I have done a lot of good things for people in my life. But I have also realized that I have done some bad things, too, including some behaviors that definitely count as abusive.
If I want things to change, it has to start with me and that means facing the truth.
What my therapist said
I told my therapist what I had realized and she tried to help me rationalize what I did by reminding me that was a past version of me and that I showed no signs of narcissism now. While that temporarily made me feel better, it didn’t address the fact that I have engaged in some very abusive behaviors myself in the past.
It all started when I got a response to my article about how narcissistic mothers destroy families, which I’ve now taken down.
I realized that I was in many ways just as narcissistic as my late husband’s mother was. There’s an old saying that we unconsciously seek out partners like our parents were and we did. He filled the role I expected until he changed, too; I was confused (yet also unsurprised) by the lack of emotional support from partners and being ignored. I’m more ashamed than I can admit that I filled that role of being like his mother myself for most of the years that we were in Michigan.
But my husband…?
I loved him absolutely, even when I didn’t truly understand what love really was. In the last six years of his life, when he began to change, so did I.
I didn’t do as much as I wish I would have because I had given in to my disability, but I did regularly offer to help, which he usually turned down.
I know he didn’t feel like I had ruined his life because I remember one conversation we had near the end where I asked if he had any regrets about his life and he said that he had “a beautiful, loving wife, three great kids, and four mediocre cats.” (We now have fewer; the past 19 months have brought a lot of deaths into my life.)
Still, I am haunted by the years in which I didn’t do better and wasn’t a very good wife or mother. Even if that is behavior that is now long-past, I did a lot of damage to him and to my children. I’m reckoning with my own need to change even more than I already was.