Why You Will Only Play a Role in the Narcissist’s Life
There’s only space for one person in this type of relationship
I mistakenly believed I was joining a partnership. Or as I always say, “a relationship should be as it implies — a ‘relay’ — a back and forth, and a give and take.”
But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Instead, I played a part in the narcissist’s life. I was merely a face in his life picture. A portion of the perfect package he wished to create. He was assembling his world order. The success he could hang a shingle on…checking off the boxes.
I was the wife, the business partner, the mother. I would find the office space, the assistant, do the paperwork, run to the post office and the bank, clean the house, mulch the lawn, cook, whatever helped make his world go round.
Most girls, even independent ones like me, hope to meet a guy who makes us feel as if we are their whole world.
Rather than just fit neatly into theirs.
But most girls don’t marry narcissists.
On the surface, ours erred on the side of what could be considered a ‘traditional relationship.’ And this is exactly what fooled me for far too long. That and my husband reinforcing our roles.
He considered himself the fat cat big provider. The man who took care of everything while the little woman stayed at home. One of his favorite phrases was, “I’m a busy man.”
So I believed what I heard.
Sounds ridiculous but I did.
When you hear someone say the same things over and over again it tends to influence your thoughts. Add gratitude to that and I bought it all hook line and sinker. I could not help but feel indebted as my life was much easier than my mother’s had been.
But with age comes wisdom.
I began to realize we were less traditional and more ‘toddler-esque.’
We parallel played. In other words, we occupied the same space but we played independently of one another. My husband was content to have another in the room as long as he was allowed to blissfully operate in his own world with his own toys.
Ironically, this is considered “an early stage in child development, characterized by ego-centric behavior and the inability to decenter and coordinate with the activities of a playmate.”
While thankfully, the majority outgrow ‘parallel play,’ the narcissist does not. I soon understood I wasn’t just playing alongside my husband. But rather ‘playing along’ with his life order.
I simply existed to make his world go round.
And sadly, while I had built my whole life around him, never had any aspect of his world revolved around me. I was a cog in the narcissist's wheel. I was playing a ‘part’ in the narcissist's life.
I had unknowingly sacrificed myself.
To play a role in another person’s life.
Even as I write these words there is a profound sadness that I knew not what I was entering into. I believed we were starting a life together, a business, and a family.
I had no idea I played a part in his version of success. The accolades he garnered from having a wife, a successful business, and beautiful children. Nor how his ego was fed by finances and the ability to have a stay at home wife.
Instead, he made me feel indebted as if I was spoiled.
Such a contradiction to how I felt.
I was emotionally starved. Lacking any and all emotional intimacy. Seemingly ignored until it was time to ‘play my part’ in his hemisphere. Then I was useful. Then the ‘busy man’ took time out of his ‘busy day’ to give me a call. And dutifully I would tidy up his world. As I had done for so very long.
But again, with age comes clarity.
One day the ‘busy man’ whined about all he did. How he was essentially the traditional man keeping a family going.
I could no longer hear his words.
I was finally able to witness his actions.
You see, the traditional man pays the bills, takes care of the lawn, fixes things in the house, handles mortgages and refinancing, negotiates car purchases, etc.
But it had been I who had done all of those things for more than half of our marriage. He had simply left the house and gone to work each day. A boy leaving a house with his mother taking care of everything else. With his mother making his world go round.
Only when I voiced my unhappiness and desire to leave did he want to pay the bills. He wanted to gain control of the money. And many of the household things I had taken care of or had people come in to fix became neglected.
Why? Because he wasn’t functional enough to live in his own world and keep it operating too.
Herein lies the greatest irony of the narcissist. They only have room in their world for one — themselves.
Hence, why we only play a ‘bit part’ in their lives. The story they are assembling for the world to see. Yet, anyone who has had the misfortune of loving a narcissist knows the truth. The narcissist may have appeared to be producing the whole show. But we were playing all the supporting roles to allow them to be the ‘star.’ Oscar-worthy.
We made it our job to make their world go round.
We sacrificed ourselves and any chance of ever playing the lead.
For one who was happy to make us their ‘understudy’ for life.
Thank goodness, most girls don’t marry narcissists.