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The Awakening - Please help

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The Awakening - Please help

Postby giacomonr » Fri Aug 10, 2018 4:05 pm

5 days ago I had just been awakened to the fact that I have narcissistic personality disorder. My wife kept repeating the bad things I've done to her in detail over and over again. I went from not remembering, to remembering them differently (as her fault), to realizing I was wrong. My whole world crashed all at once and learned of my disorder. How could I have been so blind??

I want to change. Being aware, I've immediately changed some behaviors. I'm working on being kind and considerate and not losing my temper. I have therapy scheduled.

My wife is staying married but moving to an apartment to get back to the things she use to love doing. She wants to have family day's every Saturday and Date nights while we each work on our issues.

She carried my burden for 10 years after all I have done to her and is still giving me a chance to change. I married an absolutely amazing kind woman who provided me with the bets kind of love I would ever know but I took it for granted and didn't appreciate any of it. Now I'm looking at the life we could have had together and how I could have helped her through her problems.

I am sincere in never wanting to hurt her again and doing whatever it takes to make myself better. I want a chance to dedicate my life in making her happy and always consider her needs over mine.

My question to people on this board. Is it possible or will I continue to hurt her. I love her unconditionally and don't want to hurt her. Is it possible for me to change my behavior, show empathy and make her happy?? If not, I want to ask my therapist to help me be able to let her go.
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Re: The Awakening - Please help

Postby Akuma » Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:06 am

First of all get an actual diagnosis and on the basis of that decide which type of therapy you want to do, as different types of changes take different approaches, different amounts of time, dedication and have different pitfalls coming with them. For example if you actually have NPD usually in pwNPD cognitive empathy isnt impaired, so becoming more empathetic is [basically just] a matter of training. On the other hand side those viewpoint-changes that amount to splitting/dissociating defense mechanisms cant just be unlearned and take a longer time to get rid of with more depth-oriented therapy methods as those are pretty much out of your reach when it comes to controlling them.
Ultimately your ability to progress in therapy has many factors but one main factor is if you can keep up the willpower to keep going. When I look at the five years between your "awakening" and scheduling therapy, I would say this might become an issue.
dx: dissociative disorder + npd
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Re: The Awakening - Please help

Postby Cassandre » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:58 am

"Empathy" is considered a mix of cognitive and emotional empathy. It's a lot like stereoscopic vision, right eye plus left eye gives depth to the vision. We don't get the 3d effect of people by exclusively relying on one to the detriment of the other.

It looks like a common Cluster B people thing though, who can overestimate their ability to logic away their feelings, moreso ASPD, SPD & NPD.

giacomonr wrote:I want a chance to dedicate my life in making her happy and always consider her needs over mine.


Considering her needs equally important as yours is more than enough.

A way to answer whether narcissism is holding you back is asking yourself if you ever feel grandiose? To the point of falling flat on your face?

If not it could be a number of other issues... People can be narcissistic without narcissism being a core issue, that's why diagnosis matters.

Good luck!
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Re: The Awakening - Please help

Postby Chemuel » Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:44 am

As above, get diagnosed. Also, be careful picking a therapist. A good narc is quite capable of screwing over an inexperienced mental health professional and in turn themselves. For me, only those that did not feed my emotional neediness could actually do something. Instincual aversion I found to be a good indicator.

Also, in my experience those who are or will be close to You need to be involved in a way. Obviously the most important thing is to work on Your own issues, but those around need the knowledge and tools to deal with Your shenanigans. Therapy or not, it'll be a long road till You can "manage" Yourself instead of just finding new methods and outlets to do the same to others. They need to be equipped to handle that.

My experience. Have not been married for ten years but been in a stable and communicative relationship for five years post diagnosis and we are slowly learning to hurt each other less and less.
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Re: The Awakening - Please help

Postby giacomonr » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:02 pm

Thanks for the reply's

It may be possible I'm not NPD at all. I know i have empathy, just have not showed it toward my wife in a long time. She has been suffering from depression for many years. I tried at first then eventually gave up frustrated with the drinking and completely dismissed any of her suffering. the past couple weeks have been high stress, little eating, and very little sleep. For 8 years my wife has been telling me I'm a narcissist and I have zero empty and last week I believed it to be true. Today however I've got a good night sleep, cleared my mind, and a fried reminded me of my empathy. When my friends sister died I saw the pain in her fathers eyes and cried. When my friends mom died and he read the eulogy I cried. Stories in the news of parents losing their children make me teary-eyed. It seems i have empathy toward everyone but her these days. Would a narcissist or NPD have NO empathy toward other people or could the lack be targeted to an individual? I'm very confused here. I see an experienced therapist for the first time next week so hopefully I'll find some answers.
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Re: The Awakening - Please help

Postby Chemuel » Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:36 pm

Obviously Your best bet is to talk things through honestly with said therapist, they will give You some needed answers on what is going on with You and how possible mental problems may show themselves.
I only share from my own experience and what I have learned about myself through consulting with professionals and eating books, but maybe some of that can give You a hint.

I, too, can cry, and I, too, have a strong sense of empathy - narcs are not psychopaths (usually?). Often, narcissism is a protective measure taken by the psyche to prevent someone who is rather sensitive from shutting down completely due to childhood trauma (which can range from abuse and loss to something as innocuous as parents who are unable to express their emotions). Meaning the child is still there, can still feel, and can still pick up on others' feelings. In fact, once discovered, it often turns into a tool for reading people so I have a better handle over them. I tend to experience grief in unexpected situations, when I am rather relaxed and alone. This will be different for everyone, but long story short, empathy is mostly a developed ability. What the narc does with it, is the identifying factor. I show zero empathy with stuff I consider beneath me - someone's cat died? Hand me the bacon, the pig was about as smart as the feline companion. Someone has trouble with their marriage? Well, probably did this and this and this wrong and therefore does not deserve empathy. The ability to feel with someone fails at the wall I put around myself like a filter. If someone suffers from something I consider justified, I can, at times, feel with them.
It's one reason why mental health is such a difficult problem. There are no easy answers or indicators. Someone has to really look at all the information at once, experience Your presence and understand the make-up of Your psyche to diagnose anything. And self-diagnosis almost never works as it warps perception around the actual issues.

Not feeling for Your wife may or may not have other reasons. You say there is a history of substance abuse in Your home and addiction, codependence and narcissism tend to find each other every time. It may be that Your entire situation only developed out of an unhealthy connection between Your narcissism and her dependency issues. It may well be You just shut down because living with an addict is pure psychological terror and You are not afflicted by NPD.

Anyway, if You got to the point where You saw Your life is not what it should be, the one thing You need to do is to keep inertia from that reckoning moment till You are with some kind of assistance. Burn that understanding into Your mind so You can call it back up whenever it seems things are well enough to just let them slide, or when others seem to be exclusively responsible. Even if something is not Your fault, this is Your chance to make it better. I hope You'll find some answers and a good way to move forward, as I am sure You will, as long as You move at all.

If it turns out You are a proper, dysfunctional narcissist, the road ahead is long and not very rewarding at first. I hope You are not. But if so, the condition has been researched in the past decades and there are angles that can help You and help those around You. If not, there still seems to be something wrong and it's a good idea to have someone with the proper skills take a look at it.
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Re: The Awakening - Please help

Postby Akuma » Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:02 am

giacomonr wrote:Thanks for the reply's

It may be possible I'm not NPD at all. I know i have empathy, just have not showed it toward my wife in a long time. She has been suffering from depression for many years. I tried at first then eventually gave up frustrated with the drinking and completely dismissed any of her suffering. the past couple weeks have been high stress, little eating, and very little sleep. For 8 years my wife has been telling me I'm a narcissist and I have zero empty and last week I believed it to be true. Today however I've got a good night sleep, cleared my mind, and a fried reminded me of my empathy. When my friends sister died I saw the pain in her fathers eyes and cried. When my friends mom died and he read the eulogy I cried. Stories in the news of parents losing their children make me teary-eyed. It seems i have empathy toward everyone but her these days. Would a narcissist or NPD have NO empathy toward other people or could the lack be targeted to an individual? I'm very confused here. I see an experienced therapist for the first time next week so hopefully I'll find some answers.


Empathy is a meaningless buzzword. Its not useful to diagnose NPD at all, as there is many illnesses but also simple character types that affect it (for example autism spectrum disorders, substance-abuse disorders, depression, cyclothymic illnesses, even stress), but also because unlike in BPD there is no broadband empathy-restriction in NPD. Also NPD is now seen as different forms, namely the overt/covert and vulnerable/grandiose ones which further complicate diagnosis and from the side of empathy there seems to be more proneness to emotional contagion in vulnerable types for example than in grandiose ones etc etc. So quite frankly as long as you dont want to go thru all the literature and the current research, just forget about diagnosing yourself.
dx: dissociative disorder + npd
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Re: The Awakening - Please help

Postby Cassandre » Sat Aug 18, 2018 10:55 am

giacomonr wrote:a fried reminded me of my empathy. When my friends sister died I saw the pain in her fathers eyes and cried. When my friends mom died and he read the eulogy I cried. Stories in the news of parents losing their children make me teary-eyed. It seems i have empathy toward everyone but her these days. Would a narcissist or NPD have NO empathy toward other people or could the lack be targeted to an individual?


Hey Giacomo,

I don't think that's how it works.

My significant other's mother cries at funerals, she gets emotional whenever dreadful things happen to people on TV, she gets teary-eyed when hearing about children being mistreated...But she doesn't connect well with her children.

She enjoys communicating about those emotions, those emotions in turn fund her self-righteousness. She can be sacrificing too, but there is often an element of control to it. She'll get impatient when the attention shifts away from her or the limit of her world.

It's not what you do, it's why you do it that matters. If, at the same time as displaying altruism, you do not comprehend why your issues do not automatically take precedence over others', that might be narcissim.
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Re: The Awakening - Please help

Postby Absinthe » Sat Aug 18, 2018 1:04 pm

In my experience, the "awakening" isn't a one-time event. It's a process -- a series of awakenings (crashes, really) as things become clearer over time. Definitely find a good therapist and get a formal diagnosis. If you're NPD, it's quite a rollercoaster ride. Buckle up.

As for empathy, I'm capable of empathy but the context has to be right, e.g. I don't feel threatened by the other person and am in a good frame of mind myself. Even then my empathy is more measured than others, but it's there.
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Re: The Awakening - Please help

Postby Cassandre » Wed Aug 22, 2018 4:20 pm

Cassandre wrote:My significant other's mother cries at funerals, she gets emotional whenever dreadful things happen to people on TV, she gets teary-eyed when hearing about children being mistreated...But she doesn't connect well with her children.

She enjoys communicating about those emotions, those emotions in turn fund her self-righteousness. She can be sacrificing too, but there is often an element of control to it. She'll get impatient when the attention shifts away from her or the limit of her world.


It just hit me that I was describing emotional contagion, although I'm by no mean implying that OP is unempathetic.

I've always registered, without being able to put a finger on it, reveling on emotions without acting accordingly as super grating. Writing here recollecting, this is the type of behaviors I could discern in some people with HPD, NPD or BPD.

Though it is as related to emotional empathy as ersatz-chocolate is to chocolate, meaning not at all. I know it is a trend among some scholars to bitch on the emotional component of empathy. Seems a bit desperate, as it's common sense that before taking an appropriate action in response to someone's plea you must consider both their state of mind and feelings.

In the end, that's what empathy is, the taking of appropriate action.
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