having spent a total of 39 out of my 68 years attracted to toxic, narcissistic men, I am finally able to see the light at the end of my love tunnel!
I’ve spent years wondering why the road to relationships for me has been so bumpy and painful. I’ve pondered why my versions of “fixing things” to make my relationships happy for long periods of time just never seemed to work. Suddenly, one day I had an epiphany, it hit me that I might have been miswired from birth! I discovered that the reasons my love relationships did not work was because I was codependent, and self-love-deficient as a partner.
Some parents fail to help their children feel validated, and this is such an essential mental health component. The invalidation these children feel compels them to win approval and love from their parents. I am one of these children. As a child, I faced many a battle with being denigrated or humiliated by the very beings who brought me into this life. I loved them both desperately but never felt quite good enough to be their child. The small insecure child in me yearned to have someone wrap their arms around me, and make me feel warm and secure in a big scary world.
I was the oldest of seven children, or so I thought. There were moments in my childhood home that I experienced that helped me form a warped idea of what love should look like. I watched my sister hug and kiss my mother, who returned that love with caresses and endearing words. If I tried, however, to show my mother any affection, I’d be rejected and told I wasn’t as beautiful as my sister. I had convinced myself that my mother’s rejection of me did not matter because one day she’d come around and show me love.
My dysfunctional familial picture became even more distorted when on his deathbed, my father asked that I come into his room to meet a woman I’d never seen before. I, of course, ran to my dad only to have him tell me that I wasn’t his first princess after all. He had wanted me to meet a woman who stood next to his bed; I was informed that she was my older sister from another relationship. In an instant, I was slotted into second place and felt so discarded upon my father’s death.
I have to blame my lack of self-esteem on my formative years. My lack of self-worth paved the way for all of the dysfunctional love relationships that I entered into. The tall, dark, and handsome father of my children was a full-blown narcissist who led a deviant life that was revealed to me during my ninth month of pregnancy. Suffice it to say; we divorced after a short while.
Some people are born with fine-tuned common sense while I have to stand in line to purchase some for myself!
My second marriage was just a repeat performance of the first. Damn those handsome narcissists!
For my third union, I managed to link myself up with a narcissistic hoarder of all things! My purse was also his ATM machine; he managed to swipe $10K out of my account and to support his own children no less.
It still hadn’t dawned on me that I had convinced myself that I direly needed someone, anyone, to be by my side and that I was drawn to narcissistic men. I was convinced that life by my lonesome was not in the cards for me, especially since my children were now grown and out of the house.
You would think that I would have found a lesson in at least one of my marriages! Wrong! After all, wisdom is supposed to be born out of experience, but not in my case because there was one more great marital blunder I just had to make!
The fourth narcissist was exciting, dynamic, intelligent and a jack-of-all-trades! He was tall, charming, articulate, and just plain magical in my eyes. He also managed to sell me a bridge that I purchased with a smile from ear-to-ear! The guy had a beautiful way of making me feel like I was someone who mattered; I felt loved! Again, I allowed yet another man to empty my accounts and then poof; he was gone as well.
Despite all that I had been through romantically, I did not give up on love! The next go-round, I would not look for a tall, dark, handsome or even well-dressed and endowed narcissist. I would seek someone whose temperament matched mine. I wanted a man with intelligence, someone who did not focus solely on themselves. I was on the serious lookout for a caring, kind and generous person who believed that spending time with me was worth their while. I did not want a narcissist!
It was years before I met someone who fit my bill. He was, well, nerdy, small in stature, and without any particular sense of fashion. He was balding and what hair he did have left was silver. I was so happy in the relationship; the man was definitely a match for me and did not appear narcissistic. After a couple of years, I grew happily in love with him, or with the person he portrayed himself to be.
We spent time planning projects together. We traveled everywhere we could afford to go. We ate together, slept together, loved together. I was floating on air! The proof was in the doing and being; I finally felt appreciated for who I was and not for what I could do for a person…or so I thought. We bought rings for each other but didn’t publicly announce our intentions. I was warned that maybe I shouldn’t try to live with the man; that he could be kind, mostly, but was also a tiger to live with. Did I care? Nope! He was mine, and we loved one another.
We planned to move as his house and mine were not adequate for our needs as a couple. I forged ahead, researched, planned and so did he but just not the way I thought he would.
The more I spoke of moving ahead, the more he seemed reticent to discuss details. Little by little he’d hit me with made up stories about other men and me. He then threw unexpected curveballs at me, stating that I should have considered moving in with him to help with his bills and lifestyle. Soon after came the verbal abuse that reminded me of my distressing childhood. Again, my inner child began to crumble, and wince. Ok, you might be thinking, “Oh, there she goes again, off to make the same stupid relationship mistakes she has made all of her life.” Something in me this time, however, decided to change things up. So, I stepped back from the relationship before I jumped in any further.
I didn’t walk down the aisle!
I swear it must have been divine intervention when I learned of a site where survivors like me managed to escape toxic relationships with narcissists. The site, www.melanietoniaevans.com has taught me that there is life after a catastrophic relationship with a narcissist. I can travel a different path to happiness and abundant contentment if I am willing to do the work. I am learning that sometimes I might feel sorry for myself and regretful, but less and less, once I begin to protect that small child inside of me and resist the behaviors that allow her to hurt in the first place.
I am so happy to know that no matter what age, there is always something enlightening to be discovered. No one should ever have to sell themselves short because of childhood hurts. Love for self can be strong and impenetrable at the root; we can all learn to protect our inner child.
Tanya Tyler is writer and poet and has authored two chapbooks, Vicissitudes and Portraits. She is in the process of completing a novel.