I have been writing about how I struggled, kicking and screaming, to force my narcissist to get healthy. I knew he could do it. I had complete confidence in him. Never did a woman have so much faith in her man. David was a giant to me, a real hero. I knew he was special and I believed in him. He could fight this narcissism (and PTSD) that kept him separate from the rest of humanity. He was so isolated, and it hurt him. My David told me he was a warrior and I believed him. I didn’t have a clue how to help him battle his demons, but I was willing to stand next to him, hold his hand, and do whatever I could. When he had nightmares, I wanted to massage his clenched muscles. (But he wouldn’t let me.) When he needed a senseless and dangerous adrenaline rush, I tried to follow. (But he made it clear that I slowed him down.) When what he needed was human touch, he sent me away. When he needed to feel important, that was easy enough for me. I idealized David. He would act the ass, but I couldn’t stay angry with him. I wanted to, but I just didn’t feel it. For sure I would get angry, but it didn’t last.
Because I believed he was superhuman, I was unwilling to accept defeat. David didn’t want to fight his narcissism. He wanted to accept his condition and live around it as best he could. He knew he would never have close friends and he knew he would never have a deep love for his wife, so he just invented fantasy friends. A group of individuals who looked to him to be their leader. It was like the Justice League of DC Comics.
I put a crazy amount of pressure on him to stop being sick. I wanted order, not chaos. It looked so simple to me. For example, he slept on the couch because of his night terrors, but if he had just come to bed with me, he would not have had those terrors to begin with. I had a solution for everything, and if I didn’t, I was going to find the solution. We would chip away at the armour of his disease until it just fell away.
This is how I made myself sick. I wanted to win and he wanted to just be still.
In 1993, I was living with my Gramma Ruth. May her neshama make an aliyah in the merit of her kindness.
Gramma had insulin-dependent diabetes, was in her 80’s, and overweight. She injured her right foot and the doctors were going to amputate her toes. I don’t know how she got placed under the special treatment of the Wound Clinic, but the doctors there made a serum from her own blood plasma which had the potential to regrow her tissues. It was real science fiction and I saw it with my own eyes.
For two months I washed her wound in an iodine solution, changed her bandages, and applied the serum twice a day, and I saved her. No-one really believed it could happen. Sure, it was theoretical, but I don’t think it had ever worked for anyone her age. Still, it was emotionally very stressful for her.
I was not going to allow her to lose her foot.
A few years later, when the dementia started, I wasn’t going to have it. She wasn’t that bad, really. She would put a pot to boil and forget about it until all of the water had burned away and the fire detectors went off. The family worried that she was going to burn down the house. She did start doing a few things that were kind of weird, things to do with hoarding, but I won’t mention them here out of respect for the dead. At that time, I started insisting that she remain as sharp-witted as she had always been. I got a little pushy with her. “Now, Gramma, I know you can do this. You’ve done it a hundred times before.” I wasn’t mean to her, but I was frustrated.
I did not realize that she was doing the best she could and that her best was now considerably less than what it used to be. I wanted my Gramma back, just the way I remembered her, and I wanted her to be strong.
I don’t think I was evil for behaving this way. I was never mean to her, just unyielding. I never meant to cause her added strain or pressure. I was trying to cope with old age and sickness, and I did the best I could.
That’s the story with the narcissist, isn’t it? I wanted him to behave like a sane person. I wanted him well, but he was sick. He couldn’t do any better than the low level of function that he managed. I got confused because I figured if he could hold up the mask for one hour, then why not two? And if he could hold up the mask for 2 hours, then why not four? I never understood how much effort it was for him to fake emotions for any length of time, and he hated himself afterwards. At least, that’s what I saw. I really do believe that David understood he was tainted.
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