One of the hardest questions you ask yourself when you are standing in the rubble of your narcissistic relationship is, But did he ever love me?
It’s normal to want to attach some sort of significance for the past several years of your life, no matter whether it’s two years or twenty. I think the most horrible feeling in the world is believing that there was no benefit, no reason, and no importance in the time you invested in your relationship. It was a hard thing for me to get past. My ex posted on a public webpage that I was the biggest mistake of his life. I have to be honest – it was a knife in the gut and kicked up a lot of issues. I am adopted, the unwanted and unplanned result of unsupervised teenagers.
It wasn’t the first time I was considered the biggest mistake of someone’s life.
Did He Ever Love Me?
It’s important to understand exactly what love is to a narcissist in order to answer this question. A narcissist craves attention, adoration, and affirmation. He will do anything to get those things. In the beginning he gives you gifts, he says sweet things, he seems to know exactly what to do and say to make your heart beat faster.
What you don’t understand is that he is addicted to that feeling of conquering the prey. It usually doesn’t take very long after you are committed for him to begin to lose interest. The thing I noticed first was that he wasn’t open to me – the level of intimacy just wasn’t there. We didn’t talk about deep things, feelings, fears, hopes, or dreams. I thought it was just that he was very much an introvert, but the truth was there really wasn’t anything there.
So, the question of whether or not he ever loved me is a tough one. If we’re talking about in the way that I wanted him to, the way that I needed him to, and the way that I deserved from him, then the answer is no. He never understood the need to put someone else’s needs above his own. The kids could wear shoes that were so small that their feet hurt terribly, but he couldn’t afford to replace them because he needed to buy a custom-made shirt or a designer tie. Nurturing love isn’t in the program.
If you are talking about the same kind of love that some of us have for chocolate, then he absolutely loved me. As long as I made him feel good everything was fine. Even later, when I was a convenience that allowed him to have meals cooked and available, his house clean, and his children well behaved and taken care of there was a contentment with me… as long as I didn’t create waves.
Did I Waste My Life?
I invested thirty years in my first marriage. I was married just before my 20th birthday and divorced just before my 50th birthday.
During those 30 years I had eight children. I had my thyroid gland removed because of multiple tumors, some of which were pre-cancerous. The result of a faulty thyroid is weight gain and I went from a size 4/6 to a size 12/14. My skin aged and my energy level dropped.
One of my biggest sources of anger at the ex was the fact that he had me at my best, my thinnest, my loveliest, and my most energetic. That translate in my heart as the thought that he has me at my most valuable. I felt that I was bringing very little of value into my second marriage. I was working so I wasn’t the kind of wife that I had been before. I have neither the energy nor the time to create the types of meals and home baked goodies that I used to. The house was clean and organized, the laundry done up, and the gardening done.
Since I have strong ideas about how my husband should be treated when I found myself unable to do those things I felt very worthless. I mourned that the ex had gotten what my current husband deserved. Eventually I realized that I was discounting a lot of things.
My children certainly weren’t part of a wasted life. They are my pride and joy and anything and everything I went through was worth it in light of the fact that they were a result of those years. If I didn’t do another thing they were enough to make those years irreplaceable.
I found faith. I did not grow up in a Christian home and I began to attend church during my first marriage. As things got more difficult and stressful I learned to lean on that faith and my spiritual beliefs to get me through everything from home foreclosures to extended periods of time when he was unemployed. That was also a valuable result of those years.
Do I Have Anything Left to Offer Someone Else?
Coming out of that relationship I was pretty burned out on anything to do with loving another person. I felt that I could never trust another person again. I did not want anyone to tell me what to do or how to live my life. I didn’t want to trust anyone else with my money, my emotions, or my heart. Most of all I didn’t feel I could trust anyone to take care of me in the way I desperately wanted to be taken care of.
Because of those walls I didn’t think I had anything to offer anyone else. I loved the idea of a committed, forever relationship but I was scared and I knew fear would make me fierce. Fierceness is not one of those things most men look for in a mate.
I did meet a man that was willing to lavish love and care on my while I healed. He opened himself completely to me while I hid behind my walls. In some ways I was doing to him emotionally what the narcissist had done to me. He shared finances, took over bills, and was totally upfront and honest while I held back. It took some time, but I have finally been able to break through those walls and embrace this relationship wholeheartedly.
I finally was able to see what I have to offer to him and he helped me find my value.
I am a different person. No one is perfect and I am certainly not. I learned how to be married in my first marriage. I learned how to set boundaries, I learned how to express my needs, I learned how to step back and let someone else do things their way even when I didn’t agree. I learned how to affirm, encourage, and support someone else’s choices.
I am by nature a nurturing person. I like taking care of other people. My husband enjoys the times I am able to bless him in some way that makes him feel loved and cared for. I have to say it is very cool to have someone reciprocate that nurturing.
I have a huge capacity for love, I am loyal, and I am dependable. Those are important things that I bring to my relationship. You have value and there are great things you have to offer relationships whether they are romantic, business, or friendships. Make a list of the valuable things you’ve brought with you from your narcissistic relationship. When you are able to see the value in the time you invested you won’t wonder so much about whether or not he ever loved you.
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Lead Image Courtesy of Flickr's Creative Commons, User: geezaweezer