For the past year I have had this grand idea that I would blog about my experience being married to a person with NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). The problem is that every time I sit down to write about the topic I hit a wall. It’s not writer’s block, per se, as I have a truckload of information and episodes just waiting to make their way to the page. If anything, my problem is the opposite. I want the blog series to be thorough, covering all of the bases of what it’s like to feel trapped in this kind of relationship. I want to be a light in the fog to those who aren’t familiar with the disorder and a beacon of hope to the men and women who have or are currently being abused by someone with NPD. But with so much important material to cover, I am at a loss where to begin. The task seems both monumental and without end.
Worse yet, even if I were to find an organized way to relay all of the material to you, I don’t know that you’d believe me. Not because you think me a liar, but because the kind of inhumane behavior I would be exposing does not compute within the context of the average human experience. It would be like trying to describe an alien abduction to someone who doesn’t believe aliens exist. You will find it extremely difficult to accept that a seemingly innocuous human being could be so disturbingly duplicitous and still function successfully within society. And I wouldn’t blame you. Your doubt would be rational. But NPD is anything but rational. And that is why I couldn’t wrap my brain around it either…until I experienced it firsthand.
Part of the baffling conundrum is that persons with NPD are chameleon-like in nature. They have an uncanny ability to adapt to their surroundings, putting on whatever persona will best win the favor of their current audience. Not unlike sociopaths, persons with NPD are typically highly intelligent individuals. Although they lack the ability to empathize or identify with other persons, they are gifted in their ability to fit in with the crowd and mimic appropriate actions and responses. They can give academy award winning performances for “normal” and “decent” behavior that could fool even the toughest critic. But it is all an act. A ruse. A long-con.
That’s why I fell for it. That’s how he was able to manipulate me into dating then marrying him. He targeted me because I exhibited the characteristics that persons with NPD look for: I was popular and well-liked (ie: I was an excellent showpiece for his collection), I was bright and had connections (ie: I was an important tool for his personal advancement), I was easy-going (ie: I would bend to his will and be excessively tolerant of his bullsh*t), I was selfless (ie: I would give and give and give of myself long after he sucked me dry), and I had high moral integrity (ie: I would choose to honor my commitment to him even to my own detriment.)
He put on quite a show of courting me. He said all the things he knew would win my heart, though they were just lies on top of lies on top of more lies. In hindsight, there were certain things about him that I couldn’t quite put my finger on at the time, things that seemed “off”. But, because my brain wasn’t able to reconcile the delicately complex contradictory behaviors I was witnessing (and because outwardly he appeared to have all of the qualities I wanted in a husband) I foolishly elected to assume I was misreading the red flags. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I chose to believe that he was everything he claimed to be.
Thus began my life as the subtle slave.
In the coming months, I will try my best to present my story with the least amount of bias I can muster (although, c’mon, how exactly does one remain perfectly neutral in their own story?) I will share with you what I discovered from my personal research, what I experienced firsthand, and what lessons I learned the hard way. I will list resources and I will try to answer any questions you pose. And I promise that I’ll do my best to help expose this subtle yet soul-crushing form of abuse without playing the victim. Because, honestly, the last thing I want is to be pitied. What I truly want is to educate and empower others.
Here’s to the painful process of enlightenment! – Kristin
P.S. If you are the victim of an NPD abuser, know this: though you may be kept in isolation, you are not alone. Though you may lose every battle, you can survive the war. You have the strength to escape their snare and the power to rebuild your life. God and I have faith in you!
For more information about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, see the following resources: