She’d grown accustomed to being invisible. Invisibility was normal. She learned that in childhood. In her marriage, she was invisible to her partner, so she thought that was normal, too.
Most INFJs enjoy being invisible. INFJs are comfortable staying in the background.
Their intensity often unnerves and overwhelms people.
Their desire for time to be introspective and their need for solitude is perceived as aloofness. Aloofness makes folks uncomfortable, so they avoid the seemingly aloof INFJ.
The cycle continues.
INFJs wrote the book on not fitting in. That dog-eared book sits by their bed waiting to be read every night before the INFJ falls asleep and dreams about not fitting in.
Narcissists crave the spot light. They need to be the center of attention.
What better partner for a narcissist than a person who hates to be the center of attention? The narcissist isn’t even aware that the INFJ needs to be seen. Lack of empathy makes it impossible for the narcissist to notice anything but himself.
It’s a match made in hell.
When her narcissistic husband walks in the door after a day’s work, he is content to fill her in on his comings and goings. And because he is a narcissist, it doesn’t occur to him to ask of her day. She’s used to that.
The one-sidedness of their relationship continues in this way.
He talks of his things.
He is seen.
She is not.
But the INFJ is human, after all. She can only exist invisibly for so long before she starts to crave connection. She needs to be seen the way an infant needs to be held. She will wither and die if ignored for too long, but the narcissist does not notice her withering. He does not see that she shrinks. He has not seen that she takes up less space in his life.
He does, however, notice the byproducts of her existence. He sees her projects because, on occasion, they take up space in his home. Disarray is created by her passing through a room and laying a magazine in his space. When she dares – even unintentionally – to lay an object in his path, she opens herself up for ridicule. He can’t help but say, “What are you reading that for? That’s a waste of time. You should be reading this.”
She begins hiding her magazines and books, rather than jump to the defense of her reading preferences. It’s so much easier to hide her things – and herself.
Weeks pass and she remembers what she thought marriage would be.
Her marriage is not a union of two souls growing together. Her marriage is more like a junior high biology experiment:
“What happens when you take two young plants and observe their growth patterns when one is placed in a sunny window and watered regularly…
… and the other is placed in a dark corner and forgotten?
Watch what happens to the two plants.
Will they both thrive?”
She notices that her hands begin to shake toward the end of the day – just before he is due home from work. She finds a deck of cards and plays endless games of solitaire to keep her hands busy and her mind quiet. She plays facing the dining room window so that she’ll be able to see his car pull into the drive. When she sees his car, even if she’s in the middle of a game, she’ll gather the cards together, wrap them with a rubber band, and hide them in the drawer.
One evening, after she finished the dishes and listened to his critique of dinner, she felt herself shrinking even more. She folded her legs under herself in an attempt to hide in the corner of the couch. She was exhausted. She was tired of hiding herself, but she could do nothing else.
He walked over to the couch and grabbed the remote. “Why do you sleep all the time? Why don’t you have the energy you had when we were first seeing each other? How can I go hiking or skiing when all you wanna do is fall asleep on the couch? What’s wrong with you?”
Like the plant in the dark corner that desperately needs sunshine, the INFJ cannot continue to shrink, blending into the woodwork, so that the narcissist can shine.
To be continued …