Narcissistic behaviour is NOT acceptable – EVER!
What do I know about narcissism?
To be truthful, I only discovered the term in recent years, but when I did, I recognised it – it is something that has been in my life for 37 years.
I have a lot to say on the subject, however, in the first instance I simply want to share the post I put out on LinkedIn this week (with a few additions):
Apparently, my ex-husband wants his name back because he doesn’t want to be associated with me!
I divorced him in 2005 on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour. He told me that he would only allow me to divorce him on these grounds if it wasn’t noted on the divorce documents in case anyone saw it!
That was 17 years ago.
Since then, I have undertaken vast amounts of personal and professional development and built businesses in my married name, which I kept for the sake of my son, namely Naylor George Recruitment Limited and Sarah J Naylor, the Midlife Success Coach, in addition to publishing two books, hosting a podcast, and running my entire life as, Sarah Naylor.
Naylor has become my name. I don’t associate it with anyone else.
During the subsequent years of growth, I discovered that I had spent 20 years living with a narcissist, who would say things such as:
- “Why can’t you cook without using a recipe book?”
- “Why do you have to use everything in the kitchen when you cook?!”
- “Don’t bend down like that!”
- “Why are you wearing that to work?” (NB – think standard business attire, nothing inappropriate)
- “Why have you bought me that?” (In response to clothes mainly)
- “You shouldn’t look at the mail as you walk through the front door, you should come straight to see your son!”
- “Why do you have to want to do the things that your friends do?” (Friends at work)
Oh, I don’t know, maybe those of you who are reading this are thinking that these are not examples of narcissism and that there’s nothing particularly wrong with the statements.
Let me go back further in time.
“I don’t like you going out with X because you’ll get a reputation by association.”
And so began the process of him separating me from my friends and family. We saw some of my friends as couples, but for 20 years I don’t recall having a social life.
I would stand my ground, argue my corner, and rather stupidly accept that this was how he was, and as such, used statements like, “I just let it wash over me” to excuse it. Although there was an occasion where I chucked a pint of beer over him in the pub as he was being awful to one of our friends. It wound me up so much. I just didn’t see what I was living with, as I didn’t speak to anyone about anything as that too was not acceptable. I became brainwashed – it was a drip, drip, drip effect over the years.
But this stuff doesn’t wash over you – it f*cks with your brain.
You question yourself.
You think maybe they are right.
Don’t get me wrong, I was never a victim, but it took 6 years post-divorce to stop feeling affected by his words and behaviour.
Unfortunately, over the years, my son has picked up where my ex left off and, whilst I am super proud of all that he has achieved, I spent a lot of time between 2015 and 2020 wanting to leave home myself because of his behaviour towards me.
Even as a strong-minded woman, handling narcissistic bullying behaviour in your offspring starts to f*ck with your mind. Had I been able to, I would have kicked him out during Covid. That wasn’t possible. I then met Gareth and endured more outbursts until I was eventually forced to tell him that it was non-negotiable – he had to move out. Which he did 18 months ago. He needed to for his own personal growth and has since bought his first property.
It was a massive relief for me not to have to constantly battle with him. It had been like living with his dad again, only I couldn’t seem to do anything about it.
I know this all makes me sound awful and if you listened to my son on a regular basis you would know that I am selfish, treat him appallingly and, as his mum, should fund his life.
It’s made me feel inadequate as a coach, as a mother, as a person, in my inability to handle this stuff. And yet whenever he needed my help, I was there for him. Although he has also told me in the past that I haven’t ever done anything for him!
I am in the process of writing a dossier about my experiences as a wife and mother living with narcissistic behaviour. Even in doing so, I have this element of doubt that anyone will be interested because it just normal behaviour. Right?!
It’s not. I know it’s not.
So why does my ex-husband want his name back?
My son is upset with me. He has been hurling abuse at me and Gareth and getting no response. He wants me to change my ways. He has been bullying, threatening, undermining, employing emotional blackmail amongst a whole host of other methods – all typical behaviour. And, in not getting his own way he has turned to his dad, who thinks that he can tell me what to do and, at the same time, has told me to change my name.
My post on LinkedIn attracted lots of comments and support, for which I am grateful. I’ve also been connecting with and following people who specialise in narcissism and trauma. It’s been interesting to say the least.
I have never been a victim. I have always fought my corner, but it has been incredibly hard. And this massive breakdown with my son would appear to be unresolvable unless Gareth and I split up and I behave in a manner that he believes is acceptable. My son has told me how selfish and dreadful I am on so many occasions over the years; I thought the outburst that forced me to kick him out was the last of it but, no, other stuff has followed, and this last outburst of vitriolic, vile texts was the final straw for me.
I’m sorry to say that my own wellbeing takes priority. If I don’t take care of myself and put my foot down and say ‘Enough’, then I will be walked all over and become a shadow of myself. In fact, over the years that would’ve been the easiest solution. To give in. I couldn’t. It wasn’t right for me, or for him.
I am proud of what he has achieved. I am not proud of his behaviour though and I am speaking out about it to share my experiences with others so that they know that they don’t have to put up with this from their offspring either. Such a tricky one – you can get rid of a partner but dealing with a grown-up child is another matter altogether.
No reflection this week, as I need to get down a massive to do list, after emptying my head and journalling around 5000 words at the beginning of the week to make sense of everything.
My blog posts are usually so positive; this one – not so much, and for that I apologise. But in my defence, this is not a place for positivity; I do not want to cover up or silence this human experience. We all feel emotions like pain, anger, worry, outrage, and downright fury – they are normal and genuine aspects of being a human, and I want to openly express them. And I believe that it is important to share, so that others can both recognise this behaviour in a way that I never did and to know that it isn’t acceptable.
It also helps to acknowledge and make room for painful feelings; expressing them helps us in coping and decreasing the intensity of those emotions. I’d fought, buried, and (thought that I had) left this behaviour behind. I wish I’d known more all those years ago as I had to keep experiencing this behaviour until I learned that I didn’t have to accept it. Sadly, when it then raises its ugly head in the hormones of your offspring and continues to build momentum, you have to learn to become even harder. A naturally emotionally upsetting and unsettling situation to find yourself in when you can’t call on the other parent. And even worse when that parent attacks you.
In conclusion, talk openly about your experiences with friends and family. Or make contact with professionals – DO NOT allow behaviour like this to destroy you.
Lots of love