Weary eyes, weary in the way that only a couple whose marriage is collapsing can be weary. The eyes of refugees hungering for release, for safety, for cover.
Thinking back to when they met, it was seemingly the perfect match. Two very attractive, vibrant personalities. All eyes were drawn to them when they entered the room. He, very well known, grandiose, a little theatrical even, a party pleaser, perhaps he could have been perceived as a little vain, nothing ever bothered him or got him down, everything was always “marvellous”, he was always invited to functions as he could be relied on to make the function work. Thinking of it, she was too, I just didn’t notice her slowly disappear.
It is only when you take time to listen that you hear the pain and confusion. She is a nurturer and a home maker and could be accused of always trying to “fix” other broken souls. Looking back there was nothing to fix, he was after all the perfect match. Now, as tears roll down her face, it seems that he has never formed a close connection with her at all, she knows not much more about him now years later. On closer questioning, it seems he has never formed any deep connection with anyone. His relationships are superficial. All his close friends are nothing more than acquaintances. Time after time it seems she has reached the end of her tether and been ready to depart, but he has managed to convince her that she is over reacting, that she is loosing her mind, that she is paranoid. For a while there are kind, connected moments that have played with her heart and assured her the possibility of redemption. Those very good moments keep her fortified, but the bad moments of let down, failed communication, lies, deceit and total disregard of their partnership have left her questioning herself. The roller coaster between redemption and disappointment is infinite. As much as she has hoped, it never happens. She has been given just enough rope to hang herself.
This has all coincided with some very pertinent posts on platforms on narcissism. It sounds like such an evil term, but on closer study, it is a disorder that many brave partners live with for years and because of its manipulative clutches, the self doubt and lack of self belief become overwhelming. If you search for a meaning of the term, the most common is, “A person with the inability to form deep connections with others, superficiality, and a complete lack of the basic and necessary human quality, empathy.”
On further investigation and study there is a checklist for narcissistic behaviour: lack of empathy, grandiose, entitled, manipulative, angry and rageful, paranoid, hypersensitive, jealous, lack of guilt, a need for constant affirmation and validation, lying, projection, greedy, emotionally cold, gas lighting (you feel like you’re losing your mind), cheap, never takes responsibility, vain, controlling, unpredictable, takes advantage of “friends” regularly, revelling in others misery, does not like to be alone, poor boundaries across the board, infidelity, doesn’t listen to anything you say, fragile, careless, seductive. The list is long and overwhelming. There are different types of narcissists, so not all of these listed traits are pertinent to each personality. My research has indicated that these people have an inability to change. The most common analogy is the story of the swan and the scorpion.
“There was a Swan at the edge of a river and a scorpion approached asking the swan if she would kindly give him a ride to the other side of the river on her back. The swan said “no, you are a scorpion, you will sting me and I will die.” The scorpion assured the swan that he wouldn’t do that, all he wanted was a ride to the other side and he promised she was safe with him. So the swan gave in and allowed the scorpion to climb upon her back. She swam to the other side and just before reaching the shore the scorpion stung her and jumped to safety. As the swan was sinking, slowly dying from the poisons she asked the scorpion why he broke his promise and stung her. The scorpion said “I’m a scorpion, that is what I do.”
Simply staying in a relationship that is thwart with grief and anxiety makes you compliant, in fact co-dependant, because by not leaving you are saying “its all right for you to treat me this way”
I am not an authority on medical or personality disorders but if you have been living in a tunnel of confusion, pain and disappointment, it seems that the scorpion is unlikely to change.