Narcissists take NO personal responsibility
Do you ever wonder why you find yourself carrying all the responsibility in your relationship? Do you find yourself listening to excuse after excuse for his or her bad behavior? Are you tired of hearing why it’s okay THIS time?
Excuses pile up -
I had a bad childhood.
My parents argued a lot.
I’m tired today.
I have a stressful job.
I have a headache.
If there is ALWAYS a reason for being a callous jerk, then you might consider that he or she is just a callous jerk. I accepted excuse after excuse for years, until I finally realized that there is ALWAYS a reason. He always had an explanation why “this time” it was okay for him to be harsh, cold and callous.
In reality, he had become incredibly good at making excuses and convincing me that these were legitimate reasons. It was such an easy way for him to take no responsibility for the way he was treating me and the boys. This way he never needed to put any effort into being nice to us. He could treat us any way he pleased, and it never mattered.
Here are some real examples from my relationship with him. Some are blatantly obvious, while others are more subtle and hidden. As a covert narc, my husband used more of the subtle approach than the outright obvious. It took me years to really see what was going on and why I felt the way I did. For the ease of telling the stories, I am going to call him “Steve.” This is not his real name.
Outside playing football with our boys
Steve and our oldest son, a young teenager, were on one end of the yard, fighting for the football. I threw it to them. In the collision for the ball, our son’s elbow hit his elbow. Steve sharply yelled, “Ow!” He turned away from our son and stormed off. All the way across the yard, our son was following behind him saying, “Dad, are you okay? I’m sorry. It was an accident.” With desperation in his voice, he was begging his dad to answer him. Never turning around or acknowledging him, Steve coldly stormed into the house. I encouraged the boys to continue playing football, assuring our son that it was okay.
In a few minutes, I went into the house to check on him and talk with him. He was sitting with an ice pack on his “so clearly injured arm.” After confirming that he was in fact okay, I tried to talk with him about how he left our son feeling. Yet all Steve could focus on was that he was the one that was injured. The attitude was “Since I am the one that is hurt, I don’t see what the problem is.” I guess because he was injured, he could treat everyone however he chose.
This type scenario happened constantly through our married life together. If he is injured, watch out world. The injury erases all need for being responsible for his behavior to others.
Bumping our son in kitchen
Our oldest son had recently had surgery on his ankle. He was in a boot and just beginning to get mobile. His ankle was still extremely sore. One evening, the four of us were in the kitchen fixing our dinner plates. Our kitchen is fairly spacious. Yet, as with every kitchen in existence, we were all in each other’s way. As we have a million times, we were maneuvering around each other and getting our food and stuff. Steve accidentally bumped into our son, who because of this made a quick adjustment in his balance. He reacted in pain, as his ankle objected to the sudden movement.
Any healthy and compassionate parent would be quick to say something like, “Oh, I’m sorry. Are you okay?” Accidents happen. It’s part of life. But not Steve. No, my husband walked on by him and said nothing! Our son stood there for a few minutes in obvious pain. I spoke up, asking him if he was okay. He said, “Yes, but my ankle definitely isn’t ready for quick movements.” At this point, Steve spoke up. He said that he doesn’t understand why the designer of our kitchen did such a poor job laying it out. He said that the designer created it in such a way that there are congestion points where people run into each other and that he ought to have done a better job. He then took his plate and went in the other room. Nothing else was said. WHAT!! My son and I just stood there staring at each other in complete disbelief. Did he really just blame that on the designer of the kitchen??
Driving recording device
Steve worked for an auto insurance company. His company was testing tracking devices for vehicles. You put this device into your vehicle. It records your moves as a driver, including speed, acceleration, stopping, etc. It even rates you on safety as a drive. My husband is an aggressive driver. He speeds up abruptly and stops abruptly. He turns corners sharply and on the gas pedal. He often makes his passengers quite carsick. After having this recording device in his car for awhile, he had a conversation with our son. He told our son that the device had given him a poor score. Mostly it had fussed at him for speeding up aggressively and stopping aggressively. He told our son that clearly the devices aren’t working properly yet and that he would have to report to the company that they needed to work out more of the kinks. It just isn’t possible that he actually might be an aggressive driver.
Hitting the curb
Steve aggressively hit the curb in the boy’s school parking lot one evening. It was just a curb between two lanes of parking spaces. No big deal, but, with his aggressive driving, he did hit that curb rather hard. His immediate response was, “I haven’t done that in a long time. I used to do it in the van, but not in MY car. Clearly I haven’t driven in this lot in a while.” He can’t just say, “Oh, sorry, I didn’t see it,” or “Ooops. Sorry about that.” Or whatever. He always has to blame it on something.
His relationship with the boys was my responsibility
This was a biggie! Early in our boys’ lives, I tried so hard to help Steve build a relationship with them. I always came up with activities for them to do. I would fill him in on what was going on in their lives and how they were doing. He remained incredibly addicted to gaming through all of their childhood. I used to rack my brain to come up with something he could do with them. I would go into his office and suggest it. I then would cheerfully encourage the boys to participate, and I would set the entire thing up for them. When the boys were young, it didn’t take much effort to get them to participate and engage. However, as they got older and wiser, this became extremely difficult!
So I quit doing it. I quit going in his office and asking him to come do something with us. I quit coming up with activities for him and the boys. I simply quit.
Quite predictably, his relationship with his boys completely deteriorated. However, I took the blame. He told me that it was my job to keep him in the his boys’ lives. He told me that he sacrificed having a relationship with them because he has a full-time job so we could have money. He said that he knew he was making that sacrifice coming into this marriage and that I was his only way of having a relationship with them. That this was MY job. He tried hard to lay all the blame on me, but I refused to take it. Many people work full-time jobs and yet have wonderful relationships with their family members. He puts no effort into truly building a relationship with them and blames that on me and on his job and anything else he can think of. Never on himself!
I have tried for years to explain to Steve how much his harshness and callousness hurts me and our boys. He does not get it. He does not see it, and he never will. I never dreamed that someone could be this oblivious to the pain they cause in others. Either he is truly blind, in denial, or flat-out lying. It doesn’t really matter which one, because they are all horrible.
After we were married almost 15 years, Steve explained to me that it was my fault that this was happening because I haven’t called him out on his negativity. He explained to me that he can’t fix something if he doesn’t know what he is doing that is so bad. Funny thing, though, I have called him out on it so many times and in so many ways. I have tried speaking up at the time of the offense, waiting till later in the day when things are calmer, and even waiting a few days till everything had settled. I have tried everything from nicely explaining to firmly getting in his face. Nothing ever works!! Yet he still claims that it is my job to point it out to him.
The last time I tried talking with him about it, he asked if we could create a code word. He wanted to make a code word that I would say anytime I heard him being too harsh. His reason was so that then he could become aware of it. I told him NO. Creating a code word, yet again, just keeps the responsibility on me and off of him. It makes it my job. NO! It isn’t my job to teach you how to talk nicely to your family.
So something to consider here -
If you are always getting a reason why he or she is being cold and harsh, you reach a point where you have to wonder if that is just who they are. There simply can’t ALWAYS be a reason why you should be callous and abusive. At some point, it’s just who you are!