The INFJ and the Narcissist – Part 10

tiny turtleBecoming a parent changes you. There is no way to know who you will be as a parent, until you become a parent. Your partner changes, too, in many unexpected ways.

It is dangerous to make assumptions based on love and affection.  Even so, she made plenty of assumptions that would prove to be her undoing.

 

She had assumed that her partner would make parenting a priority.  Even if he had avoided playing an active role in the pregnancy, he’d have to make parenting a priority.  Wouldn’t he?  How could she marry someone who wouldn’t make parenting a priority?  She figured that was a given, so she didn’t have those important conversations beforehand.  She didn’t ask, “Will you juggle your time to make kids a priority?  Will you cut back on recreation to help out, knowing that it won’t be long before we can all go as a family?  Will you delegate at work so as to create more time for home?  Will we parent as a team?  Will you change diapers?  Are you okay with breastfeeding?  Do you refer to it as ‘babysitting’ when you have the kids with you?”

She avoided those conversations – maybe because she knew the answers and didn’t want to admit it.  INFJs avoid conflict.

 

And then the baby arrived.

No newborn had ever been fawned over the way he fawned over their baby boy.  He raised the bundled babe to his lips and cooed.  He walked circles around the hospital bed declaring his undying love and devotion.  His eyes over-flowed with tears.

She watched him parade around the hospital room and felt like everything was right in the world.  He would rise to this purpose.  Look at how he feels for his new baby boy!  Oh! she was blessed to have this man be every bit as overwhelmed and excited as she was.

And then the nurse walked out of the room.

When there wasn’t an audience, he was quick to hand the baby back.

 

___________

 

At home with their newborn, she learned that she had changed in ways that he never would have believed possible – that she couldn’t have believed possible.  She found deep pockets of love that she didn’t know existed.  (She’d wondered if love was a finite amount – X.  When baby came along, would she have to divide X by 2?) She learned that love was X to the nth degree, and there was more where that came from.  There was no scarcity of love.  Love was bottomless and endless and everywhere.

 

 

But he didn’t think so.

He believed that any love showered on a baby was love that had been taken away from him.  He believed that love was a finite amount, and when baby came, baby would get the love that was supposed to be his.

 

Love and attention became a contest.

 

When she doted on the baby, he became distant.

When she nursed the baby, he left the room.

When it was time for a diaper change, he was conveniently absent.

When the baby cried, he challenged her to let the baby cry.  He asked, “Do you really need to nurse so frequently?  Shouldn’t there be some sort of a schedule?  Is that kid always that hungry?”

 

But her dedication never wavered.  She stayed the course.  She nurtured and cared for and tended the baby, all the while hoping he’d join her in this beautiful, exhausting, fulfilling purpose.

He never wavered, either.  He stayed his course.  In fact he worked longer hours, scheduled more hikes, laughed at the prospect of changing a diaper and teased her for nursing in public.

But if there happened to be an audience, he’d be the first to pick up the baby.

 

To be continued …

 

 

 

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20 comments

  1. When I read the question “Are you OK with breastfeeding?”, it was like a bell went off in my head. It had never occurred to me that a father might not be. But boy did that ever cause me stress. He kept saying breastfeeding interfered with his ability to bond. He would talk about what a disaster it was. His child would not love him, because they missed a crucial bonding period.

    Good old narcissist fear and loathing. I learned to play up the excitement for our child whenever daddy entered the room, to compensate. What a relief to be able to stop doing that.

    Happy to say that I kept up the breastfeeding for 2 years. And our child loves both parents.

  2. It never ceases to amaze me that I think this is my story. Yes they have some differences, but the characterization is identical. I don’t even want to think about this time period with the N. It’s too disturbing. :/

  3. Love this piece. One of the best metaphors I’ve encountered for “enough love to go around” is the lighted candle. It can light infinite other candles until it, the first candle, finally dies.

  4. M,

    I’m surprised to hear that a narcissist would even mention the word “bonding” in reference to his child. wow.

    I’m glad to hear your son loves both parents. He’s blessed to have you guiding him.

    I did stay the course with the breastfeeding, too. That mother instinct is a powerful thing when isn’t being drowned out by the narcissist’s yammering.

  5. Z,

    It took me awhile to “pen” that one. This whole series can be a bit wrenching to write. As you know, I write these to warn others – to show them what it looks like from the inside.

    Weirdly, as I was writing yesterday, it felt like I had a bird’s eye view of this woman trying so desperately to keep it all together. I’m not her anymore. I feel for her, but it doesn’t hurt quite as much to write about her anymore.

    I’ve moved on.

  6. Pat,

    That’s a beautiful image, and so accurate.

  7. Wow, I nearly could have written this myself.. But whether it was my own naivety or his ability to hide things better (probably both), I really don’t think I knew in my heart that he would be like that. And I definitely never knew how I would feel being a parent – and I guess we were just at two different ends of the spectrum..

    He still will take our toddler to places where there are going to be people to see whenever he gets the chance. It’s almost as if he thinks parenting doesn’t happen unless someone is there to see. I would be surprised if he spends more than a couple of hours alone with our son in a week :-/ but maybe that’s for the best..?

  8. Hi JJ,

    I know exactly what you mean. My intuition totally failed me on seeing/knowing what kind of parent he’d be. He had me convinced that the issues with his first two were all attributable to his first wife. I bought it all – hook, line and sinker. Now, of course, I realize how naive I was.

    In my opinion, the less time spent with them, the better. I loved how you put that – “… he thinks parenting doesn’t happen unless someone is there to see.” Exactly!

    Hugs to you and your son. Thanks for writing.

  9. My lack of emotion about it all is what disturbs me sometimes. It really happened and it rarely felt as awful as it was. I know that’s self-preservation, but good grief, do I have to be that good at shutting it down?

  10. Z,

    I know exactly what you mean. It’s like we develop calluses that help us get through it. And after… well, I’m not sure how to get rid of the callus. I’m concerned about accessing the real emotions when it’s time to be vulnerable again. Maybe it takes the right person – he would have to have one helluva big pumice stone and a gentle touch. ;)

  11. And once you do have that person, it is really really hard to let them go.

  12. Feeling so sad today about what all of us have been through for the sake of their insecurities and selfishness. I think the N in our life tried, at times, to be a good parent and spouse, but it was too much for him. Ulitmately, the disorder won. He has gone his own way, unable to have a healthy realationship with anyone. He makes sure we know how hard his life is even as he leaves a trail of destruction behind him.

  13. Tell me about it. I am trying to listen to my gut. It’s not saying what my head is. Nothing coming out of my head calms my gut or my soul. Even though there is reason to believe my head, it’s like that song or Emily Dickinson… The heart wants what it wants.

  14. Sandy,

    And their lack of empathy prevents them from seeing that trail of destruction.

  15. Z,

    And only another heart can communicate with your heart.

  16. Hi! I just came across your blog from Googling INFJ and narcissism. I too am an INFJ. I just read your whole story from dating to part 10… it sounds exactly like my ex narc. It was emotionally hard to read your experience in print, so accurately and succinctly written. My heart goes out to you! I understand the fight between the heart and head; the confusion and not wanting to face the truth. Your experience sounds so familiar it’s comforting to know I was not alone in my pain or thoughts. Especially how your narc would talk and talk without ever inquiring about YOU. How he would make fun of any preference you had – like your taste in magazines. And tv? I noticed how you didn’t mention the attempt. The rare times I’d ask to watch something else he would throw a fit or make me ‘pay’ for it. (No cuddles and sulking or “We can watch Food Network if you cook for me”). I can also relate to the sense of betrayal you must have had to hear how excited he was with others over your baby (“that’s all he talks about”). Thank you for being brave enough to share. It helps me walk forward. Is there a part 11 coming?

  17. Hi Bethany!

    Thank you so much for writing.

    It’s tough writing these posts. I’m trying to provide a cautionary tale for those embarking on a relationship with a narcissist, or those already in one. Halt! Do you really want to have kids with this person?

    I didn’t know my ex was an N when I met him, got married and started a family. I didn’t know until after I’d left. But in the middle of it all, it’s easy to convince ourselves that maybe our view is incorrect. Maybe we could try harder to please. Certainly the problem lies with us. I want to warn men and women that there is very little chance of the narcissist changing. Do you want to put children through that kind of life?

    Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that while it is hard to read if you’ve gone through it – and thank you so much for reading – I know there is comfort to be found in learning that you are not the only one dealing with this kind of “life”. It’s good to see that others have dealt with this and come out the other side.

    The more I read and learn, the more I see a correlation between INFJ and narcissism. Thanks for adding to that bank of knowledge with your experiences.

    All the best to you, Bethany! And, yes, there will be more parts. Getting the courage to write them. ;)

  18. I look forward to reading them! Have you noticed any correlation with narcs and a particular personality type? They say our best INFJ match is an ENFP or ENTP. I’m curious if these type tends to have more narcs.

  19. Bethany,

    I keep looking for those correlations, but I’m not seeing a pattern. Yet. I’ve observed narcissistic qualities in an ENTP, but not sure if he was compensating or what. ;)

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