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Covert Narcissists

Louisianalisa posted 2/14/2020 04:41 AM

Anyone here have a COVERT narcissist for a WS? As I move through the process of divorce, I have been taking stock of our 14 year marriage. The more I read about covert narcissists the more my WH fits into this catergory. They are more subtle and underhanded in their dysfunction and cruelty (as opposed to the outright bullying and abuse of an OVERT narcissist). As I researched about the CN, the two things that really hit home for me were:

They cause a lot of emotional confusion and chaos in their relationships, leaving their partners feeling unacknowledged, disrespected, small, invalidated and unimportant, when the partners had at one time felt so loved in the beginning of the relationship.

Their relationships all play out in three stages: 1. Indealizing/love bombing. 2. Devaluing/invaldiating and finally, 3. The discard or dismissal.

I've seen my WH play out this cycle with other relationships in his life, most particularly his daughter (from his first marriage). He idealized her for years until she became a teenager and adopted different opinions from his. It was at this time that I saw him begin to pull away from her, cancel their visitation dates, back out on their plans together, etc... The devaluing had begun. Then she was given the discard, so coldly and summarily, that he literally stopped speaking to her one day and they have had zero contact in ten years. He dismissed her and never looked back. This was upsetting for me to watch. A side of him I hated. That cycle took 18 years to play out. And of course, it was all her fault.

I know this same cycle played out with his first wife. That cycle took four years to play out. And of course, it was all her fault.

And now he has played it out with me. Our cycle took 14 years to play out. And I am sure in his mind it is all my fault.

The devaluing phase of the cycle is very confusing and sheer torture, and got worse and worse as the years went on. My needs and requests (emotional, sexual, logistical/honey-do lists, etc.) were ignored and unacknowledged more and more through the years, to the point where I felt invisible in my marriage. Absolutely invisible. Procrastination is another tool they use to manipulate and control (which my WH did and still does all the time). I was so invisible to him that he took up with another woman as though he didn't even have a wife, as if I didn't even exist. Indeed, in his mind, he didn't have a wife anymore. CNs do what they want, when they want, with whomever they want. They live in their own entitled bubble of a world. I sometimes told him that he lived his life as if he didn't even have a wife.

The discard phase is scary, in that it is done so coldly and completely and cruelly, with not one look back. WH dismissed me about three years ago (but I didn't really realize it) around the same time that he met his OW. Looking back on it, he discarded me and started up his affair. I didn't think I could feel more unacknowledged, disrespected, discarded and invisible, but since DDay he has managed to make it so. Incredible.

I am finding it hard to accept the fact that on my end, the last 14 years of my life I was a wife, but for my WH, I was just the next target for him, for the cycle to play out again. I thought we had a marriage, but in reality, we had the three-phase cycle of a CN. Of course, he could never articulate this, as he is not self reflective. He would never admit to such a label as a narcissist. In actuality, he is just as confused about his behavior and his failed relationships as the rest of us are!

Now that he has the OW, she is next. And since she began her relationship with him based on lies and infidelity, she deserves the devalue and discard, when it finally happens to her next.

Anyone else here have a CN in their life? Any insight or input? I am relieved to be getting out of this M, now that I see my WH more clearly. Other's input would be appreciated too. This is a very long post. Thanks to all of you who got this far! xo

[This message edited by Louisianalisa at 5:09 AM, February 14th (Friday)]

OwningItNow posted 2/14/2020 07:15 AM

Hello, Louisianalisa. I am very, very sorry for the hurt you are going through. My mother is a narcissist, and that relationship normalized narcissistic behavior for me. I went on to have several long term relationships and many friendships with people who displayed various levels and types of narcissism. My WH is not a narcissist, just very selfish and self-focused. As I look back on my life, learning to draw boundaries and protect myself from these narcissists has been my greatest hurdle and greatest accomplishment. You will feel that way, too.

Your assessment of your WH's behavior is very objective and clear. You've put a lot of important pieces together, and that will help you not to blame yourself. But the discard phase is emotional torture. Their cruelty is demonic, as if they are possessed. The narcissistic rages were awful, but the cruel detachment of discard really messes with your head. How are you holding up?

You are on a great path to healing, but there were a few things that saved me until it didn't hurt anymore:

Researching narcissism whenever I needed support

Journaling whenever I needed an outlet

Researching codependency whenever I needed to understand my love for an abuser

And putting every ounce of energy into creating an active, engaging, fulfilling life for myself

All of that, rinse, do it again. More reading, more journaling, more self talk, take myself to a movie, go out with friends, hit a bad patch, start over.

The book Journey from Abandonment to Healing by Susan Anderson helped me so much. And I've heard Splitting by Randi Kreger and Bill Eddy is very good for learning about divorcing a narcissist.

You seem to be handling this as well as can be expected. There really is no way but directly through the pain. I had to learn to let it sit right next to me until it wanted to move on. I wish you lots of peace.

MalibuBayBreeze posted 2/14/2020 07:23 AM

They cause a lot of emotional confusion and chaos in their relationships, leaving their partners feeling unacknowledged, disrespected, small, invalidated and unimportant, when the partners had at one time felt so loved in the beginning of the relationship.

Yes I can relate, though I am still with mine more out of necessity than by choice.

I became invisible and often referred to myself as the invisible wife. I am well aware of the phases they put you through and it is brutal. The cavalier way they push you to the side without a care in the world is just heartless. It's the coldest behavior and leaves you feeling utterly alone and worthless.

I was told by him early in our relationship that his life became so much better when I entered it. He became a "father" to my DD whom I was a single mother to from a previous relationship (not married to that winner) who had decided to walk when I was 6 months pregnant. I had so much respect for my WH to take on that role. But that's what it was, a role, a persona that made people tell him how great he was and that kind of stuff is a narcissists wet dream.

I was so invisible to him that he took up with another woman as though he didn't even have a wife, as if I didn't even exist. Indeed, in his mind, he didn't have a wife anymore. CNs do what they want, when they want, with whomever they want. They live in their own entitled bubble of a world.

I told my WH during an argument last year that the difference between us is I got married, he got himself a roommate. He did what he wanted when he wanted and often went out without me. If I joined him he made me feel like he didn't want me there though he would claim otherwise. I would say no he doesn't because I cramp his style to which there was never a reply because I was right. His FB (once I actually got to see it after years of him being on it) looked as if he was a single dad to our DS. No mention of me or DD. Just him posting pics of what an awesome dad he is. Look! I took my son to yet another concert, amusement park, hockey game. Look what a great dad I am coaching DS's hockey team! Look at meeeeee!

It was so ridiculous that after DDay when we actually began having date nights (that's ended, too much effort for him) someone I met told me they weren't sure he had a wife. Nice right?

I could go on. There are so many memories of horrible behavior and yes it is very painful especially when realizing he was kissing another womans ass for years. She never was on the receiving end of his temper, his tantrums, the yelling and screaming, the door slamming. No she was put on a pedestal because being a married woman cheating on her husband made her worthy of that position.

I can only sympathize, as I have no concrete advice to give you. Time and time again I hear and read that no contact and blocking them from your life is the only way out. I'm not in a position to do that at this point. But I keep to myself as much as possible and never talk about my plans for the day. He doesn't need to know where I'll be, what I'll be doing or if I'll be out for 1 hour or 8. It's none of his damn business anymore.

Getting out of your M will likely be the best thing for you. Just use the knowledge you have now in any further relationship. You know what to look for and if anything is a red flag to you, get out before it's too late. Best of luck to you! ❤

Gablestitch posted 2/14/2020 09:02 AM

Oh yes, I believe my STBXWH is a covert narcissist. Add alcoholic in there and you have a complete picture. The only thing is I think I got out before he had hit the discard phase. He was still in the devalue stage and was doing the sick game of trying to get me to chase him. That and he hadn't found a better option yet. He's also lazy and incapable of functioning like an adult on his own. It was absolutely incredible the crap that spilled out his mouth as a proposed divorce settlement. I am so glad I found SI so I was as prepared as I could be but it was still shocking. Now, he's sorta disappeared and left me to deal with everything, including finalizing a divorce without his signature or appearance.

My advice is to just keep going. Don't rise to any bait he might throw your way at all. Also, be safe. Mine turned violent once it was clear I wasn't letting him dictate everything. Alcohol certainly played into that too.

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