I have a lot to be grateful for during my time with this “amazing” man, he did help me to be more confident and dress more confidently in the early stages of our relationship, I never wore dresses before I met him and after encouragement from him, I actually love wearing dresses, something that will continue. Looking back though that is all part of their facade, and the idealisation phase as the control is starting, but it’s so subtle, you think they are doing it to help you, but no – it’s all about them taking charge of your wardrobe and what you can and cannot wear. You don’t notice it as they make you feel so good. He stopped me wearing cardigans because he said it makes you look old. They are all about the image and he couldn’t be with someone that looked old. So I stopped wearing cardigans!!!! I also wore shorts down to my knee, thinking I had wrinkly knees, he encouraged me to wear shorter shorts, and again love them now and will continue while I can.
One thing that stands out now is whenever I bought a dress and I lived in them, especially in the summer, as it was a very hot climate, however they were always, in his eyes too long. I stood my ground and kept them at a length I was happy with, I was in my late 50’s, and I was not a teenager anymore, I look back now and think, he would be wanting me to still be wearing short shorts & dresses well into my 60’s and beyond when really that would be the last thing I would be wearing. We all get to an age where we have to accept, that what we could wear a decade ago, just does not work anymore. I still remember following this lady, I was in NZ at the time on holiday into a hotel bistro on a warm night and she had on white shorts and a tank top and looked quite young, with an older guy. however, once I saw her face, she was well in her 60s and it looked like she was hanging on to her youth, Quite sad really, now I am expecting she was expected to dress like that.!! That would have been me if I hadn’t woken up and walked away.
Image is so important and his catchphrase was looking good for each other, as so many people get slobby and I agree to a point, but it is exhausting to always be looking good. I often had stains on my tops and around the home, but it didn’t worry me, I wore one particular teeshirt toward the end a lot because it had a stain on it, that I know would have really annoyed him!!!! I love being comfortable and again that is their control over you and they mold you into becoming their ideal person. All part of the game and you don’t realise what is happening. I would be getting ready to go out and he would be picking on me, little things like a bit of fluff, etc, or fixing my collar, it was like I couldn’t be trusted to check the mirror before I left the house. We had some arguments about that as I found that very annoying, he always had a comeback with he didn’t want me to be embarrassed,. WTF – it was all about he didn’t want me to embarrass him!! It’s a mind game – the whole lot and because it feels like everything they do is because they care you go along with it, and slowly your self-worth is being eroded away. By now, it is easier to go along with it, so you stop wearing cardigans, you end up making sure you look good all the time and what you wear meets their approval. You throw out clothes to the op shop that no longer work or fit and mold your wardrobe and your image to suit them. I do wish I had my county road ¾ jeans, that I bought many many years ago in San Fran Cisco and loved and they had become fashionable because they had holes in them from wear. . They ended up too big for me as I had lost weight as they were falling off and looked daggy, but that’s what happens and you just don’t realise you are playing into becoming just what they want you to be.
As I look back, I notice that where there were some good things about making changes to my wardrobe, it was also exhausting keeping up with his expectations. I love getting dirty, especially painting, and can happily sit around in paint-spattered clothes, and with paint on me in the early days, he would make a joke about me getting paint behind my knees and how I get paint on my clothes ( i have clothes, especially for painting for that reason) Towards the end it became a massive issue, caused a huge row, because I got paint on the cooktop, and was told I had to learn to be a neat painter.
However, he bragged that he never got paint on his clothes ever, which was true. He was obsessed with cleanliness and his clothes had to be spotless. Whereas I couldn’t care less around the home and had clothes that I wore just around home. – I have even gone to the hardware shop ( before ex) in daggy paint-covered shorts.
The obsession with his image is again one of the traits of a narcissist.
The episode, with the painting, was the final straw, where I woke up to what was happening and realised I was in a verbally abusive relationship. I had heard about narcissists – but didn’t know a lot about them and i had no idea that I was in a relationship with one.
I started doing some more research and found a great support group on Narcisuuits and i discovered in there that I was definitely living with a Covert Narcissist – harder to pick and are very mean and nasty when the mask comes off.
“ A covert narcissist has a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) but does not display a sense of self-importance often associated with the condition. They may deal with insecurity and low self-esteem.”
In reflection as I look back on how it all played out, it would be so easy to beat myself up and think to myself, how could i be so stupid, but no, that is not the answer, as I did nothing wrong, I was played and because it is so subtle, you are not aware. So no, I am not beating myself up, I am educating myself, and learning a lot about narcissists and by sharing my story, I hope I am able to help others to also see it. I am not going to be a victim of abuse. Staying in that mode means he still has control over me and that is not happening
“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” — Maya Angelou
I will leave this blog here, stay tuned for more to come. Share this with others as you never know, it might just help someone recognize what sort of relationship they are in.