Did your narcissist fit the mold of the stereotypical narcissist? Mine certainly didn’t. I’d say she was about a solid 90-95% match, but definitely not 100%. Of all the things where she fell in line with the tried and true definition of a narcissist – self-absorbed, unfaithful, egotistical, immature, manipulative, dishonest, and deceitful; a life rife with double-standards aplenty – the one facet of that multi-faceted mold she never filled was the role of financial vampire. However, that’s not to say I didn’t invest a sizable amount of resources into her life and the planned future that would (fortunately) never come to fruition.
Regular readers may recall when I first met my narcissist, Julia, she was a Math Lab instructor at a local college. Through a series of twists and turns, the college began closing the Math Lab down – cutting hours, reducing staff – to the point that she was getting about 10-20 hours per week, if that. She saw the writing on the wall and decided to go back to school to get her bachelor’s degree in nursing before her teaching position was phased out completely. And for two years, we studied, struggled, and succeeded together. Well, to be fair, she did all the real work. I just filled the role of study-partner and guide, quasi-quizzer, and technical support when her computer and or MS Office failed to cooperate (which was quite often). And when the stressors of school, work, and life became too overwhelming, I happily filled the role of moral support, picking up the pieces when she fell apart every couple of weeks and felt like she couldn’t go on. It was definitely a whirlwind ride on my own little Russian rollercoaster.
Needless to say, we spent a great deal of time together, generally with me at her apartment, and many, many tears where she was trying to just make ends meet on a paltry 20-hour per week (or less) wage. There was more than one time where she would tearfully tell me about how she now needed this textbook or that and how she didn’t have the $100-$200’ish to buy it. Now, to be fair, she never actually asked me to buy any of these things for her. But I just couldn’t sit there, watching her suffering, crying, knowing I could make it better via a few clicks on Amazon. I lost count of the nights I’d watch her as she sat at her tiny little desk studying, tears streaming down her face, and I’d ask, “What was that book title, again? The one that you needed for class?” Semi-distracted, she’d tell me as she’d continued studying, and I’d say something along the lines of, “Good. I got the right one.” She’d just look up at me and, somewhat bewildered, ask, “What?”
“That book. The one you needed? I just ordered it for you.” Then her sad tears would turn to happy tears and, for a few hours, perhaps even the evening, Clark Kent was, instead, Superman.
In retrospect, I can’t begin to count the times I swooped in and saved her, or all the individual investments I made in helping her reach her goal of being a nurse. But, honestly, I really didn’t mind saving my Lois every chance I got. This was her future and, as such, it was also our future. I sincerely wanted to be supportive of her, her dreams, and her endeavors, not only to push her to achieve but to excel, to be there for her as she made her dream of becoming self-sufficient a reality. If she needed a better laptop? She got it. A color laser printer? She got it. I found so much purpose and fulfillment in taking care of her, in making her difficult journey easier so we could enjoy a happier future together, no matter what it was she wanted or needed. Even little things like those red Hunter rainboots she was drooling over, a nice backpack/laptop carry bag combo for her school books and computer – no sacrifice was too great for my narcissist. I remember, one day, we were out and about, though I really don’t recall where we were going, and we passed a white Lexus SUV. She commented that it was exactly like the one she used to have when she was married to Mr. B., husband number 2, and lamented on how she missed driving around in, “…all that metal, feeling safe.”
Yep! You guessed it. Later that day, I called a friend of mine who runs a dealership and told him what I was looking for. Six months later, after quite a bit of searching, I got a phone call from my buddy to come pick up my new vehicle. If you could have seen the gobsmacked look on Julia’s face when I arrived to pick her in that beautiful, white, SUV or, as I soon came to call it, my albatross. She was like a kid at Christmas. I told her I’d bought it for her and would basically swap titles with her, taking her sedan if she wanted the SUV. She was completely floored but said she couldn’t do it. She was still trying to get Mr. B. to foot the bill for her college and was sure he’d drop her like a hot rock if he found out she was seeing someone new. So, I found myself the proud owner of a lovely Lexus SUV which, over time, I did grow to love.
The reason she wanted Mr. B. to pay for her school is he’s a multimillionaire and, as such, “…he can afford to give me the life he denied me during our marriage.” You see, Mr. B. had made his money in real estate, buying and flipping houses and properties across the U.S. However, this also meant a lot of upheaval in their lives and marriage with the sale of each property. In fact, during the course of their six-year marriage, they moved seven times. More than once, Julia shared with me, “A woman wants a place where she can feel safe, a place where she can make a ‘nest’ and raise a family. He never gave me that because we were always moving.” So a couple of years after the divorce, when she was about to go back to school for her nursing degree, she told him, “The least you can do is help me get on my feet by paying for my school.” She reasoned, “Since I helped you get where you wanted to be, you can help me get where I want to be.” I’ll admit, I did see her side of it but, at the same time, I felt it was a little late in the game to be expecting him to pony up and help her out some two years after their divorce had been finalized.
As for what I invested into her and us, in the end, I wound up sinking a rather sizable sum into “our future.” But then I’ve read stories of people’s narcissists convincing them to buy (multiple) cars, a house, to even have a child or children with them, and I soon realized that, in the grand scheme of things, I actually got out of that toxic relationship relatively financially unscathed. What about you? Exorbitant spiritual, psychological, and emotional price tags aside, what literal price did you wind up paying in the course of time with your narcissist? Hopefully, you got out relatively financially unscathed, as well. And hopefully, you were able to start a new life free of those draining obligations that once tied you to a parasitic pirate who prolifically pillaged and plundered.
Speaking of pirates, and on a much lighter note, today also happens to be International Talk Like a Pirate Day! (Yes, seriously.) So why not add a little levity to your life, have some fun, and talk like a pirate for the day? It can make for some much-needed laughter! Go ahead. Give it a try, me ‘earty!