Several weeks ago there was a video that went viral that a man took of his wife having a meltdown. In the video he tells her he needs to get his tires rotated and she has, what looks like, a two year old tantrum. She tells him she wants to go to the lake, she is only asking for one day, and says, “One day, I just want one day – why is it so hard?”
You can almost hear the laughter in his voice as he continues to videotape her while he remains cool, calm, and seemingly quite reasonable. You can view that crazy wife video on YouTube.
There were all kinds of comments on it, news commentary, and social media shares. People said things like, “OMG! She is a nutcase!” and other derogatory remarks. Not one person seemed to ask the most logical question, “Why was he making a video of his wife having a meltdown?”
The Narcissist Is a Master Manipulator
Having lived with a narcissist my viewpoint was a little different. I immediately wondered what had led up to her meltdown because that video is such classic behavior. They will find a chink in your armor and pick away at it, poke it, and play with it over a long period of time. They seem adept at judging where your over the edge point is and they will bring you right to it without pushing you over. They’ll do it time and time and time again until, when they are ready, they’ll do that one thing that will catapult you over the cliff into a swirling vat of crazy.
They will usually do it in a public manner so that, while you are responding to months of aggravation, the people around you will only see you over-react to something that seems to be very small and very silly. They will look at your with a combination of horror and amusement and they will look at your husband with sympathy and pity – exactly what he is going for.
Now the entire world is aware that you are crazy.
What Led Up to Her Meltdown?
When you are watching the video ask yourself what you think led up to her meltdown. It could be that she is the spoiled brat that he portrays with his camera. It could also be that she is responding to weeks of being pushed.
Maybe she was told they were going to spend time together and it kept getting put off. Maybe she has been in an intensely emotional time and she was promised a day at the lake to unwind. Maybe he randomly tells her they are going to do something and then changes it at the last minute so she never knows what to expect. Maybe she got a babysitter and cleared her schedule so that they could have some downtime. No one watching the video will ever know but most people will make an assumption based on her behavior without ever wondering what led up to that moment.
“You Don’t Let Him Do Things for You”
I think I have mentioned how great narcissists are at making themselves look like the victim in almost any situation. During one of our marriage counseling sessions I got very emotional. I can’t remember what we were talking about but I was ready to break. I could feel my chest tighten, that icky feeling in my stomach, and my throat felt like I had swallowed a croquet ball. I grabbed a Kleenex in preparation for when it happened. I knew it wasn’t a matter of if it happened.
A few moments later the dam broke and I was doing everything possible to maintain control. I bit my lip, I pushed my nails into my palms, and I silently recited the multiplication tables. When a tear finally broke through and trickled down my cheek my ex leaned over to hand me a Kleenex. I shook my head no and showed him that I already had one in my hand. He shrugged and leaned back in his chair.
The counselor jumped on it, her voice dripping with sympathy. “How does it make you feel when she won’t let you help her?”
The Tormentor Is Now the Perceived Victim
I swear his eyes lit up. “Bad”, he mumbled. “It just makes me feel worthless.”
She turned to me,” Why won’t you let him do things for you?”
I swear to you the only thought that crossed my mind at that point was WTF? I immediately knew where this was going. I wanted to ask her what things she was talking about. All of the times that we needed groceries and he bought an Italian suit or custom shirt? Maybe she meant those times when the electricity got turned off because the bill wasn’t paid and yet he came home with a nice watch, a Mont Blanc pen, or a designer tie. The list of times I had needed him to come through for me and he didn’t moved through my head like a parade and he was the clown and the head of the thing.
I tried to defend myself, “I do let him do things for me.”
She looked at me with skepticism and then turned to him with pity in her eyes. Then she gave me a knowing, I have you all figured out, kind of look. “Your assignment this week is to learn to accept his help. Let him do things for you. You need to give to eachother.”
She turned to him, “Are you willing to work on this?”
He looked at me soulfully, then looked at her, sniffed and nodded resignedly. I wanted to throw up.
These are the men that spend time in bars on business trips telling women that their wives don’t understand them. They are the ones that will pick at you privately until you are ready to kill them and then push you over the edge in a public place with that one last coup de grace.
Sometimes they misjudge and that’s when you hear about women stabbing their husbands while they slept. While I in no way condone murder or even violence I do know how easy it is to get pushed to that point.
Pushed Past the Point of No Return
The night that I kicked my ex out of the house started off pretty normally. We had gone to my grandson’s birthday party. Things were friendly and we both agreed that our marriage was much stronger than it had been in years. We even had amazing, incredible, OMG sex before bed.
I was still wrapped in the warm fuzziness of lovemaking and he was sleeping next to me. I was on my laptop, catching up on some work when I got a weird feeling in my stomach. He had been talking with an old girlfriend on Facebook and I had asked him to remove her from his friends list. I knew he hadn’t but was overlooking it. I went downstairs and tried to start up his computer. For the first time ever there was a password on it.
Call it God, intuition, or witchcraft but I hacked the passwords on every email, social media, and chat room account he had. I found messages between the two of them that I could have published in a volume of erotica and made a mint on. I still have copies of those messages in case I ever need to further explain anything to anyone. Stuff that I had longed and begged to hear from him for years had all been given to her. One session even ended with, “Marye has wanted to hear this stuff from me for years but it all belonged to you.”
After four hours of reading that type of thing I lost it. I saw red. I took my laptop and I smacked him in the face with it – more than once. He scrambled out of bed and I continued to throw things at him. Anything within my reach was fair game. He cowered in the corner of the room trying to get pants on, half asleep, while I pelted him with objects, books, and words I hadn’t used since boot camp. Afterwards I told someone I was glad that there wasn’t a knife on my bedside table. I was truly unable to stop myself – I had been pushed that far.
Thank God he didn’t have me arrested. Thank God he has a hard head.
Get Off the Bus to Crazytown
Whether you are still married, or in the midst of a divorce, or trying to deal with him as a co-parent you need to realize that he will find every opportunity to manipulate circumstances to his own benefit. While most narcissists know how to stop before things get violent they do sometimes misjudge that point. Don’t assume you would be able to maintain control of yourself if that happens. I never thought I could want so much to kill another human being as I did that night.
If you find that you are continually pushed to that edge you need to get off that bus before something happens that will have lasting consequences. If you are in a marriage and feel yourself being pushed to that point get out. If you are in the midst or finished with a divorce then use an arbitrator to handle the necessary communication between the two of you.
Being pushed to the point of being out of control is not normal, it isn’t right, it isn’t your fault. It is, however, a sport that the narcissist enjoys immensely. Just refuse to play anymore. You’ll be amazed at the freedom it gives you.
Are you there? You aren’t the first one, and you aren’t crazy. Join First Wives World today to share your story and help yourself, as well as others, move into a place of healing.
*Lead Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons, Photographer Ben Fredericson