“I came home to a cute sign on the door that read in colourful letters, ‘Welcome Home Lovey’. It made me smile, but in the two hours she was home alone, she took out a couple of bags of garbage. None of the dishes were touched, and considering that the dishes were one of the things we were arguing about, it’s disheartening. I feel so disappointed and manipulated. Does she really think she is off the hook because she made me a cheesy sign? My anger around this is at a 7 or 8, but I have to let it go or endure another lengthy temper tantrum, and in the end she will still get her way. This is incredibly insulting. I live with another adult who has the domestic morality of a belligerent child.” (Journal entry, Jan 2016)
At the time I wrote that journal entry, S and I had been sharing a home for nearly two years, and I was responsible for all the house work, most of the cooking, yard work, shopping, cleaning, pet care and paying of bills. Initially it made sense to take on more of the domestic responsibilities because I work from home. But very soon, I was doing it all. When I asked for help, my requests were acknowledged, but were seldom complied with. If I persisted in asking, S would become moody and irritable for hours, and I quickly learned not to push things. It made me feel resentful, but I used her job and work stress to justify it to myself. “Besides”, I scolded myself, “you knew S had trouble keeping house.” Her domestic incompetence had seemed endearing when I first met her. Her vulnerability brought out my nurturing side.
Weekends were the worst. S would spend hours making elaborate, delicious meals for us, but Monday morning, I started my work week by cleaning up the mess she had left for me. S didn’t seem to care. She dropped her clothes on the floor and left used tissues and insulin needles everywhere. The garbage overflowed, and in the backyard dog poop piled up. Now in addition to feeling resentful I became depressed. It was hard to get myself motivated, and the constant mess made me feel chaotic and unstable. I proposed a joint Sunday evening clean-up to which S reluctantly agreed, after saying, “I thought I was getting more of a wife.” Excuse me? When we met S was a vocal and ardent feminist! I was shocked at what I was hearing.
Sunday evening clean-up never happened, but not because S didn’t know how to or was too stressed out from work. What did happen though is that I came across an excellent book about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and narcissistic abuse. It was an eye opener. I learned that folks with NPD see themselves as above mere ordinary mortals, and therefore aren’t obliged to participate in normal activities of daily living. Narcs don’t fall in love with you, they pick you for the things you will be able to do for them, and then love bomb you, until they’re sure they’ve got you. Once you’ve been hooked, the love bombing stops and the games begin. I’m sorry to tell it to you so bluntly, but there is no use in sugar coating it. If it helps, you’ve been chosen because you’re a nice, kind, caring and nurturing person. Narcs don’t clean or pick up after themselves because they feel they shouldn’t have to. They picked you to do all that boring, banal, but necessary stuff for them, so they don’t have to. And don’t hope for appreciation. There won’t be any, because it’s an expectation. I know, because when I decided I was done being the supporting cast in someone else’s story, I was quickly and unceremoniously discarded.
If you are feeling like you’ve gone from partner to slave, it’s because you have. No amount of discussing, processing, negotiating will change this. There are no good choices here. You can accept the unacceptable or take a stand, which most likely will mean the end of your relationship. You don’t have to make a choice today, but you do have to realize that being in a relationship with a narcissist, means things will never change. I hoped and tried until I couldn’t have tried anymore. When I finally walked away, “Welcome Home Lovey” was the last thing I saw. That, and a pile of dishes.