When The Narcissist Has Kids

the pondMy life changed the day I gave birth to my first child.  “So tell me something new,” you must be thinking.  But if you are a narcissist, you can’t say that.  If you are a narcissist, you don’t want to say that your life changed the day you had kids.

Before having children, your life is confined to a nice, tidy boat.  Sure, the boat can get tippy.  Sometimes the boat can even take on water.  Most of the time, if you are lucky, you float your boat, and watch the world from inside, without too many disturbances.  If you are really lucky, you have children and your boat capsizes.  You end up swimming in the warm, crazy pond of life.  Some days you can barely keep your head above water.  Some days you float on your back and enjoy all that the pond has to offer, but you never leave the pond for the safety of the boat.

And you don’t want to.

The arrival of children may rock the narcissist’s boat, but the boat never capsizes.  Narcissists control their boats very well.  They will experience inconveniences periodically, but basically, their boat remains intact.

I was in labor with Will for 22 hours.  Labor started at 11:00 p.m. on a Sunday night.  I jostled Mark a little, told him it had started, but that I would go downstairs so he could continue sleeping.  At 4:00 a.m. he got up to get ready to go to work.  When he was leaving he said, “Just hang in there until 8:00 a.m., because I should be done with everything by about then, and I’ll be free to take you to the hospital.”

I’d never done the labor and delivery thing before.  I didn’t know what to expect.  It seemed reasonable to hang in there, and at this point, I’d had lots of experience in trying not to be an inconvenience.  I didn’t have a clue that I was going to be hanging in there until about 8:00 the next evening.

Mark hung out all day at the hospital with me, once it was convenient for him to do so.  Any good narcissist wouldn’t miss an opportunity to try to steal the show.  He was the stoic, strong, supportive husband to the wailing, exhausted, spent wife.

And when Will finally arrived, Mark got to parade around the room a la Lion King.  I remember watching him hold Will and thinking to myself, “Hold him tighter, it’s not like he’s going to get you dirty.”

__________

 

Late one night when Will was 6 weeks old, I was nursing on the couch.  Mark was watching TV next to us.  I was thinking that everything was right with the world.  Mark turned to look at me and he said, “I can’t do this?”  I was startled out of my contented place and said, “What?  You can’t do what?  Watch TV?  Sit on the couch?  What?”  And he said, “This marriage.  I can’t do this marriage.”

I felt the sky fall.

Pieces of sky clattered at my feet for days.  I’d change diapers, put in another load of laundry and sweep up the sky while life continued in a precarious sort of less-than-secure, holding-my-breath way.  That’s how life is when you never know if your partner might decide to not come home.

 

 

 

__________

I guess I cleaned up the bits of sky enough to please Mark, and so…

Jenny was born four years later.

I have sweet memories of holding my babies in the hospital,  feeling warm and happy and peaceful.  Getting home with the babies wasn’t so warm and happy.

 

__________

Three years later in marriage counseling, I remember describing an image I kept seeing in my mind.  I would see myself and the kids on one side of a wall.  Mark was always on the other side of the wall.  I kept struggling to pull Mark to our side of the wall.  When I wasn’t struggling, I was hoping that he would decide to join us on our side.  When Mark heard this he said, “Well I’ve been waiting for you to come to my side of the wall.”  I said, “I can’t leave the kids alone on the other side.”  He said, “They’ll be fine.”

There was Mark, floating along in his boat with the kids and I swimming in the pond, waiting for him to join us.  He had no desire to join us.

I often say, if I hadn’t had kids, I’d probably still be married.  Before children, I did a pretty good job of feeding his narcissism.  When kids came along, he felt he’d lost his perch on the top of the heap.  I couldn’t figure out why one of us had to be on the top.  Why couldn’t we all be at the bottom of the heap together?

 

 

 

 

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8 comments

  1. Your post today brought me much comfort at how similar our roads have been… I too had a son and a daughter while married to a deeply personality-disordered man . Those halcyon hospital days!! – so full of joy, hope and promise – almost frozen in time like beautifully crafted and delicate Lladro figurines… I too keep those moments in a very special, tender place within me. They are so different from the selfish madness I was discharged to return home to – the loneliness of new motherhood while married to a narcissist – so much beauty admist a growing recognition of so much that was broken and could not be repaired – so much potential of what could be, admist a growing realization of all that never would be. At least becoming a single mom wasn’t so different than what I’d been living anyway – at least it has been a more honest way of life – and yes, in some ways more painful; more painful because I am no longer in denial of the horrendous and empty truth of the sham of a marriage and of the family I so wanted us to be – something that had been my most cherished dream.

  2. Wow! It reminds me so much of my life… thank you for sharing this.

  3. Wow..it’s soo scary. This is soo hard to explain to someone who does not understand this disorder. My life…exactly. After the first one, he would only have sex with a condom cause he did not want anymore kids…

  4. emerging,

    Thanks for writing.

    I’m so sorry.

  5. I re-read this post just now and had to chuckle at my own experience. I can chuckle now but at the time I was devastated. After the birth of our first child, the following three months were pure hell for me. As a tired new mom nursing a premature baby around the clock, and expressing milk for when the baby had to have supplemented high-calorie formula, and sterilizing bottles and the equipment on top of that, I had to also try to keep our house clean with no help from narcissistic hubby. It was my hubby who made life hell, not my precious little girl. He screamed at me for not having the floor washed, calling me a F____G C__T at the top of his lungs. He also raged at me for not going to the gym, calling me a useless twit. Looking back I CAN’T BELIEVE I stayed with him after that.

    I thought things would get better if I just tried hard enough.

    17 months after our first we had another child, a beautiful boy. A week after he was born he was asleep on the bed between me and hubby, in the middle of the night. The baby wasn’t even crying, he was sound asleep. Hubby woke up angry, saying the bed was uncomfortable, saying we needed a bigger bed. I made the mistake of disagreeing with him, and he flew into a rage, screaming at me “I HOPE YOU DIE…… SOON!!!!

    Life after leaving hubby is amazingly better. So much so that I can look back on those days and almost laugh at what a bast__d he was.

  6. Reese,

    That was painful to read.

    The fact that he’s capable of being so nice in one instant and so horrible in another, is a real indication of the volatility of the narcissistic personality. That’s the part that scared me the most – never knowing what would incite a fit and bring the evil part out.

    Good to re-read these posts once in awhile, to see how far we’ve come.

    Sending hugs.

  7. My husband was the same. I like the metaphor of the wall – I always thought of us in a shipwreck, and instead of hanging onto the same bit of driftwood together he was always trying to pull it in half. Always somewhere else. In his own agenda.

    He wouldn’t even hold the third baby, then straight after the birth when I was in dangerous postnatal haemorrhage he left me alone and took her away in a carrier to be the one to show her off to her sisters – without me. In those days I still hadn’t understood what was going on.

    Now he’s the ex and I do – I really do. After his affair(s), a ton of litigation and abuse he’s still attacking me and hurting the children. He’s remarried and has given away their inheritance to the new woman, and prioritises her kids from another marriage over his own.

    I find it exhausting – I admire the poster who can laugh, because while his behaviour can be pure vaudeville at times I still can’t find it funny. Wish I could. These people are sick and very damaging: we have to get NPD more widely recognised, because otherwise others always think it’s us ‘unstable’ women making it all up.

  8. Alvara,

    Hello and welcome. I’m glad you found us.

    I couldn’t agree with you more! That’s why I keep writing on this blog – to help spread the word. I initially wanted to write to offer hope to those women, like myself – up in the middle of the night trying to find answers. It’s about the children of narcissists, too. We must get the word out for those women/men and their children.

    Thank you for writing.

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