Do you remember the Mad Hatter’s tea party from Alice in Wonderland? I prefer the book to the movies but that scene tends to remain the same whether you’re reading or watching a movie. There wasn’t one thing that happened that made sense. Alice asked if she could sit down and was told there wasn’t any room even though there were only three guests at the table. She was offered wine even though there was only tea – but most of all every word she said was twisted or refuted by the Mad Hatter. He would say something totally nonsensical and expect her to agree. When she didn’t he diminished her logic with his illogical tirade of chatter until she didn’t know what she really thought anymore.
A relationship with a narcissist is exactly like living at the Mad Hatter’s tea table. Looking back it seems like a long LSD trip where I spent my time trying to figure out where the lines are between reality and his fantasy actually were.
A Narc Protects His Story
I don’t know how they keep up with all of the details of their stories but they do – what’s more, they will do anything to maintain the story as fact.
One of the most difficult areas of my first marriage was finances and it was a problem from day one. We had agreed that I would be a stay at home mom and do whatever was necessary to keep our home going. I sewed custom dress shirts for him, learned to make dinner out of almost nothing, and kept the kids clothed. I was good with money and was willing to give up whatever I was needed to reach the goal of a strong family.
My ex was less financially responsible. How many people with a salary of under 25,000.00 sign their names with a $300.00 Mont Blanc pen? How many in that salary range wear a Longines watch? How many have several luxury brand watches in their drawer at home?
There was always a story about how he got the watch for free or how it was deeply discounted. In the beginning I did not check up on his stories unless they were much too crazy to be believable. Later on I learned that I had to check up on everything he said so I could know for certain whether he was lying or not. It almost became a game. He tried to get away with as much as possible and I tried to uncover as many lies as possible.
Once he had bought some things that we did not have money for. Wow, I can’t believe I used the word “once” there. It was more like thousands of times.
Anyway, he’d bought something and told me that he’d purchased it with the money from something he’d sold on eBay. The thing is my lie-radar was on high alert and I could not find anything sold on eBay when I checked. I mentioned that I would drive up with him to pick it up.
He immediately left the table and made a phone call. I was really suspicious. Long story short he had asked the company to lie for him when we came in to pick up the merchandise. It wasn’t the first or last time that happened.
Each time he told the people that he needed them to lie for him because he had a crazy wife. He neglected to tell them why she was crazy.
Check, Check, and Recheck
In the years that I was married to him I considered changing my name to Nancy Drew. I got really good at finding information. I have to admit that I got personal satisfaction when I brought one of his lies to the light.
Once our divorce was final and he was out of state he began rewriting the facts in our marriage and divorce. It was more convenient to say that he and his girlfriend had gotten together after our relationship was over. It was more convenient to say that our relationship was on the rocks when in actuality it was stronger than it had been in long time and we had recently been released from marriage counseling with a lot of hope. It was more convenient to tell people that I had been critical and he couldn’t thrive under my criticism than to tell them about the private blog I wrote in daily journaling my love for him, my commitment to him, and my admiration of him. It helped me focus on the positive. The truth is easy enough to prove, of course. I am a writer. I save everything.
It’s nearly always more convenient for the narcissist to lie rather than tell the truth and for some reason people readily believe what he says. Eventually they will be served the same treatment and may even come back and apologize to you about being deceived. I have had at least five people who thought I was crazy, bitter, or a liar come back and apologize. I found that I had to apologize to one of his old employers when I heard the “other side” of my ex’s work experience from a couple of his co-workers.
Back to Reality
My point is that no matter what he says, how much he lies about when they got together, and how much he tells people how horrid I was I can look at the records I have saved and read them. If I choose to I can prove to myself and anyone else that cares that he is lying.
It can be really hard to not accept the blame for what went wrong. I hate that my ex-in-laws believe things that are just not true about me. It shouldn’t bother me but it does.
It’s time for you to come back to reality, too. You really do know what the truth is no matter what he says. A narcissist must diminish everyone else that threatens to push him off his self-proclaimed throne. Life is a big game of King of the Hill where you win by the sheer number of people you can deceive. Just keep telling the truth. Actions speak louder than words and eventually he will be unable to hide behind his lies.
Eventually, the truth will come out. Always take the high road and let him hang himself on his lies. Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons, User: All Kinds of New
How to Fight Back
I’ve found that the more I refute his lies the bigger problem it turns into with others. Over the past several months I have come to the realization that if I ignore him then eventually the truth is obvious. It always comes to light but I have to be patient and allow it to happen. That’s not always easy.
Here are some things I have learned:
- Be careful what you say on Facebook. It just makes you look bitter. At the very beginning we both posted nastiness but I was encouraged by several people to take the high road. I am glad I did. What makes me laugh is that I am still being accused of saying icky things on social media and probably always will be.
- Do as much communicating through a third party as possible. If that’s not possible email is the next best thing. Try to avoid personal contact as much as you can.
- Get everything in writing!
- Go to counseling. It’s good to have someone you can be completely honest with who will affirm you and what you’ve been through. My doctor put me on depression medication for a while and in order to get it at the VA hospital you have to go through periodic counseling and follow up. The first time the counselor looked at me and spoke words like CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), trauma, and narcissistic abuse I was floored. I had never associated my struggles with those things. It was life changing.
- Reinvent yourself. Figure out who you are now, who you want to be in the future, and how you are going to get there. You haven’t been allowed to have normal likes and dislikes for so long you’ll need to try a lot of things to see what works. You’ve been through too many experiences to just go back to being who you were before the narcissist showed up.
- Be good to yourself without hurting others. I need time alone to recharge. I am a serious introvert and a writer so that down time helps me to totally relax. With a large family it can be difficult to get those minutes alone but I have learned to lovingly but firmly insist.
- Create healthy boundaries in your life and defend them. I was afraid if I had boundaries my new husband would knock them down or leave me. He did neither. It’s interesting to note that healthy people respect boundaries. Who knew?
You Will Be Vindicated
I know it seems like he will always win, there will never be consequences, and you will always look like the crazy ex-wife but that isn’t true. Focus on the good changes that are happening in your life. Take inventory of where you are and where you are headed. Make any adjustments that you need to make. You see, when you are focusing on living your life to the fullest you don’t have as much time to worry about what other people think – and that, my friend, is true freedom.
Eventually, he’ll be found out and he’ll have to either face up to his lies or move on and start over again. Either way it’s not your problem.
It helps to know that you aren’t the only one. Join First Wives World today to talk to others who’ve been right where you are now.
Lead Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons, User: Photopin