What happens when the rose-colored glasses break


This word was introduced into our relationship very early on. He told me his last ex-girlfriend was a narcissist.

I thought we shared some common ground on this topic. I told him I suspected my ex-husband might have been a narcissist. I hadn’t even heard the word until many years after my divorce. As the word gained attention a lot of the descriptions made a lot of sense. The grandiosity. The love-bombing. The outrageous stories. The pathological lying. The mood swings. The projecting. The twisted sense of reality. The accusations of things I later learned he was actually doing. The triangulation. The rumors he spread about me (and others) – in an effort to turn people against me. The fits of rage. The holes in walls. The messes. The cheating. The controlling. Hours spent hiding from him and crying. The constant fear. The gaslighting. The fact that even to this day I have no idea what was true and what wasn’t.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but he had no such similar experiences to share. He simply claimed that their couples counselor told him she was a narcissist and to run. He complained a lot about her son. He said her son’s bedroom was a mess. That it smelled and he ruined the carpet. That instead of making her son do his chores, she would cover for him – get up early and do his chores for him so he wouldn’t get in trouble. He claimed she said hurtful things to him. Things like she didn’t “need” him. He complained about her girlfriends and how much time she spent with them – especially the best friend that didn’t like him. He claimed he took her son in as his own and helped her through some legal issues with her (abusive) ex. (I later learned that he got in contact with her ex and promised to help him gain custody of her son.) He bragged about throwing her out of his house. From what I understand, when they broke up she moved out and that was the end of that.

At first I believed the things he said about her. But as time went on things just weren’t adding up. She disappeared so quietly and just moved on with her life. If she was a narcissist, where was the grandiosity? The obsession with her image? The love-bombing? The hoovering? The smear campaign? The cheating? The controlling?

He clearly held a lot of bitterness towards her but I couldn’t really figure out why. Some of the things he said about her seemed exaggerated or blown out of proportion. Then I started noticing similarities between the way he talked about her and her son and the way he talked TO me and my daughter. It started to look a lot like he simply has a problem with other women’s children. The issue of chores, for example. My daughter was responsible for MOST of the cleaning in the house. No matter how hard she worked, she could never do anything right in his eyes. The rules he placed for her (and me) did not apply to himself or his son. I found myself keeping a log and taking before and after pictures to prove that she had done her chores. I couldn’t help but notice that the things he was saying about his ex’s son were very similar to the accusations he was making about my daughter.

I started realizing he was also this way with his “own” daughter – who is not biologically his. The expectations he set for her were much higher than the ones he set for his biological son. The way he spoke about her at times was appalling. Very little of what she did went unnoticed and the repercussions were often harsh. In contrast, his son is mostly free to do as he pleases. Things like ignored chores or wild parties when dad is away were generally overlooked.

His ex-girlfriend was the first person I heard him call a narcissist. He also implied that her son was one (he was a young child). In the early months of our relationship he started suggesting that my daughter was a narcissist. A few months later he graduated to calling me that as well (among many other things). Fast forward a year or so to a conversation I had with his daughter. She informed me, without any knowledge of my story, that he had called both her and her mom narcissists.

So who really is the narcissist in this story? How can it be that almost every woman in this man’s life is a narcissist? AND her children?? This leads me back to the story of the counselor calling the ex-girlfriend a narcissist. Is that really how that went down? What is the ex’s side of the story? Could it be that the counselor was actually warning the girlfriend of his narcissistic traits?

I wish I could ask her.

Is this woman really who he says she is? Or is she actually a survivor who managed to escape before too much damage was done?

One thing I do know: she is a strong woman and I am proud of her.