Narcissistic Abuse and Your Perspective
When you change your perspective, everything changes!!
I am realizing more and more how true this statement is. Your perspective is everything.
Your perspective tells you:
- Whether something is a big deal or not
- Whether you should be offended by something or not
- Whether something is your fault or not
- Whether something needs to change or not
- Whether another person is good or not
- Whether you should agree with someone or not
- Whether you should worry about something or not
- Whether life is amazing or not
The people in your life will certainly affect your perspective. A close friend may make a huge deal out of someone’s behavior and talk about how bad it is over and over. At first you might not have thought the person’s behavior was a big deal, but over time you find yourself agreeing with your friend. Maybe you agree with them just to get them to stop talking about it, but in your mind you are probably now questioning that other person’s behavior some too.
In looking back over all the years of my marriage, my husband greatly affected my perspective. Of course, at the time, I didn’t realize it. I absorbed so much of his perspective on things and played a huge part in HIS drama. His drama became my drama. Let me give you some very specific examples.
Subtle Shifts in Perspective
Very early in our marriage, we were on vacation with my family. One morning, I told him that he had toothpaste on the corner of his mouth. He blew up at me like I had just attacked him. I was totally shocked! This was the very first time I ever saw this behavior from him. Later that day, when he “apologized” to me, he told me that I need to talk nicer to him. All I had done was said, “Honey, you’ve got toothpaste on your mouth.” I said it like I would to anyone, and it should have been no big deal. But instead of recognizing the craziness of perspective, I started self-reflecting. I wondered if I had been mean in the way I talked, and I decided to pay closer attention to this. The seed was laid for me to start doubting my normal, daily interactions.
Another time, much later in our marriage, I pulled into the garage. The space was very tight. He had changed how he was parking, and his car was too far over on my side. He happened to come out to the garage just as I was squeezing out of my door. So I simply asked, “Hey Babe, can you start scooting over a little more in the garage?” You would have thought the world had ended because of this one simple question. He stormed off and threw a tantrum in the backyard for 10 minutes. When he came in, he told me that I had really hurt him. Truly not knowing how, I asked him what I had done that was so bad. He said that I hurt him by not greeting him first and that I should always say hi before making a demand. A demand? I had asked my own husband a simple request. Again, instead of recognizing the absurdity of this, I concluded that he was probably right. I should be more sensitive. I actually felt bad and apologized to him for being rude.
My JOB, or is it?
He once told me that it was my job to keep a good relationship between him and his boys. I internalized this and accepted his reality. This was my job, and I took it very seriously. It was important. I took it upon myself to come up with things for him to do with them. Not only that, but then I also had to participate too just to help it stay peaceful and happy. I realize now that this was crazy! He was the one who should have built a relationship with his boys. Not only is it his place to do that, but it also isn’t possible for a third party to build a relationship between two others. It just doesn’t work that way. The results of all my efforts was that I ended up with a great relationship with our boys and he definitely didn’t. And of course, to this day, he still blames that on me.
He used to complain to me that we were leaving him out of our activities, such as throwing a football in the backyard or playing games in the living room. So what did I do? I accepted his perspective and made sure each time that I gave him a personal invitation to join us. These activities with the boys were spontaneous. And what was my husband always doing? He was in his office or bedroom playing video games and watching movies. Yet it was my job to make sure he was included. Then when he would join us, he would quickly fuss about something, only play for a few minutes, and go back to his games and movies.
One last example. We used to go out to church events with our friend group. While there, I took it upon myself to make sure that he had a good time. No he didn’t demand this of me like the other examples, but I knew that if he didn’t have a good time, the evening would be a disaster. So in my perspective, it was worth the price. The entire evening, my mind and energy would be focused on him. To show how extreme this was, there were times that he was trying to talk and no one was listening. He was starting to get mad about it. I spoke up, stopped the group, and actually said, “Hang on, he’s got something to say.” Over time, I realized that I was definitely not enjoying our group activities.
Not My Responsibility
It took me a long time to realize how off my perspective had become. I worked overtime to keep him happy and still was failing. This was crazy! Yes he was my husband, but I am not responsible for him, his actions and choices. I am not responsible for his relationship with others or his happiness. He was a grown man. He was responsible for himself!
Don’t accept someone else’s drama just because they try to dump it on you. Don’t feel obligated or guilty. You can’t fix their life for them. And just because they say something is a big deal does not mean that it is. Just because they say that something is your fault does not mean that it is. Just because they are unhappy does not mean that it is your fault or your job to fix.
All that energy you are pouring into their emotions, pour it into your own instead. All the effort you are giving towards their happiness, give it yourself instead. You are responsible only for you!