Loving a Narcissist: Speaking Ill of the Dead

He was a big good looking man. Not tall, but broad, his shoulders seemed to go on for miles. His hair was sandy brown, and his eyes were a deep laughing blue. One of his front teeth was chipped, and that just gave his smile that perfect devil may care spark. A big good-looking man. And I’ll be the first to say he was way out of the league of my homely ass. I never understood why he started paying attention to me, but he did. And I fell in love with him so fast, so hard. The internet itself is bogged down with the pages and pages I’ve written about how much I loved him. This is not a page about how much I loved him.

He told me he was a ‘recovered heroin addict.’ I did not know then that a ‘recovered heroin addict’ is a junkie who hasn’t been able to score for a few days. I know it now. He told me I was the love of his life. I believed him. But now I know at least three other ‘loves of his life.’ He told me never to worry about him being unfaithful, that I was all he’d ever need. Except for his insatiable appetite for cocktail waitresses, bus stop boys, and bimbo real estate agents. He said he’d protect me, keep me safe. He pushed me down a flight of stairs. He blacked my eye. He shoved me into walls and bookcases. He tried to close a car door on my arm once. On purpose. And I could still bog down the internet writing pages about how much I loved him.

TomThe heroin finally killed him. I always knew it would. After all those times I sat through those stupid meetings, all those times I crammed him into rehab, all those times I ‘saved’ him. He up and died anyway.

And I was devastated. I still am devastated. Even after all these years of life without him, I’ll still catch myself crying that he is never coming home again.

But there is another chapter to this story.

You see, I wasn’t the perfect lover. I didn’t appreciate the heroin. I didn’t appreciate those bus stop boys, and I sure didn’t appreciate that realtor. I wasn’t properly grateful for being pushed down those stairs. And I never did like those stupid meetings. The hard visitor’s chairs of rehab units bruised my tender ass. The reproachful eyes of a woman who I had called a friend-the ex- before me-those great brown eyes shamed me. I guess I’m never satisfied. What woman would not be delighted by such delectable offerings?

The truth is he was a dyed-in-the-wool son of a bitch. The truth is is spent just as much time praying that the heroin would kill him as I spent praying that I could somehow save him. The truth is that I always felt guilty about being glad that he was dead.

I’m sure you’ll be shocked to know his name came up in therapy. Not shocked? Oh, go on.

The first time his name came up, I was still being perfect. I kept telling the therapist what a great guy he was. But, then I couldn’t tell her a single great thing about him. I tried to think of all his many wonderful qualities, but I drew blank after blank. The things I could think to tell the therapist were not wonderful things, and the wonderful things, I could not think of. At a loss for his wonderful qualities, I produced a photo. The therapist took the photo, and said the only unprofessional thing I’ve ever heard her say. She said, “Oh, myyyy…” like that, with the ‘my’ all drawn out at the end. Nearly a decade in the grave, and the looks are still turning heads.

The second time his name came up in therapy, I quit trying to be perfect. I tried to tell the good and the bad. Not all of the bad, though. Some of the bad, I will take to my grave. But I tried to tell a more balanced truth. There was still a lot more bad than good. But in telling the bad, and my guilty feelings, I was able to remember some of the good, too.

Sometime between therapy appointments, I stumbled across this article. It’s not the sort of thing I would generally read, but a close friend went through Hell after being abused by a narcissist, and I was seeking a way to have greater empathy with her. But the article was like looking in a mirror. I was shaken. Badly shaken. I threw up a couple of times. I tried to tell myself that I was wrong. But I knew I wasn’t wrong, or not too far wrong anyway.

At my next meeting with the therapist I asked if she thought he might have been a narcissist. She said that a personality disorder had crossed her mind. Of course, it is really impossible to diagnose the deceased, but you can make an educated guess. And our educated guess is that he was some kind of abusive narcissist. But he is past all help of this world now.

Which is fine, because it looks like I need all the extra help I can get.