“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” - Oscar Wilde
From the moment I found out I was pregnant with my son, I never made it a secret - NO EPIDURAL! I told my STBE, I told my doctor, I told the nurses, I'd tell total strangers in an elevator. I was dead serious about this. I knew I was being irrational, but there ARE side effects to these and I just really didn't want to risk suffering one of them. Fast forward to his day of birth. It was in a military hospital in Aurora, CO, Fitzsimons Army Medical Center. My water broke in the elevator after my seven month checkup and I was whisked into labor & delivery. I was doing great for the first few hours (the doctor had given me pitocin to get my labor going, due to the water breaking like that and me not being in labor at all) and we played Trivial Pursuit while I went through this. The doctors and nurses were telling me how amazing it was I was able to not only do that but win! The STBE started stewing. Where was HIS atta-boy? Where were the people to tell HIM how wonderful he was doing?
Then, my labor started getting serious and I was in a lot of pain. I'd made sure the doctor on duty, the obstetrician taking care of me, knew I didn't want an epidural, but I was really okay with morphine. (REALLY OKAY!) But, he went off duty and another doctor came on, a real asshole (probably an Aspie or Narcissist, too, since he felt HE knew better what was good for me than I, the patient). He kept demanding I get an epidural, in spite of the fact my records PLAINLY said I didn't want it. I kept refusing to sign the form and he kept getting angrier and angrier at me. So what'd he do? He went to my STBE and told him I was too doped up on morphine to make a clear decision about it so the STBE signed the form for me to get an epidural, knowing full good and well this went completely against my wishes! When I asked him later why he did that, he told me, "You were in so much pain I couldn't take it any more."
I'm sorry but... WHAT?
It was my labor & delivery but my STBE made it about him, even when it meant going against my medical wishes. For the duration of the rest of our marriage, I refused to give him my medical power of attorney and it infuriated him. He refused to accept he'd made such a fundamental error and violated my trust at it's most basic level, my trust that he would do what was right and best for me. I told a marriage counselor once I truly believed were I in the hospital and unable to make decisions for myself, he would order them to pull the plug, even if it wasn't warranted.
A few weeks after my youngest was born, I was exhausted. As easy as it was with my oldest son in his first few weeks, it was that difficult in the first few weeks of my youngest sons young life. My oldest son did everything as though he was following a set of rules in a textbook. He slept extremely well, he ate well, he reached every milestone pretty much on the day he was supposed to do so. But my youngest son, WOW! He slept two hours, was awake two hours, slept to hours, was awake two hours... He did this 24/7 and I was completely exhausted. My STBE slept through it all, every night, and though he did take leave when my youngest was born, he did nothing to help me get some sleep, demanding I take care of the baby because he was always "busy" with something else. (And this became a pattern with him throughout our life together)
By the time I was at my six-week postpartum check up, almost as soon as I walked in the door of the doctor's office, she could tell I was wiped out and why. Apparently, she'd seen more than one apathetic father. She sent me to the psychiatrist immediately because I was starting to show signs of psychosis from lack of sleep and was worried about me. I went to see the psychiatrist and told him everything, with my STBE sitting right there next to me. He prescribed me ONE halcyon and told my STBE he had a choice; he could take about three day's leave so I could sleep after taking the halcyon, he could do nothing and let me go on being sleep deprived to the extent it was dangerous, he could take care of the baby by himself while I was in the hospital for three days or he could answer to his commander as to just why he was being so abusive to his wife. My STBE chose to take leave. I slept the entire three days, with only brief wake-ups to eat or go to the bathroom.
At my follow up appointment with the psychiatrist, he was asking me if I'd gotten any sleep, how I was doing, how my son was sleeping, if the STBE was taking more of an active role in parenting, etc. After about five minutes of this, the STBE apparently couldn't take any more of the focus being on me and blurted out, "I've been thinking of killing myself!" From that point on, I was ignored. See, I wasn't thinking of killing myself so I didn't matter any longer.
And thus went the rest of my life with him and when my youngest was born, we'd only been married 19 months.
For years it went on like this, my being relegated to admiring fan, maid, cook, chauffeur, nanny and prostitute in his life. About three or four years ago, his oldest son came to spend Christmas with us bringing with him his wife and three kids. They're truly a lovely family and I adore them all so much, but the week or so they were here completely wiped me out and I ended up spending two days in bed in the midst of an RA flare up so bad I was running a fever and was incredibly sick. I'm going to guess my stepson and his wife saw what was going on because at the end of that two days, they'd cleaned the entire house and did all the cooking. See, what was going on was this - cooking and cleaning for eight people was rough on me. Every time I'd ask the STBE for help with anything at all, he'd swoop up one of the kids and say, "I'm with the grandbaby!" and walk away. He absolutely refused to help me with anything at all. I wasn't able to sleep for much more than three or four hours a night because of all the cleaning I had to do, including laundry that had somehow piled up in the laundry room and the STBE was peacefully sleeping each night while I did this. As the week wore on, I grew more and more resentful and I was angry. It completely ruined Christmas for me, which was probably his goal, since he hated any holiday and Christmas was a particular dislike of his, but more on that in another post.
However, a good illustrative part of our marriage was probably one you've seen in your marriage or relationship and this one will have you nodding in agreement - the circuitous arguing, somehow managing to make it all about them.
This particular point was made to me by our marriage counselor, who brought it up in a session with him. My guess is, he put up with it for as long as he could and finally began this particular session with this, "Mark, one thing I've noticed in all this is: when you share with Nancy something she's done that upsets you, she acknowledges it, restates it so you know she understands what it is you're saying, then has a discussion with you regarding how she can work to improve on that, thus reducing the chance of it happening again. However, when she shares with you something you do that upsets her, you respond with how that affects you and your feelings related to her concern. When do we address Nancy's concerns and feelings?"
Our "homework" related to that was that I would tell him a concern of mine, he was required to address what I'd said in the form of restating it and then he was to work with me on a solution that was JUST about my feelings. When he'd respond with his feelings about what I'd just said, how much it upset him to hear it and how it affected him, I was to say, "I understand you have feelings related to this, but before we get to those, can we please address mine and come to a resolution first?"
The STBE simply couldn't do it. He would sit there with his head in his hands, pace, stammer, you name it. I could almost see the wheels in his head turning, his eyes nearly spinning in his head. He simply couldn't address anyone's feelings but his own. The more I tried to keep him on point, the worse he got. It usually resulted in a blow up on his part, with him accusing me of being a selfish bitch with no consideration of anyone but myself. (This would be called "projection", something Aspies do this a great deal.)
Now, I can't say it was always like this. There was a time when I could go to the STBE with a concern of mine, he'd go on a rant about how I was such a thoughtless, selfish bitch, and then a couple of hours to a couple of days later, he'd come to me and apologize, telling me I was right and he'd work more on that. The rant part came to be called, "Mark the asshole". I used to beg him to bypass the asshole part of it and let us get to meaningful and healing discussion first. That was another thing he couldn't do, bypass the asshole part. If I had a nickel for every time he came back to me later to tell he finally thought about what I'd said and was ready to be more rational about it, I'd be a wealthy, wealthy person.
Another one of his "quirks" was he refused to listen to me when I talked. I would try to address with him a problem in our marriage and he would go off on one of his rambling speeches about it all. If I tried to interject anything into the conversation, he'd either talk over me or interrupt me until I'd just give up in frustration. I started saying to him, "Well, I wasn't done talking but, yeah, you're right, your thoughts and opinions are the only ones that matter." (And I'd only started doing this in the last couple of years or so...) He would call this "abusive" and it would send him into a tailspin, having him rushing to the internet to share with his fellow Aspies just how abusive I was. He'd do that for a couple days to a couple weeks, then he'd be okay until the next time.
We were never able to resolve any of our problems, not in 21 years, because he simply wasn't willing to take part in the give and take, the compromise, that goes along with being married to someone who wasn't exactly like him in every way, shape and form. I honestly think he WANTED to be able to do that, he just isn't able to. He's so married to the idea that he's the only one with anything worth saying, he simply can't grasp that there are other opinions and ideas that might actually work. Because of an Aspie's linear, black and white thinking, subtlety and nuance eludes them completely. With an Aspie, there's no such thing as a "suggestion". In addition, even were you to say outright, "I feel as though this might work..." they'll disagree with you without giving it any thought at all. I used to tell people all the time, "If you want my husband to do something for you, tell me, I'll ask him to do the opposite and it'll be done in record time."
Briefly - the circuitous arguing is part of this. What I'm talking about it your attempt to discuss something with your Aspie and they go round and round with you until they've brought you back to an argument you'd had a few days ago, a few weeks ago, even a few months ago. They manage to always bring it back to their hurt feelings, their feeling slighted, they're accusing you of "something" you'd LONG forgotten about, if you'd even done it at all. They will send you down so many rabbit holes in the argument until they've successfully gotten you off them and the discussion (to the point you're thinking to yourself, "I'd only told him I didn't like that he would toss my clean clothes on the bathroom floor. How did we get to the time I wrecked his car seven years ago, leaving him without a car for four days?") This circuitous arguing is a tactic of theirs to put you on the defensive, thus you find yourself defending yourself rather than talking about the issue you'd originally come to them with. You'll know it's happening when you suddenly realize you've gotten light years away from what the original discussion was about, if you can remember what it was you'd come to them with in the first place, and are having the same argument with them you'd had already, many times over. You'll also be incredibly confused at the end of it.
I guess to round this post out, to bring it down to the brass tacks of the Aspie and the future of your relationship with them is this: You will never matter to them. Not your thoughts, not your opinions, not your solutions, not the sound of your voice - nothing. They will always find a way to make it about them, no matter what the subject. By the time you realize this is going on, you're already well on your way to being an accessory to their life. You're the cook, the maid, the taxi/chauffeur to the kids, the personal assistant (pick up/drop off my dry cleaning, etc.), the prostitute (who doesn't get paid because, HEY, I MAKE MORE THAN YOU!) but in none of this will you EVER be an equal partner.
Update: I found a link that explains what life's been like with me. See, it was so hard to pin "Narcissist" on my STBE because he was always SO self deprecating, SO passive, SO full of, "I don't deserve this". Even when he was sick, we had to do this dance. The page's title is "The Covert Narcissist" and it explains my life to a T.
This past July, he told me at the end of the day his heart seemed to be giving him problems and that it had been going on ALL DAY! I won't go into the explanation here but he was having tachycardia and his blood pressure was through the roof. It took me two hours to convince him to go to the Emergency Room (it was a Sunday and even were it not, he waited to tell me until after any chance of seeing his primary care physician were out the window. For two hours, I'm telling him, "C'mon. Let's get you to the ER." He would always respond with something along the lines of, "I'll be fine. It's no big deal. We all have to die sometime." You get the point.
What finally got him there was me sitting on the bathroom floor, crying, begging him to go, saying things like, "You're SO important to the family! We LOVE you! We NEED you!" More crying, more begging.
And THIS was the game to him. He was putting me in the position of being his ego. He didn't need an ego or self-esteem himself (and he DOES suffer from extremely low self-esteem) because he was able to manipulate ME into doing it for him. This was the first time I'd realized this dance we'd been doing for over two decades. After this, I stopped doing it.
He would tell me he was having a tachycardia problem and I'd say, "Perhaps you should call Dr. Coghlan and see if you can get in today?"
He'd then kick into his, "Oh, I'll be fine. I'm 53 and this is to be expected at my age. We all have to die sometime. When your number's up, your number's up."
I started responding with, "Okay. You're an adult and it's your choice." I'd then go on with my day.
This must have infuriated him because I found notes and memos of his that showed this is when he started planning to divorce me. In preparation for moving, I've been packing and cleaning out closets. I've found SO many notes he made to himself, all entitled, "Reasons to hate Nancy".
Each one of them was the same, same line items, same reasons, but occasionally he'd add a new one to the list. Number 1 was always the same, though, always in large block letters - NEVER FORGET REASONS TO DIVORCE NANCY! (I also found a journal of his that he must have forgotten about. It took me nearly a month to read it all because it was filled with some sick, sick stuff. I always wondered why he and his sister seemed to have this bizarre, co-dependent relationship. Now I know why, and it's not good at all.)
Oh, and something else I found in all the paperwork in the closet? Copies of his medical records. In these medical records was proof he'd been having this "heart problem" since 1998, not long before he retired from the Air Force. Just as he'd never told me of his diagnosis early in our marriage of his Bipolar Disorder, he didn't tell me he had a heart issue.
Why was it such a big deal now? Because I'd been making plans to leave him. I'd seen an attorney. I'd started hiding money. I'd started telling a couple of close friends I thought I'd reached the end of my time with him. I started making plans to move back home. How did he know all this? He had a keystroke logger on my laptop.
He needed me to stay, not because he didn't want a divorce but because HE wanted to leave ME! So he finally pulled this rabbit out of his hat, the rabbit that had been sitting there, festering, waiting to be pulled out for just such an occasion. He needed to stall me and he knew, with me being an empathetic and caring person, that I'd stay if he fell ill and needed taking care of.
Narcissists need to be the one to leave. Always. To them, it's the ultimate in "Winning". To leave a narcissist is the ultimate narcissistic injury, in their mind. Doing this will subject you to all sorts of abuse you never dreamed imaginable.
Leaving any marriage is never easy. Leaving a narcissist is down-right impossible.